Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Colts In Precarious Position

Writing on Saturday about ABQB's of the year, I mentioned my concern for the Colts decision to carry a rookie QB as their backup. The post wasn't even warm before Peyton Manning had put Indy in the lead against the New York Jets Sunday afternoon and inserted Curtis Painter to finish the job. A sack, fumble, touchdown moments later left the home crowd devastated and it looked like the Hall-Of-Fame QB on the sideline was as well.
Manning has worked as hard this year as any year I've watched to will his team to victories and keep them perfect, only to watch it disappear so quickly. Now, Jim Caldwell and the rest of the team will say that winning the Super Bowl was and is the goal, but this team had a chance that only the New England Patrtiots had before them and would set them apart from every other team in the history of the NFL. The Patriots missed it by the "stick-um" on David Tyree's helmet, but the Colts should have tried for history.
Now this team that was so close to regular season perfection and quite possibly football immortality, is now stuck with a loss and final regular season game to play before taking off for their bye week. Can Indy win with Painter in at QB? I'm sure they can, but what if they don't? And what if Manning were, God forbid, actually to get injured? I don't think the decision to pull Manning was the correct one and I think failing to carry an experienced backup QB could be the biggest mistake of them all.

Gator's Coach Not Only One At Risk

I'm not a doctor, but I have played one in a commercial. Football coaches probably work more than any other profession and many probably work more than they need to, but the peer pressure to continue to look under every rock for that piece of the puzzle that will lead to a win is ever-present.
I don't know what Urban Meyer's diagnosis is for his heart ailment, but what every American, but especially what all coaches are in danger of is high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and death. Sleep and rest in a laying position allows your blood pressure to normalize, but if you are upright for 18-20+ hours a day, everyday and the additional stresses of the job as well as home will not allow the blood pressure enough time to normalize, so it runs high on a regular basis.
This issue needs to be a concern for the Coaches Association's to keep their members healthy. There are other health related problems that are associated with not getting enough rest and while grown men should have the right to work as much as they want, there should be mandatory health screenings to catch any chronic and serious issues before there has to be emergency procedures and press conferences and retractions and interim coaches named.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Manning, Brady ABQB's of the Year, Decade

Peyton Manning has led the Indianapolis Colts to so many regular season wins in the 2000's that their current run of 14-0 is almost boring. He is the single most important player to his team in the NFL. I and I'm sure every Colts fan shudders to think what their team would be if he went down with an injury and am surprised that they are risking so much with a rookie backup.
For his phenomenal effort this year, willing his team to a number of close shootout wins, Peyton Manning is ABQB's 2009 QB of the year.
As I watch, read and listen to sportscasters around the nation, there seems to be a consensus the Manning is also the QB of the decade and maybe the history of the NFL. I beg to differ. Based on the most important wins of them all, Super Bowl victories, Tom Brady is ABQB of the decade. Brady won 3 Super Bowls in the decade, reached another with an 18-0 team which probably should have won another if it weren't for Eli Manning and David Tyree's heroics at the end. And, in Peyton Manning's only appearance in the title game, he and his Colts had to make an amazing comeback in the AFC Championship to reach the Super Bowl. Brady quite possibly could have five rings instead of three. But for these unbelievable achievments Tom Brady is the QB of the decade.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

QB's Shut Out of AP Player of the Year

Maybe it is a sign of a weak 2009 QB class or a standout performances for other positions, but rarely does a season go without a quarterback in the top 3 of the AP Player of the Year Award.
Former Heisman winners Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford didn't have outstanding numbers (Bradford injured for most of season), but you would think that Colt McCoy would have done enough in completing over 70% of his passes while leading his Texas Longhorns to an undefeated season and a shot at the national title.
The AP gave the nation's best defensive player its award, naming Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh it winner, followed by Stanford RB Toby Gerhart and this year's Heisman winning running back Mark Ingram from Alabama came in third.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Colt McCoy Sweeps QB Awards

Colt McCoy left the Heisman Trophy presentation empty-handed once again, but he was good enough to sweep all of the QB specific awards including the Davey O'Brien, Maxwell, Johnny Unitas and has repeated as the Walter Camp Award winner as Player of the Year.
As you've read this blog throughout the season, it is obvious that he has been the best QB in the nation this year. Sure there were other guys putting up big numbers, even in his own state of Texas, but it wasn't the same environment or pressure to perform and get to the national title game that he has the Longhorns playing in come January.
For that, Colt McCoy is also America's Best Quarterback for 2009 collegiate class.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Great Mechanics At Any Age

The organization that my 7 year old son plays for here in Tampa used a photo of him for promoting their wares.
For you dads trying to help your own kids out, he is in almost perfect position. Obviously he is on the run, which can throw things off, but his throwing arm is in great position, with only a move of the ball's tip in the air, but almost perfect. His right arm is at a 90 degree angle--perfect. The only improvement to be made is in his left arm. If his hand was above his elbow, pulling down to his side, he would be picture perfect. Since he is my son, he is perfect regardless, but kids can learn proper technique very early if they want to.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Best QB's in 2010 Draft?

After a tough finish to the 2009 season for Notre Dame, QB Jimmy Clausen has decided to take off for the NFL, following his former coach's advice, citing he has learned all he can through his junior year at the school that plays on national TV every week.
He now joins a growing field of signal callers expected to be top prospects in next year's draft.
Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow will be in New York this weekend to see who will be named the winner of the Heisman Trophy, with McCoy and Alabama's Mark Ingram seemingly atop the list of favorites.
If I was a NFL personnel executive, I would list Sam Bradford as the #1 prospect, but he missed virtually all of his junior season, reinjuring his throwing shoulder the first game back in the lineup after missing the first half of the year. A thorough medical examination needs to be combed through to find out what his durability would be moving forward.
Colt McCoy would be #2 on my list. He throws and moves and makes plays and also has played on a pretty big stage each week.
I haven't seen enough of Jake Locker to give him an informed grade or evaluation, but after seeing Clausen play many times, I would agree with Todd McShay of ESPN.com, that he is a second tier QB for the NFL. As I have written here previously, I think his mechanics will break down at the pro level.
Unfortunately for Tim Tebow, his mechanical flaws in this throwing ability are obvious and will not be corrected in time to enhance his draft stock. He is a true gamble for any NFL team and will be a hybrid player as far as I can see. Right now, Pat White, Josh Johnson and Michael Vick or hybrid QB's and none of them are getting much playing time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Classy QB's in Win and Loss

Saturday was an emotional day for many in college football, probably not more than for Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators and the Nebraska Cornhuskers last second loss to Texas after thinking they had won the game moments earlier.
What I took from those two games was the classy reactions of both Tebow in their loss and Colt McCoy in their win. The two record setting QB's had different outcomes to their evenings and seasons, but they treated the answers to the media's questions with dignity and respect.
Tebow said what everybody else saw during the game. Alabama was the better team and congratulations to them. McCoy, on the other hand, had to explain his decision-making process as the clock was winding down to :00 and throwing it out of bounds as the clock was expiring on his national championship hopes and maybe even the Heisman Trophy as well. Although, Mark Ingram may have wrapped up that trophy with his performance in the SEC Championship game before the Big XII Championship ever kicked off.
McCoy explained that he had everything in control (I couldn't believe they rolled out with that little time on the clock), but if there is no instant replay, his team's title chances go up in confetti for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Regardless, he did get the ball out of bounds with time on the clock and the kick was good.
Both of these senior college players showed great leadership, one in victory and the other in defeat.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bearcats Win Wild Finish Against Pitt

Heralded quarterback Tony Pike threw three interceptions on the day, but equaled that number with touchdowns and saved the his best for last. With 33 seconds left in the game and moments after Pittsburgh's QB Stall had given the Panthers the lead, Pike threw a perfect fade down the right sideline for the game-winning score 45-44.
The win caps a great comeback for Pike, who missed 3 games earlier in the season with a non-throwing arm injury and gives the Bearcats their first 12-0 season, setting them up for a BCS bowl bid.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Hines Ward Questions His QB

Ben Roethlisberger sat out last week's game with complications related to head trauma. This has been a frowing top of conversation for years and has increased dramatically this season, with many top players having some sort of concussion-like hits.
It was surprising to me that with all of the concern about long-term effects of these types of hits, that Hines Ward would call out his star quarterback for not making it back into the next game after getting dinged the week before.
Has Big Ben's toughness been questioned before? Not that I can remember. I always thought of him as a guy that stood in there and took the shots and got back up to play again.
You can see how quickly these guys turn on their "boys" when something doesn't go the way they want or expect it. Ward and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, who also spoke to the media about Ben sitting out, both retracted their statements, probably after getting taken to task by the team's management.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Brees Bests Brady In Monday Night Battle

Going into the big Monday night showdown in the Big Easy, I thought the New England Patriots would be able to knock off the undefeated New Orleans Saints, thinking the Pats needed it more and the Saints could afford to drop one and still have a comfortable lead in the NFC South.
Wrong I was, as Drew Brees and the offense proved how powerful and "quick-strike" it was and also shed light on the Patriots weaknesses in the secondary.
Brees piled up stats on Bill Belichick's defense and answered every call from Brady, Moss and Welker with a huge pass play of their own, leading to a perfect passer rating on the night for new front-runner for NFL MVP! Peyton Manning and Brett Favre may have a say in that race, but right now, the New Orleans Saints are undefeated and don't look to be challenged all that much down the stretch of the regular season.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vince Young Helping Titans Set Records

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

Senior QB's Finish On Top

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

Hall-Of-Famer Kelly Likes Tebow For Bills

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

Pitt's QB Leading Panthers Success

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

Jones-Drew Smart Move?

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.

Should Belichick Have Punted?

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.

Oregon QB Keeps Rose Bowl Hopes Alive

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

Cleveland Browns QB Situation Miserable

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.

QB of the decade?

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

Heisman Race Boring or Exciting?

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

Creating a Winning Offense

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.

Creamsicles Save The Day (and maybe the season)

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

Should Junior QB's Jump To NFL This Year

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

QB Sets A Rushing Record

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.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pitching Is Not Quarterbacking

Cliff Lee did a masterful job in game 1 of the World Series, stumping the New York Yankees for his Philadelphia Phillies. That said, just a reminder that pitching a baseball and throwing a football are two very different things. Remember that pitchers do not want the hitters to hit the ball. QB's want the ball to be easy to catch for their receivers. Pitchers want the ball to dip, dive, curve, rise and even slurve--whatever that is.
There are similarities in the hips for balance, but as you can see by Cliff Lee's follow-through posture, throwing down off a mound is not how a finished pass in football should look. He is completely bent at the waist, with his head near the ground. A QB's head should not go in front of his front foot at all and he wants to thrust his front hip out to the target (kind of like a golfer turns and thrusts his hips down the fairway).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Buccaneers Going to Rookie at QB

The Bucs moved up in the draft to take Kansas State junior Josh Freeman. Now the Bucs have moved up his development timetable as well, making him the starting QB for their next game November 8th against the Green Bay Packers. The winless Buccaneers haven't had any offensive firepower this season after firing their offensive coordinator with 10 days to go before the season opener. The started the season with the slow-footed and slow-releasing Byron Leftwich at the helm, but after 3 poor losses, switched to second year pro Josh Johnson. Johnson showed flashes of athleticism, but lack of judgement and accuracy that is so common in young QB's. Now they turn to the biggest QB in the league, who owns good mechanics, but lacks a sense of urgency in his drops and time to finding a receiver. The lack of ingenuity in Tampa's offensive play-calling, will surely doom the beginning of this youngster as well.
At the same time that the Buccaneers make a switch to a rookie, the Carolina Panthers decide to stick with the aging Jake Delhomme, who has struggled with accuracy this year worse than any rookie I've ever seen. His struggles date back to last season's disappointing finish and have continued to plague what was thought of as a very talented and strong football team. Problem for Carolina is they really don't have a better option to bring off the bench. The Bucs look to the future while the Panthers don't seem to have one, even though they have won a game this year and the Bucs have yet to do so.

Brett Favre Still NFL's Biggest Story

I thought and wished Brett Favre would have retired when he still looked this photo, wearing the colors of the Green Bay Packers, but after all the drama, who could have imagined that he would still be the #1 storyline week in and week out for the NFL?
Whether it is playing against his former team and setting a record for beating every team in the entire league or going back to Lambeau this week, he has made big play after big play to lead his team from behind to win game after game.
I'm big enough to admit, even though I wished he had retired close to the top of his game around 2006, with the rest of the Vikings around him, at 40 years old, he still seems near that pinnacle. And even if it isn't at HIS best, it is still better than almost everyone else's best and just may be what the Vikings needed to get to the promised land (Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Egypt and to the promised land. Yes, I know Moses led them in the desert for 40 years and never actually got into the promised land, but I couldn't help the reference, because Favre usually looks like he is closer to 80 than 40).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brees Leading Saints To Promised Land

The San Diego Chargers drafted Phillip Rivers after deciding that their previously drafted QB Drew Brees wasn't going to take them where they wanted to go. Brees didn't play that poorly, but Marty Schottenheimer was under pressure to win the big one and the Chargers as a team just weren't ready.
I think the trade to the New Orleans Saints was good for both teams, although the Chargers are probably doing a little more looking in the rear-view mirror than the Saints. Coming off the devastation of Hurricane Katrina a few years ago, Brees has embraced the area and vice-versa, as the Saints have become the best team in football.
While the Saints have been a potent offense for a couple of years with their big, talented receiving corps and as they have learned to use Reggie Bush more effectively, the defense has stepped up and made this a formidable match on both sides of the ball.
Drew Brees may not be an intimidating figure in person, he is the leader that the Saints have been looking for for many years.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Gators' Tebow Puts Game On His Back Like Usual

The Florida Gators had more than they could handle today from the upstart Arkansas Razorbacks, but when it came to crunch time in The Swamp, UF and Urban Meyer put it on the back of their star Tim Tebow. With his 77 yard TD pass, he passed Danny Wuerffel as the All-Time TD record holder with 123 (passing and rushing).
And, as is almost always the case, he did not disappoint. He hasn't been quite the same player since returning for his second game since his concussion at Kentucky, but his quick pass fakes were enough to find big enough holes to pick up chunks of yardage. He also had a key completion to senior wide receiver Riley Cooper, who has been "money" for the Gators all season.
This had "Old Miss" from last year written all over it, but the Razorbacks kicker missed two field goals on the day, with the final miss keeping them from taking the lead with just over 3 minutes to play.
Tim Tebow may lack throwing skills to make it at the next level, but his collegiate abilities are unmatched.

Bradford Reinjured In Sooners' Loss to Longhorns

Texas outlasted Oklahoma 16-13 in a great gridiron battle, but lost Sam Bradford once again to the same shoulder injury that sidelined him in the first game of the season. This time tough, his is most likely gone for the season and possible forever.
He wouldn't and shouldn't have addressed the question, even though the question had to be asked, as to his future plans.
He did say that he believes God has a plan for this situation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Red River Shootout Not About Trophy

Going into 2009, the Texas versus Oklahoma or better known as the "Bradford versus McCoy Bowl", would have been a great preview to the podium in December for the Heisman Trophy, but with Bradford's shoulder injury, it becomes a great football rivalry between two teams once again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dolphins Find Their QB's Of The Future On MNF

Mark Sanchez looked like he had put up yet another win in his early starting career for the New York Jets, but the Miami Dolphins countered with Chad Henne, Pat White and Ronnie Brown at QB and outdueled the Jets' QB for the division win on Monday Night Football.
Chad Henne looks to be the real deal as an every-down quarterback, sharp in the short, long and roll-out games. Pat White was brought in later in the game in the "Wildcat" and picked up a key first down. Ronnie Brown played his usual role in the backfield and got the game-winning TD run as well.
Unless Pat White wants to become a full-time starting QB after his rookie contract expires, the Dolphins may have found a winning formula at QB for the forseeable future.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Orton's Broncos Outlast Brady's Patriots

The Denver Broncos wore candycane-like socks to the battle, but the comic book looking football team took out the retroly-dressed New England Patriots 20-17 in overtime. It also gave Josh Daniels a win over his old boss Bill Belichik. It also kept the Broncos undefeated at 5-0 on the season and made the Patriots look mortal, dropping their overall record to 3-2.
Tom Brady was 7-0 in overtime games coming in, but Kyle Orton was able to notch the win in his column after a 35 of 48 for 330 yard performance, keeping the ball out of Brady's hands in the overtime session. He also had 2 TD's and an interception.

Heisman Winners Return Triumphantly

Sam Bradford has been out since the first game of the season. Tim Tebow didn't miss a game, but had the fortune of a bye to get his head straight after a devastating concussion two weeks beforehand.
Both of the former Heisman Trophy winners returned to the field of play on Saturday and their teams left the field winners! Oklahoma handed Baylor a 33-7 setback behind Bradford's 389 passing yards. Tebow's Florida Gators had the tough task of winning in Baton Rouge against the #4 rated LSU Tigers. It was a methodical game for the usually fast-paced Gators, but the top ranked team in the country will take the 10 point SEC road win and feel blessed to get out of there with a victory and a healthy Tim Tebow.
Both QB's were happy and humble in their triumphs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Living Legend Leaves Marks on Packers

Love him or hate him, you must give it up to Brett Favre for his unbelievable performance on Monday Night Football. That was one of the most impressive throwing shows I've seen. Too bad for Aaron Rogers that it had to come at his expense, but even though Favre has had some up and down outings over the years, he has had a number of memorable games on the big stage and this was one heck of a show of his 40 year old arm.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rumble in the Bubble--Favre vs. Rogers

What a Monday night draw. The Green Bay Packers took the bold step to go with Aaron Rogers and move on from the Favre era. Brett Favre comes back at the last minute this season and posts the most miraculous throw of his career to win the game right before meeting up the the team that he quarterbacked for 17 seasons. Wow!
Rogers is 8-11 as a starter, but I still believe they made the right choice at the right time. Favre had waffled so many times and guess what? A NFL team needs their QB to go through the offseason program with the team. Now you say, why, when the Vikings are off to this great start and Favre wasn't anywhere to be found? Let's just agree that Favre is simply different and a difference maker, but "teams" do need their field generals to be part of the team concept to be successful on the whole.
It should be a great showdown and I hope the Packers come out on top, not because I care, but to keep the Favre hype from becoming bigger than the Vikings as a team (oops, it already has) and because Rogers has said and done everything the right way following in Brett Favre's footsteps at Lambeau.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pink is color of the day in NFL

Not every player got in on the act today, but you couldn't watch an NFL game without getting a large dose of pink, as the NFL celebrated breast cancer awareness.
Some teams are feeling like they need a little of the pink drink Peptobismol, after some great finishes left many with sick stomachs.
Others though were tickled pink with the outcome of their respective games. Brandon Marshall got away with a big tug on Terrance Newmann, which was just enough to pluck the ball above his head and make a great run after the catch for the go-ahead score and just enough to beat Tony Romo and the Cowboys even though they had a number of shots inside the 10 to win.
The Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain winless, but with closer outcomes. Josh Johnson almost won his first career start and Derek Anderson almost led the Browns on a big comeback over the Bengals, only to lose in overtime.
Great week so far for the pros, with a couple of good games left on the schedule. Looking forward to Monday Night Football and Brett Favre taking on the Green Bay Packers.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Bucs, Browns Wearing Same Shoes

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers waited until the final game of the preseason to choose their quarterback for 2009. The Cleveland Browns waited even longer and now both teams are at the bottom of their respective conference barrels and both are making changes where? QB, of course.
The Bucs picked the slow-footed Byron Leftwich over the fleet-footed Luke McCown (and even traded McCown away to the Jaguars) and now turn their team over to the fleet-footed Josh Johnson (2008 5th round pick from the University of San Diego). There are more than a few pundits that had that mistake out before it was made (see my columns at JoeBucsFan.com). This move being made as a opening act for the eventual appearance of their "savior" Josh Freeman.
On the Browns beat, they unfortunately have gotten a look at what was thought to be their own "redeemer" in Brady Quinn, but it may have been a false hope. Derek Anderson has the big arm and quick release, but hasn't been able to pull the poor Cleveland franchise out of the muck and mire either.
Neither team seems to have much motivation to rise up and compete, but we will see. Each has a new coach, but the one with experience (Eric Mangini) has players filing grievances against it and the other (Raheem Morris) speaks faster than any coach in history, but doesn't say much of anything at all.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

B.J. Daniels Era Starts Right at FSU

Matt Grothe's record setting career ended last Saturday for the University of South Florida and the mantle was passed to redshirt freshman B.J. Daniels today. His first start came at Florida State this afternoon and looks like he will someday be the record setting QB from USF.
Daniels looks to be faster, quicker and a better overall passer than Grothe. He ended the day only 8 of 22, but he is a do everything player and will surely take USF to even greater heights than they have before.
Florida State was its own worst enemy, turning the ball over a number of times, but USF made plays and beat the Seminoles today. It was no accident. The Bulls and Head Coach Jim Leavitt continue to dominate competition outside of the Big East and are now 4-0 this season. The challenge, as it has been every year, is to make it happen in conference play. With B.J. Daniels at the helm, that should be fun to watch.

Superman Scares Football World

As a fan of the Florida Gators and of Tim Tebow, I got scared (and I assume the rest of you did as well) when Tim "Superman" Tebow laid on the ground motionless after a big hit in the chest sent him back into his own lineman's leg that snapped his head forward and knocked him unconscious.
Just last night, Lakeland High School (six current Gators are from Lakeland) was playing De La Salle out in California and one its players went down, but didn't get up. It was great to see Tebow get to his feet a few moments later, although obviously not all there in his head. He was taken to the hospital for follow-up.
It definitely looked like he was knocked unconscious. How quickly can he or should he return to the Gators' lineup? In similar situations, if a player does not have post-concussion migraines, etc., they usually return the following week.
The Gators have an open week before meeting up with LSU. Let's hope that he is back to his old self quickly. God speed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jacori Harris Has Hurricanes Back in Mix

Last season Jacori Harris got plenty of playing time after Robert Marve got his first, but after Marve's transfer to Purdue this offseason, Harris has the wayward Hurricanes playing top notch football once again.
The Miami area native got prime time air a week ago Monday night, beating Florida State in a barn-burner and fighting through a shoulder injury.
Some are putting Miami all the way to the top of the polls based on their on-field performance instead of preseason predictions and they just might be in that mix as the season winds through, especially if their slender QB keeps it up!

Monday, September 21, 2009

USF Senior Matt Grothe Career Over After Knee Injury

Matt Grothe set the Big East Total Offense record last week and this week his record-setting college football career is over after tearing his ACL Saturday night. It was the second quarter of an insignificant rout of Charleston Southern and he wasn't going to play in the second half, but it happened. Grothe is a quiet leader that has been the starting quarterback at the University of South Florida since his freshman year and taken the Bulls all the way to #2 in the nation at one point.
Redshirt Freshman B.J. Daniels will take over Grothe's dream of taking USF where it has never gone before, a Big East title.
Good luck to Matt as he embarks on the road to rehab and hopefully a shot at pro football.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Grip Detemines Release

There is more than one way to skin a cat. Sorry, can't use animal analogies anymore. There is more than one way to make a football spiral: overhead, sidearm, underarm or any other kind of arm.
But, I would not recommend putting your index finger on the tip of the ball because you will throw more side-armed than you should to make the ball spiral and get the front tip of the ball to fly properly.
Jeff George became the #1 overall pick in the NFL with his finger on the tip, but that side-armed release gave way to bad overall mechanics that get exposed a little bit more in the NFL than in college. Chris Rix started all four years at FSU and couldn't get consistency with it. I'm not sure where Colt Brennan's finger is on the ball, but his low release probably means he extends his index finger too far as well and we've seen his mechanics break down under pressure as well.
Jimmy Clausen is trying to get Notre Dame back into the national conversation with his low elbow and "sit-down" follow-through. We will have to wait and see how that finishes out, but using a traditional grip of opening up your hand wide and putting the ball into it and making your thumb be perpendicular to the seam on the ball will give you enough "air" so that the ball is held more in your fingertips than your palm.
This will give you the ability to direct the ball better as your hand goes flat out towards your target at release, not across your body as a side-armed delivery is guaranteed to produce.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brady's Back!

Tom Brady dissed Suzy Kolber of ESPN after another great game and comeback win last night! I don't know why Brady didn't want to speak with Kolber, but he spoke loud and clear during the last couple of minutes of the game!
Brady is back from his severe knee injury and ready to get the Patriots back in the playoffs. They may not be nearly as dominant as 2007 when they went undefeated in the regular season, but they should be the class of the AFC East once again.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Quinn Wins The Browns' Derby

From all indications Brady Quinn has won the starting job for the Cleveland Browns. Is isn't a big surprise for the former first round pick and Ohio native to be given an opportunity after a good preseason and since the Browns haven't been great for a while.
Last season they went 24 straight quarters, that's six games without the offense scoring a touchdown and even though I like Derek Anderson a lot as a QB, it is time to give the "matinee idol" former "Golden Domer" his shot.
For you X's and O's guys, check out Quinn on NFL.com drawing up and explaining a great play. Brady Quinn is right on two counts in the video. It is a great play and it is an old play. When I was in college under Mike Price's system we called it "84".
The problem for the Browns is if they run it they way they show it in the video, they will have no succes with it no matter who the QB is. The receivers are too tight on both sides of the ball. When they run their respective "post" and "dig" (6), they are in the same place on the field, which is the number one rule of designing a football play--don't have receivers in the same spot.
Hopefully someone in the Browns coaching organization will fix up their spacing and they can challenge a little bit this year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jumbo Errors For Jimbo Fisher

The Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles haven't had a great game in a while, but that changed last night after a back and forth see-saw battle finally tilted in favor of the Canes on the Noles field.
I loved the game, but was bothered by the clock management of the next head coach of the FSU. While current head coach Bobby Bowden looked more like a figurehead than ever before, Jimbo Fisher seemed out of his element in play-calling down the stretch as time was winding down.
The Noles wasted at least one if not two of their time-outs as they made wholesale substitutions with the clock winding to under :20 seconds and ran option with the QB, which was stymied earlier in the game as it was again for a loss of yards and kept the clock running down.
And on third down and :05 seconds to go, he called a roll-out! This limited him to only one play! He could have had two if he would have called a quick hitting play on third down. He should have rolled out on the final play of the game if third down wasn't successful.
Hindsight is 20/20, but it wasn't pretty watching FSU "fumble" around on the final plays of the great game that it was.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Matthew Stafford Gets Starting Nod

You know what they call a 4th round pick with 1 TD and 4 interceptions (30-55 completions/attempts) in preseason? Unemployed.
You know what they call you if you are the first pick in the NFL draft with the same stats? Starter!
Matthew Stafford was just named the Detroit Lions' starting QB for the 2009 season. This really comes as no surprise as Daunte Culpepper didn't make much difference in last year's march to the record books (0-16). And with the economy, etc. of Michigan, the Lions need some new blood in the lineup to get some new blood in the seats come the regular season.
I expect Stafford to be a pretty solid player and maybe one day a star, but it is funny how players earn their playing time sometimes based solely on their draft status, even though the coaches will always sell the concept of "whatever gives us the best chance of winning".

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Heisman Hopes Slammed To Turf

Sam Bradford's hopes for a repeat Heisman win got slammed to the turf Saturday night. Oklahoma's loss to BYU dented the Sooners hopes of a return to the national title game and based on their back up QB's performance, their only chance is a quick return to the game by Bradford.
It's not known right now how long he will be sidelined with a sprained shoulder, but he will probably being playing through quite a bit of pain for the rest of the season. The injury probably won't hurt his NFL draft status, but this is why guys take the money when it is available, because you never know what can happen in the tough world of football.
Best wishes to Sam's speedy recovery.

Option Still Has Place In College Football

If you are an undersized or undertalented football team, the triple option attack can still be an effective way to win football games. In the opening weeks of college football, there are many "David versus Goliath" mismatches out there, but the "Davids" can challenge with a well executed option game.
Take Navy yesterday for example. Overmatched physically by Ohio State, the Midshipmen came within an eyelash of tying that one up with a couple minutes to go. I did the color-commentary for the University of South Florida versus Wofford College, another team running a variation of the "wingbone". If Wofford didn't snap the ball over the head of the punter--twice, they would have been right in the game.
Teams have been trying to make the 21st century version of the triple option work now in multiple wideout sets, letting the QB read the defensive end, not to option off of, but to decide his other options. The new, wide-open triple option is here to stay, with almost every high school team giving it a shot as well, but the "old school" option is still viable if done with precision and discipline.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Not Rocket Science

It has been said since football was invented that "it's not rocket science." Now the NFL and college football is certainly proving that with Brett Favre's recent signing to the Minnesota Vikings and instant move to the starting lineup. Also, Greg Paulus' switch from basketball to football and ascent to the top of the depth chart for Syracuse.
Now, two NFL teams have canned their offensive coordinators in the final week of the preseason. Chan Gailey and Jeff Jagodzinski (Chiefs and Buccaneers OC's respectively) have been shown the door. In the case of the Chiefs, first time head coach Todd Hailey will call the plays and in Tampa, Greg Olsen (former QB coach) will now take over play-calling duties.
It's amazing how interchangeable these parts are for these teams. I'm not sure of the contract status of Gailey, but it is being reported that the Bucs will owe Jagodzinski about a million bucks. Where do I get in line for that gig?
So the old adage must be true, it's not rocket science. Now we will see what the on-field results for those offenses are in a little more than a week.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Brett Favre Plays Well--Hurts Self and Another

I don't know what anyone on the Minnesota Vikings was thinking by putting a 40 year old man (not named Jerry Rice) out as a wide receiver. Brett Favre seemingly hasn't learned anything heading into his 19th season in the NFL as he cuts an unsuspecting player at the knees and by turning sideways as he does it, ends up injuring his own ribs in the process.
Note to Brad Childress: This is not why you begged this guy out of retirement and also not what you are paying him $12 Million to do.
Favre had a pretty darn good outing in a more extensive showing, leading the Vikings to a preseason win, just keep your head up and off defenders shins and things should go quite well for Minnesota this year.