Tag Archives: Cam Newton

NFL16 Cherry Picks W17: MVP Field Is Fat But Houseman Meter Says Brady Ain’t In It

27 Dec

Even as New England Patriots starry signal-caller Tom Brady, on a brilliant but semi-season (12g), may win the MVP on the anti-Goodell vote, a group not dissimilar to that which decided Election 2016, Brady nevertheless must be ineligible, opening the door to the widest field of candidates in years, winner who won’t be clear until the regular season is in the books. With Falcons’ Matt Ryan frontrunner entering final Week 17, its match-ups bearing on this rank, player and to a smaller degree team performance will decide the winner, making the baker’s dozen below as tight a pack as a Friday afternoon subway.

Top contenders for NFL 2016 MVP:

1. Matt Ryan
2. David Johnson
3. Landon Collins
4. Dak Prescott
5. Ezekiel Elliott
6. Alec Ogletree
9. Kwon Alexander
10. Le’Veon Bell
11. Aaron Rodgers
12. Bobby Wagner
13. Justin Tucker

— — —

The football MVP might just be an award more valuable than a championship ring, at least Cam Newton and Rich Gannon hope so.

The biggest personal prize in professional football this side of the 49th parallel is about momentum, early on (W5 >), on-going (consistency) and uninterrupted.

ryan-m-10-19-14-k-allison-702kWith one more game remaining for all 32 in NFL 2016, one more chance for players with MVP aspirations to prove their worth in the eyes of the Associated Press, the obscure but finely calibrated John Houseman MVP Meter is presently pointing to Matt Ryan as the most valuable and deserving player for the coveted prize.

Be aware, this meter gauges the player who most deserves to win the MVP, not the man who ultimately receives the most AP votes and then the hardware.

Wondering, as you should, what is the Houseman MVP Meter?

John Houseman (1902-88) was a noted producer of theater (Federal / Mercury) and then films who later in life became an actor of note in supporting roles in such movies as The Paper Chase (73 (Oscar®)), Three Days of the Condor and the classic sporting flick, the original Rollerball (75). But he may be best remembered for his Smith Barney TV ads uttering in his distinctive high-hat voice, “They earn money the old-fashioned way, they eaaaaaarn it.” Get it?

— — —

The time of announcing the MVP winner should change.

In recent years, the NFL – NFLPA decided it’d be cute to announce MVP winner at a ceremony the nite just prior to playing the Big Game (SB), someone I expect who has no real knowledge of athletics or interest therein. For if they did, they’d know that receiving word of having won what is admittedly a terrific recognition, is about the LAST thing a player, his coaches & teammates, want (or need) to hear < 24 hours before suiting-up for the biggest game of their lives.

Think Cam Newton needed to know he was voted League’s top player in 2015 the nite before kickoff? I doubt it (See; SB50).

— — —

Who Won’t Win

ogletree-wc-8-15-13-johnmaxmena2-119kDefenders

The AP – MVP awarding is, of course, a flawed process, not unlike the Heisman awarding for the supposed best player in a collegiate season. One defender has taken the college equivalent to MVP in its 83 years in Michigan’s Charles Woodson (DB / 97), two NFL defenders winning MVP in Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, Alan Page, as member of the vaunted Vikings’ Purple People Eaters (71) and Giants’ game-change linebacker in Lawrence Taylor (86).

As in most years, a defender will not win the MVP. Not because Landon Collins, Alec Ogletree & Kwon Alexander don’t deserve it, quite the contrary. When the fat field of contenders is assessed with a football savvy mind, tacklers rank high. And with no clear-cut offensive frontrunner this season, a defender should rate high. But AP voters, like most sport observers, think they understand offense best and can’t get enough (sticky-gloves), on field or off (MVP).

Receivers

2016 Toppers like Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham, they’ve gotta’ have well over 1500 yards gained in reception, along with 20+ TDs just to be considered. No qualifiers this year.

INT quarterbacks

Big Ben, Luck, Brees (71.C%), Jameis & Eli have too many INTs, i.e., mistakes. Hit the high-40s in TD passes and double-digit INTs won’t weigh so heavy, a huge toss total none of the above mentioned have approached in 2016. In fairness to field generals, until NFL starts judging INTs with an eye for accuracy, detracting deflected-pass INTs from QB tallies, we can’t know for certain exactly how many true interceptions signal-callers actually threw in a season.

Who May Win

Running backs

The last to haul in the AP was…AP, Adrian Peterson in 2012. If he’s the standard, your team need not win their division (NFCN – GB), you need not score a ton (13 TD) nor forge top receiving stats (40 – 217). But pass that 2000 rush barrier (2097) and get good mojo going with media (and blogisphere (moi)) around mid-season and you’ve got a serious shot at the MVP sans a blazing QB.

1. David Johnson (Cardinals): 1233y – 16.TD (run) // 77 – 841y – 4 (rec)
2. Ezekiel Elliott (Cowboys): 1631 – 15 // 32 – 363 – 1 (ROY)
3. Le’Veon Bell (Steelers): 1268 – 7 // 75 – 616 – 1

brady-11-29-15-wc-j-beall-2-45mQuarterbacks

Firstly, Tom Brady does NOT qualify for the 2016 MVP. Derek Carr doesn‘t either, going out in W16 with injury, but he’s closer than Tom.

Tom’s terrific but missed one-quarter of the season due to his Deflategate suspension. That’s weighty. Knowingly choose to destroy a phone in an inquiry and you’ll suffer consequences that celebrity won’t deflect.

And if you think the late start somehow worked a burden which TB’s fine play overcame and then now deserves some reward, you can throw that cockamamie theory in the trash with all that Xmas wrapping.

I like Brady. He’s a champion, looks un-enhanced by weight room residency or PEDs and when he speaks, people listen because he thinks about what he says. You won’t hear words like “poopfest” coming from Tom, not publicly, anyway. And it’s that thinking that’s made him maybe the greatest pro QB ever.

But the 2-time winner does…not…qualify. Period.

When Brady receives votes for the award, and he will, those casting will likely have done so, not because they really believe Tom to be 2016’s most valuable man, but instead as pay-back of sorts to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell who ultimatley approved the QB’s Deflategate suspension. But one who thinks it better to show-up Goodell for meting out discipline than to vote with sincerity should not have that vote to cast in the first place. Period.

No Tom in the pool, no problem. It’s a QB league and there are plenty of MVP-caliber quarterbacks in 2016 to fill the bill without working pay-back (See; top).

The QB standard

1) TD-ratio
2) W-L (QB League)
3) Completion %
4) yards-per-pass (ypp), and
5) GWD (CC: clutch & composure)

As nearly every starting quarterback today will, with relative ease, surpass the 3000 yard passing mark, that category’s of lesser importance in MVP think.

Unlike the 1960s – 80s where completion percentages (%), even with great QBs like Bart Starr and Roger Staubach, were often in the mid-50s, in the 2000s the MVP-caliber quarterback should be well over the 60.C% mark.

1. Matt Ryan; 34-7, C% 69.5, 10-5, 9.3, 2gwd
2. Dak Prescott: 23-4, 68, 13-2, 8.0, 5gwd
3. Aaron Rodgers: 36-7, 65.5, 9-6, 7.2, 2.gwd
4. Derek Carr: 28-6, 63.7, 12-3, 7.0, 7gwd
5. Matt Stafford: 22-9, 66.1, 9-6, 7.2, 8 (4Q) gwd

Who Will Win?

Not the reigning MVP. Cats’ Cam Newton, for whatever reason (Super pout or strains of fatherhood?), has probably performed more poorly in defense of the prize than any prior (QB) winner since Brian Sipe in 1980, and, like Camster, proceeded to end his season too with a disastrous post-season game versus Tom Flores Raiders when Sipe went 13-40 with 3 INTs in the loss (Plunkett: 14-30, 2 INT). 2016 Newton: 6-6, 54.C%, 17-9, 7.1 (ypp); Sipe: 5-11, 55.C%, 17-25, 6.8.

It’s a tight race so this final slate of game is crucial for all the candidates.

Rivalry match-ups are in store, most of which could decide the outcome and then be fairly termed as ‘the MVP game.’

New Orleans @ Atlanta (Ryan)
Green Bay (Rodgers) @ Detroit (Stafford)
Dallas (Prescott & Elliott) @ Philadelphia
Arizona (Johnson) @ Los Angeles
Giants (Collins) @ Redskins

Of course, New England @ Miami, a GTW no doubt, is not listed.

Tom Brady would be eligible for the Super MVP if Patriots make it that far. But while Brady is ineligible for the regular MVP, fairness & logic are not always in play for voters, as Tom knows full well. If he performs in Miami, expect the junior-media element in the AP (anti-Goodell) to swing the vote, the trophy and the annoying night-before-the-Super-Bowl phone call, Tom’s way.

Ezekiel Elliott is having a tremendous rookie review but his scoring and multi-facet skill-set falls just short of Johnson’s.

Matt Stafford & Derek Carr’s GWD tallies are super but both relied more heavily on the short pass (7-7.3 ypp), an MVP detractor. It’s a measure which should boost ranking of the other resplendent Dallas rookie in Dak Prescott who’s been very careful with the ball (4 INT) in Ted Bridgewater fashion but unfortunately looked very average in Cowboys’ losses and a few wins, as well.

And Aaron Rodgers, already a vested member of the MVP Club (‘11 / 14), he played pedestrian in clutch time in season’s first half and didn’t get on radar soon enough to build sufficient voter support, especially when Tom is in the mix with many. And Rodgers’ 7.2 ypp , that’s junior league for a quarterback in his class. But there is the Favre Factor (Packer power in the press since 1992) and if Pack pound the Lions, Aaron could steal the trophy.

Who Should Win?

See above list and final game performances. Falcons’ Matt Ryan should take the trophy with strong final show against arch-rival Saints but New Orleans has been playing like contenders this second-half and might derail the Ryan Express, opening the door to the next in line (Johnson), and so on and so forth.

cherries-cloth-picdrome-6-2011-thmCherry Picks Week 17

Texans (9-6) @ Titans (8-7): 1.1 CBS 1:00: Titans win
Carolina (6-9) @ Tampa (8-7): Fox 1:00: Panthers win
Cowboys (13-2) @ Eagles (6-9): Fox 1:00: Philly wins
New England (13-2) @ Miami Dolphins (10-5) GTW: CBS 1:00: Patriots win
Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) @ San Diego Chargers (5-10): 4:25 CBS: Bolts win
Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-11): 4:25 Fox: Cards win
Oakland Raiders (12-3) @ DenverBroncos (8-7): 4:25 CBS: Broncos win
New York (10-5) @ Washington Redskins (8-6-1) GTW: 4:25 Fox: Giants win
New Orleans (7-8) @ Atlanta Falcons (10-5) GTW: 4:25 Fox: Falcons win
Green Bay Packers (9-6) @ Detroit Lions (9-6) GTW: NBC 8:30: Lions win

Record: 73 -88 – 2

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: NFL-MVP-trophy, wc.cca, 6.23.13, Teo’s89; M.Ryan, wc, K.Allison, 10.19.14; A.Ogletree, wc, Johnmaxmena2, 8.15.13; T.Brady, 11.29.15, J.Beall; cherries-cloth, picdrome, wc, 6.2011; NFL-symbol, wikiproject
Posted: 12.27.16 @ 2:42pm, edit 6:06 EST; Copyright © 2016

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NFL16 Cherry Picks W6: ‘Dr. (Dart) or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the (Pocket)’

13 Oct

Rabbit Test

With most amateur coaches today nixing the quarterback model that’s play-oriented, teaching intensive and preparatory for pro-style pocket-passer, opting instead for Coach-Lite®, i.e., chisel on the job specs in relying on the make-it-up-as-you-go run-QB to execute his mini-playbook and whatever offensive scheme there is, NFL inventories on savvy signal-callers have dwindled to a dangerously low level not seen since the pre-Otto Graham days (1930s) when single-wing tailbacks were running wild.

Think of a car-pool analogy: NFL Coach and the cufflinks are cruising along at a pretty good clip, having just stuffed at a nearby Golden Corral® (“How’s the fricassee?“), window cracked to air-out the Cuban cigar smoke and the QB-fuel light begins to blink. A warning they’d better pull over soon for some field general premium to fill a current or anticipated void created when their well-decorated QB (Brady, Big Ben, Brees, etc.) soon hangs up his cleats for retirement to slide into that gig at Disney or NFLN (ugh).

Fuel options:

1) Run-QB ethyl

Supplies are endless. Disclaimers: 1) This grade needs miles on the meter before engine knock smooths, aka, a project, and 2) other grades (ball-handlers) must subjugate their need for possession counts which will be impacted downward (ball-hog QB) with correlating drop in team morale.

Flash-QB’s been changing the football landscape since Mike Vick tore up the turf in Atlanta in 2001 and then helped feed the Cheese-eaters their first ever home – playoff loss (1.4.03 (27 -7)).

newton-9-28-14-668k-wc-k-allisonKaep Krusader ran wild over that same Green Bay tundra (Vince was spinning) in two playoffs, getting San Fran to the cusp in SB47, but only after the lights came back on to swing momentum. Yet when it appeared Ravens collapse-for-the-ages would be realized in game‘s final moments, Colin got the “red-zone blues.”

Camster-the-Hamster took the 2015 MVP and his Cats to their 2d Super Bowl, cruising through a pedestrian NFC playoff field, then proceeded to lay an egg in the big game (0 TDs) in falling to the Broncos in Peyton Manning’s finale.

Lacking advanced field comprehension and wherewithal (hit-takes), run-QB (8-10 attempts per) will never be a great one, not unless flash becomes omnipresent.

Flash-QB will one day hoist a Lombardi. Supply makes it a certainty (Wilson’s a mobile-manager who left the pocket just three (3) runs en route to SB48 win (v DEN)). But it’ll have to come against a title opponent who scores lite with a D that can’t stop the scamper. How such a foe makes it to February is hard to imagine but then NFL’s road to a title is an E-ZPass® highway, i.e., two wins, you’re in.

2) Defense high octane

Instead of digesting the QB-lemons Drafts keep serving, it’s time for NFL teams to start dictating their own agenda, shape their own destiny and turn sour citrus (run-QB Ltd.) into sweet lemonade (WRs & TEs) instead of desperately seeking quarterbacks that continue to disappoint with under-developed skill-sets.

kuechly-128-14-sgt-a-martinez-wc-thmWith the pro-ready pocket passer fast becoming an endangered species, a commitment to defensive fundamentals, including de-emphasis on glory stats guys (sacks, close-down corners, etc.) who rarely go the distance, then utilization of the mgr-QB system and the shortage of elite passers becomes largely irrelevant.

And if that elite defense comes to fruition, it may also afford the time needed to develop that quarterback project who possesses a modicum of pocket poise and read-ability upon which to build.

3) Pocket Passer premium

He’s endangered but not extinct, down but not out.

With every year that passes the proficient pocket-passer will become harder to find, but if you do draft a dandy, the possibilities can be stupendous (See; Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Montana, Brees, Moon, Marino, etc., etc.). And then, good defenders aren’t exactly growing on trees themselves. So there’s that.

You‘ll need two things to troll-in that golden-arm: 1) Keen scouts who can spot ’em (See; Ron Wolf (Favre)), and 2) if you do, better hope he’s under-the-radar or be prepared to fork out the bullion in bushels.

But whatever you do, don’t ever deceive yourself into thinking you can convert run-QB into the pro-set passer. “Forget about it.”

brady-8-28-09-k-allison-dc-wc-cca-thmBeing a pro quarterback is not a whim nor a simple ego-trip. It’s an avocation, an artist’s craft, requiring as much mental finesse in instinct (audible), wherewithal (pocket poise), synergy (coach – teammates), as it does physical prowess, maybe more.

It’s a tough call for today’s young football aspirant.

Learning pocket poise is a trial (& error) that will last for years, taking much patience and no small amount of pain.

Rabbit-habit and its concomitant ball-hog trait is instinctive to some, especially those not inclined to leadership. Touch that pigskin and it’s only a man’s mind that can give it up to another for sake of the team. Sharing is not instinctive but must be taught at an early age.

Run routine will serve one well in school where Coach Chisel rides it to victory. But there’s a price the player (and his future OC) must pay, for once partaken a rabbit-habit’s impossible to break, while the toughness-training (Jr. high) needed to ascend the QB ladder with behind-the-line hits cannot be replaced. ‘No pain no gain’ is no popular proverb in 2016 (concussion) but it’s never been more fitting in QB development, or non-development, as the case may be.

En Vogue

tarkenton-wc-themiaminews-1-9-74-320kQuarterback design still trends heavily towards those of the CliffsNotes® class, i.e., run-QB, but a new breed of field general is appearing on the football plain with more frequency and producing fruits for his labor (Ws): Pocket passer with mobility. He may be the best of both worlds.

In truth, he’s not so new a breed as a return to the signal-caller popularized in 1960-70s by the likes of Fran “The Scrambler” Tarkenton and Roger “The Dodger” Staubach. Former holder of most career passing marks, Tark spent half his time in zig-zag behind-the-line to extend vision (Listed 6’0,” looked closer to 5’10”) and wear pursuers ragged (Deacon Jones (d.2013) was livid!), while his NFC nemesis in one of the Super Bowl’s GATs in Roger had more moves in open-field than did Mr. James Brown on stage.

Leading the list of today’s MPP is Packers 3-star field general, Aaron Rodgers.

Next in line, Russ Wilson (49-19), then Colts’ Andrew Luck. All cucumber cool in the red-zone, capable of threading the needle for a score but swift in leaving the pocket to avoid pressure or move up-field, not for fear or read-funk but because sometimes the pass just ain’t there and 1st-down marker is an easy scamper.

On the newcomers it’s Tyrod Taylor (BUF), Blake Bortles (JAX), Jameis Winston (TB) and Cowboys controversy-causing (See; T.Romo) 2d-year quarterback, Dak Prescott whose biggest challenge in mid-season may be beating the Sports Illustrated cover-curse. ‘Damn!’

cherries-cloth-picdrome-6-2011-thmCherry Picks Week 6

Denver (4-1) @ San Diego (1-4): 10.13 CBS 8:25: Bolts win
San Fran (1-4) @ Buffalo (3-2): 10.16 Fox 1:00: Bills win
Philly (3-1) @ Washington (3-2): Fox 1:00 (GTW): DC wins
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-4): CBS 1:00: Dolphins win
Bengals (2-3) @ New England Pats (4-1): CBS 1:00 (GTW): Cincinnati wins
Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) @ Oakland Raiders (4-1): CBS 4:05 (GTW): KC wins
Atlanta Falcons (4-1) @ Seattle (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Seahawks win
Dallas Cowboys (4-1) @ Green Bay (3-1): Fox 4:25 (GTW): Packers win
Indianapolis Colts (2-3) @ Houston (3-2): NBC 8:30 (GTW): Texans win

Record: 23 – 31

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credits: D.Prescott-point, wc.cca, 9.18.16, K.Allison; C.Newton, wc, 9.28.14, K.Allison; L. Kuechly, 1.28.14, Sgt-A.Martinez, wc; T.Brady, wc, 8.28.09, K.Allison, DC; F.Tarkenton, wc, The-Miami-News, 1.9.74; cherries-cloth, 6.2001, picdrome, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 10.13.16 @ 5:29pm EST; Copyright © 2016

Inking Kaep Krusader & RG3: ‘Strange Destiny’ or ‘Experiment(s) Perilous?’

6 Apr

It’s a strange destiny that has brought me to this new life, a new home (“Ben-Hur (C.Heston)” speaking to a gathering in celebration at the house of his adopted father Counsel “Quintus Arrius (J.Hawkins) (Ben-Hur (‘59))”).

Or…

Life is short, art long, decision difficult and experiment perilous (Hippocrates & “N. Bederaux (Lukas)” in movie by the same phrase (Experiment Perilous (44)).”

Rome would prove a strange place for “Judah” to call home.

Formerly enslaved on a charge of attempted murder upon the Governor (his jailed sister “Tirzah” the true culprit) then freed for saving the life of an Admiral (“Quintus Arrius”), the City was capital of the vast Italian empire and base for the army which occupied his own land of Judea.

Likewise, the Forest City on the banks of Lake Erie, even with it’s industrious people who ♫ rock ♫ the cradle in the State that theoretically gave birth to pro football (See; Canton, AAFC, NFL, etc.), could not have been where Bob Griffin even imagined a residence 4 years back when his newborn NFL career took it’s first baby steps in our own nation’s capital, DC.

I’m the metaphor guy, what can I say?

.....RG3.Baylor.8.15.9.wc.Caesarscott.thmBut like the charmed chariot racer and Christian convert “Ben-Hur,” Cleveland’s newest add-on at the quarterback spot in the former Heisman hoister and Redskins’ hopeful (2y, $15M), Rob too may find his new home provides the place where he can re-charge his battery to power a similar rebirth in spirit and success, sans any grizzly bone-crushing horse-trample (See: “Messala (S.Boyd)”). Ouch!

The Brownies and their Super Bowl starved fans sure hope so. It’s been a downhill ride ever since Bernie Kosar (‘92) and then the original team left town for the Crab Cake City in 1995.

What may be more surprising than where Bob has ended up is how last season played-out in DC, or more correctly, didn’t play-out for Washington’s former starter as he didn’t take nary a snap in Redskins regular slate.

After starting summer camp fit & ready to re-prove himself (All-Pro ‘12), Bob got concussed in a pre-season contest where Detroit coach Jim Caldwell apparently had his felines go full-tilt and Bob got his bell rung hard. The Sporting Gods were not all too pleased with Lions’ decision-making and as they will often do sent bad karma the offender’s way in-season (1-7 start, W13 L-GB, Calvin exit, etc.).

.....Cousins.7.31.12.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbThat’s all it took for coach Jay Gruden to insert the man who’d prove to be the season long #1 in Kirk Cousins who made most of his opportunity by leading ‘Skins to a 9-7 mark, NFC East title, playoff birth and Fatty Arbuckle-wide stats.

So girthy were the digits (70C%, 29t-11, 4166y) that KC & Agency have been engaged in an off-season duel of contract-swords with owner Dan Snyder over how much coin the new franchise face will collect. Corked tips, of course, nobody wants blood.

Considering that Kirk played for relatively (pro) peanuts his first 4 years ($2.5M) and that we’re presently and likely to remain in a seller’s market for pro-style NFL signal-callers for some time, the man from Holland, Michigan who’s set to turn 28 in August should get a princely sum.

Ask Bob about Kirk’s situation and he’d likely not begrudge his former ‘mate the moolah and the same opportunity to succeed as he received in 2012-13 when hope was springing eternal for the former Baylor Bear.

.....Manziel.8.2.14.ED.Drost.wc.thmb.headThe Browns signed the now well-rested if a bit rusty RG3 to a widening QB klatch in Cleveland that no longer includes Jon Manziel who unfortunately probably disdains the java brew, benefits & all.

So where does Robert stand (sit) in the depth chart?

Checking in with Ourlads.com “NFL scouting services,” Bob sits at #2 behind last season’s early starter Josh McCown (1-7, 64C%, 12t-4i) and ahead of Austin Davis (0-2, 59.6C%), Connor Shaw and Pat Devlin. Johnny ‘Uh-Oh’ Manziel (2-4, 57.8C%, 7-5) was released in March, maybe on his Tebow-esque techniques (2-4, 57.8C%, 7t-5, 37ra-230), sans the wins, but more likely on as his juvenile and addictive mental states.

Josh is bit toothy, set to turn 37 in July and has not made the most of his chances in five stops (18-39, 59.5C%, 73t-63i) AZ, OAK, CHI, TB, CLE). But he’s always had good size (6’4), mechanics and must be saying the right things because coaches keep giving him a shot. In his defense, the teams he’s led have been short on top talent. Cleveland in 2016 is not much different.

All that means Bob has a good chance of becoming Browns 20th (+/-) starting QB (10 HCs) since post-Kosar. On opposite end of success spectrum, Packers have had just two, Favre and Rodgers (Flynn 6gs). But that’s anomaly cheese.

.....Jackson.8.12.8.wc.K.Allison.thmWhether or not Bob earns the starter’s job in autumn, and I’m confident Browns’ brass expressed it as such and Griffin agreed, it will likely come eventually. Whomever gets the nod in September the pressure to win will be high at FirstEnergy Stadium, as unrealistic an expectation as that my be with the current roster.

The Browns have more holes than a nightshirt come April (I’ll be damned if I can’t find a pair of quality long-johns anywhere at any price anymore) and first year head coach Hue Jackson will have his hands full.

Hue will need to utilize every bit of offensive know-how in strategy and development to get the Brownies scoring game in gear. In 2015 Cleveland ranked 25th in ygpg (331.9), just two spots behind the QB-set Packers (#23 / 334) and 30th in ppg (17.4), topping the terrible Cowboys (17.2) and 49ers (14.9). Browns didn’t fare much better on the D-side where returning DC Ray Horton will be expected to shore things up (CLE ‘13 (TN ‘14-15)), coming in at 27 (379 / yapg) and 29 (27 papg) in the key components.

Will Cleveland draft a QB in May? Best guess, no, late Rd possible, of course. Instead expect them to plug top picks elsewhere, especially that the collegiate QB talent pool’s been rated shallow this time around. Rated, not necessarily reality.

If & when Bob does happen to win the starter’s job, big question on most minds will be what style of quarterbacking will he and his coaches implement?

.....RG3.LBoyd.MGreen.USMC-NY.wc.4.26.12.thmWill he work in the office, behind the line of scrimmage, refine his read skills and learn to love the pocket or will he go back on the road and revert to the run mode that served him well at Baylor and his rookie campaign when he scampered for 800+ and led Redskins to 10-6?

Wise answer: The former, no matter the learning curve. His knee can’t handle the latter, not for long, anyway.

The prediction: Something in-between, a half-measure which’ll prove impotent. But life’s full of surprises and maybe Hue has one or two up his sleeve.

Old dogs, new tricks

Bob’s still fairly young in NFL terms (26) but like Shane (A.Ladd) said, “Man has to be what he is, can’t break the mold…the brand sticks.” That’s a high drama and flowed from a situation much hairier than Bob’s, but it does hold true most often for mature athletes, as well.

Once a flash-QB, always a flash QB.

There’s a stubbornness, an arrogance-in-athleticism, fed by the occasional burst of brilliance or playoff run, that will likely inhibit the conversion from run-under-pressure to cool-as-cucumber in the pocket. Those hunker skills are honed over time, a process starting in Jr. High when you learn to brave the first hard hits and fight natural instinct to rabbit. It’s a long, painful, educational process, not something you just pick-up spending a few extra hours in the film room on Wednesday before your next shoe-wear photo-shoot. Only those dedicated to the switch will survive and thrive. Maybe that’s Bob.

.....Kaep.2.3.13.wc.cca.Au.Kirk.thumbAnd it’s why Denver might be wiser to take a pass on the Colin Kaepernick deal, Super defense aside. But then maybe finding, fashioning that elusive good fit ain’t exactly keeping John Elway awake at nights anyway, feeling his oats & all after piecing together a team that made one of the best championship runs in NFL annals.

After letting Peyton retire (showing him the door?), arguably greatest QB in history, one I believe wanted to be ‘wanted back’ for one more, hopefully healthy and celebratory season in Broncos blue & orange (It’s just not the same on the links), and then parting ways with a ready-man starter in Brock Osweiler who should’ve been reminded that he will not be passing to J.J. Watt in Houston colors, the Mustangs seem…content.

Denver’s defense has Kaep Krusader déjà vu-ing “all over again (SF 2012-14).” And he’s got some call to feel cocky: He’s been there before (two NFCCs (SB47)), is not careless with the ball (brass love that) and he’s presently shopping his services in a seller’s market for established QBs.

But while Kaepernick will do his best to bust through brick walls, he’s so cautious, slow-to-read routes he won’t easily thread-the-needle (59-C%), is dealing with the #2 franchise in negotiation wherewithal (GB #1) and tenses-up in the red-zone (See; SB47 & NFCC14). Guy’s still a project of sorts and then not exactly made from the Denver Broncos‘ mold of quarterbacking.

Broncos clearly have the edge here, budget or not. Kaep & Co. are well advised to give some ($) now to make the deal, then make it up later, if he can win over the guys in the locker-room who already got their rings (SB50). Keep in mind new Denver QB in Mark Sanchez has guided teams to Conference games himself (Jets), though, like Colin (10-14 post-NFCC14), has looked more like a caretaker-QB (PHI 4-6) than a take-care-of-business field general (See: Patton).

What’s more, the run-around routine won’t often catch Ds off guard anymore.

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11Sure, their ‘athleticism’ will see they break off a 80-yarder now & then (See: Mariota), and it’s most successful adherent to date in Cam Newton did lead Carolina to only their 2d Super Bowl (50) last February, garnering the MVP in the process.

But Carolina got thumped like San Fran (SB47), before the lights went out.

Camster-the-Hamster is a special player. His size (6’6”) and not yet fully unrealized pass potential will extend his tenure beyond most (See; Young, Vick, Tebow, Manziel), that is if his ACLs can take the add’l tackles to which run-QB subjects himself. And like other flash-men, Sir-Runs-Alot is plagued by the same foible: Red zone funk: An indecisiveness wherever advanced reading skill is required (SB50). A deficiency Elway and Jackson may compensate but never overcome: Old dogs, new tricks.

And it’s why a setting like Cleveland is a good fit for RG3.

If Browns’ front-office can muster the patience, a rare virtù these days in any operation, a mindset that allows Bob to develop his own patience in the pocket, and then fashion an O-line that can protect (53sk 2015), find a pair or two of go-to hands that can assist and a ground-man who “run(s) to daylight (See; NFL Draft.16),” this “experiment” can be less “perilous” and more profitable for the history-laden franchise on the lake.

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
MacroSport
Photo credit: Ben-Hur, Berti-Heston, MGM, 1959, wc; R.Griffin, wc, 8.15.9, Caesarscott; K.Cousins, wc, 7.31.12, K.Allison; J.Manziel, 8.2.14, ED.Drost, wc; H.Jackson, wc, K.Allison, 8.12.8; RG3-Lboyd-Mgreen, wc, USMC-NY, 4.26.12; C.Kaepernick, wc, 2.3.13, Au.Kirk; C.Newton, wc, Pantherfan11, 2011; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc-11;
Posted: 4.6.16 @ 3:05pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Cherry Jam: Denver’s Inside Man & Peyton’s Plan

11 Feb

Michel Mode

..........Michel.TheDeposition(JA).wc.1553.Sailko.thmMichelangelo (1475-1564), the great Italian sculptor of the Renaissance, understood the art of masterpiece. He’s credited with saying something along this line: There exists inside every block of granite a form of which it is the task of the artist to find, give life.

Likewise, inside every football team is a champion’s medallion, a little Vince Lombardi trophy of which it’s the job of every coach, player and GM to help find, form and then ultimately showcase in pomp & pageantry for generations come.

The 2015-16 Denver Broncos found their little Vince.

Sculpted Sorrow

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11Team success requires not only coordination, a synthesis of skills but a subjugation of the brimming selfishness that fills the vessel of the star athlete (or Cufflink) and can turn a roundtable of knights into a sniveling pack of paupers or, after an especially hard defeat, “sore loser(s) (See; C. Newton, 2.9.16, BoA-Stdm).”

That line between “sore” and insolent is a fine one but as bright as the gleen that streams off the Vince Lombardi silver.

“Sore loser” may make it’s way onto t-shirts, hats and into rap lyrics but it ain’t never gonna’ be “cool,” Cam.

All in the Family

And like the sculptor’s quest in quarry, the gridiron version of chop n’ block does not happen overnight. It can be a long, arduous journey, sometimes an Odyssey, fit with demons and demi-gods all along the way.

........Bowlen.wc.9.26.10.J.Beall.thmDenver’s discovery process began in 2011 when owner Pat Bowlen, acting a modern day de’ Medici, hired former Carolina coach John Fox and VLT – QB John Elway for front office duty. Four consecutive playoffs followed, including the Tebowmania win in 2012 (v PIT) and Super Bowl runner-up at MetLife (SEA) with the emotionally indomitable Manning (‘12) under center.

Out goes Fox, in comes Gary Kubiak who, before a brief stopover in BAL (OC ‘14), had guided the Texans (‘06-12) to their first 9-7 and playoffs (2012-13), as well as having served as John Elway‘s back-up in pads (‘83-91). Gary brought with him his offensive coordinator (DEN) and QB-coach (BAL) in Rick Dennison, then signed former frequent head coach (NO(i), DEN, BUF, ATL(i), DAL, HOU(i)) and his DC in Houston (‘11-13), Wade Phillips (‘15).

The nucleus of granite (players) was already set in stone. Now, all the artisans had to do was finish the form with a whittle here, a hammer there, and, le voilà, there it was, the pièce de résistance: 2015-16 Denver Broncos.

........Ware.8.7.14.wc.J.Beall.thmWhile finding that matriculatory QB is critical to the sculptor‘s success, a top D is clearly key in this age of Sir-Runs-Alot and aging pocket passers.

But like many great works and ideas before them, public appreciation is not always immediate (See; Copernicus, Columbus, Van Gogh, Bill Belichick, Marshawn Lynch (’07-15); Jim Plunkett ‘71-86), etc.).

Adversity Trail

Typically, any memorable creation is fashioned in a journey that was visited by some sort of adversity. And these Denver Broncos had their share.

.......Harpie.wc.JJ.Zeiller.Bavaria.W.Sauber.thm.1748The harpies (See; Clash of the Titans (‘81)) made their first appearance in SB48 when the Mustangs took a drubbing at the hands (talons) of Seahawks (43-8). Nothing’s so painful as having something within your grasp to only see it slip away.

But Denver stayed the course and returned to the PS in 2014-15 (IND (L)). As this season got off to a fine start (7-2), Manning went down midway but capable back-up in Brock Osweiler, bolstered by stout lines on the O and D sides both, kept the ship steady until Peyton’s return where Broncos proceeded to run the playoff gauntlet of AFC favorites (PIT / NE) and punched their ticket for a return visit to the Super Bowl, this one in Santa Clara.

Odd Bowl

Forget sabrmetrics. Look no further than simple team stats in SB50 comparison and you soon discover this may‘ve been the strangest of all NFL title tussles.

......Broncos.IF@MH.6.27.11.Jkinsocal.tm1) Though they lost 24-10, the Panthers had nearly double (21) Denver’s 1st-down total (11) while both clubs were a combined 4 for 29 in 3/4th down efficiency. Ugh.

2) Panthers out-paced Denver in nearly every offensive category (plays, avg.per, total yards, rush, pass, TOP), but also key red-flag tallies in fumbles-lost (3 to 1) and penalties (12 to 6); and

3) Glory stats (INTs / sacks) get the ga-ga (CAR: 5; DEN: 7). But it’s tackles that set the tone and close the deal. There the Denver bested the Cats, 48-38, while their place-kicker Brad McManus was perfect for the PS: 10-10 (3-3).

Manning Over Mind?

Denver had the answer for the Carolina question in SB50. Now, the League and it’s followers have two more questions for the Broncos’ Peyton Manning: The fans, Denver brass, friends & family all want to know if he’ll lace ’em up to play another season, while the NFL wants to know all the facts behind the Al-Jazeera / HGH story that ran last January.

.....Manning.thm.9.14.14.J.Beall.wc.ccaThe first query is a two-parter: On Pey-Dirt’s pondered pathway, 1) Should he return for 2016-17, and 2) will he decide to get “♫ back in the saddle ♫?”

The first one’s the toughie.

His domestic side says, ’Go out on top as you did what Mr. Favre made valiant effort to accomplish (MIN) but couldn’t do (SB Ws w/2 clubs), give My bones a break (breather), get My golf clubs primed, line up My endorsements, spend more time with My and wife Ashley’s two kids and help My legal team by boning-up on issues & facts relevant to the claimed ‘Indiana Connection (HGH)’ NFL is investigating.

The answer awaited on the League’s Manning et al inquiry is “The ($50 million) Question.” It’s a game-show in which the powers-that-be want no part. The last two NFL titlists QBs (Brady) have had legal clouds hanging over their heads and it’s no way to close a Super season.

Manning undoubtedly has his sources in the League office. What they tell him on the tenor of the investigation must be minimal at this early stage. If he returns for another season in Denver, and the Broncs should be his only desire, the notion that NFL would go easy on an active, reigning champ is a poor one indeed. Whether playing or retired, neither state will have any bearing whatsoever on the thinking of Roger Goodell, as it shouldn’t.

......Osweiler.8.4.12.wc.J.Beall.thmBut being in uniform may, emotionally, be a better place to be if the news is bad. If it’s good, Peyton is clearly still vested with the spirit to play or he’d not be pondering it now. His throwing arm, well, that’s another story. From the looks of it his wily wing is pining for the La-Z-Boy® and remote control.

Broncos, they want their titlist QB back for a celebratory year, even if that means he’s on the sideline giving Brock pointers and back-up as needed. His ego can stand it. The contract, not an issue. Bowlen & Co., Manning, they’re all on cloud 9 and will work the deal to all’s satisfaction.

Will Peyton return for one more year? Little man inside says, ‘yes.’

Qurious Quote

“I’m too young to retire.” Sentiment of former New York Giants and currently contemplating NFL return…coach, Tom Coughlin (Fox News / 2.8.16).

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: P.Manning, wc.cca, 11.12.15, D.Overstreet, CO-NG; Michelangelo, Italy, The-Deposition-(JA), 1553, Sailko, wc; C.Newton, 2011, Pantherfan11, wc; P.Bowlen, wc, 9.26.10, J.Beall; D.Ware, wc, J.Beall, 9.26.14; Harpies, JJ.Zeiller, wc, 1748, W.Sauber, Bavaria; IF@MHS, Denver, wc, Jkinsocal, 6.27.11; Manning, wc, 9.14.14, Beall; B.Osweiler, wc, 8.4.12, Beall; NFL-sign, wikiproject.
Posted: 2.11.16 @ 11:53am, edit 11:20pm; pic-fix 5.13 @ 10:51pm EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 – SB50: Cam Cues Days of Dart & Dash

4 Feb

Modern Maximus at 50

Old Rome had it’s Circus Maximus where chariots raced, gladiators got jugular, arts performed, gods were honored and general revelry ensued for the masses.

........Newton.wc.C.Brice.9.11.11.thmWe have our “great Circus” in 2016. We call it the Super Bowl. Next in line, #50 (’67).

And for the first time since the merger, the Romans, numerals, that is, got the heave-ho. About time, we say, Mr. Goodell, no offense, Julius, Caesar, that is.

Our version of the High Hootenanny is a bit tamer than the Empire’s public shindig, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ancients were more adept than are we today in the art of restroom deployment. Very ‘public’ but very present (See; Rick Steve’s Europe (Rome)). Terrific engineers, were those “world shakin’” Italians.

.......CircusMaximus.wc.04.Xeospeed.thmHigh-light of Super Bowl week is, of course, the NFL championship game held Sunday night in Santa Clara, Ca-li-for-ni-a (CBS 6:30 EST), pitting the slightly surprising AFC champ Denver Broncos against NFC titlists, the Panthers of Carolina.

Both are, as Gen. Allenby would’ve said, “riding the whirlwind (J.Hawkins).”

Though Gary Kubiak head coaches his first Super, like his counterpart in Carolina’s Ron Rivera, about half the Broncos remain from the squad that took a shellacking in SB48 at hands of Seattle (43-8). The Cats make only their 2d showing, first since they came up short in SB38 versus the Patriots, 32-29.

Team records are out the window before a championship. And it’s defense that defines both clubs in this one. It is on that side of the ball, as it was with Seattle, upon which their offenses feed for emotional fire.

Cats are led by perennial All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly and safety Kurt Coleman (LB T. Davis plays with screws in his arm and DE K. Short a bunged knee), while Denver features ILBs Dan Trevathan and Brandon Marshall with outsider Von Miller specializing in the sack (11).

.......Trevathan.9.9.12.J.Beall.wc.thm,JPGUsually overlooked in pre-game analysis, even as one of the oldest, key aspects of the football contest, the kicking games, compare well. Punters Britton Colquitt (DEN) and Brad Nortman (CAR) rate equal as do the place-kickers, though, edge to Denver (B. McManus) in the PS (7-7 (Gano 2-2) and 50+ (5-7 (2-2) v 2-4 (0)).

But as always in this quarterback league, the signal-callers are the focal points of Super Bowl spotlight and scribery.

And excepting their Southeaster Conference heritage (TN – AU), the two guys at the offensive controls could not be more different.

Some dissimilarities are obvious, in age and race.

This season, like the past five, Cam has been near epitome of physical wherewithal, playing in 78 of 80 RS games for the Cats while Peyton has struggled to stay suited with various maladies, missing all of 2011 (neck) and about 1/3 of 2015. Though, fair to point out he had made every start in 2012-14.

......Newton.wc.7.12.11.thm.sportiqeLess noticeable to the casualite is their difference in style: Peyton’s proto-typical pocket passer who relies on his not-what-it-used-to-be arm, savvy and run sufficiency. That necessarily includes a stout O-line, backs that can block, his own ability to read D with proficiency and handy men who can hang on.

Cam is flash. Forgoing education time in the pocket classroom, Newton bolts quickly when the pressure comes and first-look receivers are covered, carrying more of the load but also living on the wild-side by inviting downfield hits and making his tendency to rabbit a red-flag to defenders and their strategists.

Ironically, if Cam & Co. hoist the VLT Sunday it’ll mark the beginning of the end of the pocket-passer’s NFL dominance, given how coach-free run-QB proliferates in college, just as one of the greatest passers all-time in Manning is pondering his final curtain call on a storied career in what may be his swan song game.

Rumor (“report”) says SB50 will be Manning’s last game (NFLN). Someone has even planted the LA Rams seed as a possible new home in 2016 for the Broncos starting QB. Story slots need filling for Super week and the latter one was fun.

.....Manning.thm.9.14.14.J.Beall.wc.ccaThe reasons why Peyton would retire post-SB50 are multitude. But if Manning-the-Elder-Son plays well in a win or even a close loss there’s reason to believe he’d return for one more go at it in 2016-17, health permitting and Broncos’ (another club) braintrust concurring, making this “report” appear more speculatory even as Ian Rapoport generally hits his marks.

Unlike Favre in finale (2010-11), Manning still seems vested with desire to compete. His next game (“one week at a time”) will have everything to do with how long he maintains that desire, making it unlikely he’d have a “plan” in place, let alone reveal it to anyone outside immediate family. Someone made a mis-read

But even if Sir Runs-Alot does not hoist it Sunday, the day of run-QB’s dominance is just a hop, skip & jump away. Pocket passer will rule the roost for this and into the next decade but “the bell tolls” for the glory days of the dynamic & diverse NFL offense.

Age of the new millennial QB is here and Newton is it‘s John Hancock.

♫ Rock Your Baby ♫

It’s been presaged since he hoisted the heavy hardware at Auburn in 2010: The BCS title trophy, Tigers’ 2d national (’57), and the still-coveted-in-some-circles (Disney (ESPN)) huge Heisman doorstop.

Now Cam Newton preps to play on the biggest stage in American sport, the Super Bowl, hoping to hoist the heaviest in accolade in the vaunted VLT (Vince Lombardi trophy). And the 2015 MVP? That race looks like Newton will take the tape since Brady & Palmer stumbled late and the top NFL defender almost always crosses the finish-line unnoticed or with little fanfare (See; N.Bowman).

.....Newton.2011.wc.thm.Pantherfan11The man from Atlanta was made for the spotlight: Ear-to-ear smile, 6’5 frame, multi-faceted skill-set and a showmanship that exhibits on cue. Cam’s “bursting with country fresh flavor (Seinfeld),” gosh darnit!

It’s been quite an NFL ride for Carolina’s 3-time All-Pro signal-caller, if you like roller-coasters. Beats the Zipper or that spider thing.

Rookie year (‘11) seemed to bode well for big things to come.

The Panters went 6-10, Camster-the-Hamster scampered for a frosh record 14 TDs and passed for 4000+. Not too shabby for a rookie. But with every step forward there was another step back. The C%’s and TD-ratios fluctuated as did W-L records: Good (12-4 (‘13)), not so good (5-8-1 (‘14)).

But when expectations are high those up & down swings won’t, as they used to say in the Napoleonic Wars, cut the mustard. Sacré bleu!

Now comes NFL 2015-16.

Just when many fans were losing patience, beginning to waver, having serious doubts about his game and whether he could channel physical talents into sustainable team success, Cam plays a turn-the-corner type season.

.....Rivera.6.10.11.R.Paraglide.wc.thmDoes that mean Cam’s come of age? Depends on the venue.

In the home setting, he and his love were just recently blessed with a bouncing baby boy (“Chosen”). Key to the first year of rearing: Parents “buying (each other’s) chairs (Phenomenon ‘96).” Stack ’em on the porch if need be. It’s worth it.

On gridiron he’s finally looking pro-efficient, comfortable.

Generaling the Panthers’ offense to a 17-1 record and cusp of greatness can qualify as professional maturity. The fact that 2015 was the worst year in this memory for quality of competition amongst the NFL ranks should detract little from that assessment.

Those who gripe about his fly routine on TD are working OT to find fault. He’s a hot-dog (70s), there’s no doubt there. Superman never boasted. But success, i.e., taking the VLT, will automatically fit one with suit of maturity to market pizzas and pop, commercially convenient as that may be (See; Lynch & Gronkowski).

Kurious Kindred Spirits

Ironically, it was 30 years ago last week Cam’s kindred spirit was also drinking in the limelight and would lead his offense to victory in SB20 (1.26.86).

....McMahon.93.wc.Diz28.thbThe man who invented the helmet head-butt, battled Commish Pete Rozelle over headband displays and teammate of Cam coach Ron River, Bears’ QB Jim McMahon, was constituting the offensive and emotional catalyst for Chicago’s magical run in 1985-86, culminating with their resounding win over the Patriots (46-10) in the Louisiana Superdome.

The sporting gods were busy in the Windy City in 1985, a season of “gods and monsters (“Dr. Pretorius”)”), endowing liberally (Dent, Marshall, Singletary, Payton, Frazier, etc.). But it was McMahon who set the run in motion that MNF in Minnesota when he came off the bench to engineer a killer-quarter with three quick TD strikes.

Numbers never lie? Fiddlesticks. They can tell tall tales. Jim’s 1985 totals were almost Igor-ish in comparison to most but his leadership and moxie were immeasurable. After that game the Monsters of Midway never looked back and finished the regular like Carolina at 15-1, a trip to Miami in W13 the lone blemish when Fuller started and the noise-meter red-lined to no avail.

...Bears.AIoC.wc.2.19.07.thm.SenorCodoThe Bears big season didn’t forge a “new world” of dynasty for Halas Hall but it did set a standard for singular season prowess by which all modern NFL champions are measured.

As for the New England Patriots, the Super Bowl stage is the Great Exaggerator: Winners who ride a wave, the defeated who can often be living Murphy‘s Law. The Patriots got a taste of title (AFCC) and wanted more (See: the Bills of Foxborough).

Cam Newton hopes in possessing that same McMahon cocky-charisma, his teammates can feed off it to fuel the fire to victory.

One issue to note for both QBs: If adversity hits (DDD: down double-digits), can Cam and Peyton keep cool and turn air-of-superiority into resilient resurgence? Broncos have had a wealth of adversity in this campaign, Carolina’s mostly cruised. How one handles adversity may be the truest test of a champion.

Flash Cam

Newton still struggles a bit with the celebrity, bristling at criticism, not unlike another kindred spirit in Sir Isaac Newton. England’s Mr. Motion was said to run from counter-takes like the plague. Nobody likes flak. But unless perfect or all powerful it’s a life reality. Some know it better than others and adapt as need.

...FlashCam.Kodak.6.15.15.J.Haupt.thmIn a Super Bowl press conference last week Cam had this to say: “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare alot of people because they…they haven’t seen nothin’ that they can compare me to (1.27.16).”

Showing his race card may’ve over-played the hand.

Last time a run-QB was on the Super stage he got handed his lunch (Kaep). Then the lights went out and SF feasted (SB47). Maybe Newton’s the one feeling the jitters. When he tables the race topic and keeps on football he can make a fair point. Many fans do disfavor the flash form that Cam displays. Don’t count the “yutes (My Cousin Vinny ‘92)” among them. Kids have no interest whatsoever in cartoon-football (Pro Bowl Rice v Irvin) but they just adore muscle-bound run-QB (See also; the Home Run Derby).

Why the pass on run-QB? Because Sir Runs-Alot is a ball-hog, taking touches from receivers and ball-carriers both, making them less relevant and the game less diverse, though, Panthers’ faithful aren’t complaining. In college, where run-QB has come to dominate, they’re nearly unstoppable (See; Saban).

...Kapp.wc.EllensburgDaily.73k.12.26.69.thmIt’s a style throwback to the single-wing tailback (40s), a “wide open” type of quarterbacking, “not contained (NFL Films).” Vikings’ Joe Kapp may’ve been the last true SWTB, Cunningham and Young reviving the form slightly, though, showing top talent for pass. Russ Wilson’s style stirred the debate but is cut more from the Staubach cloth: Mobility as necessity (1st-downs).

Will Cam’s style come to dominate the pros?

That’s been the debate since “nothin’” Mike Vick exploded onto the scene in ’02. Kaep, another “nothin’” in Cam’s view, gave flash a boost but got red-zone blues in crunch. And therein lay one of it’s fatal flaws: Exiting the (pocket) classroom early to avoid hits but forgoing the education in D-read comprehension that rounds out the “skill set.” ‘No pain, no gain’ should begin in the juniors.

....cherries.cloth.picdrome.6.2011.thmGiven the law of supply n’ demand (See; NCAA), if Carolina can cash-in for Santa Clara gold the debate may be over. Either outcome, run-QB is here to stay.

As T.E. Lawrence might‘ve said, “this is going to be fun.”

 

Super 50 Cherry Pick: Denver Broncos

Record: 104 – 101

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: C.Newton, 9.28.14, wc.cca, K.Allison; Newton, wc.cca, C.Brice, 9.11.11; CircusMaximus, wc, Rome, 8.14.06, G.O’Beirne; CircusMaximus, wc.cca, Rome, 2004, Xeospeed; D.Trevathan, wc.cca, 9.9.12, J.Beall; Newton, wc.cca, 1.26.14, HI, M.Bragg, USArmy; Newton, wc, 7.12.11, sportiqe; P.Manning, 9.14.14, wc.cca, J.Beall; Newton, 2011, wc.cca, Pantherfan11; R.Rivera, wc.cca, Paraglide, 6.10.11; McMahon, Diz28, wc, 1993; Bears, AIoChicago, SenorCodo, wc, 2.19.07; FlashCam, Kodak, 6.15.15, 1950s, J.Haupt, wc; J.Kapp, BC.Lions, VancouverPL, wc, 1960; J.Kapp, EllensburgDaily, wc, 12.26.69; cherries-cloth, picdrome, 2001, wc; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 2.4.16 @ 2:19pm, edit 4:34 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 – SB50: Peyton’s Progress

28 Jan

♫ Don’t stop believin’ ♫

For the true football fan, the sort who stays clear of the sabrheaded soothsayer, it’s always the toughest part of predicting game results: separating who you think will win from the who you want to win. For most, that’s easy enough.

But as you get to the nitty-gritty of the NFL spectacle, the playoffs, a greater challenge presents. That’s when the want will bull-rush your brain “like a crazed dog” to take hold of your will and smack it to the ground. It’s a battle, for sure.

.......Pilgrim.Hat.8.16.10.B.Wesley.wc.cca.thmMy own mind-line held off the pressure to cast aside good sense for favorites. You must. Had to throw a few chop-blocks but then my minds-eye is a “wide open” game.

That doesn’t mean I’ve run the table but 7 of 9 (78%) for the post-season ain’t too shabby. It’s a welcome improvement over a middling regular season showing that had hovered around the .500 line-of-despair.

One of my ‘wrong number’ calls was Cards v. Cats.

Some of us figured Newton & Company would cave and failed to give sufficient value to Arizona’s recent troubles. In particular, the thumping Cardinals took at the hands of rival Seattle to close the regular. Injuries take a toll and a top D will force foul-ups (Palmer: 5 TOs).

My other coin-flip came up Broncos.

.....CA.49er.1850.tm.wc.LC.McClureGolden Super Bowl 50, fittingly fixated in California’s gold-rush country, Levi’s field in Santa Clara (2.7.16 / 6:30 CBS), is shaping-up to be another in that emerging line of clash-in-QB-style, i.e., pro pocket-passer versus collegiate flash (run-QB), aka, single-wing tailback (40s).

Same dichotomy as SB47. Defense then showcased like-talents in Lewis (BAL) vs Willis & Bowman (SF). But on offense the clash featured cool as a cucumber Joe Flacco (BAL) and Colin “Kaep Krusader” Kaepernick (SF). Ravens came out on top in a game whose nail-bitter finish (34-31) belied it’s lop-sided nature, up until the lights oddly went out after the lop began siding too much into the 2d half.

It’s a quarterback polarity that figures to become more & more common with run-QB having become the norm on the college scene.

Camster-the-Hamster rushed for over 600 and scampered for 10 pay-dirts (4.8 ypc / 3837p, 35t-10i) in the 2015 campaign that saw Carolina compile a 15-1 mark (See; Chicago ‘85), while his wily opposite in Manning threw wounded-ducks in Joe Kapp fashion to lead Broncs to a 7-2 mark, exited with injury, saw his back-up Osweiler help keep the ship afloat before the vet re-took the reins.

......Newton.9.28.14.wc.K.Allison.thmThe difference in flash form this time around is that Cam, in year five, has more miles on his meter than did Kaep who’d subbed for injured Smith in 2012 and had but ten starts under his belt when he took to the Superdome in SB47.

Now the table’s set for SB50.

But there’s an unexpected guest who seated itself at the Super setting, again (See; Deflategate 2015). And no one, ‘cept naysayers, is smiling.

NFL announced Wednesday that they’ll be looking into report by Al Jazeera (HP) earlier this month contending Manning and other players (Clay Matthews, etc.) procured HGH by way of an Indiana connection in 2011.

I welcome sincere efforts by NFL/PA that works to spot and sanction those who violated the rules and integrity of the NFL presently or in the relevant past.

........Manning.wc.8.26.12.J.Beall.thmAnd I suspect the powers-that-be who initiated this investigation did so after perusing the story’s details and formed a belief that there is valid cause to look further, that the dark cloud hanging over Manning’s and NFL/PA’s heads was already stationary atop and that this announcement might help dissipate the formation. Fine.

And I don’t expect the League to look the other way simply because the story relates to dated events and involves one of the faces of the NFL in Peyton. Their hand was forced, it would seem.

But an announcement that does not include…no, highlight a concomitant, joint effort (player’s union) to put into place for 2016-17, blood-draws of every player in-season (randomness be damned) at optimum testing time to close window of opportunity that remains ajar, makes this effort ring somewhat hollow.

With that as the backdrop, “Mr. Valiant,” Gary Kubiak and Denver’s wagon train of football prowess moves forward with the righteous determination of a pilgrim’s purpose, progressing each day closer to proving they’re the chosen ones to raise the VLT in victory to the sporting gods.

....Pilgrim.exile.MA.1930s.wc.BPL.Smith&Tichnor.thmThe numbers on Peyton Manning since he return to action in week 17 aren’t all that pretty.

His comp-% is fair-to-middling and in 2+ games has thrown two TDs. Peyton’s become a manager-QB, banking heavily on his wherewithal and teammates’ talent more than ever, biding time to shake the rust in what may be his sunset ride. He has a Joe Kapp quality now, guts galore, but with an arm that’s re-written the NFL record book and taken him and his teams to the highest of peaks. Some good signs: No picks and 3 wins.

The Carolina Panthers will be favored in SB50.

They’ve played like a class above. But keep in mind, while the pre-season NFC was seen as the Conference keenest on competition that’s not how it played out.

Expected to be contender laden, most finished around .500. Giants, Dallas, Eagles, Rams, Chicago, New Orleans, Lions, Atlanta all proved pretenders, and those that produced seemed a year off (MIN / DC) while the top dogs all found thorns in their paws along the way. Ouch!

...AFC.Hunt.trophy.2.2.13, A.Kirk,thumbChancellor’s holdout started things wrong for the defending champs who lost key cogs Lynch and super-sub Rawls to injury exits; Packers turned erratic after receiver extraordinaire Jordy Nelson went down; and my tab for NFC topper, AZ, started stout, had a nice win streak but got thumped in W17 (SEA), at home, then too caught the winter injury bug. Not QB Palmer this year but 2/3rds of their run-game and then their Mister defensive do-it-all in safety Tyrann Mathieu.

AFC on the other hand proved more competitive with risers in Houston, KC, the Jets, Pitt, even Oakland and Buffalo making late-season moves. Had Dalton returned for the PS we might be seeing a purrrr-fect Super in Santa Clara.

All this meaning Denver may be more tested, mother approved than their glossy NFC opponent. Since close loses to OAK (14) and Pittsburgh (15), both sans Pey-Dirt, the Broncos have been gutting out wins.

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbOne could interpret that as sign Denver’s just hanging on, ready to topple. But quality of competition is key. Mustangs topped the defending champs, a bit injury-bugged themselves, but still the champs, and a Steelers squad many in media had pegged as the team most likely to rise & surprise. In contrast, Cats clawed a couple of NFC enigmas (SEA / AZ) on their way to the big Circus.

But with a D that’ll go toe-to-toe with Carolina’s formidable force, a run game that motors and O-line that protected no matter who was under center, insert a savvy field general who’s now got a motivating bur-of-investigation under his well worn saddle (See: Pats & Deflategate Feb 2015), and those PVC-producing wins of late might just be signs from above, i.e., a team of destiny, manifestly.

Next week: SB50: Newton’s Laws of Motion and ♫ Rock Your Baby ♫

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: P.Manning, 9.14.14, J.Beall, wc.cca; pilgrim.hat, 8.16.10, B.Wesley, wc; CA-49er, wc, LC.McClure, 1850; C.Newton, 9.28.14, K.Allison, wc; P.Manning, 8.26.12, J.Beall, wc; pilgrim‘s.exile, MA, Smith&Tichnor, BPL, wc, 1930s; AFC.Hunt.trophy, 2.2.13, A.Kirk, wc.cca; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 1.28.16 @ 5:08p EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16 Conference Cherry Picks: Halas n’ Hunt

22 Jan

“Do you fear the force of the wind,
The slash of the rain?
Go face them and fight them,
Be savage again.
Go hungry and cold like the wolf,                        5
Go wade like the crane;
The palms of your hands will thicken,
The skin of your cheek will tan,
You ’ll grow ragged and weary and swarthy,
But you ’ll walk like a man!”                                 10

Do You Fear the Wind?, by Hamlin Garland (1860 – 40 (W. Salem, WI)), contemporary audio illustration by J. Facenda, NFL Films

Dichotomy Bowl

Cherry Pick NFCC: Arizona Cardinals

Before big games it’s customary to look for common threads that run between the two opponents, maybe as a proof that there’s a winning template or something of the sort. But as “Donnie Brasco” might’ve said, “forget about it.”

Besides the obvious rare appearance in Conference championship play, memorable 2015 runs and a rare Heisman head-to-head in signal-caller spot, analogies between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers are few & far.

......Rozelle.Halas.80s.J.Summaria.wc.cca.thmCarson and Camster couldn’t be more different in poise (pocket v. run), personality (low-key v. high-flyin’) and roads taken (USC v. Auburn).

To the history buffs this 2016 NFC championship offers up a contrasting pair, pitting one of NFL’s charter-members in the Cardinals, Phoenix being their 3rd stop (CHI ‘20 / STL / AZ), against one of it’s newest clubs, the Carolina Panthers (‘95).

All that variety should help make for a top-notch tussle in Charlotte for Sunday’s Super selection game slotted in the late showing on Fox (1.24 / 6:40 EST).

And the winner can hoist high the coveted George Halas trophy, named in honor of one of the League’s original players (Decatur Staleys), founding fathers (“Papa Bear“) and long-time coach of the Monsters of Midway.

If you think Manning – Brady is big doings, even as Peyton’s embers may burn their final blaze, when you talk about sport rivalries, none was bigger than the Halas – Bears v. Lambeau – Packers – Lombardi battle that rocked back n’ forth for parts of five decades (1920s – 60s). Trophy hogs, these guys were.

.....Arians.9.8.14.wc.thmb.FF.SwamiAnother chasm in claim of commonality between Carolina and the Cards are the differing personalities and résumés of the two head honchos, Bruce Arians (AZ ‘13) and Ron Rivera (CAR ‘11).

You could say the former Hokie’s pathway to his present job took the “Long and Winding Road (‘75 VT / 14 jobs)” while Ron’s, comparatively speaking, is more like ‘the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (‘97 CHI / 5).’

After playing QB at Virginia Tech Arians went straight into coaching while Ron played 9 seasons with Chicago (‘84-95 (LB)) and five years later took a job with the Bears as a defensive coach. Shoot-from-the-hip (Arians) vs calculated (Rivera), Bruce tends towards offense (See Also: Harold Goodwin (OC)) while Ron is, not surprisingly, a defensive specialist (Sean McDermott (DC)).

What’s gotten both teams to the pinnacle of these playoffs is their coaches similar ability to expand their repertoires and fashion success on their lesser sides, with the respective help of top-notch staffers in Carolina’s Mike Shula and Cardinals’ James Bettcher (DC).

.....Rivera.6.10.11.R.Paraglide.wc.thmOf course, both clubs are red-flagging a smidgen.

Playing at home, AZ barely got by GB in the divisional (26-20 OT), Pack not exactly being juggernautious in 2016, while Carolina forgot the realtor’s mantra, ‘always be closing.’ Cats jumped out big against the defending NFC champ ‘Hawks only to invite Swing Time (’36) and see their sizable lead fritter away, lose all scoring punch (0 2H) and escape with the win.

That coach who can best work his left-handed talent, that coaching area to which he was not befitted by a natural inclination, may prove the winner in Sunday’s slugfest between these top dogs who tangled in last season’s WC round where Cats came out on top (27-16) of a Cards team that featured 3rd-stringer Ryan Lindley subbing for Palmer who’d exited late-season with injury.

Continuity Bowl

Cherry Pick AFCC: Denver Broncos

Since 1997 the Patriots and / or Broncos have been represented in the AFC title game fourteen (14) times, Bill Belichick at the helm for ten, with one head-to-head in 2014 (DEN 26-16). A 3-game stretch (2009 – 11) being the longest time w/out either club appearing. Stout stuff, to say the least.

....AFC.Hunt.trophy.2.2.13, A.Kirk,thumbThese franchises are on solid footing, to be sure, thanks to ownerships that have vested fully in success, Patriots Robert Kraft and Broncos’ Bowlen family (‘84) where Pat ran the club until diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014.

It was Bill Parcells who re-awakened New England pro football which hadn’t had a title-test since their crushing loss in SB20 (Bears), in guiding Patriots to SB31 (GB 35-21 (L)), and then Mike Shanahan, building some on Dan Reeves’ work, did the same in Denver where in SB32 John Elway would run & gun the Broncos to their first NFL crown in besting the Green Bay Titletowners, 31-24.

Add in Tom Brady and the near perennial playoffer Peyton Manning and Sunday’s early game (3:05 CBS) at Sports Authority field drips with cachet, if not for the haters, of which both teams and QBs have gaggles.

‘America loves a winner’ someone once quipped but may, in these present times, love even more trying to tear one down.

....Belichick.8.28.09.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumbWho prevails Sunday at Mile High stadium even has the sporting gods hedging.

Trendy talk says Peyton’s running on fumes with Denver’s home-field and D not enough to deny a Patriots destiny that has confidence of a champion (SB49).

Pragmatists liked what they saw from Denver against Pitt in the divisional (23-16 W). Come-from-behind victories reflect more than “Whew, that was close (Close Encounters ‘75)!”

Against Pittsburgh, Mr. Mustang orchestrated a 65 yard, 14-play drive for the go-ahead TD, took 6+ minutes off the 4Q clock and converts the 2. Holding your pot (defense) and cashing in your opportunities in crunch-time shows a team laden with leadership in any football fan’s book.

....Kubiak.wc.J.Beall.10.5.08.thmExpect New England’s glamour grabbers (Gronk, Edelman) to suit up but they’re still feeling the pain. Patriots’ run game is nearly nil (0) with Blount out and late pickup Jackson’s game looking gone which only puts more pressure on pocket-passer Brady. Whereas, an admittedly lesser Peyton compared to the one who won AFCC in2014, has a more reliable motor-pool in Anderson & Hillman.

And not exactly ‘advantage Denver’ with the likes of Steve Gostkowski kicking well for NE, but watch if it comes down to the leg-men (Ginger Rogers had the best). Broncos’ Brandon McManus went 5-5 v. Pitt and hit a 50+ yarder.

Cheese & Whine: Arizona 26 v Green Bay 20 (OT (NFCD 1.16))

It wasn’t always this way (I lived in Packerland in 70s & 80s), but ever since the good times began “rolling” again at Lambeau (‘92) no franchise, jocks and fans alike, has more consistently served up the ‘whine’ in casks after a defeat, quite like Packer-backers. Unbefitting of this a glory-laden franchise, the gripe-fest has become as standard as the pre-game tailgate (See: Cheese-Melt 2015).

....Rodgers.wc.cca.M.Morbeck.12.7.8.thmThe Cardinals – Packers game went long (OT) and Aaron Rodgers got the call, heads or tails. Then something unusual happened: Coin no flippy.

Since the NFL rules do not specify necessity for at least one complete rotation of the fly-coin (It will now), referee Clete Blakeman did Pack a solid, his common sense, no doubt, by affording a 2d toss that was not mandated. In effect, Packers got two tries at winning the toss. Not exactly gripe-able.

The reigning MVP has been quoted as saying the ref called “off” the first toss to “avoid the embarrassment.” Hardly, Mr. Double-Flip. My guess is he, as Aaron (“we obviously thought it was unfair”), simply believed a non-flip toss was “not right” nor w/in the spirit of the act, i.e., toss a coin so it rotates to enhance probability of chance for either team to win the side-show (head-tails).

...Favre&Lopez.11.7.08.E.Durie.USN.thmbThere is regulation fairness and there is overtime fairness, a different balance that seeks to afford opportunity (If that’s your defense stopping the opponent’s offense, so be it) while encouraging a conclusion to a game that’s gone long.

Aaron Rodgers may someday equal or surpass his predecessor, the well-decorated ironman, former Wisconsin demi-god but now back in the fold quarterback Brett Favre in key statistics, MVPs and Super Bowl starts, but the Chico, California native will never match the peerless one in style. There is where Brett will always have him beat.

Record: 103 – 100

...NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Rozelle-Halas, 1980s, wc.cca, J.Summaria; G.Halas, wc, therakishfellow, 1922; B.Arians, wc, 9.8.14, FF.Swami; R.Rivera, wc, 6.10.11, R.Paraglide; AFCC.Hunt.trophy, 2.2.13, A.Kirk, wc; B.Belichick, wc, K.Allison, 8.28.9; G.Kubiak, wc, J.Beall, 10.5.08; A.Rodgers, wc, M.Morbeck, 12.7.8; B.Favre-Lopez, 11.7.8, E.Durie, USN; NFL-symbol, wikiproject.
Posted: 1.22.16 @ 1:31pm EST; Copyright © 2016