Monday, August 31, 2009

The Quarterback Shuffle...

Could Tom Brady have another injury-riddled season? If that's the case-I already hear the rest of the AFC give a collective giddy reaction. However, New England now has a terrible back-up situation since they cut...

Kevin O’Connell. This was a very curious decision since New England's main backup now is Andrew Walter -- and I don’t even think Bill Belichick can win with Walter under center (if necessary). Wouldn't Damon Huard (15-12 career record) be a great fit for the Pats? O’Connell looks to land in Denver, or in Kansas City- since..

Matt Cassel is now out 2-4 weeks, and will probably miss the Chiefs opener and maybe beyond. This leaves Kansas City with the trio of Tyler Thigpen, Brodie Croyle, and potentially O’Connell. If Cassel is destined to have an injury-riddled year, the Chiefs are destined for failure with the Thigpen/Croyle combo (1-18 career record combined!). Yikes! I'd like to clarify that my Chiefs sleeper team status is contingent on Cassel being healthy.

Jay Cutler looked very solid in a hostile situation. However, it was in the pre-season, and vs. the Denver Broncos (who are now looking more and more like a 5-11 team). Also, for anti-Cutler fans, I just thought of the slogan “You can’t spell Cutler without L”

Kyle Orton is looking very shaky, and back-up Chris Simms is already injured. Denver certainly needs another quarterback at this point. Denver should make a serious run for a young quarterback like O’Connell, or a Drew Stanton, Josh Joshnson-type.

Matt Leinart looked pretty great this past weekend. Leinart has gotten a terrible wrap throughout his career, especially under the Whisenhunt regime. If Kurt Warner does go down due to injury this year, the Cardinals will still be in really good shape. Don't be surprised!

As much as I like Shaun Hill, there are whispers going around San Francisco that rookie Nate Davis could be their future. Kudos to the 49ers for starting someone logical like Hill, and having another young quarterback with potential in their pipeline.

Tampa Bay settled on Byron Leftwich as their starting quarterback. In other news, Tampa Bay also settled on the notion of a 6-10 record.

Brady Quinn looks to be crowned the starting quarterback in Cleveland. And Yes- poor Derek Anderson could probably start on another team at this point. Eric Mangini has yet to announce anything in regards to this quarterback battle, which further backs-up my feeling that Mangini is a coach who wants to come off as tough, and strategic but is much more of a indecisive, push-over type.

and finally- Mark Sanchez looked pretty great this past Saturday vs. the Giants. If he can cut down on some of those Vinny Testaverde-esque easily anticipated passes to the sideline, which is a Pick-6 in the making- Sanchez and the Jets will be in great shape.

...the season starts in two weeks, and I'm ready for some football.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Looking for Sleepers: NFC Edition

Yesterday I noted who I think the culprits are for the AFC side. Here’s how I see the NFC playing out.

NFC Playoff Teams Most Likely to Tail Off:

Every team is a potential victim, with the most unlikely being the New York Giants. I can definitely see 4-5 new teams making the NFC playoffs this year. Even the Giants are vulnerable- - since most likely one of these three better NFC teams (NY Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, and Dallas Cowboys) will miss the playoffs solely because of the playoff format.

I like Jake Delhomme, despite unfair criticism against him. If he stays healthy, the Panthers will be a contender (Carolina is 54-33 with Delhomme and 14-19 without him under John Fox). However, I just have a gut feeling Delhomme may not play the entire season.

Arizona is also very vulnerable. The team only won 9 games last year (6-0 in their division), and their division rivals (Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers) look to make a jump. Oh yeah- their quarterback, Kurt Warner is 38 years old.
I think Matt Ryan is a really good quarterback, but there’s always a possibility for a sophomore slump for Atlanta. Plus there’s the potential for running-back Michael Turner to be a victim of Football Outsiders' curse of 370.

Minnesota’s division is much improved from last year. However, Minnesota has two glaring question marks already with Brett Favre and Brad Childress. Here’s how I think Minnesota’s season will pan out.

NFC Non-Playoff Teams Most Likely to Make the Leap:

Front-Runners for Leap:

Dallas Cowboys: I think this is the year Tony Romo steps up and starts to win in the playoffs. He has even started the process of washing himself of any stench of failure!

Green Bay Packers: I think Aaron Rodgers will make a leap this year. Green Bay lost a lot of screwy games last year. The team was 1-7 in games decided by five points of less last season. Plus NFC North teams should expect to reap the benefits of scheduling.

San Francisco 49ers: With Shaun Hill officially under center- I expect big things for the 49ers.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees is a really good quarterback, who has missed the playoffs two times in a row. The third time should be the charm.

Chicago Bears: With the NFC North receiving the easiest of schedules (as noted above), and the potential upgrade of Jay Cutler, many are crowning Chicago Super Bowl contenders. However, let me emphasize the “potential” part of the previous sentence.

Seattle Seahawks: Matt Hasselbeck is coming off a severe injury last season. If Seattle can stay healthy, the NFC West is certainly up for grabs. Vegas has Seattle 16/1 to win the NFC Championship…not a bad wager.

Write Them Off:

Washington Redskins: Putting little confidence in your starting quarterback (Jason Campbell), who already has proven to be average at best + six total games vs. Giants, Cowboys and Eagles = rough season for Washington.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: When your quarterback options at the beginning of the season are Byron Leftwich or Luke McCown….it most likely will be a non-playoff season for your team.

Detroit Lions: I hope Detroit is smart enough to start Stafford from the out-set. The team should be improved by years' end with him under center.

St. Louis Rams: Again, poor Rams' fans.

Playoff Picks: I’m torn between Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago for the final spot.

At gunpoint here’s my picks: New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons

That's 6 new playoff teams for the 2009 season, with potentially 7. Hmm- that sounds almost like 6.4 teams to me- How convenient.

Looking for Sleepers: AFC Edition

As noted: During the past eight years, the NFL has been the target of parity, with a total of 51 occasions (AFC: 24, NFC: 27) of a team making the jump to the playoffs, after a non-playoff year. To play the averages, that’s roughly 6.4 teams each year!

With that- here's who I think the culprits are for the AFC side (NFC will be posted tomorrow). Note: I do think the majority of turn-over will be in the NFC.

AFC Playoff Teams Most Likely to Tail Off: Miami Dolphins and the Tennessee Titans.

Barring injury- I feel extremely confident that New England, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh will all make the playoffs. In the past seven seasons, only three quarterbacks (Tom Brady, Peyton, Manning and Ben Roethlisberger) from the AFC have taken their teams to the Super Bowl, winning six Super Bowl titles. San Diego has an easy division, a great offense, and a great quarterback. Their biggest red-flag is Norv Turner. Baltimore is a safe pick with a very competent quarterback (Flacco), good defense, and smart coach (John Harbaugh).

AFC Non-Playoff Teams Most Likely to Make the Leap:

The Lock: New England Patriots

Hmm. Great Coach + Great Quarterback, after winning 11 games without said Great Quarterback? Is it conceivable that they can go undefeated again? I would be shocked if they don't win at least 11 games.

Front-Runners for Leap-

Jacksonville Jaguars: Make or break year for David Garrard (and perhaps coach Jack Del Rio) after dismal 2008. They were a dangerous 2007 team that was in a lot of close games last year. Jacksonville went 4-7 in games decided by seven points or less.

Kansas City Chiefs: I love the upgrade at quarterback with Matt Cassel. I love the upgrade of anyone other than Herm Edwards as the coach even more. Add that to relatively easy division (could be 4 wins right there).

Cleveland Browns: The simple replacing of Romeo Crennel in theory should add at least 2-4 wins for the Browns.

NY Jets: Will Mark Sanchez’ rookie season look more like Matt Ryan or David Carr? As a Jets fan, I’m most worried about a rough beginning of the season. I’m hoping the Jets can stay afloat, because I feel they will vastly improve by season’s end.

Perhaps Too Many Question Marks:

Buffalo Bills: Can Trent Edwards make the leap with T.O. in the fold? I like Trent Edwards, but I’m convinced that Dick Jauron will continue to hold them back. Jauron has proven to be a lousy coach (57-76 record). For hilarity's sake: Check out how Jauron mistakenly ran the clock out at the end of the second quarter, down 3-0, during last year’s finale at New England’s 12 yard line.

Houston Texans: Trendy sleeper pick. However, I’m not sure if I’m ready to back a Matt Schaub-led team. Here's why.

Denver Broncos: Negativity aside, Denver fans shouldn’t be that down on the 2009 season. However, depending how this Orton situation pans out, this team could win anywhere from 3 wins to 9 wins.

Write Them Off:

Cincinnati Bengals: If a Palmer-led Bengals team finishes with 6 wins as Vegas predicts, can we officially question if Carson Palmer is actually good? I say yes.

Oakland Raiders: We will find out for sure in 2009 whether JaMarcus Russell can start in this league or not. Another red flag is their coach Tom Cable.

Playoff Picks: New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Red Flags: Starring The Tennessee Titans

The Tennessee Titans in theory took a step forward improving to a league’s best 13-3 after going 10-6 the previous year. However, in that time, they have left their supposed franchise quarterback out to dry, by not instilling confidence in him, and bringing 36 year-old, former alcoholic, Kerry Collins back as their starting quarterback.

So here’s the bad news for Tennessee Titans fans. Do you realize Kerry Collins is your starting quarterback? Yes - Kerry Collins.

Do you remember not so long ago in 2006, when Jeff Fisher signed Collins in late August to be your starter over Billy Volek, and how idiotic that seemed at the time? After going 0-3, people were wondering how in the world would anyone voluntarily want to start Kerry Collins as your quarterback?

Fast forward to 2008- After Vince Young got injured and had some serious issues (including depression), Collins led the Titans to a league best record. Shocking? Yes! Has he done it before? Well…Yes. But…

Kerry Collins has been an up and down quarterback his entire career! Why would Tennessee wager Collins having another great season (which is unlikely), against potentially damaging Vince Young’s career even further?

Do you know Kerry Collins has made the playoffs three times in his career before 2008, and in all three cases, Collins has struggled immensely in the year after, going a combined 17-25? Do you realize his career record (including last year’s 12-3), Collins record as a starter is still under .500 (79-85).

Also- why are they giving up on Vince Young already? The team drafted him with the third pick in the 2006 Draft to be their franchise quarterback. In that time, he’s won Offensive Rookie of the Year, and brought the team to the playoffs in 2007. He’s 18-11 as a starter! As much as people turn to his underwhelming stats, mechanics, or recent behavior- he still has the potential, and has already proven, that he can be a good starter in this league.

Vince Young should have been given back the starting role immediately after the Titans playoff loss last year back in January. As much as Vince Young has gone through- even Kerry Collins believes in second chances.

The more I think about it- a scenario like this makes me consider how overrated Jeff Fisher may be as a coach? Let’s look at this further…

Jeff Fisher is a career 128-102 (557%), which is very good. However, in his 14 full years as a coach, he’s only made the playoffs six times. In the playoffs, he can and should be viewed as shaky, going 5-6. Coaches get fired for early playoff exits or only taking his team to the playoffs every other year.

For example in 1999, Fisher’s Titans won three games en route to the Super Bowl. What are the most glaring moments from that run? About to lose at home vs. the Buffalo Bills, the Titans needed a very controversial (because a forward lateral is illegal) known as the "Music City Miracle" to even advance to the second round. Watch here.

During that Super Bowl, down 23-16 with no times outs on the Rams 10 yard line, the Titans run a passing play, throwing the ball five yards short of the end zone. McNair’s pass to Kevin Dyson ended up one yard short-resulting in a loss for the Titans. Definitely an underrated “All-Time” dumb move.

..Or how about how conservative Fisher was in last year’s playoffs, as noted by ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook in his TMQ article. This marked Fisher’s second time in which he lost at home in the second round with the league’s best record.

Even Vegas is down on the Titans, giving them the sixth highest odds for AFC teams, and a low over/under for wins with 9.5, considering the team won 23 total games the last two seasons.

I really feel that Fisher has botched his current quarterback situation, and if the Titans miss the playoffs with Collins behind center, Fisher should theoretically be given the pink slip. Any other team (except Pittsburgh) would do the same in that situation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Curious Case of Kellen Clemens

In the current quarterback battle going on for the New York Jets, newly drafted rookie, Mark Sanchez has been given the slight edge over Kellen Clemens. New head coach Rex Ryan insisted that last night’s pre-season game vs. the Baltimore Ravens would give good indication on who would come out as a starter, with many thinking Clemens would need to greatly outperform Sanchez to get a leg up in the competition.

So after Sanchez finished his first five series in yesterday’s pre-season game, in which he definitely hit some road blocks (Interception for a touchdown, a dropped interception, a bad sack, fumble, and a touchdown pass), Clemens once again failed to finally seize a golden opportunity to be a starter in the NFL.

As a Jets fan - I can’t stop describing how unenthusiastic I am of Clemens. When the Jets first drafted him in the second round, I was livid that the Jets passed on blue-chip quarterbacks Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler in favor of the combo of D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Clemens. In 2007, when Pennington struggled throughout the year, Clemens failed to impress in his place, going 3-5 as a starter, with a passer rating of 60.9.

Although he did have a few good moments, including defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, and being a dropped touchdown by Justin McCareins away from potentially beating the Baltimore Ravens, I still couldn’t wrap my head around how unimpressive he was to watch or that he always holds on to the ball for a second too long. As icing to the cake, that season I attended the Jets home finale verses the Kansas City Chiefs, that pinned Clemens against Brodie Croyle- which was as pleasant as getting your wisdom teeth pulled.

As I joked on Twitter, Clemens reminds me a lot of Charlie Batch, which at this point, would be Clemens’ best case scenario in this league. At the beginning of 2008, everyone wanted Clemens to beat Pennington out for the starting job. After essentially losing that battle, it seemed as if Clemens was relieved that the team traded for Favre, letting him off the hook. Even that pre-season Clemens was heavily out-played by third stringer Brett Ratliff. In fact, as most Jets fans would agree, even if the Sanchez move didn’t happen, Clemens would have most likely lost the starting role to Brett Ratliff this pre-season anyways (Ratliff went to Cleveland in the Sanchez trade).

So when Rex Ryan finally names Mark Sanchez the Jets starting quarterback before the team’s season opener at Houston, it should be noted as another golden opportunity not taken by career back-up, Kellen Clemens.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don't Shoot the Messenger: 2009 Miami Dolphins Edition

The Miami Dolphins improved from 1-15 in 2007 to a playoff bound 11-5 record in 2008. A record 10 game swing! However, for Dolphins fans, I feel obligated to bear some bad news on why you should brace yourself for a non-playoff Dolphins season.

1) The Dolphins schedule strength last year was extremely favorable. Since the AFC East got to play both the lowly AFC West and NFC West, Miami’s opponents went a combined 118-138 (46%) in 2008. This year, the AFC East is slated to play both the AFC South and NFC South. For comparisons sake, the Miami Dolphins 2009 opponents went a combined 152-104 (59%) in 2008!

2) On top of the Dolphins implementing the trendy wild-cat offense (which has now spread across the league like the common cold), Miami was extremely successful in close-games with their easy record. You can argue that Miami had an overload of good karma, finishing 7-2 in games decided by 7 points or less. However, you could also argue (including me), that Miami did so well in close games because of their quarterback upgrade of Chad Pennington (from the 2008 combo of Cleo Lemon, John Beck, and Trent Green). However, as a Jets fan who has known Pennington since 2000 - comes my third and biggest red flag.

3) Before 2008, Chad Pennington has made the playoffs three times. In all three post-playoff years, Pennington has either played poorly, gotten injured, or all the above, going a combined 6-14 in those years. Pennington has proven he can’t put together two consecutive good seasons...and wouldn't you know, Pennington is coming off a great season.

So for Betting reasons - Do not take the Dolphins 15-1 to win the Conference or 11-2 to win the division. Also, take the under for wins at 8.0.

However, if there were odds that back-up Chad Henne will start some games this year for Miami, I would take those odds.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What to Look for in the Upcoming Week:

During the past eight years, the NFL has been the target of parity, with a total of 51 occasions (AFC: 24, NFC: 27) of a team making the jump to the playoffs, after a non-playoff year. To play the averages, that’s roughly 6.4 teams each year!

That means for the following 12 teams (Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, Miami, Pittsburgh, NY Giants, Carolina, Minnesota, Arizona, Atlanta, and Philadelphia), the odds are that at least five of those teams will miss the playoffs this upcoming season!

So for next week- expect lots of talk on who will take a step back, and which teams are poised to make the leap…

Stay Tuned!
Also: Make sure to leave comments, questions and to follow me on Twitter (Sean_Moroney).

My 2009 Sleeper Team and Break-Out Quarterback...

My 2009 sleeper revolves around one head-scratching quarterback competition that shouldn’t even be a competition in the first place.

Shaun Hill is currently battling it out with former 1st pick Alex Smith for the 49ers starting quarterback position. However, this competition is a clear-cut example of how perception can obstruct a team’s chances at winning. Shaun Hill is not a flashy quarterback, and doesn’t have a flashy name or pedigree. Yet, this guy remains completely under-the- radar despite making the 49ers a better team, and sneakily putting up good statistics in the process.

Let me explain. San Francisco has a record of 12-20 the past two seasons. In that span, the team is 7-3 when Shaun Hill starts and a horrid 5-17 when he doesn’t (including 2-5 when Alex Smith starts). That’s taking a 4 win team into almost 11 win territory! Excuses aside, the team clearly plays better with Hill.

This, on top of having semi-new, tough-guy coach (and former Super Tecmo Bowl great), Mike Singletary, in place, and playing in a very questionable division, makes the San Francisco 49ers my 2009 sleeper team, contingent on Shaun Hill winning the starting job that he clearly deserves.

Let's face it -the NFC West isn’t exactly the NFL’s elite. The St. Louis Rams are looking at a top 5 2010 Draft Pick with their atrocious quarterback situation, and Seattle and Arizona both have good quarterbacks (Matt Hasselbeck & Kurt Warner) --but would you feel 100% confident that these quarterbacks would last a full 16 game season at this point? Warner is 38 years old, and Hasselbeck is coming off of a serious back injury that derailed his 2008 season. So why not San Francisco?

On top of that, Shaun Hill is actually a great fantasy football sleeper pick. Currently, ESPN’s fantasy projections rank Hill the 25th best quarterback option for fantasy purposes. Hmm..

Let’s look at Hill’s numbers in his 10 career starts:

62% completion, 2,193 yards, 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, 87.95 passer rating

Let’s put those statistics into a 16 game season and see how his statistics would rank with 2008 quarterback statistics…

3,509 yards (11th) 25.6 touchdowns (7th), 14.4 interceptions, quarterback rating (10th).

For comparison’s sake: Alex Smith’s (11-19) career splits for a 16 game season look like this: 2,493 yards, 10.1 touchdowns, 16.5 interceptions, 63.5 passer rating.

What competition… right?

So my advice to the San Francisco 49ers: Name Shaun Hill your 2009 starter now, and don’t mess this up. Your team and my predictions are depending on it…

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009 Minnesota Vikings Season Feels Like Deja-vu

As everyone has heard by now, Brett Favre has signed with the Minnesota Vikings. As a Jets fan, this is oh too familiar, since roughly the same time last year, Favre signed with my home-town Jets under the same circumstances (except we had to trade for him).

I have to admit, at the time last year excitement was at an all-time high. Like the Vikings, there were still superior teams to overcome, but with Favre, anything seemed possible. Both Minnesota and the Jets had coaches (Brad Childress and Eric Mangini) who were clearly uncomfortable with their job status, and both had under-whelming quarterback situations prior to the Favre acquisition (Rosenfels/Jackson and Pennington/Clemens).

The similarities are eerily similar, and because of that, I felt obligated to mentally prepare Minnesota Vikings fans, on how you should expect the season to play out:

August/early September:
Tarvaris Jackson is traded to another team, and Favre looks pretty sharp during a few pre-season series. Fans say, “Tarvaris who?” as Favre Viking jerseys fly off the shelves.

September:
With a very-doable opening schedule of (@ Cleveland, @ Detroit, and home vs. San Francisco), Minnesota opens up at very optimistic record of 2-1.

October 5th: Favre’s first game against his old team, the Green Bay Packers.
Vikings play at a very high level and win a huge Monday Night Football game over their biggest NFC North competition, and are sitting at 3-1. The Vikings are on every possible ESPN Top 5 Power Rankings.

October 11th- November 1st:
After beating the lowly St. Louis Rams convincingly, the Vikings face the toughest part of the schedule (vs. Baltimore, @ Pittsburgh, @ Green Bay), which the Vikings end up going on a three- game skid. Favre’s shoulder does not look great in these games. Vikings go into their bye week at 4-4. Back-up Sage Rosenfels starts to get antsy on the sidelines.

Rest of November:
Vikings come out of their bye week strong, and win- three straight at home over the now-improved Lions team (with Stafford), a frisky Seattle team, and a tough Chicago team. The Vikings are looking like Super Bowl contenders.

December:
At 7-4, Minnesota splits their next two @ Arizona and home vs. Cincinnati, and goes on to play fellow contenders Carolina and Chicago on their turf. Favre does not look good, and Minnesota loses both, including a truly gut-wrenching loss to the Chicago Bears in the cold (which hurts tie-breaker scenarios for the Vikings).

Jan 3rd: In the last regular season game at Giants stadium, the Vikings at 8-7, need a win and help to have any chance at the playoffs. They do not get any help from the other games, but beat a Giants team that has already clinched the playoffs, finishing the season at 9-7. Fans collectively give a sarcastic curtain call.

January 4th- Vikings fan regret nothing. The season was still worth the risk, and Favre delivered on the excitement. For fantasy purposes, running back Adrien Peterson had a monster season.

January 5th- Brad Childress gets fired. Vikings fan’s collectively give high-fives all around and fist-pumps are at an all-time high since the end of November, or their October 5th victory over Green Bay. Childress' game management was questioned all-year and cost the Vikings about 2 or 3 games throughout the year.

January 6th- Brett Favre mulls retirement once again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Poor St. Louis Rams Fans...

Rams starting quarterback, Marc Bulger, is out for two weeks due to injuring his pinky. For the time being, the Rams are looking towards Kyle Boller to fill the void.

Now, I can’t stop but notice that the Rams are going into the season with possibly the worst quarterback situation in the entire league, and feel comfortable about it. In fact, I thought new coach Steve Spagnuolo was crazy not to draft a quarterback with a high pick in this past summer’s Draft.

As I mentioned in my Vick article, Bulger has a 4-23 record as a starter in the past two seasons, and he is 14-37 since 2005. Kyle Boller has proven to be an extremely bland, and mediocre quarterback with his career 20-22 record, and 71.9 passer rating. That leaves un-tested quarterbacks, Keith Null and Brock Berlin filling out the remaining quarterback depth chart on the roster.

Basically with their current quarterback situation, you can easily pencil in the Rams for a top 5 2010 Draft Pick, and the 2009 season will be wasted on quarterbacks whom we already know stink.

So why isn’t the team considering the possibility of trading for another quarterback? There are plenty of quarterbacks out there with talent and potential, who just so happened to fall out of favor with their current teams. Here are a few logical possibilities that the team could (and probably should) pursue:

Derek Anderson: If Brady Quinn wins the starting job for Cleveland, Anderson has proven to have some talent with his 2007 break-out season.

Troy Smith: If not for a pre-season injury, Smith would have started for the Baltimore Ravens last year.

Matt Leinart: Unfairly fell out of favor in Arizona. Leinart has a career 7-9 record, and has shown upside, especially in the fourth quarter of games.

Drew Stanton: With Stafford in the fold, this 2007 second round pick is not in Detroit’s plans for the future.

Tyler Thigpen: Thigpen put up pretty good statistics last year, despite only winning one game. Kansas City recently upgraded to Matt Cassel.

John David Booty: This former USC quarterback is currently the 3rd quarterback on Minnesota’s depth chart.

Billy Volek: After 2005, Volek seemed poised to be a starter in the NFL until Jeff Fisher shrewdly benched him for Kerry Collins. Volek has upside as seen in his fourth quarterback game-winning drive in the 2008 playoffs against the Colts.

Alex Smith: Shaun Hill will most likely win the starting job, leaving Smith expendable.

Seneca Wallace: Hasselbeck’s back-up in Seattle, Wallace has shown upside when given a chance.

Josh Johnson: Young quarterback who got lost in Tampa Bay’s overloaded quarterback situation.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Double Standard of the Weekend: Attn: Denver Fans

Kyle Orton had a terrible first-outing in his Denver debut. The guy he replaced, Jay Cutler, had an almost equally terrible first-outing himself with the Chicago Bears.

Directly after Orton's poor performance, there was a need for Orton’s status as a starter to be once again confirmed. Orton has also received zero support or confidence since the Cutler trade, even being booed by fans during practice. This, even after Cutler dissed Denver fans in favor of his new Chicago fans.

My question to Denver fans: What are you doing!?!?! Have confidence in your new quarterback. What was so great about Cutler anyway? Yes, he has a great arm. But he's also an extremely sensitive guy with questionable character, after demanding a trade because he was upset over being used as trade bait. He also hasn't actually proven that much on the football field...

To Denver fans: Remember when Cutler cost legendary coach Mike Shanahan his job? Remember when he took over a Jake Plummer led- 7-4 team in 2006 and proceeded to miss the playoffs?
In fact, Jay Cutler is 0-4 in games that would clinch the playoffs. You want to blame the defense last year- well what about his stinker fourth quarter performance in the Buffalo game last year which directly cost you the playoffs. Yes- he had two chances in the red-zone with the playoffs on the line, and blew it. He's not even smart enough to say his new team's fans (Chicago) are a 10, saying they're a 9 to Denver's 6.

To me, both Cutler and Orton had pretty average teams last year, and Orton won 9 games to Cutler's 8. In fact, Orton's career record is 21-12 compared to Cutler's 17-20. Cutler always was a loser, even in college going 11-34.
Stats and talent only go so far- especially when they don't actually lead to winning! Orton may not be flashy, but he isn't a drastic drop-off from Cutler as people like to think. Denver should at least try to embrace Orton, and say good riddance to Cutler.

I will probably go much more in-depth on this throughout the season, but no --I am not a fan of Jay Cutler. In fact, I am throwing out the nickname "Veal Cutler" since he's a baby.

...and until Cutler proves he's actually good, I agree with Stan and Kyle of South Park: "Nice to meet you. I mean, you kinda suck, but my dad says you might be good some day."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hints of a homer? Yes, my allegiances are with the...

J-E-T-S...

and yes, Mark Sanchez should start over Kellen Clemens.

I'll will write about Clemens in particular in an upcoming article....

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Internet Explodes: The Implications of the Vick Signing

As everyone in the world knows by now, Michael Vick signed a two-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles yesterday.

So what does this really mean? Well, first off, AJ Feeley went the night without sleep.

Secondly, the Eagles now have the best Plan B in the entire league if their starting quarterback goes down to injury.

Let’s do some hypothetical situations.

Obviously, nobody wishes an injury upon any player, and Eagles fans are hoping Donovan McNabb has an injury-free season. However, injuries do happen…

So what if…

…McNabb goes down in the preseason or very early in the regular season:
The Eagles will have two very logical options: 1) See what you have in Kevin Kolb or 2) Attempt to still be a contender and play Vick (if he’s ready).

In this situation, I would lean towards seeing if Kolb has any potential to be a legitimate starter in this league, and/or drive up his trade value if necessary.

…McNabb goes down for 2-3 games in the midst of a being in contention: Duh, Vick would probably be ready by then, and you play him. If Vick is anything like how we remember him two years ago, he’s still better than a lot of other NFL starting quarterbacks.

…McNabb goes down right before the playoffs: Same as above, this Vick signing is looking better and better!

Of course if the season goes down the tubes for the Eagles and the team is out of contention early- they should play Kevin Kolb. Game time experience is vital to any young quarterback, and organizations should want to see what kind of guy they drafted.

Either way, the Eagles are now much deeper at the quarterback position, and have added another offensive weapon to use in the trendy- wildcat offense.

Also, this has a lot of “Super Tecmo Bowl” potential with Vick bringing back the killer “QB Eagles” run- play. Vick has a career 7.3 yards per carry.

PLUS as an added bonus to Eagles fans - here's two potential nicknames for your newest player
1) The Verdict -or- 2) QB Eagles (see above). Everyone wins!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bold Predictions...

My 2009 sleeper team, break-out quarterback, and sleeper fantasy quarterback all revolve around this guy winning the starting job....

Details and proof coming soon...stay tuned

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Picking Sides: The Detroit Lions QB Battle

ESPN’s SportsNation Poll currently asks the question “Who should start for the Lions in Week 1?” The poll currently has Culpepper winning by a 56-44 margin over Matthew Stafford.

Also, ESPN’s John Clayton states here that “Logic says the job will go to veteran Daunte Culpepper."

My reaction to this? Baffled. Confused. Mad. Pity for those poor Detroit fans.

If Daunte Culpepper indeeds starts the season for the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Lions will remain the Detroit Lions.

Let me explain. First off, the Lions just went through a historically embarrassing 2008 season with zero wins. During that season, former dunder-head of a coach, Rod Marinelli, elected to bring in washed-up Daunte Culpepper, instead of giving young Drew Stanton a good look. Yes, this move was made in panic mode. Culpepper clearly looked washed up, and the Detroit Lions finished 0-16. Was anyone surprised? Not really.

Now, Culpepper is entering his 11th season, and he only has one winning season to show for it. On that note, Culpepper hasn’t had a winning season in 9 years. He’s only 41-54 as a starter, and is an awful 5-17 since 2005! So not only is Culpepper washed up, but was he even that great to begin with (not counting fantasy football)? Not really.

So why would Detroit waste their time with Culpepper? The team just drafted a new face of the franchise, and gave him a $72 million dollar contract. Let the kid play!

The scheme of having a rookie quarterback or a shaky one remains the same: staying conservative, and cutting down on risk. The Lions still need to be protective of Culpepper, because.. you know, he stinks! Plus, why waste precious game-time experience for Stafford, when you’re going to lose anyways with Culpepper?

I love the fact that Matthew Stafford has stated he wants to play right away, and if new coach Jim Schwartz really wants to change the Lions culture of losing, he needs to embrace the new (Stafford), and forget about the losers (Culpepper).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mulligan of the Week: starring Matt Schaub

Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN.com writes “Matt Schaub has established himself as a leader. But if he wants to become an elite quarterback, he needs to take the Texans to the playoffs.”

Hmm- Talk about a stretch.

First of all, “already established himself as a leader”? Huh? What am I missing here?

Let’s go over Schaub’s career:

He’s missed five games in each of the last two years.

His career record is 10-14 as a starter. For comparisons sake, Rex Grossman is 19-12.

He’s a terrible 2-10 on the road the last two seasons!

True signs of a leader, right?

Even Sage Rosenfels (6-4) has had a better starting record than Schaub the last two years with the same exact team.

So don’t tell me Schaub is a playoff appearance away from being considered an elite quarterback. Also, why is Chadiha throwing out the word “elite” so loosely? There are 32 starting quarterbacks each year. 12 of those quarterbacks (37.5%) make the playoff. Are the top 37.5% of the league considered elite? Not really.

Save the elite status for guys like Brady, Peyton, and Roethlisberger.

Basically, Matt Schaub has a career much like former quarterback Rob Johnson. Johnson, like Schaub, was a back-up quarterback, who turned some good stats in some not-so meaningful games, into another team overpaying to trade for him. Johnson, like Schaub, was inconsistent, injury-prone, and has had people questioning if he’s even the best quarterback on his team.

So to Jeffri Chadiha, this article should read more as: “Matt Schaub hasn't really established himself as a a decent quarterback yet, so if he wants to stay a starter in this league, he needs to finally stay healthy and take the Texans to the playoffs.”

Monday, August 10, 2009

Paging Dr. Common Sense: Vick Should Have More Options Than You Think

We all heard from Tony Dungy stating Michael Vick has plenty of interested teams. And we also recently heard Green Bay might have some interest (despite not being a great fit, since they already have a ton of young quarertbacks).

However, what team would fit Vick the best? He obviously has talent (38-28-1 career record), and despite being out of football for two years, he’s still probably better than some starters, and most back-up quarterbacks in the league. So let’s go over his best options.

First, let’s cancel out all the teams that play in cities which rank in DogFriendly.com’s Top 10 Cities to Visit With Your Dog, as pointed out by Mike Sando at ESPN.com.

That cancels out San Francisco, Dallas, Carolina, Chicago, San Diego, NY Giants, NY Jets, and Detroit. That leaves 24 teams, and wouldn’t you know it, he would fit nicely into at least nine of them.

If Vick came back in a back-up role, he would be a great option if the team’s starter went down with an injury, especially if the team is still competitive. Vick is no doubt a better option than the collections of stiffs the following four teams are shelling out as second-stringers.

New Orleans: Vick > Mark Brunell/Joey Harrington

Buffalo: Vick > Ryan Fitzpatrick

Cincinnati: Vick > J.T. O’Sullivan

Jacksonville Vick > Cleo Lemon

Also- you could certainly make a case for Philadelphia (Kolb), and New England (O’Connell), especially if these teams just need to keep a float for 2 or 3 games due to an injury.

Not only that- Vick is a better option as a starter for the following three NFC teams:

Tampa Bay: Even though the Bucs have about 87 quarterbacks on their roster, Tampa Bay fans cannot possibly be comfortable with the Byron Leftwich, Luke McNown situation. You’re telling me either of those guys are better than Vick? It hurts my head that Tampa has two blue-chippers (Josh Johnson, and Josh Freeman), whom they are not even considering as an option right now. What a waste of time for the organization.

Minnesota: Childress whiffed on Favre, and is stuck with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. Childress is a rash, drastic coach (can I add dumb?) who lives on the hot seat, so why not take a flyer on Vick? Vick not playing for two years is still an upgrade over the Jackson/Rosenfels disaster combo. I wish Minnesota just started the JD Booty era already!

St. Louis: Vick’s best option. Let’s face it - St. Louis is going to stink this year. For some reason, they are set on Marc Bulger being their starter this year. Yes- they ARE ignoring the fact that Bulger stinks (4-23 in the last two seasons and 14-37 since 2005), and their back-up is Kyle Boller. You’re not telling me Vick wouldn’t be a good option here? Think about it this way: would you trade a bag of feces for what’s behind door number 2? Hmmm…

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Site, New Book Coming Soon

My new book "Pro Quarterback Manifesto: Enter The Fourcade" will be coming out soon. In the meantime, I will be posting updates and articles via this new website (blog). Enjoy and please comment.

-Sean Moroney