Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Bowl 47: Top 5 story lines and prediction

Article by Jeremy Dawson
 Twitter- Jdawson8190
http://www.5thquartermag.com


bowl
With Super Bowl 47 coming up, here is a look at the top 5 story lines between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, followed by my final prediction for the big game.
gore
5. Ray Rice & Frank Gore
Arguably the best offensive players on each team in the Super Bowl are the running backs, Baltimore’s Ray Rice and San Francisco’s Frank Gore. Not to mention back up running backs Bernard Pierce and LaMichael James have proven to be very valuable options in certain situations. Both backups in fact average more yards per carry than the starters.
Ray Rice is a double threat with both running and receiving. Frank Gore is more one dimensional but man is he a beast when he hits a gap in the line. Rice and Gore have consistently been two of the NFL’s premier backs. Either player is capable of being the difference maker in this game.
reed
4. Ed Reed & Randy Moss
Moss and Reed may be on opposite sides of the ball but have certainly made a similar impact by being two of the greatest players of all time at their positions. I mean Randy Moss thinks he is the undisputed greatest receiver to bless a football field with his presence.
Well contrary to Randy’s beliefs, it is heavily disputed. But I am not meaning to slight him as a player; he is one of the five greatest, just maybe not number one. Ed Reed may be one of the top five greatest defensive backs as well and certainly one of the greatest safeties.
Another similarity between the two is that neither player has a Super Bowl victory. Both players are very deserving of an NFL title but one will have to walk away just a step short once again. It is always sad to see a Hall of Fame career end without a championship and I would not want to see that happen to either of these great players.
Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens
3. Ray Lewis & Patrick Willis
The 2013 Super Bowl will be a battle between #52. Both Ray Lewis of the Ravens and Patrick Willis of the 49ers, wear the number 52. Ray will be wearing this number for the last time on Super Bowl Sunday, having announced his plans for retirement right before the post-season had begun.
It has been an amazing ride for Lewis and the Ravens and this team is playing with more emotional momentum than I may have ever witnessed before in sports. The 49ers have been tested by strong opponents as well and Patrick Willis has been the clear leader of this team.
Both of these players lead their team in tackles in the playoffs. Lewis actually leads all players in the league with 44. Willis’ game often emulates that of Ray Lewis in his early years. It is almost as if we will be watching a young and athletic Ray Vs an older wiser Ray. Then there is the question, which will prevail?
sporting_lead_t658
2. John Harbaugh & Jim Harbaugh
For the first time in NFL history the head coaches facing off in the Super Bowl are brothers. Let me say that again. Two men, born of the same woman, who fell in love with the same sport, both learned how to coach amazingly, became two of the best head coaches in the world, and built two championship teams in the same season! I hope it can sink in just how amazing that concept is.
Jim Harbaugh, the coach of the 49ers, was once a quarterback in the league and was actually the victim of Ray Lewis’ first career sack. Well now he may be the victim of his last as well.
John is the more experienced coach of the two having coached nearly ten years longer than that of his brother Jim. The two are very different personality wise on the sidelines as well. John keeps his cool even under the most stressful conditions. Jim on the other hand, will flip his lid over a bad ball spot ten yards away from a first down. Each coach’s approach works perfectly with their team even though they are very different.
It is a great time to be a part of this family based on success, but man is it going to be awkward for everyone when family members start rooting for one of the teams over the other.
flacco
1. Joe Flacco & Colin Kaepernick
Even when the two teams in the Super Bowl have been completely led by their defenses this season, the quarterback matchup is still the biggest story. When it is all said and done the most questions, credit, and blame will be given to the Quarterbacks.
If Flacco and the Ravens win, we are all going to hear the word elite thrown around far too much again. If Kaepernick and the 49ers win, all we will hear is that a young running quarterback has shown they can win a championship and that the mold of the quarterback is being changed. Now I’m not saying that either of these claims would be right or wrong, they are just getting old and obvious.
Joe Flacco since entering the league has the most playoff victories out of any quarterback with eight. That is more playoff wins than Brady and Manning have in this time frame, combined. These playoffs, which have brought him to his first Super Bowl appearance, have been his best to date. Flacco is averaging almost 300 yards per game, has eight touchdowns, and has thrown no interceptions in this year’s post season.
Colin Kaepernick has broken out in the second half of the season and is now widely regarded as one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL. His ability to run is unlike anything we have seen before. “How so”, you might ask. Well think of this, Kaepernick has three runs of over 50 yards since week 13 of this season, Michael Vick has three runs of over 50 yards in his career.
Kaepernick also has a similar deep throw to that of Joe Flacco’s but Joe throws it a little farther and Colin can throw it a little more accurate. Kaepernick has the highest completion percentage in the NFL this season of passes over twenty yards. Needless to say, we can expect a lot of big plays on Sunday from both teams.
Prediction
With each team averaging the same amount of points per game, the 49ers being three and a half point favorites, and the Ravens having crazy momentum we can all expect a great entertaining NFL Super Bowl.
Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and others will make some big plays but the talented younger defense of the 49ers will hold stronger for all four quarters. The great line backers of the 49ers will apply pressure to Flacco and stop plays before they have the chance to become big ones.
Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick will each run for over 100 yards and the 49ers will make enough plays with few enough mistakes to come away with a close victory. The San Francisco 49ers will be the NFL Super Bowl XLVII Champions.
San Francisco: 24 Baltimore: 17

Why Not Braun?

Article by Jeremy McCabe
SportsWiseGuy Writer
twitter.com/@jeremy_mccabe05





    The debate for the top pick in upcoming fantasy baseball drafts has usually been between 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Mike Trout, and reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. But there is a hitter that resides in Milwaukee that has something to say about that. Ryan Braun had another terrific year last year, finishing in the top 5 in every offensive category. He recorded his fourth straight 100+ run season, fifth straight 100+ RBI season and the most underrated part of his game is his stolen bases, which he recorded his second consecutive 30+ steal season. Durability is essential in every sport, but baseball’s 162 game grind can have players missing more than a couple games. The former MVP has played in 150+ games each of the past five seasons. On top of that, he had his first career 40+ home run season and has blasted at least 25 home runs in each of his six big league seasons. Braun has won the Silver Slugger award the past five seasons and there are no signs he is ready to slow down.
    Some people last year had doubts of picking Braun, after last off season he supposedly tested positive, but he won his appeal and had a huge year to shut the mouths of all the haters. If you have the number one overall pick in your league, you want someone who will produce in copious amounts, this man is your guy. The Milwaukee left fielder is poised for another monster season and if you do get the privilege to have him on your team you should feel like one of the lucky ones.

Sleeper and Busts Fantasy Baseball

Chase Headley

First and foremost, I must ask you above all else to forgive the incredibly lame title of this post. It popped into my head, and once it got there, I had no choice but to go with it. It was as if someone waved a hand in my face and told me, "This is the title you're looking for." I'm profoundly sorry.
Now that that's out of the way, on with the post!
I've done several mock drafts over at Mock Draft Central already this January (it's never too early!) and each time I've been surprised at how low a couple of middle infielders' ranks are. I'll bet you could never, ever guess who they are based on the aforementioned brilliant title!
Jed Lowrie, SS, HOU - ADP 244
Lowrie cracked a career-best 16 homers last season despite appearing in just 97 games and totaling 387 plate appearances. That's pretty great production from a shortstop, and he'd probably be ranked higher if the 97 games and 387 PAs weren't both career-highs for the injury magnet as well.
He isn't going to have much of a supporting cast (at least Jose Altuve is good), and he's been injury-prone throughout his career. However, if you look at the list of maladies that have afflicted Lowrie, there isn't a recurring theme. He's been plagued by a wrist injury and a shoulder injury, and this past season was the victim of an unfortunate slide at second base that wrecked his ankle. He's even missed significant time with mono in the past.
Maybe Lowrie is just plain brittle, but it seems that a lot of his missed time can be chalked up to bad luck.
A look at Lowrie's skill-set shows a pretty disciplined player. He walked in 11.1% of his PAs last season and swung out of the zone 10 percent less than the league average. When he did swing out of the zone, he was well above the league average in contact rate. And, his swinging strike rate of 6.2% is nearly three percent below league average.
Lowrie clearly has good strike zone knowledge. His largest problem is that he's one of the most extreme flyball hitters in baseball. His 51.3% rate was second among hitters with at least 350 PAs last season, and flyballs are easier to turn into outs than grounders or line drives. His .257 BABIP is low enough to hope there's  room for improvement, but expecting more than a .260 average is probably a reach.
Lowrie has good power for a shortstop, as evidenced by his career .167 ISO and .194 mark last season. He mashed 14 homers through the season's first 66 games and was a good bet to finish in the mid-20s had he stayed healthy.
By no means is Lowrie someone who I'm going to predict as a slam-dunk Top 12 shortstop. He's been injury-prone throughout his career and doesn't carry a ton of batting average upside despite plus plate discipline. However he could hit 20-25 homers from the most power-deprived position in fantasy baseball. Despite that, he's being drafted after names like Everth Cabrera, Jean Segura and Jurickson Profar -- none of whom even have guaranteed full-time jobs.
In a keeper league, I see Profar's allure. In a re-draft league, I'll take the guy with 25-homer pop who's opening the season with an everyday job, even if he's an injury risk.
Final Ruling: Sleeper
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, SD - ADP 335
Following Chase Headley's breakout, any chance that Gyorko would reach the Majors at his natural position of third base went out the window. Luckily for fantasy players, the Padres elected to shift him to second base in the latter portion of 2012 for that reason.
Gyorko, a 2010 second-round pick by the Pads, entered 2012 as Baseball America's No. 98 prospect. Apparently he took offense to his low ranking on the list and decided to up his stock by hitting .311/.373/.547 with 30 bombs between Double-A and Triple-A (with most of the damage coming at the latter level).
The Padres are bringing the fences at the cavernous Petco Park in for the 2013 season, meaning that it might not be quite as damaging to power stats as it has been in recent years. Gyorko recently landed as the No. 50 prospect in all of baseball over at MLB.com, with prospect guru Jonathan Mayo writing:
"His quick and compact swing is built for average and power, showing an outstanding ability to drive the ball to all fields."
The main reason that Gyorko appears in the middle of the list and not more toward the top is that he lacks a true defensive home. That doesn't matter for fantasy, as long as his glove is close enough to passable to keep him on the field. He's consistently shown that he can walk at an above-average clip, and his strikeout numbers haven't been that unsightly throughout the Minor Leagues.
Despite the pedigree and offensive upside, Gyorko is being drafted after low- or no-upside names like Darwin Barney, Johnny Giavotella, Daniel Murphy, Gordon Beckham and Omar Infante. For my money, Gyorko's ADP could literally vault 100 spots (moving him in front of Marco Scutaro), and I would applaud the risk. There isn't much upside to the names between the last of the serviceable second baseman and Gyorko. And if Gyorko busts, names like Barney, Murphy, Giavotella, etc. will likely be available as free agent replacements anyhow. I see no sense in drafting proven mediocrity over a potential Top-12 talent.
Final Ruling: Sleeper

Most underated Fantasy Baseball players team by team

Article by Jeremy McCabe
 SportsWiseGuy Writer
twitter.com/jeremy_mccabe05



    In fantasy baseball, there are players who get overlooked for different reasons. Maybe a certain player had a tragic injury to ruin your season last year, or maybe you overlook this player because he is on your most hated team. I am here to not only give you an inside on the most underrated players you are missing out on, but to give you the truth about some of these gems on each MLB team.
Angels- Mark Trumbo
    Going into his third full year, Mark Trumbo is primed for a huge season. He set career highs in almost every offensive category, and led an Angel’s offense last year in homeruns with 32. With the addition of Josh Hamilton to an already formidable lineup, Trumbo is projected to hit behind the newly acquired star Hamilton. Trumbo is sitting pretty hitting behind the likes of Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton which will give him even more opportunities to drive in the runners who are more than likely to be on base.
    Mark Trumbo is poised for a monster season. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Astros- Bud Norris
    The Houston Astros are in for a very tough year. They were placed in the heart of an AL West race that includes the offenses of Los Angeles and Texas, and a young pitching staff of Oakland. On a team not full of much talent, Bud Norris has been the horse, reaching at least 165 innings each of the past two years, with at least 165 strikeouts in those seasons. His 4.65 ERA last year should turn out to be a fluke, after he posted a 3.77 the year before.
    Overall, Norris could be suited as a spot starter if you need strikeouts or if you play the match up.  
Athletics- Jarrod Parker
    The feisty A’s did their magic last year and improbably stole the AL West away from the Rangers last year. Oakland was led by their young pitching which includes Jarrod Parker. The young righty finished 13-8 with a 3.47 ERA in his first full year. Despite his lack of strikeouts, 6.95 per 9, he is a solid pitcher whose strikeout totals will rise and he gets experience. If strikeouts is the only negative, I think ill take the chances.
    I would definitely pencil Parker in to be on multiple fantasy teams this season. He showed as a rookie he has the stuff to make it.
Blue Jays- Brandon Morrow
    The offseason has been a very productive one for the Jay’s organization. There are many players I could’ve put on this list, but all those players are supposed to be good together. But a forgotten man in the rotation named Brandon Morrow is going to have a big role in the success or failure of the Jays. The 28 year old will most likely be the third or fourth starter, but he finished last year’s injury plagued season with 10 wins and an ERA under 3. With a full season under his belt, and the offensive line up the Jays will be putting out, Morrows wins should increase, which is good for fantasy owners.
    Morrow will be a solid pitcher off the bench if he is given the chance.
Braves- Freddie Freeman
    Atlanta has arguably the best outfield in the league, and they will all be hitting close to each other in the lineup. Another key contributor to the Brave’s lineup will be Freddie Freeman. The speed of the Upton brothers and Jason Heyward will give the big lefty plenty of chances for RBIs. Last year, he posted career highs in homeruns (23) and RBIs (94). I’m expecting 100 RBIs for the young first baseman. It’s time for Freddie to become the complete package. Hitting a low .259 last season, he will try to be closer to the .280 mark which he had his rookie year.
    First base is not a deep fantasy position after all the top heavy names are off the board. Freeman is an option you should be interested in taking.
Brewers- Aramis Ramirez
    The most important position in the Brewer’s lineup is not wherever Ryan Braun hits, but who hits after the former MVP. Ramirez had another terrific season last year and for some reason he is still not mentioned in the same breathe as the top echelon like Longoria or Wright. He is a career .285 hitter in 14 seasons and the veteran is ready for more. His 50 doubles last year were a career high and had a career high Wins Above Replacement (WAR) which doesn’t mean anything for fantasy baseball but just a stat I think everyone should be aware of.
    Aramis will be starting at the hot corner. Will you be smart and take him?
Cardinals- Allen Craig
    Following his great postseason the year before, I had Craig last year on my fantasy team, and with no regrets. Unfortunately it did not lead to a championship, but Craig is the cleanup hitter in one of the best lineups in the NL. He hit 22 homeruns and 92 RBIs which were both career highs. Luckily for me, he was eligible for second base last year, probably won’t be so lucky this year.
    On a team full of underrated players like Yadier Molina and David Freese, Craig gets my nod.
Cubs- Anthony Rizzo
    After a fantastic first season in the north side of Chicago, Rizzo hit a remarkable .285 with 15 homeruns. One thing you can guarantee is that the wind will always be swirling around Wrigley, and the fact Rizzo can easily hit three homeruns in a game excites me. I expect him to be driving future star Starlin Castro a lot and to finally get a full season under his belt. Look for 25 homeruns out of Rizzo this year.
    Even if you aren’t thinking of Rizzo as your first baseman, getting 25 homeruns out of your utility hitter could be a perfect marriage.
Diamondbacks- Ian Kennedy
    Two years ago, this one time Yankees prospect went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. I didn’t buy into the hype of him and to my benefit he had a 15-12 season with an ERA over 4. But this year he is on my underrated list. He still pitched over 200 innings last season and struck out 187, which is high for a pitcher who had an inflated ERA. He allowed 9 more homeruns last year which could explain for his ERA, but that is only one category.   
    I’m looking for a bounce back season for Kennedy. I am not expecting 21-4, but the Diamondbacks are looking to contend and Kennedy could help. He could easily be a pitcher to go every fifth day for you.
Dodgers- Hanley Ramirez
    Former Florida and Miami Marlin Hanley Ramirez will make his return this year! Whether he hits behind Gonzalez and Kemp, or before them, won’t matter. That team will score runs. The former Rookie of the Year drove in 92 runs last season. And I will predict a similar type season. He doesn’t need to stare at those horrible neon colored walls down in South Beach, which is a plus.
    Hanley is a great value and the SS/3B position.
Giants- Madison Bumgarner
    Remember when the Giants 1-2 was Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain? Neither can I. The 23-year old registered his second consecutive 200+ inning season both eclipsing 190+ strikeouts. The dude can throw. He posted a career low 1.11 WHIP, which does help you fantasy owners. San Francisco will start winning games for their starting pitchers.
     As a second or third pitchers spot, Bumgarner is a good find.
Indians- Chris Perez
    For those anticipating Nick Swisher to be the Indian I chose, you must think I’m crazy. The Grizzly Bear himself will make my pick from Terry Francona’s club. Perez just recorded his second straight 35+ save season. His k/9 innings this past season was his highest since joining the tribe at 9.21. Good reliable closers are hard to come by.
    Perez will be a great second closer on anybody’s team.
Mariners- Felix Hernandez
    My first thought to mind for Seattle was Jason Bay, but it was more like a sarcastic thought, because I’m a Mets fan, and I dislike him a lot. Mr. Perfect Game is still the most underrated fantasy player on this team. He was second in inning in the AL last year, which made it his fifth consecutive 200+inning season. The dude is a horse. Has had at least five shutouts in the last three seasons. For some people who don’t like him because he doesn’t win, I disagree with you.
    Felix deserves to be one of the top 5 pitchers off the board.
Marlins- Giancarlo Stanton
    I’m not going to hide the best player on this team behind someone I think I underrated. The rest of the Marlins team was in the minors last season. Stanton posted his second straight 35 + homerun, 85+ RBI season. The poor thing for Mr. Stanton, is no other Marlin is going to be on base. That being said, the man is in scoring position every time he steps in the box.
    After the Kemps, and McCutchens are gone, Gian will gladly be there waiting to hit 40 blasts.   
Mets- Daniel Murphy
    I had Murphy last year, that just speaks to the lack of depth that second base has. Murphy can hit, natural opposite field swing. He set a career high in RBIs, hits, doubles, and runs. And I picked him up last year. If your team needs hit and average and a second baseman, Murphy is your guy. The only downside to Murphy is that he think he has a position, but he stills not a very good second baseman.
    Daniel will satisfy your need for 2B if you are that desperate.
Nationals- Rafael Soriano
    The Nationals pitching staff is stacked for yet another season, and adding Soriano definitely improves that element. Soriano recorded 42 saves last season after the future Hall of Famer got in his accident. He will get plenty of chances because the Nationals will win their share of games. Closers are think, especially now a days. Soriano is a safe bet to be your number one closer.
    After Kimbrel, I don’t know if I trust anyone more than Soriano.
Orioles- Nick Markakis
    Baltimore is back on the map, Nick Markakis missed some time last season, the first time he hasn’t played 157+ in 5 years. He still boasted a .298 average, making it his sixth out of the last 7 seasons hitting over .290. Now that is consistent. Now the Orioles are good and still hitting in front of Adam Jones will make Nick as productive as ever. Look for another.300 season from Mr. Consistent.
    Nick will be a great third outfielder to have on your team.
Padres- Edinson Volquez
    I am not at all saying that Edinson Volquez should be your number one. Volquez is a spot starter at best. He will hurt your WHIP badly because he had over 100 walks for the first time in his career. If you need someone to get a couple strikeouts, then you can try Edinson.
    Volquez is good in deep leagues, but you can take the risk with the walks.
Phillies- Roy Halladay
    Roy was hurt last year, and when he pitched, he did not play very well. But Roy Halladay is still a two time Cy Young winner in a rotation that dubbed themselves the “Big Three.” In most league both other members of the “Big Three” are being picked before the 14 year veteran. I expect Roy to come back with the hunger in his eye and see the Cy Young candidate that he can be.
    Roy can still be a very good number 2 starter on your team.
Pirates- A.J. Burnett
    A.J. is getting old. In his 13th season he registered his 2nd highest win total in a season with 16. The former New York Yankee is going into his 2nd season with the Pirates and hoping for similar success he had his first year. If you need a reliable starter to give you a good outing in a good matchup, A.J. is your guy.
    Pitching depth even on a fantasy squad is very important, A.J. would help any team you have.
Rangers- Elvis Andrus
    Andrus will be going into his fifth year and last year may have been his finest as a pro. His .286 average and .349 OBP in 2012 were both careers highs. Even though rumors about Jurickson Profar pushing him out of Texas are swirling. Andrus is a top 5 SS because Texas will still score runs and having Andrus at the top of the lineup helps accomplish that.
    Elvis’ specialty is scoring runs. All fantasy team can use that.
Rays- Jeremy Hellickson
    Someone needs to replace James Shields absence in Tampa’s rotation. The 25- year old is entering his third full season. He has a career 3.06 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19. David Price cannot  pitch every game for the Rays. Hellickson will add to your teams depth and will help your team every 5 days.
    Good, young pitching is hard to come by, and this kid can win games.
Red Sox- Jon Lester
    Jon Lester did not have a very good season at all last year. He snapped his streak of 4 straight seasons with at least 15 wins. He posted a career high ERA, which I believe is a fluke. I believe he will return to his former as the ace of the Red Sox staff. More like the no-hit Jon Lester. And I’ve been saying the entire time, even your fantasy team needs pitching depth.
    Jon Lester is a player who should be starting in a pitcher spot. He has earned it over the years and will earn it this year.
Reds-Todd Frazier
    The “Toddfather” will now be starting third for the defending NL central Reds. No more Scott Rolen to take away his playing time. In Todd’s coming out party, he hit 19 homeruns in a limited role. With more at-bats, Frazier will easily hit 25 homeruns and drive in at least 90. That is another team in the National League that can score runs. Hitting after Votto and Bruce is going to make Frazier an RBI machine.
    If you need a 3B late or a utility hitter, you can take a risk with Todd.
Rockies- Dexter Fowler
    Dexter Fowler exploded to have a career season last year. He set new career highs in hits, homeruns, RBIs, average and OBP. Leading off, knowing Cargo and Tulo are hitting behind you, you know you will get in when you reach base. Fowler has high value for a number three outfielder and I guy who can give you a little bit of everything. If your team needs steals, you can count on Dexter to get you a couple.
    Fowler can be dangerous with his legs and his bat. Should earn a spot on a lot of teams this fantasy season.
Royals- Alcides Escobar
    Alcides finally emerged last year to have a fantastic season. Shortstop is a position that is top heavy, and if you don’t feast on one of them, then Escobar is your guy. Stolen bases are valuable as any other stat, and he set a career high with 35. His .721 OPS was a career high and Escobar’s ceiling is even higher.
    Alcides is a good fit at shortstop if you miss out, but don’t worry if you draft him.
Tigers- Austin Jackson
    The ex-Yankee prospect returned to his rookie form with a great third year in Detroit. He set career highs in average (.300) and OBP with (.377.) Jackson hitting after the duo of Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, and 2 time Derby winner Prince Fielder, is sure to score a lot of runs. And runs are valuable. I expect Jackson to steal more this season also, he had a low of 12 last year, but in his first two seasons had at least 20.
    Austin will fill in nicely in any second or third outfield spots.
Twins- Trevor Plouffe
    In Trevor’s second season, he set career highs in homeruns and RBIs. He killed me last year because he had three positions eligible, and players with that many can kill ya. Look for Trevor to follow Willingham in the lineup, won’t hit as many Targets as Willingham will hit, but he is a good spot filler.
    Plouffe will be a nice fill in for an 2B,SS,3B, position.
White Sox- Addison Reed
    Don’t look at Addison’s ugly ERA his rookie season. The young right hander recorded 29 saves for the South Side White Sox. Yes he did blow 4, but in his sophomore season, I expect him to reach 35+ saves and as a second closer or pitcher spot, Reed should get good consideration.
    In the closer spot, saves is one of the most important categories, and he gets his chances, and will keep getting them.
Yankees- Brett Gardner
    After failing to reach 150 games last season, a mark he reached the previous two, Brett will take advantage of his starting spot. Gardner is a speed guy who will be forced to hit 9th in a veteran Yankee lineup. He is a man who will get you steals and score runs. A good third outfield option.
    Gardner is the forgotten man in the Yankee outfield, but he is a good pick.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Russell Wilson (Greater Than) Robert Griffin III?

Article by  Brady Rauch
 http://sportsbrothersfam.blogspot.com




If you compare the stats of the two rookie signal callers, they are very similar in nature.  Russell Wilson threw for just over 3,100 yards with 26 touchdowns.  Robert Griffin amassed 3,200 yards through the air with 20 touchdowns.  Wilson's rating 100, Griffin's 102.4.  Both were good enough to lead their teams to the Wildcard round of the playoffs.  The stats are just a partial means of comparison.  It's easy for folks, who haven't watched either play, to make judgments based on statistical data.  It's also a bit lazy and short-sided to use only the stats to make such judgments.
One similarity I can point to, is the value of each to their teams' rush game.  Although, Griffin gets a tremendous amount of credit for Alfred Morris' production, Wilson gets little for Marshawn Lynch's.  Lynch had a career year, averaging 5 yards per tote, and finished 3rd in rush yards just behind Morris, who averaged 4.8 yards per carry, and ran the rock 20 more times than Marshawn.  Lynch clearly benefited from the duel threat at QB, just as Morris did.  Most are quick to point out, Lynch went "Beast Mode" long before Wilson's arrival.  That may very well be true, but he was more "Beastly" than ever in 2012, and I credit Russell Wilson's influence on defensive schemes for #24's best year ever.  Both Griffin and Wilson had great impact on the rush game.
Mental make-up, leadership, all the intangibles above the shoulders and between the ears appear to be equal.  The Redskins rallied around RGIII as the named starter from the onset of training camps.  Russell Wilson earned his starting spot, beating out Matt Flynn, and in the process won the respect of his teammates.  Both Griffin and Wilson had great impact on the winning attitude of their teams.
When making the statement "Russell Wilson Greater than Robert Griffin III, I considered two important points.  The first of which is health.  Wilson's scrambling and running style is more lateral, he uses his unbelievable quicks to elude direct hits.  Russell does a better job navigating the field of play with his head on a swivel than Robert.  RGIII has incredible straight line speed, but is more reckless in his style of rushing the ball.  It was that recklessness which caused the QB to injury his knee against the Ravens.  The value of having your number one guy on the field for the entire 16 games is paramount.  Griffin's injury history suggests, he might be that guy, that guy like Mike Vick or Reggie Bush, who are forever fighting to stay on the field and off the chart.  So far, it doesn't seem as if Wilson has "that guy" trait of often injured. 
The second point, is one of opportunity cost.  Just as I was taught in Economics class at the University of Oklahoma, and as defined by Investopedia.com, the cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.  The Redskins gave up draft choices to move up to grab Griffin with the second overall pick in last years draft.  Washington initially had pick number 6, which was obtained by the Dallas Cowboys from St. Louis, the Cowboys used that pick to select Morris Claiborne.  Claiborne is a legit talent at cornerback, a position the Redskins could certainly improve.  Who knows what the Rams will do with their future picks they obtained for giving up that second pick, but one thing we do know is, the Seahawks didn't give up anything to draft their star QB.  
If everything is considered equal, the stats, our "eyeball" test, the success of the teams when each are playing.. if those things are indeed equal, Russell Wilson is Greater, he will play and start more games, and the Seahawks will use draft picks not sacrificed to acquire him, to improve his supporting cast.  
This opinion isn't new to me.. check out this pre-season write on this year's rookie QB class by clicking HERE!

Later on,
Brady Rauch

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII Preview

Article by 
http://thesportsmitten9.blogspot.com

Super Bowl XLVII

  Of course there is going to be all kinds of perpetual theories on who and why each team will win next Sunday.  Erik already wrote his thoughts on how the Ravens will be blown out 31-13...after beating two of the top teams in the NFL (beating the Pats pretty handily, after spending nearly 5 quarters in the freezing temperatures of Denver).  Both of those teams happen to have a better quarterback than the 49ers possess.  I want to add Wes Welker's wife to the list of 49er fans after her most recent Facebook post about Ray Lewis and his questionable humanity.  Maybe the ladies are just jealous that Tom Brady is no longer known as 'The quarterback with the hottest lady on the planet', Brent Musberger made it pretty clear that title goes to AJ McCarron of Alabama.  But the debate of whose lady friend is easier on the eyes will have to come later.

    I first want to ask the question:  How awesome would it be if this game went to overtime and the winner was decided by a Harbaugh arm wrestle?  My money would totally be on John.
 
   Now, I am not saying in any way that the Ravens are the better or more talented team.  But I have recently witnessed a string of victories that has led me to believe there is more about this team than a bend but not break defense and a quarterback that is outplaying himself.  Ray Lewis picked the perfect time to announce his retirement.  The most celebrated middle linebacker in the HISTORY of the NFL knew exactly what he was doing when he announced the end of his career the week of the Colts game. Ever since then, the Ravens have been playing with a fire in their hearts and a "Lets win this for Ray" mentality that is very reminiscent of the 2008 Celtics team that won the title.  Like Kevin Garnett, Ray Lewis has some off the field action and character issues that are incredibly questionable, but no one can question his leadership and the affect he has on his team.

The 2013, macho version of 'Tebowing'
    Erik had it right, almost every phase of the game is favored by the 49ers. Offensively, Collin Kaepernick has been playing out of his mind, keeping defenses on their toes with the threat of running and his increasing ability to throw the ball.  In college, Kaep was a pitcher at Nevada and his arm strength has been on display with the bullets he has been sending over the middle.  Maybe Ray Lewis would have been able to bat some balls down and cover the middle of the field 5-6 years ago, but Lewis is a shell of his past physical self.  Those 'Kaepernicking' biceps will most likely be taking advantage of the very player that Baltimore is playing their hearts out for.  Not to mention the resurgence of Vernon Davis (5 rec, 106 yards & 1TD) taking the Ravens linebackers out in coverage, the middle of the field should be wide open with the actively blitzing Ravens and Ray Lewis not being able to cover the ground he use to.

   On the ground, the 49ers have enjoyed success grounding and pounding the ball with Frank Gore and their copious amounts of talented running backs .  When Jim Harbaugh made the mid season switch from Alex Smith to Collin Kaepernick and the read option-offense, the offensive potential went through the roof.  Still in its 'gimmick offense' stage, the read option is the perfect offense for Kaepernick to hand off to Frank Gore, hit a wide open receiver or pul the ball in and run for a gain himself.  We saw Kaepernick run for 2 long touchdown runs against the Packers, completely outrunning the whole defense.  Unfortunately for the 49ers, the Ravens are the physical type of team that is stout against the run and the Niners have struggled against.  The regular season stats that Erik boasted in his article included the games where Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Ray Ray were not playing together.  Whoever wins the physical battle at the line of scrimmage will be key to stopping the read option.

  On the defensive side of the ball the 49ers boast some of the most talented, blue chip players in the NFL.  With nine players landing in the pro bowl, and six of them coming from defense, the Niners have the sustainable talent to endure for years to come.  Aldon Smith was on pace to smash Michael Strahan's single-season sack record until teammate and fellow pro-bowler, Justin Smith, went down with a triceps injury.  With both Smiths healthy, look for Aldon Smith to have less double teams and get some great looks at Joe Flacco.  In the middle of the field the 49ers send the two starting middle linebackers of the pro-bowl.  Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman were key in the 49ers outstanding rush defense that ranked 4th in the NFL, but lets ignore the 176 yards allowed to Seattle.  The front 7 of the 49ers will be key in stopping the Ravens rushing attack, although new offensive coordinator, Jim Caldwell has been a mystery at play calling, with Joe Flacco passing on first down on a more frequent rate.

   It's no secret, the 49ers have the more talented team, they are extremely reminiscent of previous Ravens defenses from the past decade.  But honestly, who is going to deny a Super Bowl trophy to players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the twilight of their careers?  Murder lawsuit aside, there is no questioning the affect that Ray Lewis has had on football and the inspiration he has been to young players around the country.  Baltimore has beat two great teams consecutively, ON THE ROAD (shadows of Green Bay and New York from the previous two Super Bowls start dancing).  The Ravens are the hot team, they beat arguably the two best teams in the NFL in places where the Patriots and Broncos just don't lose.
 
   Joe Flacco has been playing the best football of his career at the right time.  He leads the playoffs in quarterback rating while playing the riskiest type of ball possible, to me that has more to do with skill than luck.  He has been throwing the ball down the field on first and second down to Torrey Smith and the physical Anquan Boldin. What the Ravens accell at is just what the 49ers have problems stopping, big play passes.  Last week we saw the Falcons jump out to an early lead by throwing the ball.  We saw Aaron Rodgers have success throwing the ball against the Niners, and in week 15 we saw Tom Brady lead a comeback that was through the air.  In no way is Joe Flacco better than Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but it's the system of the Ravens that is the achilles heel of the 49ers.  If you shoot enough half court shots, one is bound to go in.  Joe Flacco just happens to have the biggest arm in the NFL and is great at the deep ball and Torrey Smith has a knack for finding space against defenses.  Smith was responsible for a few jaw dropping catches two weeks ago and one particular one that almost put me in cardiac arrest at the end of the first half in Denver.  It is easy to blame Champ Bailey for his lack of coverage, but no one can deny the skill it takes to play at the level Torrey Smith is.  They aren't afraid to attack deep throughout the whole game and the threat of Ray Rice running the ball tilts the advantage towards the Ravens.

   It is also worth noting that the Ravens are playing with a fire in their heart for the greatest linebacker of all time.  Ray Lewis leads a revamped defense that shut down one of the most prolific offenses in the history of the NFL last week and did a great job at limiting Peyton Manning and the incredibly balanced Denver Bronco offense.  Had Trindon Holliday not returned 2 kicks for touchdowns, the Broncos very well could have had under 30 points, leading to an easier win for the Ravens.  People are overlooking the fact that this is the first string of games that the four best players on the Ravens are playing together, healthy and in sync.  Giant interior lineman, Haloti Ngata has been blowing up the middle of the line, Terrell Suggs has been crashing the outside, putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks while sending running backs into the hands of Ngata and Lewis.  Ed Reed has been flying all over the field circa 2007 daring offenses to throw the ball near his zone.  No doubt 49er running backs are thinking twice about running head to head against Bernard Pollard after his devastating hit on Stevan Ridley.  This defense is talented and they are hungry, which is one of the most important, yet overlooked factors in the playoffs.  Ray Lewis is not the type of player to bet against, especially with what he can do for a talented locker room.

Richard Sherman returns a 90 yard blocked punt
for a touchdown. In a 42-13 win against San Fran.
   We also don't know which 49ers team will show up.  About a month ago we saw Seattle absolutely dismantle the Niners rushing attack in a 42-13 victory, we saw the Niners tie and lose to an inferior Rams team who has a defense that is physically similar, yet inferior to the Ravens.  Personally, I do not want to put my money on a team that has a quarterback with less than a full season of experience in a gimmick offense, OR a team that couldn't beat the Rams.  We also saw a game in week 17 against the Arizona Cardinals that was actually somewhat competitive, mind you that was the same Cardinals team that was blown out 58-0 by Seattle.   When the 49ers played teams that can match them physically, they tend to struggle.  We saw these two teams face off last year in a physical slugfest, ending in a 16-6 Ravens victory.  Aside from Kaepernick, these teams have barely changed since their last meeting.  And I can't help but go back to the unstoppable force that Ray Lewis is.  If this video doesn't convince you, I don't know what will.






    That's it, I'm sold,  Ray and Ed are having a great ending to their careers and the less scary Harbaugh will come out on top.  If the Ravens strike early (which has been a trend for the Niner defense), look for them to control the ball with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce (who's style reminds me of Arian Foster) and a stout defense that figures out Kaepernick to bring home the Lobmardi trophy.  Lets just hope John doesn't slap his brother on the back like the Schwartz/Harbaugh debacle.  Ravens win: 27-24 and a giant Raven flies down from the sky to carry Ray Lewis off, never to be seen again like his white suit.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Eastern Conference’s top fantasy pick ups!


By – Jeff Rosenberg (@Jewish_Jeff) – Staff Writer


Welcome back all. Hope you enjoyed my first fantasy basketball article with hecmanhoops last week. This week I hope to get into more of a groove as to what I’ll continue to do here with hec, and that’s a weekly breakdown of the best available guys in a specific conference (rotating East-West weekly). We’ll go ahead and start in the conference that currently holds the NBA Championship, that being the conference of your Miami Heat, aka the Eastern Conference (hold the applause).
BEASTS OF THE EAST
(Eastern Conference players endorsed by yours truly, @Jewish_Jeff)
PF/C Tyler Zeller (CLE) (19% Owned):  With the announcement of Anderson Varejao’s lung blood clot (putting him out for the year) both Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson’s stock will make a significant jump.  Zeller will be the more significant name for you (as he’s most likely available to you, while Thompson is probably already owned).  For Zeller, over his last 14, the former Tarheel is averaging about 9/9 with 2 blocks and a .828 FT% on a solid 4.1 FTA’s.  The glaring weakness from Zeller is that disgusting .345 FG% over the last 14, which is much better (but still not great by any stretch of the imagination) than his season average of .420. The poor shooting percentage I can only attribute to a poor stretch for Zeller, who will shoot better over the rest of this season (I’d say his season average will be pretty much where he’s at, possibly a little better… .420-.450 range). Over his last 3 games, Zeller’s averaging 37:15 mins, 37 PTS (slightly over 12.0 PPG), 12/26 FG (.461 FG%), 11/13 FT (.846 FT%), 29 REBs (just about 10 pg!), 3 AST, 1 STL, 9 BLKs (3.0 BPG!), 3 TOs (1PG).  So the FG has been up, while the PTS/REBS and BLKs are exactly what we’re looking for.  Not many better options out there if you’re looking to score on a big man that’ll have a positive impact on your team. The addition of Maurice or Marreese (if you want to get all technical about it) Speights complicates matters a bit but I’m hedging my bets that young Tyler will still carry value in standard leagues de-speights Marreese. You see what I did there?
PF/C Andre Drummond (DET) (36% Owned): So I see some of you listened to me in my first article (Drummond up from 32% to 36% owned over the weekend), but still not enough. I told you he’d been at 8/8.4 with 2.6 BLKs per game in an average of 21.5 mins for the month of January.  In two games since that article, (when he was ranked 134 on the year on Yahoo!), the minutes have stayed the same (almost right on the dot of 21 and a half mins avg between the 2 games) going 10/13 FG (.769 FG%), 7/10 FT (including 6/8 on Sunday) with 17 REBs (right there at 8.5 avg.) and 3 BLKs between the 2 contests.  So no major change from Drummond.  He’s stayed consistent throughout January.  The difference between Drummond and Tyler Zeller (above) is Zeller is getting the minutes (low 30s) while Drummond clearly has a lot higher upside, if Coach Lawrence Frank or the “little twerp” as hecman once called him on his podcast, will ever give him the shot.  It will be sooner than later that the Pistons decide they’re playing for the future in 2013, and Drummond will get the run. This guy is the future of “Deeeee-troiiiiit Bassssssskettballllll”.
PG/SG Devin Harris (ATL) (24% Owned):Harris is a guy that many view to have never hit his potential; the potential we all heard about during the 2006 NBA Finals when the Mavs faced the Heat.  I’m typically not a Harris fan myself, having been burned by the former number 5 overall pick in the past myself.  However, with hec’s boy Lou Williams out for the year (insert sad face emoticon here), and Jeff Teague “running the point” (if you want to call it that?), Devin Harris’ stock will be on the rise in ATL, as they look to stay in the playoff hunt.  From Jan 11-18, Harris started over a five game stretch, and he actually looked pretty solid: 22/45 (.488 FG%), 13/17 (.765 FT%), 67 PTS (13.4 PPG), 15 REBs (3 RPG), 18 ASTs (3.6 APG), 7 STLs (1.4 SPG), 10 TOs (2 TOPG).  Inside that 5 game period, Harris had a major dud on Jan 14th @Chicago going 0-5 from the field and playing only 16 minutes and change.  However, even when Williams was still playing, Larry Drew was opting to give Harris minutes (28.12 MPG over that 5-game stretch) because Harris was playing well.  Harris does have an injured ankle, and what reports are calling “a severe limp”.  There’s no official timetable for his return at this point, but I’d suspect he’d be back after ATL’s trip to New York to face the Knicks, when they begin a homestand on January 30th against the Raptors.  With Lou Williams out, Harris’ competition when healthy will be Jeff Teague (who should continue to start at PG), Jannero Pargo (just signed with ATL on a 10-day contract), John Jenkins and Anthony Morrow. Coach Larry Drew knows Harris’ abilities, and knows what he’s capable of.  Pargo has no business in any team’s starting lineup or getting more than 20 minutes per game… EVER (although he looked good yesterday; that will be the exception, not the rule… please don’t put Pargo on your watchlist).  Meanwhile, Jenkins (the Hawks first round, 23rd overall pick out of Vandy this past draft) started Monday for ATL, and went 0-3 in 17 minutes.  Finally, Morrow has missed 14 straight games, with no update from the Hawks as to when he’ll be back.  Point blank: so long as Harris STILL HAS HIS ANKLE, and comes back by the 30th… he will start/see major minutes alongside Jeff Teague, and will net you a solid FG% (from a VALUABLE COMBO GUARD position… PG AND SG), Double digit scoring, 3-4 dimes and about 1.5 STLs.  Solid numbers for anyone… championship contender-playoff hopeful.  Monitor Harris’ news if you can’t afford to wait for him to get healthy over the next week.
Injured out East…
PG Derrick Rose (CHI) (82% Owned): “It could happen this week” says Coach Thibodeau, in reference to Rose becoming a full contact participant in practice.  If you’re in a league with Rose still on the wire… PICK HIM UP NOW.
C Andrew Bynum (PHI) (75% Owned): Bynum has been seen in some shoot arounds lately in pre-games, doing some shooting drills.  The latest on Bynum has him hoping to increase his workload without having any setbacks.  He’s still officially out without a timetable, while he continues to believe he’ll be back after the ASG (mid Feb)… I’m not buying it.
SF/PF Danny Granger (IND) (77% Owned): On the comeback trail; he’s been practicing within the offense and taking shots; progressing nicely to this point.  Hopefully you haven’t had him stashed all season; but, if he is available and you can wait another 2-3 weeks for his return, and probably another 1-2 before he is eased into the starting lineup (over Lance Stephenson… which will be no problem for Granger), then go ahead and make the add (if he’s available to you?).  Keep in mind, this is now Paul George’s team, which Paul George has currently in THIRD place in the East, over Brooklyn, Chicago, ATL, etc.  I am 100% of the belief, that Granger will need to adjust his game to how the Pacers are playing now, and not vice versa.  From a fantasy aspect, I’d say you can still expect 14ish points, 2 3s, 3-4 REBs, a STL, Great FT% and Terrible FG%.  He’s a solid piece going forward, just don’t expect him to be carrying you.
PF/C Andrea Bargnani (TOR) (51% Owned):  Very high ownership for someone that really hasn’t played all that well this year… and actually, hasn’t played all that much this year either.  Bargnani upped his condition from cardio to taking some jump shots over this past weekend, so he is trending towards a return, but is still at least a few weeks away.  The main issue going forward will be the obvious, having both Ed Davis and Amir Johnson having “breakouts” with Bargnani and rookie Jonas Valanciunas both hurt.  A lot of rumors speculating on a Bargnani trade, but I’d think we’d have to see him play some before a trade could go down, and I don’t see him coming back by the All-Star Break.  I like Davis/Johnson better than Bargnani ROS.  If any of the other 3 injured guys on this list are available, and I’m holding Bargnani… I’ll make the switch immediately!
Celtics Lose 3-Straight…
After losing to the Pistons on Sunday (103-88!), the Celtics find themselves at 20-20 on the season.  Coach Doc Rivers couldn’t have said it any better when he said, “I think this team wants to win easy.”  They just are not the same gritty team that was in the Championship hunt in years past.  Key differences?  Jason Terry, Brandon Bass, Leandro Barbosa are not producing to the extent that Boston needs them to.  If you own Jason Terry or Brandon Bass at this point… give up on fantasy basketball.  These guys are certainly not worth owning, and are showing no signs of life.  Rivers threatened his team over the weekend with the potential for a shakeup.  My speculation; obviously we won’t expect Pierce/KG/Rondo to go anywhere.  Can’t see a team taking, or the Celtics wanting to move, KG or Pierce… as neither has proved to be the problem for Boston, and both have extremely high price tags.  And Rondo, while he hasn’t been a Top 10 fantasy player, has still been studly with his 11.1 dimes and 2 STLs per game. Rondo in all likelihood will turn it on and produce even better in the second half as Boston did as a team last year, as there’s just no real competition in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.  I do see Boston trying to make a move with a combination of Barbosa/Bass/Terry (although Terry will likely not be sought after by any team).  Boston has flexibility in terms of what they’ll go after on the trade market (likely not a big time fantasy player, but solid real life depth).  They could certainly use a real backup PG (as Barbosa reportedly is unhappy with his current role on the team, and Avery Bradley has proven to be mostly an NBA defender than a play maker).  They have Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Chris Wilcox to help contribute as bigs (while Green can also mix in at PF, and help backup Pierce as he has this season at times as SF too).  If a trade goes down, I’d look at Sullinger and Green, who Rivers has talked about in a positive light recently, for positive fantasy results moving forward.  Keep an eye on Boston’s roster moves as the trade deadline looms.
East Rundown:
Kirk Hinrich (CHI) scored a season 22 points against LAL Monday; he’s the better bet over Nate Robinson while Rose is out (which won’t be for much longer!), plug and play as needed… Marreese Speights traded to the Cavs Tuesday morning along with Josh Selby and Wayne Ellington from the Grizzlies for Jon Leur.  Speights has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career, and will look to take playing time from Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson as the Cavs back into the playoffs this year.  Long term I don’t like the move or the idea of the move for Cleveland; the youth has gotten you this far!  Speights doesn’t put them over the top, and if anything, the change in rotation could cool off your young guys.  For Memphis it seems to mostly be a financial move, although Leur could see some backup big man minutes (not a factor in fantasy)… Gerald Green played just SIX minutes in the Pacers win on Monday over the Grizz.  Green seems to be bottoming out, as his FG% continues to plummet; Rookie Orlando Johnson went 2/2 FG (2/2 from 3) in 12 minutes in Green’s place.  Johnson can see a temporary boost if he limits negative plays and can continue the efficiency he had Monday…  Dwyane Wade sat out Monday’s practice with a sore toe; then he later admitted he just needed some time off, and his toe isn’t bad at all (deep breath…); he’s slated to practice Tuesday, and expected to play Wednesday… Nene Hilario went off for 24/9/5 with 4 STLs, shooting 10/17 from the field and 4/5 from the line.  Very good to see, as WAS wins @POR 98-95 thanks to a buzzer beater 3 from Jordan Crawford (who, despite a decent game, still looks like a reach in most standard leagues)… Al Horford took full advantage of the lack of front court presence by the Timberwolves, going 28/10 with 2 STLs and 3 BLKs… Kemba Walker dropped a career high 35 points (6/7 3PTM!!!) despite the Bobcats’ loss to Houston Monday (Jeremy Lin had no shot defensively against the former Husky… guess they don’t teach EVERYTHING at Harvard?)
That’s all for this week… next week we take a look at the Western Conference side of things.  As always, leave me some questions/comments on the bottom, and I’ll do my best to get back to you in a timely manner.  As a Yankees fan, I’m surprisingly intrigued to read Terry Francona’s book that came out today, ‘Francona: The Red Sox Years’ which tells of the inner dealings of what went on during Francona’s run as Red Sox manager, with a lot of specifics about dealings with individual players (Manny, Dice-K, Nomar, Jeter, etc.).  Sounds like an interesting piece to me.  Have a good week fellow b-ballers…

Monday, January 21, 2013

A model of consistency

http://thesportsmitten9.blogspot.com/
twitter.com/Barefoot_boyce

    The 2012 NFL season brought three transcendent players to the NFL with hopes of reshaping the NFL offense to a quick-read, rush heavy, big play, high scoring affair.  Everyone expected RGIII, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Baylor to be the new prototype of quarterback; a quick (lightning fast is a better description) player who is able to push the ball downfield with his legs and with his arm, too.  While Griffin was expected to be a great player, few people outside of Bill Simmons had high hopes for Russell Wilson.  With the big offseason signing of Matt Flynn, many thought there was no reason to waste a draft pick on a quarterback who could barely see over the line of scrimmage and didn't necessarily have the biggest arm to make up for his physical, or lack thereof, abilities.  Even less had heard about the backup quarterback from San Fransisco, Collin Kaepernick, who may end up being the best of the three.  The new read option, pistol offense is almost 100% different than the traditional offense that, say, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning run, the quarterback must be mobile.  While elusive in the pocket might be a great way to describe the two, mobile would be the last word that comes to my mind if I was asked to use one word to describe them.
    San Fransisco, Seattle and Washington had success this year with their powerful running games, and big passes that were generally one read and bootleg play-actions.  Safeties would cheat up on the run and then players like Michael Crabtree, Sidney rice or Santana Moss would be hit for a huge touchdown.  This offense has taken the NFL by storm as many executives will be spending their draft picks on players like Pat White out of West Virginia and eventually Johnny Manziel out of Texas A&M.
   What is confusing about this phase of offense is we have seen revolutionized offenses before.  With Ronnie Brown and the wildcat offense, the wishbone rushing attack and multiple stints of option rushing attacks that have come and gone in the NFL.  We saw Mike Vick have a few successful years in Atlanta before teams learned to keep him in the pocket.  Vince Young enjoyed a year of two of limited success when teams were caught off guard by his deceptive speed and Tenessee's option attack.  These teams enjoyed a few years of regular season success, but when the playoffs came and weeks were devoted to figuring out how to stop these attacks the teams saw early exits from the playoffs.
   The stable of a successful, long lasting franchise is a PRO STYLE QUARTERBACK.  We have heard the statement before and many fans, players and coaches have experienced it, there is no defense for a perfect pass.  Perfect example; the 2010 AFC championship game of the Colts and Jets.  The Jets spent the whole week devising a game plan that played to Peyton Manning's weakness.  They harassed him, blitzed him and knocked him down to a halftime lead.  Come the second half, Manning was out slaying demons and carving up the Jets to a blowout win for the Colts.  There can be all the game plan in the world, but the bottom line is if the quarterback can read a defense there really isn't much teams can do.
   Like the wildcat and other previous phases of offenses in the NFL, the read option will eventually be figured out by defensive coordinators and turn into a has been.   Players like Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson aren't durable or physical enough to endure a 16 game season while taking hits; their body isn't designed for that type of physicality.  As we saw with Griffin, his first season was cut short by tackles that aren't uncommon in the National Football League.   In these situations, the reward does not outweigh the risk of potentially losing a franchise player.  Many 'professionals' have criticized Colts owner, Jim Irsay, for not taking the risk and drafting the more athletic Robert Griffin over Andrew Luck.  Today, the question could be asked to those critics "What is Robert Griffin doing right now as Andrew Luck is preparing for next season?"
   Take a look at players like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, aside from their freak accidents, they are a model of consistency because they don't take hits.  Rather than take a hit, the two fall to the ground to avoid any possible injuries.  This isn't a case of them being weak or scared, this is a case of them knowing their worth to their team.  Along with being healthy enough to play for 10+ years, the two quarterbacks are eerily similar in gameplan.  They are prototypical pocket passers, who drop back, read through their progressions, (and not like Kaepernick's one read, check down or run) but they usually have between three and four options to choose from.   The key to sustained NFL success is not this new, Houdini style offense, it is, and has been for the past 20 years a pocket passer, a reliable running game and a big, physical defense that creates timely turnovers.  The Ravens got it right, the 49er's have it 3/4 of the way right, and they are slated to meet in two weeks in the greatest game of the year.

This blog was written by: Andrew Boyce