Saturday, October 22, 2016

2006 Pensacola International Film Festival Set for First Week in November

The controversial documentary Jesus Camp will probably be the headliner at the 2006 Pensacola International Film Festival. Jesus Camp has a local connection as the documentary features interviews with Pensacola attorney Mike Papantonio. In addition to being a lawyer, Mr. Papantonio is also an avowed Christian who has spoken out against the unsettling power that that evangelical movement has had on politics in America over the last few decades.

The Pensacola International Film Festival will take place November 3-5 and feature over 20 movies made by filmmakers from all around the world. In addition to little known and low budget films such as The McPassion and The Boys of Baraka, the festival will also screen Purlie Victorious, starring Ossie Davis, Ruby and Alan Alda. For those would-be filmmakers who wonder just what your chances are of anyone seeing your ultra-low budget film, it will be interesting to see a movie called The Death of Michael Smith, reportedly made on a budget of just over $500.

Although the Pensacola International Film Festival won’t begin until after Halloween, if the Fox Network can air The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Halloween special on the same day that the festival ends, there may enough lingering effects from All Hallow’s Eve turn the horror flick Scouts into one of the biggest draws. The tagline: Five scouts enter Satan’s woods. One returns.

The best way to enjoy every movie featured during the run of the 2006 Pensacola International Film Festival is to buy an all access pass. This pass allows you see as many or as few of the movies as you want and only costs $20.00 Because so many films will be presented over such a short period of time, of course, the actual screenings will be spread across various locations. There are five different locals at which movies will be show, but the good news is all of them are within walking distance of each other. In addition, free entertainment will be available throughout the day at “The Green” as well as refreshments. “The Green” and all of the screening locations are situated within historical downtown Pensacola, so even if you don’t wish to partake of independent films, you can enjoy the other Pensacola sites nearby, including Wall South, a scaled-down version of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, St. Michael’s cemetery that has been here for over two centuries, and the gorgeous old architecture.

The 2006 Pensacola International Film Festival is still in its growing stages, but keep in mind that fifty years ago or so the only reason anybody ever went to Cannes, France was to swim with topless women.

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2006 Denver Broncos Preview

I’ve always been a fan of Broncos head coach, Mike Shanahan and, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season, the Broncos have to be considered one of the favorites in the AFC in 2006.

If the Broncos offseason additions can make an impact – and quarterback, Jake Plummer can avoid the mental breakdown he suffered in last season’s AFC Championship contest, then the Broncos could make their first Super Bowl appearance since you-know-who retired eight years ago.

I know I’ve ripped Jake Plummer quite a few times for many of the inexplicable mental errors he is prone to make at any given moment, but I have to give credit where credit is due.

Plummer actually had a fine regular season in 2005, throwing only seven picks, but suffered through a two-pick, two-fumble performance in the AFC title tilt – although I must admit that the Broncos on the whole, were outplayed that day.

First round draft pick, Jay Cutler is the heir apparent to Plummer and could see some action this season should Plummer falter. Overall, I’d have to say that the Broncos quarterback situation is better than most teams in the league – and a strength for the Broncos because of Shanahan’s acumen as an offensive genius who knows how to develop quarterbacks.

Running Back
The unheralded Mike Bell has taken over as the starting runnig back for the Broncos this season after Denver decided to part ways with last year’s leading rusher, Mike Anderson.

Although it was widely assumed that either Ron Dayne or Tatum Bell would vie for the starting running back position, Bell surpassed both of them with an excellent training camp that wowed Shanahan.

Let’s be honest though. Shanahan has always had a golden touch when it comes to his starting running backs. Ever year or two, it seems the Broncos plug some “unknown” into their starting position and the guy comes up with a 1,200-yard season.

Wide Receiver/Tight End
Simply put, Rod Smith, may be the best draft selection ever at the wide receiver position. Not much was expected out of Smith when he came out of college and all he has done is catch his way to Canton. The Broncos acquired former Green Bay Packers disgruntled wide receiver, Javon Walker, to start on the other side opposite of Smith, while the talented, but underachieving, Ashley Lelie.

If Walker returns to form from his torn Acl, then the Broncos could have their best pass receiving trio in quite a while – if they don’t trade the borderline head case, Lelie first. Offensive Line

I really won’t bother naming the Broncos “nameless” offensive lineman, who routinely are one of the best offensive lines in all of football. Not only does the Broncos offensive line perennially open holes for whomever is in Denver’s backfield, but this group is also excellent at pass protection and gave up only 23 sacks last season.

Defensive Linemen
This unit could be a problem for Denver. The Broncos let veteran Trevor Pryce walk because of salary reasons and will depend upon guys like Ebenezer Ekuban, Corey Jackson, Kenard Lang and Elvis Dumervil in addition to a slew of ex-Cleveland Browns (Gerard Warren, Michael Myers and Kenard Lang).

Someone in this unit had better step forward and have a Pro Bowl caliber season, or the Broncos could give up as many yards on the ground as they usually rush for each season.

I would have to say that this unit is the strength of Denver’s defense. D.J. Williams, Ian Gold and Al Wilson are all competent linebackers who are borderline Pro Bowl caliber players who can make plays all over the field. If any of the three should go down however, the Broncos will be forced to play backups Patrick Chukwurah and Keith Burns – an unimposing pair at best.

Defensive Backs
Last season, cornerback, Champ Bailey, was everything the Broncos expected and more – and possibly, the best corner in the entire league. Bailey’s play apparently rubbed off on rookies, Darrent Williams Domonique Foxworth as both had fine seasons as well and should be even better in 2006.

Safety John Lynch may not be as physically gifted as he used to be, but he can still lay the big hit on unsuspecting opponents at any time. Safety Nick Ferguson is a tackling machine too, who probably doesn’t get the notice he deserves because of his higher profile defensive backfield brethren. On the whole, this unit is one of the best in all of football.

Special Teams
Everyone knows that kicker Jason Elam is lights out and punter, Todd Sauerbrun is an excellent veteran punter who knows how to get the job done. Williams took over the punt and kickoff returning duties last season and did a more than credible job.

I hate to say that the Broncos aren’t going to miss former offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak, but in reality, they won’t. Everyone knows that Shanahan is the mastermind behind the Broncos offense. As Shanahan goes, so go the Broncos – and for the most part – they’ve gone quite well.

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2006 Ford Ranger Edge

Trucks are supposed to be big. They haul loads, pull cars and boats like no car or SUV ever could. The problem is they guzzle gas like no other vehicle on the road. The 2003 Ford Ranger offers a nice compromise. You may not be able to pull your yacht with it, but it’ll cost you a lot less, and you’ll still be able to throw whatever you need in the back.

The base Ranger Edge comes with six cylinders and a five speed. It’s enough power to handle a few hundred pounds of sheetrock in the bed, and easily keep up with traffic. You won’t be able to pull much like the F-150, its bigger brother with a V-8, but the truck is light on its feet, and averages 25 mpg during city and highway driving at the same being capable of handling a small trailer.

The interior is utilitarian in its design. Ford didn’t have long trips in mind when they built this truck, but the seats are decent for a few hours at a time. They are easy to clean, and hold up better than most seats under heavy use. Don’t count on bringing more than one other person along if you opt for the five speed, you can’t use second or fourth with even a child next to you. There are a few cubic feet of space behind the seats, but that’s it. You won’t be able to fit the smallest of suitcases back there. Think airline carry on space only. The bed does hold quite a bit and although the stock bed liner looks good, it doesn’t hold up very long. Take a look at rhino liner if you will be hauling a lot.

The handling is really good for a truck. The chassis is incredibly stiff, and hardly rolls through corners. Don’t even think about taking it in the snow with out some weight in the back and a good set of snow tires or chains. There’s no weight in the back at all, making the truck tricky in the wet as well. The brakes coupled with anti lock work extremely well. Panic stops are just a stab of the pedal away, and the brakes are nice and firm. The clutch went at 20 thousand miles on our truck, but was replaced under warranty. Since then the whole truck has been trouble free aside from a slipping volume dial on the radio and an occasional slight scraping going into third.

Overall the Ranger is a great reliable light truck. It can haul medium loads, while still giving good performance and gas mileage at a great price. If you need to haul dirty or large items occasionally or just like trucks, but not the big size, the Ranger could be just for you.

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2006 Ford Focus: Never Better

Ford has always worked hard to uphold its valuable traditions and still stay among the leading competitors for new, innovative cars. The 2006 Ford Focus is new and improved and does just that. Six years ago, in 2000 when the Focus was released there were high expectations for this car to meet all of Ford’s standards. Unfortunately, it fell short of being anything impressive. While many of its issues were only minor problems they all added up to present a less than top quality car. In 2006, however, you will see a new era of the Focus. The 2006 Focus holds its own among the small cars in the industry like those of Hyundai’s and KIAs. With a competitive price of just under 14,000 USD you can expect to see the Ford Focus back on the road.

Before, the Focus had little when it came to power. Although, it doesn’t boast a high performance, high speed engine it does offer the perfect amount of power that buyers are looking for when they go shopping for a small, safe car. With a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine and five speed manual transmissions the 2006 model will keep you towards the front of the line when driving down the highway. It gets 26 mpg when driving in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. This gives the Focus a nice mix of subtle power and fuel efficiency that is hard to find in other small cars like the Kia Rio.

Not only has the engine been improved but the 2006 Ford Focus has a new exterior with many options for all customers. Body styles include the ZX3 hatchback with three doors, the ZX5 hatchback with five doors, the ZX4 sedan with four doors, and the ZXW wagon. With so many different styles you’re sure to find a car that suits your tastes and needs. With the updated body styles it is only natural to have an updated interior as well. It holds up to five people in comfort and provides sufficient space that is naturally hard to find in most small cars. You will find that even bigger passengers will feel quite comfortable in the back seat of the 2006 Focus.

While there is close competition among the small car market sector with so many options like the Toyota Corolla, Saturn ION, Chevrolet Cobalt the Focus ZX3 has the most competitive price at $13,990. For those shopping on a budget but don’t want to give up efficiency with decent power the ZX3 could be your best option. Like all good things that only get better as time passes the Ford Focus has increased its ratings and become a top competitor in a tough market.

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2006 NFL Draft: An Overview of the 2006 NFL Draft in the NFC South

Recap of NFC South in 2006 NFL Draft

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Coach Jon Gruden wanted to go after core players on offense and defense and utilized a good deal of their 2006 NFL draft improving this area. First round NFL draft pick David Joseph, the big guard from Oklahoma, should give Cadillac Williams some holes to run through. Second round NFL draft pick Jeremy Trueblood will give them another big body at tackle to protect Chris Simms. The Buccaneers’ third round NFL Draft pick, wide receiver Maurice Stovall of Notre Dame, may give Simms another weapon in a lackluster offense. The Buccaneers look like they are beginning to get back to basics in this off-season and look to leap ahead of Carolina and Atlanta for preeminence in the NFC South.
2006 NFL Draft grade: B

Carolina Panthers- The Panthers used their first 2006 NFL Draft pick on some depth at the running back position, taking talented DeAngelo Williams with the 27th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Williams hopes to give them their first 1,000 yard rusher since 2001 and some versatility in the passing game. Cornerback Richard Marshall, taken in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, should give them some depth in the secondary, while James Anderson, taken in the third round, should give them another solid linebacker to shut down potent NFC offenses.
2006 NFL Draft grade: B-

Atlanta Falcons- The Atlanta Falcons used the 2006 NFL Draft to pick up some reserve help after a disappointing (and injury filled) 2005 NFL campaign,. Without a first round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Falcons used their highest pick on bookend cornerback Jimmy Williams to team with DeAngelo Hall to try and shut down receivers like Carolina’s Steve Smith and New Orleans’ Joe Horn. Aside from Williams, the draft was largely used on projects like running back Jerious Norwood and the dearth of draft picks showed that the Falcons already have a number of young players in the past few drafts and that the future of the franchise is in the hands of Hall, Michael Vick, and others.
2006 NFL Draft grade: C+

New Orleans Saints- New coach Sean Payton and owner Tom Benson were put in an easy position in the 2006 NFL Draft when popular mock draft number one pick Reggie Bush fell to them in the second position in the 2006 NFL Draft. The Bush pick was a no-brainer for the Saints brain trust but the large contract that running back Deuce McAllister has makes observers wonder whether Bush is going to be used in solely a backfield role. With receivers Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth, along with McAllister and Brees in the backfield, it seems like they will use Bush in a number of roles, including return man and receiver. Safety Roman Harper, a pick in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, is a value pick for a defense that needs depth. The 2006 NFL Draft for the Saints was all about Bush, however, and he will provide them a potentially great weapon in their return to New Orleans.
2006 NFL Draft grade: B

2006 NFL Draft Division Winner- The New Orleans Saints win the divisional race for best 2006 NFL draft, mostly because Reggie Bush has such a huge upside at the second level. However, Tampa Bay had a solid draft and will reap the benefits of fixing their line problems.

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2006 Super Bowl XL Winning Coach Bill Cowher Resigns

PITTSBURGH, PA – Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher announced his resignation from the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 5th, 2006. He was the head coach for the Steelers for 15 years. According to the official Steelers website (, Cowher was the longest running head coach in the NFL. He was the Pittsburgh Steelers only head coach since 1969. Chuck Noll was the preceding Pittsburgh Steelers head coach.

Bill Cowher’s record is impressive. He led the Pittsburgh Steelers to their fifth Super Bowl win in 2006. Fans called this Super Bowl win “one for the thumb” signifying the fifth Super Bowl ring. Cowher led the Steelers to two Super Bowl games, 6 AFC Championship games, and 10 post season appearances. Cowher’s overall stats are 161-99-1 a .619 percentage. His stats in the regular season are 149-90-1, a .623 percentage. These are the overall highest percentages in Steelers history. Under Cowher’s tenure, the Steelers tied the record for the most division titles and NFL’s best overall record in the regular season. New England shared these impressive stats.

Cowher played football in high school in a suburb of Pittsburgh. His college career at North Carolina State University also was surrounded by football. He was a linebacker and later went on to being a team captain. In his senior year of college, he was award the most valuable player award.

Post college life led him to a pro NFL career. He played for the Philadelphia Eagles for one season, and then played for the Cleveland Browns for three seasons, before being traded back for to the Philadelphia Eagles. His second round with the Philadelphia Eagles lasted two more years (1983 – 84).

Bill Cowher’s coaching career soon followed which he began in 1985. He was a young coach beginning his coaching career at age 28.

Bill Cowher was known to Pittsburgh fans as the players coach. He was an emotional coach who got into the face of his players when needed. Occasionally, that same emotion came through with his interaction with the referees.

According to Cowher, his major reason for his resignation is to be able to spend more time with his wife, Kaye and his three daughters. He has two older daughters, Meagan and Lauren, who play basketball for Princeton. His youngest daughter, Lindsay, plays for a high school team in North Carolina. An excerpt from his press conferences leaves no doubt as to the reasoning of his decision:

“And to the fans. To the Steelers fans in Pittsburgh and the fans around the country – second to none. I want to thank you for your passion and your support. I’ve said this before: I’m a part of you. You can take the people out of Pittsburgh, but you will never take the Pittsburgh out of people. I’m one of you. Yinz know what I mean.

“And last, to my wife and three daughters. I was asked a long time ago how I have lasted in this business for so long. And there’s no doubt that it’s the balance I’ve been able to live. My three daughters, to be a part of their lives will always be my main objective in life. If there’s a legacy I’d like to leave, it’s my daughters saying, “My dad was a good dad.” That’s important to me.

“To my wife, my soul-mate and my friend, the sacrifices she has made, the love and support she has given me through the years, she’s been my backbone. Today I sit here and say to you, while I wish the Pittsburgh Steelers nothing but the best, I’ve given a lot of thought to this decision, and it is right now the best thing for me and my family at this time.

“And I have to be honest with you: I’m looking forward to it. My wife may not be able to say the same thing to that after being around me for a couple of weeks, but I really am looking forward to spending time with the family.”

Bill Cowher will be sorely missed by the Pittsburgh fans, but the fan’s loss is his family’s gain.

To watch the full Bill Cowher resignation news conference:


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2006 Taxes - Uncle Sam Makes it Harder to Give to Charity

Charity donations 2006 rulings are more stringent than those that were able to be used for your prior tax return. Clothing and other appliances or home items that are donated after 8/17/06 will have to be in good used condition or even better condition to qualify as charitable donations. If the taxpayer will include a verifiable and actual appraisal of any one item from the home, they can claim a deduction of more than $500 on their 2006 tax return. Items that qualify for donations include clothing, furnishings, and articles of furniture, electronic items, electrical appliances, and household linens.

Beginning in the 2006 tax year individuals will now be required to fully document all of the cash contributions they provide to charities. There are new regulations to be considered for voluntary contributions of any amount that you plan to include on a 2006 tax form. Taxpayers will need to document each of their cash donations separately and cannot combine them to try to qualify for a larger 2006 tax refund. This means that if you donate $200 dollars in cash every two weeks the donations must qualify for the under $250 rules every time, you cannot combine the amounts and consider them as a $500 monthly or $6000 annual contribution.

Cash Contributions that are Less than $250

If taxpayers have cash contributions that are each less than $250, they must also have one of the following documentations if you plan to claim them on your 2006 taxes.

• A check that is canceled shows the amount or a clear and accurate statement that is able to provide a verified check number with the amount of the contribution, the date of the contribution and the charity that received the money.

• Receipt from a qualified charity with their name, date of the cash donation, and the cash amount that was received.

• Another written and verifiable statement with the above information.

Cash Contributions that are more than $250

If there are cash contributions from a taxpayer that are more than $250, an acknowledgment of this contribution must be obtained from the qualified organization. You will need these statements even if you are filing your 2006 tax online. This must be a written statement that meets the following requirements:

• Any cash donation must be documented, personal records and miscellaneous credit card statements are no longer sufficient for this purpose.

• The statement must certify if you received goods or services in exchange for your contribution.

• If there was an exchange there must be a good faith estimation concerning the real value of these items.

• The statement must be received on or before the date that the taxpayer is going to file a return. The contribution must be completed by this date, including any filing extension. This means that if you are filing a late 2006 tax return you must be sure to have your charitable contributions completed well in advance of this date.

To file your late 2006 tax return online go to

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2006 NFL Season Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

With the preseason in full swing and the opening weekend less than a calendar month away, now is the perfect time to glance in at all 32 NFL franchises and get a scoop on what to expect this season. I will be grading every team on all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. I will also take a look at the coaching staffs of all 32 teams, including the 10 new Head Coaches and evaluate the impact they might have on their team’s success. Then I will outline some key position battles and some names you may or may not know about to watch for the upcoming season.

Andy Reid heads into his eighth NFL season with a task in front of him that is a bit different than the tasks that he’s had to deal with the past few seasons. They aren’t coming from a successful season and a deep playoff run. Instead, Reid must deal with the departure of his Offensive Coordinator, but he also has made an addition to the team by subtraction. Gone is team cancer Terrell Owens, off to be NFC East rival Dallas’ problem, and the Eagles seem to be a looser team already in minicamps and during training camp. But ahead of the Eagles is a very tough rode. Every team in the NFC East has made significant strides to make their teams better and leave the other behind. The Eagles really haven’t made as many moves as the others to keep pace, and you have to wonder whether the Eagles can actually keep up with the rest of their division. Donovan McNabb has already said that they are a playoff team, but is that a confident leader or a foolish player with no sense of what’s going on?


Coach Andy Reid entered the 2006 offseason with a tough job, having to replace Brad Childress as Offensive Coordinator after he left to take the Minnesota Vikings’ Head Coaching position. Reid wasted little time in promoting Marty Mornhinweg to the position of Offensive Coordinator from his previous post with the Eagles as a Senior Assistant Coach. What Mornhinweg will give to the Eagles and quarterback Donovan McNabb is a person who is comfortable with the personnel and not an outside personality needing to assimilate himself to the players. Mornhinweg is a true West Coast coach, someone who is traditionally accustomed to the short passing game and is very well versed in reading and analyzing defenses and how they play the system. He should be an asset to McNabb in helping him adjust the offense and the plays to the defenses that they will face every weekend. But with questions all over the field on the offensive side of the ball, they may not have such a seamless transition in terms of the personnel. How will the offense fare?

QB: McNabb comes back to the action in Philly after missing the final 7games of the season with a sports hernia and in truth having been bothered by the injury for weeks before he finally went on the shelf for the season. But McNabb is re-focused on the task at hand, namely leading the Philadelphia Eagles. Physically, McNabb has all the talents and qualities you want to have in a quarterback. He’s got incredible range on the field and is adequately accurate with his passing. He can go deep or make the short passes with equal efficiency. The problem, at least in 2005, was that the perception of him not having the attention of his teammates or having to deal with teammates questioning his leadership. Whether or not it is all true, McNabb really is the key to the offense. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll contribute well to the 2006 Eagles.

RB/FB: Brian Westbrook is a talented running back who has solid running ability and above-average receiving ability. Westbrook is a running back who can lineup in the slot during passing downs or catch the short dump-off and really make a big play happen. He led the NFL in receptions (61) as well as receiving yards (616) by a running back before suffering injury in his foot. Westbrook has exactly one more rushing yard than he did receiving before he injured himself. They look to Westbrook on a lot of misdirection runs and plays in which gaining the corner before the pursuit is required. With his speed and explosiveness, Westbrook is the perfect back. He is average between the tackles, sometimes showing an inability to break arm tackles. Behind him will be second year player Ryan Moats and Reno Mahe, both of whom did decent jobs in 2005 in Westbrook’s absence. Josh Parry is the starting fullback for the Eagles. Parry beat out Jon Ritchie last season after being an injury replacement for Ritchie in 2004. He’s an improving blocker who can contribute once in a while with the occasional carry or reception.

WR/TE: This is still a position of intrigue for the Eagles. With Terrell Owens gone to Dallas, the Eagles are able to get rid of the problem child in the locker room. Of course, with him leaves one of the best receivers in the NFL out the door. With Owens deactivated by the team and number two receiver Todd Pinkston having suffered a ruptured Achillies tendon , the Eagles depended on Reggie Brown and Greg Lewis to carry the load receiving. WIth Pinkston returning and Brown looking to build on an excellent rookie season in 2005, the receiving corp is set up to contribute. Pinkston has decent speed and is very consistent and should be a solid contributor this season. Brown had 43 catches last season and led all NFL rookies with 571 receiving yards. Brown also has the confidence of his starting quarterback, something that should help his progress even more. Meanwhile, Lewis will serve as the team’s third receiver. Lewis has the ability to go out on the field and make the tough grabs over the middle that move the chains. Tight end L.J. Smith is McNabb’s favorite target and continues to be one of the better receiving TEs in the NFL. He’s got deceptive speed and good size for a TE, something that McNabb has taken full advantage of.

OL: It appears as though Jamaal Jackson has beaten veteran Hank Fraley out for the center position. Jackson started the final eight games for the Eagles last season and has been able to win the starting job permanently for the Eagles at center. He’s got good skills and will be counted on by the Eagles, but will have to deal with staying healthy and reducing the number of penalties that he draws. On his left will be ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Tra’ William Thomas and Todd Herremans. Herremans played for Thomas at left tackle as a rookie last season when Thomas suffered an injury, but he’ll move into the guard position with the return of veteran Thomas to his position. They will work together to handle McNabb’s blindside. The right side of the line will feature veteran Jon Runyan and Shawn Andrews. Runyan has been one of the most consistent players on the team and has started all 96 games since signing with the Eagles. He’s been a mentor on the line to the younger players who needed a veteran presence. Andrews is another young offensive lineman who had regular time for the first time in 2005 and responded well. He’s a massive force who engulfs D-Linemen.
Overall Grade: B-


Jim Johnson has been the mastermind of the Eagles’ defense since 1999 and has never changed philosophies. Johnson is of the school that says ‘if you aren’t blitzing then you aren’t trying.’ Known around the NFL as being one of the most creative blitzers in the NFL, Johnson continually comes up with new ways to put pressure on an opposing quarterback. One time, you may see a corner push up, the enxt time, a linebacker goes across the field to blitz the other side of the line. Point is, Johnson is going to attack… and he will come down on you hard. He has made the Eagles one of the most respected defensive units in the NFL over the past few seasons. He’s produced 21 Pro-Bowlers in the past 7 years, including current Eagles Brian Dawkins (5) and Jeremiah Trotter (4). The personnel he has to work with is talented, and will once again be a strong force to contend with.

DL: It all starts with Jevon Kearse on the line. They call him ‘The Freak’ for a reason. He’s a three-time Pro-Bowler and has also been selected as an All-Pro twice, and for good reason. A rare combination of speed, power, and skill, Kearse makes quarterbacks his main goal. He gets such penetration on the offensive line that sometimes they aren’t even ready for him before he’s in the backfield making a play. Opposite him will be Darren Howard, a free-agent pickup from New Orleans. Howards has 44.5 sacks in the past six seasons, making him statistically one of the best ends of the decade. He plays the run and the pass well, with the ability and the intelligence to read either situation well. For now, the interior will be Mike Patterson and Darwin Walker. Patterson was a rookie last season and led the D-Line with 66 tackles. A good playmaker who can also put together a decent push during passing downs. Walker is a veteran who will be challenged by 2006 first-round pick Broderick Bunkley from Florida State. Walker is versatile, able to line up at end if needed. Bunkley may see added time though as they move along in the season.

LB: Jeremiah Trotter is a force in the middle. Having left the Eagles and then returning in 2004, he is the heart and soul of the defense. Trotter had 169 tackles last season despite only playing 15 games and made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career. He’s a workhorse, using effort and intuition in place of pure ability. But don’t think that he doesn’t have it. Trotter is as strong as an ox and plays like it. Dhani Jones will return as the Eagles’ strongside LB after his main competition in camp, Greg Richmond, suffered a back injury and needed surgery. On the weakside will be Matt McCoy, who has all but offically beaten out Shawn Barber for the spot. Barber will instead be the team’s nickel linebacker.

CB: Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard combine to make of the best corner tandems in the league. Brown is a good mix of speed ans skill and has a knack for being around the ball, making plays and forcing turnovers. Brown is considered to be one of the Eagles’ most consistent defensive contributors. Sheppard, meanwhile, is more of the natural cover corner, using his speed to shadow receivers and allow them very little space to work on the field. Sheppard is coming off an ankle injury which forced him on injured reserve after the New York Giants game. He will be back and looks to be completely healthy in camp. Brian Dawkins is a 5 time Pro bowl safety who just has a second sense when it comes to tracking down ballcarriers and receivers all over the field. He can make plays for you up on the line of scrimmage or deep in coverage. He covers the pass just as well as the run. Meanwhile, he pairs with Michael Lewis. Lewis is now the primary signal-caller on defense and leads the team in making adjustments to opposing offenses.
Overall Grade: B+

Special Teams

K: Although his straightaway kicking style looks strange to some people, David Akers has made it work consistently for the Eagles. He’s been the kicker for the NFC three times and is one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers. Akers has a strong leg and combines that power with above average accuracy on his kicks. Also a solid kickoff specialist as well.

P: Dirk Johnson will handle the punting duties for the Eagles for the fourth consecutive season. He’s a master at pinning the ball inside the 20 yard line and considers kick placement as a strength in his game. Johnson knows how to drop a kick on a dime if it is needed by the team. Very valuable to the field position game.
Overall Grade: B+

Coaching Staff

There shouldn’t be much that Andy Reid has to worry about, but the rumors still float around. He was an embattled coach despite leading the Eagles to four consecutive NFC Championship games and a Super Bowl appearance. But they need for better showings consistently have him reportedly out of a job. But he remains the coach and with that comes the responsilibity of reigning over Eagle country. With Marty Mornhinweg as his Offensive Coordinator, they should see little change in the offense. Mornhinweg has been with the Eagles for three seasons now and knows the terminology and style of Andy Reid’s offense. Defensively you have a guy who is a candidate for Head Coaching every season and one of the most aggresive minds in the NFL, Jim Johnson. Blitz is permanently embedded in Johnson’s vocabulary.
Overall Grade: A-/B+

Position Battles to Watch

WR: They need to find steady playmakers, and really with the issues the Eagles have had over the years with receivers, you have to believe that nobody’s job is safe. They could go with whoever gets the job done, regardless if they are a veteran or a new player. The key to McNabb’s effectiveness really depends on the quality of receiver he’s throwing to. We know what McNabb can do as a quarterback, now if a receiver can step it up we may have ourselves a good offensive attack.

RB: With Brian Westbrook injury-prone, the battle for number two rages on in Philly. Ryan Moats, Cornell Buckhalter, Reno Mahe, and Bruce Perry all have the opportunity to step into the forefront of the backup position with awesome training camp and exhibition performances. It’s wide open right now but you have to expect that the Eagles will be looking to get the best back behind Westbrook in case another injury happens.

Player to Watch

Hank Bassett, WR: Bassett has rarely gone a session in camp without making an outstanding play. He’s also been just as impressive in preseason games and could factor into the mix in the starting competitions. He’s impressed Andy Reid and the Eagles with his deceptive speed and ability to get deep and past the secondary consistently, something they really didn’t expect from him. He’s got the size that a lot of coaches are looking for nowadays and could definitely be in for a spot in the regular rotation.

Bold Predictions
Offensive MVP: Donovan McNabb
Defensive MVP: Sheldon Brown

Tags:2006 NFL Season Preview: Philadelphia Eagles

2007 AFC East Draft Review

AFC East Draft Review

With long-time champ New England improving in the off-season – most notably with the additions of LB Adalius Thomas and WR Donte Stallworth via free agency – the 2007 NFL Draft was key for their AFC East pursuers. Buffalo and Miami are rebuilding, while the Jets – who beat the Patriots in New England and finished second a year ago – are looking to build on last year’s playoff finish. All four teams made trades for veterans before the draft, while New York and New England stayed active through the weekend.

New England Patriots

24. Brandon Meriweather S/Miami (Fla.)
127. Kareem Brown DT/Miami (Fla.)
171. Clint Oldenburg OT/Colorado State
180. Justin Rogers DE/SMU
202. Mike Richardson CB/Notre Dame
208. Justise Hairston RB/Central Connecticut
209. Corey Hilliard OL/Oklahoma State
211. Oscar Lua LB/Southern Cal
247. Mike Elgin C/Iowa

Trades: Traded WR Deion Branch to Seattle for 1st-round pick (#24 overall; trade made in 2006); traded 2nd-round pick (#60 overall) and 7th-round pick (#238 overall) to Miami for WR Wes Welker; traded 1st-round pick (#28 overall) to San Francisco for 4th-round pick (#110) and 2008 1st-round pick; traded 3rd-round pick (#91 overall) to Oakland for 7th-round pick (#211 overall) and 2008 third-round pick; traded 4th-round pick (#110) to Oakland for WR Randy Moss

The trade with Oakland for wide receiver Randy Moss got much of the media attention, but the Patriots had an excellent draft regardless of the Moss trade. Brandon Meriweather adds speed and toughness to a Patriots secondary that has been chronically thin the last few years, often relegated to playing late-round draft picks and even wide receiver Troy Brown.

The Patriots then parlayed their own first-round pick (used by the 49ers to select OT Joe Staley) into Randy Moss and a 2008 first-rounder. While both Moss and Meriweather have well-documented off-the-field issues, the Patriots’ system, leadership, and tradition of winning will give both players the best chance to show off their considerable talents.

The Patriots used the later rounds to add depth; given their track record of developing late-round picks into starters, it’s likely that at least one of the three offensive linemen drafted will contribute to the Pats’ offensive line.

Between the free-agent additions of Thomas and Stallworth, the trades for Moss and Welker, the Patriots have built what’s Bill Simmons compared to a Madden 2008 video game team, while stockpiling additional first- and third-round picks for 2008. Last year’s AFC finalist looks like a Super Bowl favorite in 2007.

Grade: A

New York Jets

14. Darrelle Revis CB/Pittsburgh
47. David Harris LB/Michigan
177. Jacob Bender OT/Nicholls State
235. Chansi Stuckey WR/Clemson

Trades: Traded 2nd-round pick (#37 overall) to Chicago for 2nd-round pick (#63 overall) and RB Thomas Jones; traded 1st-round pick (#25 overall), 2nd-round pick (#59 overall), and research-round pick (#164 overall) to Carolina for 1st-round pick (#14 overall) and research-round pick (#191 overall); traded 2nd-round pick (#63 overall), 3rd-round pick (#89 overall), and research-round pick (#191 overall) to Green Bay for 2nd-round pick (#47 overall) and 7th-round pick (#235 overall)

With 21 of 22 starters returning, the Jets were able to focus on need in the 2007 draft – in the words of ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, New York chose “quality over quantity”. The Jets traded up for both Revis and Harris, adding a shutdown corner and a run-stopping linebacker to a defense that desperately needed both a year ago. Jacob Bender is a project at tackle, who may be groomed to eventually replace RT Anthony Clement, while 7th-rounder Stuckey will primarily expect to contribute on special teams.

The Jets also picked up running back Thomas Jones from the Bears before the draft, essentially turning the #37 pick (acquired last year from Washington) and their own third-round pick into Thomas Jones and the pick used to draft LB Harris – a solid exchange by any measure. A few commentators have criticized the Jets for moving up and winding up with a league-low four draftees (Denver also finished with four). But with so many returnees at the skill positions, there was little room for late-round flyers on the depth chart. The success of this draft will largely depend on the development of Revis and Harris, but, after last year’s surprising 10-6 finish, GM Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Eric Mangini deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Grade: A-

Buffalo Bills

12. Marshawn Lynch RB/California
34. Paul Posluzny LB/Penn State
92. Trent Edwards QB/Stanford
111. Dwayne Wright RB/Fresno State
184. John Wendling S/Wyoming
222. Derek Schouman TE/Boise State
239. C.J. Ah You DE/Oklahoma

Trades: Traded RB Willis McGahee to Baltimore for3rd-round pick (#92 overall), 7th-round pick (#239 overall) and 2008 third-round pick; traded QB Kelly Holcomb and LB Takeo Spikes to Philadelphia for DT Darwin Walker and conditional 2008 draft pick; traded 2nd-round pick (#43 overall) and 3rd-round pick (#74 overall) to Detroit for 2nd-round pick (#34 overall)

The Bills showed flashes of promise a year ago, as franchise quarterback J.P. Losman started to find his footing and an underrated defense kept the Bills in games. The off-season trade of RB Willis McGahee to Baltimore left a gaping hole for the Bills to fill, and they responded by picking Cal RB Marshawn Lynch with their first-round pick. They then traded up early in the second round for Penn State LB Paul Posluzny, a consensus All-American.

The problem for the Bills is that they used their first three picks to replace the three veterans traded in the off-season. Posluzny and Lynch will be counted on to replace the production of McGahee and Spikes (who struggled in Buffalo), but Buffalo essentially has only Walker to show for this off-season. It’s hard to argue Buffalo has taken a step forward – and impossible to believe that they kept pace with the Patriots or even the Jets in the division.

Safety John Wendling and TE Derek Schouman may both make immediate impact on special teams and in a reserve capacity, and fourth-round pick Dwayne Wright will compete with incumbent RB Anthony Thomas to back up Lynch, but this draft – and this off-season was not enough for Buffalo.

Grade: C

Miami Dolphins

9. Ted Ginn, Jr. WR/Ohio State
40. John Beck QB/Brigham Young
60. Samson Satele C/Hawaii
71. Lorenzo Booker RB/Florida State
108. Paul Soliai DT/Utah
181. Reagan Mauria RB/Hawaii
199. Drew Mormino C/Central Michigan
219. Kelvin Smith LB/Syracuse
225. Brandon Fields P/Michigan State
238. Abraham Wright DE/Colorado

Trades: Traded WR Wes Welker to New England for 2nd-round pick (#60 overall) and 7th-round pick (#238 overall)

Apparently, the Dolphins weren’t interested in Brady Quinn, after he slipped into their laps in the number-nine slot. Having watched every Quinn start in college, I can honestly understand their hesitation. That said, is Ted Ginn the right selection? Ginn seemed a reach, and with teams like the Jets, Broncos and Browns moving up behind them – and Quinn still available – one wonders why the Dolphins didn’t move down and stockpile draft picks for an aging team that needs an infusion of youth.

The question is whether Ginn projects to a number-one receiver in the NFL; and, in fact, whether he is even a major upgrade over Welker, who was sent to division rival for New England for a second- and a seventh-round pick. Between QB John Beck, DT Paul Soliai and the two centers drafted, the Dolphins picked up three potential starters – but likely none for 2007. Running back Lorenzo Booker from Florida State could duplicate the immediate success of former teammate, Jet RB Leon Washington, as a change-of-pace back, but the sixth-round selection of punter Brandon Fields was a reach.

In short, the Dolphins desperately needed an impact player, and an impact draft. It’s not clear that, even with ten picks, the Dolphins can expect that kind of production from the 2007 draft class.

Grade: C+

Tags:2007 AFC East Draft Review

2007/2008 Winter Lipstick Trends

As the cold winds of winter approach, lips can become dry and chapped. If you’re a victim of parched lips, ladle out the lip moisturizer because this winter’s lips need to be moist and healthy to sport the season’s newest shades of lip color. Lips have taken on a whole new focus this year, sporting an array of vibrant colors. Here are the 2007/2008 winter lipstick trends you need to know about:

Winter lipstick trend – New emphasis on the lips

In past seasons, lips have taken a back seat to the cheeks and eyes with lip color being subtle, often with the use of lip gloss instead of lipstick. This season lipstick is back with a vengeance, bringing to mind the glamour days of the forties. Plus, the new lipstick formulations have added moisturizers, vitamins, and sunscreens making them healthy for lips. So put away the lip glosses, and give the season’s new shades of lipsticks a try.

Winter lipstick trend – Blooming berries.

In the world of lipstick shades, you’ll be on target if you think of bowls of bountiful berries. Trendy lipsticks in rich berry shades of deep cranberry, burgundy, crimson, and wine will give lips new definition and focus. Although daunting for some people to wear, it’s really a question of finding the shade that best suits your skin tone and style. Try experimenting with various berry shades at your local cosmetic counter before making a purchase. Since dark defined color can make narrow lips look smaller, so go for a lighter more subtle shade of berry if your lips are small.

Winter lipstick trend – Rich reds

The classic red lipstick that emerged this fall is continuing to make its mark. While some people find crimson red to be overwhelming, experimentation should yield a red shade that will suit your level of comfort. Remember there are lots of shades of red. Choose one that’s right for you.

Winter lipstick trend – Focus, focus, focus

When playing up lips, scale back on the amount of eye makeup a bit, otherwise the look can become overwhelming. This year it’s eyes of lips in focus, but not both at the same time.

Winter lipstick trend – Matte

This is not the season for high gloss lips. With such rich vibrant colors, the focus is on a matte texture. The new shades are best applied with a lip brush after outlining lips with a lip pencil in a complimentary shade. No shine or gloss necessary.

When you head out the door this winter, make sure your lips are moist and smooth. If the occasion is special, give one of winter’s new shades of lipstick a try and don’t forget to add a smile!

Tags:2007/2008 Winter Lipstick Trends

2006 NFL Season Preview: San Francisco 49ers

With the preseason in full swing and the opening weekend less than a calendar month away, now is the perfect time to glance in at all 32 NFL franchises and get a scoop on what to expect this season. I will be grading every team on all three phases of the game: offense, defense, and special teams. I will also take a look at the coaching staffs of all 32 teams, including the 10 new Head Coaches and evaluate the impact they might have on their team’s success. Then I will outline some key position battles and some names you may or may not know about to watch for the upcoming season.

The 2006 San Francisco 49ers are not your father’s 49ers. They aren’t even Head Coach Mike Nolan’s 49ers, former 49ers Coach Dick Nolan. The franchise is 11 years removed from their last Super Bowl triumph, a 49-26 drubbing of the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Gone are the names of the past (save one) and in are names like Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, and Manny Lawson. What we can expect is that this team, through the workings of Coach Nolan and his staff, are going to work and play hard under the proud red and gold. The question remains whether or not that will be enough to improve upon a terrible 4-12 record in 2005.


The biggest addition to the offense isn’t on the field, but on the staff. The 49ers wasted little time in plucking Norv Turner out of the unemployment line after he was released as Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders across the Bay. What Turner brings to the 49ers is a release from the West Coast offense that has been the staple of the franchise since Bill Walsh brought it into the NFL more than 20 years ago. In comes an offense which is more basic, a power running game that will lead to more downfield passing. It worked for Turner in his previous stops as a coordinator, so the 49ers are banking on that past success to lead them once more. Turner, for his inability to lead a team as a Head Coach, is a brilliant offensive mind. Now that he doesn’t have to be responsible for an entire 53-man roster, Turner can focus his attention on the development of quarterback Alex Smith and the offense. What you will notice right away is that the 49ers will run north-south a lot more through the tackles and less trying to make the corners. Turner was a pro with this in both Dallas and Miami with Emmitt Smith and Ricky Williams. Though he may not have a single running back with that kind of pedigree, he can work with the talent he’s got in San Francisco and produce solid results. He is amazing at picking apart defensive weaknesses and exploiting them with play calling and adjustments that most coaches will never think of. I don’t believe he’ll turn this offense into Indianapolis efficient, but significant improvement can and should be expected.

QB: Alex Smith would like to forget his 2005 season, along with most 49er fans, players, coaches, and personnel. He completed 84 out of 165 passes and only threw for one touchdown while throwing 11 interceptions. There are small bright spots to consider, as Smith was the victor in his final two games of last season. All the news out of the Santa Clara, CA training facility is that Smith has spent a vigorous amount of camp and the team’s organized activities in learning the nuances of Turner’s offense. He is often seen standing alongside Turner and backup veteran QB Trent Dilfer, acquired in the offseason from Cleveland. Reports are that he is gaining confidence in the offense on a daily basis and looks to be gaining the trust of his teammates as well. HIs recent performance in the opening game of the preseason against the Bears hsould be considered. He went 16 for 21 and threw for 137 yards while leading a second quarter scoring drive against the Bears defense, ranked 1st overall last season. Smith is going to benefit from the rebuilt offensive line and the system that Turner has installed, which will feature quicker handoffs and moving the pocket as Smith rolls out. You saw it against the Bears, Smith is very comfortable and may even be more accurate with his passing on the move than he is in the pocket. He’s got more time to read defenses and is making crisp throws. The key to consider is that the offense is predicated more on good throws than it is on timing, unlike the West Coast offense where timing is integral. Smith should see some improvement. I’m not saying he’ll be Pro-Bowl caliber, but don’t expect just 1 touchdown pass this season.

RB/FB: The battle is on. With Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore, the stage is set for this dual. Of course, it really isn’t that big of a deal who wins the job because both figure to see plenty of action once the season begins. These two runners provide the offense with different abilities. Barlow is punishing and strong and can run inside very well. He does have a tendency to be too disciplined to his holes and less likely to read a shift in the defense, but he can give you strong carries. Gore, on the other hand, is slippery and elusive and can turn the corner quickly. He will get outside and break around your fast defenders, often making them miss with amazing displays of agility and speed. Don’t sleep on draft choice Michael Robinson, the former Penn State quarterback who has been converted to running back. He was the Big Ten player of the year last season and can run the ball with purpose and surprising elusiveness. Chris Heatherington, a late season addition last year, will return as the blocking fullback. Look for him to have some role as a receiver, although not too much responsbility in the offense.

WR/TE: What many considered to be the weakest link in the 2005 season was the receiving corp. This will change in 2006. The 49ers believe in addition by subtraction, in this case sending much maligned receiver Brandon Lloyd to the Redskins during the offseason. They replace his with free agent Antonio Bryant, who led the Cleveland Browns in receiving last season and who has already developed a connection with starting QB Alex Smith. He is a big target who can make athletic plays and make a catch down the middle, something that Lloyd was berated in San Francisco as not willing to do. Arnaz Battle returns healthy on the opposite side, and he’s a threat as a bigger guy who is strong and runs crisp routes. The tird receiver will most likely be Bryan Gilmore, who saw limited time in the NFl thus far with Arizona and Miami but factors to use his speed as a slot receiver for the 49ers. Former first round pick Taylor Jacobs was recently acquired from the Redskins as added competition and depth. The tight end position might be the strongest in the division, with Eric Johnson returning from injury to hopefully match his 2003 season where he led the team in receptions. You also add to that first round pick Vernon Davis from Maryland, a big physical TE who has 4.38 speed and the ability to shred defenses. He provides the 49ers with a matchup problem for most defenses right away, because most defensive coordinators will hate to commit a cornerback to covering Davis, but might be forced to because he will no doubt overpower or speed by opposing safeties and linebackers.

OL: The offensive line is improved and made stronger (literally) by the addition of free agent and future Hall of Famer Larry Allen and his 340 lb. frame to the left side of the line. Adding Allen to Jonas Jennings (325 lbs.) gives them over 650 pounds of girth on the left side of the line. They add strong run-blocking skills and the ability to go one-on-one with most defensive lineman. This will leave the other 3 members of the offensive line the ability to deal with 2 base rushers plus a blitzer if necessary. At center will be Eric Heitmann, a former 7th round pick from Stanford who is making a nice career for himself in the NFL as a versatile lineman. He takes over permanently for former All-Pro Jeremy Newberry, who will miss the season with knee problems and could be finished for his career. The right side is a battle, as four players fight for two starting spots. 2005 draft picks David Baas and Adam Snyder battle with Justin Smiley and former first rounder Kwame Harris for the guard and tackle positions. What was once a weakness has quickly become a strength through some key free agent signings over the past two seasons as well as timely draft picks. Look for this line to be the strength of the offense in 2006.

Overall Grade: C+/C


With such strong defensive personalities on the 49ers coaching staff, such as Head Coach Mike Nolan and Associate Head Coach and Linebackers Coach Mike Singletary, you would expect them to be unhappy with the 49ers defensive performance in 2005. You have to take into account the injuries and the youth that the 49ers had to deal with, however, and look at the 2006 season as a way to integrate the veterans back into the mix and the young players to continue to assert themselves. Some of them stood out last season and will be better this season because of it.

DL: The defensive line stays mostly the same. Marques Douglas, a pickup from Baltimore before last season, and former All-Pro Bryant Young bookend incumbent NT Anthony Adams. Don’t expect Adams to not face stiff competition, as both Issac Sopoaga and Ronnie Fields are nipping at his heels. Sopoaga has a never ending motor and is incredibly strong, able to push bigger offensive lineman off their marks. Fields, meanwhile, is the kind of size (330 lbs.) that you look for in a nose tackle and is adjusting himself to the NFL game after his rookie season. Meanwhile, expect Corey Smith to see some time in the end rotation, as well as either 2006 draft picks Manny Lawson and Parys Haralson during passing downs.

LB: What was once considered the overwhelming strong point of this team will now be a bit of question mark. They see their two best athletes leaving for different teams, two-time Pro-Bowler Julian Peterson (Seattle) and Andre Carter (Washington). In to replace those two players is first round pick Manny Lawson from NC State and Brandon Moore, who has been a fixture off the bench and a special teamer for the 49ers. Lawson comes in with high pedigree. He was a starting defensive end at NC State and it was he, not first overall selection Mario Williams, who was named the defensive MVP for the Wolfpack in 2005. Lawson brings amazing speed and anticipation to the OLB position and will be a force once he learns the defensive schemes and zone coverages that comes with the position. Moore, meanwhile, is an exceptionally strong tackler who can also give you fits with his positioning. Very smart on the field and knows where to be at most times. The middle will be familiar to most 49er fans, as Derek Smith returns with a brand new 3 year extension and Jeff Ulbrich comes back from a forearm injury. Smith is the unquestioned defensive leader, having led the 49ers in tackles in each of his 5 seasons with the team. He is a hard working LB who has a nose for the ball and is one of the lesser known guys in the league. Ulbrich, meanwhile, is a throwback to the position. A strong guy who just plays hard and chases the play down from everywhere on the field. Look for this unit to be successful should they be able to gel and learn each other’s tendencies quickly. It will be imperative for Smith and Ulbrich to keep the flow of the corp.

CB/S: THe corner position has been one of injury and underachieving for years in the 49er system. This was evident again in 2005 as rookies Bruce Thornton and Derrick Johnson saw significant time due to injuries. This year, in order to avoid that while bringing in more competition, the 49ers signed free agent Walt Harris and acquired former first rounder Sammy Davis from the San Diego Chargers. They will battle, along with incumbent starter Shawntae Spencer, for the top 2 CB positions. Spencer is coming off a injury-plagued 2005 but looks solid for them when he is healthy, the hope for his 2006 campaign. Derrick Johnson and rookie Marcus Hudson look to factor in as well at CB. Safety starts with the 49ers in the form of strong safety Tony Parrish. He too is returning from a serious injury, but started 121 consecutive games prior and is durable for the most part. He runs the secondary and makes the calls for adjustments and coverages. Meanwhile, free safety is wide open with the competition between Mike Adams, who led the team with 4 interceptions last season, and free agents Chad Williams and Mark Roman. It will come down to who’s playing better as Coach Nolan has expressed his desire in finding the perfect partner for Parrish.
Overall Grade: C

Special Teams

K: Joe Nedney, a free agent signing before last season, was considered a question mark because of an injury he had suffered in Tennessee which resulted in him losing his starting job. Those questions were quickly answered as Nedney was the team MVP, scoring on 26 of his 28 field goal attempts. Nedney was remarkably solid for them last season and looks to be ready for another go. He was definitely needed as the few times the 49ers were in scoring range they usually failed to punch it into the end zone. He was perfect on PATs as well and is a solid kicker considering the problems the 49ers hand in the past (Jeff Chandler, anyone?)

P: Andy Lee had a good season in 2005. Overworked, having to punt over 200 times, didn’t drop his average below 41 yards a kick. He will see increased competition from free agent Tom Rouen, a veteran who has never had a punt blocked in 14 seasons, a total of 818 punts. Either way, the 49ers will have a good punter once the season begins.
Overall Grade: B+

Coaching Staff

Looking back at the coaching search in 2005, you have to believe that Nolan was the right guy fo rthe job. He’s made some waves and moves that may be considered unpopular in the fan circle, but overall he’s changed the attitude of the team that was lackluster and showed little fight with former Coach Dennis Erickson. He’s got good coaches under him, like Hall-of-Fame linebacker Mike Singletary and offensive guru Norv Turner. Defensive coordinator Billy Davis also is fiery and can inspire effort. It remains to be seen how they will work with an improving talent base, but needless to say they have all the pieces in place. Look for receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, a renowned coach, to have further impact on the young corp.
Overall Grade: B

Position Battles to Watch

RB: Frank Gore and Kevan Barlow. These two will duke it out for most of the preseason as to who will garner the highest number of touches for the 49ers offense this season. It appears as though Gore might be the favorite, but don’t count out a 50/50 split with Barlow, at least for this season. They are both decent runners and while not of the caliber of some of the top backs in teh NFL, could provide a healthy two-back attack.

CB: Shawntae Spencer is most likely solid at one side, leaving Walt Harris, Sammy Davis, and Derrick Johnson as the principle contenders on the other side. Right now the nod seems to be favoring Harris, although Johnson showed some maturity late last season and seems to have a nose for the ball. If he can get better in one-on-one situations, look for Johnson as the long-term solution.

FS: I like Mike Adams here, although you can’t blame them for giving vets Mark Roman and Chad Williams the opportunity to make noise at the position. The difference here is Adams’ ability to line up with a receiver and cover, having spend significant time last season at CB.

Player to Watch

Delanie Walker, TE/FB: Look for Delanie to play a similiar role to that of former Titans TE/FB Frank Wycheck. With Vernon Davis and Eric Johnson at TE, he may not see many reps as a tight end, but his strength and deceptive speed will make him a candidate for more playing time. He was a receiver in college and can make great catches, so they will use him to some extent on the field.

Bold Predictions
Offensive MVP: Antonio Bryant
Defensive MVP: Derek Smith

Tags:2006 NFL Season Preview: San Francisco 49ers

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