Archive for September 2009
So far I touched on the Packers running back “need” and the offensive tackle “need” so lets move forward to the Safety “need”.
At free safety Nick Collins is the starter, the playmaker, a ball hawk and a Pro Bowler. He is also a free agent at the end of the year. He and the Packers will have an interesting decision to make when it comes to his future with the team. I can’t see Ted Thompson letting his second round pick in 2004 leave after investing so much time in Collins.
At the other safety spot there is uncertainty. Atari Bigby is the incumbent starter. He has not been able to stay healthy in 2008 and so far in 2009. Bigby is agood “in the box” safety but is a liability in coverage.
The Packers added Derrick Martin as a back-up to Bigby and recently signed former Colt Matt Giordano but that is it as far as depth. Jarrett Bush can also play safety, but as Packers know that is not a good thing.
The Packers need another safety to compliment Collins and this class has three premier safeties in Taylor Mays, Eric Berry and Chad Jones from LSU. There are some very good ones after them. A wild card in this mix is former FSU safety Myron Rolle, who passed up a chance to go pro last year after he received the Oxford Scholarship and is studying over sea’s. Rolle is on an intense workout plan and is watching film while he is studying. One thing is certain about Rolle, he will surely interview well and will be in the 2010 draft.
I broke my list up into Top 5 free safeties and Top 5 strong safeties. I also projected the players on their position in the NFL, not what they may be playing for their respective colleges.
Here our my Top 5 Free Safeties:
1. Eric Berry- Tennesse- This kid can do it all. He is smart, fast, athletic, a playmaker, a hitter with outstanding instintcs and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year as a Sophomore. He will a Top 15 pick in the 2010 draft, maybe even Top 5. He is THAT good.
2. Nate Allen- South Florida
3. Kam Chancellor- Virginia Tech
4. T. J. Ward- Oregon
5. Josh Pinkard- USC
Here are my Top 5 Strong Safeties:
1. Taylor Mays- USC- Some scouts I talked to have him rated as the top overall player in this draft. People at USC say he is the best safety to come out since Ronnie Lott. He has it all, freakish size (6’4, 235lbs), speed (4.23 forty on the electric track), ball hawking skills, smarts, instincts and he is a beast of a hitter. Many think he will be a Top 5 pick, maybe as high as #2 overall.
2. Chad Jones- LSU- Jones is another player with really good size (6’2, 220 lbs) and even better instincts. He is a safety that can play both free or strong and he returns kicks. He is really athletic and also plays baseball for LSU as a Pitcher and outfielder.
3. Myron Rolle- FSU
4. Darrell Stuckey- Kansas
5. Justin Woodall- Alabama
Yesterday I started the series by looking at the Packers “need” at the running back position. I caught some flack because I didn’t start with the offensive line because that seems to be perceived as the biggest “need”.
The Packers troubles on the offensive line because of age and injury. Chad Clifton has been the anchor at left tackle for the past 10 years but he is not the same player after that hit Warren Sapp put on him after a turnover some years ago. He is the best option at left tackle, but his contract is up and I don’t see the Packers re-signing him.
Darryn Colledge and Jason Spitz also have their contract up after the season, but the Packers will try to make sure they don’t leave. Colledge graded out as the best offensive lineman after the 2008 season. He also can play left tackle, which what he did against the Rams and will also start against the Vikings this week.
Some feel the Packers think that Colledge is a better option at left tackle in the future, then rookie T.J. Lang will be the left guard of the future with Spitz and Josh Sitton at center and right guard. That leaves Allen Barbe as the right tackle. Barbe has had a rough start and the Packers need him to step up if he is the guy that will man the right tackle position for the near future and for years to come.
Thats not comferting for most Packers fans. The “need” to add a dominant tackle could be the Packers biggest “need” also because the play and health of Aaron Rodgers depends on it. Keep this in mind though, G.M. Ted Thompson has invested mor epicks in the offensive line then any other position during his tenure as G.M.
The 2010 draft could have four seniors as first rounders and a few underclassmen will bump that number up as well. The past two drafts were extremely deep at the tackle position and this draft may not be to different.
So that leads to my Top 10 college offensive tackles. Here they are:
1. Russell Okung- Oklahoma State
2. Ciron Black- LSU
3. Jason Fox- Miami
4. Charles Brown- USC
5. Bryan Bulaga- Iowa
6. Nate Solder- Colorado
7. Anthony Castonzo- Boston College
8. Trent Williams- Oklahoma
9. Sam Young- Notre Dame
10. Anthony Davis- Rutgers
The NFL season is 3 weeks old and Packers fans across the web are obsessed with the Packers offensive line and other perceived team “needs”.
Since every team in the NFL has needs, including the Packers, I figured to explore what I feel are the biggest “needs” for the Packers.
I know it is early, but the “needs” seem to be “glaring” to almost every Packers fan on almost every Packers message board, so I figured, why not start a series that focuses on the “needs” of the Packers and the top college players at their positions?
Everyone knows the Packers have a “need” for a left tackle (and right tackle for that matter) of the future, but I wanted to explore the Packers lack of a home run threat at running back.
Ryan Grant is not a guy that can take it to the house every time he touches the ball, and is a 2 down back. The Packers lack of a “home run hitter” that can go the distance anytime he is on the field is showing.
Grant averaged 3.9 yards per carry last year and is around the same this year. It is not all his fault though because the Packers offensive line is not playing well to say the least. But Grant has not shown that “burst” Packers fan saw in 2007. The Packers need a running back that has that “wiggle” and can be a threat in the passing game, and Grant has not shown that he is that guy.
“Patty” a former scout who posts on http://packerchatters.com agrees, she said “…also this team needs a dynamic RB – Sorry I do not think Ryan Grant is the answer.”
Here are my 10 running backs.
1. Jahvid Best- Cal: This kid is lightning in a bottle and can go the distance anytime he touches the ball. He is also a really good receiving threat as well. He may be the first back taken in the draft should he come out.
2. C.J. Spiller- Clemson: He finally has the backfield to himself and this kid maybe the most complete back in the draft. He also can return kicks and punts for added value.
3. Joe McKnight- USC: Do you remember how Reggie Bush impacted the USC offense? McKnight has that same impact. McKnight needs to gain some weight to run between the tackles, but he is a tougher runner then Bush was and doesn’t shy away from contact. Joe can also line up as a receiver and cause match-up problems as well. He also is a return specialist.
4. DeMarco Murray- Oklahoma: The question will never be about Murray’s ability, which may be the best in this upcoming draft, but can he stay healthy? He has been hurt the past two seasons but has the frame of Adrian Peterson and some of the same abilities as well. He returns kicks for the Sooners which adds value to him.
5. Jonathan Dwyer- Georgia Tech: Dwyer has been banged up this year, but the past two seasons he has put on a show, especially in 2008. He is the type of back that can carry the load and go the distance anytime he touches the ball.
6. Noel Devine- West Virginia: Pure electricity. Devine maybe the fastest and most dynamic back in the draft (should he come out). He is small but could have the same type of impact the Chargers Daryn Sproles has had. There is off the field issues with Devine, although since he has been at West Virginia he has not got into any trouble.
7. Evan Royster- Penn St.: A complete back. Royster knows how to play the running back position, and coming out of Penn St. you know that is a fact. He could be the next Penn St. back to have an impact in the NFL.
8. Javarris James- Miami: Edgerrin’s cousin is the same type of back, except with a little more speed.
9. MiQuale Lewis- Ball St.: See Noel Devine, except with smaller (5’6) and without any off the field issues.
10. Damion Fletcher- Southern Miss: This kid has all kinds of talent, but off the field issues will make his stock fall to the later parts of the draft.
I would have also included USC’s Stafon Johnson but earlier today (9/28/09) while working out in USC’s weight room, there was an accident and his larynx was crushed. As of 9pm pacific standard time he was in surgery to repair it. He will be out the rest of the season and his career is in doubt though his life in not in any jeopardy according to reports.
Should that have not had happened he may have been another back that would have been drafted high. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.
With running back being one of the Packers “needs” there surely isn’t a lack of talent at that position should all come out for the 2010 draft. I think best and Spiller will be off the board before the Packers pick, so McKnight or Murray seem to be the two players that they would/could have an eye on and be wearing Green & Gold come April of 2010.
Next I will take a look at the top offensive linemen in the country. The Packers need to invest in a player that can protect Aaron Rodgers and open holes for whom ever is the running back.
E-mail Joe @ firstname.lastname@example.org
If you ask any player or coach in the NFL they would tell you that their number one goal is to win afollowed closely by making it into the Hall of Fame.
But what about the coordinators that construct the game plan and call the plays on a play by play basis? They are crucial members of the organization that go nameless unless the team is having an outstanding season or taking the hit for the job security and surely no Hall of Famer coordinators right? Dick Lebeau and Tom Moore would disagree.on a struggling team. There is no
The 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears were led by two Hall of Fame players in the late Walter Payton and Mike Singletary. The cast of players on that team included Wilber Marshall, Richard Dent, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Steve McMichael, current Tennessee Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher and a Hall of Fame Coach in Mike Ditka.
But every defensive player on that team would say defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan was every bit as vital to that team as Ditka, maybe even more. That 85′ Bears team may have had the most dominating defense ever and it showed in Super Bowl XX against the Patriots.
That day the Bears set Super Bowl records for sacks (7) and fewest rushing yards allowed (7). The Bears’ 36-point margin over the Patriots was a Super Bowl record until Super Bowl XXIV (45). The Patriots were held to negative yardage (-19) throughout the entire first half, and just 123 total yards in the entire game, the second lowest total in Super Bowl history.
When the game ended Ditka was carried off by the offensive players and Ryan by the defensive players, a tradition usually reserved solely for the Head Coach. Ryan left to become the Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach and the Bears haven’t won a Super Bowl since.
Dick LeBeau has been in the NFL for 50 years as a player and a coach. He is considered an “innovator” and “defensive football genius”. LeBeau created the ‘zone blitz’ when he was defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals in the late 1980s. He is currently in his second stint as the Steelers defensive coordinator, a position he has held for the past 5 years and from 1992-96.
As a player LeBeau has Hall of Fame credentials as well. He had 62 career interceptions for 762 return yards and 3 touchdowns, and holds the NFL record for consecutive game appearances for a corner back with 171. He also recovered 9 fumbles, returning them for 53 yards and a touchdown. But as impressive as his playing statistics are, it’s his impact coaching defense that has many thinking he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Lebeau’s coaching career began as a special teams coach in Philadelphia from 1973-75 with stops in Green Bay as the secondary coach from 1976-79, Cincinnati as the defensive coordinator (1980-91 and again from 1997-2002) Buffalo (2003) and Pittsburgh (1992-96 and 2004-present). He has coordinated 3 AFC Championships for Pittsburgh (1995, 2005, and 2008), and two Super Bowl Championships Super Bowl XL, and Super Bowl XLIII.
LeBeau is known as the “father of the zone blitz”, also known as the “fire zone”. When asked about how he created it, Lebeau told Philadelphia Daily News“It was a thought process kind of born out of necessity. It was basically an outcropping of the run-and-shoot [offense] that was becoming pretty prevalent in the league back then. We were in the same division as Houston, and they were tremendous at it with Warren Moon and Co. Then the West Coast offense was spreading throughout the league. Those were all quick-rhythm, get-the-ball-out-of-your-hands-and-cut-up-the-defense types of passing games. We were just looking for ways to get pressure without exposing our defensive backs to have to cover the whole field all of the time.”
LeBeau’s impact on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the 3-4 defense goes without saying. He is the master and no one has done it better for as long as he has done it. Without Dick LeBeau one could argue that neither Bill Cower or Mike Tomlin would have Super Bowl rings. It was LeBeau’s defenses that made critical plays to either seal victories or make game changing plays that turned the momentum to the Steelers.
Former Eagles quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski may have summed it up best, “Dick LeBeau is arguably the best ever to coach defense. … He has done it on such a consistent basis over a long period of time.”
Tom Moore may be the exact opposite of Dick LeBeau because he is the architect of some of the most prominent offenses in NFL history. He started off in Pittsburgh under the great Chuck Noll as his wide receivers coach from 1977-82 which included two Super Bowl wins. Also on the Steelers staff was future Head Coach Tony Dungy.
Moore was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1983 and held that title until 1989. He then went to Minnesota as the Assistant Head Coach from 1990-1993 and then off to Detroit as the offensive coordinator from 1994-96. He then went to New Orleans as the running backs coach for the 1997 season before landing in Indianapolis as the offensive coordinator from 1998 until he retired this past off season.
Moore, up until his retirement this off season, had coached Peyton Manning his entire career. The Colts had a record of 117-59 in the regular season and 7-8 in the playoffs, also setting numerous NFL records, including highest passer rating, season (121.1 in 2004) and a then record for most passing touchdowns in a season with 49, also established in 2004. Moore also was the offensive coordinator for the Colts Super Bowl XLI win.
Dick LeBeau and Tom Moore are just two examples of coordinators that have had a huge impact on the game and they, along with the others, need to be recognized for it. The NFL honors players, coaches and contributors (such as owners and commissioners) for their efforts and contributions to the game and rightfully so.
But for a select few coordinators, the true elite coordinators who have had such an impact on the game of football, it is only justified that these coordinators the recognition they deserve. It’s time for the NFL and the Hall of Fame committee to coordinate a path to the Hall of Fame for them.
E-mail Joe @ email@example.com
Last night I said I would get more into high school football as the year goes on. I will cover recruiting, signing day and of course the games under the friday night lights. Well, here is the scoreboard courtsy of http://maxpreps.com. Keep in mind this is theirTop 25.
No. 1 St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)- Idle
No. 2 Byrnes (Duncan, S.C.) -85 Woodland (Dorchester, S.C.) – 8- Byrnes had 413 yards of offense and 58 points in the first half.
No. 3 Elder (Cincinnati, Ohio) – 23 La Salle (Cincinnati, Ohio) – 13
No. 4 Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) – 34 King’s Fork (Suffolk, Va.) – 0- Former NY Giants QB Phil Sims son is the QB for Smith. Phillip Sims threw for 219 yards and a score.
No. 5 Lowndes (Valdosta, Ga.) – 31 Colquitt County (Moultrie, Ga.) – 6
No. 6 Central (Miami, Fla.) – 63 Miami Beach (Fla.) – 0- Central posted its third straight shutout
No. 7 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) – 45 Friendship Collegiate Academy (D.C.) – 12
No. 8 Cedar Hill (Texas) – 47 Martin (Arlington, Texas) – 39
No. 9 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) – Idle
No. 10 Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, Calif.) – 28 No. 12 Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) – 25- Oaks Christian outdueled Skyline in a nationally-televised showdown on ESPN.
No. 11 Curtis (River Ridge, La.) – 24 Salmen (Slidell, La.) – 23
No. 13 Centennial (Peoria, Ariz.) – 24 Brophy College Prep (Phoenix, Ariz.) – 12- Centennial upped its winning streak to 30 in a row
No. 14 Madison Central (Miss.) – Idle
No. 15 Northwestern (Miami, Fla.) – 42 Hialeah-Miami Lakes (Hialeah, Fla.) – 20
No. 16 Longview (Texas) – 24 Lufkin (Texas) – 28
No. 17 Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) – 38 Crespi (Encino, Calif.) – 28
No. 18 St. Xavier (Cincinnati, Ohio) – 43 Trinity (Louisville, Ky.) – 7
No. 19 Stony Point (Round Rock, Texas) – Idle
No. 20 Highlands (Fort Thomas, Ky.) – 36 Boone County (Florence, Ky.) – 14
No. 21 Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) – 27 South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) – 16
No. 22 Bishop McDevitt (Pa.) – Central Dauphin East (Harrisburg, Pa.) – Saturday (9/19)
No. 23 St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.) – 42 Jordan (Los Angeles, Calif.) – 21
No. 24 Jenks (Okla.) – 41 Owasso (Okla.) – 3
No. 25 Butler (Matthews, N.C.) – 38 West Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.) – 7
Other Notable Scores
West Monroe (La.) – 35
Richwood (Monroe, La.) – 0
Greenwood (Ark.) – 54
Shiloh Christian (Ark.) – 51
Maine South (Park Ridge, Ill.) – 63
Maine West (Des Plaines, Ill.) – 0
Memphis University (Memphis, Tenn.) – 20
Olive Branch (Miss.) – 12
Hutchinson (Kan.) – 55
Maize (Kan.) – 0
Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) – 49
Mountain Ridge (Glendale, Ariz.) – 7
Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) – 40
Vance (Charlotte, N.C.) – 7
I have to add these two scores since I attended both schools:
Upland High School (Ca) 21 @ Serrano High (Ca) 18- The Highlanders, ranked #37 in the state, improve to 3-0. The Scotts travel to Eastlake high on 9/25.
Crescenta Valley (Ca) 21 @ Sain Francis (Ca) 28- The Falcons and head coach Tony Zarillo (Coach Z) fall to 1-1. CV plays rival La Canada 9/25.
E-mail Joe @ firstname.lastname@example.org
At high schools across the nation and thousands of high school athletes will attempt to live out their dreams on the gridiron. High school football is back. It is one of the best part of the start of the new school year and in some towns, defines them and gives them a sense of pride. The kids that give up hours and hours of their summer for football camps, two a days and speed & agility camps see all their hard work pay off.
Out of those kids, a select few will have the opportunity to use their god given talents to play football and get a free education at an institution of higher learning. The recruiting of these athletes is intense and has become a high profile affair with various TV networks broadcasting the athletes decisions live.
High school football is a staple of Friday nights in most towns. They all gather and watch their kids play their hearts out and try to make them proud. The coach will be second guessed as the game goes on. In some places, the guys get together at the local diner or barber shop and discuss the game and team, with the coach making an appearence.
The school gathers and watches their friends try to defend the schools honor against other schools in the surounding areas. They sit in the cold stands, talking about who likes who, where they are going after the game and what happened at school that past week. But when their school has a season to remember traditions are born.
Like at Upland High School in Upland California. In the 1995-96 school year the “Scotts” (or Highlanders) were in their second season under Tim Salter. UHS was not a good football team before Salter, but that season Upland not only won the C.I.F. title, but also the “Dawg Pound” was born in the UHS stands.
Every school has a section where the students get rowdy where they get the parents and other students pumped up with their energy. It builds character and school spirit, much like the “Cameron Crazy’s” at Duke. But the team is always the focus of the parents and classmates.
With the recruiting trial always white hot you never know who will be in the stands, especially if your school is a powerhouse or has a five star player. I was at a local game this past week and seen a major Pac 10 head coach and 3 coordinators there scouting players. Websites such http://Rivals.com, http://Scout.com and http://maxpreps.com all promote high school sports, list the top 100 athletes and the schools those athletes are considering.
High school football is as american as apple pie. Seeing the city come together as one to root for their local high school is refreshing. Watching future college and even NFL players play the game before it becomes a business (to them) is a joy. It is far from pure, but it is affordable for the family and a good way to get together with friends.
This will be the first in many blogs about high school football and I plan to cover a few games as well. Tonight, as I watched Oaks Christian High school (Ca) take on Skyline High school (Wa) on ESPNU and see the names Montana, Smith and Gretzky I can’t help but wonder how they must feel as parents? They have had all the accolades in their respective careers and now there sons are receiving them as well. It has to be a proud moment for them, like any other parent who see’s their kids play under the Friday night lights.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and remember, what happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.
E-mail Joe @ email@example.com
On Saturday September 12th, 2009 the 3rd ranked USC Trojans travel to Columbus Ohio to take on the 8th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a match up that will not only effect each teams title chances, but also the recruiting war. I have heard that ten 5 star high school prospects will be in attendance “officially” and many others watching.
Last season the Trojans dominated the game between the two college power houses with a 35-3 rout in Los Angeles but this time the Buckeyes think they are more prepared and want revenge on a Trojan team starting a true freshman quarterback in Matt Barkley.
The Trojans on the other hand take the same approach that head coach Pete Carroll has instilled in the nations top football program since he arrived at USC, “any team, any time, any where”. They have the utmost confidence in Barkley, a seasoned offensive line and arguably the nations best defensive player in safety Taylor Mays.
The key to the Buckeyes on offense will be sophomore quarterback Terrelle Pryor. He is a dynamic dual threat that the Trojans have had trouble with in the past (Jonathan Beasley, Vince Young and Dennis Dixon come to mind) and Carroll has said that if he had that type of quarterback at USC, he would be starting. If Pryor can keep the Trojans honest with his passing that will make his running ability that much more deadly.
On defense the Buckeyes will have to force the Trojans to pass and make Barkley beat them. If they can stop a Trojans rushing attack (that ran for 342 yards against San Jose St. last week) that gives them a legit shot at victory.
The Trojans on offense will have to continue to run the ball and protect Barkley. Joe McNight, Stephon Johnson and CJ Gable the Trojans boast one of the deepest and dynamic rushing attacks in the nation. Barkley also has to pick up where he left off from last week. He did a masterful job of managing the game and not make mistakes.
On defense the Trojans have to stop Pryor. He is the key to the Buckeyes offense and how he goes so go the Buckeyes. Mays, Chris Gallippo and company will play a “zone” package that will keep a “spy” on Pryor.
The Trojans should win this game, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it was by a larger margin then last year. The Trojans are faster and more athletic then any Big 10 team including Ohio St. Pete Carroll knows this game is a defining game for the 2009 season and the Trojans title hopes in general. Jim Tressel knows that if the Buckeyes (really the Big 10 in general) loses to another “big game” team in the Pac 10 or SEC, it will seriously hurt Ohio St.’s recruiting for a long time because the perception will be that Big 10 teams are to slow to compete with other teams “power” conferences.
This is the NCAA’s marque game for the early season. Both schools need to commended for scheduling this match up and sticking to it. It is a shame that one of these schools will not be considered a national title contender after Saturday’s game because of the NCAA’s poor choice to not have a college football playoff (that is a completely different subject for another day). More schools need to do this instead of running up the score against the likes of the Charleston Southern Buccaneers.
Key players to watch:
USC: Damian Williams, Joe McNight, Matt Barkley and Taylor Mays
Ohio St.: Terrelle Pryor, Daniel Herron, Ohio St. Defense