Monday, November 30, 2009
The Tennessee Titans became the first NFL team to win 5 games in a row after starting 0-6. I don't know what exactly happened to Vince Young last season, but his athletic ability is giving the Titans a chance again in a chase for a playoff spot.
Young is putting up big passing numbers and leading the team in clutch situations, including yesterday's 99 yard game-winning drive!
He isn't a prototypical passer, but his size and speed are unique and allow his play-making to reign supreme.
Congratulations Vince on redeeming yourself in a league that isn't always a forgiving one.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Heisman Trophy candidates Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy finished up their storied regular season careers this weekend in grand fashion! McCoy lead his team to a 49-39 win with four TD's and 175 rushing to go with it. Tebow had a stadium full of well-wishers and eye-black wearers with biblical scriptures to show their tribute to his greatness.
He threw for three and ran for two more TD's as the Gators polished off an over-manned Florida State team that left the long-time rivalry somewhere in yesteryear.
Both Texas and Florida end the regular season undefeated and ready for conference championship games next weekend, whose outcomes and performances could very well decide the Heisman Trophy.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
As a fan of Jim Kelly, I can understand his desire for his beloved Buffalo Bills to reclaim the glory of his tenure and four consecutive trips to the Super Bowl. But, I have to question his thoughts on Tim Tebow being the answer to the Bills quest for a top QB. I agree with his recent comments about leadership being an important quality, but a top QB must also be able to throw and Tim Tebow cannot throw at an NFL level.
His mechanics have not improved over time and in many instances I think they have gotten worse during his senior year. As I have stated many times before, I love Timmy Tebow as a football player, but his talents do not translate into an NFL passing pocket at this point and if not now, when will they improve?
A few years ago I went to the Biomechanics and Motion Analysis Lab on the University of Florida's campus and went through the throwing analysis testing. They do not conclude anything but measurements of angles of bodyparts, not if those angles are proper for throwing a football. They also measure release time by capturing the release after a noise tells the QB to throw the ball. It turned out that Tim Tebow, Chris Leak and I had similar release times. Unfortunately, this lab environment is not similar for Tebow's motion. He routinely drops the ball down to or below his waist as he winds up to make a throw in game situations. The picture aside this article is actually one of his better releases--his release point is very good, but his balance is off as seen by his left leg sliding behind his front and why his right arm is going so far away from his body because his balance is so far off.
The measurement that I took the directors of the lab to task on was "torso lean." The analysis report said the further over (horizontal to the ground) the QB bent, the more "elite" the motion. Well, anyone worth their salt can tell you that a QB does not want to bend at the waist to throw a football (that's for pitchers), so the measurement was not only useless, it was harmful for the QB's throwing motion.
Tim Tebow may be a good pro at a hybrid position (H-Back, TE), but unless he gets a full delivery make-over, he will not be a good NFL QB, because although more teams are experimenting with "Wildcat" formations and such, they will not subject or expose their most important and usually highest paid player to the injury potential of running the football like Tebow does for the Gators and that is his strongest attribute.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
ESPN The Mag has a small profile on what has helped QB Bill Stull take command of his team's 8-1 season. First year offensive coordinator/QB Coach Frank Cignetti and offensive assistant Scott Turner quickly realized he had throwing talent and began working on other important pieces of quarterbacking that he needed to improve. "The coach had Stull work on pocket presence, especially footwork: "How does he respond to edge pressure? Inside pressure? On sliding his feet, but also remembering to keep his hands firm with the football?"
The story goes on to talk about knowing his specific reads and knowing his specific keys. This way he plays with better confidence in his decision making. Having coaches that design plays to give the QB that confidence is also key to your team's success.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Jacksonville Jaguars were marching in for the go-ahead touchdown against the New York Jets last week and on his way into the endzone, Maurice Jones-Drew took a knee at the 1. The Jets were allowing him to score so that they could get the ball back with as much time on the clock as possible, so that they could make their own comeback.
I have never been a good strategist in the "let them score" mentality, but Jones-Drew refused to play into their plans. I probably would have taken the points and played defense and many of the TV guys said the same thing, because you never know if you might fumble the next snap and lose the game. In this case, however, Jones-Drew turned out to be the smartest guy in the stadium, sealing the win by NOT scoring!
That win and today's now put the Jaguars in pretty good position going down the stretch with a 6-4 record, when they were left for dead at the end of September.
New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick went for it on 4th and 2 from his own 28 yard line, trying to keep the ball away from Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense with just a couple minutes remaining in the game.
I heard a number of "experts" bat the choice around this morning on the pre-game shows, most saying that they would have punted given the situation. ESPN cited a study done a few years ago that concluded that the odds favored going for it instead of punting and playing defense. I don't think the study took into account all of the situations involved, but simply relied on the success/failure rate of the individual plays. Belichick does go for it more than most coaches and is successful more than most coaches, but the Patriots have been more successful than most teams over the past decade as well.
For the record, I would have punted and agree with Jimmy Johnson's reasoning. He simply stated a well known fact that the further away a team starts from the endzone, the lower the percentage is for scoring. Even though Manning is the best, there are 10 others on the team that still have to execute more plays if they are further away and gives your team more chances to stop them as well.
Jeremiah Masoli has the Oregon Ducks right where they want to be, in line for a trip to Pasadena's Rose Bowl on January 1. Those hopes are still alive because of the QB's skills in leading the Ducks back to beat Arizona in 2 OT's.
He directed a final game winning drive in the final seconds to set up the overtime session and finished the game with 3 TD's passing and 3 more on the ground.
Oregon must beat Oregon State on Dec. 3 in Eugene to get their trip to southern California for the "Grandaddy of 'em all".
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
It wasn't fun to watch Monday Night Football this week. It didn't seem like it would be a good match-up before the Ravens and Browns took the field in Cleveland, and although it was a close game at halftime, it didn't take Brady Quinn or the Browns long to change that in the second half.
Quinn's body language told you all you needed to know if you were wondering about a comeback. He wasn't going to lead them to anything, especially against Baltimore's stingy defense, but there just wasn't any help around him either and both Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden couldn't have made that more clear. The Browns are an offensive mess right now and Derek Anderson wasn't able to help change that the last five games that he started at QB either.
Watching the titanic clash of two of the greatest QB's in NFL history Sunday night was fun and finished in an unbelievable way, but what kept gnawing at me was ESPN's promotion of Peyton Manning for QB of the decade.
Nothing against his outstanding accomplishments by any means whatsoever, but for all the stats that he has put up in the 2000's, it's Tom Brady's Lombardi Trophies that matter most isn't it?
Brady has four Super Bowl appearances and if it wasn't for the miracle finish engineered by Peyton's brother Eli, he would have four shiny championship trophies as well.
Peyton has started every game of his career, which has never been done as far as I know, and he is the first to post 40,000 yards in a career, but one appearance and one win in the Super Bowl leaves me wondering how you could separate these two incredible team leaders.
Wasn't it apropos then that Tom Brady built an insurmountable lead in the game, only for the best regular season QB to win it with a big comeback!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
With no clear favorite for the biggest post-season collegiate award, is the race for the Heisman Trophy a good one or not worth watching? For me, I'm not too interested this year.
The Longhorns' Colt McCoy continues to lead an undefeated team in a major conference and is ready to break the all-time record for wins for a QB in NCAA history. But, his TD to interception ratio is almost 2:1, with 19 and 9 respectively. Kellen Moore leads an undefeated Boise State team that plays in a lesser conference, but if the pollsters and the BCS can justify a top 5 ranking, then he deserves his props for having similar stats to McCoy, except for his almost 11:1 TD to INT ratio, with 32 and 3.
Tim Tebow is doing his thing to keep the Gators atop the polls, but it has been a grind-it-out sort of year, even though he has been good, it hasn't been exciting.
The running backs boast Alabama's Mark Ingram, also from an undefeated team at the top of the rankings. His 1200+ yards have also gone over relatively quiet as the Tide continue to win each week.
If I remember correctly, the foundation only invited four to the award presentation. This year they may need to invite double or triple that, since there aren't really any standouts from the group. For my money, Tim Tebow is the best football player in the nation, but Colt McCoy has continued to lead his team to relatively easy victories and completes 70% of his passes along the way. Tebow may get another of the nation's biggest team trophy, but McCoy could walk away with the biggest individual award after missing it the last couple of years.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
ESPN The Magazine has a rather lengthy article, tracing the New Orleans Saints offensive success through Drew Brees. They take a number of pages and give an example play for each of their offensive weapons and it is a good read, but it boils down to one thing that could be said in a simple sentence.
Deceive the other team just enough to get a player out of position and you will create openings for positive plays. This concept is simple and can be used at all levels of competition, but really becomes valuable when the teams competing are equal.
In little league, high school and college, there are great disparities between talent levels and one team can simply push another team around. This is why a team like Navy (with its triple-option attack can compete with Ohio State and beat Notre Dame) even though their talent is not at the same level. Deception makes the defense have to defend more area of the field, exposing holes if not perfectly sound on defense.
This is not the case, philosophically, at the NFL level because every team has the same salary cap to manage their team under. This is where talent evaluation and management come into play, but especially just a little bit of deception to get an advantage.
Coach Sean Payton is designing the mismatches and misdirection, while Drew Brees is executing the decision-making to perfection so far this season.
Faking the other team out is not new or novel, but some teams and coordinators do it much better than others.
Congratulations to Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their first "W" of the season! It was make or break, do or die with their orange and white uniforms from their inaugural season of 1976, one that ended without a win. This 2009 version of the Yucs was looking far too familiar, with a win far from sight. At 0-7 and coming off a bye week that was preceded with a beating in Britain to the aptly named New England Patriots, it was time unveil their first round draft pick QB Josh Freeman.
The Buccaneers team did everything it could to help him succeed against the reeling Green Bay Packers and he did his part very well indeed. With a punt block returned for a score, an interception returned for a score and an interception returned to the 8 yard line, he didn't have to drive the team all the way down the field, but he was "money" in the red zone, with three touchdown passes on the day!
It won't be as easy next week against the Miami Dolphins or without the inspirational "uni's", but Freeman is off to a hopeful start for this regrouping franchise.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
With Sam Bradford's season-ending shoulder injury and Tim Tebow's question marks as a future pro, the field of draftable QB's in 2010 isn't quite the stellar group that it had looked like it was going to be. Mark Sanchez took advantage of the smaller group of elite throwers this past draft and parlayed that into a starting opportunity with the Jets.
The NFL's coming labor dispute and uncapped season is thought to be driving anybody with potential into the draft, including Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame. He is having a heck of an exciting year with plenty of late game fun, most of the time on the winning side. I would think the Bradford situation would drive him onto the pro level, but I have questions about his throwing motion translating in the NFL. His motion reminds a bit of Colt Brennan, who lit up all the NCAA records while at Hawaii, but has yet to make it onto the playing field with the Redskins. Brennan's side-armed throws and balance that seems to fall back too often was exploited in his Sugar Bowl game with Georgia. Clausen has similar issues and while he makes plenty of good throws, when the pressure is on, he "sits down" on his delivery and it is also side-armed and circular (his non-throwing hand actually wraps around his back after throwing). The USC loss came down to a goal-line series in which these mechanics let him and his team down.
He probably will make the jump and probably should make the jump for financial reasons, but should work to get his balance on top of his front foot after release of the ball, if he wants to succeed in the NFL.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
The University of Florida's quarterback Tim Tebow broke the SEC rushing record of Herschel Walker Saturday night in Jacksonville. Georgia's running back Herschel Walker has held the rushing TD mark for more than 25 years and a QB broke his record.
Tebow rushed 18 times and threw the ball 15, a typical night for the hybrid player. Walker was right at the top of the all-time college players, even though he left after his junior season to try the USFL. The Gators offense has been developed around Tebow's unique talent set and by sticking around for his senior year, even after winning the national championship last season, it gave him a chance to break the long-standing record.
Tebow is at 51 and counting on the ground. Through the air, the records are far off.