Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jets' Problem Was Sparano's To Fix

Hiring a recently fired NFL head coach to coordinate an offense or defense is a bad move.  NFL head coaches have been their own coordinators over the years with moderate success, but most end up giving up the reins to others that can focus the necessary amount of time and energy to give the team its best chance at winning.
Tony Sparano was hired by the Jets to run the offense.  I don't like the move in the first place, regardless of having Tim Tebow dropped in his lap this off-season.  Older coaches are much like the saying suggests, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."  All people gravitate towards what they know and are comfortable with.  Old coaches are going to stay with what they know as they have to show confidence to their players in what they are teaching.  Mix in Tim Tebow and you have something that nobody has ever seen before, other than the Denver Broncos, who didn't know what to do with him until he became the starting quarterback and changed the entire offense to suit his unique abilities.  But as a back-up QB to Mark Sanchez, Tebow had to be engaged differently in the offense and not as a quasi tight end.  That was just plain silly and didn't give the defense anything to think about or adjust to.  I didn't see every snap the Jets played this year, but never saw Mark Sanchez ever fake a handoff or toss to Tebow and raise up and throw a pass the opposite direction.
Last night the Atlanta Falcons hit a long touchdown pass on a very short quick screen.  They faked a toss to the right, which made everyone on defense start moving that way and gave the offensive tackle enough time to get out in front of Roddy White (most quick screens fail because of design and the tackles not getting their outside blocks) to make one of the easiest 40 yard TD passes of Matt Ryan's career.
Tebow should have been used in similar fashion and the Jets would have turned around a crappy season into another AFC Championship appearance at minimum.
Tony Sparano's lack of ingenuity cost the Jets another season of futility and possibly the jobs of Sanchez and Tebow.  I won't put all the blame of Sanchez's poor play on Sparano, the acquisition of Tebow was enough to unnerve him, because Sanchez played poorly in the offense that had nothing to do with Tebow's presence (I chronicled the guaranteed failure of this experiment before the season ever began).
Everybody in New York needs a change of scenery now, because even if Sanchez improves his level of play, it won't be good enough to erase the bad memories of the 2012 season.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bounty Case like "A Few Good Men"

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, against the player's wishes due to conflct of interest, comes into the New Orleans Saints bounty case and the outcome probably surprised everyone.
The outcome of the case reminded me greatly of the famous Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson movie of 1992 "A Few Good Men."  In the movie, a couple of marines were accused of killing one of their own, because he reported that one of the accused had done something illegal.  Tom Cruise comes on the case and finds that the "code" of Colonel Jessup's (Nicholson) marine base at Guantanamo Bay was that all orders must be followed, regardless.  Colonel Jessup ordered the accused to do a "code red" on the deceased, which was to rough up the whistle blower.  It was discovered that the perpetrators of the accidental killing were ordered by their supreme leaders to commit the illegal act and were "forced" to comply or else they would have been subject to their own discipline for refusing an order--also considered a crime (Keifer Sutherland's character Leuitenant Kendrick famously said)--in their world.
In the Saints case, Paul Tagliabue found similar things to the 1992 movie plot.  The Saints players had indeed done something wrong, but due to the undue influence of their superiors, they were compelled to oblige and take part.
Life imitating art as they say.  Now the fallout from the defamation of character lawsuit of Jonathan Vilma against current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be interesting and we will see if any of the other players wants their own form of vengeance, as all could make the case for loss of income and injury to their careers in different ways.  I haven't figured out what movie or book plot this situation will come from, but I will be brushing up on my John Grisham thrillers!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Manning Chose Right Team

Before Peyton Manning chose the Denver Broncos, I said this was the team that he should go to because it was the easiest road to the playoffs, with the Chargers being the best of the worst the division had to offer.  Beating the Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers to win the AFC West was a much better option than trying to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots if he would have chosen the Miami Dolphins or Matt Schaub of the Texans if he liked the feel of Tennessee.
Playing in the new Mile High Stadium gives the Broncos a real physical advantage as well as a mental one and with his expertise now almost exclusively from the shotgun, they are one tough team to get up on.  Yesterday Manning outmaneuvered the Buccaneers with a fast-paced tempo that kept the Buccaneers in a base look defense on almost every play, but also kept the defense from getting a moments rest between plays.  One time the Bucs tried to make personnel changes and Manning quickly got his team to the line of scrimmage and snapped the ball.  He didn't get the penalty for too many men on the field that he was looking for, so he went to the sideline and got John Fox to call a timeout and make the challenge.  Of course the Bucs were found to have had an extra guy just barely still on the field, but rules are rules and the referees had to give it to him.  It is this kind of mastery that has made Peyton Manning legendary in his understanding and manipulation of the game.
I don't know if the Denver Broncos will be able to wind their way through the playoffs and get into the Super Bowl, but clinching the division on December 2nd is not a bad way to get back in the league after last year's missed season!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Slow Surgeons Still Supreme

Steve Young was a scrambling quarterback that eventually found his way to the Hall-Of-Fame by distributing the football to his receivers more than his rambling runs around and through defensive secondaries.  Michael Vick looked like he might usher in a new wave of "Best Athlete On The Field" plays quarterback, just like in elementary school, but he derailed his career with prison stay.  Who knows what he may have been able to do after taking the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship so long ago.  Vick's star barely has a glow left in it as he tries to make it back on the field following another concussion, the biggest concern coaches have with employing a mobile QB.
What hasn't changed in the NFL and isn't going to any time soon is that the slow-footed surgical passers are still what is going to win with regularity.  Tom Brady and Peyton Manning ran 5.0 forty yard dash times as they got ready to enter the NFL.  Neither has gotten faster over the years, but after a decade in the game, they stand far above the rest as the best the game has to offer.
Knowledge of the game and their respective offenses and getting the ball out of their hands and putting it into their receivers hands with great accuracy is what separates QB's in the NFL.  Fast quarterbacks that rely on their legs as much as their arms eventually have to make a significant transition in understanding how to play the game with their minds.  Vick has not been able to make that transition well enough to take the Philadelphia Eagles to elite status and it looks as if they will move away from him to their young pass Nick Foles, a significantly different style player.
The guy that might meld the two together the best is the up and coming Colin Kaepernick of the San Fransisco 49ers.  He can pass with great accuracy and is a very big man as well and won't get knocked around like Vick when he does choose to use his legs to his advantage, but in his short time as the starter in San Fransisco, he seems to run the offense and see the field very well for a young guy.  As he matures, keep watching those old guys carve up defenses and put their teams in position to win championships!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Johnny Football to Johnny Heisman

In what seems to be one of the weakest Heisman Trophy races in recent memory, because that is all I have left, redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel seems to be the only candidate.  In a ESPN "Expert's Poll" dated November 27th, they have Manziel running away with the coveted award, with the impressive Notre Dame senior linebacker Monti Te'o, fresh off his team's goalline stand against USC that earned the Fighting Irish a title shot a distant second.  Kansas State senior quarterback Collin Klein comes in third after taking his team to the number one spot in the land before falling hard a couple weeks back.
The first, second and third place finish seem very appropriate and will make Manziel the first freshman to ever win college football's most prestigious award.  Tim Tebow was the first sophomore to win it and Manziel broke Tebow's offensive yardage records in the process of leading Texas A & M in their first year in the SEC.  The Aggies lost to top 10 Florida in their first game of the season by 3 points and the only other blemish was against LSU, where Johnny Football was reduced to simply a freshman QB, but his accomplishments over the course of the year were the most impressive of all players this year.
Te'o was the most inspirational, but Manziel was the best and deserves the hardware.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Josh Freeman Keeps Bucs Rolling

A couple of years ago I was being interviewed on local Tampa radio and I said I wouldn't trade Josh Freeman for anyone in the league, which caused a bit of scoffing laughter back in the studio.  The radio host asked again the question again and threw in names like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning (prior to his neck injury) and I reiterated that no, I wouldn't trade Freeman for those awesome QB's.  My reasoning wasn't that Freeman was better than either of those future Hall-of-Famers, but where the Buccaneers were in building a franchise for the next decade, those other quarterbacks were on the back half of their careers.
Josh Freeman is a young fourth year QB, coming out of Kansas State early and his physical potential is beyond either Brady or Manning, especially for the coming decade!
Following the 2011 disaster season, the Bucs punted Raheem Morris to the Washington Redskins and brought in the no-nonsense Greg Schiano from Rutgers.  His attention to detail may be unmatched, although I'm sure many would like to dispute that, but he has taken a completely unprepared (physically and mentally) Bucs team and reshaped it into a hard-nosed tough football team that has prepared itself for situations before they happen and the success has already shown itself on a number of occasions.
Last Sunday the Bucs didn't play very well, giving up two scoring chances in the red zone, including a TD run by rookie of the year candidate Doug Martin, that should have been called a touchdown, but his fumble came too close to the line, was ruled a fumble and not overturned on video review.
In Josh Freeman's short career, even dating back to 2010 under Morris, he has shown a knack for bringing his team from behind to win.  The team didn't play well, didn't get any big plays from the defense or special teams, which it had in previous weeks, but Freeman led the Bucs back against the Carolina Panthers Sunday with a TD pass and a two point conversion to tie and force overtime.
The Bucs drove the field in overtime and Freeman found Dallas Clark (yes, that Dallas Clark) on a "wheel" route up the left sideline.  The call was great, the catch was fabulous, but the throw was mediocre.  While Josh Freeman has shown he can throw the deep ball well and has both Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson making great catches down the field, Freeman's weakest point as a QB is his medium range accuracy.
It is easier to criticize him on a game-winning OT throw now than after a loss on an interception when lots of people like to pile on.
The 2012 version of Josh Freeman is still not in Brady's or Manning's league and he will not join that league unless he becomes more efficient and accurate on medium range throws.  This improvement will have to come through improved mechanics and I am using this magnificent game-winning play to show my point.  Watch the video and watch what direction Freeman's front (left) leg steps to make his throw to the end zone.  His step goes directly towards the sideline instead of towards the pylon at the front of the end zone.  Before he releases the football his entire body is directed to where Dallas Clark IS, not where he is GOING TO BE!  Without watching the finish of the throw, alignment mechanics guarantee that the ball will be behind the receiver.  The result?  An awesome spinning backward catch by Dallas Clark to win the game!! 
Brady and Manning have had receivers make great catches on poorly thrown balls, but far less often, because they are more precise in their mechanics, Brady being signifcantly better than Manning.  Freeman would do well to study Brady's ALIGNMENT before the ball comes out and he will take a big step closer to joining their league of Elite QB's.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weeden (Anyone) Needs More Evaluation Than Rookie Year

Laying on my couch Thursday night watching Fox News as usual and clicking over during the commercials to another average NFL Network game, I read the scroll at the bottom of the page.  It read something like, "Brandon Weeden will be evaluated in last 7 games to see if he is QB of future", says coach Brad Childress.
My immediate thought was this is why the Cleveland Browns aren't very good.  Maybe the scroll should have read, "Browns coaches will evaluate everything they are doing to help Brandon Weeden succeed over the next 7 weeks to see if they should return as coaches next year."
If Troy Aikman was evaluated on his rookie season, we wouldn't even remember his name today.  If Steve Young was evaluated on his rookie year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even with a nice professional apprenticeship in the USFL, he wouldn't be a Hall-of-Famer.  The quote by Childress is unfair and ridiculous to say the least.
Try what the Cowboys did after Aikman went winless as a rookie and build around Weeden to see what he can become.  From watching him play, I think he can be pretty good--that is if he had a decent coach.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Concussion Weekend For QB's

Heisman Trophy front-runner Collin Klein of Kansas State didn't finish Saturday's victory due to an undisclosed injury, thought to be a mild concussion.  Sunday followed with multiple NFL QB's getting knocked out of their games with concussions, inlcuding Michael Vick's "significant" one. 
Alex Smith of the San Fransisco 49ers didn't make it to the finish line of his team's tie, the first tie in the NFL in a few years.  And Jay Cutler was also done early due to a concussion.
Vick has been on top of the list for starting QB's getting replaced each week, alongside Mark Sanchez of the Jets.  Vick's replacement Nick Foles looked pretty good in his stead and the Eagles need something to change, so this may give Andy Reid the breathing room to make the switch.
The Bears don't seem to be in as good a position on back-up QB, so they will be hoping Cutler gets back quickly.  On the 49ers watch, even though Alex Smith has resurrected his career with Jim Harbaugh and generally played well and kept his team at the top of the division, his huge back-up Collin Kaepernick is one to watch out for taking over that franchise in the near future!  Kaepernick seems to have it all, so even a small slip-up by Smith may give the feisty and firey Harbaugh a much quicker hook than would otherwise be warranted.  The NFL--Not For Long.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vick Vexed and Flummoxed

Michael Vick has been getting his butt kicked so far this season.  It has looked bad on many weeks, but probably none more so than on Monday Night Football against the less than stellar defense of the New Orleans Saints. 
It sure looked like there was blame to go around for everyone, from the offensive line to coaching and to Vick himself, as the blocking schemes used allowed defensive linemen to come unblocked.  These situations are either huge mistakes by the linemen blocking the wrong guys or the protection being set incorrectly by Michael Vick.  Usually the rule is for the guys up front to block "Big On Big", meaning you wouldn't have your offensive tackle "slide-protect" away from a defensive end, leaving a running back to block a much bigger player, but not only did the Eagles slide-protect away, they didn't have a back come and block, so they allowed free rushers at Vick, leaving him in unwinnable situations too many times. 
Jon Gruden made the observation that the Eagles had been victimized in the "A" gap (the open spaces on either side of the center) in their previous game, but still left this gap open for Jonathan Vilma to come untouched on his way to blowing up Vick.
The Philadelphia Eagles look like they are in complete disarray right now, unable to even slow down the rush at Vick and the lowlights that they have been showing throughout the season, show Vick getting rag-dolled and hit by multiple players in very awkward situations.  So far he has continued to answer the bell and keeps getting up for more punishment, but that can only last so long, after all, even though he is playing in the same city as the fictitous character Rocky Balboa, who got knocked down and got back up more times than bowling pins.
The blame goes to everyone because it is obvious that they are not prepared to handle pressure from any team in the NFL, so instead of making Vick play from the pocket, they are going to have to move him on each and every passing play or very soon he will be watching from the sideline on crutches or a hospital bed.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sanchez Continues Rookie Mistakes

Mark Sanchez is not a rookie.  Far from it at this point of winning multiple playoff games for his New York Jets.  Those playoff wins were grealy attributed to the team's stellar defense and to Sanchez's abiltiy to manage the offense.  I liked Sanchez coming out of USC because he did a nice job of anticipating his throws, so he looked like a more veteran player, even though he hadn't started all that many games for USC to come out a year early.  I had this discussion with Jon Gruden at a park while we watched our sons practice flag football with each other prior to the NFL Draft that also included Matt Stafford, the eventual first pick.  I thought Stafford depended on his strong arm too much and did not anticipate well.  Stafford had evolved in his development as a QB in the NFL and does a much better job of anticipating his throwing lanes and windows much better than he did a few years ago, but the problem for Mark Sanchez is he continues to make rookie mistakes far too often in games.
Last night Sanchez and the Jets battled the New England Patriots to overtime and when Sanchez was in the grasp of one defender being sacked, falling backwards and almost on the ground, he attempts to throw the ball as a second defender is crushing him from the front and he fumbles the ball.  He does silly things like that every game it seems.  He doesn't take care of the ball in critical situations and it has cost the Jets dearly.  Sanchez must start understanding the importance of ball security and that taking the sack to punt and play defense is better than giving the game away on a single play or the Jets are going to figure out that Tebow's offensive style may not be as sexy, but its ball control ways allows the team a chance to win at the end.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gunslingers Shoot It Out In Big D

Tony Romo and Jay Cutler are cut from the same quarterback cloth.  They are both extremely talented and both play extremely risky football.  Sometimes those risks pay off with big plays and sometimes they blow up in their faces.  Last night Jay Cutler's risks paid off with the big plays and Romo's blew up in the his and the Cowboys' faces.
The two quarterbacks are play similar football, but come at it from very different personality profiles.  Romo has the easy-going, "it's going to be OK", look, while Cutler is the brooding, cursing, fit-throwing passer.  Both are going to be fabulous at times and ugly-as-all-get-out at times.  I would rather be around the easy-go-lucky guy than the other option, if I had a choice, but neither team does. 
Can either of them reach the pinnacle of wild play-making and reach the Super Bowl like the future Hall-Of-Famer Brett Favre?  Either could probably get hot and put a three or four game stretch together in the playoffs, but the odds are very low for either, since their hot play must coincide with their defense playing their best at the same time.
At the beginning of the season, I asked the question if this is Romo's last ride and unless he pulls it together very quickly, it probably will be.  And for Cutler, people will put up with unhappy people for a little while or while they are winning, but unless the Chicago Bears go deep in the playoffs, it will probably be a short run in the windy city for him as well.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Jets Answer: Sanchez + Tebow

The New York Jets are starting to relive too many of their years past, dropping their last game 34-0.  They started a soap opera in the off-season by trading for Tim Tebow, the left-handed H-Back and even though they are 2-2, it has looked bad enough to feel like they are 0-4.  Head Coach Rex Ryan can feel it and anyone watching his post-game press conference knows he feels it.
While not seeing every snap of every game, I'm not sure of Tebow's exact play count thus far, but I have seen them take Sanchez off the field and use him as a true "wildcat" QB a few times.  I have also seen them leave Sanchez on the field and use Tebow as a decoy receiver, but the answer for the Jets woes is to use both of them on the field, but to motion Tebow into the backfield like a running back and use him as a slash player.  Half the time pitch it to him and let him be a dangerous runner on the edge with the ability to throw the ball and the other half a decoy.  On those decoy throws, a quick passing game for Sanchez and other runs to their running backs will all be more successful as the defense absolutely has to react to Tebow's pre-snap movement into the backfield.  If Tebow's 250 pound body takes a pitch on the move to his left, there better be quick support from both LB's and DB's, or he will gain a lot of yards on the edge and when they come up to help and abandon the WR's and TE's for run support, he can flip it over the top.  And done quickly and correctly, the defensive front must also react and then create different creases for their running backs.
So many of the teams that have some form of the "wildcat" take their normal QB off the field, but keeping that QB and using an athletic QB in motion will create more big plays than what it has in its original form.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jaws 14 Years Behind The Times

Ron Jaworski has been analyzing NFL play and its players for many years and I have always respected his experience and knowledge.  He even made a list of the top 30 quarterbacks in the league this summer, listing reasons for their rankings based on his study and analysis of each.
Unfortunately, while assessing Peyton Manning's early season struggles with the Denver Broncos and his new offense, he said Peyton hasn't quite returned to form and he knows this because Manning's passes are wobbling a bit.  He said he likes to see a nice tight spiral.  The problem with Jaworski's analysis is that Peyton Manning has been leading the NFL in passing for the last 14 years and has yet to throw a tight spiral. 
How could a learned QB critic not possibly know that Peyton Manning does not throw a spiral?  I train a number of little kids and when we start to talk about who to watch for proper mechanics and I say that Eli has better mechanics than Peyton, they almost always light up and say, "Ya, Peyton Manning's ball is wobbly!"  Too bad Jaws doesn't have the careful eye of today's youth. 
For those of you that want to know why Peyton Manning does not throw a tight spiral it is because he has too high of an overhead release and is too far forward too early as well.  This is why his right leg comes far off the ground when he throws and leans over his straight left a little too much.  Eli has better weight transfer and stays back longer, balanced between his feet while beginning the throwing motion.

Officially NFL Sucks

I have been trying to give the replacement officials the benefit of the doubt in many of the situations that have arisen in this early part of the season, reasoning that officials have always been controversial and always will be, but following the Monday Night debacle all debate is over.
The NFL officially sucks with these replacement officials changing the outcome of football games. 
The Green Bay Packers won this game in more ways than one, but the one that matters was on the final play of regulation, where an interception was turned into a touchdown by one of the officials, while the other was signaling touchback.  The biggest travesty is it was upheld on replay and the Seattle Seahawks literally steal a win.  Equally bad was the pass interference call just a few plays before that allowed the Seahawks to overcome a 1st and 38.  The Packers defender did not do anything to the streaking receiver and was flagged for the foul that gave Seattle a first and 10.  I think the reciever/defensive back play has been the most egregious problem for the replacement officials, with no one really knowing what is and what is not pass interference.
The NFL owners replaced the players in 1987, so replacing the officials was a no brainer, but the integrity of the game is now at stake and the owners need to make things move along in negotiations.  It doesn't mean fold your cards and give in, but get the arbitrater to arbitrate and make a deal.  Enough is enough!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Best Hail Mary Ever?

I have watched Doug Flutie's and Kordell Stewart's great hail mary passes for many years, but locked away on an old VHS tape is arguably (not really arguable, this is the best) the best hail mary pass of ALL-TIME (no bias, no sarcasm)!  Now thanks to the iphone, a quick and easy video made from the TV and uploaded to YOUTUBE and now everyone can see for themselves the best game-winner (hard to categorize this laser-guided bomb as a hail mary).
The University of Nevada-Reno (now Nevada) was the #1 ranked team in Division I-AA in 1988 and Weber State was tied at 31-31 with :06 seconds left in the game at their own 43 yard line.  On the last play of the game, quarterback Jeff Carlson rolls out to the left and launches a 70 yard pass to Todd Beightol in the end zone to win the game 37-31.
You be the judge.  Flutie, Stewart or Carlson, who gets your vote for best game-winning toss?

Tony Romo's Last Ride?

Tony Romo seems like one of the nicer guys and best paid player in pro sports.  He plays QB for "America's Team".  He recently became a husband and even more recently a father.  Romo seemingly has it all and maybe he does, but 2012 may be his last chance to take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl or at least the NFC Championship game or he may just be a quarterback for another team sooner rather than later.
He got Dallas off on the right foot in the NFL's "kickoff" game last Wednesday by beating a inter-division foe in the defending Super Bowl champs.  The next time they play the Giants, I expect a better game from New York, but Romo can do amazing things in the regular season.  His problem has been the playoffs and the Cowboys new stadium is too big and too expensive not to have a team that reaches deep into the playoffs every year.  Cowboys owner Jerry Jones can't charge the big bucks needed to fill all those luxury boxes without great success between the lines on Sundays (well mostly Sundays).
I root for good guys and Tony Romo seems to be one of those good guys.  I hope he takes his current team to the promised land and not start over with another one in another city.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Brady Best Over Time

Peyton Manning has won the MVP a record number of times and he deserves all the credit in the world, but it is Tom Brady that has really been the best quarterback in the league for over a decade!  Not only has he won 3 Super Bowls, but he has been within two Eli Maning miracle throws away from two more.  He led the Patriots to an unprecedented 16 game undefeated regular season in one of those losses and set the season record for touchdown passes just for kicks.
Others will put up bigger numbers, but he has kept up his team's impressive winning ways without big name running backs or receivers most of the time, playing in the Super Bowl last year with Danny Woodhead as the go-to guy in the backfield and Wes Welker becoming his top target.
2012 is almost upon us and without knowing who the new names on the roster, it is a given that Brady will have his Patriots ready to make another run to the big game.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Far Can Matt Cassel Take Chiefs?

The Kansas City Chiefs haven't made much noise in the NFL for a few years and have had quite the coaching carousel recently, but I think Romeo Crennel and company have started to put together quite a nice group that might have Peyton Manning rethinking his move to the AFC West.
Matt Cassel doesn't get the most hype in the league and for good reason.  He came out of USC after backing up Matt Leinart his entire career and fell in behind Tom Brady at the Patriots, but when he got his chance he certainly made the most of it and cashed in with the Kansas City Chiefs.
What I like about Cassel is his QB mechanics.  He is one of the more balanced quarterbacks throughout his drop, set-up and delivery.  He has good arm strength and now that the Chiefs have surrounded him with a very good cast of characters on the offensive side of the ball, the Chiefs may have a lot to say this season.  Trust the Romeo Crennel will put a quality product on the field from the defensive side and the running tandem of Jammal Charles and the resurgent Peyton Hillis, along with scat-back Dexter McCluster, even if they don't win big in 2012, they will be very exciting.
Even though I do believe Cassel has very good mechanics generally, I posted this photo of Cassel to show something that I do not like and that is leaning forward and lowering your shoulders to stop.  As you can see, this causes the back foot to reach out and possibly slip and the balance to be completely forward so that the QB is not ready to throw a pass if needed.  Watching Cassel play, he does not do this all of the time and hopefully will continue to play with his body balanced between his legs (shoulders and hips stay level) even while stopping at the deepest part of his drop and the Chiefs will give us a great show this year.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Tebow Trying To Improve Fundamentals

Living in the fishbowl that is the New York media is quite difficult for one of the biggest stars on the planet, just ask Timmy Tebow.  Running without a shirt hasn't been news for thousands of athletes over the years, but when Tebow does it, it becomes a hit viral video.
Beyond the humor of it hides the fact that he has become so big in the upper body and overall, that he really isn't considering himself a prospect to play quarterback in the NFL like any other QB in the league.  His arm swing is very slow and no snap to his delivery.  The decision-making process is obviously still a struggle for him and if you don't have the passing piece or the decision-making piece, bulking up for the running piece may be his best option, but he certainly won't be competing for a starting spot on a team that plays a pro-style system now or in the future, unless he undergoes an "Extreme Tebow Makeover" of his body and mind.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Barkely In Great Position In Senior Year

Matt Barkley will be talked about all season long in much the same way Andrew Luck was last year, as the consensus #1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Of the list of other QB contenders that might wrest the top spot from him, it doesn’t seem likely that he will not be the first passer gone and likely the first of all players.

I was glad to see Barkely stay for his senior season, as I am to see others do the same, like Tebow did after winning the national championship in his junior year. Tebow needed to get better, Barkely probably had a couple of other reasons and getting better wasn’t at the top of the list. With USC’s disciplinary problems, Barkely has quarterbacked the Trojans through a tough time and kept them at the elite level they were when they were doing the things that got them into trouble in the first place and that was no easy task and seeing it through to his senior year had more personal value to him. Secondly, with Luck and Robert Griffin III in this year’s draft, waiting until 2013 would give him a much better chance of getting the #1 slot.

Most players benefit from staying an extra year in the college game for both personal and physical maturation, but if the money is right, it is time to go no matter what sport you play, because you can always go back and get the degree, but you can’t always guarantee what might happen from one year to the next. Stay healthy this year Mr. Barkely and get some insurance.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Matt Flynn Can Get It Done

Matt Flynn is listed at 6'2, 225 lbs.  The new Seattle Seahawks quarterback fighting for the starting job against Tavaris Jackson and even 3rd round pick Russell Wilson, who is just 5'10.  Flynn doesn't seem like he is as big as listed while playing and has flown under the radar for his brief career until his breakout game last season against the Detroit Lions.
After that game Flynn became one of the hottest free agents this off-season.  Watching that game recently on NFL Network, it was a spectacular shoot-out between Flynn and Matthew Stafford, I took note of Flynn's mechanics and footwork.  He has the goods to become a solid, if not very good, starter in the NFL.
Many quarterbacks are sloppy in the final stages of setting up to throw and take extra steps and change their balance to stop the dropback and transition to throw.  Matt Flynn showed a number of times that he keeps his balance very well on his last step, with minimal wasted movement and gets rid of the ball.  There was a play late in the game off play-action where he would have been hit in the pocket if he had taken any extra steps, but he was clean, got rid of the ball and even though it was a bit behind the receiver, because it came out efficiently, the receiver caught it before the defender could get there and ended with another TD for Flynn.
Matt Flynn won't be flashy in Seattle (is anything flashy in Seattle?) and he will have to fight off the athletic Jackson and solid Wilson for the job, but he will be a guy that can run an offense efficiently and give the Seahawks a chance to win.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tebow Gaining, Freeman Losing Weight For 2012

A few weeks ago, Tim Tebow made news about continuing to add bulk to his already bulky frame.  Anyone else in the football world makes less news and much less has been made of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman slimming down for the upcoming year.
By adding weight and strength, Tebow is basically saying that he isn't serious about playing quarterback full-time in the NFL or at least not for the New York Jets this year.  Tebow would do well to emulate Rocky Balboa in Rocky III, when he took to the pool and other means by which to create quickness.  He is plenty big, even if he lost 15 pounds of his 250 lbs. body, to withstand an NFL season as a "slash" type option QB.  Tebow has a slow arm swing to begin with and needs to understand the difference of snapping his elbow to create power and speed and not swinging his entire arm over and around to throw the football.
In the meantime, on the west coast of Florida, huge QB Josh Freeman has taken another tack to improve his chances of playing better in the fall.  He has dropped significant weight and gotten a haircut and I applaud both.  First, he was pudgy and does not need to be above 260 lbs.  Secondly, he needs to mature and his flopsy-mopsy hairdo was doing nothing for creating the persona of being serious on the field.  Life is about image as Andre Agassi drilled into our heads for so many years from the tennis courts and so it is on the football field as well.  How people perceive your leadership and competitiveness is as important and many times more important than reality.  Losing weight and cropping the hair to give the impression of a more business-like approach will do him and his team well this year.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wisconsin QB Impresses

Another smallish quarterback stepped into the stature-challenged friendly confines of the FFCA.  Jon Gruden has never interviewed a QB he didn't love deeply and Wisconsin's Russell Wilson is now in this growing list. 
Gruden hammered the "too short" complaint against this very effective, successful and impressive young man to make the point of how good he has been at both North Carolina State and Wisconsin, even playing behind the biggest line in college football with the Badgers.
I haven't paid much attention to him because I saw him as a "running quarterback" as he looked like a Nebraska style QB many times, but Gruden's QB Camp gave me more exposure to him and would certainly like to have him as a backup on my team.  I don't know if he will ever get a real chance to take a starter's spot in the NFL, but his intelligence and competitive spirit will keep him around for a while.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Can Kellen Moore Move To Next Level?

Every measurable screams average (at best).  But, Kellen Moore, the record-breaking QB from Boise State only lost a couple of games in his career at Boise, who only recently became a national power and that had much to do with the left-handed quarterback.
He reminds me a Ty Detmer type players.  Detmer is also of small stature and relatively weak arm strength, but won the Heisman Trophy playing for BYU, and had a decent NFL career.
Kellen Moore's lack of arm strength has something to do with his Tebow-like mechanics (see photo from combine), but unlike Tebow, he is extremely accurate and has used his zen-like instincts to get rid of the ball quickly and efficiently to the right guy and allowed his Bronco teammates to make the big plays.
Because of his arm strength, he will probably go undrafted, but will most likely win a 3rd string job with somebody come September.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Gruden, Luck and Spider 3

Gruden's QB Camp specials have been entertaining and enlightening the last couple of years and it continues with this year's batch of top-notch quarterback talent.  Recently in the "hot seat" was Stanford QB Andrew Luck, thought to be the most prepared and pro-ready quarterback in many years.
What Gruden pointed out in film study though is that even the best make mistakes, costly mistakes, unforgiveable mistakes.  Gruden showed his star pupil a series of plays called "Spider 3, Y Banana", where Luck fakes a reverse hand-off to the tailback and throws an easy flat route to the "always open" fullback.  He pounded his point home about what the read and progression is supposed to be.  Then he showed him the USC game, where they were knotted at 27 late in the game.  Stanford's coach calls "Spider 3, Y Banana" and instead of going through his proper progression, the great All-American quarterback decides to do his own thing and throws backside to a curl route, which is jumped by the defensive back and returned for USC's go-ahead touchdown.
Luck and his teammates were able to go back down the field and save the game, but Gruden had made his point extremely well.  Do what you are supposed to do!  Go through your progression and take the easy, open throw!  Great players will make great plays, but those come after the play breaks down, not before.
Coaches spend a lot of time designing plays and need the players to execute the game plan!
Next up for Gruden, RG3!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Feast Or Famine For Jets?

Acquiring Tim Tebow from the Broncos could be a real boon for the New York Jets if used properly, but most likely will become a nightmare before the end of the 2012 season and the coaches and fans will have an equal hand in what could have been a dream for all involved. 
If Tebow is used as a motion receiver coming across the formation quickly, causing the linebackers to respect quick pressure on contain, sometimes getting the ball and others simply a decoy, Mark Sanchez and the the New York Jets offense could be very formidable.  But the more likely scenario is taking Sanchez off the field or making him a worthless decoy as a receiver, which will not give them any advantage.
The real debacle is going to be the Jets fans and their reaction to Sanchez when he misses an early pass or two.  There will be a significant amount of fans calling for Tebow to get in there as the regular QB and that will start dividing the locker room and eventually lead to a losing situation for all involved.
Done properly, more Jets apparel and merchandise will be sold than ever before and the on field success will match it, but the more likely scenario is an ugly divorce in the not too distant future.  Then the smiles will be wiped off both of the GQ coverboys' faces.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Timmy and the Jets

While being quite disappointed that the Denver Broncos and John Elway didn't want to keep Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning on the same team and take advantage of both of their abilities.  There wouldn't have been a threat to Manning and would only have been replaced because of injury.  We all saw what happened to the Indianapolis Colts when they went to a back up QB, so why not go back to what took the Broncos to the playoffs last year if Manning goes down with a serious injury.  Who are the Broncos going to hand the franchise to if Manning goes down early in 2012?  They had a better backup plan than probably any other team in the league and one that was proven successful.
Instead, Elway and Company shipped Tebow to NYC and the Jets, where they just inked Mark Sanchez to a lot of guaranteed money.  This should secure him as their starter, but with his up and down performances, Jets fans will be quick with the hook (boos after their first 3 and out each Sunday) and will cause all kinds of contension in the locker room, coaches room and Big Apple in general.  At least New York is big enough to handle all of it and it sure will be fun to watch!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Josh Johnson Should Be Top Of FA Lists

His name hasn't been on the lists of hot free agents, but a weapon that any team could use is Buccaneers QB Josh Johnson. He is 6'3 with 4.4-4.5 speed that can play quarterback and be a "slash" wide receiver, backfield motion guy for special plays. If Peyton Manning chooses somewhere other than Denver to play then Josh Johnson to the Broncos would be their best option for not only having another option for keeping their "Tebow Offense" in place, but have a key weapon for creating more space for everybody, if he was brought in motion and Tebow faked a handoff to him or gave it to him now and then. His run/pass options would be phenomenal! I thought the Philadelphia Eagles could have used Michael Vick in this same capacity in his first year back from prison. It would have created much more room for Donovan McNabb and neutralized the D-Linemen and LB's just enough so that they wouldn't be able to get upfield so fast. Johnson's starting experience and numbers weren't great in Tampa, but that had more to do with the overall state of the Buccaneers offense than anything else.  And when Josh Freeman took over the reins at QB, they only put him in on a couple of run plays from shotgun.  They also threw a deep ball down the sidelines where he had badly beaten the defensive back, but Freeman threw it out of bounds.
The Denver Broncos should have him on speed dial in case they lose Manning and they probably will, since rarely does the team with the first visit actually get the player.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Yoda and Luke Should Unite In Denver

Luke Skywalker battled many stormtroopers and worse for two "Star Wars" movies before meeting Yoda and becoming a Jedi Knight. Tim Tebow did well in his second year to lead the Broncos to a playoff win last season, but having Peyton Manning mentor Tebow for two or three seasons would be the best thing to extend Tebow's career and have him emerge a "Jedi Quarterback", able to do far more than he would be able to do if he just keeps doing it the way he is now. The Broncos know they cannot win regularly enough in the fashion that they played the second half of the year and although Tebow is extremely durable and tough, his bravado won't hold up year in and year out in the NFL. And it is much easier to find QB's that fit the standard model of pass first, run if necessary, versus ground and pound with the QB and slip in a play-action now and then for a big play. Finding another player like Tebow to run his style offense is actually impossible, because there is only one Tim Tebow. So, no matter how much you love Tebow, you can't blame the Broncos brass for hedging their bets on the long-term health of their battering ram signal-caller. Of the teams seemingly in the Manning sweepstakes, the Denver Broncos seem to be the best fit for Manning to have the most success. Beating the intra-division Raiders, Chiefs and Chargers seems to be the easiest road to the playoffs and a possible run to another shot at a Super Bowl. For Tebow, he would develop his mind and probably his throwing techniques more in this scenario than any other. Unlike when Brett Favre said it was not his job to help develop Aaron Rogers, Peyton Manning wouldn't feel threatened by Tebow's presence and would probably welcome the mentoring situation. It would also be easy and fun to develop a special package for Tebow to be involved in the offense on some special plays that would help him stay involved and probably be a real "X Factor" like he was his freshman year at the University of Florida that coincidentally ended in a national championship

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Manning's Next Stop?

Jim Irsay and Peyton Manning kept it classy while making the decision to part ways official. The money that Peyton Manning commands and deserves is just too much for a team holding the #1 overall draft pick and a player like Andrew Luck at the top of the collegiate list. The Colts were the worst team in the NFL without Manning and were one of the best every year with him as their signal caller, but the intersection of the player's best interest and the team's best interest crossed, just as it has for many teams that have had to make tough decisions on their star players. The Peyton Sweepstakes odds-making are in full swing and I was saddened to read the report that says Manning is not interested in playing for the Washington Redskins. For those dreaming of an All-Manning Super Bowl are just that, dreaming. No QB has left his team this late in his career and taken the next team to the Super Bowl, although Brett Favre did come close and probably would have if it wasn't for those darned New Orleans Saints and their bounties. If Manning played in D.C., the Manning brothers would be guaranteed to play twice each year, and since the divorce is ultimately about money, everyone could cash in on those matchups. Imagine tons more of those Oreo commercials! Also, moving to D.C. now would give Peyton more time to find a nice place to stay before he moves into the White House as President of the United States in 2016 or 2020.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Should Peyton Do?

Joe Montana did it. Johnny U. did too. Namath tried it as well and I don't think it helped any of them or their legacies. Quarterback icons that leave the teams that made them icons hasn't worked out all that well in the past and I don't think it will be very good for Peyton Manning either.
The teams that will be interested in Manning's future greatness probably aren't nearly what was predicted earlier this year. Even though Manning isn't over the hill when healthy, his current health status makes him older than his real age and puts him closer to retirement than the single year that he lost this past season. Nerves are funny things and they either take a long time to regenerate or don't regenerate and the teams that will be in the bidding for his services are taking a real and risky gamble on what he will be able to do and for how long he will be able to do it.
I for one would like to see him work things out in Indianapolis or simply rest on his incredible laurels and ride off into the broadcast booth with his head held high and his Super Bowl ring shiny.
Brett Favre was the ultimate tough guy and although he still played at a high level and the Vikings wouldn't have competed into the NFC Championship without him, he should have finished with class, instead of something far less. The teams that were interested in Favre are the same kinds of teams that will be interested in Manning. A small few that think they are one year and one formerly great arm and mind away from the Big Game. Those would be this year's wildcard teams or one win out of the playoffs and ones without young superstar QB's. It isn't a big list and the history of that working well isn't super, so let's hope that Irsay and Manning can stay classy and get it done for everyone's sake.

Monday, February 27, 2012

R G III Better Than Vick?

Michael Vick has an MVP trophy and took the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship game early in his career and even got himself back to the top of the league after taking some time off in solitary, but Robert Griffin III, the most recent super-fast QB to hit the NFL, who is just as fast as Vick, a little bit bigger and a more polished QB at this point in his career. Hit potential is off the charts!
Sub 4.4 40's at the combine get scouts and everyone else drooling when the player is a wide receiver or a defensive back, but when it is a QB, it unchartered territory, sans Michael Vick. With Cam Newton's phenonemenal rookie year, offensive coordinators are letting their minds run wild with the options available with that kind of passing and running ability. Newton's Carolina Panthers did not win many games last year, but they are arguably one of the most exciting tickets for next season. RG III could make a lackluster team at the top of the draft, an extremely exciting ticket for next year as well.
Vick, Newton, RG III and Tim Tebow (if Tebow can improve his passing skills and reduce his abusive running style) really are the new breed prototype for the future of the league. I don't ever see the NFL not interested in great pocket passers and I'm not sure Andrew Luck's 4.59 40 make him simply a pure pocket passer or not, but great passers with great athletic ability are certainly the future as well as the NOW!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Andrew Luck has been the consensus #1 overall pick in the NFL draft for more than a year now. Last year he decided to do the college thing one more time and Cam Newton took the top spot and the millions that go with it. With the NFL's new CBA following the long lockout, Newton's millions were far less than the previous number one's for quite a few years, so Luck didn't miss out on nearly as much as usual.
He didn't disappoint in the college ranks and continues to be way out in the lead as the front-runner for the Indianapolis Colts come April.
With Newton's success, the mania surrounding Tim Tebow's ascension in Denver and Robert Griffin's Heisman Trophy win, some wonder about changes to the long-held model of the prototype NFL quarterback. While there may be a subtle shift to more athletic QB's at the game's highest level, passers will remain the most coveted, especially as less and less pro style QB's are being developed from Pee Wee to college.
Next to the Manning brothers, Andrew Luck looks to be the most well prepared player to successfully transition to the NFL. Cam Newton may be the most exciting player to watch over the next decade and very well may make the Carolina Panthers a very successful team on the way, but Luck's demeanor and understanding of the game should make him a super solid performer and probably less likely to get injured during the same time frame.