Friday, December 20, 2013

Treon Harris Leads America's Best High School Team

Just wrapped up another great season of high school football on Bright House Sports Network in the Tampa, Florida area a couple weeks back and the Florida State High School Championships last weekend, so this is my first Friday since mid August with nothing to do.
It was a great pleasure to call five of the eight state championship games and watch the #1 and #3 teams in the nation, Booker T. Washington and Miami Central, respectively.  Both repeated as state champions this year and deserve their national rankings.  Booker T. beat Central early in the year and deserve their top ranking as well!
What caught my eye over those two championship weekends, other than many amazing high school players at every position on the field, was Booker T. Washington's QB Treon Harris.  If you like the way Johnny Manziel plays football, you will especially enjoy Harris.  He is coached by both his father (head) and brother (offensive coordinator) and is a passer with incredible escapability powers.  He is only about 6'0, maybe, but Jimbo Fisher and Florida State University are glad he is coming their way soon.  I'm sure Fisher is in no hurry to get Jameis Winston on to the NFL, but be sure that the Seminoles will be in good hands when it's Harris' turn to take over the helm for FSU.
It is great to take a breath here at the holidays and be thankful for so many things, because, as we referenced many times over the last two weekends, these high school football teams will only take a short break and be right back into their preparation to get back to Orlando next December.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mike Glennon Lighting Up Bucs World

Mike Glennon was drafted in the third round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year and there was quite a bit of wondering why Head Coach Greg Schiano would do such a thing with a young "franchise" quarterback in Josh Freeman as the starting QB and plenty of needs on the rest of the team.  Schiano made a few curious comments and a few clarifications the rest of the sping, always assuring that Freeman was the team's starting quarterback.
After a series of miscues by Freeman came to public knowledge and maybe a few that didn't, a very poor start for both the team and the QB, the Bucs sent Freeman to the Vikings and elevated their tall and skinny rookie QB Mike Glennon to the starter's role. 
Glennon wasn't good enough to lift the Bucs to the first win of the season or for the next few weeks, but he continued to show promise and a better consistency than the fifth year Freeman had done.  Finally, after an 0-8 start and most fans starting to just hope for the first pick in next year's draft, the Bucs entire team turned a corner, led by the play of that same tall, skinny QB from North Carolina State.
With almost perfect QB ratings the last few weeks and absolutely no interceptions, the Bucs have now won 3 games in a row and behind those great QB ratings and defensive turnovers as well as special teams turnovers, the Bucs look like they can play with anybody. 
3-8 isn't very good, but to the depths of where the Bucs had fallen, it looks really good!  There are some very tough games still on the schedule and I doubt many believe they could run the table, but Coach Schiano looks like he has saved his job for this year.  And if the Bucs don't have one of the top picks in next year's draft, Glennon's great play may have saved his own job as well!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tannehill Set For Good Things

Things didn't work out too well the other night for the Dolphins or Ryan Tannehill, last year's first round pick for Miami.  Not to fret, the Dolphins are still 3-1 and Tannehill is only going to get better.  What I really like about him is his overall athleticism and his tight, efficient throwing motion.  He will continue to improve as a QB as he adds snaps to his resume and his mechanics will keep him close to his targets.

Peyton Manning Out of This World

Peyton Manning (cropped).jpgWhen John Elway jettisoned Tim Tebow for Peyton Manning, who was trying to return from serious neck issues, there were plenty of questions left to be answered.  2012 was a pretty good year for Manning and the Broncos and could have been magical if not for a defensive brain-fart in the AFC Championship game.
Fast forward to 2013 and Manning has taken the new rules of patty-cake treatment for wide receivers catching passes and exploited it to what may turn out to be the most prolific and efficient season on record, which is no easy task.
Through four games, he has a record 16 TD passes and is just making it look to easy.  There really is no answer from the defensive side, other than to beat a lineman and knock him down before he is ready to throw.  But, he has made that very difficult as well by getting rid of the ball quickly and keeping the offense running at a very high tempo and thus keep the defensive linemen tired and frustrated.
If the Broncos offensive linemen can keep Peyton upright all year, John Elway may have made the  managerial move of the century--albeit only 13 years thus far!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Buckskins Might Be Better Name Than Redskins

I am a traditionalist.  I like to keep things the way they have been unless there is a compelling reason to change and I am usually politically incorrect.  I would rather the Redskins keep on being the Redskins, just because that is what they have been.  I believe that team mascots are revered above all to their followers, so being a fan of the Redskins means you hold them in high regard.  That said, there is no easy way to make the argument that the term itself isn't and wasn't derogatory from the start.  Having a specific race of people as a mascot, although it might represent a mighty and fierce force, it is a mascot on the same level with mostly animals and that is not a great comparison.  Pirates, Raiders, Cowboys and the like are not a race of people, but a characature of a lifestyle!
I have been doing some reading out of a bible that I purchased a few months ago called The Founder's Bible, by David Barton.  It details much of the history of America's founders and their struggle for independence from Britain and how so much relates to the bible.  It talks about George Washington and his struggles to keep a fighting force together and about his divine providence (a reference to Psalms 90).  How he was shot at many times by expert marksmen, but failed to be injured.  And how following these battles, he even met up with some of the enemy forces who told him that he was protected by God, because they had shot multiple times at him and couldn't hit him, even though they never missed a target like that and they just wanted to meet the man protected by God.
In one of the stories, Washington took BUCKSKINS into the battle with him.  Buckskins are horses with a beautiful tan color.  What a great replacement for the Redskins name!  Buckskins still hold the reference to color, but now it would be on a beautiful horse that had been used in battle to help save the revolution and create the United States of America!  There is no better mascot for the team in the nation's capital, named after the great general and President of the United States!  It would be a great change and it would end all argument.  Not only that, it would help preserve some history as many would do a little homework to find out about the buckskins!
I know many will put their nose up to this suggestion as well, as you can never please everyone, but I do believe it would be a change of which we could all be proud!  And if you don't like that one, how about just making them the Generals, once again referencing George Washington and the history of the successful battle for America and all Americans!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Patriots, Belichick Unsure How They Will Use Tebow

Players find different roles on their teams.  Sometimes a wide receiver becomes a kick-off return specialist and other players that don't find starting roles, find their niche on special teams, but rarely does a team sign or draft a player without knowing what they plan to do with him.  After being on the open market for a number of weeks without a suitor, Tim Tebow signed with the New England Patriots and Head Coach Bill Belichick said he doesn't know where Tebow will fit in.
The common thought is that the Patriots were one of the few places Tebow could go because of their ability to handle players that bring extra scrutiny, albeit the past players brought in had negative associations for their ability to get along.  Tebow gets along quite well it seems, but brings a storm of media no other player in the NFL does. 
With Tom Brady entrenched at QB, there is no story to write about Tebow moving in like everyday in New York.  The story is will offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels go out of his way to incorporate him into the offense in a way that will actually make Tebow the terror that he was in college?  Tony Sporano had no plan to integrate him into the offense and the weak effort to run a few spread option plays were pitiful. 
Remember back to the beginning of the "Wildcat" with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown of the Miami Dolphins.  It was successful first because no one had seen it and it caught teams by surprise.  Secondly, it was successful because defenses were forced to defend two points of attack with two good runners.  The New York Jets could have been a force on offense if they had used Tebow as the Ronnie Brown runner coming in fast-motion across the formation past Brady.  Brady can give it to Tebow on the move to his left in a run/pass option, where the corner is threatened by a 250 pound fullback.  Come up to tackle Tebow and leave the receiver uncovered and Tebow will dump the ball just like he did at the University of Florida.  Stay back and cover the receiver and he will hurt you big-time on the ground.  After Tebow does that a couple of time, Brady fakes it to Tebow and pulls it back out and finds his receivers more open than usual because they had to react to Tebow taking the ball outside.  This offense would actually look a lot like what Tebow was doing with the Gators when he either gave it to Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps (two of the fastest guys on the planet) and pulled it out and ran it or threw it to an open Aaron Hernandez (yes, the Pats TE).  Josh McDaniels made Tebow a first round pick and caused much of this problem, because if Tebow had been a fourth round pick (where his QB ability justified his draft status), there would not have been nearly the expectations that have been on this player that if used properly can actually have the value of his original draft status, just not at the quarterback position!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

New Football Camps for Girls Only!

Summer football camps across America number in the thousands for boys playing the nation's favorite sport!  But football camps for girls playing flag football number exactly zero!! 
Gridiron Girls is going to change that very soon.  At the end of June, Gridiron Girls will offer its first 3 day football camp exclusively for girls 10 and up ( on the campus of Tampa Catholic High School.
Former NFL QB Jeff Carlson has teamed up with experienced flag football high school coach JJ Koski to give girls a chance to get the quality teaching, drills, techniques and strategies that until now have only been offered to boys. 
Title IX has been in place for 40 years now and opened an amazing door of opportunity for young women to explore their passion for sports at the collegiate level.  Unfortunately, flag football has not quite made the jump to college, but Gridiron Girls is hoping to be a major piece in the puzzle to breaking onto the collegiate scene very soon.  But in the meantime, let's get the girls game as good as it can be, so get out to the Gridiron Girls Football Camp on Friday June 28th (June 28-30).  Sign up today at GirlsOnly!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

NFL Draft QB Follow-Up

As I wrote before the draft, I didn't really believe any of the 2013 draft class was worthy of a first round pick.  The Buffalo Bills selection of Florida State's EJ Manuel in the middle of the round caught many by surprise, including me.  I wrote for that Manuel might be a good option for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third or fourth round, after Oklahoma's Landry Jones.  I based that opinion on mechanics.  Jones has solid mechanics, maybe the best in the draft, while Manuel is inconsistent with his.  Manuel has a bigger upside, probably the biggest in the draft and that is why the Bills reached a little bit with the former Seminole signal-caller.
Geno Smith became this year's Dan Marino/Aaron Rogers, though both Marino and Rogers were actual possibilities to go early in the first round and fell.  It sounds as if Geno Smith was being misled into believing that he was not only first round worth, but early first round.  I didn't see it, as you can read in an earlier posting right here at, and neither did any of the 32 NFL football clubs.  After publicly saying he wasn't going to stay in New York for Day 2 of the draft, someone talked some sense into him and he stayed for the New York Jets to get some photo ops on the big stage as they picked him up with the 39th pick, an appropriate landing spot and the best place he could go for an early opportunity to take over!
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a relatively surprising 3rd round pick of North Carolina State's Mike Glennon.  The tallest QB in the draft is slightly bigger than Bucs starter Josh Freeman and while he shouldn't push for playing time this year, if Freeman falters in his contract year, Glennon may get a prime shot to take over in Tampa in 2014!
USC's Matt Barkley probably didn't think he would last as long as he did, falling to the fourth round and the Philadelphia Eagles.  I think Barkley could end up a solid starter in the league, but doubt that he will ever achieve greatness.  The New York Giants added Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, thought to possibly go to his college coach's Buffalo Bills, but he will get a chance to learn behind Eli Manning, a pretty nice place to be.
The Pittsburgh Steelers picked up the aforementioned Landry Jones, where he will be given the proper development time to start fighting Big Ben Roethlisberger in a couple years, the way it should be done.
Overall, this year's average crop of slingers fell into some pretty good situations for success in the coming years.  Geno Smith may not be too happy about what he has gotten himself into or how early he will be getting booed in New York, as I'm sure Mark Sanchez is still surprised how fast the wheels have fallen off of his career that looked so bright not too long ago.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

QB's Struggle At All-Star Competition

I love compeitions.  That is why I named my company America's Best Quarterback.  I wanted to develop a series of competitions for all QB's (young and old, pro, x-pro and amateur) to compete across the country and see who was the best.  We had a great even a few years ago, but just didn't have the abitlity to grow it the way I had envisioned. 
I happened upon a college All-Star competition this afternoon that pitted "teams" against each other.  The NFL prospect QB's (EJ Manuel, Jordan Rodgers, Mike Glennon, Ryan Nassib).  Each of the four had issues dropping a single ball into a large net only 20 yards away and each of them had problems for different mechanical reasons.
EJ Manuel opened his body up to the throw (his chest was facing the target before his started his throwing motion) so that he reach back behind his head too far.  Stay "sqare" to the target with your your front hip and shoulder pointed at the target as long as possible (like a golfer) for the best accuracy.  You can see in the photo that he does this in real football as well.  Opening up like this reduces his accuracy and power.  He seems to have enough natural power, but even though his college completion percentage was very good, in the NFL, this mechanical flaw will haunt him.
Jordan Rodgers completed the task faster than the others, but he too had accuracy issues.  He drops the ball on first movement and then brings the ball behind his head and back, pointing the front end of the ball to the sky, creating an elongated delivery and making it hard to bring the ball back down the target in time.  He should watch his brother's mechanics a lot more closely and mimic those, where Aaron Rogers keeps the front tip of the ball facing the ground much more often by keeping his ball on top of his elbow with a straight wrist (which is the best way to throw).
Mike Glennon embarrassed himself in this meaningless competition.  He threw the ball short of the target many times because he was throwing directly at it and not giving it any loft.  This was an OK strategy as the ball would have gone in the net, but he was short and didn't correct his error.  The reason he was short was because he kept throwing with a stiff left knee.  Like shooting a free throw in basketball with stiff legs, the ball will be very flat.  To get proper trajectory, the shooter should have some bend in the knees, which fixes balance.  QB's should always have bend in their hips and knees.  The front knee bends even more after release and then goes straight after the ball is well out of the QB's hand.
Ryan Nassib had very much the same problem as Jordan Rodgers, but even more so.  He takes the ball so far behind his head he almost touches the ball to his back.  It is very difficult to bring the ball around in time to make consistently accurate throws and when he meets NFL quality competition, he and others that throw like him, will find that they don't have the luxury to take that much time throwing the ball.  These type throwers either get hit while throwing more often than others or decide they can't make the throw and pull the ball down more often, which causes more sacks and broken plays.
Ultimately these manufactured QB competitions don't prove anything about how a player plays when there are 22 guys on the field, but they are fun to watch and do
uncover some mechanical issues for them to improve so that their transition to the next level will give them their best chance at success!

Look Out For Landry Jones

Following Sam Bradford at Oklahoma wasn't an easy task and Landry Jones did not keep the Sooners in the National Title hunt like he or any OU fan would have liked, but he may just be the best NFL prospect in this year's QB draft class.
After watching him on "Gruden's QB Camp" and reading Charlie Casserly's thoughts about Jones' prospects, I too believe he is at the top of a relatively mediocre class of hopefuls.  Jones throws with great balance, ala Joe Flacco.  Because of this, he has better accuracy than most of his peers.
After showing Jones some poor decisions during his college career, Gruden pointed out that he needs to learn how to give up on some plays and not turn the ball over or make bad decisions trying to do too much.  If he can learn this philosophy, he has the throwing mechanics and ability to make a very successful move to the next level.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Train Hard Swim Hard

I read an article a few weeks ago about San Fransisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh being a bit concerned that his new star quarterback might be spending a little bit too much time in the weight room getting a little bit too muscled up in the off-season.
When I was in high school, my coach told me to lay off the weights for the same concern of Harbaugh.  I did lay off the weights for a short time, but went right back to them and never stopped trying to get as strong as possible, but I did add stretching into my lifting routine throughout the training session and always maintained really good flexibility in my shoulders.  The other thing that I did and recommend to every QB regardless of how muscular or strong you are and that is swimming.  Swimming every stroke (freestlye, back stroke, breast stroke and butterfly) is a great, great workout and a fantastic way to maintain flexibility while building strength in parts of your body that you cannot really hit with weights alone.
If Tim Tebow really wants to take playing QB in the NFL seriously, he should take up a very rigorous swimming schedule and lose about 15 pounds.  He has a slow arm swing and swimming and weight loss would probably help with both.
As for Colin Kaepernick, I don't worry much about him getting too big in the off-season, but adding swimming to his colorful off-season activities wouldn't hurt his exciting and emerging game either!

Monday, April 1, 2013

2013 QB Draft Class

The 2013 NFL Draft is one of the most unimpressive in recent memory for quarterback talent.  USC's Matt Barkley was thought to be the eventual first pick in the draft before the 2012 college football season derailed that path.  Barkley may be improving his stock a little bit coming off a major injury to his throwing arm, but the recent talk that West Virginia's Geno Smith could possibly be moving closer to that top spot held by the Kansas City Chiefs is reaching at best.
There seems to be quite a few mid-round talent QB's that should go in the second, third, fourth and later rounds with Florida State's E.J. Manuel, NC State's Mike Glennon, Tennesee's Tyler Bray and others, but none of the above should go in the first round. 
As the Tim Tebow draft showed us though, it only takes one team to make a player a first round pick, but taking Geno Smith or any of these QB's as the top pick, would continue the move the Chiefs down the unsuccessful road that they have been traveling for some time.
I wish all of these QB's the very best luck when the draft actually happens, but unless a desperate team or two make a reach beyond the real grade, we shouldn't hear their names until late on day one at best.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

49ers Coaches Blow Super Bowl

Taking nothing away from the Baltimore Ravens, but the San Fransisco 49ers' coaches made a major blunder in the waning moments of the Super Bowl that gave the advantage to the Ravens' defense with a goal-to-go situation at the 5 yard line.
The NFL and every other level of football is overly obsessed with the shotgun formation.  It certainly has its place at every level, but in short yardage situations and at or inside the five yard line are definitely not the right time or place. 
Case in point:  3rd down at the five yard line, Colin Kaepernick tried to throw a slant to his left that was broken up in the end zone.  Ravens' safety Ed Reed got an extra early jump at the line of scrimmage that wasn't called.  If Kaepernick was under center, Reed would have needed to take a left hand turn to get to the QB, but by being in shotgun, he was able to make a beeline right at Kaepernick, who was trying to get a handle on the ball and make an accurate throw.  He would have already had the ball in his hand and been able to make a better throw and had just a split second more time, increasing the odds of a winning touchdown throw.
On 4th down, the Niners took a time-out to think about their last play to either win or lose the game.  After deliberating, they chose an all or nothing fade route to the corner of the end zone.  Fade routes need to get up quickly to give the receiver a chance to catch it over his shoulder as he tiptoes inbounds.  Fades aren't that high a percentage pass to begin with, but to call it from shotgun guaranteed that the ball wouldn't get up quickly enough to be thrown properly.  Did Michael Crabtree get held?  Absolutely, but hoping the referee would call that on the final play was wishful thinking.  If the ball had gotten up earlier from being under center, the ball would have been closer to the ground and would have been much more blatant of a hold and possibly even gotten the call, but the all-or-nothing call was a very poor one to begin with.
When faced with a "win or lose" proposition, it is always a higher percentage chance to go with a multiple receiver set and a run/pass option for the QB, especially an athletic one like Kaepernick.  From the team that created "The Catch", one would think that of all the teams out there, this one would know better than to throw a fade in that situation.
Unfortunately many NFL teams are now using the shotgun in other short yardage and Red Zone situations.  This is a mistake.  The QB cannot get his hand on the ball and complete a pass as quickly as under center and cannot take advantage of missed assignments by the defense by dumping the ball for a quick two yard pick up.  The QB is asked to throw without getting his hand on the laces, increasing an errant throw and cannot get it to the receiver before he goes down the field significantly further and incurring better coverage.
The 49ers may not have completed either of their last two attempts on Super Bowl Sunday, but if they would have stayed under center like they should have, they just might still have a perfect record in those big games!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Big Joe's Day!

I'm not sure the San Fransisco 49ers could have played worse for much of Sunday's Super Bowl and I thought they would win, but the Baltimore Ravens were the best football team that day no doubt!
Joe Flacco seems to be one of the most unassuming players in the game, but he is one of the best throwers in the entire NFL!  His pinpoint accuracy sealed the victory and the start of his legacy.  Facing 3rd and about half a yard, most would think that a 6'5 QB might sneak it for the first down.  Flacco goes to the fade to Boldin.  Flacco threw a perfect pass and even with perfect defense, Boldin held onto the ball with two hands and brought it down to keep the drive and the clock moving.
I wish all of the commentators didn't spend as much time talking about Flacco's big pay day coming soon and focused more on his accomplishments.  He is already well paid and obviously will continue to be so, but he has accomplished more on the field than anyone in history, taking his team to the playoffs each of the last five years, the Super Bowl this year and now is the MVP and World Chanpion! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Ravens vs 49ers in Super Bowl

Before the kickoff of Super Bowl LXVII (47 for non-Romans) in New Orleans between the Baltimore Ravens and San Fransisco 49ers, I thought I would stick my two cents in on the eventual victor in what should be a very well matched game.
By all accounts the Ravens are being led through the playoffs on the emotion of their iconic and retiring middle linebacker Ray Lewis, who came back from a midseason triceps injury to make one final run at the Lombardi Trophy, like the one he and his team won in Tampa, Florida in 2000.  The Ravens defense has been the team's calling card for pretty much all of his 17 seasons and isn't what it once was, but they are still pretty good, but aging significantly.
The 49ers counter with great young talent that just missed this final game a year ago and responded strongly with their interesting head coach Jim Harbaugh, who took a very educated gamble on sticking with Colin Kaepernick's hot and talented hand when Alex Smith was ready to return from his concussion.  The Pistol offense is all the rage right now with the fast QB Kaepernick running it to perfection. 
Pretty solid arguments can be made for either team and the "experts" seem to be split down the middle as far as I can see.  The oddsmakers give the 49ers the edge.  In this case, I side with the oddsmakers because of the speed of the 49ers, their solid defense and the fact that the Niners have the right people running this multi-dimensional attack.  I believe over the last two weeks the 49ers coaches have come up with a plan to stop the big pass plays that have helped propel the Ravens through the playoffs as well as stop Ray Rice on the ground with their front six or seven if needed.  I really like Joe Flacco as a QB and believe he has climbed that ladder to be considered one of the best in the league, but tonight will not be the beginning of his legacy of Super Bowl wins.
So with that said, I will go with the 49ers winning a great contest 31-27!  I wouldn't go to the bank with it, but I will stick with it.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Just Say No" To Kaepernicking

In the great movie "Gladiator", Maximus tells the emperor Commodus that, "The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end."  The newest form of honoring one's self has been dubbed "Kaepernicking", when you kiss your own bicep after a great play.  Colin Kaepernick has come on like a whirlwind to finish the season in grand fashion and take the NFL by storm with his fantastic runs from the "pistol" offense and some really big throws as well.  He would do well to let others laud his performance and play the humble hero than kiss himself.  Professional players have been self-promoters for a long, long time and NFL players have been pointing to the names on their own backs for a long time as well, but all of these players would do well to learn from Tim Tebow's celebration of bowing in humble reverence to his creator, the One that made it all possible in the first place.  They may not want to follow Tebow's on-field performances, but the rest of his life would be good form!