Thursday, February 27, 2014

NFL Combine Quarterbacks 2014

The QB class of 2014 entering this year's NFL draft in May brought arguably more interest than any in recent years, especially with Johnny Manziel participating in the on-filed events except the throwing portion.
Teddy Bridgewater, still thought by many to be the most ready for the NFL, was in Indianapolis for the events as a bystander for the field events, but the other QB getting lots of attention was the lesser known quarterback from the University of Central Florida Blake Bortles.  Unlike Manziel and Bridgewater, Bortles has a prototypical NFL QB body and has a lot of athleticism to go along with it.  The biggest knock is that he didn't play against top-notch competition week in and week out in the American Athletic Conference.
I became a fan of his play as UCF found its way onto the television more often as the season progressed and he certainly showed well for himself in beating Baylor in his bowl game.
I don't think there are any questions with him and his abilities moving onto the highest level.  He is big, strong and athletic.  HIs arm strength is not a question, but his mechanics might be.  Looking at the photo from his combine throwing, he certainly takes the ball way too deep behind his head!  I haven't studied him enough to know if he does this all the time or just certain throws when he doesn't have his legs underneath him.  It can be fixed, but the QB coach that he lands with will need to know how to do it.
For our purposes here, know that the BEST way to throw the football is to keep the forearm vertical to the ground with the throwing hand directly on top of the elbow until the last second when the hand snaps toward the target, more like a boxer throwing a punch than reaching deep behind the head with the football.  This makes it much more difficult to get the ball's nose far enough around to fly properly.  Also, with a helmet and shoulder pads on, it makes it more difficult all around.  This "mistake" in his mechanics wouldn't be enough to stop me from drafting him, but it is a place for him to improve from now until his pro day!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Group QB Training Begins Following Super Bowl

Small group quarterback training will begin on the Sunday following the Super Bowl February 9th at 4 PM.
Contact Jeff Carlson for further information.

Brady, Pats Blow Conversion Call and Game

In last year's Super Bowl, down to the final play, the 49ers opt for an all-or-nothing "fade" route to Michael Crabtree.  Everyone knows that didn't end well for the Niners.  It is a bad philosophy to call a play with only one option when you are down to your last play.  The 49ers should have rolled out their extremely athletic QB Colin Kaepernick and given him 3 or 4 receiving options (Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin aren't bad choices either) as well as Crabtree doing something other than a fade.  The 49ers weren't down to their final play in this year's NFC Championship game with the Seahawks, but their season ended in eerily similar fashion again, but this time it was Richard Sherman on a deep "go" route, tipping the ball away and sending Seattle to the Super Bowl.
In the AFC Championship, the Patriots were attempting to make another dramatic comeback from a large deficit to the Broncos and needed to convert a 2 point conversion to give them a chance to get within a two score difference.  I don't know who made the ultimate call, but Josh McDaniels is the offensive coordinator, so the blame has to fall to him unless someone else steps up and says something.  The Patriots took the ball out of Tom Brady's hands and handed it to a running back on what also has to be considered an all-or-nothing play.  Failing to convert and the game was certainly lost.  Brady is arguably the game's best signal-caller and willed his team to many wins this past season.  To call a play where any missed block means defeat and also handing the ball off from shot-gun reduces the success rate even further, was derelict and a complete coaching mistake.  Obviously, since these "mistakes" are being made at the NFL level, I shouldn't be surprised to see it at other levels, but let us all learn that when you have Tom Brady or any other QB in the backfield, when you are down to the last play of the game or similar situation, give your team a much better chance at success by rolling out and giving your QB 3 or 4 options to win instead of only one.  It hasn't worked out for the 49ers or the Patriots in some of the biggest games in recent years!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Bucs Make Great Move, Bears Don't

After another disappointing season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have parted ways with both their head coach and their general manager.  In a very quick turnaround move, they have signed their former linebacker coach Lovie Smith.  Smith also coached the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl in 2006, losing to his friend and former head coach Tony Dungy.
This fast hiring by the Buccaneers seems to be a great move and will make it hard for any dissenters, but he will have to make a great hire to run the offense, which if reports are true, will be former Cal-Berkeley Head Coach Jeff Tedford.  This also seems to be a good move, on paper at least.
Tony Dungy is credited with turning around one of the worst franchises in NFL (pro sports) history and taking them to within one game of the Super Bowl in 1999.  His downfall was the lack of offense any of his coordinators could or were allowed to muster throughout his tenure, finally be fired after falling in the playoffs  to the Philadelphia Eagles by a wider margin than the previous year.  Dungy's philosophy of "keeping it close until the 4th quarter" was one that I think was ultimately did him in and hope that Lovie Smith learned that that belief system is just enough to get you beat in the most important games.  When Dungy's fantastic defensive mind and schemes met up with Peyton Manning's offensive genius, the Lombardi Trophy was finally won.
On another front, the Chicago Bears announced the 7 year contract extension for quarterback Jay Cutler.  While I don't have the long term answer at QB for the Bears, on the surface, this just seems to be a bad choice for the Bears organization.  Maybe the length of it is tied to the bonus and doesn't really hamstring them financially after a year or two, but Cutler really hasn't shown that he has the intangibles to lead any team to great heights.  Sure he has ability.  He can throw some throws as well as anybody in the league.  But, he can also throw many throws like Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo.  Clutch player, great leader are not the adjectives that first come to mind when you talk about those players or Jay Cutler.
Today's winners are long-suffering Bucs fans and the players that will play for Lovie Smith!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Treon Harris Leads America's Best High School Team

Just wrapped up another great season of high school football on Bright House Sports Network in the Tampa, Florida area a couple weeks back and the Florida State High School Championships last weekend, so this is my first Friday since mid August with nothing to do.
It was a great pleasure to call five of the eight state championship games and watch the #1 and #3 teams in the nation, Booker T. Washington and Miami Central, respectively.  Both repeated as state champions this year and deserve their national rankings.  Booker T. beat Central early in the year and deserve their top ranking as well!
What caught my eye over those two championship weekends, other than many amazing high school players at every position on the field, was Booker T. Washington's QB Treon Harris.  If you like the way Johnny Manziel plays football, you will especially enjoy Harris.  He is coached by both his father (head) and brother (offensive coordinator) and is a passer with incredible escapability powers.  He is only about 6'0, maybe, but Jimbo Fisher and Florida State University are glad he is coming their way soon.  I'm sure Fisher is in no hurry to get Jameis Winston on to the NFL, but be sure that the Seminoles will be in good hands when it's Harris' turn to take over the helm for FSU.
It is great to take a breath here at the holidays and be thankful for so many things, because, as we referenced many times over the last two weekends, these high school football teams will only take a short break and be right back into their preparation to get back to Orlando next December.