• Author:
  • Published: Dec 31st, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on What to look for in New Years Day bowl games.

What to look for in New Years Day bowl games.

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OUTBACK BOWL Northwestern 8-4 Auburn 7-5

This game pits the Big 10 vs. SEC. NW wins over two ranked teams (Iowa and Wisconsin) in the last two games gave them hope they can break a 6 bowl losing streak. This is the first New Year’s day bowl since 97. QB Kafka has thrown for 2898 yards but only 12 TDs and 7 picks. He has to produce the majority of the O because the running game has struggled. RB Fields has averaged just 3.0 per attempt this year. The NW D is solid and is led by DE Wootton who should be a top 15 pick in the NFL Draft. The NW D will have to find a way to contain the Auburn running game or it will be a long day.

Auburn had its usual fast start 5-0 only to lose 5 of their final 7 games. QB Todd had a nice season with 2377 yards 21 TDs and just 6 picks. He was able to take advantage of opponent defenses focused on stopping the 13th best running game in Division 1. RB Tate is the key. He ran for 1254 yards at a 5.8 per attempt and scored 8 TDs. He should be a 3rd round pick in the draft.

The Tiger D is led by LB Coleman and DT Ricks both of whom are good draft prospects.

Auburn is the better team that played a better schedule and will win.

GATOR BOWL Florida St. 6-6 #16 West Virginia 9-3

This is the last game on the sideline for legendary coach Bowden. He is second in all time Div. 1 wins. Bowden’s problems in the last few years have been on D. He has not gotten the super athletes on D to be competitive at the highest level. This year’s D has 3 draftable players. CB Robinson is a 1st round prospect. OB Watson is a 3rd round prospect. I really like SS Rolle and he would be a steal in the 5th round. QB Ponder is hurt but had a good year. His replacement Manuel has thrown more picks (6) than TDs (2). The running game is capable with RB Thomas averaging 5.2 per attempt.

WV has won 4 straight bowl games. They took advantage of a below average Big East to get to 9-3. QB Brown is supposed to be 4th round prospect but don’t expect that. He has struggled this year an the team has averaged 211 per game passing which ranks a dismal 84th. On O also watch OT Capers who may be a 2nd round pick.

On D the team has been good but has no senior super stars. The FSU team will play their hearts out for Bowden and despite being the underdog, I expect a close game and maybe an FSU win.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL #12 LSU 9-3 #13 Penn St. 10-2

LSU should have at least on player taken in each of the 7 rounds of the draft. Potential 1st round pick WR LaFell is 6-3 and is the prime target in the endzone for LSU. Look for OT Black and RB Scott to be picked in 2nd and 4th round respectively. Scott is a slasher who averaged 4.7 per attempt but injuries held him to just 116 carries. He is questionable for the game. The Tiger O ranks 108th which is not good looking at a solid Penn State D. The LSU D is led by SS Coleman (3rd or 4th round) and DE Alem (4th or 5th). While the D started out well, it has struggled to get off the field in the last 4 games giving up over 380 yards a game.

PS QB Clark was the leading passer in the Big 10 but tended to throw picks at the worst times against the toughest competition. His 2009 performance has dropped him from a possible 4th round pick to undrafted Free Agent status. Junior RB Royster has yet to decide if he will enter the draft. He averaged 5.9 per attempt and would be a 2nd round pick most likely.

The strength of PS is the D which is led by DT Odrick (1st round), ILBs Lee (2nd) and Hull (5th) .

The line is PS by 3 and that looks about right. If Scott doesn’t play it could be a lot worst than that.

ROSE BOWL #7 Oregon 10-2 #8 Ohio State 10-2

OSU Coach Tressel has suspended 3 players for the game including WR Small. That won’t help an O that has struggled this year. They have only 1 draftable Senior on O—C Cordle. The O line has been bad and QB Pryor has run for his life rather than running for first downs. The Bucks have the 106th ranked passing O. Pryor has not improved in his 2nd year as starter. In fact, he has become less accurate with worse mechanics than last year. The running game ranks 19th with a gagle of backs contributing including Pryor.

The OSU D ranks 5th in rushing D. That D will be tested often by the Ducks who rank 6th in rushing. S Coleman and DT Worthington are both prospects in the last half of the 2010 Draft.

Oregon’s RB James hides in the back pocket of the Duck O line then bursts out to rip off big gains. USC never could find him let alone tackling him close to the line. James replaced RB Blount who was suspended for hitting a player after the Boise State game. QB Masoli has a passer rating of 130 and has a great target in TE Dickson (2nd or 3rd round). The Ducks are 7th in scoring and will give the Buckeye D all they want.

Big 10 teams usually lose the Rose Bowl but that has been against USC most often. But the line is Oregon by 5. It shouldn’t be that close. However the best bet here is the under at 51.

SUGAR BOWL #3 Cincinnati 12-0 #5 Florida 12-1

The big question in this game is which Bearcat team will show up? Their coach is on his way to South Bend. This is big game not only for Cincy but for the Big East. This is their chance to show the football world that they are just as good as the big boys. Cincy is ranked 6th in total O and scoring but that was not against the kind of D speed that Florida has. They will depend on QB Pike (2nd or 3rd) to WR Gilyard (top 20). The Cincy O ranked 7th in passing despite the loss of Pike for a good deal of the season. RB Pead has average 6.6 per attempt. They won’t have that success against the Gators.

On D, Cincy has been solid led by DE Daniels and SS Webster both late round prospects. The team has been good against the run but a little soft vs the pass.

Florida has coaching questions of its own. Coach Meyer announced he was leaving the sideline but a day later that it was only a leave of absence. QB Tebow has been the bell cow of the team and is the spiritual leader. No other player in the draft has as many different views of his pro potential than Tebow. Experts rank his anywhere from top 3 to the middle of the 4th round. I will have a detailed scouting report later. He has 2413 yards passing with 18 TDs and 5 picks. He added another 859 yards rushing with 13 TDs. WR Cooper (3rd or 4th) is solid. The O line has been a little shaky but has blocked enough to allow RB Demps to average 7.7 per carry.

The Florida D is led by LB Spikes (1st) DE Cunningham (3rd) and OB Stamper and Doe. Look for them to keep the pressure on Pike all day.

Florida is a 13 point favorite and it shouldn’t be that close. But Cincy has fooled teams before.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: New Year’s Day Bowls,NFL,NFL Draft,Outback,Northwestern,Auburn,Gator Bowl,Florida State,West Virginia,Capitol One Bowl,LSU,Penn State,Rose Bowl,Ohio State,Oregon,Sugar Bowl,Cincinnatim Florida
  • Author:
  • Published: Aug 20th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on QB Ryan has the Falcons' Offense flying high but the D keeps the team grounded.

QB Ryan has the Falcons' Offense flying high but the D keeps the team grounded.

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Rookie QB Matt Ryan had a storybook season last year. He stepped into a team that desperately needed leadership and provided it. He seems to have all the physical and mental traits that a team needs to be more than effective offensively. The one area of development is the ability to know what the D is doing and anticipate it. That will come with experience. But right now he is good enough to win the NFC South again this year. He had better stay healthy because there is nothing of NFL quality behind him.  He is a fantasy star.

RB Michael Turner has become a force in the running game. He answered any questions about his ability to start last season gaining over 1,700 yards. He has power and speed which is a combination in short supply around the league. Jerious Norwood is a solid starting quality back and young Thomas Brown is green and needs snaps to develop. FB Ovie Mughelli is a force and is not too far from pro bowl performance.

WR Roddy White and Michael Jenkins looked a great deal better with Ryan at QB. Funny how that works. White is already at all pro level and Jenkins is getting there. Brian Finneran is the only vet talent on the bench after the season ending injury to Harry Douglas. Because both Turner and Norwood are adequate receivers out of the backfield, that should be enough given their new TE. The future Hall of Fame Tony Gonzalez will become Ryan’s new safety valve. Gonzalez isn’t as fast as he was once but he is still among the most reliable TEs in the league. The team will use 2 TEs at times and Ben Hartsock is the blocking half of the duo.

The O line is mostly non-brand name guys but are adequate and got some additional depth in 09. The line is transitioning from lighter quicker linemen to big run blocking guys that move the pile. LT Sam Baker, LG Justin Blalock, C Todd McClure, RG Harvey Dahl, RT Tyson Clabo figure to be the starters with Brett Romberg, Jeremy Newberry and Will Svitek providing starting experience in the past. The young but injury prone C/G Ben Wilkerson has talent but has not been able to stay healthy enough to win a starting job.

The D line is a weak point of the team. RDE John Abraham is the leader and provides the most pass rush but has had injury problems over the last few years. The other 3 starting spots are question marks. Pressure is on both rookie DT Peria Jerry and 07 first round pick E Jamaal Anderson. They must be effective if the team is to get very far in the playoffs. Up to now Anderson has been a disappointment. T Jonathan Babineaux shows flashes of being a quality starter but is inconsistent. There is not much quality depth behind them.

The linebacker group has been totally reworked. MB Curtis Lofton is the only holdover. WB Michael Peterson was signed from Jacksonville and should be an improvement. SB Stephen Nicholas has the inside track to the starting spot. Coy Wire provides about the only experience on the bench.

FS Erik Coleman is the only sure thing in the D backfield. He is solid but not special. S Thomas DeCoud and one of my sleeper picks rookie William Moore from Missouri will battle for the SS spot. Brent Grimes and Chris Owens will battle for the CB spot opposite Chris Houston. Houston improved last year but needs to keep developing.

OVERALL: The team will need to play keep away by continuing to run the ball to win. The D as a whole is the weaker side of the team. The Falcons will have to fend off the Saints to win the division but will not advance in the playoffs unless the D comes around. The D won’t and the Falcons will be one and done again.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Falcons,Jaguars,Fantasy Football,Ryan,Turner,Norwood,White House,Jenkins,Blalock,Clabo,Newberry,Abraham,Anderson,Jerry,Lofton,Coleman,Houston

The Jets go all in on Sanchez

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The Jets got a bargain on USC QB Mark Sanchez but if he doesn’t work out, he will be very expensive—he will cost Coach Rex Ryan and the entire organization their jobs. They have pushed all the chips to the middle of the table and bet their future on him.

Nothing can destroy a new coaching staff faster than making a critical mistake by taking a QB that flops with your first ever pick. Just ask the 1999 Browns organization that picked Tim “I’m on the” Couch. A mistake on a 1st round QB will set the franchise back 5 to 6 years. Given the lack of experience in college and the question about Sanchez not being able to beat out Booty and the Jets have in effect doubled down on the bet.

The Jets will give Sanchez every chance in the world to claim the starting position this year. The Jets will never beat the Pats for the division title with Kellen Clemens at the helm. My feeling is that Sanchez is not Matt Ryan (Atl) or even Joe Flacco (Bal). He will be servicable but not ever become the superstar that the Jets hope.

Adding to the risk on the QB, the WR corps will be FL Jerricho Cotchery and anybody that can catch a cold on Broadway in January. The long time starter and under rated Laveranues Coles. Brad Smith started when Coles went down last year and has the inside track to start. David Clowney has the speed but inconsistent hands. Chansi Stuckey is an inside receiver and will play the slot. The TE is Dustin Keller. He is a receiver but not much of a blocker yet.

The running game will be on life support after 09. RB Thomas Jones is unhappy about his contract but is in a contract year and needs to produce to prove his value for his next deal wherever that may be. FB Tony Richardson is outstanding but in his last year or two. If there is a work stoppage in 2010, Tony won’t play again. The Jets believe that Leon Washington is starting quality. I don’t think so. He is a change of pace back but I am not sure he can carry the load in a run first offensive. Shonn Greene was a steal in the 3rd round and could be the guy if Jones fails to produce.

The entire O line is back. The players all have pass and run blocking ability but did not play up to their potential last year in pass blocking. They did help Jones win the AFC rushing title. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is among the top LTs in the league. LG Alan Faneca and RT Damien Woody are more than solid. Nick Mangold is a little inconsistent at C but getting better. The surprise last year was RG Brandon Moore. He is a former FA DT.

Defense is in the blood stream of the Ryans. That is the place that needs the biggest improvement overall. The Jets gave up more points that the Browns did last year. Ryan will be more aggressive than Mangini’s D was last year.

The D line is OK but not great. Kris Jenkins moved from DT in a 4-3 to NT in the 3-4 and stuffed the run. But age and back problems mean that the Jets will have to rest him more this year. Jets sent last year starting DE Coleman to Cleveland because he did not provide the pass rush that Ryan was looking for. Ex-Raven Marques Douglas takes that spot. He played for Ryan there. The other end is up in the air because of the possible suspension of Shaun Ellis. There is very little on the bench so any suspension will be a big problem.

The LB group was hit with a suspension. OB Calvin Pace is out for the first 4 games. Last year’s 1st pick Vernon Gholston will replace him and had better perform. This administration has no loyalty to him and up to now he has been less than expected. OB Bryan Thomas improved over his 07 season and IB Bart Scott played near pro bowl level last year. He still has room for improvement. David Harris starts opposite him inside if he is healthy. There is not much on the bench after Gholston.

CBs Darrelle Revis and Lito Sheppard are the strength of the D backfield. Revis is going to be a star. Both SS Jim Leonhard and FS Kerry Rhodes have to be more productive. The new scheme should help. More pressure will allow more picks. Drew Coleman, CB Dwight Lowery, CB Ahmad Carroll, and CB Donald Strickland all have some experience.

OVERALL: If the Jets were in another division,… Just kidding. The Jets will battle the Bills for 3rd. Neither team is talented enough to beat the Dolphins or Pats consistently. They are a middle of pack team that has the potential to be good if Sanchez works out and the D gets the pressure Ryan wants. If not, they will be OK and around 8-8.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Jets,Patroits,Dolphins,Ryan,Flacco,Sanchez,Cotchery,Coles,Keller,Ferguson,Mangini,Browns,Revis,Sheppard

Analysis: Mangini is defensive about the Defense.

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Yesterday we reviewed the problems of the Browns on offense. Today we look at the D.

Defensive line:

One of the things that you have to do in a 3-4 is protect the linebackers. Last year with the exception of NT Shaun Rogers, the D line couldn’t protect an ice cube on the North Pole. Rogers was double and triple teamed on every play all year long. That is enough to make anyone cranky. He played at a pro bowl level but got no help against the run or the pass.

Corey Williams and ex-Jet Kenyon Coleman project to start at DE. These two started a total of 31 games last year and had a combined 1 sack (.5 sacks each). That indicates that the DBs are going to have to cover the opponent receivers all day long because the pass rush is non-existent out of the front 3. Williams starts because there is little behind him. Coleman will start because Eric Mangini wants to prove that he is the smartest guy in the building in bringing Coleman with him from the Jets. There is very little quality depth in any of the three spots.

Linebackers:

OLB Kamerion Wimbley was drafted in 06 to be the rush linebacker in the 3-4. He totaled 11 sack that year but has only had 9 sacks in the last 32 regular season games. He makes tackles against the run but usually 5 or 6 yards down field. That doesn’t get the job done. His running mate on the other side will be ex-Jet FA David Bowens. Bowens had 4 sacks last year and is decent but has very little tread on the wheels because he is going into his 11th year in the league. He only started 5 games for the Jets last year and was not in the Jets plans in 09.

The inside backers are changed from last season. Another ex-Jet FA, Eric Barton will join last year starter D’Qwell Jackson. Barton replaces Andra Davis who was allowed to go to Denver. Barton is serviceable but is also 31 and in his 11th year. Jackson is solid and has a chance to become a pro bowl backer. He needs to get under control at the point of attack more often.

Despite having drafted several linebackers in the past, there is little quality behind the starters. ILB Leon Williams (2nd round 06) is at best a part time fill in. We haven’t seen enough of Beau Bell (4th 08) to know if he can play. Rookie Kaluka Maiava (4th round 09) looked good at USC when he got on the field. He was the 4th USC LB prospect and has had an injury before the 08 season.

Backfield:

Without a pass rush, these guys are going to have a rough season. Eric Wright will start at one CB. He has played well but suffers from brain cramps at times allowing WRs to get open. Last year starter Brandon McDonald will vie with new comers Roderick Hood (ex-Cardinal) and ex-Jet FA Hank Poteat. McDonald had 5 picks last year but Hood started 14 games and only got 1. Poteat was a nickel back and got 2 picks without a start.

Long time starter UFA SS Sean Jones is gone. The Browns made a contract offer to restricted FA Jet Abram Elam but the Jets matched it. Then the Browns traded down in the draft and got Elam in the deal. Elam started 9 game for the Jets last year but has had only 1 int in 3 years. He will start at SS. Brodney Pool starts at FS again in 09. He has recorded 7 picks in 4 years with the Browns. Depth will be provided by Mike Adams and Nick Sorensen.

Overall Analysis:

The Brown/Green defense will have another tough year. There is very little pass rush, and with the O struggling to run the ball, the D will play a lot of snaps. Browns fans should stock up on antacids in plastic bottles. That way when you throw the bottle at the TV, you won’t break the screen.

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 https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,NFL Draft,Browns,Jets,Mangini,Wimbley,Rogers,Coleman,Williams,Bowens,USC,Broncos,Barton,McDonald

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