Kyle Orton

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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.

2009 NFL Season: Week 13 Picks

After going 13-2 two weeks ago (missing on Oakland over Cincinnati and Kansas City over Pittsburgh) and following that up with a 10-6 week (including a 41-17 prediction of New Orleans over New England), there is no doubt that I am on fire!!

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2009 NFL Season: Steelers Smother Broncos, 28-10

Like I said when they were 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, and 5-0, and 6-0…” I’m not buyin!”

The Broncos deserve a great deal of credit for beginning the season at 5-0.  In the past two weeks, this solid team of newly-acquainted veterans has lost to the two teams that battled in the conference championship game in 2008.  There is no shame in that, but it is clear that Denver has some work to do.  The offense is mediocre and we know its not because of Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal.  They have played in a high-powered explosive offense before.  The problem may not be Josh McDaniels either.  He knows something about “matriculating the ball up and down the field.”  Even Brandon Stokely has been part of an elite offensive unit.  So who hasn’t been there and done that?

The man who threw 3 interceptions tonite against a team that refused to allow any men in orange jerseys to run the ball: Kyle Orton.

Frankly, I think the Broncos are on the verge of a collapse until they do some things differently.  I thought they were fortunate to beat the Chargers in San Diego.  For all of their success on defense, that game boiled down to a couple of returns by Eddie Royal.  Only the 2007 Bears and Devin Hester can live that way.  This Broncos team simply isn’t cut that way.  The offense managed 3 points tonite — and that was due to Troy Polamalu’s defense on teammate William Gay.  APTOPIX Steelers Broncos Football

Denver has to score more.  They have to get Tony Scheffler involved in the offense.  They have to get their running game untracked.  If they don’t, that undersized defense will be forced to stay on the field as much as they did tonite.  That defense can’t do it.  The success of the defense is predicated on the speed of the front 7 and the savvy of the secondary.  That formula was inverted tonite.  The demise of the Broncos was due to the fatigue of the front 7 and the “experience” of the secondary.  The Steelers made Champ Bailey look older than Ty Law.  Did you see the hurdle?

The Broncos don’t have to collapse, they just have to adjust.  I like the Chargers to find a way to win this division.

As for the Steelers, the offense is powerful but sloppy.  Roethlisberger plays like he knows he is playing with house money.  He plays as if he is unconcerned with the consequences of his actions.  The Steelers defense is so ferocious that he is seldom taxed the way another passer might be by miscues.  The Steelers could have scored 40 points if they did not turn the ball over.  Rashard Mendenhall was spared the disgrace of a goal line fumble in the 4th quarter.  And it wasn’t because he didn’t actually fumble — he did.  The referees were probably still trying to make up for that blown call when Jerome Bettis called the coin toss in overtime vs. the Lions.  Ben Roethlisberger had two turnovers: a blind-side fumble and a goal line interception.  Both turnovers were committed when the Steelers were moving the ball with ease.  The second half was a relative walk in the park.  Bruce Arians appeared to have surrendered the play-calling to Ben as the team ran effortlessly without huddling.

Note 1:  It was interesting to hear the announcers talk at the beginning of the 2nd half about how Denver’s frequent movement on defense was causing the Steelers to run the clock down to the final seconds.  That was not the case.  The Steelers were entirely in control based on the change in tempo.  Roethlisberger took his time looking over the defense to maximize the quality of his pre-snap reads.  There was no need to rush.  The no-huddle limited defensive substitutions.  Roethlisberger took his time.  Game over.

Note 2:  When Troy Polamalu is healthy, he makes plays all over the field.  In the 4th quarter of this game (with about 9 minutes remaining), Polamalu stuffed a first down in the backfield with the Broncos pinned down in the own end.  On the very next play, Kyle Orton tried to get some breathing room and the ball was intercepted by Polamalu about 20 yards downfield.

Note 3:  The only guy who really gets open down field against Ike Taylor is Randy Moss (and he needs Tom Brady on the field).  If you don’t have Randy Moss, don’t bother.

If Rashard Mendenhall can secure the ball, this team is going back to where they came from.  Right now, the Colts, Bengals and Steelers (in that order) look to be the class of the AFC.  I don’t know where to put the Patriots.  It’s been so long since they played a quality opponent with a two-dimensional offense.

Closing Note:  Last season, in Week 9, the Steelers played on the road against a team with a new “genius” coach that was oaded with veterans in the secondary, a young quarterback who had yet to throw an interception, a dynamic running game, apass-catching tight end, .  Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of that game by the Washington Redskins, but Jason Campbell threw his first interceptions of the season.  The Redskins, like the Broncos, struggled mightily to score and lost 23-6.

Mr. Reed, I Presume.

Ed Reed set the tone for yesterday’s Week 8 win over the Denver Broncos with this crunching blow on rookie running back, Knowshon Moreno.  The Ravens were waiting on Denver’s screen game all day long.  This play resulted in the game’s first turnover.  The Ravens went on to win 30-7.

THE ANATOMY OF A FUMBLE.

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Loose Ball -- Inside the Blue Circle

Here it comes.  The breeze before the boom!!

BREEZE — The read by Reed.  “Screen, screen, screen!”

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Here Comes Mr. Reed

The Denver Broncos: Six and So, So…So What!

The Broncos against the World!

Do you believe in the Broncos yet?  How many more wins will it take before you convert to the faithful?  Do they have to beat your team?  Do they have to beat your team on the road?  Do they have to beat your team in perfect health?  Do they have to beat your team or some other “proven favorite” by 25 points?  Or can they just win, baby?

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Did Byron Leftwich Get a Raw Deal?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced today that QB Byron Leftwich will be replaced in the position by Josh Johnson.  Former Kansas State star and QB of the future Josh Freeman will be promoted to #2.  Johnson replaced Leftwich in yesterday’s 24-0 loss at the hands of the New York Giants.  But did Raheem Morris do the right thing in going with a young QB?  Is the timing right?  Is he changing the right piece of the puzzle?  Is this is a sign of desperation after the recent firing of the offensive coordinator?

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2009 NFL Pre-Season: Early Thoughts

The NFL pre-season means absolutely nothing.  Last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost every single game and were particularly ineffective on offense.  Pre-season means nothing.  Still…

Santonio Holmes - Super Bowl MVPSantonio Holmes – Super Bowl MVP

I can’t help thinking that some of what I’ve seen is instructive as a prelude to the 2009 season.  Here are some early thoughts: (more…)