Innovation and the Forward Pass In the NFL
Last April, the Denver Broncos used a 7th-round pick on a player who was ranked by one service as the 76th-best player in the draft (Eddie Royal was ranked by the same service as the 78th). Peyton Hillis of the Arkansas Razorbacks had blocked for two of the best running backs in college football - Felix Jones and Darren McFadden. Just as importantly, he was known amongst college ranks for his power running and his soft and efficient hands out of the backfield.
Back in the 1970s, a couple of organizations evolved that would change the way we see and experience NFL football. They arose on the basis of a need teams to share the expenses of having area scouts - in those days, they didn't want to have the costs of supporting their own organizations of scouting. The first of these is still known as 'BLESTO'. This originally stood for Bears Lions Eagles Steelers Organization and was formed in 1963. The Eagles are no longer associated with it, but it boasts a roster of 12 teams, including the Atlanta Falcons. The second was National Football Scouting, which is known by the contraction, "National" and currently has 15 teams associated with it that I've been able to uncover. Four teams use independents and/or their own organizations exclusively, including the New England Patriots who only uses their own.
Horse Tracks listed a great article on the possibility that we may be in a Golden Age of Offensive Tackles. It got me to thinking about a great Super Bowl where the offense was so good - sometimes called the Greatest Show on Turf, with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk - that the defense of the New England Patriots had to take a new and slightly different posture on it's way to a stunning win. The Game was the super Bowl of the 2001 season, the St. Louis Rams with Kurt Warner at the helm - against the New England Patriots. Here's what went down...
Born in Mableton, Georgia on January 31, 1987, Kenny McKinley was a sought-after quarterback at South Cobb High School. Kenny earned All-County honors as a junior and senior. As a junior in 2003, he racked up 1,575 yards and 12 scores passing and rushed for 400 yards and eight touchdowns more. McKinley threw for 1,470 yards and 16 touchdowns while rushing for 750 yards and 12 more TDs during his senior year, and was ranked as the 57th-best athlete in the country by Rivals.com. You can catch four recruiting videos of Kenny from high school at Mableton here:
Prior to the draft, NFLDraftDog.com commented,
South Carolina's Kenny McKinley (6' 0" 189 lbs) doesn't get much respect and I don't know why. He has gotten it done on the football field for years. He has been a four year starter with 2,781 career yards and 19 touchdowns. Now he goes to the combine and has a very solid performance. He ran a nice 4.44 forty and had the 2nd best 20 yard shuttle time of 4.10 seconds.
Broncos fans, this is Memorial Day week. There is a very good article in the National Football Post that you might want to check out, dealing with the great service that some of our NFL players have given. I'd like to add something that came up for me due to the NBA playoff this week.
In the game of professional football, being a quarterback, running back or a wide receiver is very much akin to baseball: You try to accumulate stats. You could say that a 5-yard run is like a single. Pulling in a pass for a 1st down is kind of like a double. A 35-yard play is a triple for all involved and if it breaks an invisible plane, it's a home run. Increasing your stats is a positive. The quarterback even accumulates the ultimate stat - wins and losses. No other player has this ability and in many ways it emphasizes the way that we have chosen to portray and perceive this position.
There was a second offering from Matt Bowen at the National Football Post that took the perspective that if you ask about the Bears' receiving corps, Jerry Angelo counters by asking you how many real #1 WRs there are in the NFL (no definition is given: you‘ll know one when Matt or Jerry sees one) in an attempt to avoid the question and to turn it back on the person asking. This is a good example of a straw man argument. It takes the question of Chicago's receivers and avoids it by claiming that most other teams don't have good receivers either.
Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true - Demosthenes, Third Olynthiac, sec. 19
Jerry Angelo of the Chicago Bears was quoted in the Sporting News daily before the draft, talking about his team's quality and chances next year. The same discussion was quoted by Matt Bowen in the National Football Post:
"Well, I think that it will be better just given the fact that our quarterback is going to play better," Jerry Angelo told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I feel that will be something that is going to help that position and really the whole offense overall. If we stay status quo and nobody gets hurt, with our present receiving corps - and when I say ‘receiving corps you guys have to bring in the tight ends, too - I feel we'll be OK.
The Sporting News daily recently ran a ‘Scout's Views' article that listed the top 20 running backs for 2009. For those who feel that the Broncos don't appear on the major sports media radar, it will be no surprise that Knowshon Moreno, although he will be aided by Peyton Hillis, didn't even make the list. Chris ‘Beanie' Wells managed to sneak in at #20, but no info was given as to why him rather than Moreno.
When the Denver Broncos bargained with Chris Simms this offseason, they believed they were taking on a talented backup quarterback to cover for Jay Cutler if he went down to injury. Coach Josh McDaniels felt that Simms had the pedigree and the potential to be a solid backup, and the higher-than-normal contract cost backed that up. It didn't take long for Simms to receive a chance to show that he is more than a backup - he's currently competing against Kyle Orton for the starting position. In order for us to start understanding the value of this, we have to go back to where it all started.
You certainly could argue that Chris Simms has the best NFL pedigree, being the son of famous NFL QB Phil Simms. He was born in Ridgewood, New Jersey on August 29, 1980 and attended high school in nearby Franklin Lakes, NJ. A standout athlete, he played basketball as well as football. He was a two-time All-State football player and the 1998 USA Today Offensive Player of the Year. He initially committed to the University of Tennessee and then de-committed, choosing instead to attend the University of Texas, where he would major in history.
Arriving at Texas, Simms found that he was in a long conflict for the starting job with Major Applewhite. Each of them did well at various times and weakened at others. Their battle went back and forth for two full years. Over the course of Simms' tenure at the University of Texas, he set several records; their current status follows...