Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gruden's Final Analysis

I wanted to get all of the photos that were in this article because they show exactly why I rank the QB's in this group this way:
1. Bradford
2. McCoy
3. Tebow
4. Clausen
The photos show Bradford and McCoy in perfect position, while Clausen and Tebow are caught in their usual awkward or undisciplined positions and that is why I rank them the way I do. Here is what Gruden had to say about them (taken from

Last month, I evaluated NFL QB prospects Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow during workouts in Tampa, Fla. Here is my assessment of each.

Sam Bradford

Bradford is a very cool, calm customer. He's huge -- a lot bigger in person than you would think. He's every bit of the 235 pounds and 6-foot-4 size he's advertised. He's very excited about his future and should be. He came to Tampa right from the combine, which was a bit of a grind on him, but he was sharp, alert and asked good questions. You could tell he was eager to learn about the NFL game.

[+] EnlargeJerry Laizure/US Presswire
Sam Bradford's play at Oklahoma should bode well for him as he transitions to the NFL, Jon Gruden says.
At Oklahoma, they run a lot of no huddle and much of the time at the line of scrimmage he was looking to the sideline to get the proper play. He generates a quick tempo, takes charge of the offense and gets great results. I'm impressed with his overall mobility. He can get away from pressure, keep plays alive and can really throw the football.

It's hard to evaluate him on this season because of the injury and the time he missed, but I admire his toughness. He tried to come back when I think he was advised otherwise. He fought and he worked and he tried to be a factor on his team, which was important to him. Unfortunately, early in the Texas game he was hit on a naked bootleg and wasn't able to return. I know that was tough on him.

Bradford has the physical tools to be successful. He played in the shotgun most of the time but he's also been under center. He can throw timing routes to the outside and is mobile enough to get out of trouble. He was a leader at Oklahoma and should make the transition quickly in the NFL.

The guy he reminds me of talent-wise is Vinny Testaverde -- and maybe it's because they wear the same number. Testaverde was a No. 1 overall pick and I saw him play when he came out of the University of Miami. They both have the ability to get the ball out quickly with velocity and to throw on the move. Bradford has a similar stature and he had dominant results much like Testaverde did in college.

Colt McCoy

For the most part, McCoy played under center the first two years at Texas and the last two years they spread it out and became more of a single-back, spread shotgun team. He flourished in both situations. I saw him practice when I was calling the BCS National Championship Game. He's got a lot of charisma and was a leader for the Longhorns.

[+] EnlargeJohn Albright/Icon SMI
A four-year starter at Texas, Colt McCoy holds the NCAA record for most wins by a starting QB (45).
Texas was a high-percentage passing team this year, so every tape I watched he looked pretty good. At times, he was a little complacent because they had such big leads. I watched the third quarter of the Missouri game, and asked him about a couple of balls that maybe he forced in there, and he agreed. For the most part though, every game was the same.

I tried to watch as much Drew Brees film with McCoy as I could because their overall physical size is very similar (Brees is 6-0, 209 pounds; McCoy is 6-2, 210 pounds). Offensive guards in the NFL are 6-5 today and some of the defensive ends and tackles are also, so he's going to have to create passing lanes at times. McCoy's ability to create in the pocket, to slide move and to throw the ball from alternate arm angles are going to be important, so we watched a lot of Brees in the pocket. We also watched his command and his ability to eliminate wasted plays. Brees is the kind of guy McCoy should try to emulate.

You can't give enough football to McCoy. You can really load up this computer. He can handle it. Though he's athletic, I think above the neck is going to be perhaps the biggest strength of his game, much like Brees, who is always working even when he's resting. McCoy is going to be able to recognize fronts in coverages, he can place the ball on the back shoulder, he's a very accurate red zone passer, he can run and he will compete. His passion for football is as good as anybody's.

Winning is the most important thing to McCoy. He knows the game and is not afraid to take coaching. The team that drafts him is going to get a guy who will continue to improve.

Once he gets in a rhythm and masters the concepts, he's going to throw the ball well enough to be a good quarterback in this league.

Jimmy Clausen

Clausen is coming out as a true junior and is the youngest of the quarterbacks I met. We hit the film hard during our time together. He's the kind of guy you have to kick out of your office or he would just stick around forever.

[+] EnlargeKyle Terada/US Presswire
Jimmy Clausen led several comeback wins while at Notre Dame.
He is the all-time leading passer at Notre Dame and he did it in just three years. Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Brady Quinn -- the Fighting Irish have had a history of great quarterbacks, so his production is astonishing.

Clausen suffered a serious injury early in the season against Purdue and fought through it for multiple games. This wasn't just a mild turf toe as it was portrayed, but was serious enough that it required surgery. The toughness he displayed is a key component in a winning quarterback. It affected his practice time and mobility.

Before the injury, he showed escape-ability. He's been in a check-down audible system. He can throw the ball on the back shoulder. He can put the ball where he wants it and drive it when he has to, and that's important. He does it from the pocket, works underneath the center and in the gun.

I admire how he brought his team from behind to win four times this season, and he helped put them in position to win down the stretch, coming from behind, several other times. At crunch time, he really delivered.

When I look at quarterbacks and see how they play when they are tied or behind in the fourth quarter, that tells me a lot about them. Clausen excelled at crunch time. The statistics speak for themselves and he has shown dramatic improvement every year. He's a polished, confident kid and I like his upside. I think he's really going to work at it and continue to get stronger.

Tim Tebow

I think Tebow is going to be a tremendous pro. He must continue to work on some of his mechanics, and he might not be a starter right away, but in a very short period of time he's going to be an excellent NFL player.

[+] EnlargeDonald Miralle/Getty Images
Tim Tebow's throwing has been the hot topic as the draft approaches.
The thing that most impressed me was when I talked to him about working on his mechanics, and then he went out to the field and worked them out. That's the area where I saw the most progress.

He told me he was going to shorten his stroke, widen his base a little bit, try to eliminate some wasted motion and I saw the improvements. He's worked at it and has made progress. That tells me he's going to continue to get better because this is really important to him.

Tebow went up against JaMarcus Russell, Matthew Stafford and Bradford, and beat them all. His body of work rivals that of anybody else to ever play college football.

Then you meet him and you start to discover his level of football aptitude, and you realize this is a rare, football-smart guy. He's good for any team, any locker room, any city, and he'll prove it.

There is a perception that the Florida offense doesn't translate to the NFL, but I disagree. I think there are some sequences and some things they've done in the passing game concept-wise that carry over.

He's had a lot of responsibilities at Florida, from the various triple options to audibles at the line of scrimmage. There's also a lot about his game that he shouldn't change, like his ability to extend plays.

The big thing for him is to trust his new coach, buy into the system and not get frustrated with a bad period, a bad practice or a lack of reps initially. He just needs to continue to learn and take advantage of his opportunities.

Tebow is going to be great for the league.

Former NFL coach Jon Gruden is an analyst on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."

Gruden Grills the QB's

I couldn't wait to see "Gruden's QB Camp" on ESPN this evening. He critiqued Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Jimmy Clausen and Tim Tebow on their play this past season, and for Bradford, he had to go back to 2008 to get a look at what he used to do.
Gruden's office is just down the road from my house here on the edge of Tampa, Florida. He is in his element giving each of these great college football players "the business", like Eddie Haskell used to do on "Leave It To Beaver", back in the old days. It is just this kind of good old-fashioned ribbing that could wear on veteran players after a while.
There is no doubt that with all the time he spends behind those closed blinds in that unmarked office building, he really pulls a lot out of the film. I will be honest, this was a very risky proposition for these quarterbacks and I'm not sure I would have exposed my player to this national television show before the draft. I don't think any of them did poorly in their interviews, but didn't think Colt McCoy's accent has anything to do with his future success.
I was glad to see Gruden make a strong point about footwork and not allowing yourself to be lazy. Good, quick and properly placed footwork has much to do with the success of quarterback at every level.
As I have said many times though, there wasn't much mechanics and technique training discussed. Even for the one-of-a-kind delivery of Tim Tebow, basically it was Tebow saying he isn't changing much, but is going to carry it a bit higher. I'm not sure who has told him to keep his balance 80-20 on his legs while waiting for the snap. The truth is that the balance should be basically 50-50 all the way through drop and delivery. The time that it changes is as you are releasing the ball, the back leg pushes all of its balance into the front knee and leg until all 100% goes into the front leg. Tebow still doesn't understand what a good throwing motion is supposed to look like and that is obvious throughout the video. He never extends his arm out to the target. He is always held back with a bent wrist and elbow and will not throw with the power and spin that he should be able to generate.
I also watched Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, Jr. continue to disagree about Jimmy Clausen's value in this draft. I am with McShay on this and will continue to say that he will not develop into a top pro. McShay has Clausen at #38 on his board, a second round pick, while Kiper has him as the #4 guy on the whole board and above Sam Bradford. Kiper is wrong on both counts--big time.
Nothing has been written about Clausen's throwing motion, and ESPN The Magazine even went so far as to put him on the cover with a story about how great his delivery is. It couldn't be further from the truth. He has a very awkward delivery that will also break down, like Tebow's, at the next level. You can quote me on it.
Overall, I enjoyed the Gruden QB Camp, but would have liked to see him get on the field with all four guys and let them rip it!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Gurus Quite Amusing

Colt McCoy's arm strength and size were question marks for Mel Kiper Jr., draft guru for ESPN, throughout his senior season, but now the aforementioned guru has had a chance to reassess both and now McCoy is at a higher on his draft prediction board.
Did McCoy grow from the first week of January until the last week of March? Or did good reviews from his individual workout last week change the rating?
The fact is, McCoy was good enough and big enough before last week and it goes to show how ridiculous most of these evaluators are with personal workouts on air. Colt McCoy has four years of game film to evaluate, but his size was an issue and now it is not, because he has had more time to evaluate his size? Come on Mel, you aren't kidding us.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bradford's Pro Day: Aikman-like

It wasn't as well attended as Tim Tebow's pro day a couple of weeks ago, but it drew rave reviews just the same. Tebow was praised for making some adjustments to his throwing motion to improve. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford was praised for getting his wing back to what it used to be. The big question mark for the potential top pick was how he has recovered from a throwing-shoulder surgery. Based on his workout for all of the NFL clubs, he has probably solidified his spot as the number one guy overall, following in Troy Aikman's footsteps of 1989, which long-time NFL evaluator Gil Brandt, compared Bradford's workout to.
I agree that Bradford looked very good and world's apart from Tebow's. I didn't see any dummies on the field for Bradford to jump over before throwing, but I did see a QB throwing very naturally and with good mechanics.
If Bradford is cleared as "good as new" on the shoulder, then the St. Louis Rams have just set up their future for the next decade and I think it is a good one.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Donovan McNabb On Revolving Hotseat

In the here today gone tomorrow world of professional sports, Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant and Donovan McNabb seem like the longest tenured superstars of the "Big 3" sports. I'm not sure I've heard any rumors of Jeter's potential departure and Kobe has created his own drama around contract talks, but it is Donovan McNabb that seems to regularly be in the news about getting shipped out of Philadelphia.
It is easy to look at the quarterback position for a quick face-lift on a franchise, just ask the Minnesota Vikings about that. But the city of brotherly love is not an easy place to survive, let alone prosper and McNabb has given the Eagles an opportunity to compete for the Super Bowl many times and still has plenty left to give them a few more runs at the big prize.
ESPN was bantering about who would you rather have for next year Brett Favre or Donovan? Are you kidding? I give all the credit in the world to Favre for the run he helped the Vikings make, but choosing between a 33 year old that has taken your team to multiple NFC Championship games and a S.B. appearance versus a guy that doesn't participate with the team until the season starts and is 40? Come on now.
Is the NFL draft coverage that thin? Andy Reid and McNabb need to keep it together and make another run.
I know opinions vary on this subject, but I believe they need to incorporate their 3rd string QB, Michael Vick, into the regular offense with McNabb still in the game at QB and create a more dynamic style "Wildcat" than any other team can create. Give it a shot Andy, it will be worth it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tebow's Team of QB Coaches Not Helping Much

Mike Mayock of the NFL Network seemed impressed that Tim Tebow has moved his delivery from below his hip up a bit to slightly higher than his hip, but to the trained eye, he hasn’t changed much of anything at all. Even in his press conference following his NFL Pro Day at the Swamp yesterday, Tebow acknowledged it’s not much different, but feels comfortable. It should, because all of his balance issues are still present. His biggest problem from day one is how he swings his left hip around way past square to his target. You can see in all his videos how his left leg still swings way up in the air and his knee comes in front of his right leg, which it should not do.
I’m not sure if his current team of QB coaches cringe every time they see him throw or if they know any better, but his arm release is also completely wrong. When you watch his release and follow-through, he wraps his left arm around his waist at the finish, with his throwing hand’s thumb facing up. It should be snapping out to his target and turning over so that the thumb is facing the ground as it hits his right hip, not high around his waist.
Unless he learns the weight transfer of staying centered between his knees longer and throwing the ball first, he will never become an adequate passer at the next level.
NFL Network analyst and former Redskins GM Charley Casserly is right on this issue. As he said, even though more evaluators seem to be moving to Tebow’s side of improving enough on the field to improve his status on draft day, Tebow is still too big a question mark to move into the highest rounds based on the other big piece of playing quarterback, decision making.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Draft Gurus Battle Over Clausen

Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay of ESPN make their livings by talking with NFL personnel about draft prospects and form their opinions off of those conversations. Maybe they have their own opinions as well. While I don't put much stock in either of them, they go "hot and heavy" in disagreement over Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.
Kiper loves him and McShay isn't so sure. I am on record that Clausen will not be great at the next level, which is what a top 10 pick is expected to be. Again, his mechanics are likened to Colt Brennan, out of Hawaii a few years ago and hasn't been heard of since. Not only that, but the Redskins are thought to be looking at Clausen as their potential franchise QB, where Brennan has been after setting so many passing records in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Clausen's rating is obviously higher than Brennan's and will get a much greater opportunity to play, but will ultimately see his career go down a similar path to Joey Harrington's.
Chalk this round of draft banter up to McShay.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Draftable QB's Unimpressive at Wonderlic Too

The top quarterbacks in the 2010 NFL Draft did not test their throwing arms at the combine, but they did put their brains to the test in the 12 minute timed "Wonderlic Test."
Every pro football prospect takes the Wonderlic, because the scouts give it to all senior players while making their rounds throughout the country.
The 50 question test has been ridiculed over the years, especially when it leaks that a player scored in the single digits, like Vince Young a few years back. And some writers or others that have taken it, like Bryan Kelly on's "Bleacher Report", say it is an easy test. It may not be the most difficult mental acuity test known to man, but when you are on the clock with pro scouts watching you, it adds a bit of stress to the process and in the samples that are usually shown to illustrate how simple it is, they leave out the extensive questions that are also a part of the 50 questions.
The fact is that great players have scored poorly on the test and poor players have scored very well, so it's not a "be all, end all" to what kind of football player you will be getting, but it could enlighten the evaluator to certain aspects of a player's needs that could be enhanced or may need help.
In 1989, I was told Duke prospect Anthony Dilweg had the highest QB score with a 36, I scored 33 and Heisman Trophy runner-up Rodney Peete got an 18. I can't remember exactly, but I think Troy Aikman scored in the mid 20's and I do not know what Princeton grad (Dallas Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) Jason Garrett put on the board.
This year's top prospects were all in the low to mid 20's, except for Sam Bradford who topped the group with 36.
Don't be fooled, Tim Tebow's 22 on the Wonderlic Test won't drop him down in the draft any further than his bad mechanics have already put him and a 36 wouldn't increase his draft status, because even though his Wonderlic is very pedestrian, Tebow's intangibles are almost unmatched, no matter if he knows if "present and resent" are synonyms, antonyms or neither.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Combine: From Secret to Circus

When I got an invitation to the NFL combine, I only had a small idea of what to expect. My agent sent me a "super-secret" VHS copy of another QB's performance.
The NFL Combine was once one of the greatest secrets around. All the teams were there to see the results of the bench press, 40 times, jumps and shuttles, so there was no real need to keep these tangibles under lock and key.
Today, since the NFL has to try and keep fresh programming on its own TV network, it has been made into a spectacle. The NFL Draft and the NFL Combine are two hot pieces of media that keep the fans going between seasons. No other sports league has anything even in the stratosphere of off-season interest like the NFL.
I was on the other side of the field when Deion Sanders ran his infamous 40 yard dash. Roomed with Troy Aikman, who didn't throw routes with the other guys and it didn't hurt his draft status.
If you are in the top pick area, it is a good idea to wait for your pro day. Throwing routes to guys you've never said hello to is tough to be good throw after throw. My biggest regret was not throwing the deep ball far enough. You want the receivers to get their chance to make catches and you don't know how fast they are, but looking back, I should have launched my deep balls past everybody, instead of allowing the receivers to slow down a bit and get the reception.
The 300+ players that spent last week in Indianapolis have put themselves on tape now. Some small school players have now been on national television. Some bigger school guys may have been exposed in the strength and explosiveness tests. The NFL teams that just measured and interviewed these players will narrow that field and make personal trips to campuses across the country for more one-on-one events and for pro days as the fans get ready for late April and the wall-to-wall NFL Draft coverage coming our way.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sam Wyche Makes Bold Prediction For Tebow

Former NFL quarterback Sam Wyche, more known for his NFL coaching days and probably best known for his antics as a coach, has gone way out on a limb for Tim Tebow.
Wyche once coached both Joe Montana and Boomer Esiason and says Tim Tebow will be in that class of elite NFL QB.
That isn't a hard bet to take. Being an elite QB is difficult enough. Many were thought to have that kind of potential and failed, some miserably and some just never lived up to the hype. Timmy Tebow, on the other hand, has very little in the way of expectation, so if he becomes a good quarterback at the next level, Sam Wyche gets a little justification in his bold prediction. I guess it comes down to what Sam's definition of "elite" really is.
It is the prediction here that Tebow will not become an elite QB, nor will any other QB coming out in this year's draft. Not that they don't have that potential, it's just any easy bet to say that they won't. See, elite means elite. That is very few by the way. Trying to say Tebow, with all of his issues going in to the NFL (slow delivery, bad balance, lack of experience under center, style of offense at Florida), the likelihood of achieving an elite level is extremely small. Tebow has a handful of QB coaches trying to remake his delivery in a very short time, but isn't that what Scott Loeffler tried to do over months last off-season?
He will not throw at this week's combine, but is scheduled to do so at the Gators' pro day in April.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010 Draft Class: Weak

When the best QB prospect in the NFL draft only played a handful of plays during his junior year and is coming off an injury to his throwing shoulder, you know there is trouble brewing for the entire class.
That is the state of the potential quarterbacks for the April draft that are currently preparing to show their stuff at the annual combine coming up soon.
Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay, ESPN's resident draft gurus slate Sam Bradford as the top pick at the most important position in sports, followed by either Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy, with Tim Tebow finishing #5 on both boards.
Compared with recent years, this seems to be one of the weakest QB classes in some time. None of the top names will sell any more season tickets for their teams, but they may land on decent football teams, since they probably won't go near the top, even though there are plenty of teams in need of a long-term signal caller.
I too would put Sam Bradford at the top of the board, if his shoulder is deemed sound. I've always liked Colt McCoy as a player, but the injury in the BCS Title Game was a little scary and mysterious. He says he is just about ready to throw at the combine, but will leave that up to his advisors.
I have written in this column before that I don't have a good feeling about Jimmy Clausen's mechanics and I just don't see him endearing himself to an NFL team or town.
Obviously Tim Tebow is the crowd favorite, but I agree with the masses, that his "unique" mechanics will not allow him to be successful as an every down QB at the top level. He is working with a couple coaches to "fix" his throwing motion, but I doubt we will see a difference at the combine or in mini-camps with whatever team takes the chance on him.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Brees QB's Saints To Super Bowl Win

84 passes, 37 runs. Enough said. Super Bowl XLIV was one for the QB's. Peyton Manning owned the first quarter and staked the Colts to a 10-0 lead.
In last year's Super Bowl, the game changed just before halftime with an interception returned 100 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals almost overcame that potential 14 point swing and if it wasn't for Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes fantastic play, they would have.
Tonight, the Saints had a 4th down and goal to go before half. Sean Payton went for it and lost, but went for it again to start the second half with an onsides kick and it paid off with needed momentum and kept Manning off the field for an extended period.
Drew Brees was as efficient in the biggest game of all as he was all season, going 32 of 39 for 288 and two TD's. His completions tied Tom Brady's SB record. He won the MVP and cried with his young son in the afterglow of reaching the pinnacle of the football world, both for his family and the family of New Orleans!

Scholarship Conversation Not Appropriate

It doesn't matter how great any 13 year old athlete is in any sport, having any contact or conversation with a coach from a college or university about a scholarship offer is wrong and should be outlowed by the NCAA.
Lane Kiffin was known for some outlandish things before and during his tenure at the University of Tennessee, but news of a scholarship offer to a 13 year old quarterback takes the cake. Even if it was just a good-natured, fun talk and not a formal offer, this should not be acceptable.
National signing day was last week and many players that had made verbal commitments to certain schools, were disappointed to find out that there was not going to be a formal offer after-all. Anything could happen to Kiffin's career at USC and since 13 year olds haven't even entered high school, a scholarship is something to strive for, not commit to. This just opens the door to parents and kids worrying about things beyond their need.
As a private trainer, I am in the business of getting players in position to earn scholarships, but this is just too early and needs to be addressed by the NCAA, so that coaches, players and parents don't get more carried away than they already are.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Caution: Weighted Footballs and other "aids"

I have seen QB's being trained to drop back with bungie cords and throw with weighted footballs. To this I say "HOLD ON". Throwing with a weighted football will do more to damage your throwing motion and maybe injure your elbow and shoulder than to improve your strength and/or power. It will most likely make you throw off-balanced to compensate, but most surely puts more strain on those two joints.
In similar regard, I do not agree with using bungie cords to add resistance to your drop back. More than likely, it will cause you to lean too much away from the line of scrimmage and change your balance. The more resistance, the more you must gain leverage to push against it.
I would encourage any and all bungie work while training to run faster, but do not use it to train your drop back! I am all for foot quickness, running speed and plyometric power and strength, but not at the expense of reducing your balance and not at the risk of injury to your arm.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Super Bowl Problem: No Bad Guy

Picking a winner of the Super Bowl is usually pretty fun and while any fan can make a case for their team winning the game, there is usually a favorite. I haven't been able to come up with a good reason to pick either team, because both have the "it" factor needed to win the game Sunday night.
Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are America's symbolic team because of what the area has been through in recent years and they have never won the Super Bowl before. Peyton Manning needs this win to really put him up there with the All-Time Winners. He is already one of the all-time greats, but winning in the Super Bowl is another matter and he needs another win.
Both quarterbacks are the consummate professionals and leaders of their teams. They are the driving force of the success of their teams. Both teams are offensive-minded and can make a comeback if down by a score or more.
It really comes down to a coin toss between the best team from each conference. Although I believe the Saints could have the best offense in all of football,
with the coin spinning in the air, I believe Peyton Manning will will his team to victory in Super Bowl XLIV.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

National Signing Day For High Schoolers

Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Or at least the next four years and for some it won't even be that long. Earning a college scholarship is the dream of many players and their parents. Today was cutdown day, decision day. Some had made the decision long before this day and others were still trying to decide which school would be the most like home.
Phillip Sims was the top high school QB prospect in the country, heading to Alabama.
I was at Tampa Catholic High School this afternoon to witness Christian Green, a four year starter at quarterback, but will be a receiver at Florida State this fall and his offensive tackle Chaz Green, who will take his great feet and strength to the University of Florida. Chaz is rated number 52 and Christian 53 on ESPN's list.
It is a day to remember for the rest of your life and can shape your future, depending on how it is approached mentally. Some will get homesick and run back to their hometowns. Others will never go back to their hometowns except for short visits. It was fun to be part of the action, after watching Christian Green start for four years and lead his team to the state championship game more than once, and reporting live here in the local market as ESPNU carried it across the nation.
The packed room of students and media was quite a different scene than when I signed my scholarship papers 25 years ago at my kitchen table with my parents.
Congratulations to all who are taking another step in living their dreams!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Warner Probably Retiring On Friday

Possibly the biggest surprise story of rags to riches in NFL history is about to come to a close. Sure there have been stories about a kicker picked up from bartending and making a field goal the same week.
But never has there been a story about a quarterback stocking shelves in a grocery store, playing some Arena Football and then becoming the NFL MVP, Super Bowl winner and basically dominating the NFL for more than a decade!
Well, the Kurt Warner charmed-life story is about to close the book on his football glory days after leading the once sad-sack Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl last year and back to the playoffs again this year before falling to the Super Bowl bound New Orleans Saints.
If and when Warner says goodbye, don't expect a Brett Favre-like return by fall. Kurt Warner has a lot more than football in his life to keep him off the field for good and feel good about walking away still playing great football.
The Arizona Cardinals will miss him greatly, as they will have to turn to the QB they thought would have been leading them a couple of years ago, but Kurt Warner's play and leadership would not let him on the field. The NFL will also miss what he brought on the field and off!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brees and Manning; The Best Go To Miami

I do not consider myself a prognosticator by any stretch, but you must agree that my pre-game predictions hit pretty true, especially Brett Favre's bad choice that forced overtime and gave the Saints the victory.
It started to get interesting with Mark Sanchez playing very well in the first half and the Jets staking a lead, but as mentioned, it was Manning's greatness that persevered the 60 minute ball game and put him in the Super Bowl for a second time.
The Vikings would never have been in the NFC Championship without Brett Favre's performance this season and it is sad that he finished it with a pass that he has been told not to throw since he was in Pee Wee football, but that is what you always got with him, the great and the bad. Mike Holmgren tried to beat it out of him in the first few Green Bay years, but he just couldn't help himself when it mattered most, almost 20 years into his Hall-Of-Fame career.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In AFC it's Great vs. "Green"

Peyton Manning was this season's NFL MVP and many say he is the greatest QB of all-time. I say not yet. For all of his regular season heroics, he hasn't won enough in the "money" games to be given that title, hence the reason Tom Brady was the ABQB of the decade. Manning has a chance to change that with another Super Bowl title and the only way he gets that chance is a win against a very game Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets.
The Jets have won in similar fashion to last year's Baltimore Ravens and their rookie QB Joe Flacco. The QB manages the game, doesn't lose it, and gives the defense a chance to make enough plays to win it. They have held to that philosophy in the playoffs and now make another trip to Indianapolis for all the marbles.
The Colts win today because of Peyton Manning's greatness and Mark Sanchez's "greenness". The Colts' pass rushers will get enough shots on Sanchez to force mistakes by playing the old Tampa 2, making Sanchez hold it just a bit too long.

#1 QB vs. #2 QB--Brees vs. Brett in NFC

The New Orleans Saints have never been here before, the Minnesota Vikings have plenty of experience, as does their signal-caller. Drew Brees and Brett Favre will headline the battle inside the Superdome today, finishing the regular season as the top rated quarterbacks in the entire league.
Favre is the first 40 year old to QB his team into the conference championship game, playing arguably the best football of his entire career. Why did Vikings' Head Coach Brad Childress continue to work on getting Brett back on the field after another retirement and even an injured shoulder last season? Because this was the possibility, maybe even the probability, with the rest of the Vikings team so talented.
The Saints have been waiting a long time for this chance. Through so much adversity over time and through Katrina in recent years, the sad-sack franchise has come alive under Drew Brees' leadership. And the silly move by the Houston Texans a few drafts ago, allowed Reggie Bush to go to the Saints and give them another piece to the puzzle.
Percy Harvin has been slowed, ever so slightly, by migraines throughout the year, but still managed over 2,000 all-purpose yards. He missed practice time this week due to those bad headaches, but you can bet he will be trying to slice up the New Orleans defense today.
Playmaker vs. Playmaker--Bush vs. Harvin and Brees vs. Favre. The table is set for a fabulous game, but who will come out on top?
The New Orleans Saints will end the day victorious because New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and his QB will not hold onto the ball long enough to give the vaunted Vikings' pass rushers enough opportunities. They also have the receiving staff to give their secondary fits. Brett Favre has made many incredible plays this season, but they come later and after some moving around, which will come back to bite them just enough to put the Saints in the Super Bowl for the first time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Saints Have Prayers Answered

It hasn't been easy to be a Saints' fan or player over the decades, but Drew Brees and his crew have made it a bit easier in the Big Easy.
After disappointing losses ended their regular season, doubt crept in to many of those fans and probably some of the players as well. A "one and done" possibility seemed all too real, but Brees and Bush got back to form and bullied their way to the NFC Champion by knocking off the defending NFC Champion!
The Cowboys seemed to be the pundits favorite while visiting the Minnesota Vikings, but Brett Favre's 40 year old arm threw 4 TD's while blowing out the team that had been on fire for the last few weeks.
This weekend's NFC Championship game in New Orleans should be great entertainment in one of the great entertainment cities in the world!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

NFL Playoffs: QB Showcase

A strong running game and defense are the ways to win in January in the NFL. Well, that has been a successful recipe, but these 2010 playoffs are shaping up as the QB playoffs.
The Packers and Cardinals earned their name of "Wildcard" game, with offensive records breaking all over the place and both quarterbacks putting up outrageous numbers.
The Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets are built in the classic model and still left in the these playoffs, but the Ravens travel inside to the dome of the Colts and the Jets will be in warm San Diego, California to take on the hot Chargers, who have become a QB dominated team with Phillip Rivers' dominance this year.
The NFC stays inside at 72 degrees in New Orleans and Minnesota, probably the best four quarterback matchup in NFL history. Kurt Warner and Drew Brees regularly carry their teams through games and Tony Romo and Brett Favre can do the same.
I looked forward to the Green Bay/Arizona game last week with great anticipation, because I like Aaron Rogers as much as these other guys and expected a great shootout--not quite expecting it to be what it turned into, but this weekend's games should be just as entertaining.
And the only way for the NFL to get a cold weather game of any kind before the playoffs, is if both the Jets and Ravens--the old school teams left in the tournament--win. Otherwise, it is warm weather all the way to the Super Bowl. Wait, the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida may be the coldest game from here on in.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Former QB Danielson Misses Bigger Point

Broadcaster Gary Danielson weighed in on the subject of these wayward coaches and taking their jobs a little too far in the "fatherly" department, saying something to the effect that it's his (Danielson's) job to be the father, not the coaches. I believe the reference is from The Dan Patrick show. I saw it in the newspaper today. Mike Leach tried to act like he was looking out for Adam James' best interest and USF's Jim Leavitt was "concerned" about his player.
I agree with Charles Barkley, who famously said years ago, that he is not a role model, parents should be their kid's role models. True, true, true. I agree with Gary Danielson's point as well that it is actually the father's role to be the supreme person concerned about a players well-being.
Here is where both former players miss the bigger point. I broadcast high school football games in the greater Tampa Bay area and when senior night rolled around at a particular game this year, about 20 or so seniors were introduced to the crowd with their parents or parent or grandparent or coach. Of those 20 senior football players, maybe four or five had a father to walk with. Approximately 75% of the players had no father looking out for their best interest and professional players are role models, like it or not Mr. Barkley. They have no father concerned for their well-being Mr. Danielson.
And the college football coach that came into their living room and told them that they would take care of them and be their family now and always, might need that guy's emotional support during times of struggle.
This is not to say that what Mark Mangini, Mike Leach and Jim Leavitt did or may have done was appropriate in any sense, but the bigger point here is not every kid has the same support system that Gary Danielson's children have and that is why these situations are so critical and important on a grander scale.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sanchez Wins--Jokes With Former Coach

New York Jets rookie NFL QB won his first playoff game in grand fashion and gave his old college coach a good ribbing. Remember back about a year ago when Pete Carroll was trying to keep his star player from making the jump to the NFL and take advantage of a weak QB draft class. After cashing in as the fifth pick in the draft and now winning in the Wildcard round, he let his former coach, who is now jumping to the Seattle Seahawks that statistics say it's not a good choice.
What a difference a year makes. If Carroll was successful in keeping his QB in school, he may not be making that move after posting one of the worst years USC has ever seen by starting a true freshman as his quarterback all year. So Sanchez has a very big hand in what happened to USC's hard fall to alsoran and with Carroll's move back to the NFL for the third time.

Coaches Getting/Leaving Black Eyes On Gridiron

Two head football coaches at top colleges have been fired with cause recently over their treatment of players. I would venture to guess that almost every college football over the last 30 years would have a story or two of player mistreatment somewhere in their memories.
In the most recent cases, Texas Tech fired Mike Leach for sending a player to a dark room for an extended period after the player showed up at practice unable to participate because of a "mild concussion". Last Friday the University of South Florida fired Jim Leavitt, the only football coach in its history, for grabbing a player by the throat and slapping him in the face twice during halftime of a game and because his report of the incident did not match up with any of the witnessed accounts of the incident. Both coaches are indignant and Leach has sued the school. Leavitt's firing is so new he probably hasn't had a chance to make that decision, but it seems most coaches do fight back in court.
I understand how frustrated coaches can get during the course of a game. You have tried to prepare your players for every situation and even though you (the coach) were never a perfect player in your own time, you wish your players were. Many times you have corrected a player's mistake on the practice field or gone over the exact situation prior to the game and then you watch the same thing happen on the field only to see a player make the corrected mistake. This can boil over and has too many times. The Woody Hayes incident still lingers in our memories (if you are old enough) and that is a good thing, because there aren't that many public incidents that we can all refer, but it is a different world of political correctness that we live in today. Sometimes it may seem a bit too PC, but as far as player treatment, we need to remember it is a game.
My wife has been "beating me up" over my treatment of my son's middle school basketball team recently. She says I yell too much at the kids, especially my own 12 year old son, and have even touched them in a too-aggressive manner, pulling on their uniforms or such. I disagree and may even seem like Leach or Leavitt in their lack of understanding of the situation. When a kid is told to go to a specific spot on the basketball floor and just looks at you and doesn't respond, it kind of frustrates you. I try to control my emotions at these times (which, in middle school basketball, happen about every second of the game) and substitute a player that either doesn't understand what I am asking of him or is just doing his own program, but it is not easy and isn't on a national stage like NCAA football.
Every situation will have its own unique details, but coaches now know what the "rules" are for player treatment in the 21st century.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

BCS Title Game: A QB Story

It was supposed to be Colt McCoy's swan song, like his friend Tim Tebow, two of college's most heralded quarterbacks of all time. Tebow's Gators didn't make it into the championship game like they had planned at the season's outset, but in his career finale, he left the Sugar Bowl with the best personal stats of his career and a huge blowout win. The game had even more build-up and emotion because of Urban Meyer's recent announcements.
Colt McCoy entered the BCS Title Game as the winningest QB in college football history, starting since his freshman year. But only moments into the game, he took a hit on the back of his right shoulder and his world changed, as well as the fate of the Texas Longhorns.
Enter true freshman QB Garrett Gilbert, one of the biggest recruits last season. With Colt McCoy in Heisman Trophy contention, Gilbert got spot work this year after McCoy put his team well ahead in some of their games, but this was no UTEP. This was the top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, who had recently made Tim Tebow look very mortal. No one was ready for this, not the QB and not the coaches who dramatically changed the game plan for their young signal caller.
Things couldn't have gone worse for Gilbert in the first half, with even a shovel pass (low risk right?) getting intercepted and returned for a touchdown. I felt for the kid and his family (father Gale, a former NFL QB himself). I have two sons that could be in that situation down the road and it was hard to watch, but Gilbert did gather himself after the break and put up two TD passes. He and the Texas defense also got them back to within 3 points before Alabama woke back up and slammed the door shut in the final moments.
This game was another example of just how important the QB position is to the game of football, even more so now with all of the spread formation teams.
Colt McCoy has been fun to watch run that spread offense of Texas for four years. I hope his shoulder heals and he gets all he hopes and dreams for in the NFL. He seems to be a great person, like his buddy Tim Tebow.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Teams Aren't Looking For Outside Help

Former NFL MVP Rich Gannon reached out to help the struggling Oakland Raiders and their underachieving former #1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell, but that didn't go over too well.
I was talking with someone earlier today actually that asked me why teams don't call in some of these former player analysts for consultations. My answer before reading of the Raiders rebuff of their former all-star was that they don't want the help. If they asked for help, they would be showing weakness, like they don't know what they're doing, even though we can see that they don't know what they're doing every Sunday.
Coaching is an insecure business in the first place, with job security always an issue, so allowing anybody from the outside, even if it is a former player with the intention of helping, it won't happen.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tebow Goes Out Winner In Final Game

He didn't plan on playing in the Sugar Bowl to finish his storied career. No, when Tim Tebow began his senior season he planned on adding another BCS Title to his and the University of Florida's resume.
A major concussion early in the season almost derailed the Gators season, but a perfectly timed bye week allowed him to return without missing a game. Unbelievable. That has been Tebow's life-story thus far.
Saturday night in New Orleans his unbelievable career came to a close in a fitting way for one of the greatest players in college football history. His passing technique, which has been the topic of more sports conversations than Tiger Woods problems, set records and was extremely efficient after not being able to generate anything against Alabama in the SEC Championship.
Tim Tebow goes out the winner on the field that he has proven he is off it as well!

Best Teams Choose Losing Streaks Into Playoffs

The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints posted the top records in their respective conferences, but chose to rest their best players in the season finale and before another week off with their well deserved byes. Peyton Manning played a bit in the snow, but not enough to make a difference as the Colts got blown out.
Win the Super Bowl and it is a great decision, but if they don't play well after the layoff, the second-guessers will be in full force as both teams head into the playoffs with two game losing streaks.
The New England Patriots also lost their final game of the regular season and watched one of their best offensive weapons limp off the field with Wes Welker reportedly tearing up his knee. The second guessers there will say he should have sat and waited for their first round game.