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The NFL Dead Zone

February. The NFL Dead Zone. Specifically, post Super Bowl to the start of free agency. It tests the patience of every NFL junkie. How many times can I contemplate on the kicking style of Ryan Longwell, or whether Bobby Carpenter is the right choice at #18? I need some action, something has to give. Life comes up just a bit short without a game on Sunday.

Let me just give you an example of how bad it's gotten. I'm mindlessly watching TV the other night and a commercial comes on, I hear the voice of John Madden doing an Ace Hardware commercial. In an instant, like one of Pavlov's dogs responding to an audible cue, my brain erupted into a nano-second of euphoria. On a subconscious level my brain was tricked into thinking actual football was on. That's how I'm getting my thrills these days, John Madden's voice.

If they delay free agency, you guys can tell the police why I did it, why I went postal. The Terminator movies will look like a tea party compared to my spree. OK, I jest. A little over the top, no? But I wasn't lying about the Madden thing, hearing him reminded me how much I miss the action of the games. But the offseason is really when a team is built, so let's talk about it.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Bill Parcells won't make the same mistake this year. So I expect a parade of potential offensive linemen coming through Valley Ranch all the way up to the season. Last year when Flozell went down, we didn't know it at the time, but our fate was sealed. The domino effect from that one play sidelined a promising season  and showed just how fragile our offensive line eco-system was. I say at least two free agent signings will be offensive linemen and we'll probably draft a couple of more. Big Bill will not fall short in this area a second year in a row.

Don't wait for the draft or later in the offseason to make a run at a free agent kicker, let's settle that right out of the gate. Even if it's someone like Matt Bryant, I'll take that over another year of no-name nobodies. Bill Parcells plays football close to the vest, in the red-zone he'll play for the FG - as much as we hate it. If you're going to play that way, at least get the personnel to make it work.

After that give me a SOLB who's a real run stuffer. The draft looks like  a good time for getting that done, pick up a WILB, too. I like Bobby Carpenter or Chad Greenway, and a guy to watch later in the draft is Gerris Wilkinson out of Georgia Tech.

Do whatever else you need to do with the other positions. Just fix the line, give me a gang of mean linebackers, and by the beard of Zeus, give me a kicker.

You get the idea, we've all thought about it for 6 weeks now. That's what we are subjected to in the NFL Dead Zone; endless speculation, fantastical trades, draft-day maneuvers, break-out players. Admit it, you've been doing it too.

Only two more weeks and the real offseason begins as free agency commences. Unless they delay it, in which case I'd advise you to stay 50 miles from my house. I won't be responsible for my actions.

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