Tag Archives: Phillip Rivers

NFL Picks: Week 9

So, I’ve always meant to do one of those “weekly picks against the line” segments each season, yet in all the hysteria of the NFL season starting, the last few days before our fantasy football league draft, and my endless rationalizations why THIS will actually be the year the Redskins will be a contender, I always end up missing the first week’s picks.

Naturally, the same thing happened this year. But given that we’re now eight weeks into the season (essentially halfway through, if you discount the partially-meaningless week 17), I thought now would be as good a time to start as any.

Away we go. These picks are for nothing more than entertainment and recreational uses only. Home teams in Capital letters.

WASHINGTON (+3.5) over San Francisco: let’s be clear: I don’t have any faith in this Redskins team. It’s just against my personal fiber to pick against them. I literally might make it rain on myself if John Beck throws a touchdown pass; that’s how much I think of his quarterbacking abilities.

Atlanta (-7) over INDIANAPOLIS: The Colts aren’t bad; they’re historically bad. If the ’72 Dolphis pop champage ever year a team doesn’t go undefeated, what would the 2008 Lions (only team to go 0-16) do if their streak is broken: pop a 40 ouncer?

NEW ORLEANS (-8) over Tampa Bay: Something aint quite right about Tampa Bay this year. On the other side, since 2008, the Saints are 11-0 the week after Drew Brees’ quarterback rating falls below 75.0. Drew Brees’ QB rating last week was a 73, and Tampa Bay is in the bottom seven in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. Do the math.

Cleveland (+11) over HOUSTON: Cleveland is one of those teams that can inexplicably beat anybody and also lose to anybody. Houston is also one of those teams that can inexplicably lose to anybody or beat anyone. I like Houston, just not by 11.

New York Jets (+1.5) over BUFFALO: Over the last two seasons, Rex Ryan has averaged a 5-3 record over the first eight games of the season, and a 5-3 record over the last eight games of the season. Eery. The Jets are 4-3, and the Bills went 2-2 in October after starting the season 3-0. The numbers say: pick the Jets.

KANSAS CITY (-4) over Miami: if your team is poised to get the first overall pick twice in a four year span (2008 and 2012), you might want to take a long look at how you’re running things.

DALLAS (-11.5) over Seattle: Miami’s and Seattle’s QB situations are the only reasons that, as a Redskins fan having to deal with Grossman (never had it, never will) or Beck (never had it, never will), I can say: “hey, our QB situation could be worse”

DENVER (+8) over Oakland: over-saturated betting line > Tebow.

Cincinnati (+3) over Tennessee: The wagon is starting to fall apart for the Titans; they’re 2-5 for the season, and have scored a grand total of 15 points over the last two games. Chris Johnson looks slow, fat, and unmotivated; it’s like he spent the lockout hanging out with Jamarcus Russell.

ARIZONA (-3.5) over St. Louis: All i’m saying is, if your fans are excited about AJ Feeley, you have a lot bigger problems than you might realize.

NEW ENGLAND (-8.5) over New York Giants: I’ll take a pissed off Brady & Belichick over an overrated Giants squad any day (unless that day is February 3, 2008).

Green Bay (-5.5) over SAN DIEGO: Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in football right now. Conversely, I could really see Phillip Rivers following his three tunover performace last week with a 5 turnover performance this week.

PITTSBURGH (-3) over Baltimore: Oh, sure , i’m sure the Steelers have COMPLETELY forgotten their week one beat-down from the Ravens, and how everyone called this team old, slow, and washed-up.

PHILADELPHIA (-8) over Chicago: I think this one turns into a laugher, in the Eagles favor. Oh, and my currently-on-life-support fantasy football team up against an opponent who has LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin this week. They’ll be going against a defense in the bottom 10 in the NFL overall and bottom five in passing yards allowed. As the kids like to say: FML.

Still Searching For The Answer at Quarterback

How’s this for a knee-jerk reaction?

John Beck isn’t the answer at quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

Yes, last Sunday was only one game. Yes, last Sunday, he made his first NFL start in over three NFL season and close to four years overall. Yes, he finished last Sunday’s game without the services of his starting running back, best wide receiver, and 40% of his team’s starting offensive line. All of those are true.

Here’s my retort: when you watched the game last Sunday, did we really see anything from Beck that, at any point, made you think: “wow, I know it’s only his first game in four seasons, but I really think we have a chance with this guy”? Emphatically, no.

Anyone who’s being completely honest with themself would admit that Beck showed us that he’s an average quarterback, at best, with a little bit of mobility. That’s it. There’s nothing special, or even above average, about his game. Again, being honest, the only reason that myself, among many other Redskins fans, rallied behind John Beck was that he wasn’t Rex Grossman. That’s about it. It’s not like we saw something in 2007, or even this past preseason, that makes us believe that there’s something to this guy. Hell, this is the guy that Grossman beat out for the starting job. Decisively, I might add.

At this point in time, we just have to let Beck finish out the season. Because, really, what other choice do we have? There’s no point in going back to Grossman. He was a below-average quarterback, and he showed nothing different when he was the Redskins starter; there’s nothing to gain by going back to him (except maybe draft positioning). And it’s not like we’ve got some third guy at quarterback, waiting on the bench. Our third string, pratice squad quarterback is Jonathan Crompton, a guy who wasn’t even in camp with the Redskins and signed with the team just days before the regular season started.

Honestly, I’m sick and tired of the patchwork quarterbacking this team has rolled out over the past decade. 21 starting quarterbacks in 19 years, since the end of the Gibbs I era. That’s just ridiculous on so many levels. Even with the new hope found from the Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan, we’re still busy rolling out retreads like Donovan McNabb or castoffs like Grossman and Beck, and being told to have patience and faith.

Damn it, we’ve had nothing but patience, faith, and hope for the better part of two decades now. Enough is enough.

Quarterbacks aren’t like kickers, where there’s five capable guys waiting by the phone for tryouts, ready to take the incumbent’s spot if and when necessary. In today’s NFL, more than at any point ever in the history of the league, a team’s success lies with the performance of its quarterback.

Just take a look around the NFL, as of late October, 2011. The resurrection and current success of some of the league’s top franchises, both currently and over the past decade, began with finding their franchise quarterback – usually capitalizing on an early pick in the draft – and then putting together the rest of the team around that.

Green Bay won the Super Bowl last year, and went to the playoffs two of the three years Aaron Rodgers has been the starting quarterback (yes, I know Rodgers was drafted 24th overall; if you remember that draft, Rodgers was legitimately in the running to be the top overall pick, and only fell to #24 after Smith was drafted because so many teams were afraid of the risk and cost associated with drafting a QB, given the high bust rate between 1997 and 2004). I’ll make the argument, right now, that Rodgers could very well be the best quarterback in the entire game – especially with Peyton Manning gone – even over Tom Brady.

In addition to having him as their starting quarterback in two Super Bowl wins, Pittsburgh has never had a losing season since drafting Ben Roethlisberger. The Giants have never had a losing season since drafting Eli Manning (outside of Manning’s rookie year in 2004), and they also have a Super Bowl ring to show for it. The Chargers have never had a losing season with Phillip Rivers (the third member of that 2004 draft class) as their quarterback , and have won 11 or more games in three of the five season’s he’s been the starter.

Indianapolis drafting Peyton Manning, and their subsequent success, should go without saying (at least until this season). Philadelphia ruled the NFC East for the better part of a decade, after drafting McNabb. The Bengals won two division titles with Carson Palmer as their starting quarterback. Atlanta won their division twice this decade, behind two different highly-drafted franchise quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Matt Ryan). Joe Flacco has taken the Ravens to the playoffs every season he’s been the starter. Detroit has been slowing down over the last few weeks, but looked like one of the best teams in the league through the first five weeks of this season, largely in part due to Matt Stafford’s play.

Even Mark Sanchez, who has looked erratic and inconsistent at times (and that’s being polite), has led the Jets on 7 fourth quarter comebacks, 9 game-winning drives, in less than two and a half seasons as the Jets starting quarterback. And, of course, that’s not mentioning the fact that he’s helped take the Jets to two straight AFC Championship games. Heck, even Vince Young took the Titans and Tim Couch took the Browns to the playoffs once.

Along with intense pre-draft background searches and character interviews, the sophistication of many college offenses, along with draft preparation camps and private coaching from ex-NFL coaches and coordinators, have made some of the recent top draft picks more NFL-ready than we’ve ever seen. If you count every quarterback drafted in the first round between 2008 and 2010 – Ryan, Flacco, Stafford, Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, and Tim Tebow – all but Tebow (a known project and considered a reach overall) started very early in their NFL career and are firmly entrenched as their team’s starting quarterback for at least the next decade. And while the jury is still out for most of the guys from the 2011 draft class – namely Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder – Cam Newton is well on his way to joining the formerly mentioned entrenched starters as well.

In contrast, take a look at teams like Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Houston, Kansas City, and yes, Washington, who’ve foregone the draft route and tried raiding other teams’ rosters or plugging in retreats at quarterback. These are among the teams with the longest playoff droughts in the NFL (you could argue that Kansas City’s playoff run was a huge fluke last year given how bad that team has been this year, and even despite all the offensive statistics they’ve put up under Matt Schaub, the Texans have never made the playoffs in the history of their franchise).

Yes, I know: drafting a quarterback is far from a perfect science, and there’s often as much of a chance of missing as there is of getting the right guy. For all the guys mentioned above, one could easily throw out names like Ryan Leaf (gigantic douche), David Carr (still in the NFL, but just never quite seemed to get it), Joey Harrington (more interested in being Elton John than John Elway), Akili Smith (overrated because of physical attributes while ignoring only one year of college football experience), Byron Leftwich (lazy work ethic and lousy teammate by numerous accounts), Alex Smith (no arm strength and gimmick college offense), Vince Young (overall IQ equivalent to a bag of hamburgers), Matt Leinart (more interested in partying and chasing tail), and Jamarcus Russell (couldn’t stay away from questionable characters, purple drank, or buffet lines), among others, as retorts. All of them, except Alex Smith (who seems to have finally caught on to some extent), have been colossal misses, setting back the fortunes of their franchises for years.

Even the Redskins had to deal with this after they tried to take this route – although not necessarily with a high draft pick – by drafting Jason Campbell, which obviously failed. Campbell was a better physical prospect – and human being – than he was a quarterback. The revolving door of coaching staffs and offensive supporting cast did hurt his development, but he was just one of those guys whose mind and football acumen weren’t nearly as good as his physical skills and talents.

But as we’ve seen, the “acquisition” route at quarterback hasn’t exactly worked either, and we’re once again in a position where we have to hit the reset button. Beck, Grossman, or whoever else we can dig up (Kellen Clemens) will suffice for the 2011 season, but not a day past that.With as many as six guys (maybe more) who could carry a first or high second round grade in the 2012 NFL draft
(assuming they all declare for the draft) – Andrew Luck of Stanford, Landry Jones of Oklahoma, Matt Barkley of USC, Robert Griffin III of Baylor, Nick Foles of Arizona, and Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M – if there was ever a year that Shanahan was to find “his” guy that he could groom into the next franchise quarterback of this team, it would be this year.

But for now, even while John Beck remains the starting quarterback, the search for the Redskins franchise quarterback continues.

This column was cross-posted on RedskinsGab.com

The Pundit’s Predictions and Picks for the 2011 NFL Season

For those of you who don’t know – and who am I kidding, that’s probably everyone reading this blog – I (somehow) managed to correctly predict the participants of Super Bowl XLVIbefore the season started. Yeah, I was batting around .500 in terms of predicted division winners (thank you, Mike Singletary and Norv Turner), Wild Card participants (another thanks to Wade Phillips and Tony Sparano), and completely whiffed on my rookies of the year predictions, but hey, who’s counting?

Oh, right. You are.

Nevertheless, here’s my attempt to make lightning strike twice (because clearly, that happens very often), by providing you with my predictions for the upcoming 2011 NFL season, for your reading pleasure.

NFC East

Philadelphia       11-5
Dallas                    10-6*
Washington        9-7
NY Giants            5-11

NFC North

Green Bay          11-5
Minnesota         9-7*
Detroit                9-7
Chicago              7-9

NFC South

New Orleans     12-4
Tampa Bay        9-7
Atlanta               6-10
Carolina             4-12

NFC West

Arizona                10-6
St. Louis               8-8
Seattle                  5-11
San Francisco   2-14

NFC Wild Card Round

Green Bay over Minnesota
Dallas over Arizona

NFC Semi-Finals

Green Bay over Philadelphia
New Orleans over Dallas

NFC Championship

New Orleans over Green Bay

AFC East

New England      12-4
NY Jets                11-5*
Buffalo                  6-10
Miami                   4-12

AFC North

Pittsburgh          11-5
Baltimore           10-6*
Cleveland           9-7
Cincinnati          6-10

AFC South

Indianapolis      9-7
Houston              7-9
Tennessee          7-9
Jacksonville      6-10

AFC West

San Diego            11-5
Kansas City         7-9
Oakland                7-9
Denver                 6-10

AFC Wild Card Round

Baltimore over Pittsburgh
NY Jets over Indianapolis

AFC Semi Finals

New England over NY Jets
San Diego over Baltimore

AFC Championship

New England over San Diego

Super Bowl XLVII

New Orleans over New England

In homage to Peter King’s “Ten Things I Think I Think” section of his weekly “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, here are 10 thoughts, notes, and comments about my predictions, as well as the upcoming season in general:

1. The Redskins are close, but they’re not ready for the playoffs yet. They’re certainly not going to be nearly as bad as some publications have predicted they’d be, but I think between the amount of youth this team has, plus a brutal 2011 schedule, the Redskins will be outside looking in, in terms of the postseason.Regarding the schedule, just take a look at the last seven games of the Redskins season: at home against Dallas (who I think is going to be a damn good team this year), at Seattle (even if they’re terrible, that’s the toughest place to play in the NFL), at home against the Jets (one of the top three teams in the AFC), at home against New England (my Super Bowl pick from the AFC), at New York (Washington hasn’t beaten in the Giants in New York since 2007), at home against the Vikings (they’ll be a playoff team under Leslie Frazier, even if their offensive line is terrible), and at Philadelphia (who will still have something to play for; namely, playoff positioning, and holding off Dallas from stealing the NFC East crown). That’s six games against playoff-caliber teams, out of seven.Let the kids get another year of experience, let John Beck (assuming he’s still the opening day starter for this team) get a year of comfort in this offense, and prepare for the big run to happen in 2012. The prevailing rumor is that Shanahan & Allen are preparing to make their big run next year anyway, and things look like they’ll work out that way.

2. The Philadelphia Eagles – aka “The Dream Team” – will be a one-and-done in the playoffs, once again courtesy of the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field, for each and every Eagle fan to once again witness in person. The Eagles have some incredible pieces assembled on that team, but I don’t trust that offensive line one bit, and honestly, I trust Michael Vick even less. The amount of hype and attention that Vick has been getting to date is ridiculous, especially for a guy that’s had a grand total of one playoff win in his entire career.His improvisational ability is virtually unprecedented, but if he keeps running around and trying to make something out of nothing, it’s only going to subject him to more hits.

3. The Peyton Manning situation is not good, but there’s no way I’m betting against a team led by him, even if his supporting cast is as thin as it’s been in over a decade. I think he misses a few games – somewhere between two and four is my bet – needs another week or two to get the rust off, but will managed to get the Colts to a nine-win season. That’ll be good enough to win the division (the weakest in the AFC), and to secure a first round exit at the hands of the Jets.

4. I don’t like Houston this year. Between Arian Foster’s hamstring injury and “doesn’t know what, and what not, to say via social media” issues, plus forcing the 3-4 defense on personnel that it’s not necessarily meant for (see Washington Redskins, 2010), there’s no way I can pick them to win the AFC South, even if Peyton Manning misses almost a quarter of the season.

4A. And it will cost Gary Kubiak his job.

5. Lovie Smith won’t get fired…. but there’s going to be a conversation about it

5A. Jim Caldwell won’t get fired because of the convenient excuse of Manning’s neck injury…. but there’s going to be a conversation about it. Jim Caldwell is to Tony Dungy what Rich Kotite was to Buddy Ryan.

6. Norv Turner won’t get fired, but they’ll also have a conversation about it. They axed Marty for the same thing: not being able to take an uber-talented roster to the big game.

6A. That being said, I think Phillip Rivers is going to have a boffo year: something like 4800+ yards passing, close to 35 touchdown passes, and single digit interceptions.

7. Cam Newton starts the season for the Panthers, but won’t play all 16 games. He’ll either be benched, or get injured. Or both. He’s just not ready to start in this league yet. You’ll have to look far and wide to find someone who dislikes Jimmy Clausen more than I do, but he should be the starting quarterback for this team, if nothing else but for the first few weeks of the season, at least until he takes them to something like a 1-7 record. Let’s see how Newton prepares for being the high-priced backup; we’ll learn a lot about him that way.

8. While we’re talking about  #1 overal picks: San Francisco wins the “Andrew Luck sweepstakes” by securing the worst record in the NFL, thus reuniting Luck with his old college head coach, Jim Harbaugh. They’ll narrowly edge Carolina for this “honor,”avoiding a potentially fascinating plotline of what Carolina would have done had they gotten the #1 overall pick, given that they drafted Newton last year. But, with Luck staying in the Bay area, San Francisco will also finally take pity on their fans, and mercifully end the Alex Smith era once and for all.

8A.The Miami Dolphins will get their hands on the consolation prize in the “Luck Sweepstakes”: Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.

9. Speaking of Miami: every year, somewhere between six and eight NFL head coaches are either fired, resigned, or find new jobs. I think Dolphins Tony Sparano will be the first coach to get the axe after the season is over (if he even lasts that long). Other coaches who I think will get canned: Kubiak (as previously mentioned) Jack Del Rio (one winning season in the last 5 years), and Marvin Lewis (one winning season in the last 5 years). And in a little bit of a shocker, I think Tom Coughlin will retire when the year is over.

10. I think Jason Garrett wins coach of the year – and you have no idea how much it pains and angers me to say that. The Cowboys are a team that few people are talking about, even though you should be. Talent-wise, they’re in the upper echelon of the NFL. They went 5-3 over the last eight games of 2010. And perhaps most importantly: with all the “Dream Team” nonsense going on in Philadelphia, this is the first time in over a decade that the spotlight isn’t shining on the Cowboys. When was the last time you could say that a Dallas team this talented was actually “flying under the radar?” Jerry Jones hasn’t had to made any ridiculous statements or proclamations about the Cowboys upcoming successses, nor has he had to answer endless questions about the coache’s job security.

As a Redskins fan, I don’t like saying anything – and I mean ANYthing – nice about the Cowboys. But if there’s a darkhorse team that nobody in the NFC, or NFL overall, is talking about, it’d be them.