Monday, November 22, 2010

What about our 2010 rookie quarterback crop?

So how the hell are our young quarterbacks doing this year anyhow?

It is not my style to comment so much and so often about Quarterbacks. The position is overrated to the point of demigodhood by most media people. I categorically reject all the delusions of godhood. I still believe in the team concept. With that said, you know I got deeply ensconced in the in rather vigorous quarterback debate during the 2010 draft cycle. I had a lot to say about quarterbacks earlier this year. I said it early and often.

There were a couple reasons for this great exception to policy. First, a couple of kids I loved watching in college just happened to be graduating last year. Those kids were Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy. Second of all, my Rams were known to be in the market for a new Quarterback, and I was hoping to impact that process.

There was also the matter of the Notre Dame alumni try to force Jimmy Clausen on the Rams, but I will downplay that matter.

We all know how the story played out. Billy Devaney took Sam Bradford over my strenuous objections. Josh McDaniels selected Tim Tebow in the first round. Jimmy Clausen slid to the middle of the 2nd round where he was selected by the Panthers. Quarterback guru Mike Holmgren absconded with Colt McCoy in the 3rd round.

So how are the kids doing? Well... it's interesting.

I've had ring-side seats for the dawn of the Sam Bradford era, and the kid looks a hell of a lot better than I thought he was. We all knew he was a highly accurate passer in college. However, I did not expect him to be quite the same after the surgery.

It turns out that he's better. As we all know, he spent months after his shoulder surgery in the weight room, mostly working on his lower-body. I have heard many quarterbacks say that arm-strength is the most over-rated aspect of the quarterback's toolkit. Most of your throwing velocity comes from hip torque and torso twist. Well, if that be the case, it might explain why Sam seems to be throwing harder and faster than ever. He definitely torques his hips when he throws. It might also explain why he has greater running speed than I remember.

I hate to make Jinxy statements, and I don't want to over-sell the truth, but... Ehmmm… Let's put it this way. Several sanguine Ram fans on the Bleacher Report site were pretty adamant that our team nailed the best QB to come out of college in the past 3 or 4 seasons. Let's just say, I'm almost sold on that proposition. I don't think it is a controversial statement to say that Sam has had the best rookie campaign of any of these young kids. There's been enough there to shock a guy like me.

But then there is Colt McCoy. I remember being dismayed when I heard Mike Lombardi of the NFL Network downgrading Colt, painting him as a bust pick. Mike believed that McCoy just didn't have the sort of arm that was necessary to succeed in this league. I though that was a very strange statement coming from a guy who calls himself a disciple of Bill Walsh.

I knew Mike Lombardi's statements about McCoy were pure bullshit. He must not watched McCoy much during his four years at Texas. The kid is a pure winner, and more Joe Montana than Joe Montana. I am sure Bill Walsh would have had a flaming hard-on for Colt if he was still involved in football during the 2010 draft.

Just as sure as I am sitting here, I know that Mike Holmgren recognized those traits in McCoy, and that's why Mr. President drafted him in Cleveland. That's why Mr. President came down from the president's booth and began working with McCoy personally during training camp. I think this is why McCoy has given the Browns a competency at QB that they haven't had in ages. Just keep watching Colt. Everything is going to be just fine in Cleveland.

One of the bleak spots of the 2010 NFL Campaign for me, personally, has been the Tim Tebow story in Denver. As you know, Tim has seen very limited action. The good news is that he’s been fantastic on the 5 or 6 plays they have let him run. The bad news is that he has only run 5 or 6 plays this season. This has been a great disappointment to me.

McDaniels seems to be replaying the 1980 Joe Montana campaign script for Tim Tebow. They send him on in carefully selected situations where he can score touchdowns. The key is to build his self confidence and the team's confidence in him.

Unfortunately, the Broncos are a foundering ship. It is unlikely they will finish 8-8 for the 3rd straight season. It is more likely they will fall down to something 6-10. There have been rumblings inside Denver that owner Pat Bowlen will not guarantee McDaniel's job in 2011. Due to the pending lockout, Bowlen may not make an immediate change in 2011, but then again he just might.

Certainly, McDaniel's has made a lot of terrible pseudo-Patriot moves. He was close to the top of my shit-list until the moment he selected Tim Tebow. I was down against Josh to the uttermost farthing until the moment he selected Tim Tebow. Any guy smart enough to select Tebow can't be all bad. Not all bad, but probably 90% bad. If he gets fired, we'll have to say he earned his ticked on the first thing smoking out of town.

But what happens to Tim Tebow if Josh McDaniels gets the sack? This is the question that has plagued my worried mind. Certainly, few in the NFL were committed to Tebow as a Quarterback in 2010. McDaniels was one of those few. Unless someone like Jon Gruden is selected as the next HC of the Broncos, I don't know what Tim's fate will be.

Lately, one of the vogue trends in NFL Football is to allow any new HC to "pick his people." This means blowing up the ship, both offensively and defensively and reconstructing things according to the vision of perfection you subscribe to as a coach. It doesn't matter if the present talent crop is good, bad or indifferent. As a new HC, you have the right to blow up the ship and start all over again. If this happens, Tim could become a casualty of organizational politics.

Certainly, if you get a run-of-the-mill candidate off the coaching retred cycle, said coaching candidate may not favor Tim Tebow. Many of these fellows don't like southpaws. Many more dislike QBs who make plays outside of the pocket with their feet. Personally, I love them, but that makes me a member of the minority report. The majority report says that guys like Steve Young, Michael Vick and Tim Tebow ain't no damn good to God or this country. St. Vince Lombardi would not approve.

It would really suck if Tim Tebow failed to make it in this league through no fault of his own, but because of the vicissitudes of organizational politics.

Finally, have the case of Jimmy Clausen. This guy may have the odd distinction of being the most advocated draft pick in Notre Dame Alumni history. In the run up to the draft, the Notre Dame forensics team was working 24/7 on his behalf advocating his case. The ferocity they brought to the table surprised me.

To this day, I believe that getting Jimmy picked high was a linchpin of Notre Dame's 2010 (and beyond) recruitment strategy. Needless to say, things haven't work out as they hoped they would.

What I can't understand is why the NFL establishment bought into the Notre Dame Forensics argument. IMHO, there was no part of the eyeball test that Clausen passed during the scoutting process. I never saw what they claimed to see in the kid. I never even suspected he would be mentioned as a serious NFL QB candidate during his three years at Notre Dame.

It shocked the shit out of me when some advocates suggested the Rams would take him with the absolute #1. I acted to crush that theory as quickly as possible. I was only partially successful. Quite a controversey arose. I got the rep of being a Clausen hater, and an Anti-Catholic, anti-Notre Dame guy on the Bleacher Report.

Before continuing, I should mention that I bare no personal grudge against Clausen. It would suit me just fine if he turned out to be a success with the Panthers. I just didn't want my team attempting to rebuild around him. I believed, and still do, that he's going to go bust. My Rams could not afford to take that plunge.

To this day, I seriously doubt he is an NFL quarterback. Certainly, better candidates than Clausen have gone bust. Still, for his sake and the sake of the Panthers, I wish him luck. It looks like he is going to need it.

Clausen did not win the starting job straight out of boot camp in 2010. This fact surprised many. Nat Moore performed very poorly coming out of the gate. After a few weeks, be it of injury or lack of performance, Clausen got his first start. The results were not good. During one game, he had a QB rating of ZERO after the first half of play.

Clausen got the hook quickly, and Nat Moore because the starter again. I have family living in North Carrolina, and they told me that the Panther fans went into an immediate funk, believing the organization made another mistake drafting Clausen. Even a detractor such as me was surprised at the speed of this write-off. Lately, it has become fashionable for the local media to ask John Fox why he didn't take Colt McCoy.


Guess what? It ain't over yet. Moore gets hurt, and Clausen gets another chance. The second time around, he looks good until he gets hammered by Aquib Talibe on the final offensive play of the game against the Bucs. Thus ends the second act of Clausen's rookie campaign. We'll see if he gets a third strike as a rookie. The news today indicates that he will probably start week 12.

I once called out Michael Lombardi, a McCoy detractor and a Clausen advocate, telling him I would crawl to Ravenna Italy on my arthritic knees if Clausen ever became any kind of NFL Quarterback. So far I am not worried out that pledge.