Archive for January, 2006

Squandered Position

Thursday, 19 January, 2006

The disgust of Peyton Manning and the Colts was once again displayed on their faces, after Sunday’s disappointing outing. Manning has had everyone on his side for the last several years to get to the big stage, and once again he has let everyone down. The befuddled quarterback, that is now 3-6 in the playoffs, could only put out his frustration towards his offensive lineman. Peyton, you’re a veteran in this league now, and you got beat as fair as can be.

They often say Manning should be comparable to Dan Marino in how efficient and accurate he is as a passer. Manning’s stats and ability to take over games does go hand in hand with Marino. One area though that the two are completely different at, is the ability to handle pressure. Marino didn’t have the legs to scramble but wouldn’t get flustered under duress. He’d stand in the pocket, and do the slightest perfect movements to evade a rush for an extra second or two. Whether it was simply a quick shuffle or a step up in the pocket, it was enough to give Marino that open lane to hit his receiver with his cannon of an arm.

Manning on the other hand, usually doesn’t get pressured because defensive coaches know how often he kills them when he does. A defense might send a few packages a game at Manning. Besides that though, they’re just trying to figure out how to stop the run and pass.

As the years have gone by though, the only time Manning has looked rusty along with his team, is when he is pressured. The Steelers brought blitz after blitz and Manning couldn’t take it. The timing of everything was off for his receivers routes, and therefore Manning’s passes were off.

Manning loved to blame his offensive line, but what could they do? The Steelers were bringing blitzers from all sides of the field, and even Manning didn’t know where they were coming from. Why the Colts didn’t go to a more of a hurry up offense is a huge question? It seemed at times they tried to, but once at the line of scrimmage Manning would try audibling which never worked. All they did was give the defense an extra five to six seconds to get ready to drill Manning.

In all honesty, Manning should have left the play calling to the Colts offensive coordinator. If anyone replays that game, they’ll notice the Colts were more successful when Manning wasn’t rethinking plays. It was just too much for him to try to match the Steelers defense strategy. It took him out of the game mentally and he never got back in. Even on the sidelines Manning looked confused and unconfident.

The talent Manning had on his team is about as high as you can get in the NFL. Does he realize the squandered chances he has let pass by? Also, for Peyton to believe he would have done better with a different offensive line, he better rethink that comment. The Colts never established the running game like a passing team should, which just played into the hands of Bill Cowher.

The entire game was a wash from the start for the Colts, and now has done the same to a team that played on a level that everyone thought was unbeatable.

Divisional Round Picks

Saturday, 14 January, 2006

It’s time to roll. Who’s going to be playing in the conference championship games a week from now? In less than forty hours the victorious teams will be on that path. Check out who we think will advance this weekend.

New England at Denver
The pick would be to take the Patriots. They’ve been the dominant team and are 10-0 under Brady. While they were having major success, the Broncos were getting bounced out yearly. It’s a reverse of fortunes now, as the Broncos now have home field. Mile High in the playoffs is going to be an unbelievable advantage for them. Everyone wanted to see the Colts axe the Patriots out, but it will be the Broncos.

Washington at Seattle
The Redskins have no chance at winning this game, unless they can somehow get a lead. Protecting the ball like a child not wanting to share is the only scenario that can work for them. As soon as Seattle builds a ten point lead, the game is over. Washington’s offense doesn’t have the tools to get it done, they’ll only add to the mess.

Pittsburgh at Indianapolis
Flip back to the Monday Night game in November. The Colts dominated defensively, and offensively just managed their game plan. With all the rest they’ve had, and the exact opposite for the Steelers, this game has blow out written over it as well.

Carolina at Chicago
If there is a chance of a major upset, here it is. Carolina matches up well against the Bears, especially with their defense. When they played earlier this season, the only thing that stopped the Panthers was the way their offense was murdered by the Bears defense. Maybe they learned something from that game, and will change things up a bit. One things for sure, that flip pass out to Steve Smith will not work. This will be a close game, but the Bears should edge the Panthers by a field goal.

Young Second In Line

Tuesday, 10 January, 2006

The buzz is awry already on Vince Young. Mike Vick was supposed to be the only one able to do what he does on the field for a long time. There was talk of Vick being the best quarterback in the league after his stellar showings as a rookie and second year starter. In 2003, he became the man to take in fantasy football drafts, only to shock owners with a preseason injury that stopped his season. Since then, Vick’s fantasy value and overall talk as a quarterback has dropped. His legs can no longer get it done running, and when he does they aren’t for the long gainers like they used to be. More times than ever he pays the price for scrambling, because of all the extra spies to shut his legs down.

Vince Young made the right decision by forgoing his senior season. He left Texas as perhaps the greatest athlete to perform there. At least for now it seems that way.

The comparisons between Vince Young and Mike Vick are obvious. The game changes drastically though from the college to pro level. Can Vince Young make the phase change to the NFL as smooth as people are saying? It’s going to be a true tough test for Young, as Mike Vick has already made it more difficult for him.

Young quarterbacks love to use their legs, especially when they have the speed and size of a quarterback like Vince Young. He’ll have to try to stay away from being single minded or scared to throw the football. We saw it so often with Vick. He would only play the part as a throwing quarterback, by dropping back. There were plenty of times he would just take off without even giving his receivers chances. Lots of times he looked great, by turning third and fourth downs into serious gainers. That was then, and that experiment has since been wrapped under control tremendously.

The schemes to shut down Vince Young’s legs will be there. In fact, defensive coordinators will be drooling once they see Young’s on the slate. Preparation will be easy from the get go. Young’s main job over the summer and summer’s on, will have to be to excel on reading NFL defenses and have a solid accuracy. A job that Mike Vick has not done, and appears to be on the brink of a career busting or booming.

Young is an extreme talent, that boosted his stock overwhelmingly with one game. Who knows, what would have been the case if the Longhorns were blown out and Young had a horrible game against USC. He likely would have stayed for a redemption his senior season. Everything happens for a reason, and the team Young lands on will have a gem.

We just hope Young is prepared to not want to take off and think the same results will happen all the time, like his game winning fourth down run. People love to forget, that four to five plays earlier Young almost threw the game away with an interception. The ball was lobbed up horribly, and a couple of Trojans had a shot at it.

Big time college players can get away with that in college. In the NFL, no matter if you are a rookie or star veteran, that is picked.

Manning Takes Steps

Sunday, 8 January, 2006

Ending the season the way Eli Manning did, the script was all but wrote for the Giants demise in the wild card round. Heavy reliance on Tiki Barber is what the difference was in the Giants squeaking in the playoffs. The Panthers game plan was simple. Contain Tiki Barber and force Manning to beat them. After continuously trying to get Barber going in the first half, the plan shifted to Manning’s arm in the second half. Suddenly, a close game that was 10-0, and should have been 7-0, faded away quicker than Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb’s relationship. Three horrible passes were gobbled by the Panthers, and that was it. Eli’s first playoff game was broken up like his batted down passes have been all season.

The ugly concluding chapter to Manning’s second season, shouldn’t be looked down upon. He improved tremendously from where he was last season, but it just goes to show the Ben Roethlisberger stories are improbable to happen. Youth equals trouble at any state in the playoffs.

As Manning headed to the locker room with his head sunk lower than his chest, we’re sure that he was burning with frustration. But ending his season this badly in the playoffs, will help him out more than losing by a field goal in the playoffs. Now he knows that he must work even harder on his skills. With his dad and Peyton around him for more intense off-season training, there will be even that extra fire burning inside of him. What’ll make it even stronger, is if he watches his brother run the table and win a Super Bowl ring.

Seeing success, especially from a sibling almost always creates jealously. That jealously doesn’t have to be an anger type of jealously, but on the level of idolizing your big brother or sister. With Eli Manning being six years younger than Peyton, he has seen the constant levels of where he needs to be. Achieving and following those footsteps has been almost on the same track record.

One thing Eli doesn’t want to do is suffer three postseason losses before he wins one. This Giants team isn’t far off from taking the reigns in the NFC, but what team isn’t? It’ll take extremely smart moves from the front office for them to become something other than another playoff team. Strong acquisitions need to be made for another wide receiver and key defensive areas.

Nothing hurts a young quarterbacks development more, than poor moves from the franchise. Being a New York team, the Giants will likely refrain from making dumb moves. This team will be built upon, and make strides by the year with Manning. If the Giants are knocked out in the divisional round next season, Manning has to look at it as another good year. Going from a bust rookie season to where he came this year, is an amazing accomplishment.

Keeper League Post Week 17

Tuesday, 3 January, 2006

Quarterbacks

Kerry Collins
Mr. inconsistent is stuck with the Raiders starting spot. There aren’t many quality quarterbacks in the league, so the Raiders can only hope Collins can turn his latter years into the status of a solid veteran. He has always had the ability, and can be a top five quarterback. The same problem that plagued Jake Plummer for so many years is what is happening to Collins. Jake Plummer revived his career this season, and maybe Collins is next. By no means is Collins a keeper league quarterback, but keep him in mind on keeper league draft day.

Philip Rivers
Drew Brees injury couldn’t have happened at a worse time. The Chargers are going to make a tough decision this off-season. Either way don’t expect both quarterbacks do be in a Chargers uniform. There are many teams struggling at quarterback and teams will be intrigued by Rivers. Especially a team like the Cardinals with their overflow of great receivers.

Gus Frerotte
The change in Miami’s six game win streak, was them opening up the offense. Once they did that, the running game suddenly became better and the passing game has been on fire. All Chris Chambers has needed was balls thrown his way to become an elite receiver. Miami should draft a quarterback for the future, but expect Frerotte to be the man for a solid year or two.

Drew Bledsoe
Everyone loves to take shots at Bledsoe, but he is in the top twenty in several categories for all time quarterbacks statistically. He is doing something right, but his style of play is why people hate on him. He still isn’t a keeper league quarterback, but you can be sure Jerry Jones and Bill Parcells are going to get this team in order.

Running Backs

DeShaun Foster
Foster was amongst the sleeper category at running back in the off-season, and until last week didn’t show anything. We can assume Stephen Davis’s days are dwindling, so sooner or later the job will be Foster’s for the taking. Can he stay healthy with a full load of carries? That hasn’t been the case in limited roles for the past several years.

Marcel Shipp
Here is a running back that just hangs around Arizona, even though they always replace him as a starter. He has had his fair share of injuries, but is a big powerful back that can be the man. The Cardinals offensive line is the problem, not Shipp.

Larry Johnson
No doubt about it, Johnson is the new king of fantasy football for the next three years. He has tremendous balance to go along with unbelievable power and speed. With his offensive line in tact for the long haul, his career is going to be even better than Priest Holmes. Shaun Alexander better watch out for that touchdown record.

Willis McGahee
In an offense that was struggling the majority of the season, McGahee quietly had another solid year. Once the passing game gets to a decent level, McGahee will be a top five fantasy football running back.

Wide Receivers

Keyshawn Johnson
He is a receiver that can be counted on for consistency. He makes the tough catches over the middle and Cris Carter catches in the end zone and towards the sidelines. Drew Bledsoe is always finding him. Keeping him in mind for a strong third receiver would be smart.

Lavernues Coles
Coles finally matched one of Santana Moss’s zillion big plays this season. We all hated on Coles but we know darn well the Jets offensive woes may not have had to do with Coles. If Pennington can come back healthy, Coles should have a bounce back year.

Javon Walker
Walker is a hungry receiver. First he was exposed as a greedy receiver wanting more money in the offseason. Than he suffered a season ending injury and had to watch his team fall a part. Favre may be gone, Sherman is out, and the team appears to be down the tubes for awhile. Don’t give up just yet. This team still has plenty of talent. If Ahman Green is healthy, and Favre comes back, there team could be in the hunt for one year. Especially if they draft the right guy with their high pick. Walker is an extreme talent, that is working relentlessly to prove himself.

NFC Playoff Outlook

Monday, 2 January, 2006

The playoffs are here, and the only thing definite are the teams. If there is anyone that goes undefeated on their picks this go around in the playoffs, deserves to head to Vegas for a new career. You’d think home field advantage would be huge and it is. But a lot of teams, especially in the NFC, seem to not be affected by the home crowd. The great coaches will separate their teams above the rest. Coaches like Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, Jim Fassel, and Bill Belicheck. Still, not even great coaching can get it done. The winter weather, stagnant bodies ready for the off-season, and key miscues will affect a game completely if the same two teams were to have lined up in October. Let’s go.

In the NFC, it all boils down to the quarterbacks. Most are inexperienced when it comes to a playoff taste. Jake Delhomme and Mark Brunell would be the most experienced, and Matt Hasselbeck also has a bad taste from last season. After that though, Chris Simms, Eli Manning, and Rex Grossman are the young bucks. Manning and Simms have been shaky and hot on the charts on different weeks. Rex Grossman hasn’t even absorbed a sixteen game schedule yet in his career.

The edge has to go to Carolina right now. They’re the team that has been there, and matches up well against every team. Seattle has been winning all season, and has the home field advantage edge. But they had a fairly easy schedule, and won a few close games that they shouldn’t have. The key with Seattle is slowing Shaun Alexander down. When that happens, Seattle’s offense is shut down from doing anything. That’s why we believe the Seahawks will have a hard time getting to the Super Bowl.

Just like Archie Manning said, he doesn’t want to hear talks of Eli vs. Peyton just yet. The reason why is because Eli isn’t ready. He’ll get the nasty results like his brother Peyton has over and over again. Manning has just been too erratic and there is no escaping that from not happening in three games to the Super Bowl.

Washington can play close games, but their defense is susceptible, and Mark Brunell is banged up. It’s going to difficult for them to beat the Buccaneers, which will have an even better chance this time with a healthy Carnell Williams. Which was not the case a few months back in November when they barely beat the Redskins.

With Chicago the only question is can their defense hold up every week against great teams? Being that it they’re statistically one of the best defenses in NFL history, why not? It’ll take a solid offense with Thomas Jones running well though to complement their team with wins.

Let’s not go overboard with decisions for picks. The only thing we’re saying is expect the usual upset or two, in the playoffs. One thing we’re almost sure of, is that Seattle will not be in the Super Bowl.