1) When your offense loses one of the toughest match-ups in NFL history, your offense usually takes a hit. But Detroit Lions' quarterback Matt Stafford believes that they'll be better off without six time Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson. The 6'5", 235 pound Johnson retired following the 2015 season, but Stafford is taking the glass half full approach to Detroit's offseason.
"Obviously we used to feature Calvin and everybody kind of got theirs after that." Stafford told detroitlions.com, "It's gonna, I think, be tougher for defenses in a certain way that they don't know who we're going to. There's no guy to key in on."
While in theory this makes sense, not having that one "Guy" to make a play in crunch time could be problem for Stafford. During Stafford's career, Calvin Johnson accounted for 31% of his career passing yards and 34% of his touchdowns passes. He was a 'chuck it up there and I'll go get it' safety-net during Stafford's 7 year career.
2) Speaking of the 30 year old Megatron, he finally spoke about why he walked away from the game. "I know everybody wants to know why I retired, but it's more so, I put a lot into the game and it's taken a lot out of me and that's where I'm at right now," Johnson told the Detroit Free Press while while working his annual football camp. "I'm not going to get into the specifics of the things that I feel it's taken away, but it definitely feels good, I guess I can say for myself, to spend more time around the family, my son, I just got married. So things are going good right now."
Johnson was still wearing a splint on his finger at the camp and prior ankle and knee injuries led him to the conclusion that enough was enough. He claims his decision to walk away had nothing to do with the Lions 64-80 record and two early playoff exits during his time as a Lion. "I wouldn't just quit because we were losing. It was just body. I was just tired of it, fed up. Just had enough."
3) Remember back in December when that Al-Jazeera America report popped up that claimed Peyton Manning used performance enhancing drugs? Even though he was the most high profile player named, there were a few others accused of taking PEDs as well, and now the NFL has plans to interview Green Bay Packers' linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews, former Packer and current free agent linebacker Mike Neal and Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker James Harrison.
There has been an on giong investigation by the NFL, but they are just getting around to the player interviews. If a suspension comes out of this, the Packers' defense will take a big hit losing two of their better players.
Oh and by the way, even though Manning is retired, the NFL plans to speak with him as well.
4) Last week Johnny Manziel's lawyer, Bob Hinton, did something that most of us have done, sent a text to the wrong person. It's an honest mistake, but one an attorney of a high profile client, working his domestic violence case, with media members in their contact list shouldn't make. Here's the text in case you missed it.
"Heaven help us if one of the conditions is to pee in a bottle,"
The text made it seem as though Manziel's legal team were seeking a plea deal with the prosecution and that Hinton wasn't confident his client could stay clean.
4a) Manziel's dad, Paul Manziel, said that the best place for his son would be jail.
From Adam Schefter's Facebook page;
"He's a druggie. It's not a secret that he's a druggie. I don't know what to say other than my son is a druggie and he needs help. He just hasn't seeked it yet. Hopefully he doesn't die before he comes to his senses. That's about all you can say. I don't know what else to say. I hate to say it but I hope he goes to jail. I mean, that would be the best place for him. So we'll see."
Rehab wasn't able to get Johnny Football clean, maybe jail is the best option.
5) Speaking of Facebook, did you know that you can RSVP to attend the Super Bowl parade of the Cleveland Browns? Now that the city has a major sports championship thanks to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland fans are optimistic.
But they're also still a little bit realistic, because the parade is set for 2033.
6) Remember a couple of weeks ago when we talked about Denver Broncos' linebacker Von Miller and his cropping out of his boss, John Elway, on his Instagram picture? Yeah, it's kind of petty, but Miller is seeking what he feels is fair market value and Elway is offering less.
Elway responded, and he came off about how you would expect with a simple "That's too bad." Here's the clip via TMZ in case you want to hear his tone and see him say the quick line.
Miller claims he won't play 2016 under the franchise tag, but I can't see him leaving money on the table.
7) When I was younger me and my cousin played Strat-O-Matic all night long. We played the baseball, hockey and the football version and hours and hours were spent rolling dice, picking teams, tracking stats, and keeping score. When I was blogging for The Sporting News, they had an online baseball version of Strat-O-Matic that I was obsessed with.
Strat-O-Matic had as much to do with my love of sports growing up than did actually watching or playing them. If you aren't aware of the game, NFL.com has a great write up about it that you can find right here.
Before fantasy football or the Madden video game there was Strat-O-Matic.
Any other fans of the board game out there?
I suppose it''s possible, but as Chicago Bears' fans probably remember, year two of his system in the Windy City sufered a precipitous drop in production, falling from 8th highest in yardage and the 2nd best in scoring in 2013 to 21st and 23rd respectively the following year. His year two drop off wasn't just a Bears thing, it has been his pattern at almost every stop in the NFL.
Sure there could have been other factors leading to the falls, but we'll have to wait and see if Joe Flacco and the Ravens can buck the trend in 2016.
9) There are a few coaches with ties to the Chicago Bears in this Dream Coaching Staff photo essay by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks. He only went with current NFL coaches, so no George Halas or Buddy Ryan.
Former Spare Bears quarterback Sean Payton is his running backs coach. His defensive line coach was a former ball boy of the Bears, and Buddy's son, Rex Ryan.
His linebackers coach is former Bear player and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. His offensive quality control coach is ex-Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
And his pass rush specialist is current Bears head coach John Fox. Brooks says that "Fox helped Michael Strahan (in New York), Julius Peppers (in Carolina) and Von Miller (in Denver) master a handful of pass-rush techniques that enabled them to become perennial Pro Bowlers," so maybe he's the perfect coach to give rookie first round pick Leonard Floyd some technique pointers.
10) Add Sports Illustrated to the list of publications that feel good about the Chicago Bears' Pernell McPhee. They just named him the 7th bets edge rushed in the NFL.
When McPhee bolted the linebacker-friendly confines of Baltimore for the Bears last year in free agency, he moved out of the shadow of Ravens teammates Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. After a tremendous all-around season at outside linebacker in Chicago, McPhee should no longer be a secret. Between snuffing out the run (his forte) and chasing down quarterbacks (PFF had McPhee as the game's best pass rusher on a per-snap basis with 45 total pressures in 205 snaps), McPhee has a strong case as last year's best free-agent signing.
And in case you missed it, you must go check out this quick video all about #92 for the Bears, Pernell McPhee is a Grown-Ass Man.
What are some of your NFL Thoughts this week?