By Pat Yasinskas.
Follow Pat on Twitter @PatYaz33.
Updated May 13, 2016
Chargers Gambling With Melvin Gordon's Knee
Published: May 13, 2016
Maybe the San Diego Chargers should move to Las Vegas instead of the Oakland Raiders.
The Chargers are gambling more than any team in the NFL right now. They're betting everything that Melvin Gordon can be a bell-cow running back this season, which isn't the best idea coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco have ever had.
The news came out this week that the knee surgery Gordon had at the end of last season was of the microfracture variety. That's almost never good news, especially when it involves a running back. Microfracture surgery usually means a lengthy rehabilitation and often means a decrease in production when that player returns to the field.
The Chargers had a chance to add some insurance in the offseason. Stunningly, they didn't bring in a tailback through free agency or the draft. Instead, the team is counting solely on Gordon, which is more than a risky move.
What if Gordon's rehab spills over into the regular season? The Chargers are out of luck, unless they add a tailback in the meantime. What if Gordon returns, but isn't the player he was before the surgery? Again, the Chargers would be out of luck.
That's not a good position for any team to be in, but Gordon and the Chargers are trying to put a positive spin on the situation. Gordon already is working out on the field already, and he said this week he expects to be fully ready for the start of training camp this summer.
Telesco echoed that thought to ESPN.com.
"Every knee injury is unique to the player," Telesco said. "But I think with microfracture surgery there are two key elements to it – the size of the treatment area and the location of it – and both with Melvin were favorable. He's on track with everything. He's been on the field working. We'll continue to monitor him throughout the offseason, but everything is on track with training camp right now."
Telesco has a medical staff and a training staff that can provide him with far more information on Gordon's knee than the general public gets. Telesco must be hearing some very positive feedback from his people.
Maybe Gordon will be ready for training camp. Maybe Gordon won't have any side effects from the surgery and will be the same player he was before. That's all possible.
But there are no guarantees. That's why this seems like such a big gamble for the Chargers. They've put all their eggs in one basket at a time when they could have brought in alternative.
They chose not to, and Telesco better be right about Gordon. If he's wrong, Telesco could be out of a job.
Bob McNair Thinks Texans Can Be Special
Published: May 13, 2016
Through the years, I've had the pleasure of interviewing Houston Texans owner Bob McNair several times.
He has always come across as a nice, humble guy. Heck, when I worked for The Charlotte Observer, McNair told me the story of his very first business venture. He owned a used-car dealership in Charlotte, and that didn't go very well. But by the time of the interview McNair had made enough money in other ways that he was able to shrug off the failure. And admit to it – which is something most NFL owners have too much ego to do.
My impression of McNair was that he had a relatively small ego. But that changed this week when I saw some comments McNair made to The Houston Chronicle. The mild-mannered owner came across sounding like Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.
McNair came across sounding like he thinks the Texans already have clinched this season's Super Bowl. Asked about his team's offseason, McNair sounded like he was bragging. He said the Texans got every player they wanted and there are no needs that remain unmet.
"Usually, there are a lot of them that go unmet," McNair said. "It just doesn't work out. We don't control. We don't know what the other teams are going to do in the draft and we don't know what's going to happen in free agency."
But this offseason was different for the Texans, McNair said.
"Everything came together for us in the offseason," McNair said. "And we were able to get the players we wanted as free agents and, basically, we got the players we wanted in the draft. (The front office) did a great job."
McNair spent a ton of money on the likes of quarterback Brock Osweiler, running back Lamar Miller and guard Jeff Allen. That's why he sounds like a man who just bought himself a Super Bowl championship.
But I'm not buying it. The Texans are going to be pretty good, but they're not going to be Super Bowl good. Yes, the Texans are starting off in pretty good shape. They have an excellent coach in Bill O'Brien, they went 9-7 last season, and the offseason moves are going to help – somewhat.
I think McNair is getting a little carried away about the offseason moves. Look no further than Osweiler. A career backup in Denver, he wound up starting seven games last year when Peyton Manning was injured. Osweiler played well, but he might already have hit his ceiling.
Osweiler is not the kind of quarterback who can be the missing link between a 9-7 team and a Super Bowl champion. If he was, there's no way the Broncos would have let Osweiler get out of Denver.
The Broncos know Osweiler's strengths and limitations better than anyone – they saw him on the practice field every day – and they let him walk even though Manning was retiring. When Houston's price tag reached a 4-year deal worth $72 million, the Broncos decided to take their chances with Mark Sanchez and rookie Paxton Lynch. Quite simply, the Broncos didn't think Osweiler could be a franchise quarterback.
The Texans obviously think Osweiler can be special. But he's going to have to take his game to a new level for Houston to get what it thinks it now has. A lot of other Texans also are going to have to up their game for this team to be anything close to what McNair thinks it is.
Colts Not Asking Andrew Luck to Make Major Changes
Published: May 12, 2016
He was supposed to be the next Peyton Manning.
He has all the physical skills, the mental savvy and a strong bloodline. But in his fourth NFL season, Andrew Luck played more like Ryan Leaf than he did Manning.
Did the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts regress in his fourth season? You could make that argument. Luck had only 15 touchdowns to go with 12 interceptions last season. Those numbers weren't close to what Luck did in the first three years of his career, including a 2014 season in which he threw for 40 touchdowns.
But I'll argue that Luck's disappointing fourth season was mainly the result of injury. He suffered a lacerated kidney and appeared in just seven games. When he was playing, Luck was running for his life behind a bad offensive line. Too often, he tried to extend plays for too long, and that's what happened on the play where Luck injured his kidney.
The Colts have made it publicly clear they want Luck to do a better job of protecting himself while trying to extend plays. But that's the only real change the Colts want Luck to make. The Colts will take care of the rest, and they already have been working on it.
In an effort to make better use of Luck's talents, the Colts fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton last season and replaced him with Rob Chudzinski, who once worked wonders with Cam Newton in Carolina. They also replaced quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen with Brian Schottenheimer. But don't look for dramatic change.
"We're not going to change the way Andrew plays," Schottenheimer told CBS4 in Indianapolis. "Andrew's going to play the game. You've got to let Andrew play."
Schottenheimer is right. You don't change Luck. Yes, Luck can work on protecting himself better when extending plays. But everything else is in place. Luck truly can be the next Peyton Manning if things break the right way around him.
And the Colts are doing everything in their power to make sure things break the right way. In addition to the changes to the coaching staff, the Colts went out and drafted four offensive linemen. That should ensure better protection for Luck.
Everything is in place for Luck to have success in his fifth season. He just needs to go out and play the way he did in his first three seasons.
If Luck does that, there's no reason why he can't get back to throwing 40 touchdown passes and there's no reason why he and the Colts shouldn't have a lot of success.
Adrian Peterson's Super Bowl Dream Not Far-Fetched
Published: May 11, 2016
Adrian Peterson isn't known for being overly outspoken.
So when the running back for the Minnesota Vikings says something, it carries a lot of weight in my eyes. Peterson said something very strong this week. He told MMQB's Peter King that the Vikings have a good chance to win the Super Bowl this season.
"We are going to have a good chance to win it this year – win everything," Peterson told King. "Sit back and watch. Sit back and watch. You can be like, 'I thought you guys were at least a couple of years away.' Nope. You sit back and watch this year."
There are a lot of people out there laughing at Peterson's comments because the Vikings haven't even been to the Super Bowl since the 1970s. They play in the NFC North Division that has been dominated by the Green Bay Packers in recent decades. To the naked eye, the Vikings aren't anything close to a Super Bowl contender.
But look a little closer. Maybe Peterson's comments weren't that outlandish. Maybe he has a point. Maybe the Vikings can be Super Bowl contenders. Believe it or not, they've got a lot going for them.
They have the best running back on the planet in Peterson, and that's a great start.
Although Peterson is on the wrong side of 30, he has shown no signs of slowing down and says he can play at least another five years. Peterson won the rushing title last year.
"I don't spend too much time thinking about (winning another rushing title)," Peterson said. "But it's a seed planted in my brain and it's sticking there. Everything in me is championship, championship and then breaking records. It's a part of me. I am pushing myself to the max to win a Super Bowl, and then to break Emmitt (Smith's career-rushing) record and Eric Dickerson's (single-season rushing) record. It is my everyday life, what I think of every day. Mostly, it's that Super Bowl. Then the whole world will remember you."
The whole world will remember Peterson no matter what. He's a once-in-a-lifetime runner. But, for too long, he's been a one-man team. That started to change last year as the Vikings narrowly lost a playoff game to Seattle. Peterson had help.
Minnesota's defense was good last season and has an opportunity to be even better this season. In Mike Zimmer, the Vikings have their best coach since Bud Grant.
But the wild card in all this, in Peterson's Super Bowl dream, is third-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He has plenty of potential. But he hasn't come close to reaching it yet. Last year, Bridgewater was stuck behind an awful offensive line and spent much of the season on the ground or running for his life.
If the line improves and Bridgewater makes strides, maybe - just maybe - Peterson's dream of winning a Super Bowl might come true.
Sam Bradford's Return to Eagles Only Realistic Choice
Published: May 10, 2016
Quarterback Sam Bradford has rescinded his trade demand and joined the Philadelphia Eagles for offseason workouts.
Like he had a choice?
Bradford had been pouting, and missing in action, since the Eagles used the second-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz. Bradford had demanded a trade and was staying away from offseason workouts, which wasn't exactly a brilliant move because he had no real leverage.
Bradford had signed a 2-year contract with the Eagles earlier this offseason that included an $11 million signing bonus. His holdout and trade demand didn't carry much weight for two reasons.
Bradford wasn't a hot commodity on the trade market. There were whispers about the Denver Broncos having some interest, but that disappeared when they drafted Paxton Lynch. The only other way for Bradford to get out of Philadelphia was to retire and repay his signing bonus.
Bradford was never serious about retiring. He was just mad because the Eagles drafted a guy they think could be their franchise quarterback for the future.
But Bradford, whose career has been a disappointment, had no real reason to be angry or to be asking for a trade. The starting job is his - for now - and he can keep it - at least for the short term - if he plays well.
Since drafting Wentz, general manager Howie Roseman and coach Doug Pederson have made it abundantly clear that they still view Bradford as the starter. The only thing close to a negative comment about Bradford came from Pederson when he said the quarterback was missing "valuable time" by not showing up for the voluntary offseason workouts.
That's very true. Bradford needs all the work he can get. But now that he's back with the team, his starting job is in no danger. Let's be realistic here because that's what the Eagles are doing.
They want Bradford has their starting quarterback because he has some experience and some untapped potential. Wentz has plenty of potential - many personnel people think he can be a franchise quarterback.
But Wentz isn't there yet. He's coming out of a small school and only started for two years in college. He's a year or two away from being ready to start.
That's where Bradford comes in. The Eagles want him to be their starter this year and maybe even next season. Bradford never is going to be a superstar. But he can be a decent quarterback with a good team around him - and the Eagles could be a pretty good team.
The trade demand and the holdout were signs of immaturity and insecurity. And both moves were mistakes by Bradford. Sure, he had a right to be upset that the Eagles drafted Wentz. But he didn't have a right to flip out about it.
Bradford needs to take a good long look at the situation he's in. He's the starter and maybe he's only a bridge until Wentz is ready. But could Bradford realistically ask for anything more than that?
No, he's been a very ordinary quarterback throughout his career. Yet, he still is getting a chance to start. That's all Bradford can ask for.
Instead of pouting, he should be out on the practice field working hard with his teammates. If he does that, maybe thinks work out better than Bradford expects. Maybe he keeps the starting job for the foreseeable future. Maybe, if he plays well, he keeps the starting job longer than expected.
If he plays well, maybe he can then force a trade. Or maybe he can get a nice free-agent contract or another starting job in two years.
Returning to the Eagles was the only realistic move Bradford could make.