365 SPORTS

All Sports, All Day

Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

For Sale: Alex Smith $4M or Best Offer

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 11, 2009

If you’re in the Bay Area anytime soon, stop by Monster Park (formerly Candlestick Park) and check out the 49ers yard sale that’s going on.

Chances are you will see former first overall pick, former starting quarterback, Alex Smith available. I’m not sure how much Mike Singletary will be selling him for, fifty cents maybe?

For $1.50 you can get Alex Smith,  and a dirty, semi-broken lawn chair that Singletary doesn’t use anymore.

If this were a MasterCard commercial, Alex Smith wouldn’t be priceless, he’d be worthless.

After floundering from day one the first overall pick in the 2005 draft finally flopped.

San Francisco was hoping Smith could come in and, well I’m not sure what they expected from him.

After drafting Alex Smith with the first overall pick in 2005, the 49ers have been nothing but dissapointed. Smith has thrown for only completed 54.4 percent of his passes, while throwing for 4,679 yards, 19 touchdowns and 31 interceptions

After drafting Alex Smith with the first overall pick in 2005, the 49ers have been nothing but dissapointed. Smith has thrown for only completed 54.4 percent of his passes, while throwing for 4,679 yards, 19 touchdowns and 31 interceptions

His rookie year he played in nine games and threw one touchdown, and eleven interceptions. But as most teams do, San Francisco wrote it off as Smith’s transition year, he needed time to get adjusted to the NFL.

Well..three years later Smith has thrown twenty more interceptions and only eighteen more touchdowns, putting him at a whopping 19-31 ratio of  touchdowns to interceptions.

In 2008, Smith didn’t even start! He was beaten by J.T. O’Sullivan

When O’Sullivan took over the starting role in San Fran in 2008, he was on his ninth team in six years. (Not to mention a year in Germany playing for the NFL Europe’s Frankfurt Galaxy)

A sixth round pick, division two, journeyman quarterback beat out a first round pick, division one, Heisman finalist.

Alex is not a dumb man though, while at Utah, Smith graduated in two years with a degree in economics. Smith’s marketplace savvy is probably the only reason why he’s still with the 49ers today.

Smith took a pay cut coming into this year. Instead of the $9.625 million he was slated to make, Smith will now make 4 million, numbers comparable to the average NFL back up quarterback.

Josh, if you need some advice on what to do try calling: Ryan Leaf, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Cade Mcnown, and more recently Kyle Boller.

The time has come Josh to accept your fate. After your contract is up in San Francisco, your future is as uncertain as the economy’s.

I heard there’s an opening for Deputy Treasury Secretary available.

Enough about Alex Smith. He’s  four years ago’s news.

What will San Francisco do in 2009?

Sanchez threw for 3,695 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in only 17 games at USC. He is projected to be a first round pick and is the second best quarterback in the NFL Draft.

Sanchez threw for 3,695 yards, 41 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in only 17 games at USC. He is projected to be a first round pick and is the second best quarterback in the NFL Draft.

Draft Mark Sanchez.

He’s better than Alex Smith, but has only had one year of playing time.

He should have stayed. But he didn’t and is still the best pick for San Francisco in 2009.

If the 49ers don’t draft Sanchez, then Shaun Hill will be the starter.

Hill completed 62.8 percent of his passes while throwing for 2,046 yards 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 2008.

In 2008, Sanchez threw for 3,207 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He did it in impressive fashion, completing 65.8 percent of his passes and leading USC to a Rose Bowl victory; Sanchez completed an impressive 80.0 percent of his passes, threw for 415 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 38-24 blowout of Penn State.

The 6’2 227 pound Sanchez seems to be the best pick for San Francisco. Mark Sanchez is the local legend, from his days at Mission Viejo to his recent success at USC. Sanchez is only about a six hour drive away from Singletary and the ‘9ers right now. And he is a local boy; he chose USC over Texas, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State based on its proximity to home.

It’s more than likely he still wants to stay close to home, and where else other then San Francisco?

Though Shaun Hill was a solid contributor in 2008, he only played nine games. It is still unknown as to whether or not he will lead San Francisco to a championship.

Even Singletary has not yet been sold on Hill, Singletary seems to follow a strange coaching strategy these days in the NFL; he plays the best player, not the one being paid the most money.

Other than lack of experience, I can’t see why the 49ers would be turned off of Sanchez. They could use an offensive lineman, but spending  the tenth pick on a lineman is a waste. The ‘9ers also need to improve on defense, but a pass rushing end will be available later in the draft.

A quality quarterback may not be.

With the tenth pick in the 2009 NFL Draft the San Francisco 49ers should select Matt Sanchez, quarterback University of Southern California.

-Nate

Posted in 1 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cutting Good Quarterbacks, One at a Time

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 10, 2009

MISSING: JEFF GARCIA

Have you seen this man?

Jeff Garcia was last seen in Tampa Bay on Februrary 16, 2009.

He was cut to make way for Luke McCown, who we now realize is unproven.

Garcia was last seen throwing for 2,712 yards, 12 TDs and 6ints in 2008.

He was also last seen wearing a red #7 jersey.

If seen contact Raheem Morris at (813) 879-2827

Poor Tampa Bay, they have already made a terrible decision, a decision that reflects terrible on new coach Raheem Morris.

Jeff Garcia started twelve games for the Buccaneers in 2008. He threw for 2,712 yards, 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, he had a disgusting completion percentage of 64.9. These stats are nothing new for Garcia, he has a career average 61.9 completion rating, has amassed over 25,000 career passing yards, and has thrown 161 touchdowns.

Perfect reasons to cut him; Tampa Bay decided to move forward in 2009 by removing Garcia from the roster.

They chose instead to replace Garcia with Luke McCown.

Why haven’t you ever heard of him?

Well he’s only thrown for 1,617 yards in his career. Not to mention a weak nine touchdowns, complemented only by his ten interceptions.

McCown’s been in the NFL for six years; and in those six years, he has never played more than five games.

Before Tampa Bay, McCown was in Cleveland where he started a career high five games.

McCown’s competition in Cleveland was journeyman Kelly Holcomb (now retired) and Josh Harris (rookie in ’04, retired in ’06. Zero career starts).

Eerily enough those five games that  McCown did start for Cleveland in 2004 , occurred after a certain quarterback got hurt..

That quarterback? Jeff Garcia.

Garcia was the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in 2004. He threw for 1731 yards, 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

Luke McCown came in the last five games and threw for 608 yards, 4 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

In 2005, Garcia signed with Detroit and later Philadelphia before heading to Tampa Bay.

During his time in Philly, Garcia led the Eagles to an NFC East championship; throwing for 1309 yards, 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

McCown on the other hand in 2005, was beat out for the starting job by Charlie Frye and traded to Tampa Bay.

In 2007, for the first time in two years, McCown was able to once again see the field.

He finished the rest of the season with 1009 yards, 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in five games.

Is it now becoming clear why the Bucs cut Garcia for McCown?

No?

Thought so.

The Bucs have tried to improve the offense for 2009 by re-signing Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton.

They should continue this trend by begging Jeff Garcia to come back.

Bryant, a former first round pick from Pittsburgh has finally lived up to his hype seven years later.

After 83 receptions, 1,248 yards and 7 touchdowns, he will be back in 2009.

Clayton has underachieved since his rookie year but has shown potential (80 rec, 1193 yds, 7tds in 2004). Clayton blamed his lack of production on former coach John Gruden. Now that Gruden is gone, its time for Clayton to produce.

The Bucs have also been busy in Free Agency, recently signing Cleveland tight end, Kellen Winslow Jr.

The Buccaneers have improved their offense by re-signing wide receivers Antonio Bryant (top), Michael Clayton (bottom left), and free agent Kellen Winslow (bottom right). Though the receiving core has been improved Tampa Bay still does not have a quarterback after the release of Jeff Garcia.

The Buccaneers have improved their offense by re-signing wide receivers Antonio Bryant (top), Michael Clayton (bottom left), and free agent Kellen Winslow (bottom right). Though the receiving core has been improved Tampa Bay still does not have a quarterback after the release of Jeff Garcia.

K2 as he is called, caught 82 passes for 1,106 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2007. But, an injury in 2008, and inconsistent quarterback play limited him to 428 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Notice anything strange about these wide receivers?

They have all caught more touchdowns than Luke McCown has thrown in his six year career!

Chances are McCown will not get these recievers the ball. Which is absolutely the worst thing a team would want when they have a receivier who appears to be in his prime (Bryant), a reciever who hates not getting the ball (Winslow), and a reciever desperate to regain his 2004 form (Clayton).

Inconsistent quarterback play will not only anger these three, it will leave the Bucs watching the playoffs from home.

Oh, Coach Morris.. I hope you know what you’re doing, because it certainly doesn’t look like it.

The bright spot for Tampa Bay could come this year in April at Radio City.

It is projected that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will select Josh Freeman in the first round though, which would be a great decision.

There is one problem though, Josh Freeman is a project quarterback. He will need time to develop.

Last year Tampa drafted another project quarterback; one that will need even more time than Freeman to develop, none other than Josh Johnson out of  Division 1-AA San Diego.

If Freeman is drafted, Johnson’s chances of starting will be slim to none.

It is highly likely though that Morris will select Freeman; Morris was a part of the Kansas State coaching staff when Freeman started at quarterback in 2006.

At 6 feet 6 inches and 250 pounds, Freeman has everything NFL scouts are looking for.

On top of that the K-State quarterback has a monster arm.

The only problem with Freeman is consistency.

Similar to Georgia’s Matthew Stafford his stock is up one day and down the next.

Josh Freeman threw for 2,945 yards, 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions at Kansas State. He is projected to go to Tampa Bay in the first round, filling their hole at quarterback

Josh Freeman threw for 2,945 yards, 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions at Kansas State. He is projected to go to Tampa Bay in the first round, filling their hole at quarterback

In a game against the 2008 Big XII Champion Oklahoma, Freeman was extraordinary.

The Wildcat quarterback threw for 478 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Not to mention he completed 29-51 for a completion rating of 56.9.

Kansas State hit the road the next week, traveling to Lawrence to face the rival Jayhawks

Boy was Freeman was pathetic; he had a solid completion percentage of 59.6,  and threw for 207 yards, but had three interceptions in a 52-21 loss.

The week after K-State traveled to Missouri, his gametime performance was lack luster to say the least.

Freeman threw for 121 yards and 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, he also only completed 50 percent of his passes in another loss. This time 41-24.

Freeman will be a project quarterback no question. But, can he be any worse than the six year veteran who has only thrown nine touchdowns?

With the nineteenth pick in the first round, Tampa Bay should select Josh Freeman, quarterback from Kansas State.

But while they’re at it, the should call Jeff Garcia.

If they can find him.

On the clock: San Francisco

-Nate

Posted in 1 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

On the Clock: Minnesota Vikings

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 7, 2009

Welcome to Minneapolis, Minnesota!

The state of 10,000 lakes, the city with flaky fans and the team void of quality quarterbacks.

The Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, home to both the Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings.

First things first I would like to issue a notice to all Minnesota residents: Support your local football team!

Minnesota had not made the playoffs in four years.

The typical reaction to a team achieving success after continually losing is for fans to jump on the bandwagon.

Not in Minnesota.

Defensive end Jared Allen had to beg Minnesota fans to buy playoff tickets to prevent the game from being blacked out by national broadcasters. Even with his plea the Vikings had to be granted a 24-hour extension before selling out the stadium.

Seriously?

Fans like these are becoming hard to find in Minnesota. Lack of ticket sales almost prevented the home playoff game from being televised.

Fans like these are becoming hard to find in Minnesota; lack of ticket sales almost prevented a home playoff game from being televised.

Can you imagine a team in the playoffs unable to sell out a home game?

Get on your job Vikings fans.

With that being said the 2008 Minnesota Vikings did a great job making something out of nothing.

Along with the lack of public support, the Vikings also fought against the ideal that to be a winning football team its a necessity to have a good quarterback. Never mind that in the last ten years, six of the Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks. Owner Zygi Wilf said to heck with a quality quarterback and proved NFL experts wrong by winning ten games in 2008.

But those miffed experts were rejuvenated on January 4th when the Vikings took the field for the NFL Wild Card Game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Three hours and 71 yard screen pass for touchdown later, the Philadelphia Eagles advanced, defeating the Vikings 26-14.

And they were off!

Sports writers thrashed about on their laptops. Posting articles dripping with with sarcasm; citing quarterback Tavaris Jackson’s interception in the second quarter, his fumble in the fourth quarter, and his paltry 42.8 completion percentage as the reason for the Vikings’s loss.

Though they are right, let’s address something many of them chose to ignore: Jackson is not the sole reason for the loss.

How does the NFL’s sixth best defense allow 26 points?

How does a defense that allows 292.2 yards per game, allow Donovan McNabb to throw for 300, and allow the Eagles offense to produce 350 yards?

True Jackson struggled, but with a defensive output like that, the third year man out of Alabama State was practically playing Russian roulette with a Derringer.

It is not myth, rumor or urban legend,to be a successful football team you need a quarterback.

It is also well known that Minnesota has not had one since Daunte Culpepper’s amazing 2004 season. Tavaris Jackson struggled not only the entire 2008 season but the year before too; his performance in the Wild Card game should not have come as a shock.

In 2007 Jackson played in 12 games; he threw for 1911 yards, 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Unfortunately for Jackson he is athletically gifted, making him a dual threat as well. To compliment his mediocre passing Jackson ran for 260 yards and 3 touchdowns.

But he also had 5 fumbles.

His numbers were terrible, but he was selected as a developmental player, so as with most developmental players the Vikings believed time would cure all Jackson’s inability.

Sadly it didn’t. Which is why in 2008 when Jackson’s stats began to mirror those of 2007, he was benched.

For journeyman Gus Frerotte.

The Vikings had a developmental player at quarterback who had made no substantial progress in two years, and they get Frerotte to replace him?

The Vikings spent the 2007 off season half-heartedly trying to find a replacement for Jackson.

After Green Bay refused to deal Brett Favre to an opponent in the NFC North, Minnesota ended its quarterback search. Matt Schaub and Jeff Garcia were both available free agents, yet Minnesota ended its search after they couldn’t get Favre. It causes other NFL teams to question how interested the Vikings truly were in replacing Jackson.

Surprisingly Frerotte led the Vikings to an 8-3 record. The Vikings looked like a playoff bound team, that is until Frerotte hurt his back and the controls were returned to Tavaris Jackson and Vikings season quickly came to a close.

What happened next is what makes me question Minnesota’s desire to win.

Gus Frerotte expressed his desire to be the Vikings starter for the 2009 season.

A week ago they cut him.

Frerotte is not an all star quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, but the numbers can’t be debated. 2157 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight wins. Keep this in mind, the Vikings had ten wins in 2008.

Frerotte had eight.

After going 8-3 as a starter the Vikings released Gus Frerotte (right) opting instead to keep Tavaris Jackson despite Jacksons dissapointing 11-8 record as a starter over the past two seasons.

After going 8-3 as a starter in 2008, the Vikings released Gus Frerotte (12) opting instead to keep Tavaris Jackson (7); despite Jackson's disappointing 11-8 record as a starter over the past two seasons.

So they released him?

Do the Vikings like to win? This should be the question Christopher Nolan has the Riddler ask Bruce Wayne in the next Batman movie.

There are two possible reasons for the Vikings actions.

The first is the one I have already suggested, they simply enjoy losing.

The second is that they are potentially, and hopefully planning to draft a quarterback in the 2009 Draft.

It’s unlikely they will select one in the first round though. They have concerns at both Right Tackle and Cornerback.

After the position switch of Ryan Cook, Minnesota now lacks depth at tackle. Also, Antoine Winfield appears to be the only intimidating corner in the secondary; but after a 90 tackle season by Cedric Griffin I think the Vikings will pass on a corner, hoping that 2008 was indication of Griffin’s progression.

If the Vikings select a tackle, either Eben Britton (Arizona) or Max Unger (Oregon) seems to be the choice. I’m not a fan of drafting linemen in the first round, but based on the quarterback I’m suggesting for Minnesota, picking Britton or Unger will be a good choice.

At 6’6″ 309 pounds, Britton offers a solid frame to anchor the Vikings right side of the line.

Unger is no slouch either at 6’4″ 309 pounds. He brings a little more to the table than Britton due to his ability to play all five positions on the offensive line. If the Vikings are looking for a tackle, either pick would be fine.

The moment has arrived though, so lets head to our seats and be quiet as Commissioner Roger Goodell heads to the podium.

With the 54th pick in the 2009 Draft the Minnesota Vikings should select: Curtis Painter

I have already made the argument for Painter in earlier posts. In short he is a big quarterback, extremely accurate and does not turn the ball over.

Sounds like everything the Vikings don’t have.

If by the grace of god the Vikings land McNabb, then the situation changes completely. Draft a quarterback in the much later rounds, either 5th or 6th.

It’s safe to say though that McNabb won’t be in Minneapolis any time soon, so the Vikings should go ahead and draft Curtis Painter.

Curtis Painter's ability to throw the ball accurately and efficiently will help improve the Vikings offense. After a poor senior year Painter will be overlooked, making him available to the Vikings in the second or third round.

On the clock: Tampa Bay

-Nate

Posted in 1 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

With the First Pick in the NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions select..

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 6, 2009

The 63 237 pound Georgia quarterback threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008

The 6'3" 237 pound Georgia quarterback threw for more than 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008.

Matthew Stafford.

Come on! We’re you surprised?

Since the Capital One Bowl game ended on January 1st, every analyst from Bristol to Los Angeles had crowned Matt Stafford the next Detroit Lions quarterback. And because of their assumptions and crystal balling we have all grown impatient.

As Carly Simon sang,

“anticipation, its making me late, keeping me waiting”

How much longer can we wait for Matthew Stafford to get to Detroit? Well, technically, another month and twenty days.

Even Stafford is growing impatient, and his impatience has clearly affected his judgment and decision making.

In a February interview with Sports Illustrated, Matt Stafford proclaimed that he would love to play in Detroit. He followed up that absurd statement by saying that he believed Detroit was the best place for him to start a career. Now I could give you facts about Detroit’s lack of personnel on offense, the tremendous amount of sacks allowed by their offensive line or that their offense ranked close to last in almost every category.

BUT!

Here is all you need to know about Detroit and why Stafford’s statement is ludicrous:

In 2008 the Lions went 0-16. Never has such a feat been accomplished in the NFL’s existence.

If I was Head Coach Jim Schwartz and I heard Stafford’s comments, I would take Mark Sanchez with the first pick instead. Not because he’s better, but because he hasn’t said anything stupid lately.

Stafford also goes on to say that it is his competitive nature that drives him to want to play in Detroit:

I’m being completely honest, and it has nothing to do with money-I would love to go to Detroit,” Stafford said in the Sports Illustrated story. “My friends say, ‘C’mon, gimme a break.’ But I’m a competitive guy. The Lions have passionate fans, a great stadium, and I’d be throwing to the biggest freak (Calvin Johnson), with the most talent, of any receiver in the NFL.”

Detroit lost a record 16 games in 2008. Their 16 loss was the first in the NFLs 88 year history

Detroit lost an NFL record 16 games in 2008.

Matthew, maybe your friends don’t want you to go to Detroit because they are the worst team in the NFL?

Also referring to your future receiver as ‘the biggest freak’ might not go over too well. He tried valiantly to balance the statement by saying he has more talent than any other receiver in the NFL, while this is very kind of you to say Matthew, have you lost your mind?!

Does young Stafford fail to realize that there are three Hall of Fame receivers in the league right now?

To end all speculation I’m talking about Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss.  Calvin Johnson is truly talented, but 2008 was his first season over 1,000 yards, lets not crown him king yet.

All kidding aside, I think Matthew Stafford is the best choice with the number one pick. Stupid comments or not.

Especially if you’re the Detroit Lions whose  team resembled a Pop Warner squad in 2008; after trying out five different quarterbacks and allowing them to get sacked 52 times last year; you’re now left with either Stafford, or an open tryout to any and all people with quarterback experience. (I’d take Matthew Stafford)

I can understand why Stafford is salivating over the opportunity to throw to Calvin Johnson; at Georgia, the 6 foot 3 inch Texas native never had an elite receiver. In his last year at Georgia, Stafford was able to play along side freshman sensation A.J. Green. The Summerville, S.C. phenom caught 56 passes for 963 yards and 8 touchdowns. But before he got to Georgia, A.J. Green was a local celebrity, known for this insane catch:

Stafford’s other receiver though, Mohamed Massaquoi, was blessed with a glorious ability to underachieve.

After a freshman campaign of 38 receptions for 505 yards Massaquoi never got close to those numbers again. Until this year when he had 58 receptions for 920 yards and 8 touchdowns.

After throwing to Massaquoi for three years I now understand why Calvin Johnson would look like Captain Marvel to Stafford.

Physically Stafford has the size of a pro quarterback at 6’3″ 237 pounds. Along with his prototypical stature, scouts have also said that Stafford has the strongest arm in the draft.

Statistically he is solid as well: 61.4 completion percentage, 3459 yards 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

In just three years at Georgia, Stafford has thrown for 7731 yards, 51 touchdowns and 33 interceptions.

Stafford is the best quarterback in the 2009 draft, questions of consistency and decision making may hurt his draft status; but physically he has the tools to be this years first pick

Stafford is the best quarterback in the 2009 draft. Questions of consistency and decision making may hurt his draft status; but physically he has the tools to be this year's first pick.

As a starter he is 17-4, and he has been team Captain since his sophomore year.

I criticized Matt Stafford for his comments in that February SI interview, saying he believed Detroit was the best place to start his career was foolish. It was in jest that I criticized his decision making, but in reality decision making is an area Matt Stafford struggles with.

On the field he makes poor decisions.

Each player has their strengths and weaknesses, decision making is not one of Stafford’s strengths.

In big games when the pressure on Stafford has a tendency to do two things:

Valiantly lead his team down the field for the score and the win, or choke and turn the ball over.

Matt Stafford is the definition of “Go Big or Go Home” and in the last two years he has done both.

Last year as a sophomore Stafford was instrumental in a 42-30 win against Florida he threw for 217 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception. Three weeks later against Kentucky, he threw for 99 yards,  0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in a too close for comfort 24-13 victory.

Inconsistency continued to plague him his junior year as well.

This year against LSU, Matt Stafford threw for 249 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His Bulldogs won easily, 52-38. A month earlier against South Carolina though Stafford threw for 146 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions making the game closer than it needed to be. Georgia luckily prevailed 14-7.

His inconsistency and decision making are the only knocks against him. Both can be improved over time; he is only a junior and has declared a year early. I think Stafford is a project quarterback. I say that in the sense that it I believe it will take him two or three years to become acclimated with the pace of the NFL.

Due to his inconsistency it would not surprise me if Stafford thew 15+ interceptions his rookie or even sophomore year in the NFL. But,Detroit fans don’t hate him when he throws a lot of interceptions, for good things come to those who wait.

Also, for all the Lions faithful out there he is not Matt Ryan. Please don’t expect him to be. Each year analysts try to figure out which one of this year’s players is last year’s so and so. But realize that there is only one Matt Ryan, and only one Joe Flacco. Therefore there is also only one Matt Stafford.

The only thing Stafford and Ryan have in common is a first name.

Matthew Stafford may not be the most complete and polished quarterback in the draft but his potential seems to be great. His size combined with his cannon of an arm gives him everything he needs to not only be the first quarterback taken in the draft, but the first player as well.

With the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions should select: Matthew Stafford, quarterback, University of Georgia

On the clock: Minnesota

-Nate

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Matt Cassel: After Seven Years of Holding a Clipboard, Has He Arrived?

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 3, 2009

February 2, 2000

Meet Matthew Brennan Cassel, he is 18 years old.

Matt Cassel Quarterback Chatsworth High School

Matt Cassel Quarterback Chatsworth High School, 1998

He is from Northridge, California, is a senior at Chatsworth High School and plays quarterback.  He has aspirations of playing Division 1 football, preferably for his local university; The University of Southern California, also known as USC. Nationally respected high school recruiter Tom Lemming has said that Matt Cassel is the 52nd best player in the nation.  According to Mr. Lemming, the 6’4″ 218lb prospect is a, “Pro-style pocket passer with a very strong, accurate delivery” Matthew is ready for stardom.

Only one man stands in his way: Carson Palmer.

Palmer is a Sophomore quarterback at USC, and something of a local legend. He beat out Mike Van Raaphorst his freshman year to become the starter; such a feat is rare. Palmer has become only the second Freshman in the history of USC football to start his freshman year. He has become quite the celebrity. Cassel will have to dethrone Palmer if he plans to take the reins of the Trojan football program.

Palmer has not had the most impressive numbers: 54.9% completion rating, 2914 yds, 16TDs and 18INTs. The possibility is there for Cassel to surpass Palmer, but the road to become the third Freshman quarterback to start will not be easy.

Jan 2, 2003

Carson Palmer has led the USC Trojans to an Orange Bowl victory. The team was slighted by the BCS for a National Championship bid, but responded beautifully, handily defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Not only did Palmer win the Heisman, he did it in grandiose fashion The quarterback threw for 3942 yards, 33TDs 10INTs and had a completion percentage of 63.2%. Once again Palmer fought off Matt Cassel for the starting spot on the Trojan depth chart. Palmer is expected to be a first round draft pick in the NFL and will leave the quarterback position open to senior Matt Cassel, sophomore Matt Leinart, and transfer Brandon Hance.

Matt Leinart out of Mater Dei High School has become the USC starting quarterback in 2003

Matt Leinart out of Mater Dei High School became the USC starting quarterback in 2003

January 1, 2004

Matt Leinart has led the USC Trojans to a AP National Co-Championship. Though unable to play in the championship game again, USC was chosen as the  #1 team in the AP Poll; making them and LSU Co-Champions of the ’03-’04 season.

Former quarterback Matt Cassel was able to receive some playing time this season, but not at quarterback.

During the season he was able to start a game at tight end. It was his only start in his four years at USC. Throughout his four years at USC, Cassel threw for 192 yards, 0TDS 1INT, and a 57.5% completion percentage.

It appears he has given up on collegiate football, dedicating more time to his childhood love baseball. He was selected by the Oakland A’s in the recent MLB Draft. It’s unsure whether or not he will pursue professional baseball or another career. (Cassel was a communications major at USC).

March 26, 2005

Matt Cassel has decided to work out for NFL scouts at the USC Pro Day. The former quarterback recruit never started in four years at USC but believes he has the potential to play at the next level.

He has received quite a bit of attention; former Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow, now with the Tennessee Titans discussed possibly signing Cassel as a free agent.

At the Pro Day Cassel ran a 4.9 40 yard dash, a 7.21 in the three-cone drill, 34-inch vertical, and 9’7″ broad jump.

An anonymous scout gave a few positives  and negatives on Matt Cassel to USA TODAY.

Positives:

“Well-built athlete with quick feet…Has good velocity behind his tosses, able to throw long while on the move…Throws a tight spiral in the short-to-intermediate range…Stays cool under pressure and steps up in the pocket with confidence…Has a good feel inside the pocket and relies on his quickness to get him out of trouble…Shows the football instincts to improvise when the play breaks down.”

Negatives:

“Needs to refine his technique getting to his throwing point…Makes the receivers work too much to get to the ball on deep routes…Side-arm slinger who carries the ball too low to his side, resulting in some costly fumbles…Forces the ball into traffic, mostly because of his inability to find his secondary targets as he tends to get “tunnel vision” in going to his primary receiver… Has only a functional command of the offense and marginal field vision…Does not read defenses efficiently and despite his quickness, he is no danger for a defense as a scrambler…Long tosses tend to float and sail.”

September 7, 2008

Bernard Pollard is now hated by everyone on the East Coast; except for maybe one exception: Matt Cassel.

Due to Pollard’s questionable late hit on All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady,Matt Cassel has become the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.

Matt Cassel entered the 2005 NFL Draft after not starting a game at USC

Matt Cassel entered the 2005 NFL Draft after not starting a game at USC

No you did not misread that sentence.

The former high school standout, and perennial back up has ascended to the ranks of starting quarterback; and not just for any team in the NFL, he has become the quarterback for the 18-1 New England Patriots.

Cassel looked composed when he stepped onto the field.  He completed 13-18 for 152 yds and 1TD.

December 28, 2008

Matt Cassel has led the New England Patriots to an 11-5 record. Something never imagined by many football fans in Southern California or Eastern Massachusets.

The 27 year old had been a back up his entire life;  the most experience he had as a starter was in 2000, as a senior in high school at Chatsworth High School.

With uncertainty regarding Tom Brady’s knee it is interesting to see what New England will do with Cassel.

For Cassel, 2008 appeared to be his  “Coming Out Party”. He completed 63% of his passes, threw for 3693 yards, 21TDs and 11INTs. Numbers that definitely look good to teams such as: Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, San Francisco, St. Louis and Seattle.

Let’s keep an eye on Foxboro and see what happens with new potential phenom Matt Cassel.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Present Day..

Matt Cassel threw for 3,693 yards, 21TDs, 11INTs, and had a QB Rating of 89.4 as the Patriots Quarterback

Matt Cassel threw for 3,693 yards, 21TDs, 11INTs, and had a QB Rating of 89.4 as the New England Patriots Quarterback

Matt Cassel, I’m unsure where to begin. You threw for 3,693 yards in 2008, but are now a Kansas City Chief, three words that terrify me deeply.

Until 2008 you had never thrown more than 37 passes.

But, maybe you just needed more time?

There are two things though that stop me from crowning you the next miraculous Belichick creation.

1. You did not beat Miami week 3

2. You quarterbacked in 2008 with a stacked deck

For a quarterback that has never played a full season in the NFL, it is unfair to expect much.

Yet after beating Kansas City, I assumed a similar defeat was in store for Miami.

I should have known better though, after hearing Joey Porter run his mouth on ESPN.

“it’ll be good to go out and get our first victory. I just know [Cassel] is not a Tom Brady…

“If it’s not Tom Brady, it shouldn’t be that hard. . . . They won last week, but it’s not like they were putting up the crazy 40 points they were when they had Tom.

“So, it’s a different offense, it’s a different team without Tom there. I don’t care what anybody says. It’s not the same team without Brady.”

Joey Porter was right; and New England didn’t put up 40 points, they couldn’t even match the 17 they scored against Kansas City two weeks before.

Porter’s Dolphins on the other hand scored 38 points.

After a team goes 1-15 in 2007 it’s not expected for them to come into Foxboro and defeat a New England Patriots team that went 18-1 in 2007. Not only did the Miami Dolphins beat the Patriots at home, the did it with ease coasting to a 38-13.

Cassel struggled after that game, going 4-3 until a rematch against Miami in Week 10.

Cassel threw for 415 yds the second time around led a 48-28 rout of the future AFC East Champs.

After Week 10, it seems Cassel began to establish himself as a NFL quarterback; he threw for over 400 yards in back-to-back games.

Though I’m hard on Matt Cassel for getting blown out by Miami, I have to remember that it was his third start ever as a NFL quarterback; his third start against a defense that ranked 15th in total defense, and 9th in points allowed. Not only did Miami have a solid defense, the won eleven games and the AFC East. They were not the 1-15 team they were in 2007. They had improved drastically.

But still…

Is Cassel is a product of Belichick’s system?

Matt Cassel has a great offense in New England. Especially at the wide receiver position. Randy Moss is a deep threat that will draw double coverage, allowing the second and third receivers such as Wes Welker to get open. Randy Moss seems to be open even when he is double covered and Wes Welker seems to always be open as well. It’s not hard to throw to a guy 111 times when he’s always open.

Will the loss of Moss and Welker hurt Cassel in Kansas City?

Will the loss of Moss and Welker hurt Cassel in Kansas City?

The running game in New England is not by any means dominant, but it is versatile enough to take enough pressure off Cassel without putting added pressure on Moss and Welker.

The combination of: Sammy Morris, Lamont Jordan, Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis produced 1872 yds and 19TDs. The foursome was just as productive catching the ball; adding another facet to the Patriot’s feared offensive attack. They provided another  684 yds recieving and 3TDs out of the backfield.

The only problem with New England’s offense is the Offensive Line. Ben Roethlisberger was the talk of 2008 for his ability to get sacked. However few people know that Matt Cassel was sacked more in 2008; he was sacked 47 times.

The best part about Cassel going to Kansas City is the that even with three different quarterbacks the Chiefs’s offensive line only allowed 36 sacks. Cassel must be salivating over that fact alone.

But the good news stops there Matthew, sorry.

Kansas City’s defense ranked 31st in the NFL in 2008. In case you didn’t know Matthew, there are only 32 teams in the league. Yes, thats right your new defense finished second to last in total defense.  It wouldn’t be wise to count on them to keep you in too many close games.

The one you’re leaving behind in New England? Well, they’re ranked 10th.

I wish I could say it gets better from there but it doesn’t. Your recievers need help too, well actually the entire offense needs help.

Dwayne Bowe, Mark Bradley and Tony Gonzalez. Those are your top three recievers.

Hold your excitement, lets take an in-depth look at this trio.

1. Dwayne Bowe- A second year man. Probably has the most upside, has youth and is coming off a 1,000 yard receiving season. His rookie year he was about a  first down short of 1,000 yards as well.

Bowe is definitely the best WR on this staff.  Unfortunately all opposing defensive coordinators know he’s your best target and have already game planned on how to stop you from getting him the ball. Hopefully new Head Coach, Todd Haley already mailed you the playbook.

2. Mark Bradley- A bust from the Bears. Never was the number one receiver, not even at Oklahoma. He played in ten games last year had about 400 yards. He is extremely lazy, or untalented, its hard to tell which one.

He was never more than a third option in Chicago. A third option behind great wide recievers such as: Mushin Muhammed, Eddie Berlin, Bernard Berrian, Rashied Davis, Justin Gage and Bobby Wade.  Mark Bradley never beat out any of these receivers to become the second option in Chicago. Good Luck Matt.

3. Tony Gonzalez- Last but not least! Gonzalez is the golden boy of Kansas City; sadly, he wants out. Really bad.

Matt Cassels future #1 reciever Tony Gonzalez, no longer wants to play for Kansas City

Matt Cassel's future #1 receiver Tony Gonzalez, no longer wants to play for Kansas City

Correction: Really, really bad.

Gonzalez requested a trade from Chiefs President Carl Petersen last year and never got it. He’s coming back in 2009, but he doesn’t want to. He’s your second best option and he wants to leave. Hopefully your arrival will change his mind. If the Chiefs lose Gonzalez they are losing 96 recs, 1058 yards, and 10TDs.   Tyler Thigpen only threw 18 touchdowns in 2008, ten were to Tony Gonzalez.

Unfortunately Bowe, Gonzalez and Bradley’s 212 recs, 2460 yds, and 20TDs can’t compete with Moss, Welker and Faulk’s 238 recs, 2659 yds, and 17TDs.

But isn’t Larry Johnson in Kansas City too?

Well just like Tony Gonzalez, he wants to leave too and management wouldn’t mind seeing him go.

After 2 seasons under 1,000 yards it looks like those 416 carries in 2006  took its toll on LJ.

He’s only played in 20 of the last 32 games, and stays in the news.  Larry Johnson has been on the trade block since 2007; LJ is practically on Death Row, any day that phone call will come and he will never wear the Arrowhead again.

But don’t get too down about Kansas City Matt, there’s a new coach!

(..and he’s unproven just like you)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NFL FREE AGENCY: WISE OR FOOLISH?

Posted by Nathan Atkins on March 2, 2009

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, NFL Free Agency!

That time of the year where both players and managers stab their teams in the back: managers as a means of winning one or two more games the following year, players as a means of deepening their pockets. Albert Haynesworth has already jumped ship. Choosing money for a mediocre defense and a struggling offense, instead of a 13-3 playoff contender. Rookie coach Josh McDaniels has already tried to trade his Pro Bowl QB for his New England pet project Matt Cassel.

One of last year’s biggest signings, Gibril Wilson has already been re-dealt. After helping the Giants win the Super Bowl, Wilson decided to sign with the Oakland Raiders.Boy did he sign! 6 years for 39 million dollars, making him one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL. Unfortunately, Gibril Wilson is the epitome of stupid free agency signings.

Now when I think of elite safeties I think of Brian Dawkins,  Troy Polamalu, the late Sean Taylor, and at times Roy Williams. Not Gibril Wilson. This is the beauty of free agency:

Brian Dawkins: 5 years/17M/7 Pro Bowls, 5 Time All-Pro, Future Hall of Famer

Sean Taylor: 7 years/18M/2 Pro Bowls, All-Pro

Roy Williams:  4 years/25.2M/5 Pro Bowls, All-Pro

Troy Polamalu: 4 years/30M/5 Pro Bowls, 3 Time All-Pro, 2 Super Bowl Championships

Gibril Wilson: 6 YEARS/39M

Super Bowl Champion, 2nd Team All-SEC?

Let that sink in. After the Super Bowl his greatest achievement is second team All Southeastern Conference. He has no professional accolades. Not only does he lack achievements professionally, his second greatest achievement after the Super Bowl is second tier. He never attained elite status in the NCAA either. Yet, Gibril Wilson who has never been All-Pro or selected to the Pro Bowl, is one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL.

Now that it has sunken in, recognize that Free Agency can be one of the most beneficial, but also one of the dumbest time periods in the NFL. I will not argue that Free Agency is great and allows players elasticity and the ability to make more money. I do not blame the players for taking the money, but make wise decisions! If you are leaving a playoff contender for a last place team reconsider. Similarly, if you’re an owner, do not shower a player with millions after one year of greatness.

I understand that Al Davis’s name isn’t synonymous with neither frugal or wise spending but it was more than obvious that Gibril Wilson didn’t deserve that much money. Other than Wilson’s family and Al Davis, I challenge you to find a person that believes he was deserving of 39 million. If and when you find that person, ask them why he was immediately traded to the Miami Dolphins after one year in Oakland? Is he a bad player?

No.

Wilson’s 120 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2INTs  are impressive stats. But not when your defense ranks 27th in the NFL.  Take for instance James Harrison, Defensive Player of the Year. Harrison only had 101 tackles this year, yet coaches and the media deemed him better than Wilson. (Wilson wasn’t a finalist for Def. POY) James Harrison is also on a defense that ranked 1st in the NFL. Being successful on a terrible defense deserves a round of applause; but being dominant on an elite defense deserves a standing ovation. But while it is easy to chastise Al Davis, it seems imperative to marvel at  Arthur Blank.

The Falcons owner gave Ladanian Tomlinson’s backup 6 years and 34.5M. On the surface this deal looked like a potential bust.

After four years in San Diego (’04-’07) Michael Turner ran for 1,257 yards and 6 TDs. ( 3 of those in 2005).  NFL analysts will argue that Michael Turner showed  the ability to start and be a prime time player in this league, but from a business standpoint he was a still a risky investment. In 2009 though, Arthur Blank looks like a genius. 1,699 yards and 17TDs later, Michael Turner is a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro; two things that Gibril Wilson is not.

But step aside Mr. Blank, here comes Phil Savage and Romeo Crennel to show you how typical NFL managment functions.

After statistically having one of the best seasons of his career, Savage and the Cleveland Browns signed Donte’ Stallworth. Stallworth has never been a 1,000 yard receiver,( he had a career high 945 in 2005). But no one could have expected the ineffectual prodcution he would give once he arrived at 100 Alfred Lerner Way.

17 receptions and 170 yards later the Browns find themselves already on year two of the 7 year, 35 million dollar contract they doled out to Stallworth. Browns owner, Randy Lerner cleaned house after this blunder, removing  both Savage and Crennel. They wanted to get rid of Donte’ too, but his contract has them locked them up. Looks like six more years of Donte’ for Cleveland!

Sorry Cleveland faithful but when it rains it pours.

Kellen Winslow the second leading receiver in ’08 has been traded to Tampa Bay.

On top of that leading receiver Braylon Edwards is coming off his worst year since his induction to the league in 2005. Guess those 5 Hour Energy Drinks aren’t as great as he says.

Poor Dawg Pound, your team comes into 2009 with no viable threat at reciever. There’s no need to worry about your recivers the 2009 Cleveland Browns still haven’t chosen a quarterback!

It is quite the debacle in Cleveland, because the gruesome twosome of Crennel and Savage didn’t just foolishly spend on Stallworth. Oh no, no, no, they also became infatuated with a young man from Oregon State. If you’re unaware of the prestigious quarterback lineage at OSU here’s a list of them all:

Ever heard of Joe Francis? Matt Moore? Derek Anderson?

Well, Joe Francis was a back up for Bart Starr in Green Bay. Matt Moore is a back up for Jake Delhomme in Carolina. As for Derek Anderson, well he was a backup, then a starter, and possibly a back up again. But we’ll address that later.

Don’t fret if you didn’t recognize any of those names. The Cleveland Browns have your back! They promoted Derek Anderson from backup to starter after Charlie Frye left in 2007.   Anderson capitalized on the opportunity and threw for 3,787, 29TDs and 19INTs.

Almost 4,000 yards and 30TDs?

Those numbers hadn’t been seen since Bernie Kosar! I don’t think Crennel and Savage were thinking Anderson would be the next Kosar. But what were they thinking to give him 4 years, 26M?! Especially after drafting Brady Quinn the following year giving him 30 million dollars over 5 years.

In 2006 Derek Anderson only threw for 793 yards, 5TDs and 8INTs; but hey after 2007, give Derek the money! He deserves it!

I wonder if these thoughts ever went through someone’s head in Cleveland:

We just drafted a QB in the first round, signed him to a 5 year, 30M dollar deal

Derek’s had one good year, let’s re-sign him

WHAT?! We’re giving him a  salary comparable to our first round pick?!

Something about this doesn’t seem right…

Needless to say, Derek’s numbers were 1,615 yards,  9TDs  and 8INTs.

He played ten games before going down with a knee injury.

I can’t be too harsh though, the 2008 NFL Free Agent signing period wasn’t a complete bust. I’ve chosen the teams that I think made the best choices of 2008. Along with the best choices I included the worst choices. Atlanta and Cleveland are respectively in the conversation as well.

A Few Smart Picks of 2008.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mewelde Moore-588 rush yards, 320 rec yards, 6 total TDs

Minnesota Vikings: Bernard Berrian-48 rec, 964 yds, 7TDs.

Buffalo Bills: Kawika Mitchell-82 tckls, 4.0 sacks, 2FF, 2INTs

Spencer Johnson-31 tckls, 2.0 sacks

Kansas City Chiefs: Demorrio Williams-61 tckls, 1FF

Miami Dolphins: Randy Starks-29 tckls, 3.0 sacks, 1INT

Some Questionable Picks of 2008

Denver Broncos: Keary Colbert- 3 years/7.2M only to be traded one game into the 2008 season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Jerry Porter- Played ten games. Only had 11 rec, 181 yards and 1TD..

Tennessee Titans: Alge Crumpler- 257 rec yards, 1TD in 2008. He had nearly 500 yards recieving in 2007

In my opinion 2008’s Free Agent signing class had more contributors than detractors. But don’t feel slighted. 2009 has started strong to sway the tide the other way. 7 years, 100M for Albert Haynesworth?

He’s 27, three years away from the dreaded 3-0. On June 17, 2012 Haynesworth’s potential will have reached its limit. Personally I think he’s peaked. I doubt he can even repeat the season he had last year. Now that the Redskins have released Jason Taylor its highly unlikely he will replicate his 2008 All-Pro campaign. Andre Carter, Demetric Evans and Cornelius Griffin will not free up Haynesworth. Evans, Carter and Griffin combined for a whopping 7.5 sacks in 2008. (Griffin had zero)

The three starters for Tennessee: Javon Kearse, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Tony Brown had 12 sacks in 2008.

7.5 in one hand, or 12 in the other?

Also, talks of Haynesworth’s dominant capabilities have been spreading. I find these claims debatable, if not doubtful.  He hasn’t played a full season since his rookie year. 2008’s total of 13 games was the most he’s played in three years. Those numbers don’t scream dominance, they show depreciation. Don’t be suprised if Haynesworth decreases to his 2006 form, in which he had 30 tckls, 2.0 sacks and only played in 11 games.

I want to end on a good not though, so I will say this:

Denver is being praised for its pick ups of Corell Buckhalter, J.J. Arrington, Jabar Gaffney and Lonnie Paxton. Though I believe all are great signings. Look out for Andra Davis. The seven year veteran and former ILB for the Cleveland Browns is now in Mile High.  Watch for Davis in the 2009 Pro Bowl.

Andra Davis is the sleeper of the 2009 Free Agency

Sleeper Acquisition of 2009
Andra Davis Career Stats

Can’t wait for the draft!

-Nate

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »