What Have You Done For Us Lately?
Randy Taylor

Posted Sep 22, 2006


Part Two of Randy Taylor's look at players around the NFL, focusing on free agents. Today, Randy looks at players who have been earning their free agent cash - and some who should get their ball cap and head to the bench...

What have you done for us lately…

…or the phrase coined by the former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Jerry Glanville, who said and I’m paraphrasing here: the NFL stands for “Not For Long.” This clearly describes the patience of the owners and fans of the National Football League.

So, this is week two and it’s time to look into, “what have you done for us lately” since you were a free agent or worth trading for?

We’ll also see who should be looking for their baseball cap for some time on the bench.

Finally, who is winning the battle of the Eastern Illinois University coaches competition. There are three eligible from this new cradle of coaches: Mike Shanahan, Brad Childress and Sean Payton, each spent formative days in Charleston, Illinois at EIU.

What have you done for me lately since you were worth trading for or picking up as a free agent?

Chester Taylor (Running Back, 5-11 215, Minnesota Vikings, acquired as a free agent from the Baltimore Ravens)

Another good week for Chester, he’s finally gotten his chance to be the starter and he’s making it count. With 24 carries for 113 yards a 4.7 yard per carry average and 3 catches for 15 yards against Carolina, he’s making an impact.

So far, Taylor has lived up to his expectations, as well as the coaching staffs and probably has exceeded the expectations of the experts who thought he couldn’t be an every down back. What Chester brings to the Vikings offense is a steady, tough runner that runs downhill. He’s vital to the running and passing attack as he continues to provide Brad Johnson with a safe option on every play. As long as he and the offensive line stay healthy, the next 14 plus games should be exciting.


Drew Brees
(Quarterback, 6-0 209, New Orleans Saints, acquired as a free agent from the San Diego Chargers)

What Brees does best is play within himself. He won’t make many bad decisions and is the perfect guy to spread the ball around to all the weapons available on offense. Brees has an adequate arm when his shoulder is healthy, won’t panic under pressure and has good escapability. He does what it takes to win which he has at all levels. It looks to me like he has picked up where he left off in San Diego.

Fortunately for Drew, he was facing the Packers defense and could get away with a few early mistakes.


Ryan Longwell (Kicker, 6-0 202, Minnesota Vikings, acquired as a free agent from the Green Bay Packers)

He throws a touchdown pass to put the game into overtime against Carolina and then kicks the game winning field goal in sudden death. What more can one player do to win a game in crunch time?

In Ryan’s real job, the Vikings got an accurate and consistent kicker; he’s a career 81% in field goals. Another benefit he brings to Minnesota is that he also handles the kick off duties which allows the team to save another roster spot.


Antonio Bryant (Wide Receiver, 6-1 196, San Francisco 49ers, acquired as a free agent from the Cleveland Browns)

Antonio has made an immediate impact on the Niners. With the improvement of Alex Smith, Bryant has benefited. In week two against the Rams, he caught 4 balls for 131 yards and a touchdown to secure their first win of the season.

Bryant came out of the University of Pittsburgh as a big time prospect. So far, he’s been an underachiever. He has the skills to be a dominant player as a receiver, but hasn’t shown them consistently.

If he continues to use his athleticism, explosiveness and very good hands he’ll have a great year. He can run good routes, runs well after the catch and makes big plays.


Keyshawn Johnson (Wide Receiver, 6-4 214, Carolina Panthers, acquired as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys)

Keyshawn made an impact in week 2 even though the Panthers lost to the Vikings. With Steve Smith out, Carolina needs someone to step up in the passing game and for this week it was Keyshawn Johnson. He had 5 catches for 106 yards, a 21.2 yard per catch average; these are the numbers he used to put up in his prime.

Johnson has the size and strength to be effective in the league even as he gets older. He’s still a physical presence and is respected as a big time weapon. He may not be able to run by defenders, but he can muscle them and is very crafty using his hands and body to get open. Keyshawn is still willing to go over the middle and is very good near the goal line.


Who should be looking for their baseball cap?

Chris Simms (Quarterback, 6-4 220, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

The lefty looks like he has no confidence and is putting so much pressure on himself to make plays instead of playing within himself. In some cases, a QB with a big arm or one that can bide time in the pocket, can get away with it, but Chris isn’t one of those guys. He has an average arm and is making bad decisions because of the pressure he’s putting on himself and getting from outside sources.

When you throw the ball over 50 times for 300+ yards, you’d expect to score a touchdown in there somewhere; however, the effort didn’t produce the results. He’s not getting much support either, as their running game is anemic. There is talent though and maybe Chris just needs to keep the ball underneath and let Galloway, Clayton and Williams, run after the catch.


Trent Cole (Defensive End, 6-2 236, Philadelphia Eagles)

The single big event that caused the Eagles to lose the game against New York was the unsportsmanlike penalty against Cole for kicking a Giant player near the end of regulation. Instead of a 50 yard field goal attempt for Jay Feely, which I think he would have missed, he kicks a 35 yarder to send the game into overtime.

Now, I don’t believe Trent should be benched for any games but at the end of that game, he maybe should have watched the unhappy ending on the bench next to the head ball coach. It’s just a small lesson to be learned that you need to think before you act in the heat of battle.

New York got outplayed and then Cole grabs defeat out of the jaws of victory.


Kerry Collins (Quarterback, 6-5 245, Tennessee Titans)

Kerry has been a solid pro but it’s time for him to be a solid back up. I’m a firm believer in letting the rookie learn for a year or so, but in this case, the lack of production by the offense under Collins combined wth Vince Young’s ability as a weapon leads me to this decision.

Let Vince learn the speed of the game. I’m sure against San Diego he saw their defense going at what seemed like warp speed. As long as he can learn under the pressure and his adrenaline gets under control, he’s a big time player. Even under duress, Young was able to make some good throws and showed some touch.


Aaron Brooks (Quarterback, 6-4 220, Oakland Raiders, acquired as a free agent from the New Orleans Saints)

With Brooks hurt and the Raiders in a rebuilding mode-at least that’s what they should be calling this year let’s see if Walter is ever going to be an NFL quarterback. He’s a big kid with a strong arm for that vertical passing attack. Andrew doesn’t have the mobility Brooks has but maybe he’ll provide some leadership and get the team going all in the same direction.

Brooks is talented but some time off may help him get re-energized and focused to be a spark plug later in the season.


Dominic Rhodes (Running Back, 5-9 203, Indianapolis Colts)

Dominic is a solid back up to Joseph Addai, at least in my opinion. Addai has shown the ability to be a factor in the offense and Rhodes has been struggling with a 2.2 yard per carry average. Sometimes, a rookie gets flustered starting so, if this is the case, let Rhodes start and then get the kid in ASAP. Get Addai ready for the playoff run, this is the year?   



Battle
of the Eastern Illinois University (the new cradle of NFL coaches) coaching competition

1. Brad Childress, Minnesota Vikings

This is a no brainer…he gets his team to hang around in a game with the Carolina Panthers until he can work some magic. He calls a fake field goal late in the game that actually works for a touchdown and a tie to send the game into overtime. Then, his team kicks the game winning field goal and he’s a genius! This is easy.

2. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

They’re 2 – 0 and have been able to get the ball in the hands of their weapons. Even when Bush didn’t have the rushing numbers he had an impact in the passing game. Right now everyone seems to be on the same page and heading in the same direction. The schedule gets tougher and there will be more distractions this week with the return to the Superdome…we’ll see how they fare.

3. Mike Shanahan, Denver Broncos:

Denver has now split their first two games as they found a way to win an ugly one this past weekend. Shanahan’s system and his steadiness under any situation is what will carry him through to the playoffs again this year. He might be third this week but I’m willing to bet it’s just a matter of time and he’ll turn this around…like this week.


See you after week three!



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