November 14, 2010

MVP – Phillip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

How can a QB on a team with a win-loss record be this winner? Simple. Numbers, intangibles importance to team. Minus the  big-plays of Vincent Jackson, Rivers has made his supporting cast look like stars, much like the effect Peyton Manning has had in Indianapolis throughout the years. If the Chargers didn’t have all the special teams meltdowns, it is likely they would have won at least 3 more games. Rivers play will be critical over the stretch to see the Chargers advance to the playoffs.

Most Disappointing – Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Finally, Jay Cutler has admitted he is struggling in Mike Martz system. Cutler doesn’t have the wits to keep up with the reads of Martz system and has been exposed for his slow decision making. He is undoubtedly a gunslinger, but has yet to acquire the savvy to pull it off as Brett Favre has done for so long.

Disaster Situation – Carolina Panthers

Where to start? Matt Moore was very ordinary in his time as Panthers starter and he is now on IR. Jimmy Clausen has shown patches, but has been erratic and shown his rookie status for all to see. Even Clausen has been banged up and fellow rookie Tony Pike earned some snaps. With injuries to DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart, there is even more pressure on the embattled signal callers.

How to mishandle a QB situation 101 – Washington Redskins

First you acquire a veteran QB to be the man. Then you pull him under bizarre circumstances in a winnable game and challenge his fitness and grasp of the two-minute offense. Way to go Shanahan.

Rising Stars – Matt Ryan (Atlanta) and Joe FLacco (Baltimore).

Both have proven early in their careers that they are gamers, but the duo are among the most consistent and efficient passers going around. With strong run games and defenses that can make plays, their supporting situation is undoubtedly solid, and these two are franchise QBs who have playoffs written all over them.

Rookie of the Year – Sam Bradford, St Louis Rams

Bradford has ensured there has been no second guessing on this #1 overall pick. Bradford has  looked like he belonged from the get-go, despite an underwhelming receiving corps. Bradford is a star in the making and the Rams are set at the position.

Return to Form – Eli Manning, New York Giants

No doubt Manning’s play has been the most consistent it has ever been, with new favourite target Hakeem Nicks helping form an explosive combo. Manning has reduced the turnovers, limited the sacks and given the Giants the look of title hopeful. Manning’s play down the stretch will be pivotal for the G-Men.

Time to start over – Buffalo Bills

Poor Andrew Luck. The Stanford Qb is sure to be the first man taken and that means a long flight from Palo Alto to upstate New York. Not the best situation for Luck, and one that could dissuade him from making the jump and returning for a Heisman campaign for the Cardinal. The Bills opted not to draft a QB, or sign a bigtime QB in FA, so where do they go? Do they look at the Michael Vick option? Explore a trade for Kevin Kolb? Draft Locker or Luck? There are holes everywhere and Chain Gailey needs some help.

Get a Health Plan – Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

The budding star looks great when on the field, but in his 2 seasons in the Motor City, it hasn’t been enough. Stafford looks headed for IR after his latest shoulder injury and the Lions must find a way to keep him healthy.

Move that Paid off – Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

Kevin Kolb was the QB of the future in Philly, but early in the season the opportunity arose, through injury,  for Michael Vick to start. And he hasn’t looked back. Reid looks like a genius as Vick has lead the Eagles to prime position for the post-season and the Eagles brass now has a tough decision in the off-season. Vick or Kolb?



November 14, 2010

First he exploded onto the SEC scene leading Auburn to the top of the BCS standings, and now come explosive accusations against the former Gator and Blinn College QB Cam Newton. Newton was a hotly sought after commodity out of the JC ranks this past year and his indiscretions at Florida, namely being in possession of a stolen laptop, were known, but the latest accusations are of another level. The Heisman frontrunner is subject of an allegation that he and his family solicited cash for his commitment, the incident sparked by a report filed by Mississippi State Athletic Department. MSU were considered the main threats to Auburn in the signing race and Newton’s familiarity with Bulldogs HC Dan Mullen from his time at Florida had them in good stead for his signature before Newton, apparently under advice from his father Cecil, chose Auburn. Read full coverage here. Amidst the latest round of rumours are reports that Newton was caught cheating on 3 occasions whilst at UF, with these indiscretions the real reason for his transfer. As the spotlight on his off-the-field aspects, discussion is heating up about what this may do for his Heisman prospects. Newton is a clear frontrunner for the award, but already, many voters have suggested they won’t cast a ballot for Newton with this hanging over his head, mindful of the all-too-recent Reggie Bush Heisman debacle. Time will tell on the NCAA investigation and on the Heisman fate of Newton who threw off the controversy by leading the Tigers to another big win, starring in the dismantling of Chattanooga.


November 14, 2010

Three QBs are among Todd McShay’s ridiculously early mock draft released on espn.com Predictably, McShay has Stanford passer Andrew Luck going #1 overall to, predictably enough, the Buffalo Bills. The Bills look certain to earn #1 overall and Luck is clearly the top passing prospect. He will be a rich man, but what a situation to walk into. Next up was Washington QB Jake Locker. He was the pre-season choice for #1 overall but hasn’t lit it up as expected. Locker’s stock is sure to climb in the postseason as workouts begin. McShay has him headed for Minnesota, where the Favre era is ending and clearly faith in Tarvaris Jackson is not present. Rounding out the QB selections is Ryan Mallett, Arkansas, who McShay has headed to Jacksonville. No doubt the Jags will be in the market for a QB and the big pocket passer will be tough for them to refuse. Other teams that might be ready to make a first round play for a signal caller include Seattle and Washington, so anything is possible.


November 14, 2010

When Oregon looked to follow up their Rose Bowl appearance last year, they were expected big time play from their QB. At the time, they expected this to be Jeremiah Masoli, but a series of off-field problems saw the talented QB exit Eugene (ultimately ending up in Mississippi). That left backup Nate Costa and untested Darron Thomas as the options for Chip Kelly’s explosive offense. Thomas got the nod after spring ball and has looked every bit like the man with Oregon controlling their own fate for a National Championship berth. The Ducks offense, featuring star players LaMichael James at RB and Jeff Maehl at WR, has averaged over 50 points a game and Darron Thomas has been a spearhead with his arm and legs, leaving behind any mourners of Masoli’s departure. Next year, expect Thomas’ name to be floated in Heisman talk, not as part of the package of a LaMichael James campaign.

First it was Denard ‘Shoelace’ Robinson at Michigan, then Taylor Martinez in Nebraska and then Cam Newtom at Auburn. QBs making their mark with a combination of rushing and passing dominance. This season really has seen a return to the dual threat that the likes of Tim Tebow, Vince Young, Troy Smith and co. made such an art form in their prime. The dual-threat abilities of Terrelle Pryor and Jake Locker were also among the top topics of conversation in the pre-season as teams have to gameplan to stop them as weapons in both phases. The reality in the need to win now landscape is that you feed your playmakers the  ball, whichever position they play and for Robinson, Newton and Martinez that includes a heavy dose of ball-carrying. For Robinson that heavy dose took its toll, Robinson carrying for 25 plus games early in the year, racking up ridiculous numbers along the way. But reality hit hard, in the form of Big Ten play, as the explosive Wolverine performer was hit hard and regularly, handing over the reigns to his understudy Tate Forcier on numerous occasions. Can he endure the same sort of beating week in and out? Already the evidence is no. It is for this very reason, the risk factor, that NFL teams shy away from using their QBs in this way. The risk reward is huge for Michigan when it comes to Robinson, but the presence of experienced backup Tate Forcier means that they can manage a backup plan. In Auburn, the backup option is less convincing, but luckily Newton has been handing out more hits than he has been receiving, actually excelling in the tough SEC stretch of the schedule. It is notable for the 3 examples offered above (Robinson, Martinez and Newton) that this trio were the clear offensive weapons on their team so the reliance on their contribution was already higher, but it has been worth noting that on each of these teams we have seen the emergence of other players who have benefited from their more celenrated teammates – Roy Roundtree in Michigan, Michael Dyer in Auburn for example. When it comes to  the crunch, who will these teams put the ball in the hands of? I think we know it starts behind center.


November 14, 2010

Joe Paterno collected his 400th victory as coach at Penn State at the weekend, but there were few who thought he would achieve the goal with a walk-on Quarterback. Former walk-on Matt McGloin has shone since taking over for the injured Robert Bolden against Michigan. Looking like a veteran, McGloin has stabilised the program after the departure of long-tenured Daryll Clark. McGloin was expected to be the #3 option for the Nittany Lions entering the season, with Bolden and Kevin Newsome sitting ahead on the depth chart, but injury, fate and timing all played out. However it worked out, PSU is winning again and the McGloin show continues.

With the NFL Pre-Season circus mid-way through, a number of questions remain at QB. QB Central looks at some of the pressing issues.

Are Arizona really comfortable going ahead with Leinart? After his stellar USC career and a party-life well documented on TMZ, Leinart has been less than impressive to-date. Nobody felt relaxed handing the reigns over from Kurt Warner to #7, so Derek Anderson was brought in as legitimate competition. Anderson hasn’t set the world on fire either so far, so the patience of Ken Whisenhunt will be tested here.

How early is too early? With shoddy blocking around him, is Sam Bradford really ready to be thrown to the dogs in St Louis? Pre-season outings have seen the 2010 #1 Overall Pick struggle, but with the supporting cast around him lacking, is that really surprising? Perhaps a year riding the pine would be better for Bradford than being the next piñata ala David Carr in Houston. But who is a better option? Coach Spags will be in a tough position coming opening day.

Will Alex Smith be able to make progress as he works for back-to-back seasons with the same offense for the first time? Pre-season form shows a heightened level of comfort and with a host of playmakers and a newly formed offensive line, the time could be right for Smith to finally live up to first round billing.  Smith has another former #1 overall (David Carr) breathing down his neck, along with 2nd year player Nate Davis who has shown some good potential this pre-season.

Will the Seattle trade for Charlie Whitehurst amount to anything? Matt Hasselbeck appears likely to retain the #1 job, so that means that Whitehurst could have been an acquisition for backup job. A 3rd round pick is high for this, so expect him to get a good look in game 4 of the pre-season to see whether he is the QB of the future, if not for 2010.

What strides will Chad Henne make in his first full season as starter? We saw glimpses of what has the Dolphins excited last year. We also saw the inevitable inexperience show up. But with a dominant run game and a new weapon at WR in Brandon Marshall, expect big things from Henne.  It is clearly his team now.

Who starts in steeltown? Big Ben misses the first 6 weeks of the season, so that means either Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon get the role as acting QB. The Steelers have seen what Leftwich has, and that could be enough to earn him the job, but is there any  better chance to see what Dixon has to offer?

Can the Colts survive if Manning goes down? The clear answer is no. Curtis Painter sits as the only backup on the roster after Jim Sorgi took off for the Giants, but his only start last year and patchy pre-season game work doesn’t offer Indy fans much comfort. Surely a veteran presence is needed. Look for the Colts to explore Sage Rosenfels or Kellen Clemens if they are the odd man out in Minnesota and NYJ respectively.

Will Josh Freeman be ready for the opener? A broken thumb on the throwing hand will be tough to deal with. The team had big hopes for its young offense, but its centrepiece now loses valuable time and reps with the young WR corps. Josh Johnson should be serviceable in his absence, but this may just slow the learning curve.

What now for Tarvaris? He is definitely a man who must be confused. Is he the future? He thought he might be the present, but no luck. I really feel sorry for the guy. Minnesota is a good fit for him, with the explosive talent around and the run game, but how long can the Vikes keep pushing his time. Is their chase of Favre an indictment on Jackson, or just a statement about Favre?

How long before the Panthers turn to Clausen? Clausen is the future of the franchise, but Matt Moore is being given the chance to own the present. Moore fared poorly in the second of the pre-season games, but still remains the best options for Carolina heading into the season. Clausen has impressed many, but perhaps should be given the time. A toe injury to Clausen could further delay Clausen’s claims, but if the Panthers don’t jump out early, the restless fans will be calling for Clausen no doubt. Hardly a fair situation for Moore, who hasn’t yet been a full-time starter, to have to win instantly.

Tebow to Te-bench? It is ridiculous to lump their huge expectations upon Tim Tebow, but no rookie has excited a fan-base or interested a nation as much as Tebow. Whether it is his haircut, or on-field actions, Tebow remains a lightning-rod for interest. The question is, can Josh McDaniels stay strong in choosing the QB for the Broncos. All signs point to yes as Kyle Orton is entrenched as the starter. Orton, who just signed a 1 year extension, is the best player on the roster for the Broncos at QB for now and should be all year long. But, as with the Carolina situation, a lack of wins early will make the public sentiment strong.

USC backup QB Mitch Mustain has been thrown a career lifeline by the USC sanctions, the former prep wonderkid surely to consider transferring following the allowance for junior and senior trojans to transfer without penalty, provided not within the Pac-10 (or pac16 or whatever it will become). Mustain came to LA from Arkansas after a coaching reshuffle with hopes of being the next in a line of great Trojan QBs. Unfortunately it never worked out that way for Mustain with Mark Sanchez, Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley all sitting ahead of him over the 3 years. Mustain, now a senior, has a chance for one last season to give himself post college hopes, or wait at USC for a shot there or a Matt Cassel-esque opportunity.

The question is, who would give him a shot. Here is one idea…how about Penn State?


May 7, 2010

JaMarcus Russell all but cemented his place in folklore amongst the biggest busts in draft history. The Raiders, although having to pay him $3million this year to do nothing, have finally wiped their hands of the former #1 overall pick.

The real question is…what is next for Russell? Probably not much. The interest in a guy with talent, but no work-ethic will be low, perhaps Canada? Whatever happens, don’t expect him to be paid first round money ever again.

See NFL.com’s discussion here.

Sam Bradford – #8,Jimmy Clausen – #2,Tim Tebow – #15,Colt McCoy – #12,John Skelton – #19,Jason Campbell – #8, Charlie Whitehurst – #6,Dan LeFevour – #15,Sean Canfield – #4,Jonathon Crompton – #8,Tony Pike – #16,Zac Robinson – #7,Juice Williams – #10, Armanti Edwards – #10