Thursday, January 20, 2011

Will Sam Bradford take a step back or forward?

Sam Bradford
The Rams hired Josh McDaniels yesterday as their new Offensive Coordinator. He replaces Pat Shurmur, who got hired in Cleveland as the Head Coach; I think Mike Holmgren wanted to get more involved in the coaching of the team that’s why he hired someone from his “coaching tree”, basically someone who won’t object to his interference. McDaniels has a history of working with QBs like Brady and Cassel and improving their game. He is regarded as one of the great young offensive minds in the NFL. It was reported that he wanted control of the entire offense so he can do as he pleases; I hope Steve Spagnuolo, the Head Coach of the Rams, is smart enough to keep the “young genius” on a short leash and not let him get involved in any personnel decisions. Our Josh had complete control in Denver and in no time he gutted that team and left it in ruins. Good luck Elway with that project! As long as McDaniels sticks to Xs and Os he should be good. I have read a few comments made by “specialists” in the business, regarding Mcdaniels’ hire, saying that Sam Bradford will take a step back in his development as a QB because of the system change; that the system McDaniels likes to run is a lot different than the one he played in this year. Dilfer my friend, take it easy bro! I think you have been watching too much film lately and you can’t even see what’s in front of you. If we look back 2 years or more, we will see Bradford in college playing in a spread system, in the shotgun most of the time with 3,4 and 5 receiver sets. McDaniels asks his QB to do a lot of the same things Bradford is already used to doing. Josh McDaniels will have a lot more success in St. Louis than in Denver because the QB he is working with is a lot more mobile and better than the one he had in Denver, the running back is a lot better and now he doesn’t have to run a franchise, just DO HIS JOB, the way Belichick taught him. I think Sam Bradford will actually take a step forward and not back the way others predict. If the Rams add some wide receivers to the mix during the draft or free agency they will be a lot stronger offensively than this year. After the first year, the game will slowdown for Bradford and he has plenty of time to learn the new terminology in the offseason and training camp. Let’s not forget, he was a rookie this year and last year this time he was getting ready for the Draft, always doing something. Now, he can reflect on the season, take some time off and learn the new playbook. McDaniels needs to ease him along, not overwhelm him with information, so he can grow, develop and be a good QB for a long time in the NFL.

Is Vince Young an elite QB?

Vince Young
Vince Young is an elite Quarterback; Stop the presses! We need to include this article in tomorrow’s paper. Who said he is an elite QB? Ohhhhhh……he did? Vince, Vince, Vince, why do you have to put your foot in your mouth and say a stupid thing like that. As far as I know, you don’t even have a job in the NFL right now; you are not even a backup or even on a roster. What did you do to become an elite QB? Throw your pads and equipment in the stands? I don’t think the true elite QBs like Brady or Manning make a habit of throwing their “heavy duty” gear in the stands. I think I know what’s going on here; I think you go home every night and put on the tape of the National Championship game you won when you were at Texas and marvel at your abilities thinking you are an elite QB. Vince! You were an elite College QB, you are not and I repeat, you are not an elite QB in the NFL, you are not even a very good one. When the Titans selected you in the Draft and paid you a lot of money, you became a professional, or at least you were suppose to; you entered a different stage of your life, one with responsibilities and accountability, you are not the Big Man on Campus anymore. Many players say that Coach Fisher is very easy to get along with and it’s true; you have to realize he is not your dad but your boss, or at least he was. Do you know the meaning of the word constant? I will tell you, it is something or someone not changing or varying, uniform, regular, invariable, continual, persistent and steadfast. That’s what you have to be in order to even have a chance of being successful at the QB position in the NFL. Were you constant when you disappeared and no one knew where you were? Were you constant when you got into that altercation in the club? Come on Vince! An elite QB? In the interview you had with Marcellus Wiley of ESPN you said a lot of good things, but not this one. We want you to be confident in your abilities, but when you say stuff like: I will be in the Hall of Fame and I will win the Super Bowl, it makes you sound a little cuckoo, especially when you haven’t accomplished anything in the NFL. So, my advice to you is to keep your mouth shut as much as you can, work hard, say and do all the right things and when you get another chance to play QB in the NFL, work your butt off, study like crazy and don’t wear your emotions on your sleeve; and the most important thing BE CONSTANT! I know you are not a bad kid; look in the mirror and see what’s in front of you, not behind you (the Tv with the National Championship game on) and always be humble and hungry for success. Good Luck Vince and I want you to know I will be cheering for you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Musgrave is a Viking!

This is going to be a quick one. Bill Musgrave was hired today to be the Vikings’ Offensive Coordinator. I had a post about the possibility of Musgrave leaving yesterday and I am very surprised he left Atlanta for Minnesota. He doesn’t have a QB that he can lean on, but I guess who needs a QB when you have Adrian Peterson. Maybe the Vikings believe in Joe Webb and his development or they are thinking of drafting one. It seems I underestimated Musgrave’s desire to advance his career or maybe the money was too much to turn down. Based on how fluid the coaching jobs are in the NFL I don’t know if this promotion is a move up in the true sense of the word. I am always up for a challenge but this situation seems a little strange because you are dealing with a lot of uncertainty; the head coach is in his first year as the head man, there is the stadium issue, the team in general is ageing and yeah the QB situation. I wish him the best and I hope he didn’t make the wrong decision.

Falcons’ Offense Needs to Evolve!

Otto Greule / Getty Images
For the last 3 years the Falcons’ offense looked virtually the same, except for a lot of window dressing which created a bit of confusion for the teams that weren’t very good.  They ran the ball on a consistent basis and that was the backbone of this offense; the Falcons go as Michael Turner goes.  On several occasions, Atlanta put out 4 and 5 receiver sets and the ball was thrown to the same 2 guys: Roddy White and Michael Jenkins.  I think they are becoming too predictable and their offensive scheme doesn’t pose problems to opposing teams.  The Falcons were successful this year because: they were the least penalized team in the league – they are disciplined, they were in the top 3 on 3rd down conversions, they didn’t turn the ball over and they are well coached.  Their success is not related to their talent level as much as their effort and work ethic.  The Falcons have a long way to go in the personnel department and I am sure Thomas Dimitroff is working on that very thing.  Because of the players available, the coaches have to create a game plan that plays to the strengths of those players and conceals the weaknesses of the team.  Coach Smith wants to run the ball, control the clock and keep the defense on the side lines because he knows what personnel he is working with.  They were exposed in the last game with Green Bay and it became very clear why some of the strategies we saw during the season were in place.  In this coming Draft the Falcons have a lot of needs to fill and if they want to be successful next year the organization has to be active in free agency.  If Atlanta wants to be successful next year, needs Mike Mularkey to open up the back half of the playbook and mix it up a little. It all leads back to the O-line needs and we can talk all we want about changes, but until the right personnel is in place the coaches can’t do anything.  They can’t change who they are on offense until the defense is fixed.  If the Falcons want post-season success in the next year or two, they need to be aggressive in free agency and hit big on their first 3 selections in the Draft.  The ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl and bring to Atlanta the Lombardi trophy; the window of opportunity for this team started to open and they have to move diligently in creating that Super Bowl contender.  Success in this league is hard to achieve, but to sustain that success year in and year out is incredibly difficult, just ask the Saints and the last few Super Bowl winning teams.  The Falcons are on the right track and I am sure if they persevere with consistency and effort they will succeed.

Does Michael Vick deserve a new contract?

Michael Vick
Does he? Based on his play on the field many might be inclined to say yes; others are saying that he should be the MVP and consider the above question insulting. When he started for the Eagles he showed the new and improved Michael, he dazzled everyone with his quickness and some big plays, he said all the right things and Vick 2.0 was on top of the world. Fast forward a few weeks and we find our “hero” either hurt and warming the bench or struggling because now the Defensive Coordinators have tape on him and they can game plan to stop him. I am not trying to say he is not a better player than he was in Atlanta, of course he is! He actually studies the position now and not playing on his cell phone during meetings. I am sure prison did change him a little, it would have “changed” me too; if I were stupid enough to throw my life away for dog fighting. Please tell me, how bored do you have to be to say ok, what am I going to do today? Fight dogs with my friends or study the linebacker tendencies in a 3-4 defense. Hmmm…….I think I will go with the first option. But enough about the past, we are a country of second chances and we are ready to forgive and forget, well maybe not forget yet. I know one thing, it takes a whole life to build a character and only a few minutes to destroy it. Once destroyed, one has to work twice as hard in the rebuilding process because this time around one doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt. Here we are full circle back to football; if I were a GM in the league I would give him a new short term contract written in such a way to keep him motivated and on his toes at all times. The QB job in the NFL is not a 9 to 5 job and after that you can do whatever you want; it’s a 24 hour job 365 days a year and I don’t think Vick is capable of doing that. Anyone can see his ability, but what I’m concerned with is what drives him, what makes him tick. Now he is on a mission to get to the top once more and when he gets there he will begin to coast again. I don’t think he realizes that once you get to the top of the mountain you have to keep climbing, it’s not over there, it’s never over. If the Eagles give him a big contract with a lot of guaranteed money, I believe he will turn back into the original Vick that thought everyone was out to get him at every press conference. It was him against the world all the time. I hope I’m wrong, I hope this is the greatest comebacks of all time, I hope we can look back 20 years from now and say: he was unbelievable on the field and off the field, he truly changed and now serves as an example for all of us.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is Musgrave Leaving?

Bill Musgrave, Matt Ryan / Getty Images
It is January and the coaching carousel is in full swing.  Multiple sources are reporting that Bill Musgrave, the Falcons assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach, is scheduled to interview with the Browns and the Vikings for the Offensive Coordinator position.  The Rams have also asked permission to talk to Musgrave about their OC opening.  I look at this news and I wonder if he will leave if offered the job in Cleveland, Minnesota or St. Louis; it will be a small step up the ladder and maybe an increase in pay but my question would be: Is it worth it?  You would be going from a franchise that is on its way up, a franchise with a stable foundation that has a bright future to a rebuilding program.  In order to succeed in the NFL you need a good QB and a good supporting cast.  When I look at Cleveland and Minnesota I don’t see a QB that can help them be a contender next year or in the future.  You would say the Rams have a good young QB and I wouldn’t disagree with you, but are you willing to go to a program where you will have growing pains and help a 2nd year QB grow? or will you stay in Atlanta and rip the benefits of the growing pains you endured the last 3 years?  These are questions only Bill Musgrave can answer.  If I were to guess, I would say he either stays in Atlanta or he takes the Rams job if offered.  I do not think the other two jobs are very appealing.  If the money is the biggest issue I am sure Mr. Blank will take care of him so he can stay with the Falcons and keep the staff intact.

Falcons’ Defense: A Work In Progress

GA Dome / Jimmy Cribb

Before I start talking about the defense I need to get something of my chest:  I am sick and tired of listening to clueless Atlanta fans calling the local sports talk radio programs and whining about their hearts being broken by the Falcons.  They had such high hopes for this team, they saw them in the Super Bowl, this team was ready to break through, and so on and so on……COME ON MAN!!!!!  For goodness sake people! Please put down the Pom Poms, take a step back, look at what’s in front of you and then if you still feel that way open your mouth and talk.  The first time the Falcons played the Packers the Falcons played a very very good game (Matt Ryan was great – only had 4 or 5 incompletions and zero interceptions, Michael Turner played great – he had 110 rushing yards, the Defense was better than last Saturday), the Packers didn’t have a great game and with all that said Atlanta escaped with a victory courtesy of a last minute field goal.  I am a football fan first and a Falcons’ fan second and I knew it would take a special effort by the Falcons coupled with some mistakes by Green Bay in order for Atlanta to move on to the NFC Championship. Now that I unloaded that burden, let’s take a look at the Defense and see where we need to improve so we won’t get bounced in the first round next year.
n  The Falcons need to upgrade the D-line, especially the DE position.  The Predator #55 is getting long in the tooth and when teams game plan for him the Falcons don’t seem to get much pressure on the QB with just a 4 man front.  Atlanta better find an impact player at the DE position in the Draft or through free agency or next year it will be more of the same.  I am sure JA #55 can play a couple more years and be productive if he has a limited snap count and he is always fresh.  During that time, he can mentor the young DEs we have on the roster and teach them the tricks of the trade.
n  As far as the line backers go we have to be a little patient and see what we have in Sean Weatherspoon next year and go forward from there.  I understand this position needs to be upgraded as well (LB) but there are more pressing needs in the Secondary.
n  Atlanta tried to improve the Secondary by bringing in Daunta Robinson from the Texans and yes he is an upgrade over Chris Houston but for the money he makes he should be an impact player on the defense.  I don’t know if it’s all that time he missed in training camp or because it’s his first year in this system but he is not producing the way the fans and I am pretty sure the management expected.  He only had one interception the whole season and that came in garbage time, the last game of the regular season with the Panthers.  On the other side we have Brent Grimes, the best athlete on the team, who plays much bigger than his size.  If he were at least 6 feet tall he would be one of the best cover corners in the league.  Christopher Owens -- poor him; he was hugging the Green Bay receivers in the End Zone repeatedly, in one instance even when the safety was not more than 5 feet away from him.  As Deion Sander says: “Know your coverage!”  The Falcons need to bring in an impact corner and then some; it’s a pass happy league nowadays and you need to be able to match well with the 4 and 5 receiver looks.  I know Thomas Dimitroff likes to build through the Draft but in this case he might want to take a closer look at Nnamdi Asomugha and see if he can bring him to Atlanta.  The safety positions are by no means rock solid but like I said with the LBs, we need to have a little patience and hope William Moore will come into his own because he has shown some flashes from time to time.
I would love to hear your opinions on the matter and as we get closer to the Draft we will look at players that could fit the system and improve the team.