Michael Vick

Matt Cassel Under Seige

2010 NFL Season: Wildcard Weekend Preview

First things first:  What happened in the AFC West?  The San Diego (not so Super) Chargers finished the 2010 season with a 9-7 record.  The Chargers led the entire NFL in offense and defense, but missed the playoffs.  San Diego finished 2nd in the division to the Kansas City Chiefs.  If that wasn’t strange enough, the Oakland Raiders beat every team in the AFC West twice this season, but finished in third place with an 8-8 record.  Today, they wrapped up Week 17 with a resounding road win at the new Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.  The Raiders won 31-10 and completed their sweep of the playoff bound Chiefs.

Matt Cassel Under Seige

Oakland Trounces Playoff Bound Kansas City, 31-10

The Raiders were the ONLY team in the NFL to sweep all division games this season.  Oakland became the first team since the merger to sweep a division and miss the post-season.  The Chargers could not have been better statistically on either side of the ball.  Oakland and San Diego will have a lot to think about in the off-season.  The Raiders’ focus, according to reports, is replacing Coach Tom Cable and establishing consistency at the quarterback position:

Perhaps part of the problem has been Cable’s wavering on the Raiders’ starting quarterback. After starting the season with Jason Campbell at the helm, Cable switched to Bruce Gradkowski when Campbell struggled. After Gradkowski separated his shoulder, Cable turned back to Campbell but insisted Gradkowski was still the starter. While Campbell was under center during the Raiders’ three-game midseason win streak, Cable fluctuated between both quarterbacks throughout the second half of the year until Gradkowski reinjured his shoulder and was placed on injured reserve.

Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is rumored to be taking the same job down in Gainesville at the University of Florida.  What does this for next week’s contest vs. the Baltimore Ravens?  (more…)

Five Quarterbacks: Name that Buster!

Curious stats for the viewing public.

’09 Eagles offense (except vs. Dallas): 29.5 ppg  McNabb (11th in yards, 5th in Scoring)
’09 Eagles offense vs. Dallas: 8.0 ppg  McNabb

’10 Eagles offense: 29.4 Vick/Kolb (1st in Yards; 2nd in Scoring)
’10 Eagles offense: 33.6 ppg  Vick

’09 Cowboys offense: 22.6 ppg  Romo (2nd in Yards, 14th in Scoring)
’10 Cowboys offense: 25.3 ppg  Romo/Kitna (7th in Yards, 7th in Scoring)
’10 Cowboys offense with Jon Kitna: 32.1 ppg  Kitna

’09 Giants offense: 25.1 ppg  Manning (3rd in Yards, 6th in Scoring)
’10 Giants offense: 25.7 ppg  Manning (8th in Yards, 8th in Scoring)

’08 Broncos offense: 23.1 ppg Shanahan with Jay Cutler (2nd in Yards; 16th in Scoring)

’09 Texans offense: 24.1 ppg K. Shanahan with Matt Schaub (4th in Yards; 10th in Scoring)

’10 Redskins offense: 19.1 ppg M & K Shanahan with McNabb/Grossman (17th in yards; 25th in scoring)

I don’t know about you, but I see a trend.

2010 NFL Season: Week 15 in Review

A game of inches, obscene noises, and definitive silence.

Antonio Cromartie, aka The Jersey Boy: Nice Grab

And this, too. (And it’s not a replay.)

Antonio Cromartie Masterfully Turns the Inside Shoulder

Um, and this one, too.

Antonio Cromartie Demonstrates Desperation

And this, too.

Dwight Lowery Snuggles Close to Emmanuel Sanders

Jets 22, Steelers 17.   “Emmanuel!! Wait!  Dont’ leave me this way.   I luuuuuuuv you, man!  Don’t go!  I need you.”

No whistles.  No biggie.  It all evens out in the end.

In other news: (more…)

The Future of the Funk: Nick Cole

The 2009 Philadelphia Eagles will go to Dallas on Sunday with the #2 seed in the playoffs on the line.  If the Eagles win this game, they will have a first round playoff bye and will force every team except the New Orleans Saints to go through “The Linc.”  As you can see from the link, the Events Calendar is wide open.

How that calendar gets filled out will not be exclusively decided by legends like quarterback Donovan McNabb or game changers like DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.  It won’t even be exclusively decided by stalwarts like Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Westbrook.  It may not come down to new talent like Michael Vick or Leonard Weaver or rookie LeSean McCoy.

Nick Cole: Holding the Rock and the Hopes of a City

Instead, the fate of this funky, dynamic team (ranked #2 in scoring offense) may well be decided by an undrafted free agent from New Mexico State, center Nick Cole.  Cole, born in Lawton, Oklahoma (home of New Orleans Saints left tackle Jammal Brown), has been thrust into the spotlight due to a season-ending to center Jamaal Jackson.  The Eagles new center is the personification of a fire hydrant.  At 6’0″ and 350 pounds, Cole has played guard, center and fullback during his career.  He has strength and agility.  In order for the Eagles to win it all, he’ll have to also be wise and cool.  He is the future of the Philly funk.

And, hardly a soul in Philadelphia is the least bit concerned.

McNabb’s Rhythm and Garcia’s Echo

In Week 3 of the 2009 NFL exhibition season, the Philadelphia Eagles visited the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The third game is typically when starters play most of their minutes.  This is the one pre-season game that is usually worth watching, even if your principal interest isn’t with the competition for the final linebacker spot on the roster.  The game was physical, hard fought, and sloppy.  It was typical.  The Eagles would eventually win, 33-32. (more…)

Philadelphia Eagles Sign Michael Vick

During the game between the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers and last year’s contender, the Arizona Cardinals, it was announced that the Philadelphia Eagles have ended the suspense about the football future of Michael Vick.  Interestingly, I haven’t written a word about this issue on this site in a very long time.  Today, I decided to say a few words based on the reports from former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy that a signing was imminent.  Vick has a chance to do some things — and he won’t be under any “special” pressure to perform.  The Eagles already have a Super Bowl caliber offense, a Pro Bowl QB and a rabid fan base that boos everyone in sight.

I guess they can go ahead and finish taping that “60 Minutes” episode.  This is going to be a hot topic for awhile.  Don’t be surprised if you see lots of Michael Vick in January and February as the Eagles make a deep playoff run to Super Bowl XLIV.

On Michael Vick’s Return

Tony Dungy, former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, commented that Michael Vick may sign with an NFL team as early as this week.  Dungy noted that Vick’s best chances of signing are with teams that have strong fan bases, a track record of success, roster spots, and cap room.  He also noted that Indianapolis would be a nice fit for Vick, except that Vick doesn’t really fit that offense.

Or does he??

(more…)

Scramblers and Statues: The Quarterback in Black, White and Gray

In the NFL, one of the most electrifying players in the game is “the running quarterback.” The players to which this label have been affixed are blessed with tremendous speed, agility and vision. Some of these players have also been considered too nervous or undisciplined to stay in the pocket long enough for a play to develop. In recent years, much has been made about the superiority of the “classic pocket passer” over the “running quarterback.” One staunch advocate of the classic passing game is ESPN’s Ron Jaworski. The former Eagles quarterback is known for saying that “points come in the passing game” and “you can’t design your offense around a running quarterback.” He has added the proviso that mobility within the pocket is a critical aspect of playing the quarterback position. I’ve wanted to test his hypothesis for some time because my own recollection of elite quarterbacks over the past 30 years did not fully square with Jaw’s assessment. I certainly agreed that points came in the passing game. I believe that teams pass to score and they run and play defense to win. It’s nice to be able to do all three of those things, but if I could only take two, I’d take a Top 10 defense and a Top 10 running game. (I’ll take my chances with play action passes and a motion offense any day of the week.)

I have to give a tip of the hat to Jweiler over at The Starting Five. His comparison of Steve Young and Michael Vick (specifically during the first 6 years of their careers was eye-opening. His piece illustrated the extent to which MSM (mainstream media) will go to blur lines, to misinterpret statistics, and to fabricate claims absent a scintilla of evidence.

It spurred me to finally crunch the numbers. I used the same approach as J did over at TSF. I divided pass attempts by rush attempts to establish a pass:run ratio. This is a basic approach to making determinations about QB playing styles. I did not look at yards per attempt. Clearly that statistic would allow for additional separation, but that was not my principal concern here. As it is, I believe there will strong agreement between these ratios and those we recall as “scramblers” and “statues.” The term “running quarterback” is so widely used that it has escaped definition in most circles. We may not have listed all the elements, but we know one when we see one. That’s probably not sufficient for this discussion if it grows beyond this post, but it is a start. So, what then is a “running quarterback”? For me, a running quarterback is a quarterback with the capacity to run. In looking at the data, I found that quarterbacks who can run do run. Quarterbacks who cannot run, do not run. Given the skill level, athleticism and fury of defenders, running is not the worst idea. In fact, some of the greatest quarterbacks in this game were/are excellent runners. It is also probably not sufficient to say a running QB is a QB who can run because there are so many reasons why QBs run. Here are a few:

  • Poor offensive line play
  • Poor wide receiver play
  • Lack of comfort with the offense
  • Lack of knowledge of the offense
  • Lack of confidence in passing ability
  • Evading pressure to extend plays
  • Planned runs/draws/sneaks

I believe there has always been a negative connotation to being a running QB. That’s not entirely surprising. Some players prefer to be called “mobile quarterbacks.” Perhaps that is more accurate. After all, most players and coaches recognize that it is easier to pass for yardage than to run; that players are more dangerous when they pose a dual threat; that powerful offenses tend to have success passing the ball. With respect to the data, I have attached a PDF chart to demonstrate a rather surprising continuum of quarterbacks in the league. For those of you with no desire to look at a PDF, the table is presented below with all of the same data.

QB Pass-Run Ratios.pdf

The first thing that jumped out at me on this continuum of quarterbacks was that the cluster of four quarterbacks with 11 total Super Bowl rings: Montana, Brady, Aikman and Simms. Each has a pass ratio between 11.8 and 14.4. That is a tight grouping. It is interesting that Warren Moon is in the middle of this group with a ratio of 12.6. Moon, of course, was precluded from playing in the quarterback in the NFL due to white supremacy for six years. Stringent unwritten rules were rescinded and Moon was granted an opportunity to play. Moon’s Oilers ran the “Run ‘n Shoot” offense which may have undermined their ability to seal the deal.

Then again, Terry Bradshaw and John Elway have significantly higher ratios – and both did a great deal of running around early in their careers. Bradshaw’s numbers in Super Bowl years, though, are interesting. The numbers would support the idea that as quarterbacks and offenses mature, the pass:run ratio will increase. In the Steelers first four Super Bowl victories, Terry Bradshaw has pass:run ratios of 4.4, 8.2, 11.5 and 22.5. The Steelers won back-to-back twice. Bradshaw basically doubled his ratio with each Super Bowl win.

Other items of note: Quarterbacks with passing records and limited or no success in Super Bowls, except for Fran Tarkenton, were clustered at the traditional pocket passer end of the continuum (Favre, Warner, Marino, Fouts). Some passers who might be considered traditional pocket passers actually have much higher ratios than anticipated (Brady, Williams, Leftwich). Then there’s Kenny “The Snake” Stabler. Stabler had to be one of the more elusive pocket passers of his or any era. I was so shocked by his numbers, I need to check the data from another source. There’s more: consider the pass:run ratios of Danny White and Roger Staubach. That’s a contrast of more than 2:1.

This is just the beginning of an analysis which should weigh some of these questions:

  • How have these quarterbacks performed during the early years of their careers?
  • What were the pass:run ratios of quarterbacks during years in which they won the Super Bowl?
  • Is there really a “sweet spot” ratio for optimizing the effectiveness of quarterbacks?

The table is not working. Please read the PDF.

       

The Vick Divide – ESPN’s Town Hall Meeting

ESPN will be hosting a “Town Hall Meeting” to discuss former Atlanta Falcons QB, Michael Vick and all of the events surrounding his involvement in illegal dog fighting. This topic has been discussed in many forums and continues to provide fodder for corporations, non-profits and individuals with well-defined agendas. Vick is being referred to as “a polarizing figure” by ESPN. During the height of the media frenzy, Vick was often called “the most polarizing figure in the history of the city of Atlanta.” That’s heady praise for a Negro in a city which has been ruled by so many heavy-handed white supremacists. It is a testament to the progress of “race relations” that a vilified Black man could supplant vile and capricious white leaders and citizens who unleashed the full fury of the state to rip the economic base out of Black Atlanta. Research on the seemingly innocuous practice of white flight raises questions on the economic consequences of “conditional Southern hospitality.” Just as it was in the 1950’s, this is about “freedom of association.” Even if it costs half a million dollars.

(Don’t get it twisted. This is no lament over segregation. After all, it’s not as bad in the South as it is in the North. More importantly, however, I do not find that residential intregation trumps systematic, honest fiscal and tax policy reform as a long-term, replicable solution. Short hand: living next to white folks is not the balm you’ve been seeking – another post, another time.)

One of the “polarizing” questions is sure to be whether or not Michael Vick was singled out by federal authorities for prosecution. The question cannot be answered by looking at the practices of the federal government in this particular case. The ESPN producers will have to do the research into the international practice of dogfighting. This multi-billion dollar international activity is arguably more popular in Italy and Japan (among Mafia and Yakuza types, according to certain sources) than it is in the United States. Moreover, dog fighting is not restricted to the Black South or the urban North. Dog fighting was, historically, a sport for the wealthy – and, by extension was “legal.” It’s barbarism was an acceptable aspect of “the game” in this pre-Lassie society. Things have changed. It’s not a felony everywhere. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s a misdemeanor.

To answer the question of fairness, ESPN will need to do more than hand out microphones to “blacks and whites” for two hours. Given the recent arrests of Shaquanda Cotton in Texas and six young men in Jena, Louisiana, shaping the context for discussing fairness will be as hard as walking a craggy beach in bare feet. This is not an easy discussion – and it is flawed from its inception. After all, the REAL ISSUE with respect to this case isn’t even Michael Vick.

The issue is the split perceptions in the out-sized outrage of “whites” with respect to Black violations of law, code or creed, while simultaneously turning a blind eye and deaf ear to “white” violations of the same. The issue is the manner in which the court of public opinion reinforces (or at least seeks to reinforce) the idea that Black folk are 2nd class citizens.

If folks WAKE UP before Tuesday, the BLACK participants should not answer a single question about Michael Vick or his friends or the “Southern culture” or hip hop or DMX or Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson or anything posed by folks seeking to change the topic. There was no Mark Chmura Divide. There is no Chris Benoit Divide. There is no Bill Maas Divide. There was no Marv Albert Divide. There is a Barry Bonds Divide. There is an OJ Simpson Divide. There is no Rick Ankiel Divide. There is a Donovan McNabb Divide…but no Brett Favre Divide. There was a Ty Willingham Divide, but no George O’Leary Divide. There is no Charlie Weis Divide.

The topic is the same as it ever was…”white” folks in America are absolutely enmeshed in the supremacist psychosis which blinds them and anesthetizes them to “in group” criminality. It may be that that isn’t the worst of it. The worst of it may be the psychopathic need to deny the disease actually exists. Perhaps it is, after all, unavoidable that a people whose greatest national heroes were invariably hypocrites, masochists and pedophiles have no choice but to see the good in doped up wrestlers who kill themselves and their families.

If ESPN really wanted to discuss “The Vick Divide,” they could host it in Forsythe County, Georgia and advertise it as a “whites-only meeting.” I’d buy popcorn for that.

As it stands, Tuesday is sure to be a waste of time. The audience should expect to come away bruised and bloodied. I’ll pass on this inevitable minstrel fiasco.