St. Louis Rams

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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: Week 6 Recap

There were some compelling story lines that emerged this week.  The Bengals took a not-so-surprising plunge back to earth after beating the Steelers and Ravens.  The Giants were undressed.  The “Sanchise” took it on the chin 5 times and the Jets found a new way to lose.  The Vikings showed just how tough they’re going to be down the stretch.  (It looks an awful lot like the Saints and Vikings are going to play for the NFC Championship.)  The Eagles did the unthinkable.  With all of these stories, perhaps nothing was more surprising that the rapid and complete demise of the once-proud Tennessee Titans.

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AP Photo - Winslow Townson

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Is Steeler WR Mike Wallace the Real Deal?

Last week, Steeler rookie WR Mike Wallace had 7 receptions and 102 receiving yards on the road vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Steelers lost the game, but the rookie served notice that he just might be a player.  I was impressed enough to scoop him up in my FFL, even though I think the Steelers are at the softer spot of the 2009 schedule and are likely to run the ball more.  I think Wallace is about to do some special things.  Here’s why:

Mike Wallace takes Jonathan Joseph for a ride.

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2009 NFL Draft — Live Blog

2009 NFL Draft.

Check Meebo for added live commentary.

It’s official.  Roger “Burn those Tapes” Goodell is at the podium.

1.  The Detroit Lions are on the clock.  The Detroit Lions are off the clock.  That was quick.

Matthew Stafford, QB.  Georgia.  The fans at the draft booed this pick.  I agree.  I’m not a hater, but I do not love Stafford.

The Lions always seem to draft like they’ve been backed into a corner.

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Terrell Owens: Village Idiot or Village Scapegoat?

On this one, I’m going with scapegoat.  Here’s why:

He was not the principal cause of the Cowboys demise last season. He and the media have the sort of relationship that makes it difficult to discern where the problems really lie with the Cowboys. For me, it’s fairly simple.

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When the Cowboys lost last season… (more…)

1997 Michigan Wolverines – Still Ballin’

With Brian Griese poised to start for the Chicago Bears, I thought I’d take a look at the old 1997 Michigan Wolverines. In 1997, the Wolverines were undefeated and led by Charles Woodson. Woodson, an Ohio native, won the Heisman, the Nagurski and the Thorpe awards. He played both ways and led the team to victories over Ohio State and Washington State in the Rose Bowl. Michigan won a lot of close games that year and did not have as many style points as the Nebraska Cornhuskers, but the did defeat everyone on their schedule. It was a long time ago, but there are more players than you might expect who are still in the NFL and who are still productive. Here’s the list (not in any particular order).

  1. Steve Hutchinson, Guard, Minnesota Vikings
  2. Charles Woodson, Cornerback, Green Bay Packers
  3. Ian Gold, Linebacker, Denver Broncos
  4. Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots
  5. Jay Feely, Kicker, Miami Dolphins
  6. Maurice Williams, Tackle, Jacksonville Jaguars
  7. Dhani Jones, Linebacker, Cincinnati Bengals
  8. James Hall, Defensive End, St. Louis Rams
  9. Jon Jansen, Tackle, Washington Redskins
  10. Anthony Thomas, Running Back, Buffalo Bills
  11. Jeff Backus, Tackle, Detroit Lions
  12. Jerame Tuman, Tight End, Pittsburgh Steelers
  13. Mark Campbell, Tight End, New Orleans Saints
  14. Brian Griese, Quarterback, Chicago Bears

Until recently, this list also included Aaron Shea, longtime fullback for the Cleveland Browns, William Peterson (cornerback) and Josh Williams (defensive tackle). That is a surprising number of players. Admittedly not all of these players began their NFL careers in 1998, but of the 39 Michigan players on NFL rosters, nearly half played on this team. It was a tremendous accomplishment to win a national championship. Perhaps it is even more impressive that so many of those players have managed to survive the rigors of the NFL for so long.

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Media Assures McNabb Criticism of Bulger is Forthcoming

PHILADELPHIA — (BP). Updated September 24, 2007. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb reports receiving ironclad assurances from all white media and Jason Whitlock/Jemele Hill that criticism of struggling St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is forthcoming. McNabb did not elaborate on the timing, volume or tenor of the national onslaught to be directed at the Rams passer. Bulger and the Rams managed only 3 fourth-quarter points on Sunday in a contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa Bay prevailed 24-3.

Bulger, a seventh-year player from West Virginia, inherited two of most valuable pieces from “The Greatest Show of Turf” – wide receivers Tory Holt and Isaac Bruce. He also signed a six-year $65 million contract, of which $27 million is guaranteed. With the maturation of Steven Jackson and the addition of Drew Bennett, Rams fans had high expectations for an offense that has been among the league’s best for almost a decade. Last season, Bulger played alongside McNabb’s new favorite target, Kevin Curtis. Yesterday, Curtis scorched the Linc for 200+ receiving yards and 3 touchdowns in the Eagles 56-21 declawing of Detroit’s steel blue pussy cats. In 2006, Bulger passed for 4,300 yards and posted a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio.

Through 3 games this season, the Rams have amassed 32 points. Bulger has passed for only 651 yards and has thrown 3 interceptions. The Rams are winless.

As of this morning, there were national media reports blasting Bulger for his play over the first three weeks. Famed Sports Illustrated white supremacist Peter King cited his depleted Viagra stash as the “why” behind his limp advice to fantasy football owners to trade Bulger. There was no such advice for the Rams – and no critique of Bulger – yet.

After McNabb’s performance yesterday, he has promised nothing will change. He will be as confusing and inarticulate in confronting white supremacy in sports and media as before. He has also pledged to stick to his time line of raising superficial “racial issues” once every 8 years, 2 months and 10 days. The Eagles QB also revealed he had received an invitation for a stop over during his planned sojourn to the Brett Favre Shrine of All Things QB in Mississippi. The Republic of New Afrika has extended an invitation (no Campbell’s soup) to McNabb to study in Jackson and “get his PR game together.” No word on the status of his response.

Addendum: ESPN, FOX, the NFL Network (only the white announcers), the New York Times, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times will all be weighing in on Bulger over the next 3 to 5 days.

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2007 NFL Draft – Running Commentary – Picks 11-15

Number 11: The San Francisco 49ers selected Patrick Willis, LB, Mississippi. I’ve had the opportunity to see Willis play a few times (usually on Thursday nights on ESPN). Willis strikes me as a sound, intuitive football player with great recognition skills. He plays through the tackle and through the whistle. What does that mean? It means that if he hits you, you will go down hard. It means he will not be pulling Mattias Kiwanukas and letting you go because he thinks he hears the whistle or is afraid of drawing a roughing the passer penalty. It means if you’re in the grasp, you’re staying in the grasp until you’re in the turf. Mike Nolan is drafting players in the image of his former squad. The 49ers have already proven they CAN BEAT THE SEAHAWKS in SEATTLE – and with Gore and Smith poised to improve, this team is on the move.

ESPN is kicking off the full-fledged Brady Watch.

Just a thought here: the Dolphins are NOT crazy for wanting to wait for Daunte Culpepper. Culpepper, when healthy is one of the top 5 QBs in the league. He has the highest career completion percentage of any player in the history of the league. He can do it all – and he is a pocket passer who demonstrates a willingness to wait until plays take shape as they are designed. Ginn and players who get open quickly could make him much more effective in Miami.

Number 12: Kudos to the NFL…Bruce Smith, former standout of the Virginia Tech Hokies announces the Bills first round draft pick – RB, University of California, Marshawn Lynch. Great job. Great pick. Lynch is the real deal. He’s a power runner with attitude. He will deliver the smack down and wear defenses down late in games. I love this pick for the Bills. Nice to hear Keyshawn talk about Marshawn. Lynch is a two-footed runner/cutter. He runs with a low center of gravity, great balance, vision and acceleration. He does not go down on the first hit and has skills in the passing game. Lynch can cut off of either foot which means that defenders MUST break down before hitting him because he’s never going to be a straight line target – check the video. And when defenders break down to avoid getting juked, they are set up for his power runs and stiff arm. Lynch is a tough, tough runner who can do it all. Excellent job.

Big up to all the folks who’ve posted videos of draft candidates on YouTube.

Number 13…there he goes. Damn. Adam Carriker is going to the Rams. I like this guy. He’s a straight up baller or, as Mark Schlereth says, “He’s a football playin’ Jesse!” The Rams missed Grant Wistrom (also from the University of Nebraska) when he left to Seattle – and now they have drafted the second coming. Wistrom was a dominant end for the Rams. Carriker will be a nice replacement.

My boys (the Steelers) are getting ready to pick in a few – and I have no idea who the pick will be. New coach (Mike Timlin), but the same organizational leadership (Kevin Colbert)…

HUGE ROAR from the Crowd…possible trade between Jets and Panthers. Yep. The J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets are on the clock, clock, clock. That means the Jets are taking Darrelle Revis from Pittsburgh. Maybe Leon Hall. I’d rather see Hall in Pittsburgh. Here it comes…

With the 14th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Darrelle Revis…”New York, just like I pictured…skyscrapers and everything.”

With the 15th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select…(Here we go Steelers, here we go!!!!!) Linebacker, Florida State – Lawrence Timmons….A little short for my tastes, but he’s a baller…all Florida State linebackers are pretty damn good…Marvin Jones, Derrick Brooks, Ernie Sims, A.J. Nickerson, Kamerion Wimbley, etc. I like this pick. I’m wondering where Hall will go, though. Florida State turns out top notch defensive players every year. The Steelers have been drafting Florida State players regularly for a few years now – Safety, Chris Hope (loss to free agency), Corner, Bryant McFadden. The Steelers haven’t drafted a buster at linebacker in decades. [For you wise guys out there, Alonzo Jackson played DE and was a conversion project.] The odds of Timmons being a non-Pro Bowl performer are slim. Honestly, the only question is how many Pro Bowls he will play in – and how long he’ll wear the Black and Gold.

The good news with this pick is that the Steelers remain committed to the 3-4 defense. Dick LeBeau, the architect, is still there to frame the defense and match wits with offensive coordinators. The 3-4, I believe, is the key to beating Peyton Manning. The Colts have mastered the defensive tactics utilized by 4-3 teams. It is the uncertainty of the 3-4 attack which made the Colts vulnerable in prior years. The Colts are the team to beat – and so, the Steelers are positioning themselves to replace Joey Porter and continue the legacy. Hmm…a linebacker with the initials L.T.—