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2/1/2015
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Aaron Rodgers Named 2014 NFL MVP (1/31 11:39 PT)

The Facts: For the second time, Rodgers is the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League. Rodgers had previously won the award for the 2011 season.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: It’s no surprise that the award went to Rodgers, who had a phenomenal statistical season: Rodgers completed 341 of 520 passes for 4,381 yards, with an incredible touchdown-interception ratio: He finished the year with 38 touchdown passes and just five interceptions. Rodgers got 31 MVP votes. J.J. Watt was second with 13 MVP votes. DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo each had two votes, while Tom Brady and (in a major surprise) Bobby Wagner each had one.

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DeMarco Murray Named 2014 Offensive Player Of The Year (1/31 11:35 PT)

The Facts: Murray was named the NFL’s offensive player of the year for the 2014 season.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: Murray finished the regular season with 392 carries for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns, plus another 57 catches for 416 yards. His production was a big part of the Cowboys snapping their string of 8-8 seasons and making the playoffs. Going forward, it remains to be seen whether Murray will keep helping the Cowboys win. Murray becomes a free agent in March, and the Cowboys may not have the cap space to afford to keep him.

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Rob Gronkowski Named 2014 Comeback Player Of Year (1/31 11:26 PT)

The Facts: After shaking off a major knee injury to establish himself as the best tight end in the NFL, Gronkowski has been named the comeback player of the year.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: Of the 50 voters for the NFL awards, 27 picked Gronkowski. In second place were Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin and Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain with seven votes each, followed by Broncos cornerback Chris Harris with three votes, Ravens running back Justin Forsett and Texans running back Arian Foster with two votes, and Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote and Bills quarterback Kyle Orton with one vote each.

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J.J. Watt Named 2014 NFL Player Of The Year (1/31 11:21 PT)

The Facts: In the least surprising news to come out of tonight’s NFL Honors event, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has been named the defensive player of the year.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: As PFT's Michael David Smith suggests, it was obvious that Watt would win the award because it’s obvious that Watt is the NFL’s best defensive player. There’s plenty of debate about who the second-best defensive player in the NFL is, but there’s no debate about who’s first. Watt was selected unanimously by the 50 media members who vote on the NFL’s awards.

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Bruce Arians Named NFL Coach Of The Year (1/31 11:19 PT)

The Facts: After leading the injury-plagued Cardinals to the playoffs, Arians has been named the NFL’s coach of the year.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: Arians, who kept the Cardinals together after they lost both starting quarterback Carson Palmer and backup quarterback Drew Stanton, was named the recipient of the coach of the year award at NFL Honors. A panel of 50 members of the media voted on the award. This is the second time Arians has been named the NFL’s coach of the year; he also won the award after the 2012 season, when he took over the Colts after Chuck Pagano was stricken with leukemia and led the Colts to the playoffs.

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OC's Understanding Of How To Maximize Calvin Johnson Improving (1/31 10:40 PT)

The Facts: Joe Lombardi went through the fire this season as Detroit's first-year play-caller. The OC recently acknowledged that one of his bigger challenges was learning how to best use Johnson. While possessing one of the game's most dangerous weapons amounted to a raging positive, Lombardi said the challenge came in adjusting to "how people play him."  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Lombardi learned down the stretch to pack in extra plays for Megatron to counter what teams did on a weekly basis. DetroitLions.com's Tim Twentyman noted that former OC Scott Linehan had a better grasp of the wide array of coverages Johnson would attract -- and learned to play off those looks -- something Lombardi had to adjust to on the fly. "I don't want to say (Johnson) makes it more difficult because he really makes it easier," Lombardi said. "But there are added layers of complexity when you have a player that can be that dominant. ..." That said, Lombardi still got 1,000-yard seasons out of Johnson and fellow wideout Golden Tate. As NFL.com suggests, with another year under his belt, Detroit's play-caller is a good bet to improve this weapon-rich attack in 2015.

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Peyton Manning's Decision Could Come In Next Two Weeks (1/30 10:21 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... The uncertain future of Manning might become clear in the coming days -- or weeks. Manning's father, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, believes the Broncos' signal-caller will make a decision "maybe in the next week or two."  Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: "He's given a lot of thought to it," the elder Manning added. Peyton Manning hasn't indicated which faces adjusting to a new regime under new HC Gary Kubiak and OC Rick Dennison. And as NFL.com notes, he also faces the pressure of trying to lead Denver to a Super Bowl victory as their window of opportunity for a title continues to shrink. ... Stay tuned.

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Robert Griffin III Thinks Health Is Key To His Rebound (1/30 12:55 PT)

The Facts: In addition to working with new QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh, Griffin is hoping to play a season without injury concerns for the first time in his NFL career. “Stay healthy, go out and have fun and play the game, and the rest will fall in place,” Griffin said.  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: An ankle injury was the health obstacle that Griffin had to deal with in 2014 as it knocked him out in the second week of the season and then left him trying to catch up in a new offense late in the season. As PFT suggests, Griffin’s issues in Jay Gruden’s offense appeared to go beyond the ankle injury last year, but the quarterback’s chances of changing are minimal without good health.

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Schneider Says Russell Wilson's Next Contract Will Present Challenges (1/29 12:06 PT)

The Facts: Following up on a previous item. ... Wilson is wrapping up his third NFL season, which means he’ll be eligible for a new contract in the offseason. On Tuesday, GM John Schneider acknowledged that Wilson’s impending jump from making less than $1 million to making in the neighborhood of $20 million will have a major effect on the rest of the team. “It presents challenges, there is no question,” Schneider said, via 710 ESPN. “We might not be able to dip into free agency like you may want to here and there or compensate somebody else that you want to compensate that is already on your team.”  Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: As PFT notes, after making the playoffs in all three years of his career, advancing to the Super Bowl twice and winning more games than any other quarterback through his first three years, Wilson stands to make a handsome amount of money under that contract. But players like Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett have paid off in a big way on free agency dips for Seattle and they’re going to need to compensate the likes of LB Bobby Wagner in addition to Wilson in the near future. However they manage those moves, the pressure will be high for Schneider to continue hitting big in the draft on the young, inexpensive players needed to surround Wilson and the rest of the core for the Seahawks to keep winning.

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NFLPA Files Brief Backing Adrian Peterson (1/28 5:46 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... When NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Peterson last season, he set April 15 as a date to consider Peterson’s reinstatement and mandated that Peterson meet with a league-approved psychiatrist for counseling after pleading no contest to a charge of misdemeanor reckless assault on his four-year-old son. On Monday, the NFLPA filed a brief in federal court arguing that Goodell has no power to impose such a condition on Peterson. Reported by Profootballtalk.com

Diehards Line: The union, which is suing to have Peterson reinstated as soon as possible in a case set to begin next month, argues that Goodell’s powers under the collective bargaining agreement are limited to fining players, suspending them or terminating their contracts. ... Peterson met with a psychology professor from Harvard following his indictment in September and provided details to the league, which directed Peterson to meet with a different doctor from NYU. After his suspension was upheld by Henderson, Peterson told ESPN that he felt “like any type of process with the NFL is not the way to go.” And the NFLPA is backing that play. Judge David Doty is scheduled to hear 30-minute arguments from the union and the league in Minneapolis on Feb. 6.

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Drew Brees Believes Saints Know How To Turn Team Around (1/28 12:25 PT)

The Facts: The Saints were an offseason Super Bowl favorite in 2014. However, a rash of injuries and disappointing play led to a 7-9 season. Brees said after Sunday's Pro Bowl that it was the "most frustrating season" he's experienced. But after talking with HC Sean Payton and GM Mickey Loomis after the season, the QB believes his team knows how to turn it around. "I think we've identified the problems or the things that got us beat or the things that didn't allow us to be as good as we know we can be, and we have the solution to fix it," Brees said. "It's going to take a lot of work, but I know we can get it done." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: Brees didn't detail what those "problems" were specifically, but alluded to losing significant locker room leadership when the Saints jettisoned a bevy of veterans the last few offseasons.One reason the Saints were viewed as a Super Bowl-caliber team last year was the amount of young talent on the roster. Brees, however, doesn't care about talent; he wants winners. "I hate the word 'talent.' I hate it," Brees said. "Some of the best players I ever played with, or best teammates I ever played with, that wasn't their best quality. Everybody's talented. Their best quality was their work ethic, their leadership ability, their ability to fight through adversity, toughness, reliability. Those are the things I most value." As NFL.com's Kevin Patra suggests, it's on Loomis and Payton to combine the right amount of young dynamic talent and veteran leaders in the Saints' locker room to turn their record around in 2015.

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Bucs Could Be Able To Get Something In Return For Mike Glennon (1/28 12:14 PT)

The Facts: Several teams called the Bucs to inquire about the availability of Glennon during last year’s draft proceedings, and some around the league believe the same will happen again this year. Speaking on “NFL Insiders” last Friday, ESPN Insider Adam Caplan said the general manager of a team not in need of a quarterback told him teams looking for quarterbacks are sure to call the Bucs about Glennon. “He said that the tape wasn’t great on Glennon from last season, but (he pointed out that) he’s got (two years) left on his contract and the Bucs aren’t paying him a lot ($1.4 million through 2016),’’ Caplan said. “He said that’s a guy you have to take a look at (if you’re a team in need of a quarterback).’’ Reported by the Tampa Tribune

Diehards Line: With the first overall pick in the draft, the Bucs will have their choice of either Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, who just may be the two most promising quarterbacks available this offseason. But most of the other teams in need of quarterback help, such as the Jets, Texans and Bills, may have to try to work out a trade to fill their need. That’s where the Bucs come in. Not that Glennon is likely to bring much in return. With his mixed bag of experience over the course of the last two years, he may only net the Bucs a fourth- or fifth-round draft pick. Still, as Tribune staffer Roy Cummings suggests, if the Bucs are ready to move on from Glennon, a fourth-round pick might not be a bad return.

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Cowboys Have Faith In Joseph Randle (1/28 12:12 PT)

The Facts: If DeMarco Murray moves on as a free agent in 2015, Randle will get a chance to prove he can be effective as a full-time back. There are those at Valley Ranch who believe he can be a 1,400-yard rusher, but they also acknowledge there is more to the position than running the ball.  Reported by ESPN.com

Diehards Line: As ESPN.com's Todd Archer notes, what happens to Murray will be the story of the Cowboys' offseason. Do the Cowboys pay him a nice reward or do they let him walk as a free agent? Depending on the day, hour, minute that answer can change. And as he pointed out in his comment on Randle, Archer points out that Murray has value to the Cowboys for more than just his ability to run the ball. Finding how to come to a financial agreement with all those things considered will be difficult. It won't be impossible. The Cowboys can certainly afford Murray, Dez Bryant and make plays in free agency with their salary cap. If they don't keep Murray, it will be a decision that they don't want to overpay for a running back. Randle and Lance Dunbar will factor into that equation.

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Former Agent: Trent Richardson's Suspension Voids 2015 Guaranteed Salary (1/27 1:16 PT)

The Facts: Joel Corry, the former agent for Richardson and now a writer for the National Football Post, said Tuesday via Twitter that Richardson's suspension for the final two games voids the guarantees on his $3.18M 2015 base salary. Reported by the Redzone.org

Diehards Line: As previously noted, Richardson was suspended from the Colts for their playoff games against the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots for "conduct detrimental to the team". According to the Redzone.org, he will likely file a grievance through the NFLPA, but if the suspension stands then the Colts can dump him without paying him the final year of his guaranteed rookie contract. Look for them to do so if at all possible, after giving a first-round draft pick to obtain Richardson from the Browns early in the 2013 season only to get minimal return on their investment. Even before his suspension, Richardson had been almost completely phased out of the Colts' offensive scheme after being badly outplayed by the likes of Daniel "Boom" Herron and Zurlon Tipton.

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Colts Keep Chudzinski In The Fold With Associate HC Title (1/27 1:12 PT)

The Facts: Rob Chudzinski isn't leaving Indianapolis. The Colts announced Tuesday morning they agreed to a new contract with Chudzinski and named him associate head coach. "We're excited to keep Chud in our family," HC Chuck Pagano said. "He's been a critical part of our operation and we're looking forward to sharing even more success in the future." Reported by NFL.com

Diehards Line: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that both the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams wanted to talk to Chudzinski for their offensive coordinator openings. Chudzinski joined the Colts in 2014 as special assistant to the head coach. Most notably during his 11-year NFL coaching career, Chudzinski was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns in 2013 after serving two previous stints with the team in 2004 and from 2007-08. Keeping both offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and Chudzinski around quarterback Andrew Luck should help the continuity of an offense that is looking to add playmakers beyond T.Y. Hilton.

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Investigation Into Patriots Won't Be Resolved For Several Weeks (1/27 12:05 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Any notion that the NFL's investigation into the usage of underinflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game might be done prior to the kickoff of Super Bowl XLIX can pretty much be put to rest. Ted Wells, who was appointed by the league to assist with the ongoing probe, released a statement Monday - prior to the Patriots' arrival in Arizona, site of Sunday's Super Bowl - saying he doesn't expect the matter to be resolved for "several more weeks." Reported by USA Today

Diehards Line: Furthermore, Wells essentially gave the Patriots an organizational pass from talking about the matter this week even though it is clearly the front burner issue as the buildup to the big game begins in earnest. "We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation on the issue of the footballs used in the AFC Championship," said Wells, a prominent lawyer who also investigated the Dolphins' locker room bullying scandal during the 2013 season. "In the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded. The results will be shared publicly." But not for a while. Likely a long while. And if the Patriots are exonerated? Robert Kraft is going to want an apology.

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Report: Jags Optimistic About Justin Blackmon Returning In 2015 (1/27 12:01 PT)

The Facts: "Lots of folks" are "optimistic" that Blackmon, the suspended wide receiver, will return to the team in 2015, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports. Reported by the Redzone.org

Diehards Line: The Jaguars hope to have an update on Blackmon's progress before May's draft, at which point they can begin planning for the 2015 season. Blackmon remains on indefinite suspension from the NFL at this time and has no concrete date for reinstatement by the league. But if he's going to return, the Jaguars need Blackmon to apply for reinstatement sometime within the next five weeks. According to the NFL's substance abuse policy, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has to make a decision within 60 days of a completed application for reinstatement. As the Redzone.org notes, the 25-year old Blackmon's return would be a huge boost for beleaguered quarterback Blake Bortles and his addition to a WR corps already brimming with young talents like Marqise Lee, Allen Robinson, and Allen Hurns could turn that unit into one of the most dangerous in the AFC.

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It's Official: Broncos Name Dennison Their New OC (1/27 12:00 PT)

The Facts: The Broncos agreed to terms on Monday with former linebacker and coach Rick Dennison to be the team's offensive coordinator. Reported by DenverBroncos.com

Diehards Line: Dennison is a 20-year NFL coaching veteran with 15 years of experience with the Broncos, including three seasons (2006-08) as Denver's offensive coordinator. Dennison spent four years (2010-13) as head coach Gary Kubiak's offensive coordinator in Houston before being hired in Baltimore last season to coach the team's quarterbacks. During his four seasons as offensive coordinator in Houston, Dennison oversaw one of the league's most balanced offenses. The Texans ranked eighth in the NFL in total offense (369.5 ypg) from 2010-13, including sixth in rushing (130.6 ypg) and 13th in passing (239.0 ypg). The announcement has been expected since Kubiak's hiring in the wake of John Fox's surprising departure. Assuming Peyton Manning returns for another season, Kubiak and Dennison have the talent to field a productive unit.

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Report: NFL Zeroed In On Patriots Locker Room Attendant (1/26 2:42 PT)

The Facts: Following up on the ongoing story. ... Sources tell FOXSports insider Jay Glazer the NFL has zeroed in on a locker room attendant with the Patriots who allegedly took balls from the officials' locker room to another area on way to field.  Reported by FootballDiehards.com

Diehards Line: Sources tell Glazer the league has interviewed him and additionally have video. They're still gauging if any wrong doing occurred with him but he is strong person of interest. While we still don't expect final resolution before Sunday's Super Bowl game against Seattle, but this will certainly advance the story sufficiently for HC Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady to face further questioning upon arrival in Phoenix this afternoon. ... We'll continue to follow up as needed.

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Jimmy Graham Excited About Shoulder After Strong Pro Bowl Showing (1/26 1:50 PT)

The Facts: Graham used Sunday night's Pro Bowl to show off a healthy shoulder. ... And he brought back his touchdown dunk, too. The TE provided relief for worried Saints fans while grabbing two TD passes, including the winning 1-yard catch on fourth down with 3:10 left in the game. Graham, who was slowed for much of the 2014 season with a strained right shoulder, could have eased fears that the problem would linger and potentially require offseason surgery. When asked whether his performance would rule out surgery, Graham said, “It should, which is really exciting.”  Reported by the Baton Rouge Advocate

Diehards Line: Graham suffered the shoulder injury in the fifth game of the season and struggled with it for the rest of the season, which caused his numbers to fall off after he received a big contract last offseason. Still, he didn't miss a game because of the injury and led the team with 85 receptions and 10 TDs and had 885 yards even though his long gain went for just 29 yards. ... We'll be watching his progress in coming weeks.

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