Saturday, February 22, 2014

NFL '13 Dread News - Week 22

We've all heard it hundreds of times before; but let's all say it again. Everybody ....


Just ask the Denver Broncos. From the moment they took the field on opening night and routed the defending champ Baltimore Ravens 49-27, it seemed like the Broncos were destined to end the 2013 season raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Nobody could stop their prolific offense. Led by QB Peyton Manning's 55 TD passes (a new NFL record), the Broncos scored more points in the regular season this season than any team ever before - 606. (By comparison, the Chicago Bears were 2nd in scoring with 445 points.) Not once were they held under 20 points. Even in their 3 losses they scored 33, 31, and 20 points. Dominating the league's best defense in Super Bowl 48 was to be the crowning achievement for the Broncos' offense, leaving no doubt that they were the greatest offense of all time.

And then the game started ..... Wow. You know, I wasn't a bit surprised that the Seahawks won; but my goodness, you could have won a lot of money if you had bet me that they would hold the Broncos to one touchdown. That's right, with the championship on the line, the league's best offense ever scored one measly TD. The final score of 43-8 in favor of the Seahawks likely had viewers turning the game off well before it ended; everywhere except in Seattle, that is, where the Lombardi Trophy now resides and where the fans are celebrating the team's first ever championship.

Both the Seahawks and Broncos were the top seeds in the NFC and AFC, respectively, meaning that neither of them had played away from home yet in the playoffs. So I wanted to see how the Broncos' defense, so impressive in their two playoff victories, would fare away from home. They often struggled away from Denver during the regular season, allowing 27 points per game. And of course, I was very interested in how the Seahawks' D, which allowed 14.2 points per game in their 10 home games, would play without their rabid fans around to disrupt the Denver offense. If you had asked me before the game, I would have told you I expected the game's outcome would be all about pressure - as in pressure on the QB. If Manning had all day to throw (as he did in the AFC championship victory over New England), it was going to be a long, embarrassing evening for the Seahawks' defense. But if they could get consistent pressure .... hey, any QB, even the great Peyton Manning, will make mistakes when you get pressure.

There were a lot of ugly numbers for the Broncos on the final stats sheet, with perhaps the ugliest being turnovers. The Broncos had 4 turnovers, the Seahawks had none. And that doesn't even include the screw-up the Broncos had on the game's very first play from scrimmage, when the ball was snapped from the shotgun formation before Manning was ready and sailed right past him (photo below) all the way back into the end zone, with the Broncos recovering it and conceding a safety.
The Broncos' next two possessions were a three-and-out and a three-and-pick, the pick being an INT by S Kam Chancellor late in the 1st quarter, the first of the 4 turnovers. The Seahawks settled for field goals on their first two drives; but once the turnovers started happening, they started scoring touchdowns.

The Seahawks paid a hefty price to acquire WR Percy Harvin during the offseason, and in this game he quickly reminded everybody why they were willing to. Harvin, as you may recall, came up huge for Florida in a BCS title game victory over Oklahoma a few years back, and Seahawks fans were hopeful for a similar performance in his first appearance in pro football's title game. Finally healthy after playing in just 2 of Seattle's first 18 games, Harvin did not disappoint. On the Seahawks' 2nd snap on offense (after the safety) he took a handoff on a jet sweep and ran for a 30-yard gain, with Broncos defenders barely getting him to step out of bounds at the 31-yard line; otherwise it would have been a 61-yard TD. That led to Seattle's 1st FG. Then after the Seahawks converted 3 times on 3rd down on a drive that ended with their 2nd FG, making the score 8-0, Harvin picked up 15 yards on another jet sweep on the first play following Chancellor's INT.

7 plays later RB Marshawn Lynch scored the game's 1st TD, capping a 37-yard drive with a 1-yard run up the middle on 2nd and goal to make it 15-0. The TD was the first by any player with dreads in a Super Bowl since RB Joseph Addai scored for the Colts in their loss to the Saints 4 years ago. Lynch was wearing a head scarf during the game, which unfortunately did not allow his dreads to extend to their full length; but at least they were sticking outside his helmet a little. One thing Denver did right was contain Lynch. Marshawn did not score again and finished the game with only 39 yards rushing on 15 carries. But it didn't matter.

Down 15, the Broncos knew they had to get going on offense. But they hardly looked like the highest scoring offense ever as they methodically inched their way down the field. Blame the Seahawks' defense for that. Worried about the pass rush, Manning wanted to get his passes away quickly; but the same plays that were so successful all season weren't working against the Seahawks' D. All those short passes on crossing routes and sideways WR screen passes that had produced so many yards after the catch and so many big plays all season were only resulting in short gains and their receivers being hit hard after the catch. Not counting punts and penalties, the Broncos ran 31 plays in the 1st half, and on only 3 of them did they gain more than 10 yards, with the biggest gain being 19 yards.

The Broncos took possession at their 16-yard line following Lynch's TD, and after 14 plays they had only made it to the Seattle 35. And on the 15th play of the drive disaster struck. Manning dropped back on 3rd and 13 and under pressure from DE Cliff Avril, his arm was hit just as he threw, causing the pass to pop up into the air (top two photos on right). LB Malcolm Smith, the same Malcolm Smith whose INT in the end zone 2 weeks earlier clinched the Seahawks' victory in the NFC championship game, easily picked the ball off and was not touched as he took the return 69 yards to the house (bottom photo on right). Just like that, it was 22-0, and you knew the Broncos already were in deep trouble.

The Broncos tried again on their next drive and did a bit better, moving from their 33-yard line to the Seattle 19 in 8 plays. But on 4th and 2 they went for it instead of taking a FG, and the pass was deflected off target by DE Chris Clemons and fell incomplete. At that point the mighty Broncos' offense had just held the ball for 11 consecutive minutes and had nary a point to show for it.

The 2nd half began, and things immediately went from bad to worse for Denver. Down by 22 and kicking off, the Broncos actually got what they wanted on the kickoff, only to have it blow up in their face. Rather than trying an onside kickoff and risking giving the Seahawks great field position, K Matt Prater kicked off deep but not too deep, putting the ball short enough that Harvin was unable to come up and make the catch on the fly at the 13-yard line. On the replay Fox game announcer Troy Aikman said something about the Broncos not wanting Harvin to return the kick. But that was only half true. If they really didn't want Harvin to return it, Prater, who has one of the strongest legs in the league, would have just kicked it beyond the end zone for a touchback. What the Broncos were hoping (and counting on) was that after hitting the ground, the ball would bounce away from Harvin, giving them a chance for a recovery deep in Seattle territory. But it just wasn't meant to be for the Broncos. Instead of bouncing away from Harvin, it bounced straight up, taking a nice, high hop (photo below) - very easy for Harvin to handle. And once he made the catch, I was like, "Uh-oh".
With CB Marquice Cole surprisingly activated for the game, the Broncos had 4 players with dreads on their kickoff team. I know this because after Harvin eluded all 4 of them - and the other 7 players on the coverage unit too - as he took the return 87 yards to the house, they showed the replay of it from three or four different camera angles. S David Bruton was the last player with a chance to make the tackle but never got within 5 yards of Harvin (photo below) as he cruised into the end zone. That upped the Seahawks' lead to 29-0, with one TD apiece scored by their offense, defense, and special teams.
The Broncos then had another long, fruitless drive on their first possession of the 2nd half, holding the ball for 10 plays but penetrating no further than the Seattle 38-yard line before punting on 4th and 11. They got the ball right back after the Seahawks punted, but their next drive ended with their 3rd turnover of the evening. WR Demaryius Thomas made a catch and run for what turned out to be the Broncos' biggest gain of the game - 23 yards - but fumbled the ball at the 21-yard line, and the Seahawks recovered.

When they showed the replay of the fumble, I thought I was watching Charles Tillman, as CB Byron Maxwell with perfect aim and timing punched the ball right out of Thomas' grasp - the same way that Tillman has famously caused countless turnovers for the Chicago Bears' defense during his career.

The Seahawks quickly made it 3 for 3 in cashing in turnovers with touchdowns, driving 58 yards in 6 plays. And when WR Jermaine Kearse eluded four defenders on the final play of the drive on a 23-yard catch and run for the TD, it was 36-0, and I was like, "Well, it's over now". Even with 18 minutes still to play the Broncos were so far behind that not even their offense was coming back from a deficit that big. 

The Broncos did manage to avoid the shutout on their next possession, driving 80 yards in 8 plays, the last 5 of which all picked up 1st downs, including a 14-yard TD reception by Thomas on the final play of the 3rd quarter. But after the Seahawks recovered the ensuing onside kickoff and quickly drove 48 yards in 5 plays for another TD, it was 43-8, and the final 11:45 of the game became garbage time.

The Seahawks finished with a 341-306 edge in total yards, including a huge 135-27 advantage in yards rushing. Manning did set a new Super Bowl record with 34 completions, but they only gained 280 yards (8.2 yards per completion, as compared to 12.2 during the regular season). Thomas had a new Super Bowl record 13 receptions, but the pounding he took after making those catches left him with a separated shoulder.

Of the 9 players with dreads in uniform (6 Broncos, 3 Seahawks), nobody had what you would call a standout performance. Broncos LB Nate Irving had an interesting series at the end of the Seahawks' 2nd possession of the 1st quarter. On 1st and goal from the 6-yard line he tackled Lynch for a 2-yard loss; but it didn't count because the Broncos accepted a holding penalty instead. Two plays later Irving recovered the ball after what looked like a sideways pass intended for Harvin was incomplete; but the recovery, which would have been a huge turnover, didn't count either because the pass was ruled to be a forward pass. Then on 3rd and goal Nate made a nice PBU in the end zone, preventing Kearse from making the catch (photo below) and forcing the Seahawks to settle for a FG. At that point I couldn't help but remember that in my preseason predictions my crystal ball (before I overruled it) had picked Irving to be Super Bowl MVP. But he was going to have to do a lot more than have one impressive series; and unfortunately he did very little for the rest of the game. He finished with 4 tackles (3-1) and 1 PBU.
LB Danny Trevathan led all players with 12 tackles (7-5), with 1 TFL; but his last 4 tackles came in garbage time, and he was one of the four defenders that looked silly while failing to stop Kearse on his TD reception in the 3rd quarter. DE Robert Ayers (whom in an embarrassing and incompetent error I failed to include on the list of Bronco players with dreads in my Week 21 report - please accept my apologies) had 1 tackle (1-0). Cole, Bruton, and S Omar Bolden all had no tackles, although Bolden wasn't totally useless. He managed to pick up 15 yards for the Broncos in the 1st quarter when Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette, not watching where he was going, ran into him well after the play was over and was flagged for a personal foul on the kickoff following Seattle's 1st FG, allowing the Broncos to start their possession at their 35-yard line instead of the 20.

As mentioned earlier, the Seahawks rushed for 135 yards, but it wasn't Lynch doing the damage. In fact, Harvin on his 2 carries gained more yards (45) than Lynch did (39) on 15 carries. Other than an 18-yard run on the Seahawks' first snap on offense in the 2nd half, Marshawn (photo below) had no other gains of more than 6 yards. James Carpenter got the start at left G on the Seattle O-line. I assume he was in and out of the lineup, sharing playing time with G Paul McQuistan, as he often had done during the regular season; but I didn't really notice. I don't remember hearing the announcers mention Carpenter's name at all - and that's a good thing, because when you're an O-lineman they mention your bad plays much more often than your good ones.  
At last we come to CB Richard Sherman, who had a successful but also very painful evening. He recorded 3 tackles (2-1) and 1 PBU before leaving the game with an ankle injury early in the 4th quarter. Most of the passes thrown in his direction were WR screen passes on which he had to deal with being blocked; and on one of those - on Denver's first drive of the 2nd half - he got pancaked by OT Chris Clark. Sherman was shaken up but was back on the field after missing just one play. And, of course, on his first play back in, that's when Manning for the first time all game decided to test him with a deep pass. Sorry Peyton, Sherman was just fine, showing no effects from his injury while blanketing Demaryius Thomas on a route up the right sideline. In fact, Richard might have intercepted the pass had Thomas not slightly grabbed him to slow him up (offensive pass interference could have been called but was not).

Sherman's evening came to an end, oddly enough, on the play that he was credited with his only PBU of the game. On the 2nd play after the Seahawks scored their final TD he knocked away a short pass intended for Thomas on 2nd and 10 - which should have been uneventful; but star S Earl Thomas was also in the vicinity, and eager to lay another big hit on a Denver receiver, he instead hit Sherman, plowing into him from behind.
 Richard got sandwiched between the two Thomases and came away from the collision with an ankle injury. Unfortunately it's a serious injury - a high ankle sprain. If this had happened during the season, it would have been bad news for the Seahawks, because Sherman could have missed 2 months. As mentioned in an article from a blog about sports medicine (link below), high ankle sprains are slow to heal (just ask Roddy White). But since this this was the last game of the season, he'll have plenty of time to let it heal fully and won't have to worry about rushing back into action. It was kind of funny watching Sherman during the celebration on the field after the game. He so badly wanted to be up on that podium that was set up for the trophy presentation; but there just was no way he was going to make it up those steps to get there. Not to worry though. Richard was front and center during the Seahawks' parade and rally at CenturyLink Field back in Seattle three days after the game. He wouldn't have it any other way.

At the NFL awards show the night before the Super Bowl, Bears veteran CB Charles Tillman received the league's Man of the Year award, an honor that goes each season to a player for his above-and-beyond contributions to charitable causes. If you click on the link (below) to the story from and watch the two videos, you'll get an idea of just how much winning this award means to him.
There is one player nominated for the award from each team, and they are narrowed down to 3 finalists. Tillman has been a finalist before, and I think the NFL realized they better recognize his efforts before it was too late. He just finished his 11th season with the Bears, and his career is getting close to the finish line. Thanks, Charles, and thank you to the nominees from the other 31 teams as well.

And congratulations also go out to Green Bay Packers RB Eddie Lacy, who was named the league's offensive rookie of the year during the show.  

In my haste to get my Week 21 report posted, I failed to include the injured list and practice squad as part of my all pro dreads team. So if you viewed the report within the first 18 hours that I posted it, you didn't see those two lists. I later added them to the post; so if you missed them and want to see them, they're there now.


The three highest-scoring rookies with dreads of 2013 played for teams in the two North divisions. 4 of the 8 teams in the North got an 'A-' or better for their dreads last season, but unfortunately I have to be a little less generous this time.


Best player with dreads: Vontaze Burfict (CIN)
Player with the best dreads: Reggie Nelson (CIN)


Ravens struggled this year, missing playoffs one year after winning Super Bowl. And their dreads took a couple of major hits as well - sick LB Dannell Ellerbe was not re-signed, and sick WR Torrey Smith cut his dreads off. But surprise, surprise! They still had a WR with dreads making frequent house calls, as undrafted rookie Marlon Brown (left photo below) made the team and actually ended up with more TD (7) than Smith (4). As expected, Lardarius Webb (#21 in right photo below), Courtney Upshaw (#91 in right photo below), Pernell McPhee (#90, bottom photo), and Josh Bynes all strong contributors on defense. Back after missing most of 2012 with a knee injury, Webb finished with 2 INT and a career high 21 PBU.

New dreadhead Asa Jackson took punt return to the house during preseason but then had to serve an 8-game suspension because the paperwork to allow him to take a banned substance he has been prescribed to take to deal with some sort of medical condition he has was not filed properly (it is now). Sick dreads of Bernard Scott signed late in season after being released by Bengals early in season. Like Smith, DT Terrence Cody also now an ex-dread. Sick WR LaQuan Williams, RB Damien Berry, and rookies Rogers Gaines (OT), and Moe Lee (CB) all cut at end of training camp. S Christian Thompson released after Week 4.

WR Marlon Brown
LB Josh Bynes
CB Asa Jackson 
DE Pernell McPhee
RB Bernard Scott
LB Courtney Upshaw
CB Lardarius Webb


GRADE: B+ ..... (LY: A-)

By end of season Bengals had 3 players with dreads in starting secondary - Adam Jones (defending a pass intended for Torrey Smith in Week 10 in bottom photo), Dre Kirkpatrick, and Reggie Nelson, whose awesome dreads might be the longest in the league. Snubbed on draft day in 2012, Vontaze Burfict (#55 in left photo below, teaming with Nelson to tackle RB LeGarrette Blount in Week 5 win over Patriots) followed up strong rookie season with even stronger 2nd season, making the Pro Bowl and my dreaded dozen list for the first time.

With emergence of rookie RB Giovani Bernard, Bernard Scott was released after Week 2, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis got less playing time (220 carries this season after 278 carries in 2012). Signed as free agent during offseason, Alex Smith (right photo above) had 1 TD catch before going on IR after Week 17. Emmanuel Lamur on IR all season, allowing rookie Jayson DiManche to make team and be a contributor on special teams, including a blocked punt in Week 12 win over Browns. I'm including Orson Charles on list of Bengals with dreads. In a video near end of season he had baby dreads, which hopefully will be much longer the next time I see a photo of him. Free agent Pat Sims was not re-signed. Starting DE Michael Johnson cut off his dreads during training camp. Rookies Jason Weaver (OT) and Troy Stoudermire (CB) cut at end of training camp. Sick S Robert Sands, who appeared in just 1 game in 2 disappointing seasons after being drafted in 2011, was released in June. Hopefully he'll resurface with another team in the future.

LB Vontaze Burfict
TE Orson Charles
LB Jayson DiManche
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
CB Adam Jones
CB Dre Kirkpatrick
S Reggie Nelson

WR Cobi Hamilton (PS)
LB Emmanuel Lamur (IR)
TE Alex Smith (IR)

GRADE: A ..... (LY: A)

8 players with dreads on roster when season ended, and all 8 have sick dreads. Browns were expected to be among AFC leaders in TD by players with dreads but fell out of running early when RB Trent Richardson, their 1st round draft choice in 2012, was traded to Colts after Week 2. One of saddest moments of the season was watching Travis Benjamin go down with a knee injury (torn ACL) while returning a punt in Week 8 game at Kansas City. Before he got hurt, Benjamin (bottom photo) made his first appearance on the NFL dread stars list after his spectacular night of punt returns in Week 5 win over Bills. Quentin Groves, playing for his 4th team in 6 seasons after signing as a free agent, also finished season on IR, his season ruined by a high ankle sprain he suffered in Week 2. He played 5 games, finishing with 2 sacks and 2 FF before having to get surgery done. After making position switch from DE to LB, Jabaal Sheard had 5.5 sacks, far fewer than the 12 I predicted. Lost sick dreads when free agents Josh Cribbs and Usama Young were not re-signed; but made up for it when they picked up rookies MarQueis Gray (top photo) and Paul Hazel just before start of season after they were cut by other teams. Gray, Benjamin, Sheard, and linemen Oniel Cousins and Ishmaa'ily Kitchen all made my all pro dreads teams. Rookie S Kenronte Walker cut in middle of training camp. Rookies Abdul Kanneh (CB) and Dominique Croom (WR), LB Quinton Spears, and WR Naaman Roosevelt all cut at end of training camp. WR Davone Bess didn't have dreads during the season but is growing them now; but it's doubtful he'll be back with team next season. 

ACTIVE                                INACTIVE
OT Oniel Cousins                  WR Travis Benjamin (IR)
TE MarQueis Gray                LB Quentin Groves (IR)
DE Paul Hazel                        G Jeremiah Warren (PS)
DT Ishmaa'ily Kitchen
LB Jabaal Sheard

GRADE: A- ..... (LY: A-)

Of the 5 players with dreads drafted by Steelers last April, only one played very much as a rookie - Jarvis Jones, who as I mentioned in a previous report still has a bright future even though he had only 1 sack this season. Markus Wheaton (6 catches for 64 yards) and Shamarko Thomas were minor contributors. Nick Williams spent the whole season on IR. CB Terry Hawthorne didn't make the team (or the practice squad either). David Johnson (top photo) finished season on IR for 2nd straight year, but at least he played 5 games this season after missing all of 2012. Steve McLendon (bottom photo) solid on D-line in his first season as a starter - as is pointed out in this article from the Steelers Depot blog: . Sean Spence, still not recovered from knee injury suffered in 2012 preseason, missed another entire season. After signing as a free agent, CB William Gay had dreads when training camp began, but they were gone when he took the field for the 1st preseason game. Free agent G Willie Colon was not re-signed. Like Hawthorne, RB Baron Batch and CB Josh Victorian cut at end of training camp. Rookie WR Tyler Shaw, cut by Cardinals early in training camp and signed by Steelers, cut again at end of camp. 

LB Jarvis Jones
DT Steve McLendon
S Shamarko Thomas
WR Markus Wheaton

TE David Johnson (IR)
LB Sean Spence (IR)
DT Nick Williams (IR)

GRADE: C+ ..... (LY: C-)

Best player with dreads: Eddie Lacy (GB)
Player with the best dreads: Rashean Mathis (DET)


Tim Jennings proved last season was no fluke, playing in Pro Bowl for 2nd straight season - although he didn't lead the league in INT again. He finished with 4 INT after getting 9 in 2012. A potential free agent in 2014, Jennings (taking an INT return to the house in Week 6 win over Giants in top photo) decided he wanted to remain with Bears, and he already has re-signed. Unfortunately the news isn't as good for Bears' other starting CB with dreads, Charles Tillman, who spent 2nd half of season on IR with a torn triceps muscle. Soon to be 33 years old and now a free agent, his next contract, whether it be with the Bears or another team, probably will include bonus clauses based on playing time. Rookies David Bass and Khaseem Greene played more than expected (and more than they should have) after injuries suffered by key players forced them into the lineup. They both struggled but both had a few highlights. Bass (bottom photo), picked up just before start of season after surprisingly being cut by Raiders, had a pick 6 in Week 11 win over Ravens and his 1st career sack a week later in his hometown (St. Louis) in a loss to Rams. Desperate for healthy interior D-lineman, team signed Landon Cohen off the scrapheap, and he was a minor contributor. After suffering torn ACL late in 2012, free agent G Lance Louis was not re-signed. WR Devin Aromashodu, signed as a free agent during offseason, was cut near end of training camp (and, disappointingly, not signed by anybody else). DE Aston Whiteside released from practice squad early in season.

ACTIVE                              INACTIVE
DE David Bass                    OT Rogers Gaines (PS)
DT Landon Cohen               CB Charles Tillman (IR)
LB Khaseem Greene
CB Tim Jennings

GRADE: B- ..... (LY: B-)

Lions ascend to top grade in the division for their dreads, but results in the W-L column still bad. Maybe now that Coach Schwartz has been fired, they'll start winning. Rashean Mathis (photos below), whose dreads reached awesome status while growing steadily longer during his 10 seasons with Jaguars, signed as a free agent midway through training camp. It wasn't long before he was in starting lineup. I wasn't all that impressed with anything he did on the field; but if you believe this article (link below) from the Detroit News, I guess he played better than I thought. No matter how he played, it was great to see him stay healthy for most of the season. Hopefully we'll be able to see those great dreads again for one more season next season.

Mathis one of 6 DBs with dreads on the roster when season ended, joining veteran Louis Delmas, 2nd year players Jonte Green (top right photo) and Bill Bentley, and DeJon Gomes, who signed just before start of season after being cut by Redskins. S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah finished year on active roster after being signed from practice squad for last game of season. With signing of star RB Reggie Bush, you knew either Joique Bell or Mikel Leshoure (or both) would see less playing time. While Bell (bottom right photo) flourished (650 yards rushing, 547 yards receiving, 8 TD), Leshoure (2 carries) spent whole season on bench. Brandon Pettigrew  had 416 yards receiving and 2 TD in 14 games in his first season with dreads before finishing season on IR. Willie Young (3 sacks) had decent season on D-line. Now a free agent, let's see if Lions want him back (they didn't want Delmas back). Rookie Devin Taylor got some playing time, as did undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle, who was a pleasant surprise on the O-line. Sick free agent DE Austen Lane was signed in November, appeared in a couple games, and then released. CB Jacob Lacey was a free agent not re-signed. WR Nate Burleson cut off his dreads early in training camp. You likely have noticed that DE Ziggy Ansah (1st round draft pick in 2013) has been growing his hair. Hopefully he's planning to change it to dreads, but I doubt it. 

RB Joique Bell
CB Bill Bentley
S Louis Delmas
S DeJon Gomes
CB Jonte Green
RB Mikel Leshoure
CB Rashean Mathis                       INACTIVE
S Akwasi Owusi-Ansah                WR Patrick Edwards (PS)
DE Devin Taylor                           WR Charles Hawkins (PS)
OT LaAdrian Waddle                   TE Brandon Pettigrew (IR)
DE Willie Young 

GRADE: A ..... (LY: B+)

After ranking near or at top of list of teams with the most players with dreads the last couple of seasons, Packers took big step backward in 2013. Lost a whole bunch of dreads just before the season began and then some more during the season. First, free agent LBs Erik Walden and Desmond Bishop were not re-signed. Undrafted rookie Patrick Lewis had dreads during minicamp in June but not when training camp began 6 weeks later. The big purge came at the end of training camp, when RB Alex Green, LBs Dezman Moses and Terrell Manning, and rookies Angelo Pease (RB), Brandon Smith (CB), and Tyrone Walker (WR) all were cut. Even with all those fewer dreads, Packers still had 5 DBs with dreads when season began. But that number was down to 3 by the end of season - Tramon Williams and M.D.Jennings (both in top photo celebrating INT by Williams, #38, in Week 13 at Detroit) and Davon House. S Morgan Burnett (shockingly) cut off his dreads in early October, and Jerron McMillian and his sick dreads released in early December due to poor play. Williams (3 INT, 8 PBU) had a good season, but Packers' best player with dreads was rookie Eddie Lacy (bottom photo), who lived up to expectations and then some, finishing with 1,178 yards rushing and 11 TD. Since he went to college at Alabama, we never got the chance to see just how long his dreads really are; but as was suspected they are plenty long. He barely missed making my all pro dreads team. Rookie Josh Boyd played a bit late in season after not doing much for the first 3 months. Hopefully DuJuan Harris will come back strong next season after missing all of 2013 with a knee injury. 

DT Josh Boyd
CB Davon House
S M.D. Jennings
RB Eddie Lacy
LB Jamari Lattimore                    INACTIVE
CB Tramon Williams                  RB DuJuan Harris (IR)

GRADE: B ..... (LY: A)

As with Green Bay, Vikings best player with dreads in 2013 was a rookie - Cordarrelle Patterson. Advertised as a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball, Patterson was exactly that - scoring 9 TD on an even 100 touches and setting new franchise single-season record with 1,393 yards on kickoff returns. But Cordarrelle's dreads were a bit of a disappointment, for no other reason than half the time we couldn't see them. By now you probably know that for roughly the first half of his only season in college at Tennessee Patterson bunched all of his dreads together and then put some sort of wrap around them. But since he stopped doing that during the last half of the season, I figured we had seen the last of that look. Evidently I was wrong, because the wrapped dreads made a comeback this season during Week 2 at Chicago. I thought (hoped) that he did it only because it was raining and he didn't want his dreads to get wet. But when he returned the opening kickoff of that game 105 yards for his 1st NFL TD, I had a feeling he was going to be superstitious, and we'd be seeing the wrapped dreads more often. Unfortunately that was the case. Even at home (indoors) he had his dreads wrapped for several games. And for the Week 8 game against Green Bay, he even teased everybody, letting us see the dreads during warmups (left photo below) before wrapping them up in time for the game (right photo). Whatever works, I guess. But seriously CP, come on man, please you gotta let the dreads flow. If you like, you can click on the link below and watch a 2-minute video from the Vikings' website of Patterson doing what he does best - make defenders miss.


Phil Loadholt still starting at right OT but still not playing well enough to make the Pro Bowl. Jarius Wright had 3 TD catches in his 1st season with dreads, including one where he beat Richard Sherman. Best dreads on the team still are on the head of Mistral Raymond (photo below, making a tackle during the preseason), who mostly contributed on special teams. Desmond Bishop, who missed all of 2012 due to a hamstring injury with Packers, made it to Week 6 this year before suffering season-ending injury after signing as a free agent. Robert Steeples finished season on active roster but spent most of season on practice squad. Free agent WR Devin Aromashodu was not re-signed. Undrafted rookies Jerodis Williams (RB) and Collins Ukwu (DE) cut at end of training camp. CB Bobby Felder and his awesome dreads released from practice squad near end of October. Rookie G Travis Bond on practice squad until signing with Panthers in early November.

OT Phil Loadholt
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
S Mistral Raymond
CB Robert Steeples
WR Jarius Wright

LB Desmond Bishop (IR)
WR Greg Childs (IR)

GRADE: B- ..... (LY: B-)



1. It's Super Bowl Media Day, 5 days before the game, and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman is enjoying every bit of it, as a throng of cameras and media members crowd around his podium, one of the 5 featured podiums set up in the middle of the floor in the Prudential Center at Newark. Media Day is usually held at the stadium where the game is played but wasn't this time because ..... of course, it was too cold. 


2. Broncos LB Danny Trevathan meets the press from his less crowded podium, one of several set up right in front of the seating area. Danny was telling everybody to "get a good look at these dreads now, because you won't be seeing them when I have my helmet on on Sunday." 


3. Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch goes with the hood to hide his dreads and the shades to hide his face, but it's not enough to keep a couple of nosy reporters from bothering him. Lynch, the anti-Richard Sherman when it comes to talking to the media, made a brief appearances at Media Day only to assure that he wouldn't be fined by the NFL, which he surely would have been had he skipped the event.


4. Marshawn Lynch loosens up a bit at a mandatory media session a couple of days later, sitting at the same table as FB Michael Robinson, before going to practice on Jan. 30.


5. LBs Danny Trevathan (#59) and Nate Irving (left photo) and DE Robert Ayers (right) stretch before Broncos practice on Jan. 31. This is Ayers' 1st season with dreads, and I forgot to write his name down in my notebook before the season started. That's why I failed to include him in the dreads focus section of my Week 21 report. 


6. We don't often get a chance to see Richard Sherman's dreads hanging totally loose; but here they do as he stretches before practice on Jan. 30.


7. Richard Sherman readies a snowball for some unsuspecting teammate on Feb. 1, before Seahawks' final practice before the game.


8. "We're the best!" says all-pro CB Richard Sherman to all-pro S Earl Thomas as they warm up before the game on Feb. 2. Obviously this would have looked much better if Thomas had kept his dreads, but unfortunately he cut them off right before training camp last July. 


9. Richard Sherman celebrates, and QB Peyton Manning runs off the field after Seahawks score a safety on the very first play from scrimmage to take a 2-0 lead. A shotgun snap sailed past Manning before he was ready to catch it, and the ball rolled into the end zone, where RB Knowshon Moreno recovered it for Denver to at least prevent Seahawks from scoring a TD.


10. On 4th and 2 after a three-and-out by Broncos on their 2nd possession of the game, Richard Sherman sets to take on S Omar Bolden, lined up wide as the gunner to cover the punt. The punt went just 29 yards and was fair caught by WR Golden Tate at the 28-yard line. Bolden finished with no tackles in the game. 


11. On 2nd and 5 on the 8th play of Seahawks' ensuing drive, LB Danny Trevathan applies the pressure, forcing QB Russell Wilson to get rid of the ball to avoid being sacked. The play started as a handoff to RB Marshawn Lynch, who then pitched the ball back to Wilson. With the Broncos' defense not fooled, Wilson did the smart thing, just throwing the ball away for an incomplete pass. And then on 3rd and 5 on the next play, Wilson hit WR Doug Baldwin for a 37-yard reception to the 6-yard line.


12. On 1st and goal from the 6, Lynch is dropped by LB Nate Irving for a 2-yard loss .... but there is a flag on the play. Broncos accept a holding penalty against Seattle. moving ball to the 16-yard line and nullifying Irving's TFL. 


13. Two plays later, on 2nd and goal from the 14, the race is on for the loose ball after a sideways pass intended for WR Percy Harvin was incomplete. Nate Irving eventually outfought Harvin and got the recovery; but it didn't matter, as the officials ruled the play a forward pass, meaning the play was over as soon as the ball hit the ground. Broncos challenged the ruling, but the ruling of incomplete pass was upheld.


14. Then on the next play it looks like Seahawks will score a TD, as the pass into the end zone is on target and in the hands of WR Jermaine Kearse against coverage by Nate Irving .....


15. ..... But before Kearse can secure possession, Irving gets his arm in there to try to break up the pass .....


16. ..... Irving manages to pry the ball free from Kearse's grasp .....


17. ..... and the ball falls harmlessly to the ground, an incomplete pass. Seahawks settled for a FG on the next play to increase their lead to 8-0. Kearse, of course, would score a TD later in the game. After a flurry of action on this drive, Irving wasn't heard from very much for the rest of the game. He finished with 4 tackles (3-1) and 1 PBU. 


18. Seahawks' next drive started at the Denver 37-yard line after an INT, and on the 2nd play of the drive G James Carpenter blocks DT Sylvester Williams, giving Russell Wilson plenty of time to hit TE Luke Willson with a short pass for a gain of 5 to the 17-yard line on the final play of 1st quarter.


19. On the next play the 2nd quarter begins with what would turn out to be Marshawn Lynch's second longest run of the game, as Danny Trevathan and DE Malik Jackson make the tackle at the 11-yard line after a gain of 6 on 2nd and 5.


20. 5 plays later, on 2nd and goal, Marshawn Lynch scores the 1st TD of the game, squeezing through a small opening and scoring standing up on a 1-yard run to make the score 15-0 with 12:00 remaining in 2nd quarter.


21. Lynch hands the ball to the official after scoring his 4th TD of the postseason.


22. Lynch celebrates his TD with FB Michael Robinson, whose block helped create the space for Marshawn to run through. The TD was the first by a player with dreads in a Super Bowl since RB Joseph Addai scored for the Colts in Super Bowl 44. 


23. Seahawks upped their lead to 22-0 on a pick 6 by LB Malcolm Smith on Denver's next possession. And on the 5th play of the drive after that Richard Sherman has his hands full trying to tackle 250-pound TE Julius Thomas after a catch on 2nd and 5 .....


24. .... Sherman holds Thomas up long enough to allow S Kam Chancellor to arrive and assist on the tackle at the Seattle 27-yard line after an 11-yard gain on the last play before the 2-minute warning. It was Sherman's 2nd tackle of the evening. The drive ended 4 plays later on an incomplete pass on 4th and 2.


25. Richard Sherman has a lot to be pleased about at the end of 1st half as he and his teammates take a shocking 22-point lead into the locker room.


26. The misery continued for Broncos and their fans on the 1st play of 2nd half. As S David Bruton looks on, Percy Harvin is in the clear after easily eluding K Matt Prater at the SEA 45-yard line on a kickoff return that began at the 13-yard line ......


27. ..... Chasing Harvin, Bruton gets to within 3 yards of Harvin near the DEN 35-yard line, but LB Heath Farwell sticks his arm in there and slows up Bruton, preventing him from gaining any more ground on Harvin ......


28. ..... His pursuit thwarted by Farwell, all Bruton and Nate Irving can do is watch Harvin take it to the house for an 87-yard TD and a 29-0 Seattle lead.


29. Broncos keep their first drive of 2nd half alive as WR Eric Decker makes his only catch of the game in front of coverage by Richard Sherman for a gain of 6 to convert on 3rd and 3. It was Sherman's 3rd and final tackle of the game.


30. On the next play Sherman has no chance to make this tackle, as he gets pancaked by 305-pound OT Chris Clark after a catch by WR Demaryius Thomas on a screen pass. CB Walter Thurmond (#28) has the less daunting task of dealing with being blocked by WR Wes Welker as Thomas picks up 4 yards before being tackled at the SEA 46-yard line .....


31. ..... As Clark walks away from the scene of the crime, Sherman can't get up. I never did find out what exactly happened to Sherman here (because there was a commercial break), but he was back on the field after missing only one play. 


32. And on the first play after he returned, Sherman complains after a penalty isn't called against Demaryius Thomas on an incomplete deep pass on 1st and 10. With Seahawks leading by 29, you wouldn't expect them to allow anything deep; but I guess Peyton Manning decided he would find out if Sherman really was OK after being shaken up. He was, blanketing Thomas on the coverage, and being denied a chance to intercept the pass when Thomas illegally grabbed him. No flag was thrown, however, prompting Sherman's reaction. Broncos punted three plays later.


33. On the first play after the punt Marshawn Lynch finds some running room - for the first time all night, really - and runs for an 18-yard gain out to the 26-yard line.


34. But things quickly went back to normal on the next play for Lynch, as he is stopped for no gain on Danny Trevathan's 6th tackle of the game. Lynch finished with 39 yards rushing (his second lowest total of the season), with his 15 carries good for: 3, -1, 3, -1, 2, 6, -1, 0, 1 (TD), 4, 1, 18, 0, 3, and 1 yards. Unfortunately for Marshawn, stopping him was about the only thing Denver did well in the game.


35. Early in 4th quarter, with Seahawks now enjoying a 5-touchdown lead, another good play by the Seattle D ends up with a bad result. Richard Sherman and S Earl Thomas combine to break up a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas on 2nd and 10, but the collision leaves Sherman on the ground and injured again. Actually Sherman didn't need help on the play and wouldn't have been injured had not Earl Thomas rammed into him from behind; but being hit by friendly fire is a common occurrence in football.


36. Sherman is carted away after suffering the first serious injury of his NFL career. He finished the game with 3 tackles (2-1) and 1 PBU. His injury is a high ankle sprain in his right leg, which usually takes at least 6 weeks to recover from. But since this was the last game of this season, Richard will have a good chance of keeping his perfect attendance record intact next season. He has not missed a game in his first 3 NFL seasons.


37. Danny Trevathan walks off after Broncos' worst performance of the season is finally over. Trevathan had an outstanding season and in this game had a game high 12 tackles (7-5) and 1 TFL. But he'll have to settle for second best. 


38. Injured WR Sidney Rice gets a chance to hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy during the Seahawks' celebration after the game. Rice contributed 15 catches for 231 yards and 3 TD in 8 games before suffering a torn ACL and missing the second half of his final season with the Seahawks. I don't know if it's official yet; but if it isn't, it will be soon that Sidney will be wearing a different team's uniform next season because he will be released by the Seahawks. 


39. Back home in Seattle, Richard Sherman rides along in the parade celebrating the Seahawks' championship on Wednesday, Feb. 5th, three days after the game.


40. And after the parade, a rally at CenturyLink Field, where Richard tells everybody, "I'm the best! And we are the champions!!" (No, he didn't really say that). Seahawks indeed are the champions for 2013 after slaughtering Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl 48. 

  • T.Y. Hilton - Colts - 13 receptions for 224 yards and 2 TD, including game-winning 64-yard TD with 4:21 remaining in 45-44 1 round home W over Chiefs; and 4 receptions for 103 yards in 2nd round 43-22 road L to Patriots

  • LeGarrette Blount - Patriots - 24 carries for 166 yards and 4 TD rushing in 43-22 2nd round home W over Colts


With 12 teams making the playoffs, that means there are 11 playoff games. And the one that had the most TD scored by players with dreads was the Patriots' 43-22 home victory over the Colts in round 2. So the postseason house of dread is the end zone at Gillette Stadium, where there were 4 TD scored - all by the same player. RB LeGarrette Blount had three 2-yard TD runs in the 1st half (the one in left photo being the 2nd of the three, giving New England a 14-0 lead in 1st quarter) and then broke free for a 73-yard TD run in the 4th quarter. 

OTHER PLAYOFF TD: T.Y. Hilton (IND) 2, Marshawn Lynch (SEA) 4, Khiry Robinson (NO), Anthony Dixon (SF)

PLAYOFF INT: Tramon Williams (GB), Dont'a Hightower (NE)


"I'm just about that action, boss."

That was one of the brief answers RB Marshawn Lynch gave to NFL Network "reporter" Deion Sanders at Super Bowl Media Day, and roughly it's Lynch's version of the familiar saying, "Actions speak louder than words." Well, he may not want to talk about it, but Lynch certainly was "about that action" during this postseason. And his action in the Seahawks' three playoff victories has earned him honors for being the best player with dreads for the 2013-14 postseason. 
No, Marshawn did not play a starring role in the Seahawks' 43-8 demolition of the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. But if not for his performances in the two preceding playoff rounds, the Seahawks probably wouldn't have made it to the Super Bowl. He scored both of Seattle's touchdowns and rushed for a new team playoff record 140 yards on 28 carries in a 23-15 2nd round victory over the New Orleans Saints. And he followed that by rushing for 109 yards on 22 carries, including a crucial 40-yard TD against the San Francisco 49ers' rugged run defense, helping the Seahawks to a 23-17 victory in the NFC championship game. Against Denver in Super Bowl 48 Lynch carried 15 times for only 39 yards and scored  the 1st TD of the game on a 1-yard run in the 2nd quarter. But as you already know if you've spent the last hour reading this entire report, the Seahawks were so far ahead that they didn't need him to do a lot. He carried only 4 times in the 2nd half, none at all after Seattle took a 36-0 lead.
Lynch's playoff performance followed another sensational regular season. Marshawn ranked #1 on my 2012 dreaded dozen list, and he most definitely is in the running for the top spot again this season. I marvel at his ability to stay healthy. I just hope he's doing it legally. No, I am NOT accusing him of cheating; but I wouldn't be surprised if he was. To run as hard as he does and get hit as many times as he does and make all those quick cuts he does while carrying the ball without missing a single game is pretty amazing. Having just finished his 8th NFL season, he probably doesn't have a lot of gas left in his tank. But if he has enough to have a couple more seasons like this one, then we'll be talking about a hall of fame career. Can't wait to hear that speech when he gets inducted.


It has taken me so long to finish this report that the offseason is already well underway. High priced players are already being released (Louis Delmas and Sidney Rice, to name a couple) to make room for the impending free agent frenzy that begins in a couple of weeks. And this weekend is all about the NFL Combine. Tune into the NFL Network and/or for the next 4 days to get an early look at some of the players who will be part of the 2014 class of rookies.
Unless something unexpected comes up, my next couple of posts will be my annual college football all-America teams. But I barely have started getting those put together. I probably won't have anything ready for at least three weeks. So please, hang in there. Even though I won't be posting anything, I will be working on a bunch of stuff.


  1. What ever happened to terry hawethorne? Why do you think he wasnt signed at all by any team after being cut by the steelers?

    1. I'm not going to type in the address; it's easier to just go to Google and search for "Terry Hawthorne released". The first search result is a link to an article from the Steelers Depot blog. If you read that article (and be sure to read the reader comments too), that might help answer your questions.
      I was very surprised he didn't at least make the practice squad.

  2. did dashon goldson cut his dreads off cuz in recent photos of him i dont see them?

    1. Thanks for letting me know .... even though it is bad news.
      Goldson had already cut off a lot of his dreads before training camp in 2012, and now the rest of them are gone too.
      You can see the sad proof on his Twitter account. His tweet, "Decisions" from January 5 has the photos.
      This has been a very bad week. I've been sulking over Jemile Weeks the last couple of days, and now this.

  3. Its possible Hawthorne did just have a bad attitude in the locker room and he did have knee problems but i find it hard to believe that someone as talented as him didn't even make any teams practice squad this season, not even the jaguars. The same thing happened with Kerry Rhodes this year but i think Rhodes didn't wanna sign with any team cuz he might be gay or something like that and he was embarrassed about it

  4. So how's the bowl review & all-america dread team coming?

    1. Honestly, I just finished checking all the all-conference teams yesterday; so hopefully I will have the all-America with dreads team posted in approximately 10 days from now and the dread all-America team about 10 days after that. Then I'm planning on doing a baseball DG after that, so the bowl review report won't be until April.

      I'm sorry I can't do this any faster. I don't like making mistakes, so I try to be as thorough as possible before I post anything. Yes, I'd love to quit work and spend more time on this blog. But realistically that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

      I appreciate your interest in the blog. But as I've mentioned before, the posts will continue to come more later than sooner.