Brandon Marshall on ‘The View’ and Chip Kelly, Football Willy Wonka; Welcome to the NFL Offseason
A quick look at some of the NFL news from the past week.
Brandon Marshall Does It His Way
There are about a dozen reasons Brandon Marshall signing a contract on The View was weird. First, it was a reminder that EGOTer Whoopi Goldberg and Jenny McCarthy share the same weird-shaped table every morning. It was also another bit of proof that players have never been more in control of their own news. For fans of the NFL, it was the unlikely cap to what has been a strange eight years with Brandon Marshall.
Marshall would appear to be a new man. His early days in Denver were filled with falls through TV sets, 911 calls, and even an arrest for drunk driving. His visit to The View wasn’t about signing a new deal on TV, but announcing he was donating $1 million of his $30 million extension to mental health research. In 2011, Marshall revealed that he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and has been receiving treatment ever since.
He has also made a public commitment to the mental health community. During Mental Health Awareness Week, in October of last season, Marshall wore a pair of green cleats — the official color of the cause. The NFL fined him $10,500. Marshall matched every dollar of the fine with a donation.
This new Brandon Marshall has been a better teammate, too. This spring, nearly ever member of the Bears’ offense traveled to Marshall’s home in Florida for a few days of paintball and fanboat rides. They’re small things, but ones that general manager Phil Emery noticed. “Obviously, the things he did during the offseason to show leadership and to help pull the team together, they mean a lot,” Emery said on AM 670 in Chicago yesterday.
On the field, Marshall has done plenty to earn his new deal. He’s only 30, and his first two seasons with the Bears rank among the five best for a wide receiver in team history (with his first season probably being no. 1 on that list). The knock on Marshall, in his previous stops, was that he could never get into the end zone. He has 23 touchdowns in two seasons with the Bears. From the moment he got to town, Marshall was the best receiver in team history, but that was expected. What wasn’t expected was the effort he has put in elsewhere, and he deserves as much credit for that as for anything.
Chip Kelly Runs His Team Like Richie Rich Would
Chip Kelly’s goal to make the Eagles’ facility a utopia for any 8-year-old is again under way this year. After the daily, personalized smoothie regimen last offseason, Kelly has apparently moved on to RC Cars as stand-ins for guys like Percy Harvin.
Beau Allen, the Eagles’ seventh-round pick, told reporters that his first meeting with Kelly involved the coach driving a remote-control car into his leg. Apparently, because coaches aren’t allowed on the field during this “phase” of offensive workouts, the Eagles are using remote-control cars to simulate offensive motions and teach the defense how to shift in response to them.
That’s all fine (and pretty great), but knowing that Chip Kelly is spending his free time driving cars up and down the hallway of the Eagles’ facility is the best. I don’t even blame Kelly for being secretive about some of the weirder methods he employs. I’m guessing Willy Wonka wasn’t too transparent with the media, either.
The Packers Take a Chance on Colt Lyerla
Every draft has that player that comes with the “Based on talent … ” caveat. This year’s case was former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla. In 2012, Lyerla finished the season with 25 catches for 392 yards and looked like he was ready to become one of the better receiving tight ends in the country. That ended two games into his junior season, when Lyerla left the team for personal reasons. Less than three weeks later, he was arrested for cocaine possession after an undercover police officer saw him doing the drug in a parking lot in Eugene.
Lyerla’s problems supposedly go all the way back to high school, when he was suspended from the team more than once, for a variety of missteps. The reason Oregon brought him in is the same reason the Packers signed him yesterday: Colt Lyerla can play.
At the combine, his 39-inch vertical leap was best among tight ends, and his 4.61 was good for third. There are some concerns about his strength and whether he’d be able to block anyone, but those are concerns that extend to a lot of tight ends these days. Without the off-the-field issues, Lyerla would have had a real chance to be the second tight end taken after Eric Ebron. Even with those issues, some thought he could go as high as the third round. There’s no denying that the Packers are taking a chance, but it may be one worth taking. People who want to find trouble will find it anywhere, but Green Bay is a place where it’s a little tougher to track down. And for players that need stability, a franchise with Ted Thompson and Aaron Rodgers is a good place to start.
Preparing for Life Without Robert Mathis
Post-draft, pre-OTAs is one of those stretches of the NFL calendar when news is rarely good. While we all wait to see how the league’s highest-profile looming suspension shakes out in Cleveland, the Colts already know they’ll play their first four games without last year’s sack champion.
Robert Mathis accounted for more than 46 percent of the Colts’ sacks a year ago (19.5 of 42 total), the highest mark in the league by a considerable margin. Indianapolis added several defensive pieces in free agency, but a pass rusher wasn’t one of them. They came into this year’s draft with a shortage of picks, and most of the ones they did have went toward the offense. That means that without Mathis, Indianapolis will have to lean on second-year outside linebacker Bjoern Werner, their first-round pick from a year ago. Werner had a hard time as a rookie, especially after missing the early part of the year due to injury. If the Colts can’t get to the quarterback for the first quarter of the season, bringing in Arthur Jones and D’Qwell may not matter much.