Friday, April 18, 2014

NFL Pre-Draft Thoughts: April 18th

Supply and Demand

How Wide Receiver Became the NFL's Most Employable Position



The Effects of Regulation

Enron. Tyco International. WorldCom. 

Three of the worst corporate frauds in history occurred within an 18 month span, sending the financial markets into a death spiral. The general public lost any faith remaining in Wall Street and white collar society. Reckless decisions and almighty avarice destroyed investor portfolios and wiped out employee pension plans. Penniless in the streets we cry.

Greedy, ruthless bastards.


In response President George W. Bush signed into law The Sarbanes Oxley Act on June 30th, 2002. "SOX" required executive management to bear responsibility for all information presented on company financial statements. Despite accounting's dominant role in the fraudulent activity, legislation dramatically raised the global need for accountants in a sick twist of irony. The SEC and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board raised overall audit requirements. The sun rose and firms couldn't hire enough bean counters. Accountants suddenly became the pretty girl everyone wanted to ask to prom, even though most of them were too nerdy to attend their own.

Speaking of nerds, one particularly handsome man strikes a cord in the hearts of NFL fans everywhere. Some remember him from his legendary battles with a meat head named Sean Salisbury(I mean his last name was a friggin STEAK) Others refer to him as "The Professor." I personally like to think of him as a prophet.



"The league's enforcement of illegal contact will have a huge impact this season. More teams will have the ability to passfor 4,500 yards. Games will be higher scoring."

-John Clayton 2004

The NFL saw a 6% increase year over year in total passing yards for 2004. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

*QBs (position players omitted)

llegal Contact Rule Enforced in 2004

"Defenseless Receiver" rule enacted during 2011

  • Total passing yards increased by nearly 20% over the 10 year period.
  • TPY increased every year except for 2005 & 2007.
  • Before 2004, only Dan Marino accumulated a 5,000 yard passing season. (1984)
  • Since 2004, NFL QBs have thrown for 5,000 yards 7 times.
    • Brees(08',11',12',13'), Manning(13'), Brady(11'), Stafford(12')


Brain damage, like corporate fraud, is not for the faint of heart. Big wigs across NFL front offices feared the financial reaper heading for their pocket books and renowned reputations. Surely they heard the horror stories. Whispers of Super Bowl Shuffle winning quarterback Jim McMahon suffering from early stages of onset dementia and struggling to find his keys in the morning. Numerous former players taking their own lives due to the darkness of depression. Rumors began to swirl about when the league actually knew about the negative effects of concussions and why they chose to do sit and do nothing. It was time to act and act in a big way. And so began the most aggressive 10 years of regulation in NFL history.

2004's enforcement of illegal contact prohibited a defensive back from grabbing, touching, or physically berating a receiver farther than 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. Rule 12 Section 1 in the NFL's Code of Conduct fully describes the nature of "illegal contact", but the regulation actually first appeared in 1978. The lack of enforcement allowed Ronnie Lott and other hall of fame defensive backs to crush receivers up and down the field before the ball was in the air. After five yards, receivers can now run free leading to more offense and in theory less chance for player injury. It was a win-win in the eyes of every quarterback, wide receiver, and offensive coordinator.

More points, more yards, more fun for everybody right?

The "Defenseless Receiver"


September 1st, 2006.

Exit Paul Tagliabue. Enter Roger Goodell. 


In his own words, Roger Goodell likes "protecting the shield". For Goodell, protecting the NFL is about fostering the league's integrity, maintaining its tremendous domestic brand, and stretching the game into un-chartered global waters.  In the face of an 18,000 player lawsuit and intense media scrutiny, Goodell demonstrated his passion for the game's integrity. So much so that he decided to instill further regulation.

Definition of a Defenseless Player (December 27, 2011)

It is a foul if a player initiates unnecessary contact against a player who is in a defenseless posture
(2) A receiver attempting to catch a pass; or who has completed a catch and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a runner. If the receiver/runner is capable of avoiding or warding off the impending contact of an opponent, he is no longer a defenseless player;

Rules are often controversial in nature, but rarely are they so subjective. If you ask 10 former players to define a "defenseless posture", I'm betting you will hear 10 diverse responses. Referees began whistling defenseless receiver calls during the 2011 season. From 2010 to 2011, the NFL experienced another significant increase of 3.56% total passing yards YOY. It may be hard to define causation, but there is certainly correlation. Safeties and corners are now less willing to hit receivers high leading to some gruesome lower body injuries.

Make no mistake, I am huge proponent of player safety. To Goodell's credit, the NFL experienced a 13% decrease in concussions this season.  I certainly don't want to see my childhood heroes go the tragic way of Junior Seau. Here's to hoping for another concussion decrease in 2014.

Now Hiring


This year's wide receiver class is the deepest and most talented group in recent memory. Sammy Watkins is a home run and a can't miss prospect.  Mike Evans displays shades of a smaller, faster version of Jimmy Graham every time he touches the football. Marquise Lee and Brandin Cooks are burners that will take the top off of secondaries at the next level. Odell Beckham Jr. is an explosive and powerful talent considering his stature. And those are just a few of the marquee names. ESPN's Mel Kiper projects there could be as many as 8 wideouts selects in the first round of this year's draft.

But even if these guys sucked, it wouldn't matter. Scouts and GMs would still salivate at their "potential." Why? Because someone has to catch passes from quarterbacks who now throw the ball 50 times a game. Someone has to rack up yards and touchdowns so freely given, and so freely taken. Talk about a market need.


Wide Receivers in the modern era are like accountants. Ever so employable.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Pre-Combine Thoughts

The #1 Pick

 
 

The Houston Texans were perhaps the NFL's biggest disappointment in 2013. Correction: They WERE the league's biggest disappointment. In fact, it wasn't even close.

Houston opened the year as the league's 7th best team according to the ESPN's Power Ranking system. Where did they finish you ask? Dead. Last.




2012 Season: 12-4 regular season. Wild Card victory against Cincinatti.
                       Divisional Round Loss to New England.


2013 Season: 2-14 Regular Season. 14 straight losses.

Casualties: Gary Kubiak, Ray Marciano, Wade Phillips, Rick Dennison, Matt Schaub ability's to throw the ball to his own team.

Complete List of Terminations


How could a unit with so much supposed talent, so much promise, find themselves free falling to bowels of the NFL? As a Houston native I've stayed up many nights crying into my pillow a la Tobais Funke wondering the exact same thing. In summary many aging players who did not deserve lofty contracts(Schaub, Foster, Reed, Walter) inked huge deals and underperformed mightily. The lack of cap space proved deadly, leading to the departure of Mike Brisel and most notably right tackle Eric Winston. The importance of the offensive line cannot be understated. Injuries ensued and an offensive scheme appeared dated. If you are a self-loathing Texans fan my boy Bill Barnwell has you covered with more details. Barnwell is the G.O.A.T.

But for the rest of us after any bad breakup, it's time to move on.

Make no mistake, this is a destitute team with many issues and numerous needs. One draft selection will NOT make this team a contender or even a postseason threat. But as much as any other professional sports league, the #1 pick in the NFL is a powerful beast. Don't believe me? Have a sip of this.

(Per +NFLStats)

Hall of Famer's Selected by Round:

1st: 102
2nd: 32
3rd: 21
4th: 8
5th: 6
6th: 1
7th: 9
8th or more 26
Undrafted: 15

Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Orlando Pace, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, John Elway, Earl Campbell, Jim Plunkett, Bruce Smith, Bo Jackson, O.J. Simpson, Chuck Bednarik.

All #1 Overall Picks.

Tim Couch, Jamarcus Russell, Courtney Brown, Ryan Leaf, Ki-Jana Carter, and last but not least David Carr.

All #1 Overall Picks.

The #1 overall pick boasts more leverage than any financial instrument an investment bank can offer. It's for many teams the first step to super bowl glory, but for other organizations another mistake that sets their franchise back another 5 years. When a #1 overall pick misses coaches are fired, GMs are replaced, and fans are left with bitter tastes in their mouths.

Trey Wingo echoed it best on Twitter yesterday by stating "In the NFL, there is no offseason."

Every day is an opportunity to improve or retrograde. Just as the new Texans coaching staff(THE HOUSTON PATRIOTS) is working intensely to make their mark in the AFC South, as am I. Here are the three primary routes for the Texans to travel in the Bill O'Brien era.

*Assessments to change post combine/pro-day workouts

1. Blake Bortles



I firmly believe O'Brien has found his gunslinger of the future in Blake Bortles. Media reports are swirling that the Texans are closing in on two QB's, presumably Manziel or Bortles.

Blake Bortles has deep ties to O'Brien. Last season at Central Florida, Bortles led UCF to a 27-20 win against O'Brien's Penn State University. The Texans HC got an up close and personal look at the physical and cerebral abilities of Bortles and was impressed to say the least.

Here's what O'Brien had to say regarding Bortles in his opening presser as Texans HC:

“I was able to see Blake Bortles up-close because we played Central Florida at Penn State and they beat us.  He was a smart player. An accurate passer. A guy that could do a lot of different things.  You could tell he was really a student of the game.  He’s a good football player.”

George O'Leary, Bortles college coach at UCF, first hired Bill O'Brien as a graduate assistant in 1995 at Georgia Tech. (Irish Much?)

O'Brien and O'Leary

O'Brien also recently hired George Godsey to serve as Houston's QB coach. Godsey developed a rapport with O'Brien when he coached along side him in New England.(TE's coach)  Oh and did I forget to mention Godsey coached at the University of Central Florida until 2008, Bortles' first season on campus as red shirt freshman? You can't make this stuff up.

Sure there are some strange relational connections between Bortles and O'Brien, but are these legitimate reasons to draft him at the #1 overall pick? No, but Bortles skill set, physical ability, and style of play are reasons to either trade down and draft him or select him before everyone else.

O'Brien's offense is the poster child of a modern day "pro style" attack. He uses multiple tight end sets and loves to use the fullback in the running game. In a league where many full backs are disappearing from rosters due to the integration of the spread, O'Brien still enjoys sending a run blocker in motion.

Running his variation of the pro style requires a heady quarterback who is able to make many checks at the line. His system is "highly complicated." In New England he worked with a future hall of famer in Tom Brady. He won't have that luxury this time around. But he did refer to Bortles as a "student of the game."

Bortles' physical attributes equate to O'Brien's offense better than Manziel's. Bortles is 4 inches taller and possesses a more traditional quarterback style in comparison to Manziel's erratic and often spectacular style of improvisation. Manziel's ability to thrive in a spread offense may make him better suited in Cleveland. (But more on that later)

Bortles Full Game Highlights @ Penn State




Game Winning Drive @ Louisville ^


Trent Dilfer believes one of the most important traits found in a successful NFL quarterback is "competitive poise". Competitive poise is hard to quantity but think of it as the ability to maintain your entire emotional capacity while increasing your competitive edge. Quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck rarely change their facial expressions or berate their teammates for screwing up in pressure situations. When tensions are high it's easy for human beings to lose their sense of poise. Instead these players look within themselves to take responsibility for their team's wins and losses in crunch time. Competitive poise is one of the main qualities I look at in quarterback evaluations.

 Bortles embodies the very essence of this quality. Leading comeback wins against South Carolina, Memphis, Louisville, Temple, and Baylor, Bortles does not waver in moments of pressure. When the moment gets bigger, so does his level of play. He often throws errant passes but manages to move to the next play quickly. He possesses the rare ability to put mistakes in the rear view.

Physically he is the most gifted signal caller in the 2013 class. At 6'4 240 pounds scouts have said he resembles Andrew Luck when moving in and out of the pocket. He is no where near as polished as Luck as far as throwing the ball down field to open receivers. UCF's offense relied on many quick outs and wide receiver screens so the combine will help us know more about his ability to throw the ball down the middle of the field accurately and effectively.


2. Jadeveon Clowney

 


The smart money may be found in drafting Jadaveon Clowney. At least the owner's money is.

 McNair Envisions Watt & Clowney Tandem

The dude defines the word FREAK. If Clowney tests anywhere near where I think he's capable at the combine, he will shatter records of size and speed. Many people say he has a lack of worth ethic citing his dismal Junior season and overall demeanor. What if Clowney was merely sleep walking with his eyes on NFL glory? He's predicted "amazing" numbers for himself and is saying he "should be the #1 pick."

A Watt and Clowney tandem in the 4-3 as edge rushers would unbearable for opposing offensive lines. Watt's sternness and laser focus on perfection could inspire Clowney to reach his full potential. The great way to negate a future HOF QB in Andrew Luck is to put him on his backside.
Clowney just may be the Texans #1 overall pick if Bortles performs poorly in March.

3. Johnny Manziel



 Certain athletes evoke emotions of love and hatred in the same breath. Johnny Manziel is one of the chosen few.

"Johnny Football" is more than just a quarterback. He's a brand. When you are friends with Drake, you lose the right to be called a student athlete. Sitting courtside at Miami Heat games. On a first name basis with Lebron James. Swagger through the roof. Not a bad life, kid.

Forget the fame and controversy let's talk about that action boss. What Manziel was able to accomplish at the collegiate level was astonishing. 


He followed up his Heisman winning freshman season with 4114 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only 13 interceptions. Coupling that with 800 yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground, these are almost video game numbers.

His performance against Alabama sticks out in my mind reflecting on his sophomore campaign. Against the country's best defense Manziel was unstoppable. Time and time again he led A&M's offense down the field at will. That day he told the world I am a legitimate NFL prospect.

I believe Manziel is poised for success at the next level. Whether that success is short lived or long lasting is another story entirely. His style of play may be to the detriment of his physical being. Then again his build is very compact at 6'1 210 similar to Russell Wilson's thickness. I wish him success and tremendous health and hope he can learn to protect his body at the next level.

When I watch Manziel escape the pocket as he spins to his left, I see shades of Tony Romo. What Manziel needs is a coach to adapt to his style, not the latter. His skill set is rare.

Manziel to Cleveland makes sense to me. Kyle Shanahan is the new OC in town and he lit the world on fire with a variation of the pistol/zone-read with a mobile quarterback named Robert Griffin III.

Wade Phillip's told the Texans before he exited the door they should draft Johnny Football.

Could you imagine Manziel in a Texans uniform? The amount of revenue the Texans could generate off a ticket and jersey sales from the local A&M base would be some AUTOGRAPH STACKS.


Key Upcoming Dates:

  • NFL Combine (February 19-25)
  • Free Agency Period Begins (March 11th)
  • NFL Annual Meeting (March 23rd-26th)
  • 2014 NFL Draft (May 8th-10th)






Sunday, September 22, 2013

Beating the Spread week 3



SD + 3

CLE +7

DAL - 4

TB + 7

WAS + 1

GB - 3

NYG - 2

BUF + 3

SEA - 19

DEN -15

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fan Duel Line up





Want to make an easy buck using your weekly match up skills? Look no further than Fan Duel. You can play heads up matches or large field tournaments with 20 participants for a bigger score. They match whatever you deposit up to $200. Take advantage of the free money the site will provide and begin letting your fantasy skills start paying bills.

line up rules: Line up is salary based allotted 60,000 in salary to disperse across QB RB RB WR WR WR TE DEF K.

QB



I'm going with Vick for 8,100 - Luck is a very tempting at home vs Oakland for 8,500 but Im saving 400 and siding with Vick on Monday night in what looks to be a shoot out in the making vs WAS.

RB



David Wilson 7,700 - He's set to explode with the injury to Andre Brown and the first victim is Dallas. Ranking 22nd against the run last year opportunity is knocking for Wilson as they haven't done much in the offseason to sure up the front 7.



Jamaal Charles 8,300 - The Jags were 30th against the run last year and Jamaal Charles has a career 5.8 ypc.... The Chiefs should also be playing with a lead for much of the game leading to more carries and check down throws for Mr. Check down himself Alex Smith. Massive potential in this match up

WR



Julio Jones 8,000 - Playing a defense that was historically bad last season and continues to look lost thus far from preseason play. The game also has the highest scoring potential of any week 1 match ups and with Roddy White returning from a sprained ankle more targets could be in line for Jones who could easily be the number one WR scorer week 1.



Pierre Garcon 6,200 - RGIIIs much anticipated debut at home on Monday night will have an electric feel. The skins and RGIII will be pumped with adrenaline and ready to explode. Garcon will be a target monster in the "X" position in the offense. Finally healthy again (for now) Garcon holds massive potential week 1 in a high scoring affair.



Cecil Shorts 6,300 - A target monster as the teams clear go to WR with Blackmon suspended. Although not a great match up Shorts is one of the most talented WRs in the league. Give him the targets and watch him score.

TE



Jordan Cameron 4,900 - Probably the best buy their is week 1. Cameron is in a very TE friendly offense that has produced career years for Greg Olsen Kellen Winslow JR and Antonio Gates. Cameron with Jimmy Graham skills is next in line and with Josh Gordon suspended the first two weeks he will be the focal point of the passing attack. Did you see his 2 TD preseason debut? J-Cam is ready to rock.

DEF

IND 5,000 - They are at home versus what looks to be the worst offense in the league with an erratic QB making just his 2nd career NFL start. They are a cheap buy but definite top 10 play.

K

Adam Vinatieri - Dome kicker on a very efficient based offense with top 5 potential playing quite possibly the worst defense in the league. He will be needing to ice his foot after the game from all the work


Well there's my fan duel line up. Good luck guys I hope you all jump aboard and have fun taking home weekly cash playing fantasy football on Fan Duel.