NFL

NFL AM: The NFL’s ‘Irrational Confidence Guys’

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The great Bill Simmons coined a term for streaky NBA shooters, calling them “irrational confidence guys.” Well, at this point in the offseason, it seems every NFL player is an “irrational confidence guy.” Don’t believe me? Check out some of today’s headlines.

Ware Sees a ‘Whirlwind’ in Denver

What do you get when you mix a past-his-prime athlete with a couple of potheads? The answer, according to Denver’s DeMarcus Ware, is a “whirlwind.”

Ware went on Around the NFL on Friday to talk about Denver’s defense. The Broncos’ pass rush is led by Ware and Von Miller, a duo that combined for 21.5 sacks last season, as well as first-round pick Shane Ray.

“I think it’s going to be a whirlwind,” Ware said. “This year’s going to be that tornado.”

Ware went on to say: “When it’s third down and it’s pressure situations, you’ve got three guys that are going to come in there and wreak havoc. And with Shane Ray coming in, he’s one of those guys who’s stronger than he looks and he’s a lot faster than he looks. He’s learning a lot from me and learning a lot from Von and he’s putting that in his arsenal.”

Hopefully Ray doesn’t learn too much from Miller. Miller tested positive for marijuana as a rookie in 2011. He was later suspended four games in 2013 for submitting a diluted urine sample, a ban that was extended to six games when it was revealed Miller and his sample collector were in cahoots to help Miller avoid a longer ban.

Ray, who was charged with possession of marijuana less than a week before the draft, would do well to carve his own path.

The pair of potheads has apparently done enough to elevate Ware’s confidence. When asked about Denver’s expectations for this season, Ware laid them out simply: “Nothing less than a Super Bowl.”

The best thing Ware can do at this point? Take whatever he’s smoking and keep it away from his teammates.

Allen Needs a New Watch

Perhaps the message is getting lost in translation.

Colts tight end Dwayne Allen believes he and his peers have received a loud and clear message from team management: the time to win is now. That message was sent via a flurry of offseason transactions that saw the Colts add Frank Gore (32), Andre Johnson (33), Trent Cole (32), Kendall Langford (29) and Dwight Lowery (30).

“They want to win, and they want to win now — there is no hiding from that point,” Allen told Lindsay H. Jones of USA TODAY Sports. “From the owner down to the GM, down to the head coach, we know that our time is now.”

Here’s the issue: with an offense counting on major contributions from Gore and Johnson, perhaps the better time to win would have been 2012. Gore comes off a season in which he averaged his fewest rushing yards per game since his rookie year in 2005. Johnson, meanwhile, was held under 1,000 yards last year despite starting 15 games.

The additions on defense might make a difference. With the help of those new faces — and some fully inflated footballs — the Colts may be able to hold the Patriots under 40 points when they meet in Week 6.

Allen is right about one thing: there is plenty of pressure on the Colts to win now. Not only is head coach Chuck Pagano in the final year of his contract, but the talent gap between the Colts and the rest of the AFC South is narrowing. There is only one Andrew Luck, but Marcus Mariota and Blake Bortles will be just fine with their cast of under-30 skill position players.

Dockett Dismisses Mounting Losses 

For most NFL players, giving up is not an option. That’s not the case in San Francisco, though, as 49ers players are giving up the game on a seemingly weekly basis.

Even with Anthony Davis joining the 49ers’ long list of retirees (Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith are the others), newcomer Darnell Docket refuses to follow the quitting trend.

“Don’t ask me about who’s retired and what’s going on with football this and that,” Dockett said via Twitter. “We will still WIN! Just watch!”

Watch, we shall, although it won’t be pretty. After an offseason in which the 49ers suffered more losses than a Hilary Clinton email account, San Francisco is now one of just three teams that is a lead-pipe lock to finish last in its division, an exclusive club that also includes the Browns and Bears.

One of the teams well ahead of the 49ers in the NFC West is Dockett’s former squad, the Cardinals. Arizona won 11 games last season despite an unbelievable rash of injuries. Buoyed by improved health, a strong crop of free agents and a stellar draft class, the Cardinals are now legitimate contenders.

The 49ers? Staying true to their Bay Area roots, they’ve officially become the Raiders of the NFC.

Hankerson’s High Hopes

Atlanta’s Leonard Hankerson will prove the be the best value free-agent signing of the entire offseason. He has athleticism, savvy and soft hands. What he doesn’t have, apparently, is an appreciation for how many good offenses there are in the NFL.

Hankerson believes his new quarterback, Matt Ryan, can set the league on fire while throwing to a group headlined by Julio Jones and Roddy White.

“With the weapons that [Ryan] has on this team, there is no doubt about it that we can be a top-five offense. We can be a great team,” Hankerson said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Atlanta is nowhere near an elite offensive team. The Falcons finished last season ranked eighth in total yards, but much of that came in garbage time with the Falcons constantly playing from behind. That’s what happens when your team goes 1-9 outside its own division.

The Falcons still have a pedestrian offensive line, no proven running back and a glaring hole at tight end.

The Packers, Broncos, Colts, Saints and Eagles figure to field top-five offenses. The Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, Cowboys, Saints and Seahawks could all wedge their way into that conversation as well.

The conversation in Atlanta should be more along these lines: How many losing seasons can Matt Ryan author and still be considered a franchise quarterback?

Want to talk more about these and other headlines? Join Michael Lombardo for his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … you can ask your question now!


About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.