The only things that are certain are death, taxes and NFL Coaching changes.

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General William R. Looney III, Air Education a...
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The teams that have already fired the HC:

Cowboys – The Boys will most likely stay with Interim Head Coach (IHC) Garrett. The team has played much better under Garrett than under Phillips. However, owner Jones would love to get a big name guy but none of them will take the job because of Jones history of interference with the day to day operations of the team.

Vikings – IHC Frazier is 50/50 to keep his job in 2011. The team has not improved much after the change but Frazier has had a lot of issues to work through. While the team is talented, it is older and the window on the Vikes getting to a Super Bowl is closing fast.

Broncos – IHC Studesville is not likely to be the 2011 HC. He has been a RB coach for most of his career. Because of the debacle that Owner Bowlen caused by hiring the badly over matched McDaniels, the Broncos need a name brand with HC experience. He is not likely to get the “big 2” (Gruden and Cowher) and will probably have to settle with someone like Kubiak.

The teams that will have coaching changes:

Panthers – HC Fox’s contract expires at the end of the year and he has been told it will not be extended. However Fox has a good enough rep that he will get another HC job very soon. The Panthers are a fairly attractive team with the 1st pick (IF Stanford QB Luck comes out) and some quality pieces. But it is several years away from contending.

49ers – HC Singletary got the job as an IHC but the team never came around for him. Frankly most of the problem is lack of talent. QB Alex Smith, a former 1st overall pick, has been a large part of the lack of production. High draft picks have failed to produce on both the O and D lines. But except for QB, this team has some great players like RB Gore, WR Crabtree and LB Willis.

Texans – This team under HC Kubiak has been the pick for the last 4 years to unseat the Colts in the AFC South. It has not happened. After a couple of 8-8 seasons, the wheels came off this year. The team has a solid O but the D is filled with high picks that have not developed. It is attractive because it is young and has some talent. It is also in a division that is rebuilding with the Colts window closing and the Titans and Panthers getting new coaches this year.

Titans – HC Fisher’s contract expires and there will be a new HC here next year. The problem has been more a difference of opinion between the Owner Adams and Fisher. Adams wants QB Young to be the guy but Young and the HC do not get along at all. Fisher will be hired by another team immediately if he is not extended by the Titans.

Bengals – HC Lewis is history. The Bengals won the Division by sweeping the games within it. This year they have won only 3 games. Lewis will get a job elsewhere as a DC but not as a HC. Mike Brown is going to have a real problem bring in a top prospect because of the history of this franchise. In addition, the entire team is going to be blown up particularly on O. It is a L O N G way from being competitive.

Browns – HC Mangini will be history at the end of the season unless Pres. Holmgren can’t get a name brand. The team has regressed this year despite having gotten a steal at QB with McCoy in the 3rd round. The most likely to replace him is Holmgren as HC or Gruden if the team can sign him.

Teams that will possibly fire their coaches:

Chargers – HC Turner will have to not only make the playoffs but get past the 1st round or 2 to keep his job. The team has always started slowly under Turner and this year has stumbled late in the season.

Raiders – The team is improved at 7-7 but HC Cable may still get the boot if for no other reason than Al Davis is still running the operation. Anything is possible

Dolphins – The team has regressed under HC Sparano this year. The players are not preforming up to their draft projections. QB Henne is seen now as a bust as was QB Beck, WR Ginn and other first and second round picks by GM Ireland. The recent losses combined with the mention of Miami by Cowher as a job he was interested in has destabilized the Dolphin situation. At this point I estimate there is only a 50% chance there will be changes in Miami. However, it is one to watch.

Redskins – There are serious problems between the Owner Snyder and HC Shanahan. Snyder brought QB McNabb in and the coach benched him. Snyder gave him an extension then the HC told him he would not play the rest of the year. The same thing happened with DT Haynesworth. Snyder traded for him, the coach refused to play him. The Owner gave him a huge roster bonus but he seldom got on the field. Battles between a coach and the owner always end one way–the HC gets canned. It may not happen this year but this is a situation to watch.

Giants – HC Coughlin is not on the hot seat yet but after the D allowed the comeback against the hated Eagles, the seat did get a little warmer. Another factor is former Steeler Coach Cowher saying that job would be one he would seriously consider. If the Giants don’t make the playoffs, Coughlin’s seat will get a lot warmer.

Chiefs – There are rumors of a possible change in KC not despite the team’s turnaround but because of it. Last year this same team under HC Haley went 4-12. This year with 2 quality coordinators, the team is 9-5. I hear that ownership is wondering if Haley was ready. Another problem seems to be the difference between 2 coordinators coming from the Belichick tree and HC Haley being a Parcells guy. I am hearing that the coordinators feel like they are carrying an unprepared HC.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. His first non-fiction work is at the publisher now and he has also published several novels on

and edits .

Also listen to the best Sports Talk anywhere on the Internet and hear my league news and draft analysis on Tuesdays on http://www.cleveland.com/dsn/index.ssf/2010/11/dsn_video_live_stream.html

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First round QBs in the NFL Draft may disappear.

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Not that long ago most NFL teams gave a rookie QB 2 or 3 years to mature and learn the game. However, that has changed in recent years and it may be changing again.

First round QBs are expected to start quickly and some of them are able to do that. The recent success of Roethlisberger (PT), Sanchez (NJ), and Ryan (AT) make us forget the list of those that have crashed and burned in recent years.

We start with 2007 because it is too soon to evaluate players being a bust from the 08 or 09 drafts.

2007-1st pick JaMarcus Russell Oakland Russell has thrown a total of 18 TDs and 23 picks since joining the league. He has a career passer rating of 65.2. In the 2010 draft the team traded for Campbell to replace him.

2007-22nd pick Brady Quinn Cleveland He didn’t get thrown into the game immediately but that still didn’t help him. In 3 years he had a rating of 66.8. He was traded to Denver this year for a bucket of water. They were so impressed with Quinn that they used a 1st round pick on QB Tim Tebow.

2006-3rd pick Vince Young Tennessee His first 2 years he was the starter and had passer ratings of 66.7 and 71.1. He got benched in 08 and the first part of 09 but came back after learning a little more about the game and had some success.

2006-10 Matt Leinart Arizona He started in game 5 of 06 and threw 11 TDs but 12 picks. He ended that year with a QBR of 74. He was named the starter in 07 but was done after 5 games with a QBR of 61.9. He has started 1 game since. He will have to fight for the job this year because the Cards traded for Anderson after Kurt Warner retired.

2006-11th Jay Cutler Denver Cutler was quite successful in his first 3 years with QBRs of 88.5, 88.1 and 86.0 before wearing out his welcome forcing a trade to Chicago. There he threw 27 TDs but 26 picks and a QBR of a mediocre 76.8.

2005-1st overall Alex Smith San Francisco Smith started the last 5 games of 05 and all of 06. But 7 games into 07 he was pulled for an undrafted FA. Even with a QBR in 09 of 81.5 his career number is 69.2. In his first 3 seasons he threw 19 TDs but 31 picks.

2005-25th Jason Campbell Washington Campbell sat out 05 but started 7 games in 06, 13 games in 07 and every game since. Despite improving his stats each year, he was traded to the Raiders this season for a 4th round pick in 2012. That is the equivalent of a 6th round pick this draft.

So in the 3 seasons we looked at, there were 7 first round QBs picked and only Cutler has been successful enough to be named a replacement pro bowler after a couple of others backed out. Young may be on the upswing after sitting for a year and a half. The rest were pretty much busts. Those busts set their teams back several seasons except the Cards that had future Hall of Fame QB Warner in reserve.

So what is the problem? There are several factors that are making the drafting of a QB in the first round less likely now and perhaps prohibitive in the near future.

The first cause is cost. The price of a QB as the 1st pick in 2010 will be 50 million in cash guarantees. Bradford will get that even if he never plays a down for the Rams. The Rams were willing to take offers to trade down but even in an uncapped year there were no serious bids for the pick.

The more pressing issue is the spread offense of the College game. More and more college teams are using a version of the spread and QBs that play 3 or 4 years in that system are not at all prepared to come to the NFL.

The pass patterns that the spread runs are very limited. The most frequent pattern is the bubble screen. There are very few teams that use the route tree like that of the NFL. The favorite pattern in the NFL is the skinny post. Very few college QBs even know what that is.

WRs are wide open in college but are not open at all in the NFL. As a result, QBs are not forced to make the throw to the back shoulder of a WR. There is accuracy in college but that does not relate to accuracy in the NFL.

The average QB is in the shotgun 90+ percent of the time. They never have to worry about the 3, 5, and 7 step drop back. Footwork is critical to accuracy and almost none of the QBs coming into the league have consistent footwork.

The CBs that an NFL QB faces every week are better than any that a college QB in his career. The college kid has seldom seen a rotating zone or combination man/zone D. Those are used every week in the NFL.

The worst part of the spread is that QBs never have to make more than 2 reads of the defense. Bradford was not even looking at the D prior to the snap. He was always looking for the coach’s call from the sideline. It takes time to learn to do pre-snap reads. An NFL QB has to know where the pressure is likely to originate and has to adjust to it.

The more the rookie 1st round QBs cost the more pressure there is to put them under center Day 1. But given the complexities of the NFL defenses and the lack of NFL offenses in college, the more expensive QB is less prepared to come into the league.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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The 49ers need be more like their coach.

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Head coach Mike Singletary was known for 3 things—his love of the game, his intensity, and his knowledge of the game and everyone of his opponents. His team needs those qualities in order to change the culture of the team. The 49ers were once the team of the decade. But in the last few years it has become the team of decline.

One of the last things that the previous administration did was to use its 1st pick on QB Alex Smith. Smith has a history of injury and inconsistency that drove the previous coach mad and then into the unemployment line. Singletary allowed Smith to compete with Shaun Hill for the starting job. Hill won the job and Smith has had his last shot at winning over the team in SF. Hill has a below average arm but is more accurate and less injury prone than Smith. Singletary is a coach that will fit the system to the players that he has. The 49ers use a version of the West Coast offense that relies on timing of short and medium passes and a strong running game.

The running game is very strong with Frank Gore being the leading character in the offense. Gore is able to squirt through tiny holes and break long gains with a combination of great vision and quick feet. The knew that Gore has been overused in the last few seasons and drafted Alabama rookie Glen Coffee to carry some of the load. Both Gore and Coffee hit the hole quickly and are North South backs. Former Penn State QB Michael Robinson is also in the mix and has been used as a short yardage back and on 3rd downs.

The team has not given either QB much in terms of a reliable group of WRs and that has hurt their development. This year the team drafted WR Michael Crabtree from Texas Tech. But the combination of a broken bone in the foot and an extended holdout have reduced the chance he will be a factor this year. Isaac Bruce was the team’s leading receiver last year despite his age. Three younger players are contesting for playing time. Josh Morgan has the best shot to start. Brandon Jones and Jason Hill are right at his heals. The winner will be the one that produces yards after the catch and holds onto the ball the best. TE Vernon Davis has been inconsistent catching the ball as well but has speed and is a better blocker than people give him credit for supporting the running game.

The O line has been a problem for years. Things didn’t get better when former all pro Marvel Smith retired unexpectedly. They hope LT Joe Staley will prove his big new deal is money well spent. C Eric Heitmann is the best of the group. Journeyman Barry Sims has beaten out Adam Snyder to start at RT. That is not a good sign. LG David Baas has started at G and C but has not proven himself at either position. RG Chilo Rachal,a 2nd round pick as was Baas, looked better at USC than he has in SF. Both have to get it done this year to be around in 2010. There is quantity but not quality on the bench.

When Singletary took over, he changed the team to a 3-4. That improved their overall performance. RE Justin Smith plays the run and pass very well. The team does not have a true NT. Aubrayo Franklin does his best but gets washed out of the play too often. He is much more of a 1 gap player. LE Isaac Sopoaga is barely adequate at E and less than that at NT. Rookie Demetric Evans and vet Kentwan Balmer are in the rotation. This group needs to be better at keeping the LBs free to run to the ball.

The linebackers will be LOLB Manny Lawson, LILB Takeo Spikes, RILB Patrick Willis, ROLB Parys Haralson. Lawson was drafted to be the rush linebacker but has not produced yet. Willis is a pro bowl IB but Spikes starts because there just isn’t anyone else. He does help with leadership and keeping the D focused. Haralson is below average.

The only part of the D backfield that Singletary can count on is CB Nate Clements. The team signed well traveled Dre’ Bly to compete with Tarell Brown for the other CB spot. The competition is too close to call since Brown returned from a toe injury. The loser will become the nickel back and Shawntae Spencer will be the dime. The safety spots are in worse shape. SS Michael Lewis is solid against the run but can’t cover a grandmother with a walker. FS Dashon Goldson is the next in line to prove he can play the position. Former FS Mark Roman has proved he can’t. CB Marcus Hudson has had a few good moments but not enough to assure his inclusion in the 53 man roster.

OVERALL: The 49ers have to be better in the draft because Singletary will get the maximum out of the players he has. He deserves a better roster than he was given. The team should be better than the Rams and but has a way to go before they can challenge either the Cards or the Seahawks.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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