Monthly Archives: June 2014

Shutdown Corner’s Overrated and Underrated: Backup QB (Shutdown Corner)

This offseason, Shutdown Corner’s Frank Schwab and Eric Edholm will look into what is overrated and underrated in all aspects of the NFL. We fully expect your angry emails and comments that are sure to follow.
Eric Edholm: Kirk Cousins
Cousins is one of the more impressive young men you’ll meet. Smart, dedicated, hard-working — the kind of kid who would be successful in any endeavor, plus the type you’d want to marry your daughter.
But his NFL success must be viewed in relative terms. As in, anything he has done or will do in this league is remarkable because of his JAG physical skills. You know, JAG … just a guy.
That’s scout-speak for a player who simply doesn’t have the talent ever to be more than just passable. Certainly, many backup quarterbacks fall into this category, and Cousins will be as ready as ever for Washington when called upon — a great thing considering Robert Griffin III and his scarred knees are starting.
But outside of a 329-yard game against the Browns his rookie season, Cousins had been pretty bad. Even in a 381-yard game last season, after finally replacing Griffin in Week 15, Cousins threw two picks and lost a fumble in a one-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
There were some whispers of trade interest before the season, likely from the same teams who privately said Washington got a steal when they landed Cousins in the fourth round in 2013. Much of it is hot air. Cousins’ reputation league wide as a potential starter — after all, isn’t that what a backup is? — is much higher than it deserves to be.
Frank Schwab: Michael Vick
I know why Vick is the most talked-about backup in the NFL. He’s one of the more interesting players of the NFL this century (I’ll have more to say on that later this offseason). And he went to New York, where everything is made out to be more important than it really is, behind a shaky starter in Geno Smith. The situation was ripe for Vick to become a huge story. Vick has gotten more attention than most NFL starting quarterbacks this offseason.
The thing is, Vick’s legend surpasses his 2014 reality. It has for a couple years, really.
Vick had a fantastic 2010 season, perhaps the best of his career. He has played 30 games since then. Here are his numbers: 534-for-915 (58.4 percent), 6,880 yards, 35 touchdowns, 27 interceptions, 11 fumbles lost. That’s not tremendous for what amounts to almost two full seasons. He’s 34. He hasn’t played more than 13 games in a season since 2006. Last year he had a golden opportunity to have a career-defining year, beginning the season as the starter in Chip Kelly’s offense, but got hurt and Nick Foles took his job. The Eagles went on to have the most yards per passing play and the most yards per rushing play with Vick as a backup.
Vick might be the Jets’ best option, but that’s more because Smith had such a mistake-filled rookie year. Vick is still an interesting figure, and will always draw attention, but the days of Vick’s production warranting the attention are over … probably.

EE: Matt Moore
Moore is unfairly beaten up for playing poorly for a horrific Panthers team in 2010 (12 turnovers in his five starts that season), but he otherwise has been surprisingly good for the rest of his career.
An undrafted rookie in 2007, Moore was among the final cuts of the Dallas Cowboys despite a strong preseason performance. Seeing that, the Panthers picked him up and added him to the roster. Smart move: He ended up starting, and playing relatively well, in three games down the stretch.

from Yahoo Sports
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Rams’ Michael Sam calls rookie life ‘positive’ (The Associated Press)

Michael Sam was laughing with teammates during a running-back drill for kids, each youngster stiff-arming and juking his way to a touchdown celebration dance in a makeshift end zone. On Tuesday, the St. Louis Rams’ defensive end and the league’s first openly gay active player was just another rookie at the NFL’s four-day symposium. The full orientation for the players includes presentations and workshops covering a range of topics under four core teaching principles: NFL History, Total Wellness, Professional Experience and Workplace Conduct. In a meeting during the symposium, he shared some thoughts on his own life with teammates and rookies from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

from Yahoo Sports
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Which running back committees (three or more) are most interesting, effective? (Shutdown Corner)

Perhaps the most underrated line of “The Empire Strikes Back” is when the good guys are hiding on what they think is an asteroid, parking the Millenium Falcon until the Empire goes away. One problem: It’s no asteroid, as they find out when Han Solo shoots the inside of a giant space slug’s throat. 
The slug freaks out. (Hey, how would you react?) And as he — she? — is thrashing the Falcon about, Princess Leah reminds Han of the dangers of leaving their once-safe haven too soon, with the Empire still lurking. It’s classic Han and Leah:

Han: “All right, Chewy, let’s get out of here!”

Leah: “The Empire is still out there! I don’t think it’s wise to —”

Han: “No time to discuss this with the committee.”

Leah: “I am not a committee!”

That slays me every time.
So what, pray tell, does it have to do with football? Little. Little directly, anyway. But there is this stigma of committees in the NFL. Despite the league becoming more of a specialized, shared-duty kind of world, where several unitaskers are brought together to perform their craft and perform it well in part-time roles, the idea of the effective part-timer in the NFL doesn’t always sit well.
Certainly not with players, who want to play more naturally. But also with fantasy football folks. They like stars. They want to draft stars, workhorses and bellcows.  
That, however, is largely a day gone by. For every Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy and — for how long, who knows? — Marshawn Lynch, there are two dozen teams that favor a (gulp) committee approach to their offensive backfield. One guy to run inside, one to run outside. A pass blocker, a pass receiver. A guy who can double on special teams. Complementary parts.
Naturally. You can almost hear a player such as the Jets’s Chris Johnson screaming to anyone who will listen: “I am not a committee!” It’s the way things largely are these days. Seeing as how it roundly has been effective, too, it’s most likely here to stay.
You could argue that Lynch and his two talented backups or Peterson and any guy with a pulse make up a pretty good “committee.” But we’re considering “super” committees here, backfield groups that will heavily involve three or more contributors.
With that in mind, let’s take a look — with a non-fantasy lens, really — at the 10 most intriguing RBBC (running back by committee) situations currently happening in the NFL:
1. San Francisco 49ers Key contributors: Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Carlos Hyde, LaMichael James, Marcus Lattimore Skinny: A lot to break down here. The ageless Gore remains the lead dog until further notice. But that’s not to say that the pack isn’t catching up to him. Hyde is a highly regarded second-round pick. Hunter will have his role. Lattimore is out to take Gore’s job, he says, two years removed from a serious knee injury. The only one who appears out of the picture is James, who has expressed frustration with his limited role as a kick returner primarily. Gore will be the primary first- and second-down runner, as he should be, but will he run the ball 276 times again as he did last season? You’d think Lattimore (if healthy) and Hyde can cut into that number, but both also have looked good catching the ball , too. No team has as much firepower, diversity and options in the backfield as the 49ers.

from Yahoo Sports
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