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News from Yahoo.com and ClevelandBrowns.com
Things haven't changed much for the Browns. Cleveland's deep defense enters 2015 with a chance to be one of the NFL's top units. Josh McCown, who went just 1-10 as a starter for Tampa Bay last season, will open camp as the starter and barring an injury or unforeseen catastrophe, he'll keep his job unless Johnny Manziel shakes completely free of his demons and develops into the player Cleveland hoped when it selected the former Heisman Trophy winner.
This is a highly subjective list. Using my sophisticated OPI (Own Personal Intrigue) method, I carefully have ranked the teams in order of interest and intrigue prior to the 2015 NFL season. Please note: These are not power rankings. This is not how I think the 2016 NFL draft order will look. Nothing like that. Intrigue can be both bad and good. My top-ranked team here missed the postseason a year ago; my 32nd-ranked team made it. Hopefully, you get the idea. I’m just speculating which teams will be the most buzzworthy and boast the most fascinating storylines heading into the season. The Washington Redskins, for instance, have mastered the art of bad-team intrigue. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] And some might argue that for years, the New England Patriots — even as remarkable as their run has been — are the most boring good team out there. Of course, not this year. Not with deflate-gate and Tom Brady's suspension threatening to rule the first month of the season. So here they are, my indisputable OPI rankings heading into training camp. The most intriguing team of 2015 is ... 1. Philadelphia Eagles — Chip Kelly: secret genius or mad scientist? This could be the year we find out. He enters Year Three having shuttled off nearly the entire roster he inherited — including many of the Eagles’ highest-regarded players. How are we not intrigued? One of his biggest imports, DeMarco Murray, he shockingly poached from the rival Dallas Cowboys. We will find out this season if Chip’s system — which is more about team building than some gimmicky offensive philosophy — is built to last. If Kelly reincarnates Sam Bradford and fixes that defense, it might be time to give it up, haters. But if Bradford struggles (or struggles to stay healthy), and the ball is put in the hands of Mark Sanchez or — gasp — Tim Tebow, it might be worrisome. You have to wonder, after Kelly missed out on landing Marcus Mariota, if finding a perfect-fit quarterback will forever be Kelly’s Camelot. 2. San Francisco 49ers — The attrition that has ravaged this team might have reached historical levels. After a strange, strained battle with ownership, Jim Harbaugh walked at what looks like precisely the right time. In his wake, the foundation of his steely squad either retired, was shipped out or left via free agency. Thrifty owner Jed York opted to go cheap — under the auspice of trust, dependability and locker-room harmony — in hiring the less-than-lucid Jim Tomsula (one game of head-coaching experience). There are scores of veterans trying to revive their careers — Aldon Smith, Colin Kaepernick, NaVorro Bowman, Vernon Davis, and more. There’s talent, but is there turmoil? The first half of the schedule, by the way, is brutal. 3. Buffalo Bills — Are you excited yet? Maybe you’re not the biggest Rex Ryan fan (you communist!), and maybe you’re laughing at their quarterback options. Fair enough. But maybe Tyrod Taylor — who beat out Russell Wilson for ACC Player of the Year in 2010 — is a secret killer, or at least not a total disaster. And everywhere else there is exciting talent, playing in a city dying to win for a coach who will do anything and everything he can to (a) stick it to the Jets, (b) beat Tom Brady and (c) deliver a winner to some long-suffering fans. The defense could be the league’s best, and there are playmakers littered throughout the offense. There’s something happening here — and some excitable personalities coming to town with Ryan, LeSean McCoy, Richie Incognito and Percy Harvin — and what it is ain't exactly clear. 4. New England Patriots — It has been a wild six months since they beat the Indianapolis Colts, setting the Bad Ship Deflate-gate into motion, stealing a Super Bowl win in mind-blowing fashion and watching Brady get dragged through the mud in the league’s phony and laughable attempt to uphold the integrity of the game . And while everyone knows that what doesn’t kill the Patriots tends to make them stronger, navigating their way back to another Super Bowl appears far tougher, with a stronger division, Brady turning 38 and the Patriots’ huge losses in the secondary. If they do win it all this year, it will be their fifth title. The significance of this: The Patriots would own 10 percent of all the Super Bowl championships. The title also would be Bill Belichick’s seventh, which would tie him all time with former Broncos and 49ers scout/administrator Neal Dahlen for the most in league history. 5. Dallas Cowboys — The Dez Bryant signing removes a smidge of the drama, but it’s still a team we’ll be thinking about almost daily. Last season shocked me — I pegged their defense to be historically bad. And that’s why this season is so intriguing. For the first time, legitimately, the Cowboys are a Super Bowl contender for the first time in forever, and yet they’re missing a huge piece with Murray gone (to the hated Eagles, no less). The guys vying to replace him are a possibly washed-up back in Darren McFadden and a player guilty of shoplifting underwear and cologne last year in Joseph Randle. Randy Gregory and La’el Collins also will be fun to chart as high-profile rookies looking to make a lot of teams wish they hadn't passed them over in the draft. 6. Seattle Seahawks — Russell Wilson’s contract looms as one of the more fascinating negotiations in recent NFL history, textured by the fact that he’s coming off the haunting Super Bowl interception. His gift: a Marshawn Lynch contract extension and trades for receiving help in Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett. But Michael Bennett could hold out? And Earl Thomas will miss all of camp? Intrigue! In a certain way, these are the same Seahawks we’ve come to know, so there’s a ceiling to it, and there’s no reason to think they can’t get back to a third straight Super Bowl. But we’ll always be paying attention to what this outlaw bunch is doing and saying.
Join Jeff Brubach as he looks at fantasy-relevant news from NFL training camps.
Evan Silva breaks down every NFL team from a fantasy perspective heading into the 2015 season. Check out the weekly schedule.
The Minnesota Vikings acquired Mike Wallace for his speed and his experience at the wide receiver position. ''I've got to take some things from Miami that I don't think I did as well and just try to bring it here and be a better person and a better player. Just lead more,'' Wallace said.
Carolina Panthers offense tackle Jonathan Martin, the lineman harassed during the Miami Dolphins' 2013 bullying scandal, is contemplating retirement following a back injury. Martin's agent Ken Zuckerman told The Associated Press on Monday his client recently injured his back during a workout. Zuckerman said doctors informed Martin he's not allowed to do any activity for six weeks and needs surgery, putting his availability for the season in question.
Johnny Manziel had an uneventful summer, but his improved behavior hasn't changed his position on Cleveland's depth chart. Browns coach Mike Pettine said Monday that veteran Josh McCown will open training camp as the team's No. 1 quarterback, but Manziel, the former Heisman Trophy winner who had a disastrous rookie season, still has a chance to win the job based on his performance. Meeting with reporters in advance of the team opening camp later this week, Pettine said McCown likely will start the season opener against the New York Jets on Sept. 13.
Shutdown Corner is previewing all 32 teams as we get ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per day in reverse order of our initial 2015 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 8, the day before the preseason begins with the Hall of Fame Game in Canton. NO. 13: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES Mention Chip Kelly to an NFL fan and you're likely to get an instant and emotional reaction. He's just one of those guys. Some like him, others despise him. I'm not sure why anyone hates Kelly, other than the NFL is an insanely conservative league and anything out of the norm bothers people. And Kelly isn't the NFL norm. Kelly was way out of the box when he was hired to be Philadelphia Eagles head coach. He had no NFL experience, playing or coaching, and was just seven years removed from the best job on his résumé being New Hampshire's offensive coordinator. He was known for a spread offense that was exclusive to college. The NFL had never made a hire like it before. And, if you remove all the hype that has built up around Kelly, the hire has worked up to this point. [ Yahoo Sports Fantasy Football: Sign up and join a league today! ] Kelly turned a four-win team into a 10-win division champ his first year. Last season he won 10 games despite using his backup quarterback most of the season. I'm not sure why that gets glossed over. If another coach won 10 games with his backup, we'd fall over ourselves to hand him coach of the year. It probably says something about Kelly that what he did last season barely registered. But things can get tricky once coaches get full front-office control. And in a flurry of moves this offseason Kelly changed the narrative. He went from an innovative coach who has introduced many new concepts to the NFL, on and off the field, to a transaction-happy mad man who appears to hate the concept of star players. The Eagles traded running back LeSean McCoy, didn't retain receiver Jeremy Maclin in free agency and cut guard Evan Mathis. Add in DeSean Jackson's release in 2014 and the Eagles have lost a lot of difference makers on offense. Then there was the Nick Foles for Sam Bradford trade, which I still don't get . And there was the whole "I won't mortgage the future for Marcus Mariota ... but now there's a report I'm offering half the franchise for him" drama before the draft. It has been quite the offseason. The Eagles have turned into the NFL's great experiment. Will DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews be upgrades over McCoy? Can Kelly get out of Bradford what the Rams never got, if he can keep him healthy? Does Kelly's system make up for some big offensive personnel losses? In many ways, if Kelly continues to be successful, it will force the NFL to rethink how it does things, although the league generally hates change. This is a hard team to project. There has been so much change. Putting the Eagles this high in the rankings is a nod to Kelly winning 20 of his 32 games with Michael Vick, Foles and Mark Sanchez as his quarterbacks. He knows how to coach. You need talent to win in the NFL, and the Eagles have lost so much of it as Kelly completely turns over his roster. And, to be fair, the Eagles have added some talented players too. If nothing else, after this crazy offseason, Kelly has everyone's attention. 2014 review in less than 25 words: The Eagles became the 22nd team under the 16-game schedule to win at least 10 games and miss the playoffs. Is the roster better, worse or about the same? Well, we know it's different. Do the additions of Bradford, Murray, Mathews, linebacker Kiko Alonso, cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond (and a draft class that includes USC receiver Nelson Agholor in the first round) offset the losses of McCoy, Foles, Maclin, Mathis, guard Todd Herremans, cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams, and pass rusher Trent Cole? It's probably a cop out, but it's too hard to tell without knowing Bradford's health, and Alonso's too for that matter. Assuming they're fairly healthy, call it a wash — the roster is probably about the same, talent wise. Just much, much different.
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