Balzer’s on NFL: ‘Did he really say that?’

Howard Balzer

May 08, 2016 at 12:52 pm.

Nov 9, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Bears strong safety Antrel Rolle (26) looks on before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 9, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Bears strong safety Antrel Rolle (26) looks on before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

It’s fairly hard not to shake our heads at some of the words that come out of the mouths of NFL people. And it’s not only players. Head coaches, owners, just about everyone has those moments where what is said simply doesn’t meet any reasonable scrutiny

In a busy time for the NFL following the draft and heading toward OTAs, what follows is a special edition of, “Did he really say that?”

*We start with safety Antrel Rolle, who was released by the Bears two days after the draft ended. Talking to the Chicago Tribune, he began by extolling everything about Chicago, and then abruptly changed course.

Rolle said, “I like the Chicago franchise and the organization. I had a great relationship with all the coaches and players and the general manager. So there’s no hard feelings. I don’t take anything personally. This is a business.”

So far, so good. Then this: “But at the end of the day, I am who I am. I’m still a human being. And I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. And like I said, whatever team I go to, I hope Chicago’s on the schedule. Because I’m coming to bust their ass. And that’s that.” And he wasn’t done. Rolle concluded by saying, “I always knew that Soldier Field was bad. I just never knew that the facilities were just as bad.”

We’d hate to see what he would have said had he not liked the franchise.

*Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is usually good for some head-scratchers and he didn’t disappoint while discussing the team’s quarterback depth behind Tony Romo. Last season, Jones lamented not signing Matt Cassel earlier than the they did, and watched as the season went diown in flames with Romo rarely playing.

So, safe to say that after Cassel left in free agency, the Cowboys would move fast to acquire another veteran, right? Wrong. They selected Zak Prescott in the fourth round of the draft, and they are supposedly fine with Kellen Moore as No. 2.

Said Jones, “I think Kellen Moore has shown the ‘it.’ He has the instincts. He has the anticipation. He knows what’s going on. He gives me and us a great feeling about basically improving. Obviously those interceptions (last season) were not something you can live with, but some of the stuff he was doing was pretty obvious that the team was responding. He was able to move the team.”

That’s because he has the “it,” whatever the “it” is.

*There were those that believed the Browns should have stayed with the second pick in the draft and selected running back Ezekiel Elliott. Of course, no one can fault the Browns for acquiring a bounty of picks for first moving from two to eight and then 15. They ended uop with 14 selections including five of the top 93 players and nine of the first 138. Of course, they picked four wide receivers and no running backs.

Now we know why: Because first-year head coach Hue Jackson just loves the backs he has.

Extolling the virtues of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, Jackson let these words leave his lips: “Those two guys are as good as I’ve seen in a while. Their talent is extreme.”

Really? It’s one thing to publicly support your guys. But calling them “extreme” and as good as he’s seen “in a while.” Of course, he didn’t specify what “in a while” meant. It could be simply from the end of the season.

Anyway, Jackson concluded, “I’ve been getting so much mail or phones calls with people saying, ‘Well wait a minute, why don’t you guys have a running back?’ I really think Isaiah Crowell is a really good running back. I think he’s going to have a sensational season, I really do.”

*Tackle Kelvin Beachum, who left Pittsburgh for Jacksonville in free agency, is coming back from ACL surgery, and we wonder if his brain has been scrambled by too much pain meds. The Jaguars are an improving team and it appears they upgraded their defense in the draft. But, Beachum believes the five-win Jaguars will be Super Bowl bound.

He said, “I’m feeling great. I’m ready to do what I do best and that’s play left tackle. I’m looking to play 19 games this year, and that comes with a first-round bye, so whatever is needed to get that done, that’s what I’m here to do.”

*In a draft of numerous red-flagged players, many dropped precipitously because of medical or off-field issues. Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche has top-10 ability, but lasted until Arizone selected him with the 29th pick in the first round.

But he was left to defensive line coach Brentson Buckner to make light of an incident in which Nkemdiche fell out of a window and police discovered marijuana in the room.

Said Buckner, “I made a kind of joke about it. You get a guy who falls out of a second-story building and walks away from it, that’s my kind of guy. Because he’s not afraid of a double-team anymore, know what I mean?


*Then there is Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins who qualifies for this theme because he actually said something that makes sense. So much so, that it makes some wonder if he really did say that. Because no player usually does.

Cousins, of course, took the reins from Robert Griffin III last season, and helped lead the Redskins to a division title, albeit with a 9-7 record. It was fortuitous timing for Cousins, whose contract expired after the season. Unable to put a true value on a player with one complete season, the Redskins slapped a franchise tag worth $19.95 million on Cousins. They have until July 15 to negotiate a long-team, which is proving difficult to do.

Crazy thing is that Cousins is OK with however it ends up. Acknowledging that “there’s a chance” for a long-term deal, he also said he understands why the club wants to see more before committing big dollars and numerous years to a deal. That could likely lead to Cousins betting on himself.

His words are as refreshing as any you will hear from today’s athletes. Cousins said, “If they feel like they have enough information and want to make that call right now, then great. But I think the ball’s in their court and I will react accordingly to whatever decision they make. But I am totally comfortable playing more football, and frankly if I don’t play well next season, I don’t deserve to be back. I don’t deserve a long-term deal. So I want to go out and earn it, and prove myself, and if I need to prove myself again, that’s fine. I’ll go see if I can do that.”

*We close with Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who did take kindly to questions from the media wondering if fifth-round pick Christian Westerman could move from guard to center and be the starter.

Alexander angrily said, “You guys are asking about the Bodine witch hunt, right? This is a young player who is playing in his third year with a bunch of veterans and very good offensive linemen and he’s the last one right now because he’s the youngest. But I don’t care what anyone else says, I think Bodine is a hell of a player. That’s where I’m at on that.”

Alexander even went off on his barbers, who were all criticizing Bodine. Said Alexander, “It pissed me off. They got three Italian barbers there all yelling at each other; they are all brothers and they are getting on me about Bodine. I finally had to tell one to eff off. Jeez, I can’t even get my haircut in peace.”