Just read that Mike Scifres, punter for SD, averages 49.5 yards a punt. He’s second in the NFL to Shane Lechler who averages an amazing 50.1 yards per punt. (Of course, I still think we should have given up a ton – and we would have had to – to pry Lechler away from Oak before he re-signed in the offseason. That Oak wins so infrequently with huge field position advantages speaks extra poorly of the rest of their team.) Anyway, Scifres bombs the ball every time he punts it – but due to SD’s horrendous special teams play, he ranks dead last in net average – AT 25.9!!! That is such a bad net average it’s unreal. But it’s particularly amazing when you’re talking about one of the best punters in the NFL w/respect to gross average year in and year out. While some might contend he’s out-kicking his coverage units etc – Scifres is generally considered one of the better punters w/re to hang-time, so this horrible stat should be pinned on SD’s special teams. San Diego’s special teams has already given up more punt return yards this year in 6 games than it had in the previous 32 games. Scifres has also had 3 punts blocked. Amazing. If punters were divas, Scifres would have asked for a trade this year to a team that could help preserve his legacy as one of the game’s better punters. (For sake of comparison, Shane Lechler’s net average this year: a sick 45.6. If the Packers had Shane Lechler – I’m pretty sure we’d have another victory or two.)
Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category
Read here for background on the arrest of Indy punter Pat McAfee. Several thoughts:
- This isn’t surprising at all. Check out this picture of him. Whenever I see him punting on TV, my immediate thought is that the guy doesn’t look like an NFL player – he looks more like a surfer. Reminds me of Jeff Spicoli.
- He only blew a .15 yet he had his clothes off, was swimming in some canal and he could barely stand? Lightweight.
- Given the NFL’s concerning focus under Roger Goodell of cracking down on absolutely everything, I’ve heard McAfee faces a 4 year ban. (In the old NFL, he would have been banned too – for being a lightweight.)
Between Mark Sanchez mistakenly thinking adrenaline and positive energy will carry the day and John Harbaugh/Cam Cameron running the same ridiculous push plays from their own 1 or 2 where they always are – I may not be able to watch the rest of this game. Unreal.
I thought I had already posted this but I guess I had only given picks from a few divisions. So, here are my picks for 2010.
- AFC East: NE (11-5); Mia (9-7); NYJ (8-8); Buff (4-12)
- AFC North: Balt (12-4); Pitt (10-6); Cleve (8-8); Cincy (6-10)
- AFC South: Hou (11-5); Indy (9-7); Tenn (8-8); Jax (7-9)
- AFC West: KC (10-6); SD (8-8); Den (6-10); Oak (6-10)
For the Playoffs in the AFC, I have Mia (#6) over New England (#3) and Pitt (#5) over KC (#4) in the wildcard round. Then Hou (#2) over Pitt (#5) and Balt (#1) over Mia (#6). Balt edges Hou to win the AFC Championship.
- NFC East: Dal (11-5); Wash (10-6); Phil (7-9); NYG (7-9)
- NFC North: Pack (12-4); Chic (10-6); MN (7-9); Det (6-10)
- NFC West: AZ (10-6); Sea (8-8); SF (8-8); StL (5-11)
- NFC South: Atl (11-5); NO (9-7); TB (7-9); Car (5-11)
For the Playoffs in the NFC, I have Dal (#3) over Chic (#6) and Wash (#5) over AZ (#4) for the wildcard round. Then Atl (#2) over Wash (#5), Pack (#1) over Dal (#3). And finally I have the Packers over the Falcons for the NFC Championship.
Packers beat the Ravens in the Super Bowl.
It’s interesting how often I seem to read about a guy having fumbling issues being put through a bunch of drills to help him hold onto the ball better. On one level, it seems to make sense: if there is a problem, raise awareness of the issue, seek some help, do some drills, and try to overcome it.
But I’m just not sure I like this approach for fumbling. I just read the following from a Clark Judge article at cbssports.com about Adrian Peterson’s fumbling problem:
Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota: He has the strongest handshake on earth, yet he hasn’t figured out to hold on to the football. Not yet, at least, and I don’t get it. Neither do the Vikings, who put Peterson through all sorts of ball-security drills this summer, hoping to reduce or eliminate the yips that plagued him and the Vikings in last year’s conference championship game. “Really,” said Peterson, who fumbled seven times during the regular season, “my thing is all mental. On the majority of my fumbles, I’m going down and I find myself putting the ball out and bracing myself. So I just have to be more cautious about that, and keep it high and tight.” Peterson is a marvelous back, one of the two best in the game, but he must clean up the fumbling for Minnesota to go forward.
Again, putting a guy through “all sorts of ball security drills” may seem to most like a perfectly valid thing to do when a guy has a fumbling problem. But I’d take a different approach – an approach that may seem to run in the face of what I do professionally (counseling/workplace consulting). I would stop talking about it completely. I wouldn’t put the RB through special drills, make him carry a ball around with him everywhere (like some coaches have done) or any of the other contrived methods. I would simply say at the beginning of spring camp “hey, don’t fumble so much this year”. Thereafter, not a word.
Sometimes I think it can be a bad thing for some folks, if they become overly aware of a weakness. It can be mentally debilitating. Adrian Peterson and other fumblers know they have a fumbling problem. They know that their fumbling hurts their respective teams. So why pound it home? If they have a fumbling problem in the first place, they are probably a bit mentally rattled already – as Peterson essentially notes above. Further rattling won’t help. To be clear, I’m not saying this because I think ball-security drills are harsh for players etc – not at all. I just think that in order to curb the fumbling problem, it would be smarter to not say much of anything.
(For the Packers’ sake, I hope Peterson becomes so overly conscious of fumbling he just runs around as fast as Lynn Dickey with 2 arms around the ball the whole time, or that he just falls down before tacklers come to get him – like Favre did for Strahan.)
Check this out. 7 of the 9 experts picked the Packers to be in the Super Bowl, and 3 of those 7 picked the Pack to win it. Perhaps just as interesting, 8 of the 9 experts picked Aaron Rodgers as the likely MVP winner.
Noticed that a number of experts have come around to my way of thinking on the Vikings now. (Read here for more info on why I think the Vikes may have been better off without Favre this year.) I know a fair number of them read Packergeeks with their morning coffee. Just kidding. But there has definitely been quite a shift of opinion re the Vikes I think mostly because folks are concerned re Favre’s ankle and also about the absence of Sidney Rice. Both will be factors, but neither will compare to the psychological element that will bring Favre/ the Vikes down (again, read previous post for more).
I do also have to say that I agree with those experts who think Baltimore will be good this year, likely Super Bowl good. I think adding TJ Housh could make them scary good. Housh is kind of an idiot, he’s lost speed and was not that good for Seattle. But when he’s added into a mix that includes Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, a healthy Todd Heap and Ray Rice, Flacco is going to have plenty of targets – and they already have a very good running game. This will be a good team – and a great one once Ed Reed returns.
I also am starting to get the feeling that this year could be an odd one in the NFL – with different-than-recent teams getting to the playoffs (like Oak or the KC Chiefs, Miami, Houston, Seattle or SF).
Check this out from USA Today – 5 of their 8 staff writers pick the Packers to win the Super Bowl. Several of you have noted the increasing amount of positive press the Packers have received heading into the season. Lots of the expert types are picking the Pack to win the Super Bowl. Normally, I would be a bit concerned about it – will the players be able to handle the weight of expectation? will they keep their heads? and just as importantly, how will the coaching staff respond to this kind of pressure?
So far, I like the way the team has responded to this pressure. It seems the players may have been given the “OK” to simply address questions about expectations head on – instead of offering up the usual cliche crap like “we’re only focused on the Philly game”. Really, since the team regrouped this spring, it seems to me that generally, the players have not avoided questions about expectations. After the Family Night scrimmage for example, Jermichael Finley and a few others talked very directly about the expectations indicating that the team has the same expectations and the team believes they belong in the Super Bowl. McCarthy must be coaching the guys up to believe that these are not unrealistic expectations and I really like this. There seems to be a message floating around Lambeau that players/coaches ought to embrace this goal publicly rather than avoid it at all costs.
For some reason, I suspect that one guy who may be behind this head-on approach to managing expectations may be Dom Capers. I think Capers, a veteran coach who has seen a lot throughout his NFL coaching career, may be encouraging this open attitude about expectations in part because he knows on one side of the ball, he has a QB who can handle it mentally and on the other side, he has a veteran leader who can handle it mentally – and who wants it so badly (Woodson). One thing that will continue to impress people in the next 3-4 years in particular, is just how strong Aaron Rodgers is mentally. I’m not quite sure the same open approach toward expectations would have been encouraged if we had a different QB.
One very intriguing story from this preseason has been the coming-out-of-nowhereness, if you will, of WR Mike Williams – former first round pick out of USC who failed to catch on with the Lions, Titans and Raiders. He has landed in Seattle where former college coach Pete Carroll has probably given him an extra opportunity to make the team. In a recent report I read, he may not only make the team, but some say he may start opposite TJ Housh (unless Housh gets traded…there are rumors…).
Are you kidding me? That Mike Williams? Starting in the NFL? He was even out of football for a year or two I believe! Actually, the truth is, I’m not that surprised. I can’t remember watching a guy in college with better hands. Mike Williams to this day, still has one of the most impressive catches I have ever seen (can’t find the youtube video of it – but it was a one handed snag for a TD in massive traffic). The Lions were roundly criticized for taking another receiver when they picked Williams a few years ago – I was one of few who didn’t think it was that bad of a pick. The guy is immensely talented and I’m not sure why he didn’t make it before.
Perhaps it’s a mental/emotional/maturity thing, not sure. But for those of you in fantasy circles – keep an eye on him, Pete Carroll could make him good again.
- Baltimore Ravens, 12-4. This is a good team. The secondary is a bit shaky and Ed Reed’s possible extended absence will not help. But overall, this team has improved since last year when it was already good. The addition of Anquan Boldin was big. Derrick Mason has been quietly amassing decent season after decent season for the Ravens over the last several years, and having a legit threat opposite him now will suddenly make this passing game quite good. Add in a rejuvenated/healthy TE Todd Heap and there is another good option. QB Joe Flacco has improved as well and to this day, in my opinion, has the best form of any QB throwing the deep ball (he may not complete all these deep passes, but they sure look good). But the guy I think we’ll all be talking about at the end of the year is Ray Rice. This guy is a monster. He is strong, has a low center of gravity coupled with huge legs and importantly, mentally he is very focused on being a great RB. I think at the end of this year, Rice will be the #1 RB in the NFL in terms of total yards gained (remember, he’s a great receiver out of the backfield too – 78 catches last year). Yes, better than Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson and MJD.
- Pittsburgh Steelers, 10-6. Pitt at 10-6? What? Without Big Ben for 4 games? After missing the playoffs in 2009? After losing Santonio Holmes? Yes. Something happened last year that caused Pitt to get lost – to lose its identity. Troy Polamalu got hurt. It’s that simple. Polamalu is the soul of that team. Not Ben, not the defense as a whole, not Hines Ward, just Troy. He is a fantastic player whose mere presence on the field changes games. He is an intelligent player with great game sense. With Polamalu back at full strength and the eventual return of Big Ben, this team will resume its quality play. Also, I’m looking for Rashard Mendenhall to take off a bit this year (if he doesn’t get hurt). He may end up as a top 5 rusher as he will have lots of touches. I expect a couple monster games from him. And, it’s no small factor that Dick LeBeau is still running the defense in Pitt. I expect the D to be very tough to deal with especially at home. And remember, last year, Pitt managed to get to 9-7, so it’s not like they were nearly as bad as the Pitt fan-base made them out to be.
- Cleveland Browns, 8-8. What? The Cleve ahead of Cincy? I am one of few probably, who think the Mangini/Holmgren duo might end up working out. Here’s why. Eric Mangini burst onto the scene a few years ago and had some initial success. While I’m not sure I would call his initial success a fluke (he was 10-6 in his 1st season with the NYJ, playoff team), I do think it was unfortunate for Mangini because it brought the immediate weight of expectations. Now, he’s regarded as a mediocre coach (at best) and the Cleve is playing with zero expectations. And most importantly I believe Mangini, if he’s open to it, will benefit greatly from the guidance of Mike Holmgren. Mangini is still a young coach and he hasn’t had the opportunity before to work closely with a very respected NFL mind. I do believe that between Mangini/Holmgren, there is a lot of football knowledge going on. I feel about the Cleve the way I feel about Miami – with guys like Holmgren and Parcells at the helm, it’s just hard to imagine either of these teams in a state of total failure. Delhomme isn’t great but if he plays even decently, there are some weapons on offense (Cribbs, Jerome Harrison could be good, Massaquoi, TE Evan Moore – former Packer who has looked good so far, Joe Thomas helping on the line). Ok, that list isn’t that great and it’s possible the Cleve totally sucks and Mangini gets fired after 4 weeks because he can’t get along with Holmgren – but I just have a feeling they won’t be terrible this year.
- Cincinnati Bengals, 6-10. I don’t think Marvin Lewis should last past this year. He may, because the Bengals front office is weird, but he shouldn’t. Yes, the Bengals got to the playoffs last year, yes they have a legit running threat with Benson, yes they have a decent WR group now with TO in the mix, and they have 2 potential big-time talents at TE in Chase Coffman (son of Paul Coffman) and Jermaine Gresham. Ok, maybe the offense will be good. And, of course, the defense has 2 CBs who are in the discussion at least of best CB tandem in the NFL. But I don’t see it this year for Cincy. I’m fighting logic I realize by projecting the Cleve to finish ahead of Cincy, the NFC North division winners from 2009. But Cincy’s home playoff loss last year to the Jets was one of the least inspiring efforts I’ve seen in years. The Jets played well to be sure, but to fold like Cincy did at home in such a big game told me all I need to know. Cincy is one major injury (Palmer, Benson, one of their CBs) away from 3-13.