Chad Henne

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2011 NFL Season: 10 Early Questions for NFL QB’s (Week 3)

No time like the present to dig in and ask some tough questions about performance.

Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions

  1. Why is Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco currently ranked 28th (tied with Browns’ QB Colt McCoy) with a completion percentage of 54.1%?
  2. Of the three QB’s that have thrown for over 1,000 yards this season (Brady, Brees, and Newton), which one has the biggest “upside”?
  3. Which QB with a lower completion percentage than Minnesota’s Donovan McNabb should be benched first: Jay Cutler, Chad Henne, Kyle Orton or Sam Bradford?
  4. Quarterbacks averaging less than 7 yards per attempt include Matt Ryan, Andy Dalton, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford and Donovan McNabb. Only Ryan has offensive weapons as deep and varied as Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White and Julio Jones. Is it time for a change in Atlanta — and if so, who stays, who goes?
  5. Why is Chad Henne still playing (and why is Tony Sparano still coaching)?
  6. Should we all expect Kevin Kolb to win close games by now? When does his honeymoon end with the national press? Kolb and Cam Newton are the only 2 QB’s average more than 8 yards per attempt with losing records. The Panthers lost to the Cardinals in Week 1 due, in part, to a dropped pass in the endzone at the end of the game.
  7. How many writers had to trash stories about a “gritty, tough, resilient, smart, heady and really, really gritty, tough, resilient, smart and heady” Kevin Kolb positioning the Cardinals for a playoff run after T. Jax ran over both Cardinals safeties to knock off the red birds? Kolb is as unproven today as he was when the Philadelphia faithful fawned over his every move.
  8. When is Ben Roethlisberger going to stop playing down to the level of his competition and author a blowout defense that allows his aging defense to get some rest?
  9. Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Matt Cassel lead the league in pass interceptions. Anyone covering this?
  10. Philip Rivers has thrown two interceptions in EVERY GAME THIS SEASON; his teams have always underperformed; and the Chargers are a razor’s edge away from an 0-3 start, but it’s crickets ALL AROUND the national media. Can Phil get a check up from the neck up? Is it as simple as the loss of a “security blanket”?

EXTRA CREDIT

  1. Tom Brady throws 4 picks and some analysts, I use the term loosely, are blaming receivers for failing to run routes properly…but missing Brady’s failure to finish plays and convert to defense once he surrenders the ball. Play the game the way its supposed to be played.
  2. If you’re running the Rams right now, would you rather have Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ndamukong Suh or Sam Bradford?
  3. The Texans next three games are against the Steelers, Raiders and at Baltimore. Is Matt Schaub the guy? Will we know after this stretch, once and for all?

Just one final note: At some point it will be fitting for the NFL family to remember that Tom Brady has essentially had two careers. In the first stage of his career, as his team won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years by a total of 9 points (three point wins each time), Brady was not a dominant passer. He was efficient. He didn’t throw interceptions. He was a game manager, not a game changer. Young Tom Brady didn’t win games with his arm. He won them with his hand offs, and his execution of play action fakes. He had some big passing games (Super Bowls vs. Carolina and Philadelphia), but each of those games was also punctuated by high carry games from Patriot running backs. He threw for less than 4,000 yards in each of the Patriots Super Bowl-winning seasons…and he had QB ratings of under 93.

Rivals of the Era: Closer than Close

In the second stage of Tom Brady’s career, he has emerged as a dominant passer, but his teams have struggled to win post-season games. The Patriots, with an undefeated team, lost a Super Bowl to the New York Giants in which Brady threw 48 passes for a mere 266 yards. He was throttled, hammered and harassed all night long – and it still took a miracle for them to lose. Still, they lost. His passing was unable to carry the day – in much the same way that dominant passing was unable to garner rings for players like Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, and others.

It seems as though there is a bit of collective amnesia with respect to these two phases of Tom Brady’s career. The elite passer of the second phase has not won a Super Bowl. Like Peyton Manning and Donovan McNabb and Dan Marino and others, he was won a lot of regular season games. However, he has lost a home playoff game to a team that featured an overwhelmed Joe Flacco (4-10, 35 total passing yards, 1 INT). He has lost to the New York Jets and second-year QB Mark Sanchez. And, for what it’s worth, Tom Brady has not thrown for 300 yards in a PLAYOFF GAME since 2005 against the Denver Broncos…and New England lost that game by 2 touchdowns.

It is difficult to separate Brady’s numbers and the regular season wins from his early success as the offensive leader of a team that was actually run by men like Willie McGinest, Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Ty Law, and Lawyer Milloy. It’s hard. I know it is. But the bottom line for Brady and the Patriots is what it is…and the numbers never lie.

Looking Ahead: Top NFL QBs in 2010

Who is in your Top 10?

Drew Brees is a no-brainer. What about Vince Young (26-13 as a starter)?  Joe Flacco (21-13 as a starter)?  Alex Smith?  Mark Sanchez?  Are you looking to the upside of a quarterback who has yet to make his mark, or are you sticking with the men who’ve done it before?  Manning (2x) and Brady.  What about the potentially retired?  Are you expecting a Beltway Revival for choir boy turned QB, Jason Campbell?  How much are you going to hold Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl loss against him?   How much are you going to hold Eli Manning’s late season collapse against him?  How ’bout them fumbles (Tony Romo)?

Romo: "Sometimes, you've got to give the defense...give the defense what they want."

Who do you rank in the top 10 — and who is number one on your look good chart?

2009 NFL Season: What Week 5 Tells Me

How did they do that?

Is he really that good?

Wow.  I had no idea that team was that solid.

Dolphin tastes more like Shark than Chicken!!

That’s what people were saying on Monday after a week of surprising outcomes.  Perhaps none was more surprising that the score by which Atlanta dominated San Francisco and the method by which Miami defeated the New York Jets.   (more…)

Fixing Michigan Football IV

Schedule Penn State.

Today’s game should reveal the pattern. The Michigan Wolverines can play against teams which run conventional attacks and do not feature running quarterbacks with elite speed or elite speed at the skill positions. Penn State is such a team. Today’s game should not give false hope to Wolverine Nation that much of anything has changed. It has not. Michael Hart is still the best back to wear the Maize n’ Blue in decades (possibly ever). Jake Long is still a sound technician and impassioned paver of roads. The defense is still lacking in the requisite power, quickness and overall speed required to compete amongst the best teams in the nation.

LSU’s kicker is faster than far too many Michigan defenders.

The Wolverines are not a “bad team” simply because they lost to Appalachian State and Oregon. The team simply cannot defend that style of play. Conventional teams like Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan State and others will not beat the Wolverines, regardless of the health of QB Chad Henne. With that said, it should be obvious that the Wolverines would still be run off the field by the likes of USC and LSU. I’m watching Washington and UCLA. Both of these teams have the type of speed that would have Ron English uneasy on Friday night. (If I see another kicker make a touchdown saving tackle on a kickoff, I may have to watch a chick flick. That’s two tonite…USC’s kicker and Washington’s kicker. It’s appalling.)

If the athletic director and alumni want to see better results, it is time to get serious about recruiting some real players with some real wheels. That last big trophy from 1997 should be getting a bit dusty. It’s certainly lonely. The cupboard of elite national success may be bare, but the challenge before folks in Ann Arbor is coming to terms with great expectations. Don’t bother to rebuild the Big House if you won’t bother to rebuild the defensive line.

The hue and cry to fire Lloyd Carr, as appropriate as it is, ignores the essential truth that this team has always been designed to win the Big Ten championship. That goal, once lofty and distinctive, is anachronistic. Building teams to win conference championships is no longer sufficient. The road to $5 million and the Rose Bowl is no longer paved through Ann Arbor or Columbus. There will be years when that road will run through Baton Rouge or Athens, Georgia or Miami, Florida. The time of recruiting with the primary intention of besting that school down the road are over. If Michigan chooses to continue patterns and practices inherited from the 1950’s and 1960’s, the school will cease to be included in conversations about major college football. Saturday afternoon games will be a thing of the past. ABC will shift programming to another Big Ten school or ACC school or Big East school with less history, but more upside.

Do not be fooled by today’s victory over Penn State. Do not be fooled by the loss to Oregon. Lowly Stanford is giving them all they can handle. USC will blast them to bits in a few weeks. Michigan’s faults are fundamental, structural and resolvable. All that is required is a new orientation and a willingness to shut the door on an old paradigm – and all it’s purveyors.

Goodnight Coach Carr.

 

Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32

Why does Lloyd Carr still have that job? Coach Carr is not entirely to blame. But I believe he may have blinked. In this game, you cannot blink. You have to be like Rachel Nichols. Even while Carr was mulling retirement with the mullahs, he surely notified his charges that their opponent was capable of tremendous things on offense. Michigan’s players (at least some of them) were well aware of the quality of their opponent. It didn’t matter.

armanti.jpg

I can only thank my lucky stars that NONE of my best friends (or worst enemies) are alums of Notre Dame or Ohio State. I feel for the Blue alums who will have to sift through hundreds of e-mails and text messages expressing pure delight at this latest debacle. Michigan football has suffered three of the worst defeats in school history. The Wolverines could not get over the hump against Ohio State and were dismantled in the Rose Bowl by USC. Michigan entered that game ranked as the number 3 team in the nation and returned key offensive starters this season. Lamar Woodley, David Harris and Leon Hall all headed to the NFL, but the cupboard was not supposed to be bare on defense, either.

This season Michigan was ranked #5. I believe that means the team is supposed to be decent. I believe it means they are supposed to compete for a national championship. I believe that’s why Michael Hart is not a Green Bay Packer or Houston Texan or something. I believe it’s why Jake Long and Mario Manningham are still in school. I’ve never been involved in a similar flame out, but it must be overwhelming for the Michigan seniors who chose to forego the NFL to realize that this season is strictly about classes and old girlfriends. The season is over unless this team can do one thing: Destroy everything in its path.

It’s hard to play with sustained anger, but I don’t see how this team EVER escapes the gravity of this loss. One of my old roommates gave up the Hail Mary touchdown to Michael Westbrook thrown by Kordell Stewart. That was years ago, but I imagine he sees that play in his mind’s eye just about every day. I remember Michigan leading Colorado 26-14 and thinking, “This isn’t going to end well.” It didn’t end well. Stewart unleashed a bomb and his receiver managed to get behind the defense and walk into history.

I didn’t see the game today. Thankfully, I was in the park with my twins. Those babies are worth their weight in gold. The highlights, however, reveal that Appalachian State deserves a great deal of credit for being a winning team with confidence, talent and a game plan. Hats off to the team that deserved to win. On a certain level, I am happy for the players of this school. Underdogs deserve a little love. Armanti Edwards, QB, deserves some love. Division I-AA deserves some love – even it the division has been phased out.

Today’s defeat, however, has been so profound and shocking that I have been totally unable to enjoy Notre Dame’s worst-ever season opening loss at the hands of Georgia Tech. Last year, I predicted the Irish would have big, big trouble this season. I thought they’d lose anywhere from 7 to 8 games. I certainly had no such predictions for Michigan. While I don’t put much stock in preseason rankings, I thought Michigan would be able to defeat all but the best teams in the land. I don’t believe Michigan (even on their best days) can play with the USC’s and LSU’s because the lack the overall team speed. Still, I thought they would certainly have enough to beat Wisconsin and Ohio State. They still might have enough.

If those players are to ever get the taste of this loss out of their mouths (not likely), they cannot simply win the Big Ten and beat Wisconsin and Ohio State. They need to win those games by 50 or 60 points each. They need to dig deep and pull an old Oklahoma-Baylor (like 75-0). If Michigan is unable to do that (and they’ll probably lose to Oregon), this will have to be the worst season in team history.

Michigan won’t fire Lloyd Carr this week. He may not make it through the season. There has always been discomfort in Ann Arbor with Coach Carr. Surely the decibels will kick up a smidge this week. The administration, however, has tended not to care. Perhaps that is the best way to maintain calm. Perhaps that was a reflection of their desire to retain one of Coach Schembechler’s guys. But here’s the problem: Bo is walking down State Street right now and he’s looking for Lloyd.

Carr has lost 4 straight bowl games and 5 of the last 6 vs. Ohio State. That is the job – beat Ohio State, win the Big 10, play and win your bowl game, recruit – repeat. Every other facet of the Michigan football coaching job is secondary to these primary objectives. One can say that Coach Carr shows up for his job, but one cannot say that Coach Carr is actually doing his job. He has won a national championship with a team led by Charles Woodson and Brian Griese (both long-haired NFL veterans). He has placed players in the NFL on a consistent basis, though Ohio State has sent significantly more players over the past few years. The defense continues to be an area of concern. Last year Alan Branch was the first interior defensive lineman at Michigan to get any love from national sportswriters or the NFL in decades.

It seems to me that if you cannot win bowl games, cannot beat Ohio State and fall in the single greatest upset in the history of college football, it is now time to consider selling insurance. It’s time to consider spending more time with the grand children. It might even be time to work on your stamp collection. It is NOT the time to think about 2008 or loving the Big House or recruiting or walking the sidelines beyond this year. It’s time to move on.

On Friday, Lloyd Carr said:

“Always, from the time I was old enough to pick up a ball, sports was EVERYTHING to me,” Carr said. “The center of my life was sport, so long as I was involved in it, I loved what I was doing.

“The next thing you know, here I am, 62 years old.”

On Sunday, he may being saying something else. The writing may already be on the wall (from http://www.mlive.com):

“Every year is Lloyd’s last year, I guess,” Hart joked. “If it is, we want to send him out the right way. If I were a coach, I’d want one more great year. You don’t want to go out on a losing streak, losing to Ohio State and losing the bowl game. You want to go out on top.”

Neither Hart, Long nor Henne will say they believe for sure that Carr will be back next season.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Long said.

Carr – who has been asked about retirement repeatedly in August – won’t say either way, which is a rarity in a sport where coaches fret over the recruiting implications of any job-related uncertainty. The one piece of solid evidence he’s at least considering retirement is a change in his contract made last December.

A clause had previously said Carr would collect a $300,000 bonus if he were Michigan’s football coach on July 1, 2008. After the change, he can receive the money if he’s employed by Michigan in any capacity.