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.


Monday, November 3, 2008

When A Name Is Not Just Words Part Two

Part one, I told you about Fair Hooker.

In 1960, the San Francisco 49ers drafted a few colorfully named men. Tight End Monty Stickles, who went on the play with the AFL Los Angeles Chargers instead, and Goose Gonsoulin, who went on to set records as a Safety with the Denver Broncos in the AFL.

They also drafted:


Rod was a 3rd round pick, and the 35th player chosen overall. He was a star Linebacker at the University of Maryland. He grew up in Cumberland, Maryland.

Maybe it was due to this fact that the Washington Redskins acquired his services after the draft. He played right away. Rod picked off 3 passes for 67 yards in his rookie year. He swiped 2 the next, then 3 more in 1962. He also pounced on 3 fumbles, and was named to his only Pro Bowl Team that season. Breedlove picked off one pass the following year, then none in 1964. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers before the 1965 season. He played there until 1967, and intercepted 2 balls and recovered 4 fumbles in the 39 games he suited up for the Steelers. He then retired.

Maybe it was fate that prevented Rod Breedlove from being a 49er? I imagine that, with his name in an era of free love that was prevalent in San Fracisco during the 60's, that he would have been quite popular out there. Maybe he was in DC? For more than being a hometown hero too.

Regardless, Rod Breedlove certainly has one of the most unique names in all of sports history.

He had an excellent career in sports as well.