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Pro Sports Wrap - Sports Personality of the Day:Tony Romo

After the Thanksgiving games have been played, it is now appropriate to start conjuring up early end of season award musings. With the MVP award all but given to Aaron Rodgers, I want to talk about the Rookie of the Year award. So far this season, there have been a handful of rookies playing at a high level, and this draft yielded some studs in the making. However, one of those guys is already a stud and stands out above the rest.

This special rookie's name isn't Cam Newton. The Panthers' quarterback does have a lot of hype surrounding him, but he takes a back seat to the less-heralded Von Miller. The Broncos outside linebacker was No. 2 to Newton's No. 1 in the draft, but that order should be reversed when talking about who is the better player. Newton may be a very mobile quarterback with a cannon of an arm, but he doesn't quite measure up to Von Miller.

Coming out of college, Miller was known as a gifted pass rusher who would translate seamlessly to the NFL level. That has all been proven true, but many people thought that he was just a pass rusher. Those people were proven wrong, as Miller has been lighting it up in run defense. He has already blossomed into one of the best pass rushers in the game, but his stout work in run defense has been overlooked but equally as important. Miller has been one of the best players this season- not just rookies- and has been one of the best ten outside linebackers this season. Newton has been great and all, but he's starting to come back to earth with some rather poor decision making. Right now, Miller has simply dominated the guys he has faced, just ask helpless Jets tackle Wayne Hunter what went down last week on Thursday.

Everybody now knows that Ndamukong Suh pulled a Wayne Rooney and literally stomped an offensive lineman on the Green Bay Packers in yesterday's loss. Suh gave strange explanation about his side of what transpired, and he will almost certainly be suspended because of his actions. I am more interested in talking about Suh as a player, his flaws, and the obvious strengths.

Ndamukong Suh is one of the strongest players in the NFL, and he has the uncanny ability to just bulldoze offensive lineman. Suh is also explosive and can blow by lineman from the snap. However, this aggression backfires more often than not in run defense, and this makes him an extremely inconsistent player against the run. He can make huge stops, but he mostly ends up nowhere near the play or causing a huge hole where he once was. Therefore, Suh is actually a subpar player against the run.

However, the strength/explosiveness of Suh also makes him a dangerous pass rusher who murders quarterbacks. He's one of those guys who can turn pressures into sacks, and he has the ability to take over the game against a poor interior (the Panthers game).

Because Suh is poor against the run, he is a "good" but not "great" player. With more experience and development, Suh will certainly improve his run-stopping ability and become great; bank on it. But for now, he is just a "good" defensive tackle. Suh is overrated, while some of his teammates on the line are very underrated because of his hype.

Cliff Avril is one of the better pass rushers in the NFL and is one of the more athletic ends in the league. Backup Willie Young has emerged as a solid player in limited snaps this season, and rookie Nick Fairley has been explosive when he has played. Defensive tackle Sammie Lee Hill is a force in the interior, but it is best if he receives a limited amount of snaps in a rotational role due to his lack of endurance. Veteran tackle Corey Williams is underrated and is one of the best in the game. You really should watch what he did in Week 5 against the 49ers, it was incredible and showed Williams at his pass-rushing best. And hey, he blows up running lanes pretty well too. In fact, he is just as good- maybe even a hair better- than Suh. Aging defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch is overrated and on his last legs, but he is still about an average player on the best defensive line in the NFL.
Formerly known as "The Joker"


In the last Football Talk column, I spent the majority of the article defending Tony Romo. Before I get into this piece, I want to say that the song "Innocence" by Disturbed is a great one to listen to if you are angered by the men who did nothing at Penn State. I can't believe six grown men completely ignored what happened, but I'll leave it at that without going on to a rant. As a PSU fan, I just don't want to talk about it. I also have a rap-related question for you all, and it concerns Big L's "Put It On". Is the dude with the Jamaican accent really Kid Capri? Thanks in advanced to those of you who will attempt to answer this baffling- to an idiot like me- question.

Eli Manning doesn't have Steve Smith anymore and has been playing with inexperienced receivers who are talented, but they aren't very good route-runners. Manning has been an MVP candidate thus far, because he has basically led his team to the top in the NFC East and led an amazing comeback to take down the Pats. Deja vu aside, Manning has the second highest air yards per attempt, and this is a testament to his elite play and downfield proficiency. In fact, Aaron Rodgers- perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time by the end of his career- is the only player higher in AY/A with an insane 8.3. Yeah, you read that right; 8.3.

What makes Eli so special is his ability to play well under pressure- pass rushing and clutch play- and he can make basically any throw. The guy is one of the elite quarterbacks from a scouting perspective, it's just that he makes bad decisions from time to time. Or at least he used to. This season, Eli has dramatically cut down on his turnovers, and that makes him all that more dangerous when you look at his terrific arm strength and underrated accuracy.

This next subject has a lot to do with efficiency and other geeky concepts that may one day be well-known across the NFL; going deep is more efficient. We can all agree that yards per carry and yards per attempt are the basic efficiency statistics for running backs and quarterbacks alike, and the receiving equivalent of these two statistics is yards per target.

When looking at the top ten leaders in the NFL for yards per target in the 2010 season, I noticed that all but one of them had a Deep% over 30. This theme is still apparent when looking at the top 25 receivers in yards per target, and thus this makes YPT a flawed statistic due to this. However, it does tell us that offenses would be more efficient on a per play basis by going deep. Even when you factor in the chance for a turnover, it is still worth it because the increase is only a few percentage points. This pales in comparison to the consistent uptick in efficiency.

I'm not saying that teams should bomb it out there all the time, but I am saying that most teams are far too complacent. Just look at Aaron Rodgers and Packers, or even the aforementioned Eli Manning and the Giants passing attack.
Those comments were foreshadowing, huh? He's having as good of a season as Brady.


9/2011 QB Rankings

September 29th 2011 18:27
1. Aaron Rodgers- The NFL's version of The Machine
2. Tom Brady- Look past the four picks; he owned the Bills
3. Drew Brees- He rips up secondaries
4. Peyton Manning- MVP
5. Philip Rivers- Repeat after me: 4,700
6. Tony Romo- Kevlar baby
7. Ben Roethlisberger- Can't believe dude got married
8. Michael Vick- He ain't whining, the complaints are legit
9. Eli Manning- Peter Keating has it right; Eli is underrated
10. Matt Ryan- Matty Ice is melting
11. Matt Schaub- This guy
12. Joe Flacco- QBR has him as the best QB, why is this a bad stat again? Oh yeah, cause Brady's been better
13. Josh Freeman- The reason why the Bucs don't suck
14. Matthew Stafford- He's fo real
15. Jay Cutler- How many hits does he have to take? Memo to Bears' line: Get your hands out of your ass and get to work!
16. Kevin Kolb- Levi Brown is his worst enemy, but at least he has a BFF in Fitzgerald
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick- Who said the smart guys can't play ball?
18. Sam Bradford- If only he had receivers....
19. Cam Newton- Disappointing against the Jags
20. Colt McCoy- West Coast we mash up!
Have you seen his line?

I like to try to come up with questions that I don't currently have an answer for, and then I just start investigating and trying to come up with an answer. With all the great passing performances going on right now, you could argue that having a shutdown corner like Revis makes all the difference in the world. You, in a sense, take out the opposing quarterback's best weapon and are able to handcuff about 70 yards or so from an offense.

There is actually another question that I need to tackle first: who is the best shutdown corner in the game? Although quarterbacks are less likely to throw it at Nnamdi Asomugha, Revis is younger and is a slightly better corner overall. And oh by the way, he offers far more than Nnamdi in run support. It actually doesn't matter as to which corner you prefer, because either way, Nnamdi or Revis could be the best player in the league.

Cornerbacks aren't only matched up against the wide receiver, they are also facing the quarterback. Think about it, it's really not a fair matchup in a corner and receiver duel. Sure the corner can shut down the receiver, but great quarterbacks can put it in spots where only the receiver can get it. That Madden quote was easily evident in the Super Bowl. Did you see some of those throws Aaron Rogers got by Ike Taylor? And Taylor is one of the best ten cornerbacks in the NFL.

The fact that Revis is able to beat two player- and both are usually stars- is quite remarkable in itself. What's more amazing is that he completely elevates the Jets defense. Revis is by far the team's most important player, because the Jets can get away with having no true pass rushers. Rex Ryan can send out all the men he wants to in his elaborate blitzing schemes, because he knows that Revis has his back. Like, there really aren't many other teams who can blitz two defensive backs and still feel safe.

In fantasy football, great running backs are taken so high because of value. There aren't many shutdown corners in the NFL, maybe five or so, and guys like Nnamdi and Revis are the only players who can truly completely take another star player out of the game. This may be hard to believe, but these corners also beat quarterbacks. When was the last time you saw a quarterback have success throwing it at Revis? There's a reason why passers usually don't throw it at him, and that Tony Romo pick was evidence.

While it may seem a radical idea at first, Darrelle Revis may actually be the best player in the NFL. I would personally take Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady over him, but I would agree that Revis is the third best NFL player right now. With Brady and Rodgers, those guys provide so much value that it isn't possible for them not to be the two best players in the league, and quarterbacks do have the highest WPA totals in the league (for the most part).
3rd best NFL player

2011 NFL Kick-off preview

September 7th 2011 16:40
As I sit here in my comfortable abode on an all too crappy netbook typing this post out while blaring Tool, my mind is busy contemplating the rigorous ahead of us (NFL fans). The parity in the NFL makes predicting a difficult task, but I do know one thing for sure; this is going to be one hell of a season. Don't believe me? Well, why don't you just take a look at the season's first game between the Packers and Saints? I don't need to tell you how great these two teams are, and just how great these two teams will be in February. Oh wait...this is the NFL, where crazy happens.

The Eagles, Falcons, Saints, and Packers are the NFC's undisputed Big Four heading into the season. They have very little questions surrounding their teams, and these are the guys who you put your sports' dignity on the line when you make your predictions. But with a full season looming ahead, injuries, poor execution, and the usual unexpected twists and turns that happen during 16 weeks of football will make the guessing game an even more difficult affair. For now, I'll just stick to one game and break down how I think things will end up between the Packers and Saints
[ Click here to read more ]

8/2011 QB Rankings

August 24th 2011 14:50
1. Aaron Rodgers
2. Peyton Manning
3. Tom Brady

[ Click here to read more ]

The Steelers are obviously in good shape with another Super Bowl appearance under their belts. However, there are still some weaknesses on this roster that need to be patched up.

We all know how great Ben Roethlisberger is, and they are deep at quarterback. Dennis Dixon is a decent player, Byron Leftwich is startable, and Charlie Batch is a good veteran backup. The Steelers have arguably the best group of QBs in the league. The Philadelphia Eagles are close with Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick, and Mike Kafka. The Packers are also in contention with Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, and Graham Harrell

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