Ahmad Brooks has been one of my favourite NFL players for some time now. He’s not your typical fan favourite, because he doesn’t excel at rushing the passer and doesn’t have the same celebrated reputation as other players on the San Francisco 49ers defense. Brooks shot to notoriety this week because of a hit on New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees that was deemed illegal.
While the call was very controversial and played an important part in determining the winner of the game, there was another play that Brooks made during the game that shows off why my affinity for him as a player has always been high. Continue reading
I don’t watch baseball, so I can’t speak about the comparison that many make between pitchers and quarterbacks, but in my opinion there is no other position in sports like the quarterback. Even the point guard in the NBA doesn’t have the same depth or responsibilities on most teams as your typical quarterback does at the professional level. Finding the right quarterback is often the difference between winning and losing, or even keeping your job and being fired, just ask the Oakland Raiders who stumbled onto Terrelle Pryor this season.
Finding the right quarterback is also very difficult because there are so many mental aspects of the position that are tough to evaluate, without even considering that quarterbacks do as much physically as any other position in the league even if it doesn’t appear to be the case on first viewing.
Any good evaluator will be able to explain how accurate a quarterback is, how much he does within his offense, how athletic he is with his feet and how strong his arm is. Better evaluators will be able to tell you how well he reads the defense before or after the snap, how well he adjusts to a collapsing pocket and how well he manipulates coverages. Evaluating what a quarterback does on the field is the most important part of the job. There is no debate about that.
Understanding when a quarterback does something is important too. Continue reading
With Week 8 of the NFL season finished, it’s as good a time as any to begin to consider who deserves each individual award.
MVP: Peyton Manning
It’d be easy to get cute and pick someone else, but in spite of his relative struggles lately, Manning has clearly been the best player in the league this season. He is on pace for a record 58 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions. However, those numbers don’t speak to the poor play of his offensive line. Even before Ryan Clady was lost for the season the unit wasn’t giving him high quality pass protection.
Manning was compensating for flaws around him while servicing the star receivers around him.
OPOY: Aaron Rodgers
Although it’s been a relatively quiet season for Rodgers in terms of media attention, he has played outstanding football on an offense missing some key pieces. Even before Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley found themselves on the sidelines, Rodgers was missing Bryan Bulaga’s presence on his blindside. Bulaga was replaced by David Bakhtiari, while former starter Marshall Newhouse was beaten by Don Barclay on the right side of the line.
Both Bakhtiari and Barclay have held up well, but Rodgers has helped them dramatically with his mobility, awareness and ability to make big plays throwing the ball. He is completing over 67 percent of his passes, has nearly 2,200 yards and 15 touchdowns to four interceptions in just seven games. Continue reading
Dez Bryant is selfish. Dez Bryant is childish. Dez Bryant disrespected his franchise. Dez Bryant doesn’t care about his teammates. Dez Bryant isn’t committed to winning. Dez Bryant doesn’t understand his place. Dez Bryant doesn’t deserve to be where he is. Dez Bryant is unstable. Dez Bryant is a disgrace to the NFL.
You won’t need to look far to find comments like those today. Dez Bryant’s actions on the sideline received more attention than his actions on the field yesterday in Detroit as his Dallas Cowboys lost to the hometown Lions. Bryant is being judged from all angles for what he did and the reasons he did it.
He’s being judged even though anyone judging doesn’t know enough of the details to judge him. Continue reading
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a man in demand for NFL franchises.
I am an NFL writer first and foremost. I spend most of my time watching tape of NFL players because my job is to ignore the narrative and find specific evidence to support any claims. Because my NFL work takes up almost all of my time, I don’t get much time to pay attention to the college game. Over the last few years, I have relied on a number of very talented draft experts to help inform me of incoming prospects, but this year I’m going to try and do some of my own analysis during the NFL season.
Because I am limited for time, I am going to focus on players who are all but guaranteed to be drafted in the first round.
For that reason, I will start with soon to be 21-year-old Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater appears to be the consensus top quarterback and the prospective number one pick next year despite the talent of Jadeveon Clowney. Bridgewater is one of the few college players who I become familiar with before his final season. Last year, while casually watching Louisville’s bowl game against Florida, it was impossible to ignore what he did on the field. Continue reading
While writing this week’s Film Room column over at FootballOutsiders, I was unable to include one play. Therefore, I’m going to break it down here.
The idea this week on FO was to look at the Kansas City Chiefs and how they have become a 5-0 team. With a dominant defense and a well-designed offense, the Chiefs were only truly lacking a top-tier quarterback. Alex Smith is serviceable but limited. Smith’s limitations are obvious to anyone who watches the tape on him, but sometimes the best way to point something out is to show the complete opposite of that point.
Fortunately, Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck had made unbelievable throws on Sunday that showed off their seemingly endless talent. I felt I had got the point across by detailing Tannehill and Wilson’s throws, so I decided against detailing Lucks. Continue reading
I wanted to try something different this week. I’m basically writing on PSR whenever I get a chance, so sorry that these posts are sporadic and without fair warning. Leading up to last weekend, I was exciting about watching the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens face off. The injuries to Ray Rice and Duane Brown took some of the shine off the game, but I was still intrigued by the matchup.
Ultimately, the game was disappointing. The Ravens blew out the Texans, but the Texans pretty much beat themselves so there wasn’t really anything positive on show.
The biggest play of the game came in the second quarter with 01:05 left to play. It was a special teams touchdown return from backup receiver Tandon Doss. Much like the rest of the game, it was a result of very uninspiring play from the Texans. John Harbaugh is known for being an outstanding special teams coach before he became a Super Bowl winning head coach, but it’s hard to give him any real credit here in place of blame for the Texans. Continue reading
After failing to make an impact in a Week 1 matchup with the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace expressed his frustrations at how he was used. Wallace is seen as a diva wide receiver by some sections of analysts and fans, while many believe he is paid too much money to be reliant on how he is used to produce.
For any receiver, how you are used is vital. In fact, how any player in this league is used is vital for their production.
Wallace in particular needs to be used properly to maximise his ability. In Week 1, the Dolphins failed to set up the coverage with underneath passes and screens. It allowed the Browns and Joe Haden to cover him with ease as he repeatedly ran deep sideline routes. Against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 2, Wallace caught a crossing route, a quick slant and a screen pass that went for a touchdown early in the game. Continue reading
Writing columns for BleacherRerport, FootballOutsiders and FootballGuys has taken up my time during the season, but on Fridays I will hopefully be able to break down one big play from the previous Sunday on Pre Snap Reads. This week, I’m going to start with a play that caught my eye for multiple reasons.
Jared Cook was a high-priced free agent addition for the St. Louis Rams this off-season. Cook immediately repaid the Rams’ faith in him as he came away with seven receptions, two touchdowns and 141 yards against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. Although Cook had an incredible debut in St. Louis, the one play that caught my eye won’t be one that he wants to remember. Continue reading
It didn’t last very long, but it escalated very quickly.
A few months back I started this website because I had become disillusioned with some of the other sites that I previously wrote for(none that I still have any kind of relationship with). I knew what I was doing was original, but I didn’t expect it to be well-received. That’s not to say that I expected it to be received poorly. I suppose I didn’t have any expectations at all really.
I had been doing this for a while, about five years or so, but was starting to think if I should pack up and find a career in another avenue. Maybe I’d go back to enjoying the game more if I was less intense about following it. It got to the point where I was about to go through the process of moving country to set up in a job that I would enjoy, but not really have any passion for.
That was the point when I said I would give it one last try. Pre Snap Reads was that one last try.
You all know the rest.
My work has moved from Pre Snap Reads to FootballGuys.com and Bleacherreport.com. I didn’t want to move away from Pre Snap Reads, but it wasn’t possible for me to make a living from the site’s advertising setup and I really had a huge amount of respect for the people who approached me from FBG and BR. I was willing to move on because I knew that both sites were focusing on creating quality work and allowing me to continue the work that I had previously been doing on PSR.
The future of PSR itself is unclear. I’m not shutting it down. I’m not selling it. I’m not giving it to another writer. At worst, it will remain a testament to where I began this second phase of my career, at best, it will return next off-season to try and steal the spotlight in 2014, just as it did in 2013.
It took sometime to write this post because I was exploring ways of making the site financially sustainable and have been hectic with my new roles at BR and FBG.