Archive for July, 2006

Smith's Development

Sunday, 30 July, 2006

Unless your name is Ben Roethlisberger the first thing you’re looking towards as a rookie quarterback is your second season. For Alex Smith, he might be looking for his second team after his second year if he does not turn around a disastrous rookie year. Perhaps he worked out some of the bugs that plagued him last year, because he looked nothing like a number one draft pick. Often though quarterbacks that have struggled as bad as Smith did his rookie year never turn around. Furthermore, the 49ers organization is not on the cusp of anything but being a basement team with no chance of advancement. So Smith, will be in for many years of what David Carr has went through, and the pounding may not be endurable for him.

Smith needs to buckle down and just play his game. Too many times last year he just aired the ball out and carried week to week with more careless plays. What did not help is the fact that he had a poor offensive line and no running game. Still, you have to give your team some hope for them to respond. It all falls on his shoulders and he needs to show something to motivate others. Hurting your team with eleven interceptions and only one touchdown pass hurt his team in more ways than one can think. Imagine the motivation level of a team that was thought to lose before the season, and then Smith coming in and playing awful every week?

We here the supposed great players in Randy Moss and Michael Vick admitting to not playing all out on certain plays. Just because they have spoken about it the media and others love to criticize it. Just like in any line of work though, there are going to be times that a person is not giving it his all. None of the 49ers voiced their thoughts, but actions speak louder than words. There were no actions from the 49ers and the best times of their season were when Tim Rattay and Ken Dorsey were playing.

San Francisco went from being a team that everyone wanted to go to, to a franchise everyone wants too leave. They got themselves in deep trouble with salary cap issues and still are working their way out of it. It’ll take some time, and maybe in a few years they will have that extra money to lure athletes back to the bay. An incentive always to a free agent is heading to a team with promise. Promise always comes from the quarterback position, and before his rookie year that was thought to be Alex Smith.

From a fantasy standpoint, Smith’s value is likely the worst ever in terms of a fantasy football team. He has zero upside for this season, and will likely not be on any teams. If he is, we all know who gets the vote for worst fantasy football general manager. That manager would have had to suffer injuries to every quarterback he drafted, and also to his waiver wire quarterback pickup(s). It’s that laughable, because Smith is a Jake Plummer heyday throwback player. He is going to make mistakes and keep making them.

We won’t rag on Smith too hard, as everyone knows what is ahead for him this year. The main thing is what lays ahead beyond this struggling season. He is a tall quarterback that can deliver a football wherever he wants. If he can even have a couple of great games to show value to other teams, he can work his hand to force the 49ers to trade him or surround him with better talent. The good news for Smith if he stays in a 49ers uniform is that they will have a top ten pick every year for the next five years. From there though that means nothing but a chance for the 49ers to overpay athletes they won‘t be able to keep after their first contract. Based on their pick in 2006, the likes of Vernon Davis should pay tremendous dividends to Alex Smith, but not enough to move them out of a top ten draft pick in 07.

Porter Authority

Wednesday, 26 July, 2006

For some reason athletes think they can get there way. Jerry Porter is pushing the buttons of the Raiders organization but they will not give in. Art Shell and Jerry Porter know that they don’t and will likely not get along. So how will this relationship work out, since the two will have to deal with each other?

It all started according to Jerry Porter from the immediate signing of Art Shell as head coach. They went at it verbally and from then on have not tried to mend the relationship. Shell does not care that Porter does not like him and says that the relationship is business only. Meaning as long as Porter is doing his job, he does not care.

Then yesterday Porter decides to go off on a television station again on how much he is disliking the situation and demanded a trade. Suddenly the next day Porter is unable to practice due to a calf injury. Hmm, it has to be the early rigorous workouts getting to him. Come on Jerry, stop being a baby and do your job. When Art Shell was questioned on Porter’s status, he said that he will not be traded and the status of his health will be examined.

If we were Jerry Porter we would be calling ourselves an idiot. He has enough competition to deal with in the likes of Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel. Not to mention he is coming off a poor year in which he could not complement Randy Moss, even though Moss was not 100 percent and missed plenty of games. Porter should be worried about his job and future of gaining a worthy contract by taking advantage of his current situation. Teams are not only going to shy away from him because of his on the field struggles but will shy away even further because of his attitude issues.

If you were a high profiled athlete, maybe, just maybe you could get away with going overboard like this. If you’re about to participate in a fantasy football draft, do not even consider Porter at this point. This situation could get ugly enough where he might be following the Keyshawn Johnson and Terrell Owens path by mid season. A coach of Art Shell’s nature does not give two cents about Porter’s demands. Especially when he has Randy Moss as his main guy.

Hopefully for Jerry and the Raiders this situation boils over and they handle this like men. The best thing for them would be to sit down and discuss things all over again. Porter has too much talent and could flourish with Aaron Brooks and maybe finally get his career launched. No longer is Porter a third or fourth year receiver, he is now approaching his seventh season and needs to start acting like it. Chances and stints to play that long in the league do not come to a lot, and Porter needs to realize that. There is no time for whining, pouting, and acting like a soccer player faking an injury to impress somebody.

McNabb's at Crossroads

Tuesday, 25 July, 2006

When a quarterback comes into the league most of the time odds are against him. For Donovan McNabb, as soon as he stepped on stage when he was drafted, he knew it was going to be a tough start to his career. The presents he delivered for Philadelphia though came quicker than anyone could imagine. He instantly stepped in and gave the Eagles a boost. For years the Eagles were in the playoffs and in the NFC Championship title game. They finally eclipsed that and reached the Super Bowl a few years ago, but now things are completely different. For all of those great years McNabb has put up, people seem to be still doubting him. When will it stop?

The media just can not let go of the one story that has been covered more times than the mentally disabled kid that rained three’s in a high school basketball game. It’s great to keep stirring up controversy when they were on the same team, but TO signed with Dallas numerous months ago. They do not care about each other and sure as heck are not interested in talking about each other anymore. We can’t wait for the moment either of them snaps during next season when asked a question on that at the wrong moment.

For Donovan McNabb though he has played without Terrell Owens the majority of his career. Do not forget, Owens, missed part of his first season with his ankle injury and then was suspended for the rest of the last season. Sure the times Owens was on the field he produced tremendously but he was not there every week. McNabb was the one there to take the snap every down and endured the treacherous times. So the fact that TO is no longer there is not as big an issue as people are making it out to be. It will likely get McNabb back to spreading the football out or even taking off with the ball, instead of having to worry about pleasing Terrell Owens head with touches.

The Eagles still have a solid defense and offensively they will be looking to find their niche. Brian Westbrook figures to be the main helper in developing that. He really has not been involved in the offense as much as he should be. Especially last season as the Eagles rarely ran the football and did not use screens as they have in the past. Westbrook is an explosive back with plenty of ability left and will help the Eagles revive their offense in someway.

Once that happens it will be back in McNabb’s hands to just play with no weight on his shoulders. McNabb has struggled before in his career, as everyone remembers the Rush Limbaugh comments. Then his problem was all mechanical more than mental, but now it is likely all mental. He needs to go out there and play with a free mind. The Eagles use to win plenty of low scoring games because McNabb controlled the tempo, and picked his spots for poison. That’s why they were consistently deep into the playoffs, and is what they’ll need to do to get back there.

The operation can only be a success if the team is ready to move on. If not, then likely the team is going to need a change over. That may end up having to let Andy Reid go, or just as simple as bringing in a new offensive coordinator. Whatever the issue is, this whole team and McNabb is in a crossroads period. There is no telling where the team is going, but this year will be a test mark for the good or bad. McNabb’s long term contract has no bearing of his stay in Philadelphia until 2014. If the team or himself wants out, it will happen.

Fantasy football participants may be worried about McNabb suddenly faltering completely. This is an eight year veteran not a five year. There is no doubt he is just as motivated to prove himself as TO is without him. He trains as hard as anybody in the off season every year in Arizona, to keep trying to get better. After Manning and Palmer you are not going to find any quarterback with the upside of McNabb. His receivers are not the best but they are a solid young group of receives. Reggie Brown showed some ability last year and the return of Todd Pinkston lifts the group as well. Greg Lewis and Jabar Gaffney are right behind them with just as much talent, and tight end LJ Smith will keep a prime role in the Eagles lineup.

McNabb will shake off any suspicions the first week of the season and this will just be another chapter avoided by McNabb of doubters.

Awaiting

Sunday, 23 July, 2006

Think of the Arizona Cardinals wide receivers. Who comes to mind? Instantly two names pop up. One in Anquan Boldin and the other as Larry Fitzgerald. The funny thing is, while those two will be the main figures of the Cardinals offense, there is a serious sleeper with fine talent. That wide out is none other than Bryant Johnson, who was taken with the Cardinals first round pick over second rounder Anquan Boldin.

While Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald were able to step in and shine, it has taken Bryant Johnson a little longer. It has been a slow process to the standards of a first round pick but he has been a solid producer. His stats may not show it, as of the last two years he has only averaged around five hundred yards receiving and a mere couple of touchdowns.

If you were to ask Kurt Warner though he would say different. Anyone that watched the Cardinals when Kurt Warner was dropping back, could easily notice his favoritism a little bit towards Johnson. They developed that connection in preseason and training camp last season.

For fantasy owners the big question is, why even look at the name Bryant Johnson? The reason is because of talent and the team he is on. An added bonus is that his contract expires at the end of this year, and you can bet Johnson will get his name out for a free agent campaign worth some dollars. One other major reason is the simple fact that Anquan Boldin has never been on the field a full season since his rookie year. At some time in the year he develops some itty injury that carries over a length of time that it should not. Who knows if one of those times will turn into a season.

Boldin and Fitzgerald are young and the top of their positions as athletes. They’ll be ready for the physical contact and near 100 balls they’ll be seen thrown at them. Realistically though for both to make it through the season without missing a game or worse is unlikely. Meaning Bryant Johnson will see some heavy duty as the Cardinals are going to expand the offense even more with the addition of Edgerrin James.

We guarantee that Bryant Johnson will be a hot waiver wire pickup at some point and pay high dividends. Since his rookie year, he has been a sneaky player that has stayed off radars. That’s what averaging 450 yards and only one touchdown a year will do to you. Those stats though are very valuable for the time and number of catches he gets. A player can only do so much when only having forty balls thrown his way. All he needs to do is catch a break his way and get a little extra playing time on the field.

Johnson has seen the fabulous years of his buddies Fitzgerald and Boldin racking up near records as combo number one and two receivers. Deep down that has to be getting to him, especially since he was picked over Boldin. A free agent year somehow always falls into the hands of a player that has been waiting to shine throughout his first contract. No one exemplifies that statement more than Bryant Johnson. With a solid 2006 season you can bet a team will give him a chance as a main target in 2007.

Rivers Struggles Await

Monday, 3 July, 2006

Sit and watch is what quarterbacks secretly want as a rookie. When that turns into the same situation as a second year player anxiousness is arise. Philip Rivers drew the heat on the Chargers franchise to make a decision last year, and they countered by signing Brees to a one year deal. The deal was a move to lay over the franchises decision on which quarterback to move forward with. With Drew Brees’s shoulder injury as a major question, the Chargers decided they could not afford that with a talented Rivers awaiting. So unlike fellow drafted quarterback Eli Manning, Rivers will enter his third season basically as an untested rookie. Did Rivers learn a lot mentally from watching or will he need to take all his bumps and bruises this season?

The two best things for Rivers are the same two reasons Brees looked so calm as a Charger. LT and Antonio Gates play their positions at the top rank, and will surely keep their skill levels at a high rate. With LT on the field he makes it tremendously easy for the quarterback. Whether it is a simple ordinary handoff or LT’s dangerous abilities out of the backfield as a receiving back. The assurances of a reliable back will always be there.

A worry there could be that LT has taken a lot of burden on his shoulders, and started to wear down a bit last year because of it. If there is ever a year the Chargers will need to work him more early on in the season, it will be now. The Chargers do not want to risk the health of LT and may give an extra dosage to backup Michael Turner.

Another concern has to be the Chargers wide receivers. Yes, Antonio Gates has been used primarily as the main receiving factor, but they will need someone other than Gates to emerge. Keenan McCardell has done a decent job as a Charger, but has to feel the age of his recently retired partner Jimmy Smith. It is odd to have a 36 year old receiver as your number one, especially with no one reliable behind McCardell on the depth chart. Eric Parker has been a Charger for years but has never emerged because he should not be a starting wide receiver.

As long as LT and Antonio Gates stay healthy then Rivers should be fine. Do not expect Rivers to have many huge passing days, but to have a solid season. Maybe an average of 210 to 220 yards a game and fifteen to the high teens in touchdowns. Marty Shottenheimer is going to do everything in his power to keep games close. The defense is strong especially at stopping the run, and that alone will keep them in games.

What the Chargers do not want to do, is let Philip Rivers lose games for them. That’s a department the Chargers never were too concerned with Drew Brees. He always kept his interceptions low, and that was vital in the Chargers success.

So from a fantasy standpoint, Rivers is not worth drafting at all. You may think about snatching him off the waiver wire in preseason, if the offense looks smooth with him out there. Rivers will be one of a few starting quarterbacks to get plenty of time in the preseason. Like most first time starters Rivers will be sluggish and that will lead to him shying away from the big play. Over time though he will be a nice fantasy quarterback as he has all the intangibles to be the cornerstone franchise quarterback for the Chargers.

New Rave

Monday, 3 July, 2006

Being treated improperly in professional sports is a commonality. The majority of athletes are cut or forced out due to the lower echelon of job security in the NFL. That is the part of sports that is expected and never looked into deeply. But when a former MVP and multiple Pro Bowler is handed his walking papers it does. Steve McNair’s case with the Tennessee Titans may have been the worst case a player has ever been treated. For what he did for the Titans since 1995 was remarkable, and suddenly they cut him off their list. Life as an athlete is tough, but Steve McNair is going to make life tough for coaches and crush the mentality of the Titans front office.

He may have went through some injury prone seasons and seem to be on the down side of his career, but McNair is no where done. Now a Baltimore Raven, he enters a situation that was in desperate need for a quarterback of his abilities. Do not be shocked to see a sudden revitalized Jamal Lewis, and oh a Ravens defense return to the extraordinary level that was gone last year.

In the NFC North there is only one team heading into the season without a question mark at quarterback. That team is the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals and Steelers are hoping their young gun slingers are healthy. Even if they are the rust will be there from the slow process of non contact drills and the overlap of rest. The Cleveland Browns are looking dismal with no one but Charlie Frye to look forward with.

It is going to be a lot easier than people think, for the Ravens to be strong AFC contenders. Not the .500 type contender, but a great team. The defense now has Trevor Pryce and a huge defensive tackle in Haloti Ngata that will protect Ray Lewis. Offensively they brought in veteran tail back Mike Anderson, in case Jamal Lewis is stutter step 2005 Lewis.

The situation is so great for McNair that it is almost too good. Another subtle attraction is the fact that McNair has his favorite target at wide receiver. Yes, Derrick Mason the reception gobbling king that we all know will team up with McNair strongly this season. Weapons galore does not end. We all remember that Frank Wycheck was one of McNair’s favorite targets back in the day. Well now he has a healthy Todd Heap to hurl the ball too.

From a fantasy stand point no one is going to draft McNair in a deserving spot. Reason being that quarterbacks have been unsuccessful with the Ravens. The reason being that Chris Redman, Kyle Boller, and Anthony Wright should have never been out on the field. Do not be fooled by that. Steve McNair will put up decent numbers and open up the offense for the Ravens. He spreads the football around as well as any quarterback, which makes it extremely easy for the offensive coordinator to bust out gadget plays.

The other obvious reason no one will take McNair above the sixth round is because of his injury history. He has been banged up more than ever, but what you have to love about McNair is that he battled most of those injuries on the field. He hardly ever missed the time he should have to recover from his injuries.

If you see an opportunity in the draft where McNair is the best second option left at quarterback than draft him. Especially if you were unable to draft Manning, Brady, Delhomme, or a for sure number one quarterback. The Ravens may not open up the offense as much as fantasy owners would like, just because of their stellar defense. They will do enough though for McNair to finish around twenty touchdowns and near the 3,000 yard mark.

Name a quarterback you could count on more of as a second fantasy quarterback?