My thoughts on the second week of the NCAA Tournament.

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Fryingpan Sports

My thoughts on the second week of the NCAA Tournament.

By Bill Smith

Lots and lots and lots of chalk. The top 3 seeds dominated the play in the second week of the NCAA. Over all, the committee was right about the top dozen teams.

In the tournament, quality depth is critical.

As I said in My thoughts on betting the NCAA Tournament—For entertainment purposes only depth is critical for surviving and moving on. North Carolina’s depth was a major factor in both of their wins. In the critical minutes at the end of games their opponents had their hands on hips searching for a breath of oxygen while the NC starters were rested.

Don’t worry about top seed teams that lost early in their conference tournament. NC moved on while Duke failed to make the final 4.

After the first weekend, beware of the one man team. As good as Blake Griffin is, it is far too easy to stop a single player. Griffin will be the first choice in the NBA draft if he comes out (which he will). Even though he scored 23, NC found ways to keep him down when it counted.

Live by the 3 point shot, die by a cold shooting night. A number of teams that depended on 3 point shots were drummed out the door by a cold night. Ohio State failed to make the second round due to a cold night. Duke, Louisville, and Missouri all use the 3 point shot as a major part of their O and all lost.

Offense comes and goes but Defense is more reliable. Michigan State showed how important D is in winning a tough game. They ground out a win in typical Big 10 style. Despite a 38% shooting day, the Louisville D almost got them into the final 2 rounds. The problem was that MS’s D was better than Louisville’s. The best game on the road to Detroit was Villanova vs. Pitt. Two D focused teams battled it out until the final shot.

Bet on the point guard over the center. Kemba Walker for UConn and Ty Lawson for NC showed how valuable guard play is in the big dance. Both provided the fuel to get their teams to the final 4.

Listen to the experts. The top seeds moved on. Again, I don’t consider a 3 over a 1 as an upset. The top 12 teams made it to the final 16. Most experts don’t want to look stupid and are conservative with their picks. The cream rose to the top and we have 3 traditional powers in the final 4.

I hope my thoughts helped you win your pool—for entertainment purposes only of course.

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 .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: Griffin,NCAA,North Carolina,Duke,Louisviiie,Villanova,Pitt,Walker,UConn,Tournament,guards,defense,Oklahoma,Michigan State
  • Author:
  • Published: Feb 20th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on What to look for at the Combine—Offense

What to look for at the Combine—Offense

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Fryingpan Sports

What to look for at the Combine—Offense

By Bill Smith

The NFL Combine is now covered by the NFL network more than ever before. There are certain things that NFL scouts look for at the combine. Today we will look at the major items on offense. Tomorrow, we will look at the defense.

Quarterback

Unfortunately most top QB prospects don’t throw at the combine. They wait for pro days at their schools. That is a mistake. Joe Flacco from Delaware really helped himself at the 08 combine. He went from a high 3rd round choice to the top half of the first round to Baltimore to a rookie of the year candidate.

3-5-7 step drop passing drill Too many of the QB prospects come from the spread offense. They worked in college from the shotgun and didn’t have to worry about footwork.

Check out how quickly the QB sets up after the drop and finds his target.

Second, watch the quickness of the release. As the QB takes the last step of the drop the ball should be coming out of his hand.

Check out the arm strength and accuracy. The key test is the 15 yard out to the opposite sideline. If he can complete that throw with a rope pass, he has an NFL arm.

Last, check out the touch on the ball. Can he loft the ball to a back on a circle route out of the backfield.

Running backs

The key to the backs is the ability to change direction without losing speed.

Watch the backs in the 5 cone drill. Great speed doesn’t help if the back can’t change direction quickly.

Watch for ball skills specifically the ability to catch the ball with the hands away from the body.

Watch for the ability to run crisp routes. Does he make sharp cuts or round them off?

Receivers (WR&TE)

The ball skills and route running are the critical tests of the receivers. These players must be able to catch the ball away from their bodies and adjust to passes in the air. Another critical test of their route running ability is the fluidity of the hips. The 5 cone drill shows their ability to change direction at full speed. The catching ability is best shown running a test called the gantlet where passes are thrown at the receiver from both sides. This shows his ability to quickly change from one side to the other and find the ball.

Watch for the ability to run crisp routes with this group as well. Does he make sharp cuts or round them off? Rounded off routes are easily covered. In the NFL a back can’t get open unless he runs crisp routes.

Speed is probably more important to WR than any other O position. However, the ability to catch is more important that speed or jumping ability. When I coached, I didn’t care how fast a receiver was if he couldn’t catch. Getting out and open doesn’t help the O if the guy can’t catch the pass.

Offensive line

The best test of the O line happens in the practices for the Senior Bowl in the 1:1 O & D drills. Since there are no pads on for the combine, the closest that the O line comes to a test is the shadow drill. In that drill, a player tries to run around the O lineman within a 1.5 yard wide space. This drill shows the footwork of the O line. They shuffle back and forth within the space available to prevent the attacker from getting beyond them to the bag that represents the QB.

Enjoy the combine coverage but remember, the best way to evaluate players is the game tapes. The combine used properly is only a tool to rank players that may grade out approximately equally on the field. Also check out my recent posting at NFLDRAFTDOG.COM titled BEWARE OF THE COMBINE WARRIOR.

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 .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: NFL Draft, football, NFL Combine, Offense, Defense, NFL Network
  • Author:
  • Published: Feb 9th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Changing Defensive Fronts is usually a bad idea.

Changing Defensive Fronts is usually a bad idea.

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Fryingpan Sports

Changing Defensive Fronts is usually a bad idea.

By Bill Smith

The NFL is a copycat league. The Ravens and Steelers had the best defenses in the league. They both play a 3-4. Last year there were 7 teams that played the 3-4 as their base defense. There are 9 new head coaches in the NFL this year and you can bet that some of them are going to change their D fronts to match their own style of play. Josh McDaniels, the new coach of the Broncos has already said he is going to switch to a 3-4. Packer coach Mike McCarthy isn’t new but he is changing to the 3-4 as well. While it may make the job of the new 3-4 based coaching staff easier, very seldom is that a good idea. The requirements of a 4-3 defensive front and a 3-4 are very different.

The hardest thing to find in the draft beside a starting quality NFL quarterback is an NFL quality nose tackle for a 3-4. The key to a 3-4 defense is the NT. He has to cause so much havoc on the line that the opponent has to dedicate at least 2 blockers to him on every play. To be really effective, a team needs 2 quality NTs. There are about 5 NTs in the league now that can do that and in 2009 there will be more than double that many teams using the 3-4.

Another absolutely critical requirement is at least 2 outside linebackers that can rush the QB effectively. Those 3-4 teams that have not yet found a quality blitz linebacker like the Browns are doomed to fail. Blitz linebackers are also very hard to find.

The other problem that a 4-3 team has in converting to a 3-4 is the lack of pass rushing 285 pounders to play DE. The teams like the Pack are going to try to make Aaron Kampman a 265 pound DE an outside linebacker. That may work with Kampman but won’t with most DEs. They can’t cover pass receivers and struggle to adapt to their new position.

The teams that run a 3-4 well get an advantage because their opponents don’t see a 3-4 often. Those that try to covert a bad 4-3 into a 3-4 get a worse 3-4. If you don’t have the personnel to make a 3-4 work, you usually stop the run better with the traditional 4-3.

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 .

My email is [email protected]

Technorati Tags: 4-3, 3-4, Packers, Broncos, NFL Football, NFL Draft, Nose Tackle, Defense, Coordinator, Kampman, Ravens, Steelers, McDaniels, Browns, McCarthy
  • Author:
  • Published: Jan 16th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The Browns got 3 former Pats coaches, now can they get the success?

The Browns got 3 former Pats coaches, now can they get the success?

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Technorati Tags: Mangini,Browns,patriots,Jets,Daboll,Ryan,Asomugha,Raiders,defense,offense,Branch,Johnson,Belichick,Pennington,Favre

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Rob Ryan Brian Daboll

The Browns got 3 former Pats coaches, now can they get the success?

By Bill Smith

I discussed my thoughts about the Browns new head coach Eric Mangini. While he has previous head coach experience, he has a mixed record at successfully developing some of his high draft choices. Now Mangini has named his OC and DC–Brian Daboll and Rob Ryan respectively.

Ryan is a good choice. He was able to put a more than respectable defense on the field for the most dysfunctional franchise in NFL history—the Raiders. Under Ryan’s direction the pass defense became one of the best in the league. CB Nnamdi Asomugha (1st round 31st pick) has become the best shutdown corner in the league. Safety Michael Huff is on the verge of stardom. Ryan resurrected the career of former Browns mistake DT Gerard Warren helping him finally begin to realize his potential. He also helped turn NT Tommy Kelly into an acceptable NFL player.

Despite the record of the Raiders, the D played hard under Ryan. He has the reputation of being a no-nonsense guy that help get control of a sloppy tackling team like the Browns. He learned at the hand of his father Buddy Ryan and under Bill Belichick. Those credentials added to the Raider experience make this an excellent move by Mangini in my opinion.

I do not have the same warm and fuzzy feeling about Mangini’s selection of former Jets quarterbacks coach Brian Daboll. First, he has never had the OC responsibility. That is not good. We have just suffered through the learning curve of a couple of position coaches getting their first taste of the OC responsibility. Daboll was the WR coach in New England from 2002-2005. While he was given credit for developing WRs Deion Branch (2st round 2002) and former seventh-round (2002) pick David Givens into NFL grade receivers, he failed with Bethel Johnson (2nd round 2003).

In 2007 Daboll became the QB coach for the Jets. He inherited an experienced QB in Chad Pennington but failed to help him have a successful season. When Pennington went down, the Jets shuffled QBs through the lineup like a card shark at a poker game. None of the replacements even came close to success. In 2008, he stood by while head coach Mangini and Bret Favre battled over the offensive play calling. That is not exactly a recommendation.

But for better or worse, Daboll is the guy. Let’s hope for the fans sake it is not for the worse.

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 NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

  • Author:
  • Published: Jan 12th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on A Few Good NFL Stories of 2008 season.

A Few Good NFL Stories of 2008 season.

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Fryingpan Sports

A Few Good NFL Stories of 2008 season.

By Bill Smith

While many of you will find this article a departure from the normal frying pan analysis, I wanted to give accolades to some of those I think deserve them.

Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals—The Cards have been the flavor of the month for several preseasons. They have the best receiver combination in the league and a potential Hall of Fame QB. The Cards wining their division was not all that surprising. The NFC West has been a weak division for a while. But to beat the Falcons and then go and drill the heavily favored Panthers in their house was a shock. Now that the Eagles knocked off the Giants, the Cards may have a shot to go to the Super Bowl. Win or not, at least they have brought some success to the fans.

The Arizona Cardinal Defense, head coach Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coaches—Congratulations on your stealth defense. You made all of us think you were a middle of the road defense then suckered the Falcons and Panthers into believing that before you dominated them. It was either an acting job worthy of an Oscar or your plan to go back to basics at the end of the season. The D has played outstanding football and you deserve to be in the NFC Championship.

The Miami Dolphins and head coach Tony Sparano—Turning the team around from 1-15 to 11-5 and a division championship is just short of a miracle. Congratulations to everyone involved.

Chad Pennington QB Dolphins—You got the bums rush out of New York but the bigger the insult the greater is the satisfaction of revenge. Many doubted you, including myself, but you showed all of us wrong. Your revenge was extra fine by clinching the AFC East by beating your old team and knocking them out of the playoffs.

The Atlanta Falcons, owner Arthur Blank, head coach Mike Smith and his staff—You not only pulled off an outstanding turnaround, but went a long way to restore the reputation of the franchise after the Mike Vick affair. Mr. Blank is one of the good guys in the league and deserves this success.

Donovan McNabb—When he got benched in week 12, the fans, the media, and even the organization was dumping on McNabb like he was a chuckhole in the freeway. But he was not done. He sparked the Eagles turnaround when everyone outside the locker room left the team for dead and out of the playoffs. He and the Eagles are now in the NFC Championship game.

Bill Belichick—Those of you that read this site regularly know how much this pains me to say but you have to give the devil its due. 2008 might well have been the best coaching job Belichick has ever done. He lost the best QB in the league in the first quarter of the first game. The injury list went on and on. He lost half a dozen starters on D and almost that many on O including his franchise running back and a couple of pro bowl quality corners. Even so, he used duct tape and paper clips to take the team to 11 wins. Even though the team failed to make the playoffs, it was an outstanding coaching job.

Tim Tebo—After the loss to Ole Miss, he took the team on his back and willed them to a national championship. Then he made one of his best decisions ever to stay at Florida for his senior year. Despite his leadership and grace under pressure, many draft experts are not sure he is accurate enough or has a strong enough arm to play QB in the NFL. Because of his decision, he will have another year to prove he can do the job at the next level. And by the way it also gives him another shot at a second Heisman and a third national championship in 4 years.

Anquan Boldin WR Cardinals—We all held our breath after the hit that injured you. Then we all cheered when you came back and continued to play at an all pro level. You are a warrior. You have won the respect of football fans all over the country.

Joe Flacco and the Ravens—Despite feelings about how the city got its team, I have to give the team and staff credit for not only getting into the playoffs but making it to the AFC Championship game. The victory over Miami was a nice win but the job the team did in beating Tennessee was outstanding. Flacco has played like a veteran and can become one of the best in the league.

Randy Lerner and the Browns—As you know, I have expressed some concern about the new people being brought in. However, I congratulate Mr. Lerner for cleaning house and at least giving the long suffering Browns fans some hope. Next to Bill Cowher, Eric Mangini was the best experienced coach available. He got a raw deal in NY and hopefully can do better in Cleveland. We are still holding our breath to see who Mr. Lerner brings in as GM.

Tony Dungy—May you have success and find joy in whatever you do next. You have been a great credit to the NFL and it was a joy watching you coach. We all hope you might stay for another season or two. But you have given so much to the game you deserve to do whatever makes you happy.

Willie Parker RB Steelers—Congratulations on your performance in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Those of us that drafted you in fantasy football would have preferred if you had been as successful during the season but congrats anyway.

Cedric Benson RB Bengals—By your play in the last half of the season for the Bengals, you have resurrected your career. The Bengals were in dire need of a solid running game and you have the talent to provide it. Work hard and stay away from boats and you will be fine.

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 NFLDraftDog.com and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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