Super Rematch In The Circle City

On February 3rd, 2008, the New England Patriots met the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona.  The two teams played at University of Phoenix Stadium in what I’ve ranked as one of the top three best football games ever played in that dome, the other two being the Chicago Bears’ rally to beat the Arizona Cardinals in 2006, and the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between the Oklahoma University Sooners and Boise State Broncos.

In that season, the Patriots entered the Super Bowl as the first team to go 16-0 in the regular season, and were looking to become the first team to go 19-0 over the entire season with a win in the Superbowl.  The Giants were able to ruin New England’s plans with help from an exhilarating third and long play late in the fourth quarter that had Eli Manning spinning out of the grasp of multiple Patriot defenders and heaving a pass downfield that was caught by (now former Giant) David Tyree.  That play in turn set up the game winning touchdown pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress with 39 seconds left, leaving the Patriots’ hopes of a perfect season dashed.

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Four years later, the same teams will meet again in Indianapolis in America’s biggest game, and while a lot of changes have been made to the squads, the core players from 2008 remain, and most importantly, the quarterbacks are the same. Read more of this post

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Winning By Losing

They tell you that you can’t win for losing.  Last Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts proved exactly the opposite by losing their final game of the season to the Jacksonville Jaguars 19-13, thus ensuring them the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft this April.  Before this season started, the AFC South was the Colts’ division to lose; they had one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and they had proven themselves the rulers of the division.  And then Peyton Manning went down for the season with a neck injury and the Colts signed Kerry Collins and his beard out of retirement to take the reins of the team, and that’s when it started to become apparent that Indianapolis had a problem. Read more of this post

Grading The Rookie Quarterbacks*

*Disclaimer: Only the QBs that have started, so that excludes Colin Kaepernick and Jake Locker; I’m also excluding Christian Ponder since he only has one start*

The NFL season has gotten off to a fantastic start, and now that we’re getting to the bye weeks, I thought I’d take the time to look at the performances of the starting rookie quarterbacks so far this season and give them a grade, so without much further ado, here we go:

Andy Dalton: Record: 4-2,  118-189 passing, 62.4 completion percentage, 1,311 yds passing, 7 TDs – 5 INTs, 1 rushing TD, 84.3 QB Rating: Surprise, surprise, the Cincinnati Bengals are 4-2, who would have thought?  Granted, those 4 wins came against Cleveland, Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis, but a win is a win.  Averaging 218.5 yards per game, he’s made the transition from college to the pros well, taking full advantage of wide receivers A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson.  Dalton really isn’t going to face his first big test until week 10 when the Bengals host Pittsburgh, until then Cincinnati enjoys a bye week this week and then go on the road to Seattle and Tennessee (so many double consonants).  I’ve yet to see Andy massively implode, and by looking at his stats I’m going to grade Dalton’s performance so far as an A.

 

Blaine Gabbert: Record: 1-4, 64-137 passing, 46.7 completion percentage, 758 yds passing, 4 TDs – 2 INTs, 67.7 QB Rating**:  **Note: stats are based only on games started, and because of that the QB Rating was calculated by hand** So, Blaine Gabbert.  He’s been pretty unimpressive so far this season.  The play calling has kept him on a short leash with him only attempting 23.8 passes per game, as compared to Andy Dalton’s 31.5 attempts per game, and Cam Newton’s 36.0 attempts per game.  Not only are his attempts per game low, his completions per game is also at the bottom of the rookie class at 12.8 completions per game.  The one win that he has this season came from an absolutely dreadful game in which both offenses and quarterbacks were subpar.  Gabbert only completed 9 of 20 passes for 93 yards, while Joe Flacco completed 21 of 38 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown on Monday Night, and after a game like that there’s only room to go upward.  To grade Blaine on his season so far I’d give him a solid C, with room to improve.

 

Cam Newton: Record: 2-5, 152-252 passing, 60.3 completion percentage, 2,103 yds passing, 8 TDs – 9 INTs, 7 Rushing TDs, 82.8 QB Rating:  I believe Cam Newton represents the new wave of quarterbacks that are making their way from the college game to the pros in this day and age.  He has the ability to stand in the pocket in the face of pressure to complete passes, and he also has the ability to leave the pocket and lower his head and gain yards with his feet.  He  made his presence known in Week 1 against the Cardinals in Arizona when he set the air on fire by throwing for 422 yards, and then followed that up with a 432 yard performance at home against Green Bay.  Despite the impressive passing stats, it has seemed that the wins just haven’t been in the cards for Newton.  In the Panthers’ 5 losses this season, they’ve been by an average of 7.2 points, so he’s doing his best, but so far just can’t get quite over the hump.  Besides the passing numbers, Newton has also tied the rookie record for rushing TDs in a season with 7, and has Steve Grogan’s overall season record of 12 rushing TDs in his sights.  There was much talk about whether or not Cam would be successful in the NFL, and I think that he has proven his case.  Newton gets an A.

 

NFL Review: Flipping the Script (For Now)

So far through this season, we’ve seen a minor shift.  We’ve seen a shift to the rookie quarterbacks taking the helm (Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder surely soon to follow), we’ve seen the Colts fall to the back due to Manning’s injury, and we’ve seen the… Buffalo Bills rise to the top?  We’re talking about a team that went 4-12 last season!  We’re talking about a team that had the 25th ranked offense and 24thranked defense in the league last season!  But this year, we’re talking about a team that leads the league in points scored (37.7 ppg) and is 3rd in total yards (431.0 ypg).

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NFL Review: Week 1

The NFL season started off with a bang in Green Bay with a great game between the Saints and Packers, and that game along with the entire weekend has set a high mark of what to expect over the course of this season.  The Sunday afternoon slate was entertaining to watch, especially if you saw Cam Newton’s debut against the Cardinals; other than that, there were a few one sided wins like the Bills 41-7 win over Kansas City.  The true story of this weekend were the night games: the aforementioned Saints/Packers game, the Sunday Night Cowboys/Jets game, and the Monday Night Football doubleheader of Patriots/Dolphins followed by Raiders/Broncos. Read more of this post

2011-12 NFC Preview

With the NFC underway by way of an especially epic NFC tilt between the last two Super Bowl champions, here’s my NFC preview.

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The Tim Tebow Paradox

These past few weeks in the world of the NFL have been exhilarating. The 4-1/2 month lockout finally ended, teams have been in a frenzy trying to make roster cuts, sign players, offering contracts, free agents, and about a million different things that I can’t possibly think of at the moment. Now, all of these things have been major highlights and stories as we make our way to the beginning of the NFL season, but no story was or still is as big as our favorite former college player.

Mr. Tebow, please come up to the podium!

Tim Tebow has been America’s heart-throb story since 2007 when he became the starting quarterback at the University of Florida after four successful years from former quarterback Chris Leak, and Tebow did not disappoint. In three years as Florida’s QB, he threw for 8928 yards, had an 83-14 touchdown-interception ratio, and also rushed for 2478 yards with 49 touchdowns and in 2007, he won the Heisman trophy. He was projected as a Top 10 draft pick by most football analysts; with others saying that his flaws would stand out more than his successes. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the 25th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by former head coach Josh McDaniels. In the 2010 NFL season, he played seldomly in six games while getting three starts in that stretch. He finished the season with 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and rushed for another 6 touchdowns.

Now here we are in 2011. In training camp, it was rumored the Tebow was in the running to take the starting spot at QB away from incumbent Kyle Orton while Orton was supposedly going to get traded to the Dolphins; how Tebow was so ready to take over the offense and lead the broncos in the direction that they need to head in to be a Super bowl contender again. But yet, here we are in the last week of the preseason, and he is not only NOT competing for the starting job, but he might not even be the backup to Kyle Orton? He’s battling Brady Quinn and undrafted rookie Adam Weber for that spot? It seems to me that even though there was all of the Tim Tebow hype when he got drafted, it looks like new head coach John Fox and the Broncos either aren’t ready for Tebow to take over the offense or simply, they are just not confident in his ability to be the quarterback America hopes him to be.