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Week 5 NFL Commentary

October 15, 2012

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I apologize for the lateness of this post yet my internet was down for about a week and it couldn’t be helped.

Robert Quinn: Robert Quinn had 3 sacks last Thursday night. That probably didn’t land on too many radars out there but it did mine as Quinn was the #1 rated player on my draft board in 2011. Last season he struggled at times and ended with a solid 5 sacks and a locked down starting job at defensive end yet it still was a bit disappointed.  Yet this season he has looked explosive, fast, and aggressive making me think he’s finally turned the corner as a pro. It isn’t just his big game last Thursday that had me noticing him though as he’s been remarkably consistent this season. In 3 of the 4 preseason games and 4 of the 5 regular season games this year he has at least one sack and has really improved from his rookie season when he was adjusting to the speed of the NFL as well as trying to shake off the rust from having missed all of his final collegiate season due to his suspension. Quinn looks like a future superstar and is finally showing the promise I saw in him when he came out of North Carolina last year. My draft bio of him read, ““Quinn to me is a future Pro Bowl pass rusher who has elite lean, hand fighting technique, balance, and motor as well as above average arm length, short area burst, long distance speed, and collegiate production. He reminds me a bit of John Abraham…..I truly believe that the team that gets Quinn will be extremely lucky as he is the best pass rusher to come out in years and clearly better than anything in the past two drafts (better than Orakpo, Maybin, Pierre-Paul, Morgan, etc.) Top 5 grade and in a very weak year at the upper echelon in the draft he is my #1 Overall Player.” I gushed about the kid a year and half ago and he finally looks like he’s comfortable and ready to take his place among the elite pass rushers in the league. Most people still don’t know who Robert Quinn is but I have a feeling that will be changing very soon.

49ers: 3 weeks ago the Minnesota Vikings upset the San Francisco 49ers in a game that was about as puzzling as you can find. The 49ers were a Super Bowl favorite and were coming off two dominant performances against playoff teams in the Packers and Lions so it was surprising to see the Vikings not just win but decisively win their week 3 matchup. Since then the 49ers have played like a team possessed and are once again looking like one of the best teams in the NFL as they’ve outscored their past two opponents 79-3 since the loss. It’s a level of domination that is rarely seen in the NFL and makes me think the 49ers will be the #1 seed come playoff time.

Chris Collinsworth: He’s unequivocally the best announcer in the game right now. Every week he discusses tells an offense or defense is giving on film, brings up young talent that is destined for greatness but currently isn’t being mentioned, and has an outstanding eye that is able to analyze the action all over the field. Last night he was at his best as one play before Martez Wilson beat left tackle Gared Gaither for a sack, forced fumble, and game ending turnover he predicted it saying how the Chargers needed to help Gaither out or else Wilson was going to end the game with a big play. That type of analysis is rare and it’s the reason I don’t fast forward through the action Sunday nights like I do during the afternoon games as I don’t want to miss any of his commentary.

NFC: Whether it’s the Saints at 1-4, the Packers at 2-3 (and facing the Texans next week), or the Lions at 1-3 it appears like this is going to be a down year for the NFC. Outside of the 49ers and Falcons I see no dominant teams in the NFC and only the Giants and possibly Packers appear to have a shot at becoming dominant teams by the end of the season. With teams like the Vikings, Seahawks, Bears, and Cardinals all off to fast starts this is the perfect season for the Cowboys to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card at 10-6 or possibly even 9-7. After the debacle last Monday night I have my doubts that this team can get to 9 or 10 wins but it’s likely all they would need to make the playoffs as this is shaping up to be a very mediocre year for quite a few NFC teams.

Mark Ingram: As the Saints have gone 1-4 there have been quite a few fingers pointed at the lack of pass rush, high turnover rate by Brees, and overall lack of crispness to the offense due to the suspension of head coach Sean Payton. With those being old stories the media has now begun circling around a new juicy story about why the Saints offense is struggling so much: Mark Ingram. Drafted late in the 1st round 2 years ago the Saints were expecting the former Heisman trophy winner to be an explosive, powerful back who could dominate in the red zone while also providing value in other areas such as pass blocking and as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Yet this year he’s been nothing short of terrible averaging 2.9 yards per carry despite playing for a team like the Saints that has a very good offensive line and a passing game that keeps 7 or fewer in the box most of the time. It’s clearly a talent issue as Darren Sproles (5.4 ypc), Pierre Thomas (4.9), and even Chris Ivory (4.7) are all at a substantially higher efficiency rate than Ingram. So what’s wrong with Ingram? Quite a few scouts picked on Ingram when he came out of Alabama two years ago because he showed a lack of explosiveness, was injury plagued in his final collegiate season, and appeared to be the inferior back to his teammate Trent Richardson. I rated him as a 2nd round pick and thought he was a bit over hyped due to the program he was coming from and the fact that he won the Heisman. His lack of explosiveness is even more noticeable when uber scat back Darren Sproles comes into the game to replace him as Sproles is easily one of the quickest backs in the NFL and probably makes Ingram look slower than he really is. Yet his lack of success isn’t just about talent as it’s also schematic with Troy Aikman, also one of the best announcers in the NFL, pointing out that Ingram rarely is subbed in for passing plays so his presence in the huddle alerts opposing teams to expect a run play. This is very true as Ingram has only 12 career receptions with only 1 in 2012 as the Saints have all but ended their interest in having him as a 3 down back. Right now Ingram is a bust pure and simple and it’s unlikely either the scheme or the logjam at running back will change anytime soon. Brees is one of the best passers in the NFL so a change in offensive systems is almost guaranteed to not occur and both Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles are signed through 2014 so he’s likely to be a bit player until 2015 when his contract ends. I know it’s far out but at the end of the 2014 season all three players will be free agents and I’ll be interested if the Saints show interest in him at that point or just let him walk as right now he looks not only ill fitted to their offense but also not very talented.

RGIII: It’s interesting when and how RGIII got injured last week as it pointed to so many things. First off is the fact that he got a concussion as it’s such a hot topic in the football community but also is an injury that will last his entire career. Not necessarily from a physical standpoint but definitely from a media one as from now on every concussion will be “his 2nd in blank amount of time,” “his third for his career,” etc. The quicker he accumulates them the quicker the media scrutiny will be on his head coach to keep him in the pocket and limit the use of his scrambling ability which is one of his best assets. Peter King wrongly argued that the idea RGIII was injury prone in college was wrong yet it wasn’t as in 2009 he missed 3/4 of the season due to an injury and in 2011 he sustained a concussion against Texas Tech which would have cost him a few games but didn’t solely because the next game (a bowl game) was 26 days later. RGIII is one concussion away from the media hyping his fragility like this, “In the past 2 years RGIII has sustained 3 concussions making it unlikely that he’ll be a starting quarterback in the NFL in 5 years.” It might be biased and it might be searching hard for a story but it’s what is going to happen if he gets another one anytime in the next 2 years. Secondly it’s where he sustained it that is interesting to me as it was just like the concussion he had in the Tech game 10 months ago in that it was a carry in the red zone. Mike Shanahan has been a big fan of using Griffin as a runner inside the 20 and it’s worked brilliantly so far as he has 4 rushing touchdowns which is 2nd in the NFL, running backs included. Yet the red zone is arguably the most dangerous place to run for a QB as well as everything is more compact and there is little space to maneuver in. It will be interesting to see going forward how Shanahan uses Griffin as a worry that his concussions will pile up quickly if he continues to get a large amount of carries in the red zone. Finally the most interesting part of his recent concussion is how he sustained it as he got the concussion WHILE HE WAS SLIDING! On a late night game a few weeks ago an announcer discussed how the Packers coaching staff actually doesn’t ever want to see Aaron Rodgers slide because it takes longer to get to the ground than a dive and gives a larger target area for a defender to hit. I was reminded of that on Griffin’s hit as if he had just dove at the defenders feet he would have been hit but it would have been a fifth as hard as the collision he took and makes me wonder if Vick is right when he fights coaches about sliding. A slide might cause a defender to be penalized for the hit he gives a quarterback but it also could be a much bigger hit and when it’s the health of a team’s franchise quarterback on the line a simple 15 yard penalty isn’t worth that much larger hit.

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