Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Some things about the Spurs remain as constant as the Alamo to San Antonians. People like Tim Duncan are a true beacon of excellence that has enveloped the franchise for the past decade, which has seen 4 championships. One of the Spurs biggest impacts has been the influx of excellent complimentary players like Vinny Del Negro, Mario Elie, Brent Barry, and many more. Most of these men came from other teams before achieving a higher level of accomplishment in San Antonio. There just may now be a new Spur who will fit into that mold these days.

Roger Mason was the second player picked in the second round of the 2002 draft by the Chicago Bulls. Roger played just 17 games as a rookie, and scored just over one point per game. After suiting up for just 3 games in the beginning of the next season, he was dealt to the Toronto Raptors. Mason averaged 4 points in the 23 games he played for Toronto that year. He was then out of the NBA until 2006. He got a tryout with the Washington Wizards. Mason was a star at the University of Virginia, and had grown up in Washington DC. Though he he made the team and saw action in 62 games that season, he averaged just over 2 points in under 8 minutes played per game. He had shown hints of being more than an end of the bench type of player, but he was buried in the depth chart. After off season roster adjustments, Roger got a chance to play a lot more in 2007. He grabbed the opportunity and ran with it by averaging 9 points per game in 80 appearances. He also averaged a career high 21 minutes player per game. He showed his ability to be able to handle either Guard position, and also showed excellent range. For financial reasons, the Wizards allowed Mason to walk away as a free agent at the end of the year. Their loss was the Spurs gain.

The Spurs have seen Mason play in every game for them so far this season, and he averages over 30 minutes player per game. That is the third highest on the roster. He is also fourth on the team in points, averaging over 12 points a game. Mason's overall numbers are all at a career best average currently, including rebounds, steals, and assists. He is 6th on the team in rebounds per game average, and is first on the team in 3 pointers made. His role is similar to that of Del Negro and Barry. All were tall men with long range shooting ability and above average ball handling skills. Coach Greg Popovich has shown he can win with these types of smart and excellent players who put the teams needs ahead of their own. Currently the Spurs are breezing along at 20 -10. Though teams like the Lakers and Hornets may get the headlines for the Western Conference these days, the Spurs will probably threaten once again for a championship. They are a team no one wants to face in the playoffs. Guys like Roger Mason are part of the reason why.

Monday, December 29, 2008

In The End : Dallas Was Full Of TO

Welcome back to another installment of NFL Lucubration's. As some of us prepare for the playoffs, let us look back at the path paved this season.


Eric Mangini gets canned from a job he never should have had in the first place. This was a guy with little on his resume, especially to be a head coach in the Big Apple.The gadget plays he ran were caught up to quickly, after a fast first season. The real stamp on his era will be his snitching to the media about the Patriots taping practices of other teams. He only did it because he got snubbed at the 50 yard line in front of the cameras. The funniest part about "Spy Gate" was the fact that many fans actually believed only the Patriots had perpetrated this type of stunt, rather than understanding these practices have been in several sports for decades. Things got so desperate that the Jets bought talent for more cash than deserved, and put a turnover machine at the helm of their rickety ship. Like the hyckocrite did on the frozen tundra, he separated the locker room and leaned on excuses. His typical 32 turnovers versus 23 TD's was to be expected. As well as his coming up small in crunch time yet again. This time, it cost Mangini a job. I think it should cost Brett his as well, because they could've not made the playoffs with Clemens too. The only difference would have been a young QB learning from his mistakes, as opposed to an old one constantly repeating his.


Besides Mangini, we saw Rod Marinelli get a mercy kill by the Lions. Big surprise huh? Not! Then we saw the Cleveland Browns part ways with Romeo Crennel. Another no brainer type of move. Expect a few more vacancies in Saint Louis, Oakland, and possibly Denver, Dallas, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and hopefully San Diego. Norv Turner may have hope he saved his job by eking into the playoffs through one of the weakest divisions in the NFL, but it would be a smart move to dump this loser as soon as the Bolts get bounced. Turner is an over rated offensive coordinator who is on his 3rd team as a head coach. Believe me, after watching him lose handily in Washington = I KNOW this guy is worthless. Maybe we will see an influx of college coaches at the helm next year, but I think Atlanta, Miami, and Baltimore prove you can win by recognizing the assistant coaches. They may not be the headline grabbing moves teams seek, but they sometimes end up being the most sound. Of course, they may be the most fiscally wise moves as well, considering the current state of our economy.


The Eagles showed everyone something the past month. We know the NFL stands for Not For Long to many, and this is true in Philly. It wasn't that long ago Andy Reid was reamed for benching Donovan McNabb. Well, it actually seems the move paid off big time. The Eagles made the playoffs while still rebuilding. I had them on the cusp in my preseason predictions, but wasn't sold on their front 7 on D. The best part is that they did this without putting it on Brian Westbrook's back. Westbrook is breaking down on his last legs, and is probably a 3rd down type at this stage of his career. McNabb just made a VERY good case for his induction into Canton someday by showing what a winner he is. He really lead the team by putting it all on his shoulders, which shuns the false idea of his leadership abilities. I don't know how far the Eagles will go, but I know I wouldn't want my favorite team facing them. Personally speaking, that won't be an issue until next season.


OK, CAN WE PLEASE SHOOT ANYONE SAYING "Wildcat"? Seriously! Ever heard of the flying T? Another term was the flying wedge. Truth be told, this is NOT an inventive offense. Sammy Baugh, and most other teams, had been running this system from the 1930's to late in the 1940's. The way you stop the offense is simply technique. PLAYING YOUR POSITION CORRECTLY. Problem is, most defenders do not anymore. They over pursue, go for kill shots, and are almost timid due to all of the rules to compliment the modern day offense. I REALLY am surprised no expert has to yet point out the "Wildcat" is basically an old NFL offense, and that it took an idiot like me to point it out after waiting a whole season to be beaten to the punch because it would hold more credence.


You can pick the Miami Dolphins, because they went 1 - 15 last year. But I point to their weak schedule. You can pick the Baltimore Ravens, but I point to their excellent defense. There are a few others you can look at, but my pick is the Atlanta Falcons. Who really knew Michael Turner would hold up 16 games as a featured back? Who really knew Matt Ryan would take the old learning curve and put it out to pasture this year? Who really knew an assistant coach few heard of, Mike Smith, would rally the team to an 11 - 5 record and playoff appearance? He HAS to be the NFL Coach Of The Year! Who knew that offensive line would give up only 17 sacks, even after their 1st round draft pick, Sam Baker, was lost midway through the season? My main shock was how well the Falcons defense played. Especially with a nondescript defensive line full of vagabond journeymen. Other than John Abraham's 16.5 sacks (how in the heck is he not a Pro Bowler?), no other Falcon had more than 4. In fact, the team had just 34 total, and only 10 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. They rank in the 20's in the NFL for giving up total yards, rushing yards, and passing yards, but they rank 11th in points allowed. Who knows how long these type of successes will go on in Hotlanta, but the memory of the Mike Vick Era now seems longer ago than it actually was.


Some teams the NFL looked at as contenders ended up being pretenders, as it is with every season practically. The Jets, Cowboys, Browns, Bears, Packers, Jaguars, and Buccaneers were just a few teams that had playoff dreams. Even my Redskins got off to a fast start. The season was good enough that the 11 - 5 Patriots somehow have to go home, yet ridiculous enough to see teams like the Chargers and Cardinals are still playing. These are the types of quirks that make the NFL what it is. I hear crying for a seeding bracket based on record, but bury that idea along with the thoughts of turning the NFL overtime rule into the NCAA's namby pamby "fair shake". Life isn't supposed to be easy or fair, no matter how many rules the NFL implements to try to make the quarterback better than they actually are. My only thought to teams that under achieved = see you next year...God willing.


This, for you film buffs, is a reference to the movie "North Dallas Forty". Who knows if the parties were as fun for the Cowboys during the season, as they seemed to be foe the Bulls (a mirrored image of the 70's Cowboys), but they both had similar endings. The wide receiver who placed himself before the team, the tough QB who let nothing affect him personally to the point he almost seemed non-committal, and "the rest". The owners also appear similar as rich folks who view players as cattle almost. I had long said character issues would befall the Boys, and this certainly has come out to be true. The way they rolled over against the Eagles should have many fans not want to buy seats in the new stadium for next year. The lack of good line play has to be addressed in the off season, and a decision has to be made on Terrell Owens. He has no trade value, and very few teams want a cancer in their locker room. They will also need to consider replacing Jason Garrett at offensive coordinator, because he has seemingly no clue as how to assemble a game plan and stick to it. The talent is there as far as physically, but you need more than that to win it all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The ALMOST All Time Denver Broncos = Defense

NOSE TACKLE : Rubin Carter

Rubin was drafted in the 5th round by the Broncos in 1975. The Broncos were using the 4-3 defense then, and Rubin started 8 games at DT his rookie year. The Broncos started to switch over to the 3-4 defense the next year, and Rubin would start at Nose Tackle until 1986. As a key member of the famous "Orange Crush" defense, his specialty was controlling the line of scrimmage, and stopping the run. In 1979, he scored the only touchdown of his career off of a fumble recovery. Rubin started just 2 of the 5 games he played in 1986, then retired. Though he was never named to the Pro Bowl, Rubin Carter was one of the best Nose Tackles in the NFL during his time. He probably is the best the Broncos ever had. Greg Kragen deserves mention as well.


Bud was the Los Angelos Rams 1st round draft pick in 1951. He did not actually play for the Rams until 1953, when he appeared in 7 games. He was starting the next year, and made the Pro Bowl in 1955 and 1956. He even kicked 2 field goals on 9 attempts for the Rams. Bud was then out of football until 1960, when he joined the expansion Broncos in the AFL. In his 4 years with the Broncos, Bud was named to the AFL All Star Team each year. He also was named to The Sporting News All Star Team in his first 3 years. Then Bud joined the Houston Oilers in 1964 and retired after the 1965 season. Paul Smith, a Broncos Ring Of Honor member, Dave Costa, and Trevor Price all deserve mention. Bud McFadin has appeared in more Pro Bowls than any other Defensive Tackle in Broncos history, and is one of their best ever.


Rulon was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1980 draft by the Broncos. He was spotted mostly in his rookie year, and started 2 games. He also recorded the first safety of his career that season. Jones was starting the next season, and would remain as such until the final year of his career. In the strike shortened season of 1982, the NFL began keeping sacks as an official statistic. Rulon had 2 in the 9 games played that year. He missed 4 games the following year, but did record 4 sacks and a safety. 1984 was one of his better years, and he had 11 sacks, and scored his only touchdown off of a fumble recovery. Jones had 10 sacks the next year, as well as a career best 3 fumble recoveries. He was named to his first All Pro Team that year, and would achieve that honor for the final time of his career the next season after recording a career high 13.5 sacks and the final safety of his career. Rulon was named the UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year on defense for his efforts. 1987 was his final season as a starter, and Jones had 7 sacks. Now used as a pass rush specialist, Jones recorded 5 sacks and retired at the end of the season with 52.5 sacks, 3 safeties, and a touchdown. Noted for his length and toughness, Rulon Jones is one of the best Defensive End's in Broncos history.

DEFENSIVE END : Rich Jackson

Rich "Tombstone" Jackson was signed by the Oakland Raiders as a free agent in 1966. He played in 5 games as a rookie before joining the Broncos the following year. After playing as a reserve that year, and recording a safety, Jackson earned the starting job in 1968. He would be named an All Star that year, then the next 2 seasons. Jackson suffered a knee injury in the 7th game of 1970, and was out the rest of the year. After playing in 4 games in 1971, the Broncos traded hom to the Cleveland Browns. He retired at the end of that year because of his knee woes. Rich was a fierce pass rusher with a wide variet of moves. He was also ferocious and strong, and once broke a helmet with one of his famous headslaps. He is a member of the Broncos Ring Of Honor, and is in the Colorado Sports Hall Of Fame. He is also on the AFL's All Time Team. Some think Rich Jackson was the best Defensive End to have ever played the game, and he is probably the best the Broncos have ever had. Barney Chavous surely deserves mention.

LINEBACKER : Karl Mecklenberg

Karl was drafted in the 12th round of the 1983 draft by the Broncos. He was used as a pass rush specialist his first 2 seasons, and had 9 sacks over that time. He also had 2 interceptions for 105 yards. The Broncos moved Karl to ILB in 1985, and the move paid off big. He had a career high 13 sacks, and was named to his first All Pro Team. He would get this honor over the next 2 years, as he had 16.5 sacks and 3 interceptions over that time. He returned to the Pro Bowl in 1989 after getting 7.5 sacks and a career best 143 tackles. He then got a safety in the next season. 1991 saw Karl get 9 sacks and 130 tackles, garnering another Pro Bowl nod. He was named to his final All Pro Team in 1993 after getting 9 sacks. He retired after the 1994 season with 79 sacks, 5 interceptions, and 1,104 tackles. Karl Mecklenburg is in the Broncos Ring Of Honor, and the Colorado Sports Hall Of Fame. He is one of the best the Broncos have ever had. Randy Gradishar is a future CCC profilee, but deserves mention.

LINEBACKER : Tom Jackson

Tom was drafted in the 4th round of the 1973 draft by the Broncos. He started half of the 8 games he played in his rookie year, and would remain a starter for the rest of his career. 1976 might of been his best season, when he had a career best 7 interceptions for 136 yards. He also scored off of a 46 yard interception return. Tom scored off of one of his 4 interceptions the next year, going 76 yards. He would be named to his first All Pro Team that year, helping the Broncos reach Super Bowl XII. Tom scored the last touchdown of his career the next year off of one of his 3 interceptions. He made the Pro Bowl again that year as well. Tom made his last Pro Bowl Team in 1979. He retired after the 1986 season with 20 interceptions for 340 yards and 3 scores. He was officially credited with 13 sacks because the NFL didn't start recognizing the stat until 1982, but he was known as a complete linebacker with the ability to rush the passer or cover any receiver. Jackson also 3rd in Broncos history in games played. Tom Jackson is a member of the Broncos Hall Of Fame, and may be the best all around Linebacker in Denver Broncos history.


Al was the Broncos 1st round draft pick in 1999. He quickly earned the starting job, and got his first sack that year. He had a career high 5 sacks and 3 interceptions the next year. In 2001, Al was named to his first All Pro Team, and would achieve that honor the next 2 seasons as well. He had a career high 100 tackles in 2002. Wilson returned the the Bro Bowl in 2003, then scored his only touchdown, off of an interception, the next year. Al made the Pro Bowl the next 2 seasons, but suffered a neck injury at the end of 2006. He tried to rehabilitate the injury, but ultimately had to retire. Though his career was cut short, Al Wilson is one of the best Linebackers to have ever played for the Broncos.

LINEBACKER : Bob Swenson

Bob was signed as a free agent rookie by the Broncos in 1975. Though he was a reserve in his rookie year, he did manage an interception. He swiped 2 more the next year after starting in 6 games. By 1977, he was an important starting member of the "Orange Crush" defense that went to Super Bowl XII. In 1979, Bob scooped up a fumble and returned it 93 yards for a touchdown. He made his only Pro Bowl Team the next year, but got hurt in the 4th game of 1982. He did play in 2 games the next year, but retired at seasons end. John Mobley, Michael Brooks, Bill Romanowski, Ian Gold, and John Bramlett are just a few others who deserve mention. Bob Swenson was the ultimate team player who is an important ingredient in Broncos history.

STRONG SAFETY : Dennis Smith

Dennis was the Broncos 1st round draft of the Broncos in 1981. Dennis started just 2 games in his rookie season, but did pick off a pass and return it a career long 65 yards. Firmly entrenched as a starter the next year, and for the rest of his career, Dennis had 2 sacks and an interception. 1983 saw Dennis get a career high 5 sacks, and 4 interceptions. Dennis had 3 interceptions, and returned a fumble for the only touchdown of his career the next season. Dennis made his first All Pro Team in 1985 after getting 4 sacks and 3 interceptions. Dennis made the Pro Bowl Team the next year, an honor he would not attain again until 1989. He would keep making the Pro Bowl Team until 1991, where he had a career high 5 interceptions. Smith had a career best 120 tackles the next year, and returned the Pro Bowl for the final time of his career in 1993. He retired after the 1994 year with 30 interceptions, 3 sacks, and 1,152 tackles. He is a member of the Broncos Ring Of Fame, and the Colorado Hall Of Fame, making Dennis Smith the best Strong Safety in Broncos history.

FREE SAFETY : Goose Gonsoulin

Goose was a 17th round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1960 NFL Draft, and a first round selection of the Broncos in the AFL Draft. He started right away for the Broncos, and set a still standing team record with 11 interceptions in his rookie season. He also had 4 interceptions in one game, which is still tied as a team record. Goose was named to the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl Teams. In 1961, he had 6 more picks, then followed that up with 7 the following year. He also scored his first touchdown that year on a career long 64 yard return. Goose had 6 interceptions the next year, and scored the last touchdown of his career. He followed that up with 7 more swipes in 1964 with 7 more interceptions. Goose had 6 more the following year, but did not make the Pro Bowl Team for the first time in his career. 1966 was the only season where Gonsoulin did not pick off a pass, and his 61 consecutive games played streak ended when he missed 4 games due to injury. Still, he was good enough to be named to his final All Pro Team. Goose joined the 49ers and started just 7 of 14 games in 1967, picking off 3 more passes. He then retired as the AFL's all time interception leader with 43, and is a member of the AFL All Time Team. He is an inaugeral member of the Broncos Ring Of Honor, and is a member of the Colorado Sports Hall Of Fame. In fact, Goose is a fringe member of my CCC profiles, but his only playing 8 seasons has him on the table for consideration. Steve Atwater and his 8 Pro Bowls and 24 interceptions were strongly considered for this nod. There is a chance he may still get inducted into Canton, though many more deserving Safeties await their call as well. One could even mention the Broncos all time interception leader Steve Foley, who played the first 4 years of his career at Cornerback. Goose Gonsoulin ranks second behind Foley with 1 less interception, and is maybe the greatest Safety in the Broncos illustrious history at this position.

CORNERBACK : Louis Wright

Louis was drafted in the first round of the 1975 draft by the Denver Broncos. Wright started all 11 games that he played in his rookie year. He intercepted 2 passes and recovered one fumble. In 1977, he had 3 interceptions for 128 yards. He also scored the first touchdown of his career. Wright was a key member of the "Orange Crush" defense, picking off 3 balls, that went to Super Bowl XII. Wright would garner his first Pro Bowl nod that year as well. Wright would make the Pro Bowl in each of the next 2 seasons as well. In 1979, Wright took a fumble 82 yards for a touchdown. In 1980, Wright was named to the UPI All-Conference Second Team. He ended up missing half on 1981 due to an injury, but still was named to the UPI All-Conference Second Team. Wright came back at full health for 1982 with 2 interceptions. Wright snared a career high 6 interceptions in 1983, and was named to the Pro Bowl team. In 1984, Wright would return a fumble for a touchdown and was named to The Sporting News All-NFL First Team, Pro Football Weekly All-NFL First Team, Pro Football Weekly All-Conference First Team, UPI All-Conference Second Team, and Newspaper Ent. Association All-Conference Second Team. 1985 saw him intercept 5 passes, and score the last touchdown of his career. Wright also made his last Pro Bowl team that year as well. Wright played his last season in 1986. Louis Wright is a member of the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame. Louis was a shutdown Cornerback the day he walked onto an NFL field. Teams would hardly throw the ball to his side of the field. Wright was also a hard hitter, and was one of best run supporting Cornerbacks of his era. The Broncos were #1 in the NFL against the run in 1977. Louis Wright was consistently excellent. His 163 starts rank seventh on All-Time in Broncos history. Opponents feared him. He is the greatest defensive back in the history of the Denver Broncos. Many of his contemporaries feel he was the best Cornerback in the AFC, if not the entire NFL, during his career. He was big, and fast. If you were blessed enough to have seen Louis Wright play, then you would agree he deserves induction into Canton.

CORNERBACK : Bill Thompson

Champ Bailey may get into Canton, so I'm plugging Billy in here. He started out his career as a CB, and played the position for the first 4 years of his career. Thompson was drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round of the 1969 draft. He started right away, and picked off 3 passes in his rookie year for 92 yards. He took one swipe 57 yards for a touchdown. Billy also was the Broncos return specialist. He led the league with an average of 11.5 yards per return on 25 punt returns. He also led the league with a 28.5 yard per return average on 18 kickoff returns. Billy only returned 25 more kickoffs in his career, but still returned punts on and off in his career. Thompson played 9 games in 1970 because of injury, but still managed 2 more interceptions for 65 yards. 1971 saw Thompson have a career high 5 picks for 83 yards. Billy got hurt after 8 games the next year, but still managed an interception. The Broncos decided to move Thompson to Strong Safety in 1973, and he responded with 3 interceptions for 96 yards. He took one ball for a career long of 59 yards for a score. He also scooped up a fumble and took it 80 yards for another touchdown. He also led the NFL with 366 punt return yards on 30 returns. Billy tied his career high of 5 interceptions the next year, and scored a touchdown off of an interception. He again matched that total in 1977, gaining a career best 122 yards, as the Broncos would reach Super Bowl XII. Thompson was named to his first All Pro Team, an honor he would again garner the following season after picking off 4 passes and returning a fumble for a score. 1979 saw Thompson pick off 4 more balls, and score off another fumble return. Billy scored his last touchdown the following year, off of a fumble, to go with 2 more picks. 1981 was the last year Billy played, and he also made his last All Pro Team when he had 4 interceptions. When he retired, he had 40 interceptions for 784 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also took 4 of his 21 fumble recoveries for touchdowns. Thompson also had a career average of 11.6 yards on 157 punt returns, and a career average of 25.1 yards per return on 46 kickoff returns. To say Bill Thompson was productive, or a game changing player, is a vast understatement. He is a member of the Broncos Ring Of Fame, and is easily one of the greatest defensive backs in Denver Broncos history.

PUNTER : Jim Fraser

Jim was a 21st round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1959 draft. He didn't make the team and was out of football until 1962. He joined the Broncos then as a Linebacker and Punter. He picked off a pass, and even managed to make the only 2 extra point attempts of his career that season. He also punted the ball 55 times for a 43.6 yard average. He boomed one ball a career best 75 yards, which led the AFL. Jim was named to his first All Pro Team in his rookie year. Fraser made the All Pro Team again the following year, when he led the AFL with a career high 81 punts for 3,596 yards and a 44.4 average. He also had a AFL leading 3 punts blocked. Jim made his final All Pro Team in 1964. He intercepted another pass, and led the AFL with a 44.2 average on 73 punts. Jim joined the Kansas City Chiefs for the 1965 season, but mainly played defense. He attempted only 3 punts the entire season. Fraser then joined the Boston Patriots in 1966. He picked off the final pass of his career, and punted the ball 55 times for a 37.2 yard average. He did not play the next year, but did suit up for 2 games for the New Orleans Saints in 1968 and punted 11 times. He retired after that year. Jim retired with a career average of 42.2 yards per punt on 278 attempts, to go with his 3 interceptions. His 3 All Pro nods are the most by any Punter in Denver Broncos history. Though Broncos like Bob Scarpitto, Mike Horan, and Luke Prestidge deserve mention, Jim Fraser may be the greatest Punter in Broncos history.

HEAD COACH : Dan Reeves

Dan started in the NFL as a Halfback for the Dallas Cowboys from 1965 to 1972. He ran for 1,990 yards, caught 129 balls for 1,693 yards, and scored 42 touchdowns total. He also threw 2 more TD's on 32 passing attempts, completing 14 total. He was a member of the Cowboys Super Bowl VI winning team as well. He then joined the teams coaching staff until 1980. The Broncos named him their Head Coach in 1981, and Reeves helped bring winning back to Denver. He helped lead the Broncos to 3 Super Bowls that decade, though they lost in each game. He left after the 1992 season to join the New York Giants. He stayed there until 1996 before joining the Atlanta Falcons. He helped the Falcons reach the Super Bowl in 1998, and stayed in Atlanta until 2003. Dan won 110 of his 190 total wins with Denver, and is one of the best coaches in Broncos history.

Dan with his mentor Tom Landry

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The ALMOST All Time Denver Broncos = Offense

Remember : This series lauds players who aren't, or maybe never will be, inducted into Canton.

QUARTERBACK : Frank Tripuka

The Broncos, other than John Elway and (seemingly now) Jay Cutler, have had a revolving door at this position. Craig Morton deserves mention, but I'm picking the first QB in Broncos history. Tripuka was drafted in the first round of the 1949 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, but was traded to the Detroit Lions before the season commenced. He started 4 games wth Detroit, and threw 9 touchdowns versus 14 interceptions. He also punted the ball 28 times that year. 1950 saw Frank traded to the Chicago Cardinals. He played in 19 games, starting 5, before being traded to the expansion Dallas Texans mid season in 1952. He started the last 6 games for the Texans, and helped the 1 - 11 Texans win their only game by scoring on a 1 yard plunge late in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears. Tripuka threw 3 touchdown passes that year, and was victimized for 17 interceptions, and also had 4 punts blocked on a career best 35 attempts. The Texans then folded after their one year in the NFL. Tripuka found himself in the Canadian Football League in 1954. He joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and started for them until 1958. He was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders, but was released into the 1959 year. He rejoined Saskatchewan, but as an assistant coach because Saskatchewan could not put him on the roster. The CFL had a rule then where only 12 non-Canadians could play on each team. Saskatchewan lost all of their quaterbacks with two more games on the schedule. The team decided to play Tripuka and forfeited the last two games because of this move. 1960 saw the inception of the American Football League, and the Broncos were one of the teams starting out under it. Tripuka was initially tabbed to be an assistant coach, but the quarterbacks the Broncos had in camp were not acceptable. Frank was asked to suit up, and started for the Broncos the next three seasons. He led the AFL in 1960 with passing attempts, completions, yards gained passing per game, and passing yards. He also led the AFL with a career high 34 interceptions thrown and had a career best 24 touchdowns thrown as well. Tripuka led the AFL again in passing attempts, completions, yards gained passing per game, and passing yards in 1962. He was named to his only All Pro Team that year. Tripuka saw mop up duty in 2 games during the 1964 season, then retired. He is still ranked 5th overall in Broncos history on the passing chart, and his number was the first retired by the Broncos. Some may know Frank is the father of former NBA All Star Kelly Tripuka too. Frank Tripuka is a member of the Broncos Ring Of Fame, and helped the Broncos get its franchise off the ground.

HALFBACK : Terrell Davis

Floyd Little is a future CCC profilee, so I'm going with Davis. Though some are pushing for Terrell's induction into Canton, I just do not see that happening. Otis Armstrong definetely deserves mention as well. Davis was a 6th round draft pick by the Broncos in the 1995 draft. He quickly won the starters job in his rookie year, and gained 1,117 yards at a 4.7 yards per carry average. He also caught a career high 49 passes, and scored 8 touchdowns total. Davis gained 1,538 yards the next year, at and scored 15 touchdowns total. He was named to his first All Pro Team, and was named the AP Offensive Player Of The Year. Terrell led the NFL with 15 rushing touchdowns in 1997, and gained 1,750 yards. The Broncos would go on to win Super Bowl XXXII , as Davis was named the games MVP for gaining 157 yards on 30 carries. He also scored 3 of the Broncos 4 touchdowns, including the winning score in the 4th quarter. 1998 was the best season Davis had in the NFL. He set career highs with 2,008 yards, 21 rushing TD's, a 5.1 yards per carry, and an average of 125.5 yards rushing per game. He led the NFL in those categories as well. He even found the end zone 2 more times on 25 receptions. He was named to his 3rd straight, and last, All Pro Team. Davis was named Player Of The Year by the AP and the Pro Football Writers of America, as well as the AP Offensive Player Of The Year. The Broncos repeated as champions by winning Super Bowl XXXIII. Davis was hurt early in 1999, and was never quite the same again. He carried the ball 145 times for 493 yards and 4 TD's in 1999 and 2000 combined. In 2001, Davis carried the ball 167 times for 701 yards, but failed the score for the first time in his career. He retired after that year. For a few years, there was few better in the NFL at Running Back than Terrell. He was fast and strong, with sure hands. In fact, he only fumbled twice on a whopping 397 carries in 1998. He is a member of the Broncos Ring Of Fame, and is one of the finest to ever have suited up in the Mile High.

FULLBACK: Jon Keyworth

This choice was made on longevity, because the Broncos have had many players at this position for brief times. Cookie Gilchrist is the first All Pro in the team's history at this position. Armstrong was the second, when he played alongside Little in 1974. Howard Griffith deserves mention too, due to his blocking abilities. I chose Keyworth, an undervalued man in the teams history. Keyworth was a 6th round draft choice of the Washington Redskins in the 1974 draft, but did not make the team. The Broncos quickly picked up the former Colorado University star, and quickly made Jon their short yardage specialist. Though he ended up starting 5 games as a rookie as well, he ended up scoring a career high 10 touchdowns for Denver on 81 carries. When starting Fullback Otis Armstrong went down early in 1975, Keyworth took over. He gained 725 yards on 182 carries, and had 42 receptions, all of which led the team. These are his career highs for one season, and he also scored 4 times. With Armstrong healthy in 1976 and now playing Halfback, Keyworth spent most of the rest of his time blocking for Denver. In 1977, the Broncos played in Super Bowl XII. Though Keyworth missed 3 games that year due to injury, his highlight was scoring a TD in the AFC Championship win over the defending champion Oakland Raiders. Jon retired after the 1980 season with 699 carries for 2,653 yards and 22 rushing TD's. He also caught 141 passes for 3 more scores, and even tossed his only pass for a 32 yard score in 1979. Though guys like Little and Armstrong were considered the stars on the backfield in Keyworth's time with Denver, he may be the best Fullback in Broncos history.


Lionel Taylor will be a future CCC profilee, so I'm picking Haven. Moses was a 1st round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in the 1968 AFL Draft. He caught 42 balls for 633 yards and 2 scores in his rookie year. Haven then caught 39 balls in each of the two following years, and averaged 19 yards per catch to go with 7 scores. He made the All Pro Team in 1969. 1971 saw Haven snare 23 balls at a 20.4 yard average. He also scored twice. Haven only caught 3 balls for 60 yards and a touchdown for the Bills in the first 5 games of 1972. He was then traded to the Broncos and caught 15 passes for 5 scores in 8 games. One score was off a career long 76 yards pass, and he even scored another touchdown on a 22 yard run. Haven caught 28 balls for 518 yards and had a career best 8 TD's the following season. He was named to his last All Pro Team that year. Moses then caught 34 balls for 2 TD's the next year, and 29 passes and 2 scores in 1975. He had 7 touchdowns on 25 catches the following year. The Broncos reached Super Bowl XII in 1977, and Haven was a big part of the reason. He averaged 20 yards on 27 receptions, to go with 4 TD's. Haven averaged 20 yards on 37 receptions the next year, and scored 5 times. 1979 was his best season, as Haven set career highs with 54 receptions for 943 yards. He also scored 6 times. 1980 saw Haven snag 38 passes and 4 scores. Moses started just 6 games in 1982, and had 15 catches and his last touchdown. He retired after that season with 448 receptions for 8,091 yards and 56 touchdowns. His career average of 18.1 yards per catch is very impressive in any era. Haven Moses is in the Broncos Ring Of Honor, and is certainly one of the best Wide Receivers in the franchises history.


Rod was a free agent rookie signed by the Broncos before the 1995 season. He did start one game and had 6 catches for 154 yards and a score. He also returned 4 kickoffs for 54 yards. Rod started 1 game again the next season, and had 16 catches for 237 yards and 2 TD's. He also had a career high 23 punt returns for 283 yards, and a 29 yard kickoff return. Rod really broke out in 1997, when he had 70 receptions for 1,180 yards and a career best 12 touchdowns, which helped the Broncos go on to win Super Bowl XXXII. Smith then had 86 receptions for 1,222 yards and 6 scores the following year, as the Broncos repeated as NFL Champions. He also threw a 14 yard pass completion. He had 79 catches for 1,020 yards and 4 scores the following season. Rod earned his first Pro Bowl honor, when he had 100 receptions for a career best 1,602 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2000. He also rushed 6 times for 99 yards, including a 50 yard touchdown run. 2001 was a year where Rod set a franchise record of 113 catches, which led the NFL. He had 1,343 yards and 11 scores as well, and made his second All Pro Team. He had 89 catches for 1,027 yards and 5 TD's the next year. 2003 was the first time Rod did not gain 1,000 yards receiving since 1996. He had 74 catches for 845 yards and 3 TD's. He also tossed a 72 yards pass that year, and returned a punt for a score on 6 attempts. In 2004, he had 79 balls for 1,144 yards and 7 scores, to go with 22 punt returns for 223 yards. Rod made his final All Pro Team in 2005, when he had 85 catches for 1,105 yards and 6 scores. Rod was hurt in 2006, but managed 52 receptions for 512 yards and 3 scores. He tried to come back healthy, but ultimately decided to retire with team records of 849 receptions for 11,389 yards and 68 touchdowns. He also had 53 punt returns for 647 yards and a score. Though Rod made get some consideration for Canton, his only having played 3 All Pro games will work against his cause. Still, he most definetely will be put in the Broncos Ring Of Honor soon, and is one of the best Wide Receivers the Broncos have ever had. Al Denson and Steve Watson are just a few other excellent Broncos WR's that deserve mention.

TIGHT END : Riley Odoms

Riley was the Broncos 1st round draft pick in 1972. He was put to use immediately. Riley caught 21 balls for 320 yards and a touchdown. Denver also liked to hand the ball off to Odoms, and he carried the ball 5 times for 72 yards. 1973 saw Odoms snag 43 balls for 629 yards and a career high 7 TD's. He also carried the ball 5 times for 53 yards, and was named to his first All Pro Team. Odoms followed that up in 1974 with another All Pro season. He caught 42 passes for 639 yards and 6 scores. He also carried the ball 4 times for 25 yards. Riley had 40 catches for 544 yards and 3 touchdowns in 1975. He also had 5 rushing attempts for 27 yards, and was named to his 3rd All Pro Team. Riley caught 67 passes for 908 yards and 6 TD's over the next two years. He also ran 3 times for 36 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Broncos would go to Super Bowl XII in 1977. Riley had the best season of his career in 1978. He set career highs with 54 receptions for 829 yards. He also scored 6 times, and was named to his final All Pro Team. From 1979 to 1981, Odoms had 117 receptions for 1,744 yards and 12 scores. Riley was known as a ferocious blocker, and began to help the Broncos offensive line in 1982, seeing time as a Tackle. He only caught 8 balls that year. 1983 would be his last in the NFL, and he caught 4 passes in the 2 games he played. Riley retired with 396 receptions for 5,755 yards and 41 touchdowns receiving. He also carried the ball 25 times for 211 yards and 2 more scores. Odoms was an excellent blocker, and a threat downfield with an average of 14.5 yards per reception in his career. He was consistent and dependable. How many TE's can you think of that had 25 rushing attempts? For some reason, he has yet to be put in the Broncos Ring Of Honor, but Riley Odoms is the most complete Tight End in Broncos history.

TACKLE : Eldon Danenhauer

Eldon joined the expansion Broncos in 1960 as a 25 year old free agent rookie. He started right away at Right Tackle, and would do so until he retired after the 1965 season. He even got to play 4 games with his older brother Bill in his rookie year. Though the Broncos were not an AFL powerhouse, they did have a fairly prolific offense during Eldons tenure. In 1962, he was named to his first All Pro Team, and even got to return the only kickoff of his career for 11 yards. Eldon made his final All Pro Team in 1965, then retired. Though the Broncos have had many fine blockers in their history, Danenhauer's 2 Pro Bowls rank second behind Hall of Famer Gary Zimmerman's 3 in Broncos history. Though he may get lost in the shuffle by some due to the teams lack of success, Eldon Danenhauer is certainly one of the best offensive tackles in Broncos history.

TACKLE : Mike Current

Mike was drafted by the Broncos in the 3rd round of the 1967 AFL Draft. He was traded to the Miami Dolphins for 1 game, then was then traded back to the Broncos and played 3 games for them. Mike was named a starter before the 1968 season, and would remain firmly entrenched as one for the rest of his career. In 1969, Current was named to his only All Pro Team. After playing just 7 games in 1975 due to injury, the Broncos left Mike exposed to the veterans allocation expansion draft for the fledgeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played just one year for Tampa Bay in 1976, a year most noted for the team going winless. Current then rejoined the Dolphins in 1977, and started for them until he retired after the 1979 season. The Broncos got lucky that the Dolphins traded Mike back to them in his rookie year. He was a dependable stalwart on a line that opened holes for Floyd Little and Otis Armstrong. Though Claudie Minor and Matt Lepsis surely deserve mention as well, Mike Current is certainly one of the best blockers in Broncos history.

GUARD : Keith Bishop

Keith was drafted by the Broncos in the 6th round of the 1980 draft. He spent his first 2 seasons as a reserve, before earning a starting job in 1983. Bishop made the Pro Bowl twice in his career in 1986 and 1987. He retired after 1989 to become a DEA agent in Washington D.C. Noted for his toughness and extraordinary trap blocking skills, Keith Bishop is one of the finest Guards to have ever played for the Denver Broncos.

GUARD : Jerry Sturm

Jerry was signed as a free agent rookie by the Broncos in 1961. His rookie season saw him carry the ball 8 times for 31 yards, and catch a pass. He then played as a Tackle the next year, and moved to Center the next 2 years. Jerry made his first AFL All Star Team in 1962 at this position. He was then moved to Guard the next year for the remainder of his time with the Broncos. He made his final All Star Team in 1966. Jerry then went on to the New Orleans Saints the next year, and played Tackle for them for 2 seasons until being moved to Center in 1969. He was then playing for the Houston Oilers as a Center in 1971. He then joined the Pittsburgh Steelers the next year, and suited up for one game. He retired after that year. Though Jerry Sturm was a versatile lineman who played all positions, he is certainly one of the better blockers in Denver Broncos history. George Goeddeke and Mark Schlereth deserve mention as well.

CENTER : Tom Nalen

Tom was a 7th round pick of the Broncos in 1994. He spent his first year as a reserve and suited up for 7 games, though he did start 1. He was named a starter the next year, and would start every game he played in for the Broncos until he retired in 2007. He made his first All Pro Team in 1997, and even made his only pass reception that year. He continued to be an All Pro until 2000. He was a key member of the excellent offensive line that helped lead the Broncos to back to back championships in 1997 and 1998. Nalen got hurt in 2002, and started just 7 games. He returned strong the next year, and made his final All Pro Team. Tom suffered another injury in 2007, and played just 5 games. He tried to rehabilitate the injury, but then decided to retire. Tom Nalen will most likely find his way into the Broncos Ring Of Honor soon, because he is probably the greatest Center in Broncos history.

KICKER : Jason Elam

There are other Broncos kickers who deserve mention. Gene Mingo was a two time AFL All Pro who led the league in scoring twice, and is the first black place kicker in pro football history. He also returned the first punt for a touchdown in AFL history, and holds the franchise record for the longest rushing touchdown of 82 yards. Jim Turner was a long time kicker who is in the Broncos Ring Of Honor. David Treadaway had a Pro Bowl season for Denver as well. Still, Elam has to be considered the best in Denver Broncos history. Elam is mostly known for tying the NFL record of a 63 year yard field goal by casual fans, but he meant more to the team than that. No player in NFL history has scored more points for one team than Elam has with the Denver Broncos. Elam was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1993 draft by the Broncos. He has NFL records for most consecutive extra points made, best extra point conversion percentage, most consecutive seasons with at least 100 points, most seasons with at least 100 points, fastest to 300 successful field goals, fastest to 1,600 points and fastest to 1,700 points. Elam was the first player in NFL history to score at least 200 points against three or more teams as well. Factor in his 2 Super Bowl rings as well, and it's an easy call here for Elam. He may actually get into Canton one day, but we have seen several great kickers and punters get neglected before him. Players like Ray Guy, and many more, await their call. I have long stated the under appreciation of specialists by some voters. Jason Elam deserves the call, and is easily the best Kicker in Broncos history. He still is going strong as a member of the Atlanta Falcons currently.


Rick was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 4th round of the 1975 draft. He was used as a return specialist immediately. He had 1,084 yards on 40 kickoff returns for an impressive 27.1 average. He also had an 11.6 yard per punt return average on 27 attempts. Upchurch exploded onto the NFL scene the next year, and was named to his first All Pro team. He scored 4 times on punt returns that season, which tied an NFL record. He also led the league with a 13.7 average, and a career best 92 yard return. Rick led the NFL in 1977 with 653 punt return yards. He also scored on a 87 yard return, helping the Broncos capture the AFC Championship. Upchurch, now primarily a punt returner and wide receiver, went back to the Pro Bowl in 1977. He led the NFL with a 13.7 punt return average, while scoring on a 75 yard return. 1979 was Rick's best year as a pass catcher. He had career bests with 64 receptions for 937 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also averaged 10.1 yards on punt returns, as he was honored as an All Pro. Upchurch spent his last few years as a wide receiver mainly. In 1982, Rick returned 15 punts and scored the last 2 touchdowns of his career via special teams. He also led the NFL with a career best 16.1 yards per return. His leading the NFL in punt return average 3 times is tied for an NFL record. Rick Upchurch retired after the 1983 season with 267 receptions and 24 touchdowns. He also rushed for 349 yards on 49 attempts, and scored 3 times. Rick had a 24.8 average on 95 kick returns, and a 12.1 average on 248 returns. His 8 punt return touchdowns are tied for the third most in NFL history.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Slicing An Apple Like An Arm

Put down the sifter Granny, and put your bloomers back on. Emerging from the shadows like a recluse, it is time again for POINTLESS PONDERING. Reborn like a drunk and horny Santa in a strip mall wanting you to sit on his lap.

I may be considered a pessimist by Yankee fans, but has Hank gotten desperate? I told you how the team is having great difficulties selling seats in the new stadium, and we all see how the present state of the economy is. Hank may be gambling away the Yankees right now. Not necessarily a death knoll, mind you, but this could be painful to watch. Even for a Yankee hater like myself. C.C. Sabathia is going to make an insane amount of money for a inane amount of time. Pitchers should never be given long term contracts, given the nature of their position and it's health risks. Then you see A.J. Burnett getting big bucks as well, despite his arm injury history. In a dream word, A.J. and C.C. pitch to their abilities and help keep the Yankees in the hunt. The other side is...well..Carl Pavano. This is much more money to lose if C.C. busts, and the Steinbrenner's might have to foreclose a few of their homes if this happens. Personally, I think C.C. needs to stay in the N.L. with his bat. He has a much better chance at Cooperstown that way, but it would be impossible to decline that kind of cash. It'll all play out, and I wish the Yankees the best as long as the O's beat them.

Can we ever get off the Quarterback Band Wagon? It has gone beyond revolting. Hearing people push Peyton Manning and Kerry Collins for NFL MVP this year is hilarious. Do they even watch the game, or are their eyes fixation of every gyration made by the QB? It reminds me of the pervert in the raincoat watching the stripper with obsession. Collins was important, as far as stabilizing the position. Still, he isn't even close to being the Titans MVP. There are about 9 guys in front of him, at the least, for that nod. No one fears the Tennessee aerial attack, and game plans against their run. The blocking has been so good, it hasn't mattered. Then there is the defense, led by Albert Haynesworth. Manning took weeks to get his legs, after a preseason surgery. Granted, he has had no running game to help him much, but the Colts defense is the most important reason to why the Colts rebounded and has the team on the cusp of returning to the playoffs. This has been done despite the usual numerous injuries to Bob Sanders as well. Then some, like Skip Bayless, try to say Brett Favre is the MVP. PLEASE! Farve does lead the NFL in throwing interceptions, which is his usual annual honor.He also has coughed up 10 fumbles, which makes 157 in 17 seasons (don't count the 2 "games" he played as a rookie in Atlanta) and 303 career interceptions. PUKE! That averages out to over 27! turnovers a season. MVP of the opposition perhaps. Some are saying Eli Manning deserves the award. Huh? With or without Plaxico, Eli has been good. Without that running attack, blocking, or defense, he would be the same guy people were saying was horrible just a few years ago. Priorities need to be seen clearer. The only 2 QB's I see as reasonable MVP candidates are Drew Brees and Kurt Warner. Without them, their teams are truly nowhere. Who knows their future, this year, with them. My pick, if it has to be a QB (it usually is), would be Warner. The NFL will probably treat him much like the NCAA is treating Graham Harrell = disrespectfully.

Does Jim Zorn have Norv Turner written all over him? Probably not, because Turner is a horrible head coach. If you saw Warren Sapp's face on that NFL Showtime gig, you'd see proof. Turner's coaching ability was the question, and now Zorn is finally taking his pill. I had long been skeptical of his hiring, calling it a stop gap until The Dan tries to buy Bill Cowher in 2009. This theory seems more evident now, given the Redskins limitations. Zorn was winning with Joe Gibbs players on a Joe Gibbs game plan. The problem was that he ran Clinton Portis into the ground fast, much like Zorn and Chuck Knox did to Curt Warner in Seattle. Some may say his options were limited because Ladell Betts got hurt, but Betts was barely toting the rock anyways. Sitting on the bench, with a big contract, was Rock Cartwright, so Zorn gets the moronic Vinny Cerrato to sign the washed up Shaun Alexander instead. That was just another bad move by Zorn. Now the Dirt Bags are getting hurt again, along with Portis, and the fact that Jason Campbell is on his fifth offensive system in five years is more evident. The West Coast Offense has no chance in the NFC East, and especially with the current players. It's too feminine for the division. It also would take Zorn years to get those men, and he has that anchor Cerrato dragging him down. The only move for The Dan, given his "win now" personality, would be to fire Cerrato (FINALLY!) and gamble on Cowhers ability to call the shots.

Who really gives a crap on who wins the Heisman Trophy anymore? Get rid of the Davey O'Brien Award (for top QB), because this "award" goes to mainly quarterbacks anyways. Many aren't even that great as QB's. This list of Heisman winners who have done nothing in the NFL is long and humorous. Only 2 defensive players have ever won this award, so this sham of the "best college player" award holds even less credibility than the BcS system.

Though the North Carolina Tarheels may be the favorite of many to win the NCAA Mens Basketball Championship this year, I think one of the best stories has to be Stephon Curry of Davidson. Curry is a chip off the ol' block. His dad, Dell, was an amazing shooter as well. They both have one thing in common = they put the team first. Stephon was held scoreless in a 30 point win for Davidson over Loyola of Maryland. Why? Loyola played a triangle and two defense, placing two defenders on curry alone. Curry, who took just 3 shots that game, sat in the corner of the baseline and watched his team win. In this era of the selfish ego maniac grabbing headlines, it was certainly refreshing to see a guy get it. It's about the win, not the pay check. Curry, who eschewed the NBA to improve his overall game, currently is averaging over 30 PPG anyways.

Welp, it's about that time to make like a baby and head out. As they say in Ol' Mexico = A.M.F

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Texas Two Step

As the Division 1A college football season winds down to a close, there are a few names on the lips of many as the best players in the nation. Both happen to be quarterbacks who play their college football in the state of Texas.

First, you have Colt McCoy of the University of Texas.

All McCoy has done is complete an other wordly 77 percent of his passing attempts, while only having 7 interceptions versus 30 touchdown passes. Then you can factor in his running ability, which has seen him score 8 more times, as he leads the team with 527 yards on 117 attempts. He has meant so much to the Longhorns that you may expect him to soon be catching passes and returning kicks as well. If there was ever a front runner for the Heisman Trophy Award this year, McCoy would have to be amongst the first mentioned.

Then you have Graham Harrell of Texas Tech.

He leads the nation in passing, as does the team itself. He has completed 70 percent of his passes, while tossing a whopping 39 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions. Harrell doesn't run as much, and isn't asked to. Shannon Woods and Baron Batch both have rushed for over 600 yards, but Harrell has still rushed for 6 touchdowns as well. He was considered the favorite to win the Heisman before Oklahoma dismantled Tech's dreams last week, but is still very much alive in the hunt for the award. He is also considered to be the top rated quarterback in the 2009 NFL Draft.

You may think that is where it ends in the talk of excellent quarterbacks in the Lone Star State, but you'd be wrong.

The University of Houston boasts another from their long line of productive signal callers.

Case Keenum is a sophomore who is the 2nd ranked quarterback in college football behind Harrell by just 164 yards. Keenum has thrown 38 touchdown passes, while having 9 intercepted. He also has completed 69 percent of his tosses, despite being sacked 22 times so far. Keenum has also rushed for 5 touchdowns, which ranks as the second most on the team.

How about Chase Clement, a senior at Rice University?

Clement is having the best season that hardly anyone is talking about. He ranks 6th in the nation in passing, and has completed 66 percent of his passes for 36 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. He has done this while being sacked 21 times, and has still lead the Owls to one of the best seasons they have had in decades.He has rushed for 563 yards on 129 attempts, both of which are the second most on the team. He leads the team with 10 rushing toudowns, which have helped propel Rice into first place in Conference USA.

You can also talk about Robert Griffin, a freshman at Baylor University.

Griffin has a completion percentage of 59 percent, which is truly outstanding for a quarterback at any grade level. If you add to the fact he has only tossed 2 interceptions all year, you can see how special Griffith is. He also is an exciting runner. He is second on his team with 744 yards, but leads the team with 11 rushing touchdowns. Add his 14 passing touchdowns, and you can see that he is bound to be all over the Baylor record books by the time he graduates.

Then there is sophomore Trevor Vittatoe on the University of Texas El Paso.

Vittatoe has tossed 31 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions, while completing 59 percent of his passes as well. He is currently ranked 15th in the nation in passing, just 3 spots behind McCoy.

You can even look at Southern Methodist University's Bo Levi Mitchell.

He is currently ranked the 27th best passer in all of college football. The freshman has completed 58 percent of his passes, while throwing 23 touchdowns, and running for one more. Mitchell has been victimized for 21 interceptions, but the talent is quite evident.

Though Harrell and Clement are graduating after this season, the future looks very bright for college football in Texas. Not only in the quarterback position either, but you would be hard pressed to list another state in this great country with a better class of passers. With youngsters like Keenum, Vittatoe, Griffin, and Mitchell bound to get even better, you may be witnessing one of the finest quaterback classes in the entire history of Texas right now at any level. Even when you consider the history already paved, you may agree with me that this is no tall tale.

Monday, November 24, 2008


As the playoff stretch begins to hit crunch time, I have a few thoughts I dare gage as almost points to certain subjects:


Did anyone watch the Baltimore Ravens demolish the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday? There was actually a fairly critical junction early in the game that may have done the Eagles in more than some may think. Baltimore's Ed Reed was taking a ball towards the end zone when the Eagles were converging on him. He decided to think about a lateral. As he began to handle the ball for consideration, his arm bumped into an Eagle. The ball came loose, and it appeared the ball was recovered by Philadelphia within their own 10 yard line. The referees decided that Reed had committed a forward lateral, which somehow nullified the fumble. Now, I do understand the forward lateral constitutes a passing attempt for the offense. The problem here is that is almost seems to imply it does on defense too. Sure, the Ravens had the ball and that defines possession, thus making them the team on the offensive, but I am not sure if this rule is correct. I think that, if the defense gains possession and commits this infraction, that it should be called a fumble and live ball that the defense cannot advance past the point of where the said offense occurred. Then there is the fact that Reed's arm was bumped by the Eagle as he was beginning the motion. This implies that the loose ball is also a fumble. If the Eagles actually did fall on it, then it would've been their ball and a first down. With the way the Ravens defense was playing, it may not have made much of a difference for Philadelphia, but there is always that unknown gray area that no one can truly assume what that would have meant to the Eagles if the play was called the way I think it should have been.


Speaking on the Eagles, it appears the Donovan McNabb Era is in its last run. With 5 games left, McNabb can certainly turn that idea around. It would take a deep playoff run to set doubt on the theory he will be wearing a new jersey in a few months. I was a bit surprised Andy Reid didn't go back to McNabb mid-way in the 3rd quarter when it was obvious Kevin Kolb was not inspiring the team. The news is that McNabb will start Thursday, so we will see if this veteran team turns things around. I am one who hopes that it will. McNabb, as some of you may recall, was booed for his being drafted in the first place. He really hasn't been given the fairest of shakes. After all, he did take the Eagles to the Super Bowl. I understand Eagles fans want the win to go with it, but think of how many great Eagles QB's haven't even taken Philadelphia that far. Donovan certainly ranks as one of the best to have ever suited up for this illustrious organization. Philly fans are loyal and tough. If they think you aren't giving it your best each moment, they let you know. Ask Mike Schmidt, one of the best 3rd base to have ever played the game of baseball. The other question in Philadelphia is the future of Reid himself, though I am not so certain that is as much in the air. Reid drafted with an eye to the future, as far as the offensive line goes, and seems to have the Eagles in decent position to remain competitive if Kolb is indeed handed the starting job next year. Some think the Eagles rely too much on the pass. If the Eagles are able to draft one power type of running back before next year, then this issue can be resolved. There was hope that Tony Hunt was that, but he is no longer with the team. There is a chance Reid leaves with McNabb, but there also is the question in which direction the franchise is headed if all of this happens in one off season. I see Reid hanging on for one more year, at least. But, who really knows?


I realize many people like to say Jim Zorn was influenced by Mike Holmgren, but I tend to think his main influence right now may be Chuck Knox. For you too young to recall this great coach, he has a style best described as "Ground Chuck" It was a style that would pound an opponent into the fourth quarter by running the ball 25-30 + times per game. It was a successful formula in Knox's days in Seattle with Zorn behind center. Some may like to think of the Zorn to Largent connection first, but this was made possible by guys like Curt Warner. Now we see Zorn pounding Clinton Portis often behind the "Dirt Bags". It actually is the best blue print for victory, given the current player personnel. Whether Zorn, or this style, lasts for a few years remains to be seen. Maybe, by then, Zorn will have drafted guys he feels best fit his offensive scheme. Then we will truly see all of his influences.


After watching the Houston Texans control the Cleveland Browns, it should water down some QB happy Browns fans as to what the teams problems truly are. Whether you have Anderson or Quinn, it doesn't matter if no one is blocking or catching. Both QB's are young, so there is no question about going with "the future" at the quarterback position. Anderson will probably be on another team next year, and that is honestly the best case scenario for him personally. I admit, after watching the Browns block last year, I overrated the line somewhat. I'd like to call it "an off year", but the fact is that this group has been dominated week to week pretty much. Jamaal Lewis isn't getting any younger, and we know about the Browns bad luck in procuring young backs. Green and Suggs are a few guys who couldn't get the job done for this new Browns franchise. Factor in the overwhelming under achievements of Braylon Edwards, Donte Stallworth, and Kellen Winslow, as well as injuries to Joe Jurevicius, and Martin Rucker. There is hope for '09, but it only will happen with improved play in the trenches. Romeo Crennel knows he won't see it from the Browns sideline, but you can assume other teams will be trying to hire him as a defensive coach the day he gets fired. I think the Browns also need to hire a better GM also. But it could be worse for Browns fans...and has been in the past.


I admit I was wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy off on Matt Ryan AND the Atlanta Falcons. Sure, their strength of schedule isn't that impressive, but their record is. I had them winning 3 all year, and they have already doubled that. Though I am equally impressed with the under appreciated Joe Flacco of Baltimore, Ryan has been everything and more that Atlanta expected. The real MVP for the Falcons is probably John Abrahams and the rest of the defensive line. The Falcons have been pretty stout, and are doing it with quite a few youngsters on both sides of the ball. Factor in the fact that first round draft pick Sam Baker was lost early in the season as well, and you have to be more impressed with the Falcons. I know I may be one of the few to say this, but Mike Smith HAS to be the NFL Coach Of The Year right now. I don't even think the staunchest of Falcons fanatics would have predicted playoff possibilities for this squad before opening kickoff this year. My R.O.Y. pick was Felix Jones, but Jason Garrett and injuries killed that possibility. Matt Ryan has to be considered the front runner for that award now. Even leaving the Mike Vick saga out of the equation.


Some of the teams that are fighting for the playoffs probably surprise few. New England, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and the New York Giants are amongst the first teams mentioned by many. Then you have a few teams that may surprise some, like Tennessee and Atlanta. Then you have the disappointing teams like San Diego and Jacksonville. The Wildcard spots are tenuous, as are the division battles. Still, you have to wonder if the light has finally gone on for the Dallas Cowboys. With their backs against the wall, they are swing for the fences. Their schedule ahead is hard, but they are a team no one wants to face right now. Then there are teams like Baltimore, Houston, Chicago, and the New York Jets. Teams who have solid defenses, and will crush a few playoff dreams for others, while keeping theirs alive. Though you can roll the dice on your favorites, the uncertainty of these next few weeks may make for more exciting football than the playoffs themselves.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is Sports Doomed?

When you flip on a professional sporting even today, do you still feel the same as you did as a child? Do the athletes seem the same as far as the spirit of gamesmanship? Do the rivals somehow seemed to have dulled somewhat? Does it appear the intensity is over money instead of championships? Do the fans even look or sound the same? Think about even a few of those questions. You can apply these questions to others you know as well. Look at the kids who practice. Are their ultimate goals still as they were 20 years ago? Do they want rings given or bought? Substance or image?

These questions certainly cannot pigeon hole a few, but they may serve as an umbrella for many. It isn't all cut and dry. Imagine starting your career a Dallas Cowboy, then later ending up a Washington Redskin the next year. Can one be expected to "hate Dallas", or even want to take off the heads of guys they roomed with, or broke bread with, or consider friends? The truest definition of the "great rivalry" has been watered down to where even the media gives it limited exposure. This part of the players emotions doesn't even skim the surface of the fan. These are the people who suffer even more than the game itself. Think about it, then take a look at the arenas and stadiums semi-filling up sporting events today. From the licensed seats to the sky boxes, the seats are bought by corporations at ridiculous prices in order for the franchises to afford players who command salaries many would dream of making in a lifetime as opposed to a year or more that the players accrue theirs in.

You can easily say the players are self absorbed and greedy. You can also easily say they are getting a fair salary in a business that has millions poured into it in several directions. The latter point is more easily seen and heard when you see someone say a player has only been offered $25 million dollars a year. Still, you can say that the institute of sports and society neglects to see the forest through the trees. One possibly cannot begrudge these people getting the cash they rake in, but is their worth really that important? After all, they are playing a child's game for a living. Their contribution to the planet is definitely worth being skeptical of. How much of an education or moral value does sports really have on those who are on its outsides? We know sports has saved most all of those who got involved in some way. Regardless of how one feels towards professional sports, it has a place as important to some as religion and politics. The time they take to occupy lifespans is certainly important to the history of the human race, even if professional sports is the infant of this grouping.

When you walk into an NBA arena these days, you see all the empty seats. The league will point to the fact they had bad publicity. I lovingly prefer to tab it that some are tired of watching a fixed game with a predictable outcome, while watching the league carry their anointed images. Call it the trickle down effect from "The Jordan Rules". Then you may have noticed the LPGA has had to cancel events due to money woes, or the fact that the New York Yankees are having a great deal of difficulty selling seats for their new stadium. This is just the beginning of what should be a downfall for many. With the combination of ticket prices, concession prices, and parking fees, it costs hundreds of dollars to go see some sporting events for a family of just three. This is why the working man, who made most of these pro leagues, is now on the endangered species list for attending sporting events. Some would say he was extinct years ago, but we are just getting around to actually acknowledging it.

History has proven to be a cycle. Man has learned little from some errors, and even neglected to fix some mistakes made. Sports certainly can be placed into this realm. All you have to do is compare the beginnings of some pro leagues to now to see this maybe coming back around to its beginnings. When you see a Manny Ramirez insulted by the Los Angeles Dodgers offer, or hearing how Latrell Sprewell can't feed his kids on a few million dollars a year, one can't help but to roll their eyes. With the way the economy stands right now, you may see a lot of low ball offers in the free agents of Major League Baseball this off season. Players can certainly claim collusion, but the owners have no choice but to circle their financial wagons. Remember : the American League was started by players who felt the owners of the parent National League was not paying a fair salary. Then you look at the NBA and its 10 day contact. If the seats stay empty, you may see more of this. It is reminiscent of the early days of the NFL. Back then, a player played game to game. If you played well, you got paid and moved on to the next game with the team. If you did not, then you weren't even given a bus ticket for a ride home. Pro sports is teetering along with the economy, so those days may be revisited sooner than some may care to imagine.

Is sports doomed? No, but there may be changes on the horizon in the professional ranks. Eventually, if things remain as they are now, fans will have to decide between food and a sporting event. Not even the most die hard of fan can be expected to eschew reality from the fantasy world that sports supplies. Eventually, the leagues will have to reduce salaries. We have already seen the NBA lay off many employees. The last thing to be reduced will be the price of admission. If sports wants to last long in their wealthy ways, they should lower the ticket prices first. We know that is very unlikely though, don't we? You never know what the owners will do. Some think that man will be replaced by machine in the future. It certainly seems more cost friendly, doesn't it? These could be the days that accelerates that happening. Sports will always be a vital part of all society. Professional sports place is much more undecided on its place or importance. While I am far from being a financial wizard, I can see an ugly road being paved ahead. Will we soon see professional sports ask our government for a bailout too? Stay tuned. That is what they ask....and need.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When A Name Is Not Just Word Part 3

Happy Feller

Though I'm sure he is as a person, Happy Feller also happens to be his name. But not his birth name. James Patrick Feller is his birth name. Happy was a nickname given to him due to his jovial disposition. Happy is what he made Longhorn fans while attending the University of Texas. He made the 1970 All American Team, and nailed a 55 yard field goal that year. This is the 13th longest field goal in Longhorn history. He played on the Longhorns 1969 and 1970 National Championship teams.

Happy was drafted in the 4th round of the 1971 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was the 83rd player picked overall, which is very high for a kicker in that era with 17 rounds of the draft having been conducted. Such NFL Legends like Joe Theisman, Harold Carmichael, Mel Gray, Dwight White, and many others, were drafted behind Feller.

Happy played just 9 of the Eagles 14 games in 1971. Though he did convert all 10 of his extra point conversions, he made only 6 of his 20 field goal attempts. He was replaced by Tom Dempsey, who many fans may remember for setting an NFL record with a 63 yard field goal make later in his career. Happy then joined the New Orleans Saints in 1972. He played in only 6 games for them, making 10 of 11 extra points and 6 of 11 field goals. The Saints also employed Toni Linhart for 2 games that year. Linhart would go on to be a Pro Bowl player for the Baltimore Colts. Happy then played 6 more games for the Saints in 1973. He made all 7 of his extra point conversions, and 4 of his 12 field goal attempts. The Saints then replaced his with Bill McClard. Happy never played in the NFL again.

I was unable to find many pictures of Happy on the net.

This is the best I can do. He wears # 5, and is standing in the second row of the Texas Longhorns 1970 National Championship team photo.

Though Happy Feller did not have the longest of NFL careers, he was able to play for 3 seasons. He obviously was talented enough to be drafted and make the NFL.

Regardless, Happy Feller has one of the more unique names in sports.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Did The Cowboys Push Through The Pain?

Watching the Dallas Cowboys handle the Washington Redskins Monday night came as no surprise to me. In fact, I had predicted as much. One constant theme in the best rivalry in all of sports is the fact that no one can predict the outcome when these two teams clash. Inevitably, there are questions that get answered after the final gun sounds each time.

This game answered quite a few for both sides once again.

The one thing the media had been harping on, in regards to the Cowboys, was the questioning of their intensity and dedication as an entire unit. Some said that the Cowboys showed little urgency in their recent swoon. I think it was too easy to point to injuries, because most teams are suffering from the same infliction of roster turnover. It is part of the game year to year.

The Cowboys were flat in recent weeks, but the leadership of the team kept their heads above water. Wade Phillips is to be commended for making adjustments through the firestorm of inquisition. The question of their intensity was answered in the fourth quarter in the form of a sound rushing attack. The Cowboys' have been up and down in the trenches thus far, but the line stepped up after everything else everything was stripped bare.

The season was truly hanging in the balance. This point was further proven by the Cowboys electing to run for a first down, instead of kicking a field goal, when leading 14 - 10 with under two minutes left on the game clock. Most teams would have kicked the field goal to get the safe seven point lead, but the Cowboys decided to prove a point. The rest of the NFL better have taken notice.

This may signal a temporary stamp of arrival for Dallas. Wade Phillips showed immense confidence and trust in his team by taking a chance on their season. The Cowboys have quite a road in front of them. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and the New York Giants pose quite a set of challenges up ahead.

Even if Dallas wins, the inevitability of injury will surely add to the uncertainty of the seasons outcome. There is also the debate as to whether or not Marion Barber will hold up, and put the team on his back like he did versus Washington. Tony Romo showed very little rust, which should be gone by next week. Felix Jones was held out against the Redskins, so his return will certainly add another weapon to the Cowboys impressive arsenal in the skilled positions.

The entire key to the season will be if the Cowboys can control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball in each game from here on out. Can the Cowboys make the playoffs? Even though Jerry Jones says they will, you'd expect that from the owner.

Take this note from a Redskins fan : Dallas can make the playoffs. Do not bet against them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Renewing A Rivalries Importance

The fact that the Dallas Cowboys will be playing the Washington Redskins this Sunday has to have even some long times fans of both teams scratching their heads. Mainly because of the timing being so immensely crucial. This may as well be a playoff game for both teams. With the New York Giants running away with the NFC East, to the cluster of Wildcard teams in the NFC, the loser of this game can practically say good bye to their 2008 dreams.

Tony Romo and Felix Jones are arriving just in time for Dallas. Romo appears to be fully recovered, and Jones says he is ready to go. What remains to be seen is if the Cowboys will block well for Romo, or if Jones will finally get an increased role in the offensive scheme. The Cowboys still have a few issues in their secondary, but the talent is more than good enough to do the job from here on out. Consistency is the key for this group, as it is for the play on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Romo's abilities should increase the workloads of Terrell Owens and Roy Williams. If this happens, as expected, then opponents with truly have their hands full. Factor in Jason Witten, and even Martellus Bennett, and you can see a plethora of options available at Romo's disposal. That passing threat should open holes for Marion Barber and Felix Jones, as well as the underneath dump passes to them. Jones is especially dangerous in these situations.

The Redskins have a few good things going for them. Their offensive line has finally stayed healthy, and are amongst the best in the NFL. Jason Campbell has been spectacular at quarterback, despite being in his 5th offensive system in 5 years. There are problems that bode well for Dallas. Clinton Portis is "50-50" as of now, due to an ankle injury. He is having his best season with the Redskins, thanks to the offensive line known as "The Dirt Bags". If Portis cannot go, there is a question of his backups. Ladell Betts is trying to say he can go with a bad knee, but Redskins Head Coach Jim Zorn isn't as sure about his status as Betts is. If Betts is out, then the Redskins will be down to just Rock Cartwright and a washed up Shaun Alexander. The Redskins need the run to set up the pass. Tight End Chris Cooley is the Redskins best option in passing situations, and should see double teams if the run game is failing. The Redskins defense has played above expectations, but are still dealing with issues in their secondary. Carlos Rogers and Fred Smoot have been very good as the starting Cornerbacks. Shawn Springs, the son of Cowboys great Ron Springs, should be ready to play as a extra defender, which will be crucial against the Cowboys excellent aerial assault. Newly acquired DeAngelo Hall may even need to be used in certain sets. Laron Landry has been playing hurt at Free Safety all year, so rookie Strong Safety Chris Horton will have to continue and be a pleasant surprise against Witten if the Redskins want to be effective. Whomever controls the line of scrimmage should be in the victor in this battle.

This is another game that deserves its place in the legendary series between these two teams. Each team will have their seasons on the line from here on in, so it is succinct it begins with them facing each other. Both teams have a habit of killing each others dreams. From Ken Houston stopping Walt Garrison inches from the end zone in 1973, which put the Redskins into a first place tie with the Cowboys, to the winless Cowboys defeating the undefeated Redskins, one of the greatest teams in the last 20 years with their record setting offense and 2nd overall ranked defense, in 1991. The road has a habit of running these two franchises head on at the most crucial of junctions. Any real fan of either franchise wouldn't want it any other way.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mark McGwire = NOT a Hall of Famer

Another old TSN post:

The debate on whether McGwire should be elected this year, down the road after the investigations completed further, or ever is tedious.

Just because, at one time, he set a single season record for home runs doesn't mean he deserves election.
Roger Maris never got in.

If you look at McGwires numbers, you'll see how unworthy he is.
1874 games in 16 seasons
1167 runs scored
1414 RBI's
1626 hits
Life time BA: .263

Compare him to just a few other sluggers who will never get in:
Cecil Fielder: 13 seasons, 1470 games, 1313 hits, 1008 RBI's, .255 BA
Dave Kingman: 16 seasons, 1941 games, 1575 hits, 901 runs, 1210 RBI's, .236 BA
Don Baylor: 19 seasons, 2292 games, 2135 hits, 1236 runs, 1276 RBI's, .260 BA
Darrel Evans: 21 seasons, 2687 games, 2223 hits, 1344 runs, 1354 RBI's, .248 BA
Joe Carter: 16 seasons, 2189 games, 2184 hits, 1170 runs, 1445 RBI's, .259 BA

All good players who got their numbers, a few probably without using any drugs.
Just not Hall of Famers.

Others argue about his 583 steroid aided dingers.

McGwire just flip flopped, now saying he won't take part in any investigation.

I think he deserves nothing until MLB builds a separate wing called :

The Cheaters of the Game wing.

Then you can let him in freely along side Sosa, Raffy, Bonds, Rose, Shoeless Joe and the rest.
Give them the ceremony, pomp and circumstances, ect.
We all know MLB, the owners, media knew about juiced balls and players.
Just put their seats in the crowd with the fans if they show up at future induction ceremonies.

Keep it fair for all, even if they weren't.

Time to take a different type of high road.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

NFL Mid-Term Rookie Grades

I have been watching some rookies mainly this year. I like watching the progression of overall skills. I decided to grade a few over my viewings of the ones I feel it fair to grade.

I start with the team having the guy I had picked for Rookie Of The Year:


Felix Jones, RB - I told you all before the draft he was a Cowboy. So far, it looks like I may only get half of my prediction right here. Felix has been superb. A threat every time he touches the ball, he hasn't gotten it very much due to bad play calling. The season isn't over, so he could start to get the ball. I think his lack of use is far from his fault, even after his injury.


Mike Jenkins, CB - He is truly a rookie, but he has shown glimpses of being the guy down the road. He just needs more seasoning.


Orlando Scandrick, CB - He was ahead of Jenkins on the depth chart at one time. He was a steal where the 'Boys got him, and he has the ability to last long in the NFL.



Donnie Avery, WR - I told you all that he was the top WR in the draft, and he is now showing why. His future is so bright, he needs shades.


Chris Long, DE - His motor is relentless. He has a ways to go, but he is showing his worth weekly.



Vern Gholston, LB - The Jets knew he was a project when they got him. He has 1 tackle so far, and appears to be a year or 2 away from playing more.


Dustin Keller, TE - He still isn't getting enough passes his way, but his future appears very bright.


Dwight Lowery, CB - He has been very solid, for the most part, as an extra DB. He has been a steal so far for the Jets.



Chris Johnson, RB - One of the top rookies in the league right now, he is a big reason the Titans are undefeated at this time.



Dexter Jackson, WR - He lost his return duties recently, and appears to have far to go.


Aqib Talib, CB - He leads his team in INT's as an extra DB. He is showing his mettle early.



DeSean Jackson, WR - He is already a top option, and is one of the best rookies in the game.


Quintin Demps, S - He is being brought along slowly, but showed in preseason that he has a future.



Darren McFadden, RB - He has split carries in between injuries, so his up and down season is hard to judge thus far. He has been very effective when he does get the ball.


Chaz Schilens, WR - The Raiders stole him near the bottom of the draft. He has a lot to learn, but the skill set is evident.


Tyvon Branch, DB - He is versatile, but buried in the depth chart for now.



Red Bryant, DT - This run stuffer is slowly working his way into the rotation.


Lawrence Jackson, DE - He has 2 sacks so far, while being rotated. He needs to improve his run stopping skills, and motor. With Kerney out, the spotlight is on him now.


John Carlson, TE - He is on a 52 catch pace so far this year, and is showing his worth.



Leodis McKelvin, CB - He has a ways to go as a DB, and has mainly returned kicks thus far. His abilities are evident.


James Hardy, WR - He has yet to get into the rotation consistently, but is a tall target.



Eddie Royal, WR - Got off to a hot start, and has battled injury recently. He has been a nice addition so far.


Ryan Clady, OT - He has been excellent mostly. He is probably a perennial Pro Bowler down the road, if not now.


Peyton Hillis, FB - He is a very good blocker, and should help Denver for years.


Jack Williams, CB - Small and fast, he may get a lot of work while Champ Baily is out.


Brett Kern, P - Booming 48 yards per punt, with a nice 39 net thus far in the thin air.


Spencer Larsen, FB - Drafted as a LB, he was moved to FB. He is a special teams leader as well.



Jonathan Stewart, RB - He has been good when called on. He splits carries so far, but has a nose for the end zone.


Jeff Otah, OT - Has been solid day one, and should be a vital member of the Panthers for years.


Charles Godfrey, FS - Has a sack, and tied for 7th in tackles on the team. Has been pretty steady.



Jerome Simpson & Andre Caldwell, WR - Both have barely seen the ball, and will need more seasoning.


Pat Sims, DT - After missing the first 5 games with turf toe, Pat has 19 tackles in just 3 games. Easily the Bengals best rookie so far.



Derrick Harvey, DE - He obviously was hurt by his hold out, and is being spotted so far. He has a ways to go, but is a specimen.


Quintin Groves, DE - Has a pair of sacks, and is making his way into the passing down situations. Appears to have a nice future.


Brian Witherspoon, CB - He mainly returns kicks, and had been excellent. Averages 27 yards per kickoff return, and 12 yards per punt return thus far.



Rashard Mendenhall, RB - Injured early on, and out for the year.


Limas Sweed, WR - Should see more balls now, after an up and down first half season.



Jordy Nelson, WR - He has been very steady, and should help the Pack for years.


Jeremey Thompson, DE - After being inactive for the first part of the season, is getting on the field more. May help more as the season goes on.



Gosder Cherilus, OT - Still making the same bad mental mistakes he made in college. Was handed the starting job, lost it, now has it back. So far has not looked very good and is wildly inconsistent.


Kevin Smith, RB - Splits carries now, but has shown glimpses. Leads the team in rushing, and has an impressive 4.8 yards per carry so far. Has a bright future.


Jerome Felton, FB - Is a good lead blocker, and has soft hands. As the offense, and he, matures, Jerome should have a bigger role.


Jordon Dizon, LB - Is buried on the bench, and appears to need seasoning. More time is needed for a fair assessment.


Cliff Avril, LB - Getting on the field more and more weekly. Had his 1st sack last week, creating a fumble.



Kentwan Balmer, DT - Being brought along slowly, and has yet to make any impact.


Josh Morgan, WR - Has now claimed a starting job. Has a lot to learn, but provides the Niners their best deep threat.



Antoine Cason, CB - Second on team in INT's, and 7th in tackles. All done as an extra DB. Very impressive, to say the least.


Mike Tolbert, FB - Won the starters job as an undrafted free agent, and has been solid in every area.



BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB - He is getting playing time lately, due to an injured RB's corps, and has been positive.


Matthew Slater, WR - Returns a few kicks, and makes his biggest impact covering kicks.


Jerod Mayo, LB - Leads the teams is tackles, and appears on his way to winning Defensive Rookie Of The Year Award honors.


Jonathan Wilhite, CB - He has seen some extra DB work, and may help more next year.



Sedrick Ellis, DT - Hard grade, because he has only been healthy to play 5 games, and be part of a rotation. Has a sack and 10 tackles thus far. Incomplete may be most fair for now.

Jo Lon Dunbar, LB - He gets spotted, but he is 4th on the Saints LC corps in tackles. He may help more as the season goes on too.



Steve Slaton, RB - Leads the Texans in rushing yards, rushing attempts, rushing touchdowns, total TD's, and is second in total yards, and third in receptions. Maybe the most under rated rookie in the NFL now, and the biggest steal in the draft.


Duane Brown, OT - Still has much to learn, but the ability is easily seen. Factor in OL Coach Alex Gibbs, and Brown has a bright future.



Tim Hightower, RB - Rumor is he will soon replace James as the primary rusher. Leads the Cards in rushing TD's, and is second on the team in overall TD's.


Calais Campbell, DE - Gets rotated in on occasion, and has helped on special teams. Should get more work in as the year progresses.


Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB - Being brought along slowly as an extra DB. Has already shown he loves to hit and mix it up in traffic.



Tyrell Johnson, S - Eighth in total tackles for the team, he has been a big help to the Vikes thus far.


Hussain Abdullah, S - Spotted as an extra DB, while mostly helping via special teams. He has helped with depth after injuries.



Matt Forte, RB - May be the front runner for NFC Rookie Of The Year. May be the most important member of the Bears offense already. Leads the team in every rushing category, and is truly a workhorse.


Marcus Harrison, DT - Shows excellent abilities, while being spotted in the rotation. He has 2 sacks already, and shows that he could be a very important component in the stretch run.



Alex Hall, LB - Second on the team in sacks, and tied for first in forced fumbles despite being spotted. Is learning from Willie McGinest, and should step right in next year as his replacement.



Joe Flacco, QB - If even NFL Legend Ozzie Newsome saw Flacco doing this well this early, he should be prodded for more important predictions. Flacco obviously has a big learning curve ahead of him, but he has been solid for the most part. He has even been spectacular on quite a few occasions.


Ray Rice, RB - Rice has been pretty solid. The Ravens may be using him more than they expected this early. Averages over 4.8 yards per carry.



Chris Horton, S - A real find. Already has won a Player of the Week Award. Has bailed the 'Skins out of countless plays. 3rd on the team in tackles.


Durant Brooks, P - Flop, and a wasted pick. Now unemployed. Punters are the type to bounce back, so do not be shocked to see him doing well in another uniform somewhere down the road.


Devin Thomas, WR - Has a lot to learn, and is being brought along slowly. Has shown a few brief flashes of ability.


Fred Davis, TE & Malcolm Kelly, WR - Look like wasted picks thus far (as predicted).



Davone Bess, WR - Mainly used as a return specialist, but is 5th on the team in receptions as well. Has been a nice addition.


Jake Long, OT - Has been "as advertised" thus far. He should be the 'Phins anchor for many years.


Kendall Langford, DE - Has a few sacks, and has shown to be stout in run support. Part of a young pair of DE's that have bright futures.


Phillip Merling, DE - Has a sack, and appears to be Langford's bookend for many years.


Dan Carpenter, K - Has been one of the very best kickers in the NFL thus far. At this pace, he should be a Pro Bowler.



Matt Ryan, QB - I admit I was way off on him. He has easily grasped the pro game, and shows exceptional talent and intelligence. The Falcons are the surprise team of the NFL, and Ryan is a big part as to why.


Harry Douglass, WR - He is coming along very nicely. It appears he may soon bookend White as the Falcons WR's for the next few years.


Chris Lofton, LB - His is energetic, and infectious. He is coming along more each week, and has stabilized the LB corps.


Chevis Jackson, CB - He is being spotted, and has done fairly well thus far.


Sam Baker, OT - He had done well in the 5 games he started. He has been injured, and now seems to be out for a long time.



Jamaal Charles, RB - He was returning kickoffs at the beginning of the season, and is now coming off a career best game. He may still be 3rd in the depth chart, but the may soon vault his way higher if his production stays consistent.


Branden Albert, OT - He has a ways to go, but he has shown why many think he has what it takes to be a Left Tackle.


Brandon Carr, CB - Herm Edwards deserves a nod for this kid being stolen in the 5th round. He has a definite upside, and is doing well learning under fire. Has swiped 2 balls thus far.


Brandon Flowers, CB - The Chiefs other starting CB. He is solid in run support, and also has 2 picks and a TD. The Chiefs appear to have a fine set of CB's for many years ahead.


Glenn Dorsey, DT - He is still coming along. Dorsey has shown flashes of his good run stopping ability.


DaJuan Morgan, S - He is mainly being spotted on extra DB packages on rare occasion. He has some learning to do after missing time in college due to injury, but the skill set is there.


Brad Cottram, TE - Brad is learning from Gonzo, and has 5 catches thus far. The hope is that he is the heir apparent.


Maurice Leggett, CB - Was called on last week after a hamstring injury to Flowers. Responded with 7 tackles and a ball defended.


Dantrell Savage, RB - Excelling as a kick returner with an average of over 25 yards. Has now taken on the punt return duties.


Mike Cox, FB - Shows good lead blocking ability, and hasn't been asked to do more yet.


Conner Barth, K - Has taken over the job recently, and has yet to miss.



Eric Foster, DT - Has shown good run support. One of those quick and undersized Colt defensive linemen.


Steve Justice, C - Has good skills, and even started a game. Is learning behind an All Pro, so he will be given time to develop.


Mike Pollack, G - Has started 5 games, and hasn't given up a sack. He was a great draft pick, and appears to have long time starter written all over him.


Jamie Richard, G - Has started in 5 of the 8 games he has played. Has not allowed a sack, and it appears he will team up with Pollack and Justice as the Colts future.


Tom Santi, TE - Has 10 catches and a TD in limited time. Has shown a nice ability to find the seams and sit down in them.


Pierre Garcon, WR - Used mainly as a kickoff returner, he obviously has good athleticism.



Kenny Phillips, S - He has stepped in quickly. He is 6th on the team in tackles. His pick was certainly the right one for the Big Blue.


Bryan Kehl, LB - Being brought along smartly, but he has certainly made an impact. He is another of the G-mens steals in the draft.