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Ten Thoughts On The NFL

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Give my Ten Thoughts a gander this week and be sure to leave a few thoughts of your own in the comment section.

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NFL: Pro Bowl Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1) The San Francisco 49ers hiring former player and color analyst John Lynch as their new general manager was met with plenty of skepticism. I get it, the poster boy for failed GMs is ex-player/ex-color analyst Matt Millen, who was really awful running the Detroit Lions. But there have been former players that have had success in front office positions.

I like the out of the box thinking regarding the move, but the ‘Niners will have to own-it if it backfires in their face.

2) I also like the rumored hire of Kyle Shanahan as their next head coach. I’ve long been a fan of the Shanahan version of the West Coast offense, and with 12 years of NFL coaching experience, he’s ready to run his own team. He really has the Atlanta Falcons’ offense humming and his QB, Matt Ryan, took a big step in play in 2016 and will be the likely MVP.

Shanahan’s recent comments lead me to believe that the 49ers will be taking a QB with the 2nd pick in the draft. “Look at the history of the NFL. Teams who don’t have one of those guys usually struggle to be there at the end of the year unless they have one of the top defenses in Super Bowl history or NFL history. Everyone knows that.” Shanahan said last night at Super Bowl Media Night. “You need a quarterback to consistently be competitive. That’s what everyone is looking for. Coaches and personnel people. That’s usually where it starts.”

3) Which leads me to this crazy story about Shanahan losing his Super Bowl game plan last night.

I was talking with someone at work and we were wondering if the reporter that “mistakenly” took Shanahan’s backpack, secretly worked for the Patriots. Someone could have easily copied Atlanta’s game plan amidst the confusion.

But what if, and this is where the plot thickens, what if Shanahan left his backpack slightly opened, hoping to entice a Patriot cheater to “borrow” it? The Falcons could have used a decoy game-plan, placed it as bait, just to confuse Bill Belichick and the Pats.

What do you guys think? Should I loosen up my tinfoil hat?

4) Any of you guys ever partake in some Super Bowl prop bets? If so what were some of the crazier ones you hit on?

Here are a few odd ones I came across.

Number of NFL players arrested during SB week. Over/Under 1.5

Total number of chicken wings sold. Over/Under 120.5 billion

Who will the SB MVP mention first? Team: +150, God: +300, City/Fans: +550 , Coach: +750, Family: +950, Rick Sanchez: +2500, None of the above: +350

Which will attract more viewers? OJ Simpson’s 1994 white Bronco car chase +15 million (110 million): +110 or Super Bowl LI: -130

5) I did not watch one second of the Pro Bowl. Not the brand new week long festivities, not the actual game, not even the highlights, I don’t even know who won.

In fact the only play I saw is one I sought out when I read about it, the Kirk Cousins forced fumble seen here.

Does anyone think the Redskins are going to let free agent to be Kirk Cousins walk away? If they do, the 49ers will be quick to pounce, which may push a QB down to #3 in the draft.

6) The Oakland Raiders just lost their big money man, Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Sands Casino, who was involved in the stadium plans for the Raiders possible move to Las Vegas. With Adelson backing out, the owners may not approve the relocation, unless Raider owner Mark Davis can prove he has the finances all figured out.

For those of you traditionalists that wanted Oakland to keep the Raiders, you may get your wish.

Me, I’m rooting for the Las Vegas Raiders.

7) Last week we talked about the possibility of Pittsburgh SteelersBen Roethlisberger calling it a career. I don’t think he will and neither does Pittsburgh’s president Art Rooney II. “He’s at that stage of his career where there are thoughts I think you have,” Rooney said via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “I personally think he’ll be back, but that’s his decision.”

And now the latest will-he-or-won’t-he retire centers around the Arizona Cardinals and quarterback Carson Palmer. If Palmer calls it a career, then wide out Larry Fitzgerald may follow suit. The 37 year old Palmer had a bit of a down season, if you want to call 4,233 yards and 26 TD passes down, but the bumps and bruises may be taking it’s toll.

The 33 year old Fitzgerald flirted with retirement a couple years ago, then went out and caught 109 balls in 2015, then 107 more last year.

If either Roethlisberger or Palmer walk away, that’ll be 2 more QB needy teams heading into free agency.

8) Fans of some of the unique stats found behind a pay wall at Pro Football Focus, may be interested to discover that NFL.com has started publishing their own version called Next Gen Stats.

I found this one interesting.

Jordan Howard struggled with just 3.36 yards per carry against eight-plus defenders in the box. He also faced a stacked front on 26.4 percent of his non-red zone carries. Howard produced most of his big runs out of the shotgun (7.1 yards per carry) and the pistol (6.9 yards per carry). While this might be nothing to sound the alarm over, it's a footnote to consider as he heads into 2017 after a shockingly dominant rookie season that will certainly earn him more defensive attention.

Howard, known for his physical running style, actually did better when the Bears spread things out, something that makes sense for a scatback type of runner.

If you like the “nerdy” type of stats, be sure to check out their Next Gen stuff, including this neat-o one that involves Alshon Jeffery.

9) Before the Chicago Bears hired Ryan Pace as general manager a couple years ago, most people figured they were going to go with Kansas City Chiefs’ director of player personnel Chris Ballard.

The Indianapolis Colts just tabbed Ballard as their new GM, and even though he’s keeping head coach Chuck Pagano (for now), rumors are circulating that he could eventually hire former Chicago Bears special teams coordinator Dave Toub as head coach.

Toub, currently coordinating the Chiefs’ special teams, has been close to getting a head coaching job in the past, but with Ballard in Indy, he may finally have the guy he needs in place to take a chance on him (some day).

10) Whether you believe in icing the kicker or not, NFL coaches do it on a regular basis. Which is why I had no problem when Bears head coach John Fox, who was coaching the North team at the Senior Bowl, iced South kicker Jake Elliott.

That was a “Holy Toledo” followed by a Fox smirk.

He made the kick by the way.