Tag Archives: Roger Staubach

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


NFL16: Red-Doggin’ the Media’s Roger Goodell Ruse

1 Aug

Ensconced in Boom

He’s become the whipping-boy of nearly every online editor & scribe in the land, a terrain now populated with more apps, acronyms (sabrmetrics), video & mock drafts than you can shake a latté stir-stick at, or, put another way, than there are sleazy storylines in a Taboola – Outbrain booby box that blight the bottom of every endless page.

Who‘s the poor chap? NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, that’s who.

With the 2016-17 kickoff slated for early September (9.8), matching February finalists Carolina and Denver, the Jamestown, New York native and Paul Tagliabue successor (‘06) will embark on his 2nd decade at the helm of America’s most popular & profitable wingding value (1920), not including vacation – conference destinations (Las Vegas / Chicago) and gastro-addictions (sugar).

.........Clifford.reddog.4.1.6.DoD.thm.wcAnyone who fancies him / herself to be that hip, happening kinda’ sportswriter, the one who loathes greedy owners but imagines a special kinship with the jocks as if in another life they’re more likely to be a 1st-round draft choice slingin’ TDs than hangin’ out on the yacht with the blue bloods, rags on Roger with a regularity rivaling today’s Pavlovian hand-held habits.

Which is funny because most of the higher paid scribes in pursuit of that journalism B.A. probably pledged on the same Greek row as did most of those money-maniacal NFL owners. Oh well, who’s always consistent anyway?

When that idea well runs dry, when you’ve already posted your position and all-time greatest rankings for the week or when you just want to release some pent-up frustration, not to worry, there’s always good ol’ smiling Roger Goodell to “kick around” in your column.

So why all the hate for just another rich guy, one of the 2% who run the world and keep us gerbils running on that consumer treadmill?

Maybe because Roger’s standing in the way, i.e., the friends (RG) of my enemies (Snyder) are my enemies, you might say.

Most of the griping on Goodell, which invariably leads to the feeble claim his job is in jeopardy and what a fine replacement so-n-so would make, is illusory, likely a ruse to cover the real purpose: Get a new Commissioner, check-mate Dan Snyder and get his beloved Redskins motif bounced outta’ the League.

A kooky call? The best heist is always an inside job.

Business As Usual

Nobody really expected that the NFL would make a determination on whether or not Peyton Manning actually used PEDs that were reported last fall to have been subject of a home delivered parcel to his wife Ashley a few years back.

.........Manning.wc.thm.3.1.13.Sgt.B.Peterson.USO.USMCUnless the lordly one had been giving blood samples in a testing protocol at the time of the package’s believed arrival (nyet) and that every molecule of said PED supply was tagged, tracked and accounted for, there was no possible way for any inquiry to make a sustainable determination, fact finding or certain conclusion on whether Pey-Dirt did or did not in fact partake in the prohibited performance enhancers his wife was reported to have received by mail.

That the Manning household did or did not receive the package in question was easy enough to establish by parcel company records which questioning (under oath?) could verify. But the usage question, i.e., who, how much and when, if such package was accepted, would necessarily remain open-ended, a dark cloud hanging overhead the SB50’s winning QB.

So when the League released statement earlier this week (7.27) clearing Peyton, claiming to’ve concluded, found that Manning did not use subject PEDs, it threw most of us for a loss, throwing a flag on the play.

On that day Roger finally does hang up his Commissioner’s key, this funny finding will rank near the top as one of his poorest calls and should rightly earn him a small, swift kick in the shin (figuratively speaking) like the one little Kurt Russell gave Elvis Presley (It Happened At the World’s Fair (‘63)). Ouch!

.......package.emojione.12.21.15.wc.thmThe special handling shown Peyton, Broncos & GM John ‘I ain’t playing in Baltimore’ Elway and the League (SB validation), in opposite of a just but max penalty meted-out in Deflategate, smacks of favoritism, standard dilution and no small amount of arrogance for thinking fans would swallow the ‘strange brew.’

Should this awkward result and curious Commissioning work a black mark on Goodell‘s record? As it would’ve been nearly impossible, were Peyton to have in fact engaged the suspected PED supply, that any evidence of their use could’ve been obtained (short of a Manning admission), NFL’s silly extension of that state to a finding of innocence speaks more to misguided policy than corruption. If we fired everyone for making a bad call, 90% of the nation’s jobs would come open within the week.

65 Clifford Red Dog Trap

Because last May’s Washington Post poll (90% of aboriginal Americans are not offended by Redskins’ motif, < 10% answered yes) has not swayed the bully bunch to the side of public opinion, even as that revelation makes any sort of vote seem likely to just amplify its findings, and then that the legal process can only end up in one place (SC) where its current moderate but conservative-leaning majority bodes well for Dan Snyder’s embattled trademark, it’s now imperative for the anti-Redskins side to create a turnover.

When the PC playbook flops (nobody likes a bully) what’s the Coach to do? Call the old red dog (blitz), that’s what, and take out the QB. Hello, Roger.

.......Clifford.reddog.wc.WH-L.Bush.4.9.7.S.Craighead.thmThe media mantra to oust Goodell actually began taking discernable shape in 2012 (See; Nike NFL) and might just be masquerading under a different banner as another ‘means to an end’ to get that Redskins logo retired.

Readers might say (I‘m an optimist), ‘Stevo, c’mon, remember Bountygate, the Rice – Palmer incident and Deflategate? Those are the reasons why Roger Goodell is in bad with most everybody.’ Wrong.

I remember the 2010 NFCC, subject for Bountygate. Still cringe at the over-unders Saints defenders laid on Brett Favre, the most exciting QB since Namath & Staubach laced ‘em up, the 2d ambush perpetrated post-Warner the week prior. In truth, most ‘everybody’ was fine with the bans Goodell handed those sorry Saints in question, excepting the homers and a federal jurist, of course.

The knockout punch Rice put on fiancée Palmer in 2014, it’s etched in the mind, thanks to the sleazoids at TMZ whose video drop inflamed the story to a state where Roger, who hit no one, took more flak than the crook. And while I’m on the topic, why does SAS’y still have his job (“don’t provoke”)? Right, it’s Disney.

And if there was an 11th Commandment it could’ve read like this: Thou shalt not impede an on-going investigation, even if thy sandals hurt or the sheep & sand are driving you crazy. Tom Terrific destroyed his cell phone in the Deflategate audit. Not so terrific. Penalty fits the misdeed. Besides, real Pats fans aren’t losing sleep. They know Tom benefits from the extended R&R (18y).

.......Silver.11.21.14.K.Allison.wc.thmbThe dubious effort to remove Roger stands about as much chance of success as the Vikings’ new US Bank Stadium does of going the entire 2016-17 season without a glitch. Why make the lines simple and construction cool (outdoors) when you can complicate it and beg for problems? Ask the rich guy (Zygi Wilf).

One can’t really think a Commissioner should be treasured anyway, unless one has just ‘fallen off’ that proverbial ‘turnip truck,’ or favors an asylum, so to speak, one that’s run by the trustees (players).

As for the NBA Commissioner, the standard is gold, not Silver.

Ousting an owner in dementia (Sterling) whose babble is secretly taped in-home and moving an All Star game that pulls in about as many viewers as Lone Ranger re-runs from a State whose political majority has gone “extreme,” well, those aren’t exactly tough calls. Add in what appears a lack of concern over the dicey co-mingle of sport & gambling and you’ve got nearly no standard at all.

Back to Roger.

They don’t pay the man enough. Big money must be great ($40M) but you can’t take it with you. Oxidative stress is America’s #1 health concern.

Other jobs are stressful but even the President of the United States, with all the important hats the Chief Executive must wear, does not suffer the vilification from press and army of anonymous trolls as does this Commissioner.

But Raja’s got some backers:

......Nooyi.wc.1.23.8.thm.Davos.WEF1) Owners: Roger’s been so good for the Big Wheels, growing buyers & revenue sources, that he’s moved into Rozelle territory, the man who made the NFL America’s #2 religion and the only one showing a growth spurt;

2) Fans: Put aside grudge-holders (NE, NO, etc.) and online nasty-boys and 9 of 10 fans (all genders) are practically jumping outta’ their skin for September kickoff. That’s called customer satisfaction;

3) Sponsors: Their resilience in face of anti-Redskins flash-mob has been nothing short of amazing. Usually as skittish as a major sportswriter, the Suits & Skirts (Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo)) have backed Dan & Roger to the goal-line, show no sign of buckling and have absolutely no interest in validating a racist logo.

And the players, their opinion on Goodell will turn on who asks the question, how it’s framed, respondent’s length of NFL tenure and assurance of anonymity.

NFLPA members are naturally suspicious of those sitting across the table in CBA negotiation. But they’re no dummies and make their choices, i.e., assumption of risk (concussion) for big benefits incurred. Most appreciate the challenges RG faces in his many duties, including DD greeter and disciplinarian who must enforce rules to ensure NFL viability and their own job success as rosterees.

The red-dog tactic will not take down Roger Goodell. He’s got a stout offensive line and even with a furious on-rush he won’t rabbit. No run-QB, Goodell’s a mobile-manager who matriculates with the best of ‘em and likely will remain under center, suffering the “slings and arrows” of a petulant and perfidious press as long as he enjoys suiting up for the action.

......NFL-symbol.wikiproject.6kbSteven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo Credit: R.Goodell, wc.cca, 8.30.12, SSG-T.Wade, USMA; Clifford-RedDog, wc.cca, 4.1.6, DoD; P.Manning, USO-USMC, wc.cca, 3.1.13, Sgt-B.Peterson; package, emojione-project, wc.cca, 12.21.15; Clifford-RedDog, WH-L.Bush, 4.9.7, S.Craighead; A.Silver, wc.cca, 11.21.14, K.Allison; I.Nooyi, wc.cca, PepsiCo, 1.23.8, Davos, WEF; NFL-Wikiproject.
Posted: 8.1.16 @ 10:53am, edit @ 4:45 EST; Copyright © 2016

NFL16: History of the Decline & Fall of the Cowboys’ Empire?

27 Apr

Some’ll read this title and say, ‘Au contraire, Steven, the Dallas Cowboys are far from decline (the rise part, that’s implied (See; Gibbon)), they’re NFL’s most valuable commodity.’ In other words, ‘you’re a certifiable loon, Mr. Keys.’

The ‘loon’ line would be way off-base most days but when talking strictly dollars & cents they’d be right on-point.

Forbes last year valued Jerry Jones’ football enterprise at approximately $4 billion, twice the League average (Google). That’s alot of loot and alot of rise.

But there’s more than one way to catalog a cow.

...........Cowboys.cheer.7.16.11.wc.D.Wertman.thmFrom this viewing vaquero’s vantage point the gridiron guys from Dallas are in steady, uninterrupted decline, looking ‘all hat and no cattle’ as the sun sets on one frustrating, unfulfilled season after another, their last NFC championship coming in 1996 (v GB) on way to their most recent NFL title in SB30 (v PIT).

And the Cowboys roundup still somehow manages to pull off the America’s Team thing. Like “Shane” said, “the brand sticks.” Pray tell, why?

Uniforms & logo are classic cool and Jones has shown good sense to steadfastly refuse any aspirations to change by kids at Nike who seem expert at messing up a good thing (See; Browns, TB, etc.). Plus, nobody really cares about the AT tag anymore. Belichick & Brady don‘t and Packers’ fans want it too much.

But the long-running futility that’s displayed on the Arlington, Texas field renamed AT&T Stadium (‘14) is a major drag and hardly befitting of a franchise that had became the standard of success in American sport ever since Mickey Mantle hung up his spikes (‘68) and Bill Russell called it a career (‘69).

..........Jones.12.7.15.K.Allison.wc.thmMurchisons & friends (Hawn, Wynne, Lee) gave it life (1960), firm of Schramm, Brandt & Landry gave Cowboys form, early-QB Eddie LeBaron made it fun, All-Pros Don Perkins, Mel Renfro and “Dandy” Don Meredith made it close (Ice Bowl) and Roger “The Dodger” Staubach, Bob Lilly, Ray Wright, Chuck Howley & Dan Reeves got the 1st brass ring (‘71). Then Drew Pearson, Tony Dorsett and Randy White helped hand Tom and Dallas their 2d NFL title (‘78) and Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer worked the mental maneuvers to resurrect the glory in the 90s with 3 rings in 4.

Since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin hoisted their last Lombardi 20 years ago (1996) the Cowboys have made the post-season but eight times and have not been close to a Super Bowl without having played in nary one NFC championship contest.

Twenty years is a long drought for any team but for the Cowboys crowd it must feel like the well’s run dry for a thirst that’ll never be quenched. Gulp.

And the worst of it is that charismatic Jerry who bought the club in ’89 from the giving arms of the RTC who’d intervened as then owner “Bum” Bright was neck deep in the savings & loan scandal, doesn’t seem all too concerned with Cowboys plight, apparently content with the trophies on his mantel, AT&T rental fees and the resounding cash-register ring he savors with every quarterly report.

..........Romo.10.13.10.bigcatsliar.wc.thmbWhen the ’Boys looked to be turning the corner onto Contender Alley back in 2014-15, compiling a RS mark of 12-4 and only exiting playoffs after a gut-wrenching defeat to longtime nemesis Green Bay in the divisional (26-21) (THAT was a catch, and one heck-of-a-catch at that (D.Bryant)!), they lost their run game in the off-season bidding wars when 1500+ man DeMarco Murray chased the bigger bucks (PHI) only to flounder in Philly and then stat-star but oft-injured, long-time Dallas QB Tony Romo (‘06) went down with a clavicle break in W4 as the club limped to 4-12 in 2015.

Tony’s a topper in the pocket and his jersey number surely retired one day but has the luck of a may-fly and crunch-credentials that are somewhat questionable (2-4 PS). He just turned 36 (4.21) and is nearing the end of a long, notable trail.

Because there’s a dearth of pro-style, proven QBs in NFL ranks and Draft16 will have to, in Gomer Pyle speak, “surprise, surprise,” to help alleviate that sorry state, Romo still carries a premium and has full support of Jones, as he should.

But while Cowboys are beginning to re-establish their trademark defense with key team ranks ending upward in middle-of-the-pack in 2015 (#16 papg (23.4) / #17 yapg 9348)), All-Pros Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Romo are no spring chickens and the ‘need-list’ in Big D is longer than a…chuckwagon chow-line at Chisholm Trail’s close.

.........RomanLegion.wc.StoriadItalia.1979.Mainz.tmDrafts are largely exercises in ephemeralia so don’t expect big reversal of last season’s 4-12 to a 2014 result. Boosting Dallas’ and every team’s chances is that the present state of (quality) competition in the NFL is probably at its lowest ebb in decades (See last season’s flops: ATL, NO, DET, MIA, SD, BAL, CHI, NYG, PHI, etc.) (See Also: NBA16) and anything is possible in NFL16-17.

Though Barbarians are massing at the borders there’s still time for Jerry Jones to put Dallas’ house in order and set ‘em again on that path to glory.

Unless he wants to go down in Texas football lore as the Romulus Augustulus of Cowboys’ empire, he serving as the last Western Roman emperor when the Vandals & Visigoths swarmed Rome (476 AD), he best turn his major attention away from the cha-ching ($) and back to turning this thing around but quick.

“Rome wudn’t burnt in a day (B.Hopkins, American Graffiti (‘75))” but when it was it wudn’t pretty and all the statues came tumbling down. Gasp!

.....macroecono.lamcasinoroyal.2011.wcSteven Keys
Photo credits: Cowboys.helmet, wc, 5.16.8, Dukeha; Cowboys.Cheer, wc, 7.16.11, D.Wertman; J.Jones, wc, 12.7.15, K.Allison; T.Romo, 10.13.10, bigcatsliar, wc; Barbarians.Rome, wc.cca, 19c, EV.Luminais, BAL; Roman.Legion, wc, Mainz, StoriadItalia, 1979; macroecono, lamcasinoroyal, wc.cca, 2011.
Posted: 4.27.16 @ 4:09pm; Copyright © 2016

Coaching Lite®: What’s Killing College Football

31 Aug

August is packing it’s bags and September’s ready to move in. That means college football’s 2015-16 season is about set to kickoff.

For the big boys (FBS), 127 schools by Wikipedia count, the start date is the 3rd of this month that nationally recognizes honey, Hispanic heritage, California wine, potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, labor, cancer awareness and religious observances in Hindu (Kumbh Mela), Judaism (Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur), Islam (Hajj) and Chuseok in Korea.


But college football is like a jock on steroids: looks fit as a fiddle on the outside, rippling & raucous, makes all the plays, pulls in the cash, cuties & camera, but inside, the joints are inflamed, electron transfer chains are askew and the flora – motility all catawampus.

The campus hoedown, where American football is rooted, will draw in 30 million TV viewers each weekend through December (50M CFP) and likely somewhere in the billions ($) for schools and ancillaries at the networks, merchandisers, snack & beverage, travel industry, etcetera. It’s egg-in-the-beer. Cha-ching!

But it’s fast losing the feel & flavor of sport, spiritually and in substance.

Sure, part of the student body get jacked-up for Saturday’s or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday‘s game, depending on Disney’s (ESPN) fat schedule, and gamblers (+ fantasy) have their eyeballs peeled and pesos parlayed, but it’s like that routine romp in the hay, fine fun but not much heart & soul. An expectancy.

And it’s not the pretense of amateurism that’s killing the mood, either.

The student-athlete charade has been sold to the public ever since the rah-rah-sis-boom-ba began to bring in the big bucks (1910s). The athletes are the actors in a pretty predictable play directed by coaches, co-eds, cut-men and cufflinks.

Coaching Lite® or Do Your Thing!

Watch the experts on the plasma and it won’t take long to spot the problem.

Example: Back in July (7.24), Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema was making the rounds and appeared on Disney (ESPNU, bumped my Classic into oblivion) and gave his 2-cents on this query: ‘What’s the mark of a great college QB?’

His reply: “What he does when the play breaks down.” And there it is in a nutshell, what’s killing college ball: Coach don’t coach anymore.

His quarterback is a free-lancer with license to flash, anywhere, anytime. I wouldn’t say the “break down” is by design, not necessarily, but it’s viewed in a whole different, more accommodating light than it was the 60 years prior.


Brett didn’t say, ‘a QB who can execute the playbook.’ Neither did he say ‘a strong, accurate arm w/mobility’ nor ‘a quick-thinker who can lead, audiblize and wherewithal to hang tough in the pocket. No he did not.

He didn’t specify “does,” either, but he didn’t need to.

Today’s college QB rabbits at the drop of a hat, then runs again and by season’s end Johnny Run-Around’s got 1000 yards on the turf. And it pays dividends.

Because amateur defense is not equipped to handle today’s typically big, fast, athletic flash-QB, he will run-at-will. And when he does the wins & titles come in bushels, not to mention a big salary for coach who finds his award-winning lepus.

Young, Newton, Tebow, Manziel, Mariota, Jones are all part of a new generation of college signal-caller, what they used to call a single-wing tail-back in the 40s.

Names like Staubach and Douglas (KS) tore it up in the 60s but were anomalies when run-backs still ruled the roost (See; Brown, Sayers, Cappelletti & Griffin).

But if you like a diversity, variety, a little surprise, some dimension, like a good “Vegan (“functioning on multiple levels and in multiple dimensions (“Hadden (Contact ‘97)”),” run-QB and his one-dimensional game can leave you wanting.

The synergy – symbiosis that normally flows from sharing-of-pigskin with your typical ball-carriers (RB / WR) will dissipate, while the element of surprise in play-call becomes an after-thought. And it all cuts into entertainment value.

Sure, handoffs still happen, passes get thrown, but appears only to give Sir-Runs-Alot time to catch his breath. And when he runs off campus for greener pastures (NFL), he’ll leave one big void in the program and coach scrambling for answers.

Continuity, sustainability of success (Alabama) are hard to come by. Ask the folks at Texas, Auburn and UF who saw programs nose dive, though, Urban “Renewal” Meyer seems to have a knack for finding the next great single-wing ball-hog.

I’m not alone in my disdain for college football‘s direction.

Jon Gruden spoke on College Football Live earlier this month (8.6) and a young analyst (?) made this comment: “The (high) level of coaching is off the charts!” Jon seemed not too impressed. His reply: He sees alot of “the same plays,” mostly run plays, even if initiated or disguised as pass.

Lost in Translation or Johnny Can’t Read

The run-QB conundrum is not confined to college. His draft dominance and then failure to easily translate to the pro game is a mushrooming problem, leaving the NFL with a dearth of pocket-passer prospects and excess of pro-style trainees.

Their success can vary as the rabbit-habit has been a vice of every highly-touted but unfulfilled run-QB that’s burst onto the NFL scene, including Camster-the-Hamster, RG3, Tebow, Vick, Young, Kaep Krusader and Johnny Renaissance.

For a time the novelty gave advantage in the pros.


Newton ran for a record 14td his rookie year (‘11), Vick made All-Pro (x4) and handed the Pack their first ever home playoff loss (‘02) while Colin “(ran) to daylight” versus that same GB franchise in two legendary PS performances (SB47-L).

But while they work mass muscle to Schwarzenegger state, the mind muscles, less applied in youth, respond slow in the NFL.

The so-called read-option is biggest misnomer going, after reality TV. Coach who relies heavily may be giving fleet-footed defenders carte blanche to wreak havoc with their QB, and tag themselves ‘gimmick-guy’ in short-order (Kelly (PHI)?).

You’re an old dog by the time you go pro, habit-wise, and new tricks, like a new language, don’t come easy, not for QBs having to learn to eat the fear and find pocket poise. And then there’s the ego that, for some (TT), won‘t change (TE).

The pro game, no matter what sabrheads claim, is no engineering schematic or 1+1 = 2. You can fool ’em once but rarely twice (See; GB). In time, NFL catches on. Short-lived successes aside, SWTB went out with Joe Kapp (See; KC SB4)).

GMs are finding that while run-QB garners wins and sells lots o’ jerseys, it works as a double-edged sword for those who seek championships. Kaep, with a top D and run-attack (Gore), did lead 49ers to threshold of greatness in SB47 but his (and Jim’s) foible was exposed in game’s critical end: red zone funk.

And those would might tag Seattle’s Russ Wilson a run-QB are mistaken. Like Tarkenton, Randall Cunningham, Roger Staubach and Steve Young, Russell is not flash per se. He’s a mobile manager with a great guiding guru in Carroll.

Flash QB ain’t going way of the dodo bird or 2-way player. Amateur coach banks on him which means NFL pipeline will be jammed with the lot of ‘em for years to come. But without the right accoutrements he’ll turn flash-in-the-pro-pan.

One Big (NCAA) Family

If on-call coach and ball-hog QB aren’t deflating enough, Boards of Trustees and college presidents who preside high above the tumultuous merriment and raucous rabble are smooshing out what little spirit is left in the pigskin.


Playoffs, championships, they’re fun, if you can get ‘em. But being rare commodities it is rivalry & regionalism that stoke fan’s fires, amateur and pro ranks alike.

Knowing this, or not, MBA’s in Suit & Skirt bust-up the conferences, kill-off generational rivalries and move memberships around like it were a game of musical chairs (b-ball, too). And alumni sit back and take it like it’s no big deal. Then it’s no big deal.

Soon the college landscape will show just three conferences: The Pac-Something, the Big-Something and Southeastern Something. It‘s “Something” those mop-topped lads from Liverpool, who appreciated a good football match themselves (rugby), would‘ve advised, “♫ get back to where you once belonged ♫.”

Removable Decals

To the same school identification topic, uniforms & logos have taken on the same feel of ephemeralia as conference alignments which seem to change yearly.


Big names like Adidas, Champion, Nike, Majestic, Reebok & Under Armour cuddle-up w/college Cufflinks & Heels and are fueling the fleet: 1) in the drive to youthenize the consumer market in the misguided belief kids have attention spans of a gerbil; and 2) agency-for-change to validate their own position in a volatile job market.

Like patience, appreciation is a judgment capability acquired in time. Youth can find it if given half a chance. Today it’s more like fat chance of it ever happening.

Though some new designs shine, the touchstones that had been familiar are now as changing & uninspired as each new season of Law & Order and The Simpsons.

Change has trumped continuity and it’s cousin, history, fares no better.

Ignored and under-fed, when history is finally called to the table it’s often only to be dressed-down and find fault in hope of removing traits / blemishes the finger-pointer in high-hat finds unappealing to its own limited historical sensibilities.

Change (refreshment) can be good, just as history can use a dusting-off to clarify. But not primarily to delete that which we dislike, to feed ADD or merely for the sake of change ($$). Then it’s not history, it’s profiteering & propaganda.

CFP: There’s a Heartbeat

Even though strategy, diversity & rivalry have all been taking it on the chin in today’s college football slugfest, there have been some bright spots.

Social progress has been achieved by mandates in desegregation of scholarship and employment (coach / admin) since the 1960s, while the long awaited college playoff format (CFP) finally arrived in January 2015 when The Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Oregon Ducks for the inaugural championship, 42-20,

My own preference was the old duel polling system (AP & UPI-Coaches).


The method pre-BCS, after bowling had concluded, as each group awarded their #1 ranking that, on occasion, differed from the other‘s, giving us two national champs. Where else could that’ve happened? The only comparable might be the winners of the respective NL – AL batting titles. If you didn’t have a dog in the hunt or were fan of a #1, you were content and that meant about 99% of college football fandom.

But schools with top marks who hadn’t climbed the polls enough and then missed out on a favored bowl slot were sometimes left out of the balloting altogether. Alabama (11-0) & MSU (9-0-1) in ‘66, ASU in 1975 (12-0), Auburn in ’93 (11-0) and Penn State twice (11-0 (’69) & 12-0 (’94)) were memorable overlookees.

The appearance of bias, prejudice or being uninformed in an age of exactitude (replay) made the duel polling highly vulnerable. But in ditching it for BCS and playoff we gave up the beauty of randomness and occasional spreading of the championship wealth to nearly all’s contentment. And who needs that, eh?

As close to fairness as any championship system would seem to be, the CFP is, nevertheless burdened with the same problem as prior polling in that seemingly deserving schools will still be left out of the playoff-by-poll mix, as we discovered in it’s inaugural season (’14) when toppers Baylor and TCU failed to get an invite.

Is a playoff the surest way to find the best team anyway? The professionals have shown us the answer is clearly, ‘no, it is not.’ As spunky a bunch as were the 2012 and 2008 Giants, no NFL fan in their right mind would attest either team the best team of their respective seasons. Opportune (hot), yes, but best, “maybe no.”

Playoffs, like bowls, are, to the fat-cats, mostly about money. Fans seem fine.

But expansion from a 4-team format to no-brainer 8 will fix one foible in a jiffy. You might have 6 top dogs but 8 makes it work and 10 will never be an issue.


Steven Keys
Brass Tacks
Photo credits: Meyer, wc, 11.13, Glanzman; Tx-Tech, wc, 07, Meircle; Bielema-Woodcock, wc, 2011, USMC, Firstbrook; Newton, 9.14, wc, Allison; Regions-NFL, Lokal.Proil.Astrokey44, wc; Nike, 1.12, JorgeCR7, wc; U-TX, 05, wc, Johntex; brass.thumbtack, Dalton, wc.
Posted: 8.31.15 @ 3:48pm EST; Copyright ® 2015

NFL14 Cherry Picks W14: “Kingdom for a (QB)!”

4 Dec

Quarterback Crude

A (quarterback, a quarterback), my kingdom for a (quarterback).”

That’s word-play on a famous line from Shakespeare’s work, Richard III (A5 S4).

Edward de Vere (1550-1604), 17th Earl of Oxford and author of Shakespeare papers (a/k/a “Shake-a-Spear”), was quite the pen-master, quilled variety.


No word-processors, no writing tablets and not much in the way of research tools, beyond monasteries and small, private libraries, in those days of minstrels and non-refrigerated beef, all making Edward’s exploits that much more stupendous.

As for the Shakespeare character, allegedly from Stratford on Avon and emblazoned on 75 million beakers to attest to the fable, he was about as real as The Cat in the Hat.

And what was the #1 folly (sport) in de Vere’s day? Falconry, talons & tearing. The sport of aristocrats. They didn’t mess around in 1589, and if you did and got caught, it was off to the Tower of London or chopping block for you, poor devil.


What Richard shrieked on the battlefield as his world came crashing down around him differed slightly from the version above, but so similar are the sentiments to that of many an NFL king in 2014 it’s hardly worth quibbling over: a desperate and decisive shortage of a critical element to victory, at Bosworth, a horse, here, a top flight quarterback.

What the owner of a floundering franchise wouldn’t give for a top field general to take his offensive team to higher ground and winning ways.

Wide receivers can be game-changers (See; Rice & Alworth).

A few teams have ridden a running back to glory (See; Brown & Riggins).

A stout defense can make good offense look pedestrian (See; SEA ‘13 & CHI ‘85).

But even with a guy like Ray Lewis or NaVorro Bowman roaming the terrain, you best have a reliable Mr. Matriculator under center or kiss any Super Bowl plans goodbye. It’s why the quarterback gets the cheers in victory and jeers in defeat.

A good signal-caller is hard to find.

Today, there are approximately 60 rostered quarterbacks in the NFL. For those franchises who’ve secured their man, it’s like money in the bank: surety.

Teams that win consistently are QB contented. He need not be Canton bound, i.e., Peyton or Tom, but a dependable bloke who wins more than he loses, i.e., Flacco and Rivers.

By my count there’ll be 18-20 settled quarterback spots as summer camps open in ‘15, all but one (CAR) pocket-passers or mobile managers. That leaves a dozen or so teams that can be fairly characterized as facing a QB quandary and will then more than likely seek a starter, whether by draft, trade, free-agency or giving a current rosteree his big chance.

Keep in mind, of those 20 odd established stars, you’ve got half a dozen veteran QBs with 10+ years under their belts and another half dozen closing in fast on their 1st decade.

And while their jobs are not (or shouldn’t be) in danger, four of those est’d passers, Ryan, Brees, Cutler and Eli, are putting up numbers while having a tough time translating them into wins. But there is something called team defense, or lack thereof, and if put on the open-market, these guys’d move but fast.

Who will fill those vacancies when they come open in the not-too-distant future? Talented pro quarterbacks don’t grow on trees, they need nurturing, time to develop. Can’t crank ‘em out like so many widgets, not the pro type, anyway.

After getting the basics in high school, it’s college where advanced training for signal-callers is suppose to take place. But “there’s a problem, Houston.”

Unlike major league baseball, where an extensive minor league farm system will weed out college grads who don’t make the grade while grooming the honor roll, pro football gets Joe college straight off campus w/all his habits, good and bad.

A quarterback crisis looms on the NFL horizon.

It’s a paltry plight compared to the impending worldwide energy crisis that will prove catastrophic at the pace we’re on (2035?), but for the serious NFL fan and general manager, this present positional predicament should be of paramount importance.


The player pipe-line running from college to the NFL, supplying trained passers, is dryin’ up quicker than a Texas’ oil well. Why? Sir Runs-a-lot is all the rage in amateur-land.

High school and college coaches both are taking a short-cut, using their EZ-Pass® on the highway to glory by slotting Mr. Athletic into the quarterback spot, giving him carte blanche to hog the ball and bring home the bacon.

And it‘s paid off in pork bellies.

National championships and Heisman awards are proof that flash-QB works wonders at the lower level of play, where disparity of talent can be wider than the Lone Star State.

Trouble is, teachers (coach) and students both are foregoing their Football 101 studies. They can prove time-consuming, tedious and a painful learning process enroute to becoming a proficient pocket passer, one who reads defense beyond “See Spot run.”

And NFL fans are paying the price.

Not unlike the 3-pointer in basketball, the proliferation of run-QB has set into motion a devolution of football, where today’s “Gridiron Flash” or modern-day single-wing tailback (30s) (‘read-option’ misnomer), is retarding decades of progress as the art of quarterbacking steadily becomes, if not a lost calling, a rare craft, indeed.

When Mr. Freelancer hit’s the pro scene, GMs are left “wishin’ and hopin’ and thinking’ and prayin’” his game doesn’t get lost in translation, a prayer that’s going unanswered.

The Suits aren’t the only ones biting at the bit.

Co-workers at tight-end, wide-receiver and backfield can’t be all too pleased at the fewer touches they get when run-QB covets the ball and fails to spread the joy. Those 2-3 fewer takes each game add-up over course of a season, lowering totals and the valuation that can show-up on draft days and contracting time.

Remember Mike Vick, now with the Jets? Moments of prowess (’03 (ATL v GB)), a bad break of his own making but not enough tools in the kit (56C%, 59-50).

Cam Newton takes NFL by storm in his first season (‘11), passes over 4000 yards (60%), sets rookie scoring mark (35td (14r)) and can’t get back in sync (27-31).

Colin Kaepernick bursts on the scene making Green Bay sharp look Swiss cheesy but couldn’t close the deal when spotlight shone bright (See: SB47 & NFCT‘14).

Tim Tebow makes the most of his chance by taking Broncos and USA on a wild ride called Tebowmania (’11 (7-4)) while setting the bar low on a QB staple (47.9C%).

And Rob Griffin looked a diamond in the rough (9-6, 66%, 20-5i (‘11)) but a panache for pace provoked injury (knee / ankle), eventual benching and now his future is foggy.


As for Seattle’s starry young quarterback Russ Wilson, run-QB supporters claim him as one of their own, example of why the flash-form is a winner. And they’d be wrong.

Wilson ran lots at Wisconsin but raised Lombardi only as he reigned-in the run-habit under Pete Carroll, evolving into a pro-set, mobile-manager, actually rushing fewer times (3-26) than did similar styled Roger Staubach in his first Super start (5-18 (SB6)).

Russ & Pete are now the template for conversion from playground run-around to savvy NFL signal-caller. Keys are a personality to permit, and a coach who knows his stuff.

And Manziel? Still a sideliner. Some say he’ll change the NFL (“yute(ful)” indiscretion). He’ll get his shot, but flash tends to think himself Superman, always able to make things happen. NFL defensive studs will make you regret such folly, when “the better part of valour is discretion (See; Buffalo, ‘Don‘t even think about it‘ fumble).” On busted play, drop & roll, kid.

The devolution at quarterback won’t end anytime soon. Question is, will NFL fans, with their higher standard and refined football tastes, forego the pass game, a central, defining trait of pro-play since Sid Gillman made the scene (AFL ‘60), in favor of run-rabbit-run?

Answer: It’s about as likely as a gusher in the Keystone State, or a photograph of young Billy Shakespeare scribbling and burning the midnite oil. When pigs fly.


Cherry Picks Week 14: “Importance of Folly”

Dallas (8-4) @ Chicago (5-7): 12-4 NFLN 8:25: Bears win
Ravens (7-5) @ MIA (7-5): 12-7 CBS 1:00: Dolphins win
Colts (8-4) @ Cleveland (7-5): CBS 1:00: Browns win
Steelers (7-5) @ Cincinnati (8-3-1): CBS 1:00: Pitt wins
St. Louis (5-7) @ Washington (3-9): Fox 1:00: Redskins win
Buffalo (7-5) @ Denver (9-3): CBS 4:05: Broncos win
Chiefs (7-5) @ Arizona (9-3): CBS 4:05: Kansas City wins
San Francisco (7-5) @ Oakland (1-11): Fox 4:25: Raiders win
Hawks (8-4) @ Philadelphia (9-3): Fox 4:25 (GOTW): Seattle wins
Patriots (9-3) @ San Diego (8-4): 8:30 NBC: New England wins
Falcons (5-7) @ Green Bay (9-3): 12-8 8:30 ESPN: Green Bay wins

Record: 66 – 37 – 1

Steven Keys
NFL HunchLine
Photo credit: Richard3, wc.cca, 10-1912; deVere, wc.cca, 1575, Brown&Harding; penny-Richard3, R.Suarez, wc.cca; NFL.wikiproject; Wilson, 11.11.12, Maurer, wc.cca; Cherries-on-cloth, 6.2011, picdrome, wc.cca.
Posted: 12.4.14 @ 5:54pm; edit 12.5 @ 1:02am EST