The New Orleans Saints have agreed a deal to sign free-agent outside linebacker Victor Butler. The signing adds a player who could be key to the success of the Saints new 3-4 defense.
Butler has spent his first four pro seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, as the chief backup to DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. He is a natural edge-rusher in a 3-4 front.
At 6'2" and 245 pounds, Butler has the right frame and quickness to collapse the pass pocket from the outside. The 25-year-old has showcased some good pass-rush potential in Dallas.
The Atlanta Falcons have signed free-agent pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora. The move boosts the Falcons pass rush and gives them a credible replacement for John Abraham. Fox Sport's Jay Glazer reported Umenyiora has received a two-year deal.
Improving their pass rush is certainly a priority for the Falcons. They managed only 29 sacks in 2012, with Abraham predictably leading the way with 10.
That feeble rush contributed to a defensive ranking that saw the Falcons finish 24th in yards allowed. The lack of pass rush also put pressure on Atlanta's high-powered offense to consistently win shootouts.
Opposing quarterbacks simply had too much time in the pocket and were able to dissect the Falcons' coverage schemes. The problem was particularly costly in the playoffs.
The Falcons built commanding leads against both the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. However, in both cases, they allowed the opposition to mount a comeback.
Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was afforded all the time he needed to manufacture big plays on the ground and through the air.
Food for Thought: Should Green Bay Have Followed Atlanta's Lead in Learning Info About the Zone Read?
16 carries for 181 yards, with two touchdown runs of 20 and 56 yards. And these stats weren't made by All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, either.
Green Bay coaches should remember these numbers too well. After all, they were made by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is an artist when it comes to running the zone read, having run it to perfection under former Nevada head coach Chris Ault during his time as Wolfpack quarterback. Both the Packers and the Falcons got a taste of what Kaepernick and the zone read are capable of, and how it has added life to both the passing game and the running game. The Washington Redskins and the Seattle Seahawks also ran the zone read under their rookie quarterbacks in Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson, respectively. And they, like Kaepernick, are artists in reading the defensive ends and deciding whether to keep it themselves or hand it off to their running backs, and it was a big reason the 49ers, Seahawks and Redskins were among the best when it came to running the football.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to trade a first-round pick for cornerback Darrelle Revis. The deal would make the Bucs a dangerous team defensively in 2013.
Revis seems destined to dealt by the New York Jets and Tampa appears his most likely destination. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal cites a report from Sports Illustrated's Peter King, stating the Buccaneers are willing to trade their first-round pick for the star cover man.
He is certainly worth that to Tampa Bay's defense. Revis can turn a solid group into a unit that will frighten opponents in the new season.
In 2012, the Buccaneers were the stingiest run defense in the NFL. They yielded a mere 82.5 yards per game on the ground.
Yet the defense still ranked 23rd in points and 29th in yards surrendered. The chief problem was a pass defense that ranked bottom of the league.
A handful of positions in the world of sports—center field for the Yankees, tailback at USC—test every individual who plays them against some of the giants in the history of the game. One such position is middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears.
Now, there will be a new would-be star in that role for the first time in 13 years. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Brian Urlacher and the team have broken off contract talks, and the career Windy City icon has played his last game in a Bear uniform.
With the end of the Urlacher era, it’s time to reflect on the Chicago career of the most successful and popular Bear of this century. Even in the lofty company of Bear MLBs, number 54 stacks up remarkably well.