Got An NFL Starter Here, Wait…

By: S. Davis

There are 32 starting quarterback jobs in the NFL. There are a few depth charts where the man taking the snaps is completely locked in at his position; New England, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Green Bay, New York (Giants), Carolina, Atlanta, New Orleans, etc. However there are not 32 starting caliber quarterbacks in the league (I’m counting rookies projected to start this upcoming season). I count 11-13 franchises that should take a deep look at the man tasked with being their leader, on the field.

Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned. It’s July.

Is it possible that an injury brings him into a camp in a few weeks? Yes. Possible, yet improbable as I’m sure a new, manufactured, reason would quickly sprout out of the blue to justify keeping him floating in free agency. The NFL – as a whole – has made a decision and it fills me with dread. I care more about the NFL than just about every other sport I consume, maybe combined. I love football. The chess match of offense versus defense, the coaching game plans, how a certain defense will strategize all the ways to limit the best offensive player – and vice versa. It’s such a layered game.

This space, here, covers a multitude of topics, genres, sports, etc. My passion for the NFL is a pillar of my website as I write about it more frequently than anything else. How the league has banded together, in unison, to exclude Kaepernick puts me in a corner – and I may focus more on MMA and the NBA. In the ongoing issue regarding his return to the field, I don’t think I’ll be able to write about football in the same way I’ve grown accustomed to. I may put my pen down for the whole season. This makes me want to stop writing about the game altogether.

I wasn’t a cheerleader of Kaepernick during his glory days but I’ve always respected his abilities. I respect what he felt he needed to do. Let’s not forget that he didn’t seek out cameras during his silent protest. There were two or three weeks where it wasn’t picked up by ANYONE…and then, well, we’re in July and he doesn’t have a job when he should be under center…today.

The stats don’t need to be drawn out here but he threw 16 TD/4 INT while completing 59.2% of his passes. He had the sixth lowest completion percentage of any quarterback in the league – which is nothing to disregard. He did have a record of 1-10 in the games in which he started last season and that means something. What about the coaching changes after Jim Harbaugh left town? Jim Tomsula? Gone. Chip Kelly? There’s the door, sir.

Shouldn’t stability speak for something? What about roster turnover? The San Francisco 49ers’ roster is comprised of spare parts that can be purchased in Spanish Harlem – and has been a revolving door in the last two seasons. Does none of that factor into the equation here? How about the fact that his receiving group led the league in drops; isn’t that substantial? That isn’t something he can control and yet the league is keeping him out.

It only matters that a man of color didn’t stand for the national anthem. Why is the NFL comfortable with a national anthem that was penned by a slave owner and an anti-abolitionist? Why is the country? That’s fine though. Why isn’t that disrespectful?

A starting caliber quarterback will sit on the sidelines – his career probably over – because the powerful NFL felt it was out of line for an African-American to highlight that the American experience isn’t the same for every citizen within its borders. By and large the masses are totally fine with their stance and it’s disgusting but not surprising at all in 2017. There are things about this country that will never change. It’s now being viewed through the lenses of the biggest sport in the United States.

NFL: Week 11

By: S. Davis

lukek

I saw the play that Luke Kuechly was injured on. It wasn’t a massive collision; it was rather mundane. It was a tackle he’s made thousands of times…and it put him on a cart. He cried and there was this forlorn feeling that was on the field and crept through my television. A concussion put him on the sidelines for a quarter of the season last year and I’m sure those tears where from fear; the unknown.

Reports of the death of the NFL is overblown BUT there’s a future that isn’t as rosy as it probably was five years ago. However said future will still have trucks of cash everywhere as the appetite for the sport – especially in America – is hard to completely extinguish. There’s only so much that can be legislated out of the game and it’s going to have to undergo some drastic alterations or mothers across the nation will pull their sons from putting on pads in their formative years.

Week 11:

New Orleans 31 @ Carolina 33: Do I even have to make a choice here? One team doesn’t defend while both teams ask their quarterbacks to carry too heavy of a load.

Pittsburgh 23 @ Cleveland 21: It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the Brownies found a way to win. The Steelers are listless, inconsistent and are taking shots at one another in the media. (Because, you know, that always screams cohesion.)

Baltimore 16 @ Dallas 26: The Cowboys are going to fail at some point. They’re going to drop a game or two and the media will begin to make a stink about Tony Romo…and it won’t matter to anyone inside the Cowboys’ organization. The Ravens have put the ball in the hands of Joe Flacco – and he can’t do it all on his own.

Jacksonville 16 @ Detroit 23: Lions.

Tennessee 27 @ Indianapolis 30: I gave this game a great deal of thought. I was correct last week by picking the Titans over the Packers because I see all the holes that Green Bay’s having trouble filling. The Colts are a mediocre defensive unit but their counterparts are no different. I favor Andrew Luck at home but I also like Marcus Mariota in that dome…I do.

Buffalo 17 @ Cincinnati 20: Bengals.

Tampa Bay 21 @ Kansas City 30: Chiefs.

Chicago 21 @ NY Giants 23: Hey New York, is this the moment where you get sucked in by the G-men? Eli Manning and the rest of the team are looking pretty frisky as the weather’s turning and the playoffs around the corner. They’re spewing water from every part of the ship…and yet they keep on collecting wins.

Arizona 26 @ Minnesota 20: The Cardinals should win this one comfortably but they don’t know if they want to compete this year or phone in another performance versus a team they should be able to put away.

Miami 16 @ Los Angeles 15: Jeff Fisher, super coach, has turned to Jared Goff in the hopes he can put a charge into the team offensively. Anything is possible, I guess.

New England 34 @ San Francisco 27: I would pick the 49ers if I felt they could generate any pass rush against the Patriots. The Pats can be had!

Philadelphia 20 @ Seattle 34: Seahawks.

Green Bay 27 @ Washington 21: Packers?

Houston 20 @ Oakland 26: Everyone is viewing the Raiders like the bowl of soup that you really want to taste but the steam makes you reconsider. Are they really this good?

Last Week: 8-6
Season: 85-62

NFL: Week 9

By: S. Davis

I’m not certain that I truly understand what the San Francisco 49ers have been thinking about over the last few days. Why bench Colin Kaepernick for…Blaine Gabbert? Sure Kaepernick has been (mostly) cold and hot all season but do they truly feel that Gabbert represents the future or a more consistent option at the game’s most crucial position? Does the front-office know that Gabbert played for the Jacksonville Jaguars for a few seasons before they acquired him? Like, there’s tape out there and everything. Watch the film!

The move to tie Kaepernick to the bench would seem infinitely more plausible if the 49ers drafted a developmental quarterback (a second-to-fifth round prospect) and they wanted to get him some real game action while working, extensively, with their broken player for a week or two. If Gabbert plays well – I’m not sure that happens – then what? Unless they view him as a player that will vault into the top 10-to-15 at the position then I see no reason to play him. Kaepernick has been atrocious – with the exception of two or three games where he looked like an NFL level threat – and needs to watch a game or two from the sidelines but if he’s penciled in as the backup for more than a week or two then it will really lead to the conclusion that the blind are leading the blind in the front-office. Hubris is real, management.

As for the Vernon Davis trade, I love it. One thing that’s always bothered me is when experts tout how a skill-position player – in this case I’m referring to receiving tight ends and wide receivers – is “washed up” when their numbers take a dive. These same experts always exclude the change in coaching staff, a regressing quarterback and a shift in offensive philosophy that factors into the declining production.

Davis will now go to a team – if Gary Kubiak abandons his thirst for offensive credit to let Peyton Manning run his own playbook – and, out of the blue, he will shine. Who knew that a ball dependent player can, I don’t know, play once the quarterback actually looks his way to deliver the ball?  Sure Davis has been injured but everyone misses games in the NFL…or they eventually will.

Let me get this straight, the Tennessee Titans management decided to fire Ken Whisenhunt after 23 games (going 3-20 is hard to accept though) where he only got to coach his rookie quarterback for five games? Five. He led the team to a 2-14 record last year with a roster that wasn’t exactly bursting with talent that allowed them to draft Marcus Mariota to begin with. This is the MAIN reason teams fail and, in turn, destroy a huge number of quarterback prospects. Besides the NFL (and other sports teams) charging the government, i.e., the American taxpayers for all those military tributes, patriotic moments involving soldiers, etc.,  and the farce of player safety that the league tries to perpetuate, the fact that management and coaches often skirt blame at the expense of athletes who get thrown to the trash bin makes me vomit. So there’s going to be an interim coach – assistant head coach Mike Mularkey gets the nod for now – and more than likely another man to take the position after the season ends; sounds great.

Now Mariota goes from one head coach to three in under one year. This is stability? If (or when) he becomes ruined, he’ll wear all the blame – and not a hint of it will fall onto those questionable decisions made by those sitting upstairs.

Whisenhunt gets his hands on the future, franchise, quarterback – and gets canned. NFL teams are stupid. No matter what turnover happens on the roster, you must have stability and patience at head coach, especially when he inherited a bad team. You do not win in the NFL without a quarterback, simple enough; you don’t remain a coach without one either – so they arm Whisenhunt with a promising one and then fire him in less than two years on the job? Smart. You know the best way to ruin a young quarterback? Instability swirling around him sounds just about right.

Rant over. I cannot believe the regular season is at the midway point. I want to send a special “Thank You” to Tyler Clippard of the Mets.

Week 9:

Cleveland 17 @ Cincinnati 34: These Bengals are different.

Green Bay 30 @ Carolina 27: I like the Panthers…just not this week.

Washington 13 @ New England 40: “You like that? You like that!” Yeah…ok.

Tennessee 10 @ New Orleans 30: The Saints look like they have a pulse, offensively at least. Defensively, I don’t know what the hell is going on with Rob Ryan’s unit. If he’s wondering why he’s yet to snatch up a head coaching gig, giving up 52 points like the other team is straight out of Madden 16 is a good place to look.

Miami 21 @ Buffalo 23: That Cameron Wake injury is a tough one to overcome when the defense looked on the verge of making dominant plays every week. I’ll take the Bills and their (cleaner) injury report.

St. Louis 18 @ Minnesota 20: Two teams that I’m struggling to get a read on but I am proud of both Nick Foles and Teddy Bridgewater.

Jacksonville 14 @ NY Jets 16: It’s telling when Ryan Fitzpatrick goes down with a left hand injury and the Jets need him to play. He’ll be back this week it seems, and he should be able to claim another win for the New York Shreks.

Oakland 21 @ Pittsburgh 23: My Super Bowl pick was the Steelers over the Cowboys and are there two more teams destroyed by injuries than those two? If I jinxed them in any way, I truly apologize. I am sorry.

NY Giants 24 @ Tampa Bay 16: Can the Giants defend? Is it possible for them to keep the large Tampa Bay receivers out of the end zone?

Atlanta 40 @ San Francisco 6: Gabbert is starting, at quarterback, for the 49ers and I just…

Denver 27 @ Indianapolis 20: The Broncos will win IF Gary Kubiak allows Manning to run his scheme and backs the hell away. Period. Oh yeah, the run game has to keep the momentum going from last week’s showing versus the Packers too.

Philadelphia 23 @ Dallas 16: Does it matter at this point? It does, somewhat. If Joseph Randle were a better player, he’d still have a jersey with stars on it, personal troubles be damned.

Chicago 24 @ San Diego 26: Chargers.

Last Week: 10-4
Season: 78-40

NFL: Week 7

By: S. Davis

The New York Mets are going to the World Series! I cannot believe that, uh…oh, right, this is about the NFL. Oops.

Week 7:

Seattle 28 @ San Francisco 27: Can you pull this off, Colin Kaepernick? Those ‘hawks are ripe to be placed on a mantle right now. They’re reeling and the strength of their defense – the Legion of Boom – got eradicated over the last two weeks by the Bengals and Panthers.

Put those tight-ends to work, 49ers. There are chunks of yards to be had along the seams and on in-routes across the middle of the field. Kaepernick is building on two consecutive impressive performances – considering there was real talk of benching him soon – and a win here could send some real waves through the NFC. Kaepernick plays well again but the Seahawks have a hint of desperation – and win.

Buffalo 21 @ Jacksonville 9: You’re welcome, London.

Tampa Bay 14 @ Washington 17: Just because they have a road game and they’re playing a rookie quarterback…

Atlanta 26 @ Tennessee 16: The Falcons should have lost to the Washington football team two weeks ago and should have won over the Saints last week. When teams gain victories in games they have no business winning at all (Washington), I find that to be great training for closely played playoff games.

Losing to the Saints, however, stalled their progress. Even though it was a divisional game – where records are pointless – it was a loss that shouldn’t rest on their ledger. The Titans are going through the usual peaks and valleys that go hand-in-hand with having a rookie as the starting quarterback. It will get better Titans fans, just not this week.

New Orleans 24 @ Indianapolis 34: The Colts will sleep their way into the playoffs based on the weak state of their division but that’s not their fault. (Neither is the dumpster fire in the front-office that’s driven by hubris. Look where that got San Francisco, Mr. Irsay. Look hard.)

As long as the coaching staff employs a spread offensive attack to mitigate the shortcomings of the offensive line, Andrew Luck will be completely fine – and he will produce. (I do wish he’d cut down on the “I-just-gotta-make-something-happen” type throws downfield.)

Minnesota 27 @ Detroit 30: Only because this game is in Detroit. Period.

Pittsburgh 14 @ Kansas City 23: Landry Jones looked good – in very limited duty last week – but the Chiefs should win at Arrowhead. They should, I think.

Cleveland 27 @ St. Louis 20: Too many inconsistencies from the Rams lead me to go with the Browns…who are looking like contenders. (I need to put this beer away.)

Houston 24 @ Miami 27: The new Dolphins, sure? It was good to see Cameron Wake attack the ball again. (Another player that NFL talents scouts thought had no future in the league…ugh. Where can I sign up to do a terrible job and get paid to watch prospects, fail at that miserably…and still have my opinions “valued.”)

NY Jets 23 @ New England 24: This version of the Jets is a team that’s easy to root for – and I like them to push the Patriots to the limit but fall short. Offensively, Brady will put enough pressure on his counterpart – Ryan Fitzpatrick – to play flawlessly and he won’t.

Oakland 17 @ San Diego 35: Chargers.

Dallas 17 @ NY Giants 30: Lesser of two evils here.

Philadelphia 20 @ Carolina 27: I’m about to feel really stupid after the Eagles win this game when I told myself to pick them.

Baltimore 20 @ Arizona 24: The Cards should win but they’ve been shooting themselves in the feet lately so I’ll make them the pick but it’s full of uncertainty.

Last Week: 9-5
Season: 59-31

NFL: Week 6

By: S. Davis

To be frank, I’m going to be paying more attention to what the New York Mets are doing in Chavez Ravine tonight than what’s going on in the NFL. Let’s go Mets! Wait, this is not a baseball column. My bad.

Week 6:

Atlanta 24 @ New Orleans 16: Is the book of Sean Payton and Drew Brees (as Saints) reaching its final chapter? I cannot pick them against the Falcons right now.

Washington 19 @ NY Jets 20: Ryan Fitzpatrick throws one interception – probably – but his defense helps him out.

Arizona 33 @ Pittsburgh 20: I may be giving Michael Vick too much credit here – and he needs to get the ball to Antonio Brown – but he’s been playing better, incrementally. Small, progressive steps will not help him hang with Cardinals.

Kansas City 21 @ Minnesota 24: I thought the Chiefs would be a much better team that what they’ve shown thus far…but the record is the record (1-4) and I’m interested to see if they can muster something for the remainder of the year.

Cincinnati 27 @ Buffalo 10: So the Bills are sending out their backup quarterback to play against one of the most complete teams in the league?

Chicago 17 @ Detroit 20: Lions?

Denver 20 @ Cleveland 17: It’s odd to see Peyton Manning leading an offense that’s 17th in scoring (22.6 ppg) and 23rd in passing yards (231 ppg) but the defense is propping them up. A reason to worry: If Manning is struggling now, when the weather is still ideal for him, how’s he going to fare once Old Man Winter arrives?

Houston 17 @ Jacksonville 16: This might be a tie.

Miami 13 @ Tennessee 19: New Miami head coach, Dan Campbell, sounds like he was created from an assembly line of coaches from another decade. He’s a walking cliché and I wonder if this is the direction that the Dolphins management really care to undertake? After their last head coach, the answer is a resounding yes. I don’t feel the new coach makes a difference this week.

Carolina 20 @ Seattle 27: The narrative related to the Panthers is that they’re the weakest of the undefeated teams remaining – and they will get tested on Sunday. I think they deserve a lot more credit because they can only beat who lines up against them. (Ask the Golden State Warriors about that! Get over it, jealous NBA franchises; the Warriors beat the teams that took the court.)

The Seahawks can be had – that’s why I picked the Bengals to win last week – but the Panthers just don’t have enough to win on their turf.

San Diego 24 @ Green Bay 30: Packers.

Baltimore 17 @ San Francisco 21: Which Colin Kaepernick is the genuine article? The one that showed up last week against the Giants and in the 49ers’s only win against the Vikings or the one that was rumored to be benched in the very near future for Blaine Gabbert?

Will the Ravens drop another game?

New England 31 @ Indianapolis 24: Whether or not Andrew Luck starts this game the Colts need to change their offensive approach. The league knows that their offensive line is playing horribly at the moment – and Luck’s body is paying the cost of the poor protection upfront.

Going forward they need to open up their formations – shifting dominantly to three and four wide receiver sets with Luck in the pistol or shotgun – and let their franchise guy determine where to go with the ball without him running for his life. It allows his linemen to gain confidence while he moves the ball – and, in theory, it should open up some running lanes for Frank Gore and the other running backs.

NY Giants 30 @ Philadelphia 27: The Giants should win but since this is an NFC East battle, it could go either way and no outcome would shock me.

Last Week: 10-4
Season: 50-26

NFL: Week 5

By: S. Davis

So Josh Scobee was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers after he failed to convert extra points and field goals this season. In the 15 games played during Week 4 there were a total of 18 missed kicks (14 field goals along with four extra point attempts).

The game has been made easier for the offense while at the same time the special teams units get penalized – and had the degree of difficulty of their jobs raised for the sake of entertainment? Well, it’s working. The impetus for this move was to take the monotony out of the extra point as it was a “sure thing” and lacked drama. I cannot wait to read about the drama when a glamour team loses in the playoffs because of this.

I promise not to open my football entries with kickers anymore. I’ll try at least.

Week 5:

Indianapolis 17 @ Houston 13: Luck’s still out but Matt Hasselbeck is better than any quarterback the Texans will play.

Chicago 19 @ Kansas City 20: Jay Cutler returned last week and showed the Bears still have some life in their collective bodies but playing in Arrowhead is still an uphill climb for mediocre teams.

Seattle 21 @ Cincinnati 27: I see you Andy Dalton, keep it up. The interior of Seattle’s offensive line might be swallowed whole by Geno Atkins (and the rest of the Bengals’ front-four). The Bengals are complete everywhere, so while I feel the Seahawks will compete, I think the home team puts a beating on them.

Jimmy Graham plays for the Seahawks, right? He’s a versatile weapon and is not a traditional tight-end. Watch tape on how the Saints lined him up in several positions of a package…and got him the ball. He’s being wasted.

Washington 13 @ Atlanta 30: Washington isn’t good while the Falcons are – and they shall feast.

Jacksonville 10 @ Tampa Bay 20: Buccaneers?

New Orleans 24 @ Philadelphia 20: Look, I understand schemes and a system but you need the talent to execute it, Chip Kelly. DeMarco Murray is struggling with the Eagles because his running style – which is downhill after attacking a running lane – does NOT mesh with the line-play of his offensive line.

The Eagles allow some penetration so Murray is forced to make a defender miss before he can make a move to gain positive yards – and it is no surprise that the more elusive Ryan Mathews looks like a better option. As it stands, Murray does not fit with the philosophy of Kelly’s system unless the coach alters his approach. Boy do we know how amenable these coaches are to change.

Cleveland 9 @ Baltimore 26: The Ravens escaped last week because of abhorrent kicking by the Steelers. They’ll control their fate in this one.

St. Louis 17 @ Green Bay 31: The Rams are not consistent anywhere, except on the defensive side of the ball. Good luck in Green Bay.

Buffalo 23 @ Tennessee 18: The Bills, I guess.

Arizona 27 @ Detroit 24: Tough call to lose out on; Seattle sure gets the controversial calls. Are we seeing the decline of Calvin Johnson before our eyes? He is 30 – which is the beginning of the decline at a skill position – so I’m just going to hope, as a fan of football, that he’s hurt and is keeping it to himself.

The Cardinals came back to the planet after losing a tough fight versus the Rams but I still believe in them as contenders in the NFC.

New England 35 @ Dallas 17: Good luck, Brandon Weeden.

Denver 23 @ Oakland 13: Broncos defenders will keep up their stellar play.

San Francisco 13 @ New York 26: GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-Men.

Pittsburgh 17 @ San Diego 27: Michael Vick played average and put the Steelers in position to win last week but he needs to improve on his decision-making – and I feel a second consecutive start will do that – but going against the Chargers will be a tall order.

Last Week: 11-4
Season: 40-22

NFL: Week 17 Picks

By: S. Davis

Since the New Orleans Saints performed so admirably this season I don’t have a pick for the Super Bowl. How dumb was I to pick them to win the whole thing this year? Don’t laugh at me; no one expected them to crater – on ALL sides of the ball – once the season got underway.

The New England Patriots are my AFC representative in the Super Bowl where they will meet Seattle, Dallas or Green Bay. As for the winner…not yet, I refuse to put my foot in my mouth another time; I’m sick of my socks.

Week 17:

Cleveland 9 @ Baltimore 27: Ravens.

Dallas 20 @ Washington 17: ‘Boys.

Indianapolis 30 @ Tennessee 24: Colts.

Jacksonville 17 @ Houston 19: Texans?

San Diego 23 @ Kansas City 17: Chargers.

NY Jets 15 @ Miami 31: Dolphins.

Chicago 20 @ Minnesota 28: Teddy B!

Buffalo 17 @ New England 23: Come to Massachusetts if you want to get to Arizona in February!

Philadelphia 20 @ NY Giants 24: It’s a shame that Mark Sanchez didn’t play well enough to earn himself a starting job after this season when several teams will be looking for one. The Giants ventured along peaks and valleys the entire season: cold streaks followed by hot ones…lather, rinse, and repeat.

New Orleans 17 @ Tampa Bay 23: Let’s get it done, Bucs.

Carolina 17 @ Atlanta 21: Your NFC South division winner!

Detroit 21 @ Green Bay 30: I don’t see the Packers going crazy and I don’t see the Lions folding either.

Oakland 20 @ Denver 24: Broncos.

Arizona 9 @ San Francisco 13: So the brass really wants to get rid of a good coach on Jim Harbaugh because he gets too much credit? There are other franchises that would kill themselves to obtain a coach that is half as good as the one wearing the headset in Santa Clara.

Poor coaching, injuries and undeveloped talent (or a lack of it) will absolutely ruin a team’s future. You know what else does that? Hubris. The suits in the 49ers front-office need to take a hard look in the mirror if they go through with what has been the worst kept secret in the NFL this year.

St. Louis 16 @ Seattle 26: The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Washington. Good luck, visitors.

Cincinnati 17 @ Pittsburgh 31: Steelers.

Last Week: 11-5
Season: 164-76