Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Matt Schaub put up moster numbers in 2010 to lead the league in many passing categories.

I haven’t played fantasy football in about 8 years and I don’t plan on playing anytime soon in the near future. Well, I may play this year just to see how well I do, but I am not certain on that.

Anyway, I have had many people tell me that they are going to come to me for fantasy football information when it’s time for them to draft their teams, because of my wealth of knowledge about the game of football.

After thinking about it, I figured instead of waiting for people to come to me with fantasy football questions, I would just come to them by writing a fantasy football blog.

So on next Wednesday, July 7th, 2010. I will be posting what I am going to call “The ultimate NFL fantasy football blog.” It will be an informative blog on players and defenses that will be based on their schedule, team strengths and weaknesses as well as tendencies.

Brandon Marshall and Pro Bowl MVP Matt Schaub

For example, Brandon Marshall will not be in my top 5 of wide outs to draft. With a QB in Chad Henne who is still maturing, a Miami Dolphins offense that doesn’t have a very intricate passing game, the “wildcat” and becasue of double and triple team coverages that Brandon will be facing. I just don’t see Brandon putting up the numbers that he has in the past, nor do I see him scoring a lot of touchdowns since Miami will be using the running game or “wildcat” to score when in the red zone.

I am not going to say that my fantasy football blog will be the bible of how you should draft on your draft day. But it will be another tool for you to use when evaluating players for your team.

The ultimate NFL fantasy football blog, coming next Wednesday on July 7th, subscribe now so that you will have it in your email box for you to refer back to come draft day.

Rex has his Jets poised to make a run for the top spot

Football season is around the corner and I vowed that I wouldn’t write my division and team ranking blogs until training camp. Well yesterday a conversation amongst a couple of people on twitter about the Miami Dolphins motivated me to start this nine part series today.

I am not trying to prove a point or anything. I think my knowledge of the game of football whether its college or pro speaks for itself. Anyone who knows me personally or has been following me on twitter for awhile can attest to this. Bottom line, I am rarely wrong when it comes to football.

You may not like what I have to say or may think I am borderline clueless at times with my Skip Bayless like comments. But like Skip, usually what I say comes true or almost does.

I am a realist and the truth hurts sometimes. Unlike most people, I am able to analyze the game of football without rose colored glasses on. I am a Texans and Patriots fan, but I will criticize everything and anything they do also. I favor no one when it comes to the truth.

So let’s get into day one/blog entry number one of my nine part NFL division and team rankings blogs. Parts one through eight is going to be divisional analysis with the ninth entry being team rankings. Today we will begin with the AFC East.

AFC East

This division has never really been a strong division. For the exception of last year, it’s been the New England Patriots and everyone else. From time to time, the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills will have a decent year and challenge New England or maybe win the division. But it isn’t the norm.

Things should be a lot different with New England aging and the Jets and Dolphins getting better. New England will still be New England, but the Jets have shown that they can beat New England and Miami can give them a run for their money too. Buffalo isn’t even ready to compete with themselves yet so no need to think about them competing with the previous three that I just mentioned.

(Note: If you click on the red colored team name, a link will take you to a web page that will show you strength of schedule etc.)

Tom Brady

New England Patriots – The Patriots are a aging dynasty that is in the midst of retooling, not rebuilding. New England had one of the best drafts in this year’s draft and was able to address lots of needs both of the defensive and offensive side of the ball.

Offensively the Patriots will be ok as they always have been. Will they be as explosive as they were in 2007? No, but they will be just as effective as they were last year and should be a little better with Brady having a full season under his belt after missing a year to knee surgery.

Most of New England’s offensive issues last year came from Tom Brady who wasn’t comfortable playing with his surgically repaired knee. Brady wasn’t stepping into his throws most of the time and wasn’t comfortable with “trash” around his legs while in the pocket. Another major issue in New England last year was that the new players were not learning or buying into the system (Joey Galloway).

Wes Welker is another big concern for the Patriots offense. Question still remains as to how he will bounce back after the season ending knee injury that he suffered against the Texans in the last game of the season. If he returns and is the Wes Welker that we all know, then all is good in Boston.

Defensively New England should be better but I am not going to put my name on that prediction. Last year the defense was atrocious and lost a lot of games for the Pats. Bill Belichick fired Dan Pees who was the defensive coordinator over the last couple of years in New England. Bill went ahead and announced that he was taking over the play calling for the defense this year and no defensive coordinator would be named.

With the genius calling the plays on defense, and with the new players that they acquired on defense during the offseason. This year’s defense should be much better than last year’s defense. I will admit though, I am taking a wait and see approach to that prediction. One thing that New England must do if they don’t do anything else is improve their run defense. They were fourth in the NFL in giving up the most yards per carry to opposing teams.

In the end I see the Patriots finishing 12-4 if all things go well. Or 10-6 if they don’t get their defensive issues fixed and their running game and Wes Welker don’t play well in the first half of the year. Games against the Vikings, Packers and Ravens are games that can go either way and can give New England problems if their secondary isn’t on point.

Mark Sanchez

New York Jets – I have gone on record as saying that I am not completely sold on the Jets being what everyone is saying they are, a championship contending team. They made some really nice moves during the offseason and then made some questionable ones. Releasing Alan Faneca and trading Leon Washington could come back to haunt them.

Offensively everything relies on the maturation process of Mark Sanchez. In this being his second year, he needs to be able to take that next step that rookie QBs have to take in order to become a legit NFL quarterback and take his team to that next level as a Super Bowl contender. He was way too inconsistent last year and hurt his team more than he helped which is typical of rookie quarterbacks.

The addition of Santonio Holmes and LaDanian Tomlinson should give Mark the weapons he needs to help turn the Jets offense into an efficient and formidable one, but it all comes back down to Mark being smart with the football.

The Jets have already become known as a defensive team in just one year. The defense is the strength of this team and most likely will always be. They were the number one ranked defense last year, and I expect them to be even better.

Having Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis on the corners with that pass rush isn’t something that teams in the AFC are too excited about having to face. First round pick Kyle Wilson was a great draft day selection that allows Rex to have a good speedy, physical cover corner on a team’s slot receiver (Wes Welker).

Rex Ryan loves having really good cover corners because it allows him to do so much with his scheme. When Rex was in Baltimore, he was always begging Ozzie Newsome to draft certain corners for him to have on defense. Ozzie declined 95% of the time. Well now Rex has his corners, three really good ones. That Jets defense is going to be scary good.

New York should either finish 13-3 or 11-5. 9-7 if Mark plays inconsistent like he did last year. Vikings, Texans and Packers are games that the Jets may struggle in. Offensively these teams can put it on ya.

Ronnie Brown

Miami Dolphins – Miami is one of those teams that you look at and you ask yourself how are they able to do what they do with what they have. They don’t have one or two guys on their entire roster that is ranked in the top ten in any position except for maybe Brandon Marshall now. The Fins have question marks up and down their roster that is littered with “B” level talent and unproven players.

Unless you are a Browns, Bills, Chiefs, or Seahawks and maybe a Raiders fan, you’re not really worried about the Dolphins beating your team are you? They just don’t have it all together yet to really make you scared. I have to admit that I don’t even watch the game when Houston or New England plays Miami. The Dolphins haven’t handled any one of those two teams yet so I have no worries.

Losing Jason Taylor and Joey Porter will hurt immediately. Jared Odrick and Koa Misi aren’t ready to step in and produce at that level yet. Second round pick Koa Misi who is a DE, is being converted into an outside linebacker. It takes three to four years for DEs to make that transition to outside linebacker. So don’t expect Miami to have a great pass rush this year. Karlos Dansby helps but he can’t do it by himself, and Channin Crowder benefitted from Jason Taylor and Joey Porter being there.

Miami brought in Brandon Marshall to add some punch to their offense and to give Chad Henne a big time target at wide out to throw to. Marshall is a great addition to that almost anemic offense, but he isnt the overall answer. There are two major issues with Miami’s offense; one is that as talented as Chad Henne is, he needs time to develop. Expecting him to go from where he was last year to good over night won’t happen. Brandon Marshall helps, but a QB and a wide out need time to get on the same page.

Brandon Marshall is an extremely talented wide out, but he may not get properly used in Miami until they change their offensive philosophy. Think about it, in Denver he played in Mike Shanahan’s west coast offense. Then he played in Josh McDaniel’s pass happy version of the Erhardt-Perkins offense. Miami tries to run the run oriented version of the Erhardt-Perkins offense that has about 80% of the “wildcat” mixed in. The old saying of “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” applies to the Marshall in Miami experiment.

The second issue with Miami offensively is their offense as a whole. They can’t consistently move the ball without running the “wildcat”. I have no problem with the “wildcat”. It has a place in this league and I think more teams should use it more (Dallas, Houston). It’s when you have to rely on the “wildcat” to consistently move the ball because your passing game is inept is when I have an issue with the “wildcat”. Like one of the Dolphins players said on a NFL films clip, “The wildcat! That’s our whole playbook now!”

On the defensive side of the ball their secondary is bad and they have no pass rush. They did address both areas in the draft and should be better overall defensively. I like the Dansby free agent signing and the draft picks of Koa Misi and Jared Odrick. Those three guys along with the DBs and defensive lineman they drafted should significantly improve this defense. I just don’t expect great things from them until two years from now.

Miami has a pretty tough schedule and as I was tweeting yesterday. I was having a hard time finding more than five games that they would win. At best I have them going 7-9 with some lucky breaks, and 6-10 as the most likely scenario. Three games that are hard to call are the Tennessee, Oakland and the Detroit game.

I can’t see Tennessee being a bad team again and Oakland is going to be a good team. Not playoff good, but a team that goes 8-8 and will not be an easy win for some teams. Detroit is a team that has made a lot of great offseason moves over the past two years. Everyone including myself loves what Detroit has done. Check the roster and game film from all sixteen games last year and you will see what I mean. The Lions may not be an easy win if at all a win for Miami.

I don’t think that Miami is a bad team; I just think that their talent level and many question marks on both sides of the ball don’t put them in a favorable position for this year. Especially with them playing in a tough AFC division and conference.

Trent Edwards and Fred Jackson

Buffalo Bills – Where do I start with this team? Will we see paper bags back on Bills fans heads at games this year? This team is bad and is going through a rebuilding year/phase with a new head coach in Chan Gailey who shouldn’t have even gotten the job. Brian Billick or Leslie Frasier would have been much better choices than a retread in Gailey.

Talent wise they don’t have much if any except for C.J. Spiller who will be an amazing player, but may have a hard time his first two years being effective with the lack of offensive line help and overall talent on offense.

Offensively they have questions everywhere except at running back. Trent Edwards hasn’t officially been given the job yet in Buffalo, but the other quarterbacks on the team aren’t anything to be hopeful about anyway.

Buffalo will struggle worst than what they did last year offensively. I don’t see where or how they will be able to generate offense with the players that they currently have. If you’re a defensive coordinator, you put eight or nine guys in the box a double Lee Evans and tell the equipment guys to start packing up stuff and for the bus drivers to keep the busses running.

Defense is something that may go from bad to worse as they are transitioning from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense. There isn’t much talent on this Bills defense that was one of the worst teams on run defense last year. Gailey didn’t do too good of a job drafting defensive players that will fit his 3-4 scheme in this year’s draft. That’s not good news when you are transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and you already don’t have talent on that side of the ball.

I don’t see Buffalo winning more than one or two games this year unless they catch a team slipping. I expect a 2-14 season at best or 1-15 if things really get bad. But then again things are already bad in Buffalo.

Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels


***Introduction: As some of you may already know, I blog for a sports website in Denver. Earlier this week I posted this blog asking a question to the city of Denver about Josh McDaniels. It became a very popular blog post and sparked lots of comments and even caught the attention of a Denver Magazine. I have decided to post this blog on my personal blog site since I am now known as the man who has crowned Josh McDaniels as “The most hated man in Denver“. Feel free to read and leave your comments if you may.***

Why do so many Broncos fans dislike or hate Josh McDaniels? That’s the question that I have asked myself for over a year now. Before I moved here in November of 2009, I was well aware of the hate that most people in this city have for Josh McDaniels. I have never seen a city turn on a coach as fast as Denver has on McDaniels, nor can I understand how it happened. So now that I lived in the “Mile High City” for six or seven months and have yet to figure out this hate for McDaniels. I have decided that I would ask you guys directly as a group so that maybe Broncos fans can shed some light on this situation.

Several thoughts and questions that have gone through my head over the past year are as follows:

1. Do Broncos fans hate him because he is a young coach who was given a head coaching job maybe too soon in the eyes of Broncos fans?

2. Is it because when he came here he traded away a young pro bowl quarterback in Jay Cutler who many called Favre Jr with attitude issues?

3. Is it because he has come in and brought the Parcells/Belichick arrogance/attitude of “It’s my way or the highway”?

4. Is it simply because Broncos fans don’t like change?

5. Its surely not because he traded away Brandon Marshall and Tony Scheffler for 5th round picks, because this hatred or dislike that Broncos fans have towards Josh developed long before the Marshall and Scheffler trades.

6. Maybe it’s because this city became way too attached to a two time Super Bowl winning coach in Mike Shanahan, and trusted him to make this team a winner again?

I’m sure that I have missed some of the many reasons as to why he is hated, so please do comment and explain why because I don’t know. What I do know is that Josh has been the man in charge here in Denver for 18 months, and before the 2009 season even started, half of the city wanted to lynch him on the front lawn of the state capital. That’s a lot of hate for a city who has marijuana dispensaries and liquor stores on darn near every corner. I would think the easy access to smoke away or drink away your stress would erase the hate or ease the pain of this transition that the franchise is going through. I agree that Josh has come in and done some things that have made people scratch their heads. I was one of many people across the country who thought that Josh was high on medicinal marijuana when he traded Jay Cutler to Chicago. That whole Cutler trade situation wasn’t handled correctly by Josh or Jay. So I don’t know if we can really place all of the blame just on Josh. But the idea of trading Cutler was foul and I still don’t agree with it to this day. Trading Brandon Marshall was something that was going to happen no matter what, so it didn’t faze me. Brandon wanted a new deal with big money, and Denver was not going to do that for a player with Marshall’s history. The Tony Scheffler trade was probably the second biggest surprise/head scratcher for me after the Cutler trade. That trade didn’t really make sense to me at all, but Josh firing Mike Nolan after one year did.

When Josh was hired I was of the opinion that all he needed to do was fix the defense because the offense had talent and was pretty good. A month later after his first few roster moves, I started digging into stats and watching game film. I realized that despite some of the impressive numbers, the offense wasn’t that efficient and had major issues. The Broncos may have had a offense ranked in the top five in passing and averaged over 25 points a game, but I can point out five issues that killed those all of accomplishments. In addition to that, this team didn’t have the type of players that Josh needed to run his Erhardt-Perkins New England Patriot style offense. When you lay all of the cards out on the table, you can see the method to Josh’s madness. In the NFL you have to be able to see the big picture and think long term and not short term when you’re building a team. A lot of Josh McDaniel’s moves are moves that will benefit this team long-term. Now I am not going to be like Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network and guarantee that Josh will bring a Super Bowl to Denver. But I do see him doing great things and getting this team to a level where they are a serious contender year in and year out.

One negative thing that I see about Josh is his arrogance that could potentially get him in trouble. People call him a quarterback coaching guru and it seems as if it’s gone to his head as shown by his selection of Tim Tebow in the first round. I believe that Tebow will be a good quarterback and Denver was the best team for him to go to besides New England. But he wasn’t worth a first round pick and not worth all of the picks that Josh gave up to trade up to get him. The day after the draft I mentioned on my personal blog site on a draft grades and analysis blog that the Tim Tebow pick could ultimately get Josh fired in four years. In the end though, I have been impressed with how Josh has completely remade this team on the fly in just 18 months. That’s hard to do in the NFL these days. So for all of you Broncos fans who want Josh fired, give him time. You can’t judge him just yet after being on the job for 18 months. At the same time, please do let me know what’s up with you guys and Josh……… because I DON’T GET IT.

Follow David Johnson on Twitter

People love to say that the NFL is a “copy cat” league, “copy cat” doesn’t accurately describe it at all. Incestuous is a more appropriate word to describe the NFL when you really start to dig and learn about the game inside and out. Whether it’s on offense or defense, all teams use a variation of offensive and defensive sets & philosophies which have been learned from generation to generation. The two dominant coaching trees in the NFL are from the three “Bill’s”, Bill Walsh and Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick trees. The result of this is NFL inbreeding and familiararity with each other amongst all of the teams. Many coaches from these coaching trees are employed on various NFL teams have implemented what they have learned from these three men to their respective teams. When you have so many coaches who have been taught the same offensive and defensive philosophies, you create this incestuous league that we have today. An early example of what was to come in the future happened in the 1998 NFC Wild Card game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco Forty-Niners. Its known as one of the most memorable games of all time that was capped by a Steve Young 25 yard TD pass to Terrell Owens with time expiring. This game has been very well documented as to how familiar that both teams were with each other due to both having coaching staffs who came from the Walsh coaching tree and all use to coach together. Steve Young once commented on the fact that he and Brett Favre could have switched uniforms and called each others plays for the other team. Situations like this happen more and more than what some people realize. Instead of dissecting offense and defense today, I’m just going to talk about offense. We will get to the defensive side of the ball of Wednesday.

There are basically five to six major offensive philosophies in the NFL today, but really only three are being used routinely. The three main offensive philosophies used in the NFL today are the West Coast, Erhardt-Perkins, and Air Coryell. The West Coast offense is the most complicated of the three. Ironically, 60% of the NFL is running the West Coast or some variation of it despite the complexity of it. They say that it takes a quarterback and the rest of the team four to five years to fully grasp the system. When you think about every quarterback that has run the West Coast offense, it’s usually in year four that he and the team become explosive offensively. Walsh created the West Coast offense while he was an assistant in Cincy under Paul Brown. Brown wasn’t a fan of neither Walsh nor the offense, but used it because the Bengals were lacking talent on offense and couldn’t move the ball. Cincy went on to become one of the best if not the best team in the league with the offense. Once Brown stepped down, he didn’t hire Walsh as the head coach, so Walsh went to San Francisco and created a dynasty.

The offense utilizes short, horizontal passing plays to stretch the defense, which then enables them to have bigger run plays and longer passes. Typical plays happen within ten to fifteen yards of the line of scrimmage. By the quarterback taking short drops, it makes the defense focus on the intermediate short routes & not on the running backs coming out of the backfield. The term “West Coast” is a term that Bill Parcells gave the offense back in 1985 after the Giants beat the 49ers in the playoffs. As people know, Parcells believes in hard nose football and tough defense over finesse football which everyone said the 49ers played finesse football back then. Parcells exact comment after the win to a reporter was “What do you think of that West Coast offense now ?” The offense today isnt considered to be a “finesse” offense, but it does have its short comings which seem to be universal no matter what team runs it. Usually the inability to run up the middle is something that plauges the offense except for when Gruden ran his version in Oakland and Tampa.

The Air Coryell offense is one that is being used by a handful of teams in the league today. Oakland and San Diego use it, New Orleans runs a variation of it along with some Erhardt-Perkins, and Chicago will be using it this year now that Mike Martz is the offensive coordinator in Chicago. It’s an offense that was created by Sid Gillman back in the 60’s while with the Chargers. Later Don Coryell perfected it or made it what it eventually became remembered for while with the Chargers in the 70’s and 80’s. Another notable name to be associated with this offense is none other than Al Davis who was an assistant under Sid Gillman and took the offense to Oakland. The offense is based on timing and precession with the emphasis being on deep passes to stretch the field, and make the defense over commit to certain aspects of the passing attack. This offense isn’t as complicated as the West Coast offense as noted by the nomenclature that it uses. An Nomenclature is the terminology in which a offense calls its plays. Air Coryell uses a naming system with routes for wide receivers and tight ends having three digit numbers, and the running backs have a different system. So a pass play in the offense would be “Slant Left 787 check swing, check right”. It’s an efficient way to call many different plays with minimal if hardly any memorization. The West Coast uses a much complicated system which requires a lot of memorization, but gives a lot of freedom to the players on offense to add lib. Their formations are typically named after colors (ie,”Blue Left”).

The last of the three core NFL offenses is the Erhardt-Perkins offense. This offense was created by Ron Erhardt and Ray Perkins back in the 70’s while with the New England Patriots. The teams who have made this offense famous are New England, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Carolina, Kansas City, and recently Denver. New Orleans runs a variation of this offense also along with a variation of the Air Coryell. The system is known for its multiple formations and personnel packages that vary on a core number of foundation plays. Each formation and play is separately numbered, words can modify the plays. A typical play you would see in this offense is the first play Weis called in Super Bowl XXXVI as noted on the NFL films New England Patriot Super Bowl video. (Zero Flood Slot Hat, 78 Shout Tosser) In the beginning it was known as a run oriented, smash mouth type of offense when the Patriots of the 70’s, and the Giants of the 80’s under Parcells. The offense started to evolve in the early to mid 90’s into what we see today with the Patriots, Broncos and to displeasure of Steeler fans, the Steelers. It’s become a spread type of offense at times with the ability to run the ball. Out of all of the offenses, this is the one offense that when ran well, it can dictate to the defense better than any offense out there. The evolution of this offense happened when Ron Erhardt was the offensive coordinator with the Giants and Steelers in his last few years in the league. After that, every diciple that had learned or played under him went on to other teams and implimented this new evoluted offense.

Charlie Weis can be credited for installing the heavily modified version of this offense that we see in New England and Denver. His version of the offense became the complicated, very intricate and versatile passing attack that we have witnessed over the past ten years. He even went as far as to run five wide out sets a lot during the course of a game which was unheard of back in the day when Erhardt and Perkins created this offense. Weis left for Notre Dame which open the door for the young protege Josh McDaniels to run what he had learned under Weis as the QB coach in New England. Josh took it to another level back in 2007 with Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. He made the offense almost exclusively a spread offense that teams weren’t ready for nor knew how to stop with Moss & Welker needing to be double teamed. In leau of the expanded wide open passing attack, he was able to keep the running game portion of this offense a key component in the Patriots record breaking season. Josh has since then moved on to Denver and has implemented the same offesive philosophy there. Last year the Broncos got off to a 6-2 start with this offense, and Kyle Orton put up career numbers that no one expected from him.

So as you can see, the offenses that are being run in the NFL today are offenses that have been passed down through generations. As mentioned earlier, it’s not a “copy cat” league; it’s incestuous when you think about it.