Saturday, August 29, 2009

Freshman Barkley Wins USC Job

Jimmy Clausen was the #1 recruit in the nation his senior year of high school and couldn't win the starting QB job at Notre Dame his freshman year. But Matt Barkely has done what many other top recruits couldn't do, win the starting job at USC as a true freshman.
Barkley was the best high school QB after his junior year and his timing at USC was perfect. Following Mark Sanchez's early departure there was an opening and by all reports it was easy to see Barkley's talent even in spring ball.
Starting against San Jose State should also be good timing to get some confidence before hitting tougher competition.
Pete Carroll says he won the job, not because of his great arm strength though, but for his presence and knowledge. This is a big move for the Trojans as it can effect recruiting for the QB position for a couple years, since players know they won't get a chance to play early in their careers, which is a big tool for coaches to sell with.

NFL Does Unthinkable--Do Overs

The NFL is not the AFL-Arena Football League. The Arena League had fields that were not all the same. The Orlando Predators end zones were rounded off because the arena was too small and others were customized as well. The AFL is not around anymore, but with the new "do-over" rule for the new Cowboys stadium, the NFL is making itself out to be a second rate outfit.
The Dallas Cowboys built the most expensive and most outrageous stadium in world history, but missed the mark with where they placed the planet's largest HD video screen. Now if a punted ball bangs off the screen like it did in the inaugural game last week, the down will be replayed. That is unacceptable. Jerry Jones needs to fix the problem at whatever cost.
Living in Tampa, we are used to watching the Tampa Bay Rays bang balls off the catwalks above the playing field. There are special rules for each ring going out from the center of the dome. At a recent game that my family attended, a high pop fly above home plate hit the catwalk and veered into fair play where the pitcher lurched and made a great catch. He was lucky he didn't injure himself going after the foul ball. The umpires had to conference to determine if it was in foul territory when it clanged the ceiling. Tropicana Field was built before a baseball team was placed, but with the Cowboys, it was predetermined that there would be football played. Jerry, do what's right and move the scoreboard or make it smaller for the good of the game!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

QB--Easy Position?

Brett Favre tosses balls with high school kids over the summer, signs with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday and starts on Friday night. Greg Paulus plays basketball through his college years before deciding to play QB for a season before his eligibility runs out and gets the starting job at Syracuse!
Once upon a time QB's had to practice with the team and earn their teammates trust to win the starting quarterback position.
These are wacky days in the football world. OK, Favre is a "Hall-Of-Famer in waiting" and he has a grasp of the Brad Childress' playbook, but it sends a chilling message to all those players that poured the blood, sweat and tears into offseason training and training camp to get moved down the depth chart so quickly and easily.
Favre started and looked very human, going 1-4 for 4 yards in a short stint. For the Syracuse Orange, here's hoping Paulus doesn't follow in Favre's recent footsteps.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Should Rookies Get Paid High Salaries?

The argument has been made for many years by many people, saying that rookies should not get the big money before doing anything for their respective teams. This seems to have some validity on the face of it, but with just a little bit of thought, it is obvious that they indeed deserve every penny that the system will give them.
In America people look for jobs at any company they choose and negotiate a salary. The more impressive your resume, the more money you can command on the open market and in times of lower unemployment, some companies even give signing bonuses to top talent--BEFORE they work for the company (Tom Cruise in "The Firm").
In pro sports there is a draft system, not allowing players to negotiate freely on the open market to the highest bidder. No, Matthew Stafford had to play for the Detroit Lions this year or sit out. Andre Smith sits at home waiting to play football for the Cincinnati Bengals, but they can decline to "play ball" in the competitive marketplace and deny his ability to earn a salary even though other teams would pay him, but he cannot negotiate with anyone but the tight-fisted Bengals.
Same for the flame-throwing baseball player that signed minute before the deadline or he was out of pro baseball for the year. This is not a fair system and that is why there are collective bargaining agreements between owners and player's unions.
We are paid on potential. You can't price-fix in the U.S.A. The NFL has already been sued of price fixing. On the open market or in the closed market, what you might do in the future (based on previous work like college games) is just as valuable to your future employer's sales and marketing teams as the proven pro. Actually many times the next newest star is more valuable.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Favre A Viking--Who Would of Thunk It?

Truthfully, I thought Brett Favre would be back this year, but I was thinking he would wait for the season to shape up a bit and look at the playoff race to find the right fit. Instead, he misses the tough part of training camp and with two days of practice and a walk-through, is expected to start Friday nights game for the Minnesota Vikings.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Top College QB's Doubling As Saints

Just finished a great article on Colt McCoy in ESPN The Magazine. Turns out Tim Tebow isn't the only saint leading a top college football power this season. When I speak to groups, I tell them not to put too much faith in people, because people will usually disappoint you (meaning keep your faith in God), but if these two "kids" can come anywhere close to living up to the hype on and off the field, then I say tell your own kids to go right ahead and make Timmy Tebow and Colt McCoy your heroes.
I can't wait to watch these two awesome players fight it out every week for the race to the Heisman Trophy, along with Sam Bradford (who seems to be quite a nice fella off the field as well) of course. With this many players on a "mission", it should be one whale of a year.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Look! One Hand a No-No

I've made it obvious that I liked Mark Sanchez coming out of USC this year as the best QB of the group. We will all wait and see on that, but one thing I don't like about what I've seen since he has been wearing the green and white of the NY Jets is how often I've seen pictures and videos of him holding the ball with one hand while still in the pocket. I never noticed that while he was still a collegian and I hope it is not a new, cool habit, because he will find out that ball security is A-#1 priority in the NFL.
Note to all QB's young and old, secure the ball with two hands whenever you can, but especially within the pocket. Not only does it help when you get blindsided or someone slapping at the ball near you, but it also helps you maintain a consistent stroke on your throws.
Keeping a strong grip on the ball will help you keep a stronger grip on the position battle.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Big Name Receivers Leaving Holes in Lineups

Plaxico Burress and Donte Stallworth have their off-the-field issues keeping them out of training camp so far, but injuries are taking their toll on some other big names expected to help carry their teams this season.
Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers has injured his shoulder and Antonio Bryant of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery today. Bryant is expected back for the first regular season game. Still waiting on word about the severity of Smith's shoulder injury.
As a QB, I like big targets, but Steve Smith is a guy I want on my team. He is scrappy, strong, mean, and willing to fight for the goal line. The Bucs' Antonio Bryant is a good receiver as well and the Bucs have very limited experience at the WR spot. They already signed Mario Urrutia, a 6'6" receiver from Louisville. Their most experienced guy now is Michael Clayton, known as the best blocker in the league, which isn't good for the QB's on the team. Rookie Sammie Stroughter, the 5'10" kid from Oregon State, has been turning some head in camp thus far.
QB's need receivers, receivers need QB's. With the 80 man rosters of the NFL, the stars must practice in "live" situations more often, exposing them to more risk.
Obviously injuries can happen on any play, but the NFC South was already a power running division with the Falcons and Panthers and if any more WR's go down it may become the Ground South Division.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Two-A-Day Time

It is a right of passage to go through two-a-day drills to start football season. Two-a-days probably started on the same day the game was invented and continue to this day at all levels high school and above.
But are two-a-days really the best way to prepare a team for a long, physically demanding season. The answer could be debated forever without an answer, but I like what Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris has put in place this year. He is following every two-a-day session with a single practice the next day. I think this helps the players put out more effort, knowing they will get a small break the next day.
I'm sure there have been similar things done over the years by many coaches that I'm not aware of (Sam Wyche came to Tampa in the early 1990's and had a number of night practices to save the team for the regular season, but it didn't help much), but Morris is right, the Bucs will have to play on Sunday afternoon, so you better get used to it now.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Kyle Orton A Real Pro

Jay Cutler and Kyle Orton switched teams this spring by way of a trade in April. The new Chicago Bears QB dissed the Broncos' fans today, rating Bronco fans a 6 and Bears' fans a 9.
I don't know why Jay Cutler would act so childish (both before the trade and now), especially against the fans of Denver. I got my very first playing time in a preseason game at the old Mile High Stadium to a sell-out crowd that was rocking the stadium--in a preseason game! I thought they were great, but Cutler goes low at the fans instead of management, who he got so upset with earlier in the offseason. And by the way, Cutler doesn't know much about those Chicago fans yet does he?
On the other hand, Kyle Orton acted like a true professional when asked about Cutler's remarks, taking the high road and complimenting both city's fans. As a QB coach/trainer, Cutler may have more athletic ability, but his mechanics aren't good and here's hoping Orton's very good mechanics take the Broncos further than the Bears this year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Vick could make good offense great

As each day passes and another team is brought into the conversation of possible interest in Michael Vick, I think about what could be with him in their offense. The notion of what he could do out of the "Wildcat" formation seems to be the subject that keeps coming up, but it is what he could do as a receiver in motion that intrigues me.
Ronnie Brown was successful as a running back that could throw a little bit (very little), but with Vick in fast motion towards the QB (in shotgun set) on every play, a quick fake to Vick passing by would freeze most defenders as he races around the left end (with or without the ball). But with Vick's passing abilities, he could stop on a dime and drill passes downfield like no other running back has ever dreamed. So, you keep your top passer in his spot and add a run/pass option guy on every play that opens up everybody else just a little bit and you have an incredible offense.
Now, what team is willing to wade through the public relations hassles of taking on the "circus" (pun intended) of Michael Vick for the sake of a potentially awesome offense?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Welcome Back Tom Brady

One man's injury is another man's opportunity. This old saying in football and maybe in all sports has been played out in Tom Brady's life on both ends. When Drew Bledsoe got crushed and hurt his chest, no one expected the former Michigan quarterback (6th round pick) to do much for the Patriots, but a Super Bowl win changed the destiny of both QB's.
Last season, when Brady went down in the first quarter of the opening game, even less was expected of Matt Cassel (undrafted free agent from USC), who hadn't played a meaningful game since high school. But the opportunity came and he seized it and is now the franchise quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs. Cassel didn't unseat Brady in New England, since Tom does have 3 Super Bowl rings to his credit, but you can see why players do not want to give another guy a chance to get in there, because he just might be pretty good too.
It sure is great to see Tom Brady back from the knee injury and here's hoping no one else gets a chance to see how good a quarterback they might be for the Patriots this year.