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Old 10-10-2012, 12:29 PM    (permalink
Rosebud
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Why wouldn't 20 points be enough for the Pats to squeak past the Texans? Andre's slowing down, their OL isn't dominant like last season, meaning the running game isn't dominant like last season, and Schaub is a guy who's still never shown he can come through in the big moments as he has yet to play in a big moment in his career. The Texans Defense is monsterous, but the offense doesn't scare me, and I could actually see any of the elite QBs in the AFC beating them in the playoffs, Brady, Big Ben or Peyton.
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Most misleading 10+ sack season EVER.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:34 PM    (permalink
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Why wouldn't 20 points be enough for the Pats to squeak past the Texans? Andre's slowing down, their OL isn't dominant like last season, meaning the running game isn't dominant like last season, and Schaub is a guy who's still never shown he can come through in the big moments as he has yet to play in a big moment in his career. The Texans Defense is monsterous, but the offense doesn't scare me, and I could actually see any of the elite QBs in the AFC beating them in the playoffs, Brady, Big Ben or Peyton.
The Texans are defintely scoring more than 20 points against the mediocre Pats defense.

The running game is every bit as dominant as it has been int he past. Have you actually watched any Texans games this year?

I would be less bullish on the Texans if Pittsburgh, New England, or Denver actually had top-10 defensive units. But they don't. Even Schaub throwing to older Andre Johnson (but still coupled with elite running game) will score 24+ points against each and every one of those defenses.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:45 PM    (permalink
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:55 PM    (permalink
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^

I actually see some potential problems with the Texans defense. Their DBs still give way too much room to receivers and i think they are too reliant on Watt to make the big play for them. Add to that they'll seriously miss Brian Cushing.

If i were them, and as of this morning they haven't asked my opinion, i'd try to find a way to move Brooks Reed around and get him more involved in what they're doing there, especially on passing downs.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:56 PM    (permalink
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Steelers as a Super Bowl team is a joke.

They're not even one of the top-10 teams in the NFL this year. That defense is going to be average at best the entire year. The team might not even make the playoffs this year, and they surely won't win their division.

I don't care how good your QB is, if you don't have a solid defense in this league, you can't win a Super Bowl, and you probably won't even make it far into the playoffs.

Aaron Rodgers only won a Super Bowl when his teams' defense was ranked #1 or #2 in the league. Ben himself has only ever played in the Super Bowl when his defense was a top-3 unit (2005,2008,2010).

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Why is Pittsburgh your #2 team? They're 2-2 and have wins against the Jets and the Eagles who're not exactly powerhouses.
It's 5 weeks into the season. Does record matter to me? Yes and no. This is a difficult projection, and if you are projecting, based off the first five weeks, you would probably pick the Texans and 49ers to play in the Super Bowl. That's the easy projection because both teams have looked the best / looked like the most consistent teams thru the first five weeks.

The NFL doesn't work that way though. Usually "the best teams" don't always make it to the Super Bowl. There were about four teams in the NFC "better" than the Giants, but the Giants were the team to win out.

The Steelers lost to the Raiders and the Broncos. They've only beaten the Jets and the Eagles. Okay, I see your point, but it's how they've looked. This is an offensive driven league. The Steelers, offensively, look like they will have the best offense in the NFL by years end. The numbers might not show it, but the kind of offense they run with the short passing game... it's almost impossible to stop. They only stop themselves with dropped passes or missed assignments or penalties, but they still manage to overcome them most of the time.

The most glaring thing about this offense compared to years past... the number of costly turnovers and sacks have decreased... they only lost to Oakland because they couldn't hold onto the ball. I don't think that is going to be a trend. If they hold onto the ball, they win that game without much of a problem, and their sitting 3-1 with a three game winning streak and no one complains too much.

But the Steelers have only given up 4 sacks in their last 3 games. The offensive line is playing better and better. They just shut out the Eagles and I thought that was a big test, which they passed with flying colors.

Everyone is going to talk badly about their offensive line, because thats what people do and it has been warranted for about six years. The line just needs to stay healthy. Their line is the best its been, when its healthy, since 2005.

Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert both do good jobs protecting Big Ben. Better than most realize. You don't realize how good those two are when one of them goes down with an injury. Maurkice Pouncey is an elite center in this game. He's as good as it gets. He makes blocks during games that simply amaze me. On one play in particular, Starks blocked down and a pass rusher came from off the left side on a delayed blitz. Somehow Pouncey saw this at the last second and kick stepped all the way to the LT position and stonewalled a blitzer. The Center blocking on the outside. Unless that is a designed play, which is wasn't, you never see a center that far away from the center position making a block. He is simply unbelievable. The protections and the adjustments to blitz pick up have gotten so much better in the three years since he's been there compared to the four years between Jeff Hartings retirement and his arrival.

Willie Colon is getting better and more comfortable playing LG as the season goes along. He's only going to improve, but he's always going to be a very good run blocker. His pass protection still isn't what it should be. He missed, basically, all of last season. So, with a position change and not playing football for a year, there should be some rough spots. But Colon is the best OG they've had since Faneca. And if and when DeCastro comes back... this offensive line becomes a force. Not just a solid unit. But I don't expect to see DeCastro this season.

The Steelers have not had an offensive line with this much talent or quality in a long time. Really since their first Super Bowl of the 00s. Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca and Jeff Hartings... that left side was about as good as you could ask for.

Then the defense... Should there be concern in Pittsburgh? Yes. This team can't create turnovers. This is nothing new. They have less than nothing in the secondary outside of Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu (when's he in there). Ike Taylor has been declining for the last three years. He has gotten abused on the big stages against Demaryius Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald (Super Bowl). I think he knows that. He's not the same player he once was, and he doesn't ever play the ball when it's in the air. Plus he has some of the worst hands in the NFL. They have no depth at CB. None of those guys do a damn thing on the field.

The font 3 aren't elite players anymore either. Ziggy Hood was a terrible draft pick in round 1. If they took him in round 2 it might have been a reach (probably not, but...). Cam Heyward? He hasn't done much of anything. Casey Hampton has been in the league forever. He's not a dominant presence anymore. Still playing well, but not nearly the same. Brett Keisel might not be starter material anymore. Even though he might be their best DL. I haven't focused on Steve McLendon to see if he's going to be a guy that comes out of nowhere and outplays these high profile prospects.

So the front 3 and the secondary... that's their problem. Their LBs are probably the best in football, but they're banged up at the one position they can't afford to be late in the season. Lawrence Timmons is an about as good as any ILB in the NFL right now. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison... they're two of the best. They just got to get onto the field. And they have a much better defense when both of those guys are out there, which I fully expect as the season goes along.

You can't project what injuries are going to take place, but if the Steelers stay healthy at LB, OL and Troy Polamalu... I like their chances as much as anyone.
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Old 10-10-2012, 12:57 PM    (permalink
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The Texans are defintely scoring more than 20 points against the mediocre Pats defense.

The running game is every bit as dominant as it has been int he past. Have you actually watched any Texans games this year?

I would be less bullish on the Texans if Pittsburgh, New England, or Denver actually had top-10 defensive units. But they don't. Even Schaub throwing to older Andre Johnson (but still coupled with elite running game) will score 24+ points against each and every one of those defenses.
In the same amount of games the Patriots have put up over 100 more yards on thr ground than the Texans. They are also going at 4.3 ypa while Houston is 3.9.

Meanwhile defensively the Texans are giving up 4.1 ypa while the Pats are giving up 3.4 ypa.

New England is 3rd in the league in rushing and 9th in the league defending the run.

Houston is 6th in rushing and 11th defending the run.

They have also played two familiar opponents in Tennessee and Baltimore. However 3 of the worst 5 teams in run defense have played the Texans, whereas the Pats only 1 of the worst 5.

So it is a ridiculous statement to say the Texans have a dominant run game and not say the Pats also have a dominant run game

As for the Pats' poor pass defense, Houston has a below average passing attack. Let's not say the Texans are awesome in all phases of the game when clearly they aren't. In fact in a few areas, some surprising some not so much, the Patriots are better than the Texans
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Old 10-10-2012, 01:26 PM    (permalink
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Over the last 3 games the Steelers have played the Raiders and Jets who have 2 of the most anemic pass rushes in the entire NFL, and did an admirable job against the Eagles. However, I'd still be hard pressed to consider the O-Line a strength of the team, they sucked against Denver, and a lot of those guys including Starks, Gilbert, and Colon have struggled in the past. Plus, who knows what DeCastro will bring going forward after struggling in TC and being injured?

The Steelers have too many issues right now to even be close to the conversation of the top 2 teams. There are far more well rounded teams who are in better shape to withstand the attrition that comes with an NFL season.
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Old 10-10-2012, 01:31 PM    (permalink
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It's 5 weeks into the season. Does record matter to me? Yes and no. This is a difficult projection, and if you are projecting, based off the first five weeks, you would probably pick the Texans and 49ers to play in the Super Bowl. That's the easy projection because both teams have looked the best / looked like the most consistent teams thru the first five weeks.

The NFL doesn't work that way though. Usually "the best teams" don't always make it to the Super Bowl. There were about four teams in the NFC "better" than the Giants, but the Giants were the team to win out.
There is this myth that the Giants last year started out really slow and then got "hot" at the end of the season.

This is wrong.

The 2011 Giants started out 3-1 last year, losing an opening day game away at Washington, but then crushed the Eagles, Rams, and won a tough game against the Cardinals away.

After eight games, the Giants were 6-2 last year, with tough wins against the Bills and Patriots as well. They hit a rough patch in the middle of the season, but the fact of the matter is that the Giants clearly showed that they were a very solid team with a good defense *early* in the season.

The same thing goes for other "wild card" teams that got "hot" like the 2010 Packers... they started out 3-1 with some big wins over teams, and only hit some tough stretches in the middle of the year, but clearly proved that they were a quality team *early* in the season.

I'm a big believer that the first four games of the season reveal which teams are Super Bowl contenders and which ones aren't. Of the past 45 Super Bowl Champs:

- Eighteen began the season 4-0, and one (1967 Packers) began the season 3-0-1
- Nineteen began the season 3-1, and one (1974 Steelers) began the season 2-1-1
- Five teams (2007 Giants, 2003 Patriots, 1993 Cowboys, 1981 49ers, and 1980 49ers) began the season 2-2
- One team (2001 Patriots) began the season 1-3
- None of the Super Bowl winners ever began the season 0-4

So if we look back at this, we see that more than 86% of the Super Bowl winners of the past 45 years began the season with *one loss or fewer* in the first four weeks of the season.

The Super Bowl champ in 2012 will more than likely be one of the teams that started out 3-1 or 4-0: the Falcons, Eagles, Bears, 49ers, Vikings, Cardinals, Ravens, Texans, Bengals, or Chargers.

The Steelers stand an *outside* shot with a 2-2 record, but it's highly unlikely.

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The Steelers lost to the Raiders and the Broncos. They've only beaten the Jets and the Eagles. Okay, I see your point, but it's how they've looked. This is an offensive driven league. The Steelers, offensively, look like they will have the best offense in the NFL by years end. The numbers might not show it, but the kind of offense they run with the short passing game... it's almost impossible to stop. They only stop themselves with dropped passes or missed assignments or penalties, but they still manage to overcome them most of the time.
Impossible to stop? They were limited to 16 points at home vs. an average or only slightly above-average Eagles defense.

And you can't take "drops" or "missed assignments" out of your calculations. That's all part of the game. Sometimes a ball is dropped because the QB was under pressure from a lineman and didn't throw a clean pass to the WR. That's all part of the game. You can't just assume that the WR will catch that ball if you do it all over again.

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The most glaring thing about this offense compared to years past... the number of costly turnovers and sacks have decreased... they only lost to Oakland because they couldn't hold onto the ball. I don't think that is going to be a trend. If they hold onto the ball, they win that game without much of a problem, and their sitting 3-1 with a three game winning streak and no one complains too much.
Again, you can't assume that WRs will "hold on to the ball" in the future. It's all part of the game. WRs sometimes drop the ball because they look over their shouluder and see a safety coming. Or they drop the ball because the QB didn't throw a clean pass because he was under pressure in the pocket. Or they drop the ball because they simply don't have great hands. It's all part of the game. Just because a play looks like it *should* be a completion doesn't mean that it always will be.

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But the Steelers have only given up 4 sacks in their last 3 games. The offensive line is playing better and better. They just shut out the Eagles and I thought that was a big test, which they passed with flying colors.
The reason they shut out the Eagles because the Steelers offensive coordinator was so afraid of the Eagles defensive line that they max-protected on almost every snap, and only allowed Ben to throw 3-step and 5-step drop passes, and they NEVER threw a pass in which Ben turned his back to the defensive line.

And it shows in the final stat line: Ben threw 21/37 passes for a paltry 207 yards and no TDs. He was dinking and dunking his way through the entire game. They sacrificed any long explosive plays for more pocket security and quick-passing game, and limited themselves offensively (16 points total). If the Eagles had scored more points, the Steelers' short-passing game and max-protect schemes would have probably cost them the ability to put up enough points to win the game, because if they went to a deep-passing mode in that game, the Eagles defensive line would have put more pressure on him.

It's obvious that the Steelers don't have much faith in their offensive line.

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Then the defense... Should there be concern in Pittsburgh? Yes. This team can't create turnovers. This is nothing new. They have less than nothing in the secondary outside of Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu (when's he in there). Ike Taylor has been declining for the last three years. He has gotten abused on the big stages against Demaryius Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald (Super Bowl). I think he knows that. He's not the same player he once was, and he doesn't ever play the ball when it's in the air. Plus he has some of the worst hands in the NFL. They have no depth at CB. None of those guys do a damn thing on the field.
And you can basically count Polamalu out for the entire season. He is jsut too injury-riddled at this point.

And I don't need to tell you that without Polamalu, their defense is very average.

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The font 3 aren't elite players anymore either. Ziggy Hood was a terrible draft pick in round 1. If they took him in round 2 it might have been a reach (probably not, but...). Cam Heyward? He hasn't done much of anything. Casey Hampton has been in the league forever. He's not a dominant presence anymore. Still playing well, but not nearly the same. Brett Keisel might not be starter material anymore. Even though he might be their best DL. I haven't focused on Steve McLendon to see if he's going to be a guy that comes out of nowhere and outplays these high profile prospects.

So the front 3 and the secondary... that's their problem. Their LBs are probably the best in football, but they're banged up at the one position they can't afford to be late in the season. Lawrence Timmons is an about as good as any ILB in the NFL right now. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison... they're two of the best. They just got to get onto the field. And they have a much better defense when both of those guys are out there, which I fully expect as the season goes along.

You can't project what injuries are going to take place, but if the Steelers stay healthy at LB, OL and Troy Polamalu... I like their chances as much as anyone.

You can't count on all these injured players. That's just craziness. It's one thing to count on healthy players and hope they don't get injured, but it's another thing to count on ALREADY INJURED players and say "well, if they somehow all miraculously become healthy again, then we stand a chance."

And even if the majority of those players stay healthy, again, they just don't have enough talent on offensive line to maintain a top-5 offense, nor they have enough talent on defensive line and in the secondary to maintain even a top-10 defense.
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:18 PM    (permalink
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Very good read. Roethlesberger is perennially underrated when his team isn't in the super bowl. That said, there is no way you can call them the 2nd best team in the NFL right now. Too weak defensively and I think you're crowning Mendenhall a bit too quickly. Also... that o-line.
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:35 PM    (permalink
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The problem with the Lions is during the off-season they didn't add anybody through trades/FA and their rookie class isn't producing. They kept all our they key guys but that wasn't enough. Injuries and terrible special teams play have really contributed to being 1-3. I think they are going to play better than they have but the roster does have issues. I don't completely disagree with your blurb on Detroit but I think its a bit harsh.

Also, in addition to your write up about Seattle. How about Bruce Irvin? Seattle got hammered for that pick.
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:38 PM    (permalink
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So you diminish what Houston is done because they haven't played anybody worthwhile to you?
Beating a decent Denver team, IN Denver, is good. Something your #2 team, the Steelers, couldn't do.
And the hate on Denver, yes they are 2-3, but lost to the 5-0 Texans, the 5-0 Falcons in Atlanta and the 3-2 Patriots in New England.

I strongly believe that Von Miller is a top 5 LB, and Tim Jennings as the 3rd best DB in the NFL? Really?
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Old 10-10-2012, 03:43 PM    (permalink
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Ravens just completely play down to our competition. We also slack on the road. On the upside, the Ravens get up for big games. This is still a big year for Flacco. No one is realistically saying top 5, but he could work himself into the top 10. The young OL setup needs to grow and develop.

The Ravens defense isn't the top 5 unit we are used to, but can still be a top 10 group. The secondary is one of the best in the league, but with no outstanding individual pass rusher its too hard to get pressure. Pees hasn't been as bad as I thought he would be. I'm cautiously excited to see Suggs coming back by next month. I'm not sure where his explosion will be at, but he is still a big addition if he can play even decently.
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Old 10-10-2012, 04:09 PM    (permalink
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So you diminish what Houston is done because they haven't played anybody worthwhile to you?
Beating a decent Denver team, IN Denver, is good. Something your #2 team, the Steelers, couldn't do.
And the hate on Denver, yes they are 2-3, but lost to the 5-0 Texans, the 5-0 Falcons in Atlanta and the 3-2 Patriots in New England.

I strongly believe that Von Miller is a top 5 LB, and Tim Jennings as the 3rd best DB in the NFL? Really?
Von Miller is probably a top 1 LB and as for this season I would agree on Tim Jennings. Dude has been legit all year
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:08 PM    (permalink
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The Steelers have too many issues right now to even be close to the conversation of the top 2 teams. There are far more well rounded teams who are in better shape to withstand the attrition that comes with an NFL season.
I'm talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers have been to the Super Bowl three times in the past 10 years (2010, 2008 and 2005). And they've won two of those games. Over the last 10 years only the Patriots have been to more Super Bowls... They've been to four (2003, 2004, 2007, 2011) and they've won two as well. I'm not sure what other team, other than the New England Patriots, could make a better case for being able to prove what kind of shape they are in to "withstand the attrition that comes with an NFL season."

The Steelers have had offensive line problems for years. They've been to two Super Bowls in recent years with bad offensive lines; worse than what they have now. The Steelers offensive line wont be an issue unless they suffer injuries there. This is the best Steelers offense they've had in decades. This is the best QB play in the franchises history.


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So you diminish what Houston is done because they haven't played anybody worthwhile to you?
Beating a decent Denver team, IN Denver, is good. Something your #2 team, the Steelers, couldn't do.
And the hate on Denver, yes they are 2-3, but lost to the 5-0 Texans, the 5-0 Falcons in Atlanta and the 3-2 Patriots in New England.

I strongly believe that Von Miller is a top 5 LB, and Tim Jennings as the 3rd best DB in the NFL? Really?
I hated on Denver? I like Denver. The Steelers don't match up well against the Broncos, especially in Denver when they also lose Ryan Clark.

I'm not hating on the Texans. I'm saying that they are being touted as if they are a dominant team. I don't think they are dominant. Are they good? Absolutely, they're very good. They're about as good as it gets in the NFL. But at the same time they have some issues. Both offensively and defensively. Issues which I think will prevent them from making the Super Bowl. It's just my opinion. They'll be there late in the post season, but I'm taking the Steelers, Ravens and Patriots over them in the playoffs. Not in that order, but those teams, when everyone's healthy, I like more than the Texans.

It is very hard to never play in a postseason game, especially at the QB position, and then just run the gauntlet. They have an issue at QB when it comes playoff time, and I don't think they can stand to lose any more players on defense. As the 49ers know from last season... when games come down to the QB... the "better team" doesn't always win. The team with the best QB instantly becomes the better team. The 49ers have a stacked defense and a stacked offense, but they lack an elite player at the most crucial position. It becomes magnified in the playoffs. And it's very difficult to beat the best teams in the NFL week after week in the playoffs when you're going into the game at a disadvantage.

Von Miller is a great player. Tim Jennings? Yes. Really.
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Old 10-10-2012, 09:28 PM    (permalink
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Also, in addition to your write up about Seattle. How about Bruce Irvin? Seattle got hammered for that pick.
Yeah, I was going to mention this, but ended up going through it too quickly in an attempt to get this all done as I nearly lost it on my computer. I was one of many who bashed the Irvin pick, hell, Seattle's whole draft...

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Seattle ...

Tell me how Bruce Irvin goes in Round 1 with his past and Janoris Jenkins, a top 10 caliber talent, falls to Round 2? How does that happen? I don't like Bruce Irvin and hate his attitude even more, but did Seattle use a luxury pick on a raw, pass rush specialist? In the top 15? And then follow it up with Bobby Wagner? Wagner ... I don't know what position he plays because he has no instincts for any of the spots on the field he normally lines up. I don't know what he is. Is he a MLB? A DE? What is he? Then you add Russell Wilson in Round 3. He's 5'10''. Do I need to go any further? The only pick I liked was 4th round draft pick Jaye Howard. In that defense I think he will have a lot of success. This was a WTF draft from top to bottom. This reminds me of Oakland's draft when they took DHB at #7 overall and Mike Mitchell in round 2. They better turn Irvin into the best pass rusher in the draft that puts up double digit sack numbers on a yearly basis. I don't think you can deny his talent, but that's all he is. Talent and physical tools.

I don't know what Pete Carroll is thinking. I have liked his previous two drafts where they've picked up Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Kam Chancellor, John Moffitt, James Carpenter and KJ Wright. I liked all those players, and some have had more success than others, but all are solid contributors. Now it looks like their drafting special players, as if they've had back-to-back 13 win seasons on a team with no holes.
But it goes to show that I know nothing, and that Pete Carroll just might know what he's doing out there. I didn't think the Seahawks were in a position to be drafting players that wont contribute immediately as every down players, but if I were to redo the draft, I don't think Seattle has any choice but take Irvin all over again. That defense is pretty much complete now.

They have great players at every level of that defense. Irvin, in his isolated role, is one of them. It was a great pick in hindsight. They trusted their board and their evaluation of the prospect. Its what great drafting teams do. Could they have moved down and still got him? Who knows, but does it really matter a year after the fact? Of course not. Taking Bruce Irvin at 15 or 25... makes no difference as long he turns out to be the player they envisioned. And he's on his way. I can't even remember what his off field issues were, but apparently I thought he was quite the scumbag.

There was no denying that Irvin was raw and physically impressive prospect. But he had a lot of questionable things in his background. Irvin will probably turn out to be a great player for Seattle. Is there another rookie pass rusher even close to his talents right now? Off the top of my head I can't think of anyone.

The Seahawks are a QB and WR away from having a dominant team.
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Old 10-11-2012, 01:46 AM    (permalink
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I don't understand the great WR part. They have a solid receiving corps. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate is coming into his own, Doug Baldwin....not ****** receivers by any means.
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who retires first: brett favre or aaron rodgers?
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:30 PM    (permalink
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I haven't read through all of it yet, but of all the "post week-whatever thoughts" threads I've seen since I've been here, this might be the best. Almost everything said in this thread has gone through my mind at one point of another. The Schaub stuff is gold.

One homer quibble - based on his play this year, Briggs has to be a top 5 LB.
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Old 10-11-2012, 02:49 PM    (permalink
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I don't understand the great WR part. They have a solid receiving corps. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate is coming into his own, Doug Baldwin....not ****** receivers by any means.
Sidney Rice is not a good #1 receiver, and Tate and Baldwin are definitely not good second options.
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:05 PM    (permalink
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Yeah, so how about that thing you said about the Steelers being the #2 team in the NFL, BigBanger?

More like #22 team... lol.
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:05 AM    (permalink
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Yeah, so how about that thing you said about the Steelers being the #2 team in the NFL, BigBanger?

More like #22 team... lol.
Shut up Thumper.
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Old 10-12-2012, 12:18 AM    (permalink
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Pete Carroll is a great coach for a last place team.
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Old 10-12-2012, 05:55 AM    (permalink
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Yeah, so how about that thing you said about the Steelers being the #2 team in the NFL, BigBanger?

More like #22 team... lol.

My opinion on the Steelers hasn't changed. They are a very good team. They have simply had the worst luck of any team in the NFL this year with injuries. It's not like they've had a ton of injuries and no other team has, but when a guy goes down... it just so happens to be one of their 7 best players.

As we speak... no they are not the best team in the NFL, but I placed them that high based on a projection as players began returning from injury and what they looked like as they were approaching a healthy roster. When they are healthy they can beat anyone. Will they ever get healthy? I'm starting to think not.
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Old 10-12-2012, 06:49 AM    (permalink
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It's a long season. 2-3 isn't the end of the world.

Having that said, it's clear to me that the Steelers are a very old team with no young talent to fill the void, so their window is coming to an end soon. They have 2 young players worth a damn on defense (Timmons and Woodley). Offensively they'll be fine though.

But this team is talented enough when healthy to make some noise if they can get into the playoffs. But once those vets are done, so is this defense.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:05 AM    (permalink
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My opinion on the Steelers hasn't changed. They are a very good team. They have simply had the worst luck of any team in the NFL this year with injuries. It's not like they've had a ton of injuries and no other team has, but when a guy goes down... it just so happens to be one of their 7 best players.

As we speak... no they are not the best team in the NFL, but I placed them that high based on a projection as players began returning from injury and what they looked like as they were approaching a healthy roster. When they are healthy they can beat anyone. Will they ever get healthy? I'm starting to think not.
It's tough to be healthy when the majority of their defense is in their mid 30's.
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Old 10-16-2012, 01:29 PM    (permalink
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Just some thoughts from Week 6


2011 NFC Championship Game Rematch: 49ers Fail to Show Up Against Injury Plagued Giants

The Giants demolished the 49ers in a surprisingly dominant victory. I don't think this loss speaks very well to the San Francisco 49ers. I think this game tells us a lot about both teams, but more importantly the 49ers.

The 49ers have a problem: The QB. Alex Smith is a game manager. We all know that. And we also know that he runs that offense very efficiently, but whenever the 49ers trail or get down early, they are going to struggle to stay in the game unless defense and special teams dominate. They put a ton of pressure on that defense to perform each and every week. If they get down by two scores early, then they almost have to run a completely different offense than what they want.

They rotate second year QB Colin Kaepernick in and out of the game. Against inferior opponents he has been a great surge in the running game out of that wildcat offense. But against the Giants he simply struggled to run the ball, and he stalled the offense. Instead of running a traditional offense with Frank Gore or Kendall Hunter, and keeping the chains moving, they lost yardage constantly and played from 3rd and 10+ yards. That is simply not the offense the 49ers can run. Alex Smith doesn't push the football down the field in that manner, and gets exposed as QB more and more when he's forced to carry the burden.

Is there a QB debate or competition? I don't think so. I don't know if Kaepernick is ready to take on that kind of role, but I think the 49ers, internally, are going to be considering it sooner rather than later. Kaepernick has a big arm, and it's really powerful. He can push the ball down the field. They have weapons now on offense. Vernon Davis, Mario Manningham and Randy Moss are guys who can get down field. Davis has been the only weapon used successfully this year, but that has been due to play design. Smith doesn't have the consistent ability to force the ball into tight windows down the field. He relies on play action, roll outs and long developing deep crosses. He relies on scheme.

The 49ers run a three level offense to one side of the field, predicated on run action and play action. Against good defenses, this becomes a simple thing to cover when you stop the run. And the 49ers, are, ultimately, reduced to check downs. Or you see Alex Smith throwing into a stacked box with all kinds of traffic. Antrel Rolle didn't respect the deep ball at all, and he was cheating up all game long. They actually did burn him deep on a bomb to Randy Moss late in the game, but by then it was too little, too late.

This offense simply cannot be relied on to make plays against quality defenses late in the season. You cannot trust Alex Smith. It's what it comes down to. They have been bullies when it comes to mediocre teams, but against the Giants, a team who will be there in the playoffs, they looked average. Alex Smith is not going to get this team to a Super Bowl. Conservative is okay during the regular season. In the playoffs, you need your QB to be a difference maker. There hasn't been a conservative QB in the Super Bowl since Brad Johnson. And, for as good as the 49ers defense and running game are, I don't think they are dominant enough to hide the shortcomings of Alex Smith.


The Giants came into the game still banged up. Hakeem Nicks played, but didn't look explosive. The Giants running game became unstoppable late in the game. The offensive line played much better, especially on the right side. David Diehl saw action in run heavy sets as an extra blocker, and the Giants were extremely effective running the ball. Their offense looked solid against a good defense.

Eli Manning got away with a couple near INTs, but played efficiently and relied on the offensive line and running game. He stayed clean. 0 INTs and 0 sacks taken. That was the difference in the game. Manning stayed clean and didn't make any costly mistakes.

Ahmad Bradshaw was the difference maker in the game for the Giants. This is exactly the kind of tough, physical game he plays best at. Coming off a 200 yard rushing day last week, he capitalized that with another 100 yard day against a stingy run defense. He played very well and ran physical. David Wilson also exploded late in the 4th QT for some gashing runs. His kick off returns also have played key roles this year in field position. They got big and unexpected production out of their backfield. If Wilson continues to gain confidence and Tom Coughlin continues to gain confidence in Wilson, then this RB tandem can become something special. This would be an entirely new dimension to this offense, especially when Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz start getting it going.

The defense of the Giants played lights out. And they played good football without Kenny Phillips. He's a big part of their defense, but Antrel Rolle stepped up and played an aggressive downhill style of defense. The defensive line played okay. They weren't dominant, which is to be expected since the 49ers have a very good offensive line. Jason Peirre-Paul had a few splash plays (two sacks, batted ball, tackle for loss, drew a holding penalty), but had a relatively quiet game. Justin Tuck... I can't believe what I'm about to say, but Just Tuck looks horrible. He simply cannot rush the QB anymore. I don't know what the issue is, but when he's kicked inside... he's about as ineffective as it gets. He's never been an elite pass rusher from the edge, but his pass rush is simply non existent now. He runs and then waits to try and bat the ball at he line, which he never does. He holds the point of attack fairly well, but even his run defense has suffered a bit. His career looks over. He's been one of my favorite players since college. Maybe I've always overrated him, but what I'm seeing now... it's just terrible football. He's not an impact player. He's a JAG... at best.

I don't know if this an indictment on the 49ers or not. I know the Giants played with incredible passion and energy. And that is exhausting. But I don't think one single player went out there and dominated on defense. Rolle would be the closest, but he had a busted coverage in the 4th QT that lead to a huge Randy Moss pass play. For as dominant as the Giants were... they didn't seem overly dominant. I think a lot of it has to do with the 49ers just playing as poorly as they did. The Giants took away the running game and Vernon Davis. They made Alex Smith beat them by throwing outside the numbers and deep down the field. The blueprint is there.



My Admiration for Ted Thompson Continues to Grow: Packers Destroy Texans

Everyone is talking about Aaron Rodger's 6 TD performance against an undefeated Houston Texan's team. Did Rodgers look great? Yeah, he usually does, but what I have been most impressed with is the defense and the amount of young talent playing, and getting great minutes by the Green Bay Packers.

This was the first (6) picks of the Green Bay Packers Draft Class from 2012:

Quote:
Round 1 - Nick Perry, OLB, USC
Round 2 - Jerel Worthy, DL, Michigan St
Round 2 - Casey Hayward, CB, Vanderbilt
Round 4 - Mike Daniels, DL, Iowa
Round 4 - Jerron McMillian, SS, Maine
Round 5 - Terrell Manning, LB, NC State
This defense was atrocious last season. Coming off a Super Bowl season, and a great year defensively, they failed miserably on the defensive side of the ball. And Ted Thompson went out and did exactly what you're not supposed to do. He drafted based on need. You don't draft based on best player available and take a bunch of defensive players, who end up, coincidently, being some of your most dire positions of need.

But when you're Green Bay, and you have built a Super Bowl caliber team with a dominant offense... I guess the general rules don't apply to you. And that's the art of great drafting. That's what makes Ted Thompson good. He understands he strengths and weaknesses, understands scheme and he takes players, productive players with good college track records, and simply implements them in the offense or defense like they born to play the position they drafted for.

I haven't disliked a first round pick since AJ Hawk in 2005. For some reason I thought they should have drafted DeAngelo Williams. Hawk, who I liked a lot in college, still turned out to be a solid pro. Since then I've liked most of their draft picks. The 2012 draft may be the year they end up getting this defense turned back around.

I liked Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy a lot coming out of college. Both players have played well thus far. Worthy has been giving great minutes and looks like a future stud along the defensive line. Motor issues were there in college, but he has filled in great for BJ Raji. He is having a great rookie season. Their best rookie has to be Casey Hayward. I didn't watch any of Hayward in college, but he does not play like a rookie. I think he has a real good chance to develop into a Pro Bowl caliber CB. He's already showing more ball skills in the last two games that I've seen that most second or third year CBs aren't able to do. He trusts his speed and his coverage abilities. Perry and Worthy have shown signs that they can be above average players, but Hayward, from just two games, looks like a future steal. Jerron McMillian has also played well at safety. Those four players have been the difference in Green Bay defense compared to last year. And if they continue to improve throughout the season, then the Packers may start looking more and more like... the Packers.


Aaron Rodgers sent a message and silenced the critics. I don't expect 6 TD passes every week, but it just goes to show how great of a player he is in this league. And that he's still the best QB in the game. He might not have the best season, but the talent and ability is there. The Packers are serious contenders. They will be in it for the long haul. They'll just have to win in different ways. The offensive line has struggled. Newhouse and Bulaga don't match up well on one-on-one's. And the running game is still going to be suspect until Alex Green proves himself as more than just a running option from the shotgun. The Packers success is going to come down to coaching. Can they transform they way they played last year, and try to win a different way? With solid defense and a balanced offensive attack that's not as high powered. Mike McCarthy is one of the elite coaches in this league. And I think the way he handled the loss to Seattle showed that more than anything.

As far as the Texans go... nothing has changed. This is not a dominant team. One person I didn't highlight in my initial review of them was Jonathan Joseph. He has been getting abused the last two weeks on prime time TV. The Jets no name WRs ate him alive all night and the Packers didn't stop that trend. He has got to be better than what I've seen from him if this defense is going to get back to playing at a high level. There should be some serious concerns in Houston. That was a pitiful performance, and if Joseph isn't going to continue playing like a top tier CB, then things are only going to get worse. They're going to need more than JJ Watt to be an effective defense. We also might learn just how big of a loss Brian Cushing is to this team. He is a great player in this league. That was a big blow. The pass rushers on the edge are going to have to step up.


Ravens vs Cowboys: Ravens Win the Battle, but Lose the War

The Baltimore Ravens squeaked out an ugly win against the Dallas Cowboys to move to 5-1. They boast the best record in the AFC and have a strangle hold on the division, but they lost Ray Lewis for the season. For a defense that has been getting beat with regularity, this is an especially damning loss for the Ravens front 7. He is the heart and soul of that team. His leadership and knowledge of the game makes everyone around him better despite his declining performance. To add insult to injury they lose a top 10 caliber CB in Lardarius Webb for the season as well. This is not nearly the kind of loss of Ray Lewis. Because (1) they have quality depth in Jimmy Smith and Carey Williams. And (2) Webb, even though he's a better player than Ray Lewis at this point in their careers, does not have the same emotional impact that Lewis provides.

Haloti Ngata also left the game with a leg injury, but returned. When he came back, he looked like a shell of himself. He was manhandled. Think about that. The Ravens best player, and arguably the best defensive linemen in football for the last four years being manhandled. By Phil Costa and Mackenzy Bernadeau. It was sight not even seen in his rookie season... consistently being pushed three and five years off the line of scrimmage. Getting washed down the line as if he was on roller skates. As big of a loss as Lewis and Webb will be to this already underperforming defense... if Ngata does not fully recover from this injury, then Ravens are going to have serious problems. The arrival of Terrell Suggs can't come soon enough. Even though Suggs is set to return in the near future, I don't think you can expect him to play like he did last year, and he also risks the chance of doing more damage to that knee.

This was a brutal win for the Ravens. Even though they won on the scoreboard, I can't help but think about how much they lost during this game.


The Dallas Cowboys defense proved that it is not up to the task to carry them to victory. The Cowboys played well on offense. They played smash-mouth football and consistently ran the ball down the throat of the Ravens defense. No gimmicks, no wham blocks or traps, just straight, downhill road-grading run blocking. It was a sight for sore eyes. Their offense looked good. DeMarco Murray was sensational in the first half before going down with an ankle injury that's more serious than they are playing off. Felix Jones got in the mix and actually got some touches. I was surprised to see Jason Garrett not only running the ball, but constantly come back to it. Time and time again. That offensive line was dominant. There is no reason for that kind of performance to be wasted in a losing effort. Phil Costa and Tyron Smith were dominant. Those guys helped pave the way for 227 rushing yards.

But it comes back to Dallas Cowboys defense. The special teams decided to let Jacoby Jones return a kick off 108 yards through a gaping alley. Only tying an NFL record. But the Ravens had the ball for 19 minutes. 19 ******* minutes. And you give up 31 points. In 19 ******* minutes. I don't even know what to say. What is there to say? Their defensive line was dominated. The Ravens have a great offensive line. It's time we start recognizing that. It's one of the best in Football. DeMarcus Ware has been the only player on the Cowboys you can count on to show up, but he was completely shut out aside from one QB sack. He literally didn't do a thing after that. This was a sad performance. I don't know how else to sum it up other than 31 points in 19 ******* minutes.

And on a side note... Tony Romo has thrown an interception in every game. It's about time you stop doing that. This is such a waste of talent.



Broncos Comeback Against Chargers... To the Tune of 35 Unanswered Points.


Peyton Manning led a big comeback that reminded us of vintage Peyton Manning. The Denver Broncos have won their first two division games this year, in a division they are going to have to feast on to make the playoffs, which they probably will since the Charges may be officially removed from contention with this loss alone.

Coming into the season everyone, including myself, was anticipating what kind of team the Broncos would have with Peyton Manning under center. Their defense was much improved last year. Every one loved the idea of Von Miller and Elvis Dumerville off the edge. Champ Bailey in the secondary and how strong they played in the second half of last season gave a lot of people hope that this would emerge as a Top 10 caliber defense.

An offensive line that moved people and pounded rock. This team was supposed to look different than what's it been, but it's forming into a look we've been accustomed to. Similar traits as the Indianapolis Colts. The morfing of the offense has been a little surprsing. I expected this team to take a similar approach as they did with Tim Tebow.

They pounded the rock and pounded the rock last year. This year they have relied on Peyton to be Peyton Manning. To run three and four WR sets. Utilize average TEs in the passing game and make them above average. Only use the running game sparingly to maintain a minimal form of balance. Rely on the offense to put up points early so the defense can pin their ears back and rush the QB. Similar to Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

It is incredible to me with just how much the Broncos offense can change from week to week, let alone one year to the next. I'm looking forward to this offense gaining continued chemistry with Peyton Manning. Demaryius Thomas already looks like he's going to maximize his incredible potential. Thomas is emerging as a Pro Bowl #1 WR. His route running is getting much better, but his dominance after the catch is something Peyton Manning has never had. Erick Decker is a very good #2 WR that relies on route running. This offense is very talented and the offensive line is slowly improving, and getting back to what it was last year.

Chris Kuper now added to the offensive line is going to help this rushing attack even more. Willis McGahee should be enjoying a career resurgence with how he performed last year, but he's not quite the same player this year like he was last year. And that probably has a lot to do with the system change and the decrease in consistent touches.

Peyton Manning is shaking off the rust in each every game. He's looking better and better, more and more comfotable. His second half performance against the Charges was nothing short of incredible. The Denver Broncos are the favorites to win that division, but they are going to need that defense to step and play like they did in the second half against the Charges. Forcing 6 turnovers? That's more than what Peyton Manning knows what to do with.

It is an undersize defense. Teams are going to be able to pound the rock against the Broncos. Their secondary is still mediocre, but Champ Bailey is still playing at an elite level. He still takes away one side of the field. I think he's there best player. Derek Wolfe was a guy I liked a lot coming out of college, but he wont be the one thats going to help this run defense. He will add another pass rushing threat, and a good one on the inside.

This wasn't an impressive performance from the Broncos since the Charges handed them the game, but the look like they are making some progressions. The defense is going to have to catch up to the offense. And the offense is going to need to starting coming out of the gates faster. You shouldn't need to comeback from 24 points down in the second half against the Charges.


San Diego's days are over. Norv Turner has been wasting Philip Rivers for several years now. They are going to nowhere. They are a mediocre team and have been so for several years. The Eagles and Andy Reid made some noise by saying he needed to blow the team up. This franchise needs to turn their back on Turner. It's over. It's been over.

The Charges offensively lost Kris Dielman and Marcus McNiel to retirement, fairly unexpectedly, but this team would not be much better with them in the lineup. This offensive line is terrible for the offense they run. Jerome Clary is an average OT if you hide his weaknesses. The vertical passing game, the deep, 7 step drops and long developing plays do nothing but expose how slow he is and how much he struggles with speed rushers. Then you have an undrafted rookie free agent proecting Rivers blind side. Mike Harris isn't actually that bad, but once again, when you ask him to pass protect for four seconds with a speed rusher who is pinning his ears back... he almost has no chance.

It is very simple. First and foremost you have to understand your personnell. The Broncos know theirs. They can change their offense from a run oriented offense to pass oriented offense by changing their QB. They design their scheme around their QB. The Charges have a scheme and expect players to execute the scheme when it exposes their flaws. This is not a difficult concept to grasp. Norv Turner should realise that he's just putting Phillip Rivers in bad situations time and time again.

And this offense lacks talent. You never know what your going to get out of Malcom Floyd. One week he's going up and making circus catches, going over 100 yards and catching upwards of 7 or 8 passes, and then the next... he's almost shutout and a complete nonfactor. Robert Meachem is a one trick pony. He runs deep clearing patterns. That's almost all he does. He doesn't get open. If the front office thought this tandem was going to accomodate the loss of Vincent Jackson, then I think it's about time they start to realize how valuable of a commodity Jackson was. Jackson and Antonio Gates were the passing offense. Gates has not looked like himself in recent years. And although he looks better than he has in about three years, he's still not the same player he once was. Vincent Jackson was the only consistent weapon they had. He was a great player and they simply let him walk. Biggest mistake they have made, especially when you paid Robert Meachem like he's something more than #3 option.

The window for a Super Bowl is slammed shut. I think we all know that, but as long as Norv Turner is there... the playoff window is also slammed shut. They can't beat anyone outside of their division. And they're wasting Phillip Rivers, who's been in the NFL for 9 years now. That window is going to be closing before they know it. They need to find a Head Coach and do it fast. The performance that was displayed on Monday Night was embarassing. They lack talent on both sides of the ball and have idiotic play calling and players playing in critical positions that don't fit their scheme. This is about as average as an NFL team gets.


I will speak highly of the defense for a second by mentioning one player. Eric Weddle is a great safety in this league. He really has developed into a complete player capable of playing at an extremely high level in the box. Weddle is one of the few bright spots on defense. He looks like he's the clear cut best safety in the AFC these days.
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I honestly believe Reggie Bush has turned into exactly the type of player I envisioned.
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I would like it if there were more successful black Quarterbacks in the NFL...
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Tahj Boyd has the best fundamentals of any QB in this class, I think his game translates great to the NFL.

Last edited by BigBanger : 10-17-2012 at 01:33 AM.
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