Archive for the ‘Analysis’ Category

blaine Gabbert2

As a draft filled with uncertainty at the position approaches, there are lessons to be learned from the profiles of (relatively) recent quarterback busts.

Here are their stories.

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sammy watkins2

Sammy Watkins and Eric Ebron have something in common. Not physically — one is a secondary busting wide receiver, and the other is a much bulkier (though still fast) tight end. But they could both share some rarely occupied draft space in 17 days.

Ebron is likely a top 10 pick, and last week I looked at how much of a relic even the top 20 tight end has become. Over the past 15 years, only four players at Ebron’s position have cracked that glass ceiling. They were so far ahead of their peers that a far higher draft investment was deemed not only safe, but essential.

Watkins is about to join even more exclusive company, surrounded by mostly generational talents. No biggie.

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chris Johnson run2

Chris Johnson can be annoying. It’s annoying when he shuffles and scans in the backfield, blatantly missing an open running lane. It’s annoying when he slams into the hind regions of his offensive linemen, gaining something between little and nothing. And it’s annoying when he wastes his still game-busting speed.

But Chris Johnson can also give you — the viewer, the coach, or the general manager — a wide football smile. Even during a 2013 season when he averaged a career low 3.9 yards per carry, Johnson still sporadically found a way to go kaboom when given an opportunity in space, with two catches for 40 yards or more. That may sound meager and meh, but despite all the yardage he’s accumulated throughout his career and a 2009 season when he set the record for yards from scrimmage, two of Johnson’s five career +40 yard catches came in one year.

That’s an isolated example of his burst, and an intentional one. At this point in the career of a running back who turns 29 next September with 2,014 touches to his name, avoiding the annoying Johnson while harnessing the speedy Johnson is all about isolation. As a free agent he needed to land in a situation where the workload could be spread, and his legs would be kept fresh and optimized.

He needed to land with the New York Jets.

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The Kansas City Chiefs were a fun, scrappy team to watch in 2013. Under new head coach Andy Reid, his Kool-Aid wall busting ways, and a shiny new quarterback in Alex Smith, there was suddenly life in KC after only two wins the year before. And following nine straight wins to start the season there was hope for something far more than just franchise rejuvenation, however false it may have been with the five backup quarterbacks Chiefs pass rushers were able to chew up.

The source of that life was a west coast offense that didn’t ask Smith to do much, putting games almost entirely in the hands of Jamaal Charles who shattered his previous career touchdown high of eight while scoring 19 times. He also set career highs in total yards (1,980), receptions (70), and receiving yards (693).

He did all that on 329 touches, while the Chiefs averaged only 208.8 passing yards per game (24th) and 6.5 per attempt (27th). That formula for offensive success which ran through Charles with gashing runs and short passes needs a strong and stable offensive line to be successful.

That may not exist in Kansas City anymore, which is why the Chiefs are a leading drop-off candidate.

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The headlining quarterback during the 2009 draft has been inconsistent at best, and the draft overall wasn’t nearly as strong as the two years that followed. But it did give us a long-haired man now beloved in frosty Wisconsin, and another linebacker who disregards normal football conventions. Like wearing a helmet.

Our draft nostalgia journey continues…

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Lately I seem to be contemplating the end quite a bit. The football end, first with Tom Brady. I’m not sure what that says about my current worldview, and I’m also not sure I really want to know.

Even if it’s just briefly, somewhere late at night behind a closed door in an office cave every general manager spends time in April thinking about the end for a superstar who’s either aging, or consistently absorbing a lot of abuse. Or both.

For Rick Spielman in Minnesota, the subject of his own quiet contemplation is Adrian Peterson.

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chris johnson again2

As a fan of the National Football League you have the right to be selfish. Most commonly that right is exercised when you wish for the best outcome for your team, and you hope rivals find only the deepest pits of hell.

But I prefer an even simpler existence: I want to be entertained.

Chris Johnson is an entertainer. His services in the entertainment field are now up for grabs. As a selfish fan, let’s indulge our wildest football fantasies with one question: which team gives Johnson the best opportunity to deliver football smiles?

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