NFL Network Analysts Rock Nolan Nawrocki Over Geno Smith Scouting Report







NFL Network's Charles Davis and Daniel Jeremiah take a mostly negative scouting report of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith by Pro Football Weekly's Nolan Nawrocki to task.

NFL Network’s Charles Davis and Daniel Jeremiah take a mostly negative scouting report of West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith by Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki to task.

On Monday, Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki released a dual scouting report of a pair of quarterbacks that are expected to be the best players at the position in this year’s draft: USC’s Matt Barkley and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.

And while there were twice as many positives from Nawrocki on Barkley than there were negatives, it’s a completely different story in Nawrocki’s synopsis of Smith. Among the sixteen negatives: “Not a student of the game… Not committed or focused – marginal work ethic… Needed to be coddled in college – cannot handle hard coaching.”

Naturally, NFL Network and Fox Sports college football analyst Charles Davis, along with NFLN resident scout Daniel Jeremiah, seized the opportunity to explain why Nawrocki’s vibe on Smith, quoting Davis, “does not jive” with what they’ve witnessed.

“This is a kid who is a student of the game,” Davis asserts. “This is a young man who wants to learn, wants to get better all the time, can’t get enough football. He will finish games, and go right to the film room, and go over the tape of that game, and get ready for the next one.”

Davis previously praised Smith’s work ethic when he dubbed him a “film rat” during an interview on a Cleveland sports radio station earlier this year.

“He’s the one bothering coaches for the game plan on Sunday,” Davis continued, “so that he can get it to his receivers, and they can get going, and get motivated that way.

“This does not match up with the Geno Smith I spent time with last summer.”

Davis also countered Nawrocki’s claim that Smith “needed to be coddled in college.”

“Dana Holgorsen? You’ve been around Dana Holgorsen,” Davis told Jeremiah. “Coaches hard, okay, and that’s what he’s going to do.”

Jeremiah also had his say, backing up Davis’ thoughts on Smith’s conscientiousness.

“‘He’s not a film junkie’ – that’s not what I got from scouts… They said, after games were completed, he would still go back into the film room that very night, and watch tape.”

Jeremiah also cited Smith’s attendance at the Manning Passing Academy camp last summer, noting his tendency to ask Eli and Peyton Manning “the perfect questions,” adding: “He was more in tune with what he needed to learn from these guys than anybody else in the room.”

Including one Matt Barkley – who, by the way, Nawrocki sees being drafted in the first round, with Smith settling for a “top 50 pick.”

We’ll learn in three weeks if an NFL team drafts Smith in the first 1 1/2 rounds, thus making Nolan Nawrocki, well, a jive turkey.

Video: Chris Myers Announces "Panthers Win" As Buccaneers Prevail In Overtime

Fox’s Chris Myers momentarily thought he was at a different game, when he erroneously called a Carolina Panthers win following a Tampa Bay Buccaneers touchdown in overtime.

Maybe Chris Myers is still smarting from the fact that the last game he called ended in a tie score.

In what proved to be an exciting overtime affair, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers erased an eleven-point deficit against the Carolina Panthers, then scored on a go-ahead touchdown by Dallas Clark for the victory over their division rival in Charlotte. (Per NFL regular season overtime rules, the first team to score a touchdown wins the game; the team that wins the coin toss may opt for a field goal, but risks the opponent tying the score or possibly winning the game outright).

Once again, your final from Bank of America Stadium, Buccaneers 27, Panthers 21.

Unless you were listening to Chris Myers’ call of the game on Fox.

(Video via The Big Lead)

Alex Karras Dead At Age 77

Howard Cosell enjoys a laugh from Alex Karras during a “Monday Night Football” broadcast in 1976. The former Detroit Lions defensive tackle has died at age 77. He had suffered kidney failure late last month.

Former “Monday Night Football” commentator Alex Karras has died.

The actor/athlete/analyst had been suffering from a combination of kidney disease, heart disease, stomach cancer, and most recently, dementia. He had been receiving hospice care at his home in Los Angeles since last weekend and passed away on Wednesday morning at age 77.

A four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle who played a dozen seasons in the NFL, all with the Detroit Lions, Karras enjoyed a successful career off the field, with memorable roles in movies such as “Porky’s” and “Against All Odds,” and on the small screen, he and his wife, Susan Clark co-starred in “Webster,” with Emmanuel Lewis, who played the title role.

But football fans in the mid-70’s remember Karras as a commentator alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford in the “Monday Night Football” booth for three seasons. It was during this span that Don Meredith had left for NBC to work with Curt Gowdy. Meredith bookended Karras in the “MNF” booth with two stints (1970-1973, 1977-1984).

In fact, Karras was not ABC’s initial choice to replace Meredith in the 1974 season, but rather, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson – who, like Karras, is a native of Gary, Indiana. However, when “The Hammer” went to work during preseason “MNF” telecasts, ABC executives did not like what they saw. So they went and selected Karras, likely off of a wave of popularity from his role as Mongo in “Blazing Saddles” which was released in the spring of 1974. Though Karras did have some experience in the field, as he worked the booth for Canadian Football League games in the early 1970’s.

Karras appeared to have hit it off in his very first “MNF” broadcast on September 16, 1974, when he made a comment during that night’s Bills/Raiders matchup about Oakland defensive end Otis Sistrunk, who did not attend college, the Raiders listing his alma mater in their program as “U.S. Mars.” – an abbreviation for “U.S. Marines.” At one point during the game, when steam was rising from Sistrunk’s bald head, Karras joked that the player went to “the University of Mars.”

As a result of the aforementioned dementia diagnosis, he joined other former NFL players in a lawsuit against the league for failure to protect them from concussions.

Since late September, according to an account Clark gave to an acquaintance, Karras suffered kidney failure, and parts of his body started swelling. Mike Tirico acknowledged Karras’ grave condition late in the October 8 edition of “Monday Night Football.” With 17 seconds remaining, and the Houston Texans about to advance to an undefeated 5-0 record with a 23-17 victory over the New York Jets, he said: “Saw the news here earlier this evening that Alex Karras is in very poor health. He was a part of the NFL during his days with Detroit. One of the less than two dozen folks to be in the “Monday Night Football” booth, ’74 through ’76. We wish good thoughts to Alex and his family, as he’s struggling with his health, here tonight.

Added Jon Gruden: “He was a great one.”

SportsRantz sends our thoughts and prayers to Alex Karras, his family and his loved ones.

Mike Silver: Two Losses Till Tebow Time

Yahoo Sports’ Mike Silver speculates that if the New York Jets lose two more games, Tim Tebow will become the team’s starting quarterback.

There are two L’s in the word “hell” – a word that Tim Tebow likely wants nothing to do with.

There are also two L’s in how long it will take before Tebow assumes the starting quarterback position for the New York Jets.

That is, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Silver, who appeared on NFL Network’s “Total Access” on Wednesday evening.

“Two more losses,” he projects.

The Jets are in the middle of a three-game homestand, which continues on “Monday Night Football” vs. the undefeated Houston Texans, and then rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts the following week. Then, they’ll be in New England in Week 6, then back home to face another division rival in the Miami Dolphins in Week 7.

Statistically, Mark Sanchez isn’t struggling (five touchdowns and four interceptions in four games) as he’s done just enough to keep the Jets in first place (albeit tied with the aforementioned Patriots). But as Tebow proved with the Denver Broncos last year, he can take over for a team at 1-4 and lead them to a playoff berth (never mind the fact that the team lost their last three regular season games).

“Tim Tebow does have a transformative ability to transcend his lack of impressive play, mechanics and all that, in practice, and all of a sudden, when you need him to display magic, he seems to be able to do it.

“If you’re not .500 at the bye week, I think you gotta go do it… maybe sooner.”

Team owner Woody Johnson hopes for the latter, with sources suggesting “he will push his football people to start Tebow.”

Certainly ESPN, the home of “Monday Night Football” and a news operation that spends a great deal of time on Tebow (as its own talking heads have confirmed long after moving on to other ventures), would like to see a benching of Sanchez during the Jets’ next game with the 4-0 Texans. It would be reminiscent of the exact moment that the Tony Romo era officially began in Dallas on October 23, 2006, also on “Monday Night Football” (then on ABC). On that night, the Cowboys, who started the game with Drew Bledsoe under center, returned from halftime with Romo running things.

“It’s a big move,” Silver warns of changing starting quarterbacks in the middle of a season, let alone a game, “so I don’t think you want to make it cavalierly.”

Then again, as Silver acknowledged, it is New York, where such moves are all but expected at some point, if a team isn’t playing well.

Despite that effortless shutout vs. the 49ers, the Jets are playing well. The next month should dictate exactly when Tebow Time will begin – possibly at Foxboro Stadium, where Tim Tebow is 0-1 as a starter.

But, says Mike Silver, if the Jets lose to the Texans and the Colts, let it be so.

“If the season seems like it’s starting to slip away, you got [Darrelle] Revis out, you got [Santonio] Holmes out… Don’t you have to take a whiff and see?”

Like hell they won’t.

Warren Sapp Bankruptcy Case Closed

Financially frozen former football player Warren Sapp was likely happy to know that he’s been relieved from his Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Yet he’s still responsible to pay up for nearly $1 million in alimony, child support, and tax debts.

I’m sure some of you regular Rantz readers were anxiously awaiting my next post on a subject that I’ve happened to write plenty about: Warren Sapp. You were probably anticipating my take on Sapp offhandedly calling Bears wideout Brandon Marshall a “retard” during an appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show,” or perhaps Marshall’s priceless video responses to Sapp, or Marshall’s subsequent attempt at burying the hatchet with Sapp.

With Sapp’s vast history of saying stupid things, this brouhaha, to me, was not news.

Yet overshadowed by Sapp’s involvement in “TardGate” was a favorable update on Sapp’s financial situation.

You may recall Sapp filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy this past spring. On Monday – just as the fallout from “TardGate” was emerging – Sapp was discharged from his bankruptcy case by a federal judge. That means he is officially off the hook for a large amount of debt – that is, the lion skin rug, the twenty dozen pairs of Size 15 Air Jordans, and other impulse purchases made during and after his NFL career. No word if the condo he’s living in (that’s pending foreclosure) will be exempt from these debts.

However, Sapp is still responsible for his debts related to alimony and child support, as well as all tax debts, which combined, approach close to $900,000, according to his bankruptcy filing.

Sapp must thank his lucky stars that he’s still on the NFL Network payroll, despite what was reported nearly six months ago. Sales for his new autobiography, “Sapp Attack,” aren’t necessarily setting the bookshelves on fire. A little after a month following its release, the tome currently sits at No. 54,190 on’s Best Sellers list in the “books” category. Yikes.

And in case you’re wondering, no, “Sapp Attack” never even sniffed the New York Times’ reputable Best Sellers list.

Maybe Warren Sapp needs to work on a follow-up book. Perhaps “Judge Sapp” can start moonlighting as a divorce detective.

The Sharper Image: Darren Predicted Saints 0-4 Start On NFL Network

As Sean Payton and others serve suspensions related to Bountygate, interim head coach Aaron Kromer and the New Orleans Saints have started the 2012 season with an 0-3 record – which is not too far off from an 0-4 prediction by NFL Network analyst – and former Saints safety – Darren Sharper.

Are you surprised that the New Orleans Saints lost a game that they led by as much as 18 points to the Kansas City Chiefs?

Are you surprised that they are now 0-3, on the precipice of starting the season 0-4?

Former Saints safety Darren Sharper likely isn’t surprised.

In fact, he said as much on NFL Network not too long ago.

On a 2012 NFL season preview special which aired on September 4, Sharper predicted that his former team would start 0-4. I could not find a video of this segment via’s library of NFL Network videos – but there’s confirmation here – as well as Sharper’s own Twitter account. “Relax,” he wrote to his Saints followers hours after his prognostication, “IT’S JUST TV, MAN! You know the Saints [are] not going 0-4!”

Judging on how the season has started for the team under interim head coach Aaron Kromer, maybe he’d like to have that one back.

After the Saints lost their first game of the season, a home loss to the Washington Redskins under rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, Sharper argued that the team would be the “2011 playoff team most likely to start 0-2.” He added that the game against the Panthers would be “close”. The Panthers beat the Saints by eight points.

Then on last Monday’s edition of “NFL Total Access,” Sharper was among a four-man panel batting around a few topics, including: “Will the Saints rebound from an 0-2 start?”

“That next game against the Kansas City Chiefs: don’t look at it as an easy game,” Sharper warned Brian Billick. “We’ve seen this Chiefs team knock off the Green Bay Packers last [year, handing them their first loss after a 14-0 start]. So they can step to that level and play up.”

“You think [the Saints will] be 0-3, don’t you?,” Andrew Siciliano asked Sharper.

After letting out a deep sigh, Sharper clarified: “I don’t want to say it, but I think it could be leading that way, because you talk about the percentages, giving you that percent of just having a chance. They lose this game and go 0-3, that 11% chance of makign the playoffs at 0-2 goes to 3%. Now if you want to walk around with 3% chance in your pocket, I’ll let you have that. I want the other percent.”

Sharper also doubled down on his prediction that the Chiefs would upset the Saints on this past Wednesday’s “Total Access” (no video of that exists on, either).

The result: in Week 3 at the Superdome, the Saints, who at one point led the Chiefs 24-6, let Matt Cassel and his crew score 21 unanswered points (including a safety for sacking Drew Brees in his own end zone), capped off by a game-winning field goal in overtime. The aforementioned Brees was ineffective down the stretch, with his final six passes of the game thrown for incompletions.

Sharper, who appeared on “NFL GameDay Highlights” this afternoon, made no mention of his prediction of a winless September for the Saints. Instead, Waddle and Paul Burmeister forced Sharper’s hand – specifically, Sharper shakily raising his hand when Burmeister asked, “Did anybody here predict the Chiefs to win?”

“I’m not proud to predict this against a community and a city that I love,” Sharper admitted. He explained that the team is suffering from “hangover” after the Bountygate business in the offseason. Furthermore, he considered himself “confused” watching a Saints defense that has already allowed 100 points in its first three games of the season. “I don’t see the same type of passion in the defensive effort that I’ve seen in the past on the same team.” (No bounties?)

Watch the video below:

Sharper also took the opportunity to take his former team to task for languishing in the absence of head coach Sean Payton, currently serving a one-year suspension for his role in Bountygate.

“It’s not New Orleans Saints football,” said Sharper, parroting a point from fellow analyst Tom Waddle. “It’s allowing teams to finish you off. This team in the past, Coach Peyton – I know he’s not there now,  but since he started coaching there – always finished teams when they had a lead on them. And that lets you know that this team, it seems like they got that, that ‘woe is me’ attitude, where they’re starting to feel bad for themselves. And that’s coming out of playing tough, hard-nosed football.”

There was also no immediate reaction from Sharper of his 0-4 prediction on Twitter after the game, but there were plenty of Saints fans who remembered his prediction – which has a chance to come to complete fruition next week when the Saints travel to Green Bay, where the Packers own a 9-2 all-time record against New Orleans at Lambeau Field.

At that point, NFLN might just need to make room for Darren Sharper on the weekly “Bold Predictions” segment on “GameDay Morning.”

Chris Berman To Whoop It Up In "MNF" Booth

Chris Berman has been assigned to call the second-half of ESPN's "Monday Night Football" doubleheader on September 10 from Oakland. It's apparently an opportunity the 33-year employee of the Worldwide Leader had wanted for years.

He’s been a prominent figure on ESPN virtually since its inception in 1979.

But on September 10, a lifelong dream in Chris Berman’s career will finally come true: he will be the lead analyst for the late game on ESPN’s season-opening “Monday Night Football” doubleheader, alongside veteran ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, who will be the color commentator on the late ESPN “MNF” game for the third year in a row.

The Worldwide Leader made the announcement earlier this morning – putting to rest rampant speculation that Berman would be in the catbird seat for the Oakland Raiders’ first game of the 2012 season against the San Diego Chargers – or as Berman likes to refer to the team, “the San Diego Super Chargers.”

Yep. Expect a lot of that kinda drivel for about three hours.

Not long after ESPN confirmed the “MNF” team for the Chargers/Raiders game, Deadspin had revealed that calling a single NFL game on ESPN was something that Berman had long coveted ever since the network started carrying NFL games on a shared-season basis with TNT. In fact, Berman was incensed that colleague Tony Kornheiser, whom Chris “despises,” landed a regular gig in the “MNF” booth.

Maybe this is the reason why ESPN finally decided to give Berman the booth assignment: they were running out of people suitable to call an NFL game.

Look at this list of announcers for the second game of the “MNF” doubleheader on ESPN, since the format was instilled in 2006. Morning hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic have done the game for three years. For one year prior and two years after, it was Brad Nessler with the play-by-play. Nessler is now an NFL Network employee, and he will be calling thirteen Thursday night games starting this year, beginning three days after the Chargers/Raiders Monday nighter. And, for whatever reason, “Mike & Mike” weren’t interested, and you can bet they were approached before agreeing to let Berman have the game. Unless Dilfer just doesn’t get along with Greenberg and Golic, for some reason.

Also, remember this will be the first year that the main “Monday Night Football” booth will be without the services of Ron Jaworski, meaning it’ll only be Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden calling the action all season long (save for the final week of the season). But Jaworski is still an ESPN employee, and will be seen and heard from plenty throughout the football year. Do you suppose they asked Ron Jaworski to call the game before settling on Chris Berman? Yes, he’s very mellifluous in breaking things down – but it’s just one game for the whole year, and it’s not like it’s the Broncos or anything. (Food for thought: this will be the fourth time that either the Chargers or Raiders will appear on ESPN’s late “MNF” season opener contest – so I guess it’s natural they play each other for bragging rights.)

So football fans, prepare for what should be three hours of “rumblin’, bumblin’, stumblin'” and “boom boom boom” – and, yes, perhaps a big “WHOOP” or two – as the “Rai-dahs” host the “San Diego Super Chargers”, and if you’ve been a viewer of Berman on “SportsCenter” over the years, the catchphrases should be almost predictable. Guarantee if Michael Bush breaks Charger tackles and runs free, he’ll play the “he… could… go… all… the… way” card.

And while a dream will become reality for Chris Berman, one word of advice – not like he needs it from a blogger, since his career at ESPN spans five decades. But what I’m about to point out makes you wonder if ESPN has been so defiant against letting Berman call a “Monday Night Football” game all these years.

I’ll just direct your attention to this video – I wouldn’t view it at work, if I were you. Yep, it’s Berman’s Bill O’Reilly moment before Bill O’Reilly had his Bill O’Reilly moment (and I wouldn’t view that one at work, either).

You just know if there’s virtually no running game for either the Raiders or the Chargers, he might just lose it.

Behave, Chris.