The media has missed the point on PG Jeremy Lin

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Lin has had more face time on TV and in print over the last few days than Pres. Obama.  And in my opinion, he is a great story.  But everyone has missed the real significance of the story.

Most analysts are comparing Lin to Tim Tebow.  While the public love for the two players is similar that is the end of the comparison.  Tebow was the most celebrated college player since Archie Griffin won his second Heisman trophy.  Tebow was a first round draft choice.  Lin had been passed around the NBA like a bowl of Fritos at a Super Bowl party.

I compare the Lin story to that of Ram QB Kurt Warner.  Kurt was stocking grocery store shelves before getting a call from the team.  In 1999 he was put on the veteran expansion draft list for the Browns to take when they came back into the league.

People forget Warner had been the MVP of the NFL Europe league.  He had also been very successful in the indoor football league as well.  Despite my screaming at the TV during the broadcast of the Browns stocking draft, they passed on Warner.  As we all know he went on to lead the Rams to a win in the Super Bowl that year.  But he only got his chance when the starter went down in the preseason.  The bottom line for Warner and Lin was they came from nowhere (Sorry Harvard grads) to become a fan favorite.

Warner has proven his Hall of Fame credentials by taking the Rams to two Super Bowls and the lowly Arizona Cardinals to one.  So far Lin is just a great story for the past week.  Only time will tell if Lin reaches the rarefied air of a Warner.  But that is not the point either.

The real point that everyone is missing is that there is a lot of potential talent in both the NFL and the NBA that goes unrecognized and never comes to fruition.  If the starter did not go down, Warner would likely have been a backup at most.

Only the injuries have allowed Lin to get playing time.  Given the lack of practice time the lockout shortened season has allowed, Lin’s talent might never have been recognized.  Only time will tell how good he can become.

The question is how many potential stars has your favorite team missed because they never got a chance to show what they could do?  I would guess a lot.  While he hate to see anyone hurt, when a team finds someone like Warner or Lin, it makes the injury a lot less painful for the team if not for the former starter.

That is what I think.  Tell us what you think.

If you want a different look at Cleveland Sports, join me on the Internet radio version of News, Notes and Rumors M-Th at 6 PM EST on http://mooheadradio.com/2.0/. 

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Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com.  He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/.

 

 

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First round QBs in the NFL Draft may disappear.

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nflDraft

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 .

Technorati Tags: NFL Draft,NFL Draft grades,Bradford,Tebow,Russell,Campbell,Roethlisberger,Sanchez,Ryan,Quinn,Young,Leinart,Cutler,Smith,49ers,Browns,Steelers,Falcons,Jets,Raiders,Redskins,Bears,Bron
cos,Titans

The Browns passed on a Hall of Fame QB and RB

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I know what your thinking. You probably believe that I think now that Sanchez the 5th pick overall pick in the 2009 draft is going to be a HOF QB. I don’t know about that. I still have a suspicion that Sanchez will be a good but not great QB. That is not the guy I am talking about.

In 1999 when the Browns were presented with the list of “vets” in the expansion draft from which they could build their roster, the name Kurt Warner was available! The Rams had put Warner on the list because they had brought Trent Green in as their starter and had Tony Banks who had been the starter for 3 seasons. They were also planning to draft a QB in 99. Warner was at best the 3rd QB on their roster.

Warner had been a super star in the Arena League. Before you laugh at that consider this–A critical key to success at QB is the ability to find the open guy and get him the ball in very tight windows quickly. The Arena League is a good training ground because there is only a 50 yard field that is 1/2 as wide as the NFL field and there are only 3 guys blocking for the QB.

Warner had also flourished in NFL Europe where he had been the MVP. Unlike the pinheads that were making decisions for the Browns, I had watched NFL Europe. I had also seen Warner in the Arena League a couple of times. As the Browns made their picks, I was S C R E A M I N G at the TV to take Warner. They didn’t. I threw an ashtray at the TV after the expansion draft and then went directly to Walmart to buy another one.

Every sports fan knows what happened then. Green went down in the preseason. Warner had beat out Banks for the 2nd QB spot in the 99 off season. Warner started and took a team that had won 2 games in 98 to a World Championship in 99.

The Browns on the other hand didn’t compete for a playoff spot. They went 2-14 and thus began the 11 years of inept play by the “new” Cleveland Browns.

What if?

What if in the Expansion Draft the Browns would have taken Warner? Then they could have traded their first 2nd round pick to the Colts for Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk. Then they could have traded their 1st pick overall to the Saints for their entire draft (except a 2nd round pick that had been traded previously) plus a 1st and 2nd or 3rd round pick in 2000 depending on RB Ricky Williams production. They would have had to pick up a vet free agent QB if they were not going to draft one early. Those that were available were Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, Trent Dilfer and Jon Kitna. All of them were capable of starting until Warner was ready. Of course Warner was ready long before anyone could have expected. Here is what their first draft could have looked like:

1-1 Traded to the Saints

1-12 DE Jevon Kearse TN

2-32 Traded to the Colts for Faulk

2-45 Fred Vinson CB GB

3-62 Cory Hall CB CN

3-71 Joey Porter LB PT

3-76 Mike McKenzie CB GB

4-107 Rosevelt Colvin LB CH

4-124 Ed Mulitalo G BA

5-125Traded to the Colts for Faulk

5-144 Jerry Azumah DB OK

2000 Draft

1-2 Chris Samuels T WA

3-64 Laveranues Coles WR NJ

Clearly it is easier to pick great drafts after the fact but I had every one of these players on my list and I am sure that other draft analysts had them as well. The key is if you have more picks even a blind draft guru can hit on more than if you have fewer picks. The extra picks could have made a huge difference in the team over the last 11 years.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

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 morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,NFL Draft,expansion draft,Warner,Browns,Faulk,Hall of Fame,NFL Hall of Fame,Colts,Saints,draft picks

What did we learn from the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs.

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nfl

Cardinals 14 @ Saints 45

Cards

The O line let QB Warner down. It had played so well last week but folded under the pressure of the Saint D this week. The WRs didn’t have time to get open. Warner went 17-26 for just 205 and no TDs. That was not enough to offset the Saint O.

After a single run 70 yards the Saints shut the run down. With the Cards forced to pass on every down, the D line just opened up and rushed the passer.

The Cards D was unable to cover the Saint receivers early. When the Cards fell behind by 14 in the first quarter, the D couldn’t stop the run. Injuries to key players also contributed to the Saints scoring 45 points.

Saints

The Saint O had struggled in the last few games. In the last three games all of which were losses the Saints O scored only 44 total points. But someone flipped the switch for the playoffs and the O came alive. The passing game got them up by 14 after the 1st quarter and they did whatever they wanted after that. QB Brees was 23-32 for 247 and 3 TDs. RB Thomas carried 13 times for only 52 yards but RB Bush had 5 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. The O line kept the ball moving by excellent pass and run blocking. The Card D was exhausted.

The Saints D was outstanding as well. They had played well in the losses at the end of the season but were let down by the lack of O. They allowed only 67 points in the 3 losses. Against the Cards they caused 3 fumbles (recovering 1) and a pick. The Cards just could not move the chains and keep the ball.

Cowboys 3 @ Vikings 34

Cowboys

This is the Boys we have come to see in the playoffs. They couldn’t get out of their own way. They couldn’t protect QB Romo. He was running around like a butcher shop delivery boy surrounded by a pack of wild dogs. Romo was 22-35 for 198 and a pick. The over rated Boy O line was unable to either open holes for the running game or protect their QB. RB Jones broke one run for 17 yards but had 13 attempts for 52 yards otherwise. Barber got just 8 attempts for 14 yards. The O committed penalties, missed assignments, and were unable to handle the D line of the Vikes.

The Boys D was equally inept. They did do a reasonable job against RB Peterson holding him to 63 yards on 26 attempts. But time after time, Favre hit a pass that moved the chains and kept the Boys D on the field.

Vikings

This game was why the Vikes had to sign Favre. He was the difference in this game as he had been in so many of the Vikes wins before. He was only 15-24 for 234 yards but threw 4 TDs. When the Vikes got a 14 point lead, the game was over. The O just kept the ball away from the Boys and wore the Cowboy D to a frazzle. It was a perfect combination of passing keeping the chains moving. The 14 point explosion in the 4th quarter was due to a totally defeated D giving up because the Boys O was totally outclassed by the Vikes.

One problem exists that will prevent the Vikes from getting to the Super Bowl–The O line has to be able to get Peterson running room. If they can not run the ball against the Saints, they will lose.

The Vikes D did what was expected. They harassed Romo and prevented the run from hurting them. They sacked Romo 6 times and made the tackle when he completed a pass. The Boys got just 3.8 yards per pass attempt. That is not nearly enough to get a win. They held the run to just 3.8 per attempt. This D is the real thing. The Vikes have had the D, O line, and running back to win in previous years. They one thing they lacked was a QB to get it done. With Favre they have that now.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

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 morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: nfl football,fantasy football,nfl playoffs,Super Bowl,Cardinals,Saints,Warner,Brees,Cowboys,Vikings,Romo,Favre

What to look for in the Saturday Divisional round games.

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Cards @ Saints

Cards QB Warner had just another day at the office. Against one of the most improved Ds in the league he went 29-33 for 379 yards and 5 TDs without a pick. The Pack had no answer for Warner. They blitzed him and he picked man to man coverage apart. They rushed 3 and kept 8 in coverage and he found holes in the zones. The O line protected Warner for the most part and sub WRs did well to make up for the loss of WR Bolden.

On D, the Cards and the Pack allowed the score board to look like the something out of Pinball Wizard. Neither D could put consistent pressure on the others QB. The Pack was so focused on Warner that they allowed RB Wells 6.5 yards per attempt. They were lucky that their O was putting up so many points or Wells would have had more than his 14 carries. If the Cards are going to have any chance to stage the upset the D is going to have to play like they did last year in the playoff run to the Super Bowl. The passing game of the Saints is equally lethal. The Cards are 23rd in pass D. The D may be missing DE Campbell, LBs Davis and Hayes. If they can’t go the D will be in even more trouble. Get your popcorn ready, this could be a wild offensive show.

Saints

The Saint’s D coordinator Williams isn’t sleeping too well this week. He has nightmares of Card WRs running wide open through his D backfield. The Saints D had played much better this year than last but it has had a tough time against high percentage passing attack. The good news is that CB Jenkins is hampered by a hamstring but is expected to play. The bad news is that Boldin is optimistic about playing as well. The Saints are ranked 26th in pass D. The key to the game for the Saints D will be their ability to pressure Warner better than the Pack did.

The Saints O is outstanding. They are 1st in both yards and points, 4th in passing and 6th in rushing. The team stumbled into the playoffs with 3 straight losses. The O is going to have to play like they did early in the season and not in the last 3 games. They scored only 44 points in those losses. The 23-10 loss to the Panthers could have been explained by the team resting a lot of the key players but not the losses to the Boys and the Bucs. The problem was not rushing. They ran for 124 against the Bucs. The problem was not turnovers or completion percentage. The Saints may get RB Thomas back. That will help them get a running game going again.

The problem was they could not get the ball into the endzone. The game will depend on the Saints finding their scoring punch again. If they are forced to kick field goals to score, they will lose.

Both teams have a questionable D. But the Saints are struggling on O and the Cards are hotter than the sun. I will go out on a limb and pick the Cards in a huge upset.

Ravens @ Colts

Ravens

The Birds did a great job pressuring the Pats D with the running game. The O scored 33 points but got a lot of help from the Pats. They won’t get that kind of help from the Colts.

The O is going to have to get more out of the passing game. They won 3 of their last 4 games but those wins were against the dregs of the NFL. Against a team that scores like the Colts, 4-10 for 34 yards and a pick will not get it done. QB Flacco has not stepped up to the challenge like most expected him to do. The O line isn’t the problem, accuracy and lack of game breaking receivers are the critical issues. The coaching staff doesn’t trust Flacco to win games for them and they shouldn’t. He has crumbled in big games like against the Steelers. The running game is solid but won’t score often enough to keep the Ravs in the game. They will have to depend on the passing game and it will let them down.

The weakest part of the Ravs D is the pass defense. They are 5th against the run and 8th against the pass. They depend on pressure on the QB to control the pass. They won’t be able to get enough pressure on Manning to stop the Colts passing game.

Colts

The Colt O is devastating but it is one dimensional. They are #2 in passing but dead last in the running game. They are going to have to run the ball a little to keep the chains moving. The one advantage they have is that they can play catchup really well. Manning is playing at a very high level. The team lost 2 games but in both cases Manning and company were pulled early.

The Colt D has played great in some games and lousy in others. They rank 24th against the run and will get a lot of practice stopping it against the Ravs. The key injuries on D are all probable. That should help as the D has suffered a lot of injuries during the season. The rest the wounded got will help them.

The key to stopping the running game has been S Sanders but he is on IR again. The Colts’ D will struggle stopping the run but will get the win due to their O.

Saturday I will discuss the Sunday games.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over.  Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at http://sportsims.net/.  Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

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 .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Football,nfl playoffs,divisional round,Super Bowl,Cardinals,Saints,Warner,Ravens,Colts,Manning,Flacco,sportsims.net

What did we learn from the Wild Card Round?

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nfl

If you go in to the playoffs cold, you may be in trouble–sometimes.

Bengals—UCH!!! The play of QB Palmer raises serious questions about his future. He was 18-36 for just 146 yards and 1 TD with 1 pick. The WRs did not help him. WR Edwards dropped a TD that would have made a real difference in the flow of the game. But Palmer missed open WRs regularly in short as well as deep throws. That can not happen at this level. The Jets put some pressure on him but not enough to justify the bad misses.

The running game went well enough and the D was OK. However, the D did not get enough pressure on the rookie QB Sanchez. I predicted that the Bengals would not go far but I did think they would beat the Jets.

Eagles—UCH2!!! The Eagles are going to have to fix their O to become competitive. They have to be able and willing to run the ball some to be effective. In both games against the Boys they failed to hold the ball to give the D rest. There were way too many 3 and outs. Until they can run the ball, they will not advance in the playoffs.

Pats There will need to be some major improvements in the Pats D to get this team past the first round of the playoffs. The team has lost too much of the experience that allowed the team to use the unusual Ds that helped cover up its weak pass coverage.

There are problems on the O as well. QB Brady does not look like the same guy since the injury that took him out of the 08 season. The O line has not protected him as well as it needs to. Belichick is going to have to make some changes. Part of the problem is that the recent drafts have not been as good as those in previous years.

Packers The Pack D let them down. However, given the fact that this is their first year in the 3-4 and they have some injured stars that will come back next season, they should be OK. The problem they had against the Cards was the lack of pressure on Warner.

I will discuss the winners on Friday as part of the Division round preview.

Around the NFL:

Seahawks The Hawks have a new coach. Pete Carroll had a lot of problems at USC. He decided to get while the getting was good. The NCAA is about to drop the hammer on USC for a variety of violations of the rules. While in the NFL he was a good coach but not anything great. Time will tell if the Hawks have made the right move. He will be given the power to do whatever he wants. Seahawk fans just hope he wants the right guys.

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 .

Technorati Tags: nfl football,nfl playoffs,wild card round,Bengals,Jets,Eagles,Cowboys,Patroits,Ravens,Belichick,Packers,Cardinals,Seahawks,Carroll

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