"I've been impressed with how sharp he has looked in his first two starts," said an AFC scout. "He is getting the ball out on time, and even looks likes he has more zip on his passes."
The key to Pennington's expected resurgence can be attributed to offensive coordinator
"Henning does a good job of protecting his quarterbacks," said an AFC scout. "He makes sure that they are comfortable in the pocket, and set them up for big plays in the passing game. If the quarterback is a good decision maker, he can be very productive in that offense."
Henning, who previously guided Pro Bowlers
In spite of the simplistic nature of the offense, the personnel must be in place for any quarterback to thrive, and the Dolphins are assembling an offense that has the potential to put points on the board. Led by the re-emergence of
Pennington's best years in New York occurred when he played in an offense that featured a physical running game led by
"Pennington should have a very productive season for them," said a former secondary coach of an AFC rival. "He is at his best when he is able to throw off play-action, and the Dolphins' threat of a running game should give him plenty of chances to connect on deeper throws."
However, not all league observers aren impressed with his solid preseason and have attributed some of his success to his ability to take advantage of the basic coverage schemes that defenses have used against him.
"He is still the same old Chad," said an AFC scout. "Defenses have not been bringing pressure, so he has been able to get comfortable in the pocket. It will be interesting to see how he performs when defensive coordinators start coming after him."
The Chargers' signing of
"The timing of the deal is kind of curious," said an AFC scout. "It makes me believe that Merriman's injury is serious or that the team is preparing to move on when his contract ends."
Tucker, an undrafted free agent in 2007 who played only six games in San Diego last season, agreed to a five-year contract worth up to $14 million -- including $6.5 million in guarantees. Though Tucker flashed enormous potential as a pass rusher (recording a three-sack performance in the regular season finale against the Raiders), the timing of the deal was surprising considering he was already under contract with the Chargers through 2010.
However, this deal is part of the Chargers' proactive strategy of identifying and locking up key players early in their careers (the team has re-signed 23 of their current players since 2004). By approaching players before their prime with lucrative contract extensions, the team saves money in the long run while also providing some security to players often in the middle of a low-salaried rookie contract. Thus, the deal is viewed as a "win-win" proposition for both parties.
"It is always a good thing for the team when you can identify and sign your young players to extensions early in their career," said an AFC personnel director. "The costs are always rising, so the deal that you do today will look like a bargain down the road."
While Tucker's signing may be the Chargers' attempt to secure a budding star for a long time, there is still the sentiment the deal was done to protect against Merriman's looming contract situation.
"The Chargers have put the onus back on Merriman's camp to get the deal done on their terms because they have his replacement already in the fold," said an AFC personnel director. "If he chooses to hold out or ask for an exorbitant amount of money, they can move on without him. Plus, if Tucker turns out to be a great player, why pay him (Merriman) when you can get the same production at a fraction of the cost?"
The Chargers have been extremely busy locking up key pieces to what they hope is championship puzzle, but Tucker's signing makes you wonder if Merriman will continue to be a part of the team.
The loss of
However, it is the offseason additions of
Booker gives the team another weapon out of the backfield, and his ability to create on screens adds another dimension to their package. Therefore, look for
While Curtis is undoubtedly one of the best receivers the Eagles have had in the Reid era (77 receptions for 1,110 yards), his absence will ultimately make the their offense more diverse and explosive in 2008.