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10/29/13

Guest Blog: Questions While Watching a Struggling Atlanta Falcons Team

Editor’s Note: I’m totally late posting this. Web site needed some updates and I got behind. This post was written before the Falcons played without all 3 weapons in Jones, Snelling, and White.  Obviously, all of us Falcons fans are reeling over this season falling apart but can you imagine this happening your first season watching football? I feel bad lol. 

Winniek is 23 years old and recently moved from Maryland from her home state of Georgia. She is a Falcons fan (like me!!)

So the Falcons won against Tampa Bay! Which is a good thing because at this point we should be grateful for any win. At the same time Tampa has not won any games so far into the season so we should have won that game anyway. Then again the Falcons let the Jets beat them so… Well at this point anything happen. (Yes, that was shade)

But I’m not going to talk about that today. I actually want to talk about something else that has been bothering me for a long time. I want to talk about the plays. Whenever I catch a football game I always see people drawing X’s, O’s, and little lines on the screen but I’m often confused on why they need all that to make a play.  

Wait! Don’t leave yet. Hear me out before you leave.

What I’m about to say maybe a horrible comparison but I feel like this needs to be said.  I remember when I played basketball my coach told us that the fastest way to get down the court was to go straight. Don’t stop and collect two hundred, don’t go around everybody, just keep straight and you will make it to the to other side.

Does that concept not apply to football as well? Lately when I watch football games I’m confused as to why whoever is running the ball always seems to run around the defense instead of trying to run straight though. I mean wouldn’t it be quicker if they kept straight instead just running around one hundred other players?

Now of course I know whoever is running the ball can’t just straight up run through the defense like they aren’t going to hit. However if the offensive line has good blockers and the blockers actually do what they are supposed to do couldn’t that be possible to just run straight down the field?

Am I on to something or do I just sound like a complete idiot?  Please let me know.

I’ve asked others who have more football knowledge and I’ve been told that it is impossible. But is it really? Is it really impossible for blockers to do what they are suppose to do so the receiver or the quarter back can make it down the field? Is this concept really that simple?

 OR.

Are these plays necessary?

 

 

10/8/13

League of Denial Doc Was Well Done; Thoughts? What Should the NFL Do Next?

The documentary called “League of Denial” based on a book by two ESPN investigative reporters aired tonight on PBS. The book and documentary give a detailed look at the NFL and the science community’s handling of concussions suffered by NFL players.

I thought the special was very well done and consistent with the many pieces of reporting I’ve read on concussions in the NFL over the years. I’ve been a voracious reader on this topic since I first heard about it back in 2007. There wasn’t much in the doc that I didn’t know aside from the accusations that the league tried to bully Dr. Bennet Omalu into backing down from his initial research he published after studying a former player’s brain.

The rest of the doc wasn’t new to me but I’d imagine it was pretty sensational for those who are new to the topic. To recap for those who didn’t see it, the documentary looked at the efforts to evaluate former players’ brains for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition that causes the brain to deteriorate. The special touched on the late Mike Webster and Junior Seau among other players. Attention was given to how much Webster’s life deteriorated after football due to brain injuries and other issues. 

Appropriately, the documentary also touched on how important it is to talk about the jarring that takes place on every snap and not just the big hits. Dealing with “sub concussive” hits will be the NFL’s biggest challenge going forward now that they’ve begun reducing the amount of big hits in the league via rule changes. 

I’ve said this before but I think that the more the public learns about brain conditions and football the more they will demand the types of changes the league is already trying to make. Making the game safer (or softer, if we must use that word) will be critical to keeping the sport alive for future generations.

I’ve already noticed a chance in folks’ mentalities since a few years ago when the NFL first decided to enforce the pre existing helmet-to-helmet rule. Around the time I started my blog in 2010, I remember my readers and tweeps being livid at the changes and screaming about the game becoming soft of being killed by the commissioner. Rarely do you hear those complaints anymore, thankfully.

I’ve been fully on board with rule changes even as I lament the fines and suspensions defensive players have received in many cases. My personal opinion is that the defenseless receiver and helmet to helmet rules are intentionally impossible to follow. I think that the NFL wants players to voluntarily stop hitting each other before they have to make it rule. Just like the league backdoor’d it’s way into reducing hits on kickoff by moving the line.

All in all, I’m curious to know what folks who may be knew to the concussion subject think? Did this documentary influence the way you view the league and the game? 

P.S.: To watch League of Denial click here. The actual book can be ordered here.

P.S. II For a harrowing but very real and necessary descriptions of life in football read my post on former DT Kris Jenkins

 

10/8/13

Raiders Did The Right Thing By Passing on Josh Freeman

I tweeted my brains out about rumors of the Raiders being interested in Josh Freeman. I should have been sharing my thoughts here on the web page that I PAY FOR and where people actually come to READ WHAT I WRITE. In a nutshell, what I said was that it takes patience to rebuild a team and if the Raiders sign Freeman it would signal to me that they don’t have that patience. Terrelle Pryor, or as I call him “Not Chris Brown” has been a stun gun since he earned the starting position. He’s breathed new life into a team that has been the butt of jokes and scorn for far too many seasons.

Terrelle Pryor earned his start. There’s no reason for the Raiders to be looking at side pieces.

Admittedly, I rooted for Pryor to start not knowing how well he could play, but looking at the Raiders other options I didn’t see why they wouldn’t take a chance. The NFL can be overly conservative sometimes reaching out for what appears to be the safest option and in the end the result is often garbage. This desire to protect and to limit risk is why Matt Flynn was signed off of a good performance in one garbage time game and collected 14 million dollars from the Seahawks and later the Raiders for doing not a damn thing. Well, actually he did do something, he lost a VERY winnable game against the Washington Redskins.

My point is, some QBs get the benefit of the doubt. Others don’t. Jason Campbell didn’t get it. Carson Palmer did…twice. And so on and so on. On the field is one thing, but in life must we ALWAYS punt on 4th down?

But back to rebuilding, the Raiders are in a similar situation to the Browns. Years of mismanagement of the organization have now led to an overhaul and new regimes taking over. The biggest challenge from a public perception standpoint is building trust with the fans. Being methodical and showing fans and media that there is a real desire to do what it takes to win. Sometimes that translates into spending ridiculous amounts of cash for past prime players just for the opportunity to win 8 or 9 games and compete in the first round of the playoffs. But what it should mean is making a sacrifice for a couple seasons as you straighten out your salary cap situation, evaluate your roster, and take a serious look at your options at Quarterback.

In Oakland, Reggie McKenzie seems like a man who is very serious about making the Raiders a respected organization again. Signing Josh Freeman would have been a silly move and rightfully put confidence in his leadership at risk. Let’s say the Raiders signed Freeman and he played terribly? Then the story is that McKenzie might have a new regime but it’s really just the  ”same old dysfunctional Raiders.” Remember, this is a GM who cleaned house in the truest sense of the word. This is not a time to revert back to old tactics. Not when your QB has the trust of his teammates. And not when they’re winning games while legitimately low on weaponry. Pryor is one of the real bright spots for the Raiders and it’d be a shame if everyone could see it except for the folks sitting the closest.

So kudos to the Raiders for staying on the path of patience. I think it will pay off in the end.

 

10/8/13

Jets QB Geno Smith Continues to Impress – Leads Jets Past Falcons on MNF

Jets QB Geno Smith gets a thumbs up from me so far.

If any QB had a right to have a chip on his shoulder, it’s Geno Smith. If any QB would have been forgiven for cracking under the pressure it’s Geno Smith. But instead, going into Week 6, Smith is as cool and poised as he was the night he was embarrassed on national television when he wasn’t drafted in the first round. And when that happened, if you remember, Smith went home, grabbed the second outfit that he brought with him to New York and returned to Radio City Music Hall shaking off the folks who had laughed at him the night before. We should have known then that the kid was something special.

This is not to say that Smith has played perfect games, but he’s been more than competent for a QB thrust into a dysfunctional team and media environment. With an impressive win over a Falcons team that is struggling on defense, Smith once again held his composure on a national stage. I’ve seen 3 of Smith’s games this season and each time he’s been better than the game before. It seems like a lifetime ago that certain draft scouts scoffed at his work ethic and leadership ability. When was the last time a QB made a point of apologizing to his defense and emphasizing how critical they’ve been to the team’s success?

I’m not jumping out the window on Smith or making any bold proclamations. But I’ve been impressed thus far and I want to be part of helping Smith’s story be told in real time. RG3 was such a dazzling and dynamic player with an amazing story in his rookie season last year. Colin Kaepernick’s run to the Superbowl after Alex Smith suffered a concussion was something to behold. But while all of that was happening, Andrew Luck was recharging the Colts and Ryan Tannehill was quietly exceeding expectations down in Miami. Some folks are still unaware of this as attention remains on RG3 and Kaepernick. Both QBs are struggling to live up to their potential and match the bar they set last year. Smith’s accomplishments would be easy to lose in the shuffle.

What I’ve seen of Smith so far is a guy who is patient in the pocket and lets the game come to him. If anything, he trusts the Jets haphazard O line more than he should. His blind spot is more like a gaping hole at the moment but that can be improved. He’s reasonably fast in his reads and is confident enough on the move that not being truly mobile isn’t the limitation that it could be. And while some QBs are staring receivers in the eye down field and missing the trees for the forest, Smith rarely loses sight of guy nearest to him. Those traits alone are something for Jets fans to celebrate. His poise alone gives him a real advantage over Mark Sanchez and I’ve never been one to rip Sanchez unnecessarily.

Coming up, I expect the Jets to roll over the Steelers. But the Bengals and Saints will be a real test for Smith. Can he withstand the pressure? Can he and the Oline jell enough to keep him on his feet? Will Rob Ryan’s mix of looks confuse the rookie? I’ll be watching to see.

10/8/13

Photos: Patriots’ Everyman Julian Edelman Gets Dapper for Photo Spread

Falcons have won 1 game. Eagles have won 2 games. Temple football hasn’t won yet. The Sixers are headed into a season that isn’t looking bright. I could use a bright spot. And lo and behold during a low moment some photos of Patriots WR/DB Julian Edelman come across my timeline that made me smile. Before I saw Edelman’s spread for John Varvatos I can’t say that I could have picked him out of a lineup. But now? Oh now I know what he looks like. Very nice Julian.

 

 

Head over to Varvatos’ site to see the full spread.

This season Edelman has been pushed into the most visible role he’s had since coming into the league. He’s had to step up with Wes Welker gone to Denver and Wes’ replacement Danny Amendola out due to injury. Not to mention Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots star TE, still sidelined due to after effects from surgeries performed on his arm. I can’t say that Edelman wows me as a receiver on a consistent basis but he does get the job done. Plus he’s versatile and willing to do whatever is necessary. Edelman has returned kicks, played defense and pretty much anything else the team needs him to do. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him making the gatorade on the sidelines to be quite honest.

The Patriots season got off to a rocky start with Tom Brady not playing well and screaming at receivers like Edelman, but true to form the team has been fighting and are currently 4-1.

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