I've decided to go a different route with my round up this week, summarising it in bullet style points. Because I'm bored. You'll have to apologise for the swearing, I'm pretty riled up by the officiating this week:
- Cam Newton. The more I watch him, the more I dislike him, prancing around after his rushing touchdowns like he just won the game. Well he didn't. Again. Newton managed to throw 27/46 for 374 yards and a touchdown, but also threw away 7 points with an interception. The thing I don't like about Newton most though, or rather people talking about Newton, is this; he picks up most of his yardage by slinging the ball deep with almost hail mary type passes. Yeah sure, he racks up the yards... in open field play with his prayer passes. But in tight spots he can't get it done. He's not an NFL quarterback. So far he's been a lucky gambler and fuck all else.
- It wouldn't be so bad if the Panthers D actually contributed to games. But they don't, and that's an understatement.
- The Bears came out running it this time. Part of me thinks Mike Martz was just taking the piss, hoping to say to people "here, I'm running the ball! Look! And it's not working! So shut up and let me do my thing!". If that was intention then he got a rude awakening as the Bears rushed for 224 yards. Matt Forte had 205 yards and a touchdown alone. The Bears line slaughtered the Panthers D.
- Devin Hester had a 73 yard kick return, followed later by a 69 yard punt return for a touchdown, which puts him atop the all time list for punt return touchdowns. The guy is great at it. Which makes me wonder why they waste time trying to convert him into a receiver? He'd be better off as a specialist returner (e.g. the only guy on the team who returns kicks and punts) and perhaps a nickel corner. Oh I remember why they use him as receiver; Deion "poison" Sanders.
- Off on a tangent but... note to the Papa John's guy; I hate your face. And your stupid adverts. You're the classic corporate blowhard, just like Mike Florio trying to pin the ratings for Sunday Night Football on NBC's coverage. No. People watch/buy the product for what it is, not your "corporate culture". NBC doesn't make the ratings for SNF, the games selected do. The broadcaster is incidental.
- Back on track and the Bills offense looked a little shaky. Having rioted in recent weeks, scoring points almost for fun, Ryan Fitzpatrick was held to 199 yards and 1 touchdown.
- Andy Dalton's bizzaro season continues with 18/36 for 298 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. All that yardage wasn't nearly as important as his rushing touchdown which tied the game.
- Chris Johnson actually ran the ball well! A season first. He had 23 carries for 101 yards, but he's going to have to have plenty more of those before his contract seems worthwhile especially given how exceptionally many other backs in the league are playing.
- Matt Hasselbeck only completed 50% of his passes, yet still managed to chalk up 3 touchdowns. The Browns tackling plus a bit of lenient officiating made the Titans offense look better than it really is.
- The Titans D had another strong day, with four sacks and an interception as highlights.
- Seriously Cleveland, asking Colt McCoy to throw it 61 times? Are you nuts? Have you forgotten about that guy Peyton Hillis in your backfield? I heard from somewhere that he's pretty good you know. Just unbelievable. Credit to McCoy, he completed 40 of those passes for 350 yards, but managed just one touchdown.
- It's official; the Lions are the most over rated team in the NFL right now. Yeah, I just said that. Last week they got ripped apart by the Vikings in the first half and only found a way back in because of the Vikings ineptitude. Ditto this week, as the Cowboys blew a 27-3 lead. I'll give the Lions a bit of credit for taking their chances to come back, but good teams do not rely on their opponent shitting the bed each week.
- Talking of which, Tony Romo. Christ I bet Jerry Jones was going insane on the sideline watching that. The Cowboys were cruising to victory. Now a healthy dose of blame can be laid at the feet of Head Coach/offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. Simply put, the play calling sucked. But Tony Romo you have to realise that with a lead that big, all you have to do is play keep away. Just don't turn the ball over and you should win it..... ok, so you turned the ball over, take that as a lesson and learn from it. Play safer now. Eat the sack or throw it away, just don't take any more gambles.... ok, so you turned the ball over again. This is getting ridiculous, but it's still salvageable, just don't turn the ball over again... oh fuck you then! Seriously, who actually cares about all the good stuff that Romo does when the bad stuff keeps wiping it off the board? Dick. (and I don't even like the Cowboys).
- 34/47, 331 yards, 3 touchdowns. Those are Tony Romo's numbers by the way. Felix Jones had just 16 carries for 57 yards. Truly unbelievable. Truly pathetic as well. The Manning-less Colts might have started the season as the NFL's joke team, but the Cowboys have surpassed them easily.
- 21/43 for 240 yards, 2 TD's, 1 INT. That was Matthew Staffords numbers for the day.
- Note to self, Calvin Johnson can Jump, with a capital J. Without him, the Lions would be largely screwed.
- The Steelers offensive line is like a bad B-movie right now; vomit inducing to watch. Ben Roethlisberger might be tough, but even he can't take the constant pounding (there'sa joke about B-movies to be had there somewhere).
- The Steelers/Texans game was decided by a strong defense coupled with a great rushing attack. Any other year and that would be the Steelers I was talking about, but in 2011 it's the Texans. Arian Foster had 30 carries for 155 yards and a touchdown, while the defense picked up 5 sacks (two for Mario Williams) and an interception.
- Don't ask me why, but I randomly ended up watching "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace" the other day. In that film Yoda (the little green dude) says something like "there's always two of them, never more, never less". He was talking about the Sith, but he could easily have been talking about the Texans running backs, as Arian Foster returned from injury and Ben Tate picked up an injury. Chris Ogbonnaya is the other back, in case you're wondering.
- Drew Brees looked a little off. 31/44 for 351 yards isn't bad, but it only produced one touchdown and two interceptions.
- Tight end Jimmy Graham seems to be Brees's new favourite weapon. He caught 10 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown.
- Darren Sproles rushed for 75 yards off 7 carries for the Saints. Mark Ingram added another 55 off 17 carries. Pierre Thomas added another 36 from 6 carries. That's 166 yards off 30 carries combined, better than Arian Foster with the same amount of carries.
- Saints defensive end Will Smith added another two sacks to his season tally, and safety Roman Harper added another sack to his.
- Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny had 9 tackles and a sack. He's a good player, but he was over paid.
- Rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert , the supposed best quarterback in the 2011 draft (according to almost all experts) was 16/42 for 196 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception.
- Maurice Jones-Drew is perhaps the most under utilized asset in the NFL. 11 carries, 84 yards. Just 11 carries? Because Blaine Gabbert is the answer for the Jaguars right? Jesus.
- The Vikings didn't blow a half time lead for a change! But only because they didn't have one.
- Donovan McNabb completed just 18/30 passes and was picked off on a screen play. When you're struggling to get the ball to your back on a screen (tip; try not throwing the ball like a fucking rocket at a guy standing 8 yards away) then you know you have problems.
- Adrian Peterson had 80 yards on 23 carries. Many Vikings fans still wonder why he doesn't get more (which would you rather do, let Peterson carry another 15 times and not have McNabb throw it so much, or vice versa?)
- Jared Allen marked his return to Kansas with 2 sacks.
- Matt Cassel and Todd Haley got into it when Cassel chucked away a screen play that wasn't there. That's precisely the kind of heads up play that the Cowboys wish they could get out of Tony Romo.
- After me taking the piss out of Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe on Saturday, it was a 52 yard connection between them that won the game, though the Vikings crappy tackling played its part.
- On Saturday I said you'd have to be insane to take the 49ers over the Eagles. Looks like the nuts are poised to take over the nut house.
- Seriously Eagles? Seriously? To the 49ers? I know well enough how bad my team is, and you lost to us. Dream Team? Please. I didn't really buy the hype pre-season, but I honestly didn't think it would be this bad. As predicted, the Philadelphia press and fans are already in outrage. They kind of have a point. Kind of.
- Mike Vick was 30/46 for 416 yards, 2 touchdowns and a pick. He also had 8 carries for 75 yards on the ground. But guess what? The Eagles still suck in short yardage and red zone play. They were 5/13 (38%) on third down and 2/7 (28%) in the red zone. 2 of 7 in the red zone. That explains Vicks numbers but without the win. Like Cam Newton and the Panthers, the Eagles are great at hoofing the ball downfield but just can't find a way to convert big open field yardage into points. With the weapons the Eagles have available, that is pretty astounding.
- Jason Babin had three sacks for the Eagles D and made a case for his signing. The Eagles pass rush has looked much better this year.
- Nnamdi Asomugha looked nothing like a "shutdown corner". This is what I've been trying to say. I think the myth doesn't hold up to the hype.
- Alex Smith looked.... good? I had to check the sky and make sure the Moon wasn't falling on us, or that the Sun hadn't gone Super Nova. But no, everything in the heavens is fine. And yet Alex Smith managed to throw 21/33 for 291 yards and 2 touchdowns, without any interceptions. Some of the throws were pretty good. It's madness.
- Frank Gore rolled for 127 yards and a touchdown off just 15 carries. This seems to be the week for highly (over?) paid backs to find their feet and start putting up the yards again.
- Rookie Aldon Smith had another 1.5 sacks for the 49ers and corner Carlos Rogers got another interception.
- Weren't the Rams poised to have a great year this year? They just look hopeless. There's Steven Jackson the running back and then... nobody you can point to and say "that is a guy that will help this team win games,". They're just not getting it done anywhere on the field.
- Bradford was 20/43 for 164 yards and a touchdown. That's not great numbers given how much is being placed on his shoulders. His line giving up six sacks is not helping.
- On which note, credit to the Redskins defense which is basically keeping them in games right now. Rookie Ryan Kerrigan had a sack-forced fumble, defensive end Steven Bowen had 1.5 sacks, and linebacker Brian Orakpo had 2.5 sacks. They also held the Rams to just 45 net rushing yards.
- The Redskins won in spite of Rex Grossman, not because of him. 15/29, 143 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions.
- I've been harping on about Ryan Torain for a while now. He had 19 carries for 135 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 fumble. He played with aggression, delivering hits on his tacklers and made good reads of his blocks.
- Osi Umenyiora marked his return to the Giants line up with two sacks. Dave Tollefson also had two for the Giants as they put away the Cardinals.
- As a 49er fan I could easily be accused of being biased about the "controversial" late call in the Giants/Arizona game, but frankly there is nothing controversial about it. In fact you have to try pretty bloody hard to come up with a scenario where it is controversial (more on this later).
- Kevin Kolb isn't bad, he's just not all that good right now. 20/34 for 237 yards and an interception wasn't enough to get his team over the hump. Larry Fitzgerald had 8 catches for 102 yards.
- Running back Chris "Beanie" Wells had another big game for the Cardinals. 27 carries, 138 yards, 3 touchdowns. But even that wasn't enough to stop the Cardinals slipping to 1-3.
- Eli Manning was actually the Giants saviour for a change. Write that down. That's not going to be a line you'll read very often, especially not on here. Eli was 27/40 for 321 yards and two touchdowns.
- Hakeem Nicks had a big day for the Giants, with 10 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. Victor Cruz also had another good week, with 6 catches for 98 yards.
- The Falcons started well, but it must have been troubling for Head Coach Mike Smith to watch as the Seahawks clawed their way back into it.
- Michael Turner had 26 carries for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns. But 15 of those carries came in the first half, which the Falcons finished ahead 27-7. Only 11 carries in the second? What is it with NFL teams this season and their aversion to just sitting on a lead and running out the clock with their running game? As we'll see later, it worked for the Ravens (eventually).
- The Falcons defense produced no sacks, but they had 9 hits on Tavaris Jackson. The pressure was there.
- Matt Ryan was 28/42 for 291 yards and a touchdown, but still looked a little shaky at times. I'm just not sure how trustworthy the Falcons offense is right now.
- Tavaris Jackson recovered from early mistakes to finish 25/38 for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns. But the two picks killed his team in an otherwise close game.
- The Packers annihilated the Broncos. Denver's secondary looked bad enough, but Phil Simms really summed it up when he said "you just can't let these guys run off the line of scrimmage free, everytime!". Exactly Phil, good point. I have no idea, no conception of why people seem so intent to let the Packers receivers have a free release every down. At least give your pass rush a chance for Gods sake.
- Broncos Rookie Von Miller did get home twice for the sack, but it was fighting an uphill battle.
- Aaron Rodgers was supreme on Sunday. 29/38 for 408 yards, 4 touchdowns and one interception, plus two rushing touchdowns to help pile on the scores.
- Broncos fans started chanting for Tim Tebow again, after Kyle Orton threw three interceptions. In all fairness he also threw three touchdowns and 273 yards, but those turnovers (including a pick six to Charles Woodson) are always going to kill you against the Packers, especially when your defense is playing like it is.
- Lost in the midst's of an ugly defeat were the performances of Broncos running back Willis McGahee (15 carries for 103 yards) and receiver Brandon Lloyd (8 catches, 136 yards).
- Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop never gets any love, but the guy had 9 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in this one. Maybe one day he'll get his well deserved dues.
- You know you're good when you don't play all that well and still win comfortably. Just ask the Patriots, who beat the Raiders 31-19 despite Brady only completing 16/30 passes for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns.
- A big chunk of the Patriots success was down to the running game. Stevan Ridley had 10 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis had 16 carries for 75 yards and another touchdown.
- Of course it also helps when the opposing team ignores your number one receiver. Wes Welker had 9 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. After all, it's not like anyone could predict before the game that Welker would be Brady's number one target... (Chad Ochocino had 2 catches for 26 yards, then five other players caught just one pass each. No, I'm not kidding, go check the numbers. That's how keyed in on Welker Brady is).
- Jason Campbell was 25/39 for 344 yards for the Raiders, with 1 touchdown and two interceptions. All that yardage with such little end production won't cut it, especially against a good team like the Patriots. The Raiders were 2/5 in the red zone.
- Like the Broncos loss, the Raiders loss over shadowed some good performances. Darius Heyward-Bey had four catches for 115 yards and Darren McFadden carried 14 times for 75 yards.
- Having completed 3/4 passes, Chad Henne tried to carry it himself after a botched play. He busted his shoulder for his troubles, prompting an appearance by Matt Moore (formerly of Carolina). I'll leave you to decided whether you think that was a blessing in disguise or not.
- Moore was 17/26 for 167 yards and a pick. Not bad, but a bit too much dink and dunk at times, when Miami really needed to be pushing the ball aggressively down field. Miami's running game didn't help, being flat as a pancake.
- Phillip Rivers was 21/31 for 307 yards but just the one touchdown. Some of his throws looked a little erratic at times and I'm beginning to wonder what happened after the smooth and by the numbers pre-season that he had.
- Ryan Matthews pitched in well again. He had 16 carries for 81 yards which is helping the Chargers offense to stay balanced and keep defenses a little more honest.
- The Chargers defense continues to be a blessing and a liability at the same time. They have a knack right now of making big plays when they need to, but sloppy play early on is making things tighter than they need to be for San Diego.
- If it came to light in the future that NBC was bribing teams to play like ass on Sunday Night Football, it wouldn't surprise me. SNF has been packed this season with games that just keep on giving in terms of excitement. And no Mike Florio, it has nothing to do with NBC's coverage, not unless you guys really are paying people off.
- I don't know what to make of the Ravens-Jets game. It was bizarro land all over again.
- Rookie center Colin Baxter stood in for the injured Nick Mangold and was getting all the shit for missed exchanges and shotgun snaps but personally, from what I saw, the blame is on Sanchez. He didn't set his hands properly on either of the mistakes. But I guess nobody would dare to blame Sanchez, or any quarterback for that matter, not when there is a perfectly good rookie lineman to blame.
- On that point, I thought Cris Collinsworth's usually really good analyses was off the mark on Sunday. He was heaping a lot of blame on Baxter for his blocking, but you can't physically block two people at once, which is what the Ravens were doing later on, piling the pressure up the middle.
- Mark Sanchez finished 11/35 and Joe Flacco was 10/31, but they weren't even that good. Roger Goodell must have been having fits of rage watching defenses putting on such an exciting game.
- Or at least it was until the Ravens finally decided to sit on their lead. But that didn't happen until the second half and not before the Ravens had given away 10 points in a desperate attempt to piss away their lead and let the Jets back into it. When they eventually considered that a hefty lead might warrant them running out the clock they hit the running game, which did the job nicely, at one point slicing over six minutes off the clock.
- Ray Rice ended the night with 25 carries for 66 yards and a touchdown, but it was the manner of his running that was important, as he clipped off five yard runs along with Ricky Williams (12 carries, 49 yards) to keep the clock and the chains moving.
- The Ravens defense were back to their best form in this one. The front seven was dominant.
- The Jets O-line was shit. D'Brickashaw Ferguson looked like the worst tackle on the field for a change.
- The story of 'Revis Island' unravelled a bit further. I've never really noticed it before but Revis only kept up with Torrey Smith by tugging the crap out of his jersey. I've since gone and watched a bunch more Revis plays and the story repeats itself. Revis basically gets away with defensive pass interference on every play.
- The Colts almost, almost, pulled it out of the bag on Monday Night. Raheem Morris had to be getting a bit of that squeaky bum syndrome watching as the Colts took the lead into half time and then managed to hang around until the end.
- Curtis Painter looked a little better than he usually does at 13/30 for 281 yards and 2 touchdowns, with no picks, but treat those numbers carefully. The Bucs defense and Pierre Garcon (2 catches, 146 yards, 2 touchdowns) did most of the work for him. The Colts O-line still looks like shit and Joseph Addai has regressed as a pass blocker.
- Josh Freeman did just enough tonight, finishing 25/39 for 287 yards and a touchdown (plus punching in one himself and picking up some key first downs with his feet) but he still looks suspect at times. Even with all the young talent they have on offense, they still look like they're just putting everything together and finding a path. Next years draft will be critical to this team.
- LaGarrette Blount carried 25 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. And credit to the Buc's; as they got down near the red zone they handed it to Blount who ran in the game winning touchdown from 35 yards. That's called trusting your best players to make the big plays. Pay attention Minnesota. And Baltimore. And Kansas. And... we could be here all night.
- Was I the only one who got a kick out of watching Josh Johnson running a counter into an option play on fourth down?
- Colts linebacker Kavell Connor earned his money this week with 14 tackles! Defensive End Jerry Hughes also popped up, finally getting a sack. Freeney and Mathis were good, but didn't have their normal impact.
- The Buc's D snagged four sacks, including one for Gerald McCoy, one for rookie Adrian Clayborn and two for Michael Bennett. Overall though the Buc's still looked suspect, especially their tackling.
And so with all that done and all the games covered in week 4, this post is nearly at an end. Before I go, just time to gripe about the weeks officiating/general state of rules and officiating in the NFL.
- The fucking tuck rule strikes again! Andy Dalton was sacked and fumbled. Yes, he did, he fumbled the ball. The tuck rule is such a bucket full of shit, yet every year we wait for the competition committee to dump it and yet every year they ignore it and the fans, favouring instead to increase the amount of protection their precious quarterbacks receive.
- In the same game as above, a perfectly legitimate catch by Steve Johnson was ruled out because of the fucking retarded rules about maintaining possession of the football through the act of going to the ground or whatever the hell it is now. It's just dumb. That was a catch. It was a catch. Every football fan on the planet would agree. But no, not under the new rule system, where referees seem to have more power than the President of the USA, and we spend more time watching fucking replays than we do watching the game.
- Nice to see the Titans picking up a touchdown on a pretty blatant rub/pick route. I keep harping on about this, but the simple fact is these plays are supposed to be illegal. It's supposed to be called as offensive pass interference. There's also supposed to be one official watching each of the receivers, yet they never seem to see it. The only reason I get so annoyed is because if defense's cause interference, they will normally get flagged (more on this later). When the offense does it though, none of the officials seem to care and it's a case of blatant bias in favour of "sexy" offensive football. Drives me fucking nuts.
- The roughing the passer call on Ndamukong Suh was ridiculous. You want players to try, you want players to compete, but then calls like that basically tell defensive guys not to bother. It's pathetic.
- The Texans blocked a field goal and ran it back for a score, only to have it wiped out by a stupid block in the back penalty. Two things about that annoy me; 1) it was more a block in the side than the back. 2) blocks in the back are the stupidest fucking penalties in all of football. There is no way in hell a great defensive play like the one the Texans made should be pulled back because somebody got nudged a little from behind. A fucking joke.
- Jonathan Joseph was the guy who returned the above play for a touchdown only to see it wiped out. He had a Deja vu moment later on, when his interception return for a touchdown was also called back, this time because of a roughing the passer penalty. Basically Texans linemen J.J. Watt tried to dive to sack Roethlisberger, but Big Ben had already thrown the ball and when Watt made contact milliseconds later, he was flagged for the hit, which was about knee height. Thus a perfectly legitimate interception was called back for no justifiable reason. If you really must make that a penalty (and 15 yards at that), then apply it to the next play. Don't ruin a good interception return over a penalty that had no effect on the eventual outcome of the play.
- On a day full of shitty officiating and league intrusion on the fluid game of football, the one play that drew the most attention in the media is the one play that should be without any controversy. It's the play from the Giants-Cardinals game, where Victor Cruz went to ground and let go of the ball, which was then picked up Arizona. The refs ruled that he gave himself up and refused to allow Ken Whisenhunt to challenge (challenge not permitted on that play). And personally I don't understand why everyone is getting their panties all bunched up. Cruz was clearly touched, then either stumbled or slipped to the ground (both knees and elbows were down). Once there, he stayed down and let get of the ball, making no attempt to stand up and run with it. There is no way anyone watching that could seriously contest that he did anything other than give himself up. Yet that is the major officiating controversy of Sunday? Give me a fucking break.
- As mentioned earlier, something needs to be done about Darrelle Revis. When facing Torrey Smith man-to-man on Sunday Night he pulled Smith's jersey about four separate times and then pinned his hands down just for good measure. If this was any other receiver who didn't have a big name attached, there would be yellow laundry flying in all directions. I'm in favour of giving defenses more of a chance to actually play in games, as opposed to just being spectators, but there is a line to that. Revis steps across the line, then puts his hands on it to stop it moving just for good measure. The league really needs to address this. When they do, expect to see "Revis Island" invaded on a weekly basis.
- The biggest bug I have is the constant reviewing of scoring plays. It's really getting on my nerves. Just give the coaches the challenge flag and lets get on with it. And this really sums the modern NFL up for me. Everything is so petty now. If a guys toe so much as brushes a white painted blade of grass he's ruled out of bounds. Everything is scrutinised to a ridiculous level and great plays on all sides of the ball are wiped out by nit picking rulings. I understand that sometimes it's gutting when your team comes out on the bad side of certain rulings, but usually these things balance themselves out. The increased flow of the game due to less administrative officiating would more than make up for it. And put a cap on the amount of time that can be used for a replay, say no more than 60 seconds? And why does the head official have to see it? Just let the booth guy do it and buzz down the result, like they do in many sports here in the UK (Tennis, Rugby League, Cricket). That way you get your replay review, but it also gets done in a matter of seconds (normally sub 30 seconds).
Why is all this important? Because I went looking at the United Football Leagues Internet homepage.
That's not a good sign. Usually that means you're reaching the tipping point, where people have actually had enough of your bullshit and are taking steps to rectify their displeasure by looking elsewhere. Luckily for the NFL, the UFL doesn't have a TV deal and isn't smart enough to post game highlights on its webpage. If it did, it might actually start getting some attention.
At first you'd expect people to watch both, something which the UFL is keen to try and do by scheduling its games so they don't conflict with the NFL. But eventually they're going to be looking to take away the viewers. If they could just put up a few more franchises (they have four active) they might just start doing that.
It sounds a little silly now, and how often have we heard of rival leagues starting up and closing down, but I don't think the NFL realises how much danger start up leagues pose to them right now, which is precisely the conditions needed for a business to suddenly find itself in the shit. Attendances are already down around the league and people are getting fed up with the splurge of new rules, fines and the general, what people seem to call, "wussification of football" (I believe part of the wider "wussification of America" theme that's kicking around).
A league that is just six teams strong could theoretically put together an eleven week schedule, with teams playing each other both home and away for a total of ten games and with a league wide bye week in week six. If costs could be kept down, heavily capping player salaries, while perhaps making it a regional league to start with, either in the North (Illinois/Michigan/Pennslyvania/New York/Connecticut) or maybe the South (Texas/Alabama/Georgia/Kentucky/Nebraska/Florida) then there is a good chance you could get a league up and running and keep it going.
There are plenty of kids who leave College football and don't get drafted or who get cut from pro teams who have more than enough skill to at least put on a semi-decent game (safety Mark Legree was cut by the Seahawks but trust me, that kid can ball), plus the "3 and out" (years, not downs) guys from pro teams who would love to get another shot at football.
If it was me I'd have a league wide fixed cost for all players (based somewhat on position but kept relatively close) plus an additional capped pool of money that each team could spend to boost the contracts of certain guys at their discretion.
As long as it was set up right, the website was used to its maximum advantage (the Internet is the future, as some guy said about ten years ago. He was right) to get highlights and information out to people, then I think the NFL could have a challenge on its hands.
I'm not saying it would be easy or that the NFL would melt down over night, but the fact is the NFL survives and is as successful as it is only because of it's dominant position. With College football where it is right now in terms of popularity, I'm not sure the NFL would survive a head to head battle against it.
And if the NFL keeps going the way it is, a half decent, small professional league could probably do the unthinkable and actually start to challenge the big boys for viewers.
You can e-mail me and tell me to shut the fuck up at this address; firstname.lastname@example.org