Monday's NFL Blog

January 8th, 2006 ... Tons of draft-eligible talent in tonight's BCS Title Game ... coaching updates and team wish lists ... Chiefs are on the warpath ... bumpy offseason ahead for Carolina ... one who got away ... a look back at the 2006 Draft now that the regular season has ended ... and more!

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Tough call: I decided to just do one release of Monday's NFL Blog simply because I didn't want to add stress to your day as you tried to decide whether or not to watch the BCS Title Game or spend the evening staring at your monitor as usual waiting for the P.M. Update to pop up. Well folks, someone's got to look out for your well-being, and I've got you covered. Enjoy today's Blog and then go watch that game! I'll do an Early Edition and P.M. Update on Tuesday for you.

Wear a bib: There's so much NFL Draft-level talent in tonight's BCS Title Game at 8 p.m. (ET) on Fox that you'll be drooling at the thought of having some of those Florida and Ohio State players landing on your team's roster this April. Tony Pauline, our draft expert, provides his take on more than 30 players in this game, including Ohio State WR Tedd Ginn, Jr. who he projects will be a top twelve pick in the first round. Take it all in as part of your pregame reading with this TFY Draft Preview report.

Who's Hot? Michael Lombardo at our San Diego site profiles one of this year's hottest prospects for the vacant head coach spots around the league -- Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. "Cameron is such a valuable asset because of his ability to create favorable match-ups for his star players," Lombardo explains in this subscribers feature. "Opponents know the Chargers are going to force feed the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates yet are unable to slow the duo." Check it out through the link above.

In case you haven't been paying attention... One coaching vacancy has been filled as the Falcons announced that Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino would be their franchise's 13th head coach. I wonder how other guys who were the 13th guy in line for their clubs fared compared to the typical head coach in the NFL? I'm sure that even if Petrino does happen to be superstitious, he probably got over that pretty quickly after he saw the size of the contract Atlanta put on the table. You can get the details here.

On the warpath: Nick Athan at our Chiefs site believes that tight end Tony Gonzalez is sending a message to management to go out and sign a top wide receiver, adding more diversity to their offense. "One of the signs you look for after a tough loss is the way the players conduct themselves," Athan says. "On Saturday, All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez and running back Larry Johnson agreed the offense has to change in 2007." Find out more about this big story here.

Ravens DT Haloti Ngata makes the tackle. (Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Massively happy: Aaron Wilson at our Ravens site points out that 6-foot-4, 340-pound rookie defensive tackle Haloti Ngata doesn't quite fit the prototypical Ravens defender from a personality perspective, but he sure does from a performance perspective. "Humble and soft-spoken, Ngata has quietly fit in with a rowdy defense known for its flamboyant athletes," he says. "His role has been a complementary one, taking up space, pushing the pocket backwards so [Trevor] Pryce, Terrell Suggs, Adalius Thomas and [Bart] Scott can attack the backfield. Ngata has consistently recorded tackles when teams try to run up the middle." subscribers can learn more about this exciting rookie here.

One turnover: Ken Palmer provides an insider's perspective on what went right and what went wrong for New York against the Eagles last Sunday. "The Giants committed the game's only turnover, but it directly led to three points, the game's final margin of defeat for New York," he notes in this feature at our Giants site.

Al Davis for a day: If you didn't have to look like the great-grandfather of the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, wouldn't you like to be Raiders owner Al Davis for a day? Denis Savage gives it a whirl and takes a look at the head coaching candidates for Oakland, and then tells you which ones are at the top of his list and why they make sense for the Raiders. subscribers can check it out here.

Bumpy road ahead: The Panthers were considered to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender entering this season, but finished the season at 8-8. That type of situation usually causes a bit of a stir during the offseason for an NFL club. Our Carolina site reports that, "The Panthers have to make tough decisions on longtime defensive favorites like linebacker Dan Morgan, defensive end Mike Rucker and safety Mike Minter. Several other role players are likely to be replaced, as well. Along with personnel changes, offensive coordinator Dan Henning and special teams coach Danny Crossman are on the hot seat." Get the full scoop on what's going on in Carolina here.

On his list: Our Dolphins site has put together their wish list of head coach candidates for Miami. "Our first choice, frankly, would be for an offensive mind because the last three full-time coaches -- Jimmy Johnson, Dave Wannstedt and Nick Saban -- were defensive guys, the results weren't that great and the Dolphins, for the most part, have been a pretty boring team to watch. We want some flash," they said. Find out which guys they like in this feature for subscribers.

Quotable: "I think after a loss like this and when you've accomplished a lot of things as a team, when you overcome a lot of adversity and do some things that people didn't expect you to do, and then it all comes crashing down in 60 minutes worth of football, it's just, your numb because you don't expect it to end this way." -- Jets quarterback Chad Pennington after the weekend loss to the Patriots. Check out some of his other comments in this transcript at our Jets site.

Destination 49ers? Craig Massei at our 49ers site raises the point that the team has plenty of dough to spend on veteran free agents this offseason, but some may wonder if they want to play in San Francisco. "They will if the guys who've joined the team via that route since Mike Nolan took over have anything to say about it," Massei says. "And those guys probably will, since the 49ers suddenly have appeal as a trendy destination for established veterans." You can read the full article here.

QB Tony Romo fumbles the snap as kicker Martin Grammatica has to pull up from his field goal attempt. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Nothing learned: "Seventeen games and just nine of them wins and what did we spend all the 2006 season learning about your Dallas Cowboys? Not a damn thing," says Mike Fisher at our Dallas site. "Combine Romo's sudden 2006 celebrity with this high-profile gaffe and he may have just carved out for himself a chunk of Bill Buckner-like infamy. Weren't we counting on Romo to be cool as ice in this one? We've learned nothing." Ouch. And that's just one of his nine observations. subscribers can check out the full slate here.

One Who Got Away: Sometimes you just stumble across a really fine football story. It doesn't matter which team you root for, you're still going to enjoy reading it if you're a football fan. Frank Derry at our Browns site has been reporting on the Browns for nearly three decades, and he shares a really memorable story that provides you with some insight into why the Steelers, not the Browns, have had consistent success and stability over the last 15 years. "It seems like only yesterday that Bill Cowher was running up and down the Browns' sideline as his special teams units performed on the field," he recalls. "Heaven forbid anything or anybody get in his way because Cowher's attention was riveted on his players, who were playing with the same emotion on the field that the former Browns linebacker was exhibiting on the sideline." Don't miss this one, folks, it's an eye-opener.

In search of more playmakers Todd Korth at our Packers site points out three key position areas that Green Bay must focus on during the offseason to bolster their talent and their results on the playing field. Korth even suggests who the Packers should pursue. And it might be some players from your favorite team! You can read his analysis in this feature for subscribers.

Chow time: Brad Keller at our Cardinals site continues his one-by-one analysis of head coach candidates for Arizona's vacancy. His most recent installment is on Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow. "As recently as 2005, Norm Chow was calling in plays to Matt Leinart ... Current Titans quarterback Vince Young (the man who defeated Leinart in last year's BCS Championship Game) thinks Chow walks on water. He has spoke in glowing tones about Chow's abilities as a coordinator, teacher, and mentor," Keller says. But is he a good fit in Arizona? subscribers can find out at our Cardinals site.

Best draft ever? Our Vikings site takes a look back at the 2006 NFL Draft and makes the case that "perhaps no draft has had as many players make an immediate impact as the Class of 2006." They break it down for you and show you why in this feature.

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