Just to preface this piece with a bit of an explanation, it is meant to serve as a weekly potpourri of happenings in the world of football that struck a nerve or cord within me. It may range from topics sublime to ridiculous, or occasionally serious, but pretty much always football related. So, this week let’s look at some thoughts from opening weekend around the NFL.
1) Let me recap the scenario in Houston as I understand it. During the pre-season TEXANS Head Coach BILL O’BRIEN pronounced BRIAN HOYER as his starting QB for the 2015 season. It was pretty well publicized, since the TEXANS were this year’s team on HBO’s Hard Knocks series. In Game 1 with his team behind in the second half O’BRIEN pulled HOYER and inserted RYAN MALLETT to finish the game. By Monday it was announced that MALETT was the new starter. I checked the stats and it doesn’t look like HOYER was hapless in his starting efforts. He went 18/34, 236 yards, 1TD, 1 INT. I can’t help but wonder what the locker room is feeling about loyalty from the head man right now. Leadership credibility looks to have taken a body blow in that locker room.
2) With the unique coincidence of an opening game that pitted the top 2 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft taking place in Tampa, the media in two cities had to be licking their chops about public interest and opinion for two franchises likely to be picking high again in 2016. Did I mention those 2 picks happen to both be QB?! The TITANS won by a wide margin and MARCUS MARIOTA did the same statistically over WINSTON. MARIOTA rang the bell with 4 TD passes, while WINSTON threw for two, but also gave up 2 INT. In Central Florida the talk for now is whether the BUCS chose the wrong guy in WINSTON. JAMEIS will need a good game soon to quiet things down, and it won’t hurt if MARIOTA lays an egg before September is over.
3) My top rated AFC team the COLTS went to Buffalo and got waxed by REX RYAN’s BILLS. It is way too early, but the COLTS need some band-aids really quick on the defensive side of the ball. It also looks like they may have not done quite enough along the OL by adding TODD HERREMANS to the mix. JACK MEWHORT looked a bit slow and stiff for an NFL RT, and though he’s no world beater keeping GOSDER CHERILUS for that slot and letting MEWHORT start at LG where he looked pretty sound as a Rookie last year, might have been a better plan. It has been said that both RYAN GRIGSON & CHUCK PAGANO may be on hot seats if they don’t make the Play-Offs and win a game or two in the tournament. Those seats may get very hot much sooner than that if this continues.
4) Thought that there were some interesting tidbits to share with you from the opening weekend roster perusal around the NFL. The youngest team in the League is the RAMS, again. Their average roster age is 24.96. More surprisingly, the second youngest group resides in Play-Off contending Green Bay at 25.23 years old. The oldest team roster? The aforementioned COLTS at 27.19… OOPS. DA BEARS are clearly going for roster speed with a league leading total of 12 guys that weigh under 200 lbs. Conversely, the JETS lead the League with 15 players weighing over 300 lbs. The FALCONS had a league low 6 players weighing at least 300 lbs.
5) As you watch some college games on Saturdays this Fall and peek ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft here is a suggestion for some top talent producing teams to scout out. These schools currently have the most alums dotting NFL rosters:
1) LSU/40, 2) MIAMI(F)/37, 3) SOUTHERN CAL/35, 4A) ALABAMA/34, 4B) GEORGIA/34, 6A) FLORIDA/31, 6B) FLORIDA STATE/31, 8) OKLAHOMA/30, 9) NOTRE DAME/29, 10) CLEMSON/28.
6) A couple of decades ago, during the PATERNO hay-days PENN STATE was known as Linebacker-U for it’s propensity to pump out LB for the NFL. It is abundantly clear that LSU can clearly claim the title of Defensive Back-U these days. The 2015 season opened with 10 ex-Bayou Bengals dotting NFL rosters for clear claim to top ranking. SOUTHERN CAL might be the new LB-U with 8 ex-Trojans handling the position this September in the League.
7) Looking at the starting QB around the NFL it is clear that emphasis on talent at that position is extreme when the Draft rolls around each year. 19 of 32 opening day QB were First Rounders in the DRAFT. Only 2 of the Week 1, 32 starters went Undrafted. There is no clear QB-U right now however. The leading producer of starting QB was MICHIGAN STATE with 2, and that is now down to 1 with the demotion of BRIAN HOYER, as mentioned above. But another Spartan is on the horizon in CONNOR COOK. Does anyone else find it a bit odd that conservative Head Coach MARK DANTONIO keeps getting his QBs NFL jobs?!
8) It was clearly stated by BRONCOS GM JOHN ELWAY, that he wanted new HC GARY KUBIAK to present an Offense that would take some burden off of 39-year old PEYTON MANNING and feature much more emphasis on the running attack. Not the case through 2 weeks of the season, with PEYTON carrying the Offense again on his aging right shoulder. In Game 1 the BRONCOS ran the ball 25 times for 69 yards. That’s 2.76 ypc folks. Course ELWAY might have put a bit more emphasis on his RB stable, when he placed MONTEE BALL on waivers. It’s also a bit puzzling that the team let OG/ORLANDO FRANKLIN leave via VFA, and traded away MANNY RAMIREZ & CHRIS CLARK along the OL. Then losing LT/RYAN CLADY to a knee injury in Training Camp put the team in a position to send out an OL unit consisting petty much of Rookies and journeymen vets. We shall see how things develop, but WADE PHILLIPS new Defense is really creating havoc in the first two weeks, and will need to do so for the rest of the season.
9) For 3 Quarters the undermanned GIANTS played like giant slayers in Week 1 at JERRY’S WORLD. When the COWBOYS made their big second half push, particularly in the 4th Quarter, HC TOM COUGHLIN and vet QB/ELI MANNING looked like NFL newbies with their late game clock mismanagement that left the COWBOYS with pretty much a full 2-minutes to mount a closing TD drive to win the game. Even without DEZ BRYANT, TONY ROMO marched his team down the field to the game winning TD. The GIANTS are clearly not talented enough to have their two leaders (COUGHLIN/ELI) messing things up like that mentally.
10) Week One’s winner of the PIGSKIN PAUL ‘You Can Go Home Again’ award was JAMES JONES/WR, whom the PACKERS were lucky enough to get back after TOM COUGHLIN left him off the GIANTS roster, although there are stories that JONES asked to be let go rather than sit behind younger guys like BECKHAM & CRUZ. A favorite of AARON RODGERS during his career in Green Bay JONES saw plenty of playing time and was targeted often by A-Rodge. With RANDALL COBB at less than 100% JONES caught 4 of 4 balls thrown to him for 51 yards and 2 TD. He also forced a pass interference call in the red zone which positioned the PACK for more points. Welcome home MR. JONES. Also two thumbs-up to TED THOMPSON & MIKE McCARTHY for bringing him back into the fold to help ease the loss of JORDY NELSON for the season with his knee injury. WHITEY doesn’t often go out and get 30+ year old vets for an encore performance in a green and gold uniform. Very smart to do so this time methinks.