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

Larry Brooks was a little-known 14th round pick by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1972 NFL Draft. Brooks was a Little All-American in 1971, but his impact on sports in Virginia wasn't; he was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. Coming out of a small school didn't help Brooks much, but he was starting for the Rams in the second half of his rookie season. He started with legends Merlin Olsen, Jack Youngblood, and Coy Bacon.

In 1973, he was firmly entrenched as a starter after being moved from right defensive tackle to left defensive tackle. Brooks had nine sacks in '73 and had the most tackles of any defensive lineman on the team with 76. He really broke out in his first full season, and the Rams defense wasn't to be messed with. They were a force to be reckoned with against the run, and they never allowed 300 yards during any game that season.

A year later, the Rams were unquestionably the best defensive team and were easily the best team in run defense. The Rams also led the NFC with 44 sacks, and a quarter of those were provided by Larry Brooks. He also recorded 73 tackles, and the trio of Brooks, Youngblood, and Fred Dryer were unstoppable.

Although his season was cut short by a knee injury, Brooks still managed to put down the QB five times in 1975. The Rams almost set the NFL record for least points allowed, and they were still stout against the run. However, Brooks presence would have helped when they got drubbed 37-7 by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship.

Jack Youngblood and Larry Brooks both recorded 14.5 sacks to lead the Rams in 1976, and Brooks started a streak of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. They were the only years in which the fans voted him in, but five is a nice string of appearances. Brooks managed to lead all Rams defensive linemen with 74 tackles, and he actually had 13 tackles for loss as well. The menacing Rams run defense was once again the best in the NFC, and Brooks had a lot to do with that.

In 1977, Brooks only had 6.5 sacks but still led all of the D-Linemen with healthy 71 tackles. The Los Angeles Rams Alumni even named him the team's best defensive lineman. The first time that the Associated Press named Brooks to an All-Pro team was in 1978 when he was a Second-team All-Pro. Although he missed a couple of games and the NFC Championship with a knee injury (again), Brooks still led the Rams with eight sacks and had a nasty 80 tackles. The Rams led the league in total defense but had a "down" year as they were "only" second in the NFC in sacks.

The L.A. Rams led the NFC with a hefty 52 sacks in 1979, and Larry Brooks accounted for six of those quarterback take-downs. However, his 99 tackles were even more impressive and he also tipped four passes. The AP gave him his first appearance as a First-team All-Pro that season, and he played through Super Bowl XIV with an injured ankle. This was obviously overshadowed (for good reason) by Jack Youngblood playing through a broken leg. The Rams did end up losing to the Steelers 31-19, but the game was closer than the score indicates.

1980 was the last year in which Brooks was a Pro Bowler, and it was also his last full season before a third knee injury in the middle of 1981 which ruined his career. In 1980, the Rams started using a rotation, so Brooks's 54 tackles were good enough to lead the team. He also had 8.5 sacks and the team had 56 total to lead the NFC. Brooks retired after playing in 131 games and starting in 122 of them during 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. No. 90 was named to 19 end of season award teams during his career, and the Virginia native is ranked as one of the top 500 players in NFL history in Pro-Football Reference's Fan EloRater (which you should check out if you like voting on NFL players and are a history buff).

From 1983-1990, Larry Brooks was the Rams defensive line coach. He then worked as a line coach for the Packers, Seahawks, Bears, Lions, and Cardinals.

Brooks was a player who is overshadowed right now because he played with legends. He was a great defensive tackle who deserves more recognition when one looks back and talks about some of the greatest defensive players in Rams history. He's no Hall of Famer, but you don't have to be a legend to be a star football player. And let's not forget, these numbers aren't official, but they are still amazing for a defensive tackle.
Played with Bacon in his rookie year

11/2011 Football Talk: The Detroit Lions

November 26th 2011 17:33
To me, the Lions as a team are really just like their quarterback; average and overrated. Matthew Stafford is about a league-average quarterback, and he makes a ton of mistakes because he forces throws and trusts in his ability too much. That's not to say he is a bad player, but he gets bailed out a ton by Calvin Johnson. Megatron is so talented that he is basically carrying an offense with help from Stafford. The rest of the skill position players aren't that good, although Brandon Pettigrew and Kevin Smith are about average for their positions. Nate Burleson doesn't scare anybody, but he is about an average receiver as well.

The biggest problem on offense for the Lions is their offensive line. Their line doesn't stink, but it is too inconsistent and gets manhandled when facing a dominant player. The reason being is that they don't have a top 15 player at any position on the line and can't take on the elite players on the other side of the ball and win those respective one-on-one matchups. Their blocking is subpar for the most part, and they really don't get it done as a run blocking unit. However, they are actually an average bunch in pass protection.

The defensive line is amazing and is about seven-deep. I think that's all I need to say about that unit. Stephen Tulloch and Justin Durant have provided major upgrades at linebacker; a position of immense weakness last season. Tulloch and Durant are two of the best linebackers in the league against the run, but Durant is a classic two-down linebacker who is absolutely awful in pass coverage. Tulloch was almost as bad in coverage in 2010, but he has made an unprecedented 180 in coverage this season.

The biggest area of weakness on this roster lies within arguably the most important unit for a team; the secondary. Aside from the much-improved Chris Houston, nobody else in the secondary can cover. Guys like Eric Wright and Chris Harris are excellent in run-support, but only Houston can legitimately claim to be above-average in coverage. While he isn't the greatest corner in the world and was poor last year, he can now hold is own in coverage and is really just a good No. 2 corner. The Lions need some help in the secondary.

Really, the Lions are an average team who are about 7-9 or 8-8 talent wise. They have a decent passing offense, a subpar running game, a great pass rush, solid run defense, but poor coverage.

I was looking at some of the receiving statistics at Advanced NFL Stats, and there are a couple of players who have stat-lines that caught my eye for reasons still unclear. Steve Smith goes deep on 41.8% of his passes and has been thrown at 91 times, yet he has a 61.5% catch rate and averages 10.9 yards per target. Only one other player with at least 80 targets has a Deep% of over 40, and that's Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson (who is considerably taller). V-Jax (46.3 Deep%) averages 10.0 yards per target, but he only catches 52.5% of the balls thrown his way. Greg Jennings catches an astounding 70.7% of the passes thrown his way, averages 10.2 yards per target (82 targets), and has gone deep on 32.9% of his passes.
Fine then, call me a hater

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"


11/2011 Player Profile: Brandon Flowers

November 13th 2011 14:49
In my piece yesterday, I ranked the top 50 corners in the NFL. Kansas City Chiefs star Brandon Flowers with fifth on the list, and the 5'9 corner proves that you don't need height to be a successful player in this league. In fact, he matched up pretty well against Vincent Jackson in their last faceoff; V-Jax is one of the taller corners in the NFL. However, he did give up two touchdowns against Calvin Johnson, despite actually holding his own and playing well overall. Guys, please don't confuse him with the lead singer of the Killers who has the same exact name.

Among all cornerbacks this season, Brandon Flowers has the most passes defended with 15 break-ups. He also has four interceptions, although picks aren't really a good true evaluator of a corner. But it still shows us that he is capable of making plays in the secondary.

Despite his size, Flowers has proven to be one of the most physical corners in the game to make up for his lack of height (much like Panthers receiver Steve Smith). Teams did target Flowers more often than most shutdown corners in 2010, but he still only allows a little over half of them to end up as completions. An even more impressive fact is that Flowers gave up the lowest YAC/catch in 2010; a testament to his fluid tackling and great overall play. Although he is one of the best corners in run support, not many people discuss his prowess in this facet of the game as much as they should. There are players like Asante Samuel (thanks to awful technique)- as great as they may be in coverage- who can't tackle and can't play the run well.

Commonly referred to as the "Brandons", Flowers and the ever undervalued Brandon Carr (32nd in my rankings, and the arrow is pointing upwards) make up one of the better cornerback duos in the NFL. This season, quarterbacks have begun to respect him more and haven't targeted him quite as much. But those 15 tips and four picks show us that Flowers is a more than capable playmaker in the secondary.

The physicality that scouts rave about is on display when you take a look at his YAC per catch allowed, and the fact that he missed only one tackle in 2010. Per the Pro Football Focus, he had the best attempts to missed tackles ratio in the NFL that season. Yeah, he was even better than Champ Bailey (2nd on the list, but slightly better in PFF's coverage grades).

At the beginning of 2010, Brandon Flowers was referred to by some as "Revis Island 2.0", but he did tail off in the second half of the season. However, the "decline" in 2010 was mainly just regression, as he was still effective down the stretch for the Chiefs. Although Flowers was embarrassed against the Colts by Curtis Painter and Pierre Garcon, he has still been playing at a very high level this season. There is no doubt that he is one of the premier shutdown corners in the game, and the scary thing for number one wideouts is that he will only continue to improve.
I Shut Em Down


11/2011 Cornerback Rankings

November 12th 2011 15:43
1. Darrelle Revis- Revis is easily the best cornerback in the NFL right now, and he breaks up almost as many passes as receptions allowed.

2. Nnamdi Asomugha- Despite a poor 2011, I still believe in his ability as a pure cover guy. However, Nnamdi is awful in run support and can't tackle

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10/2011 WR Rankings

October 21st 2011 15:20
1. Larry Fitzgerald- When will this guy get a quarterback again? Is uncoverable when he actually has good receivers around him as well. This is how Steve Smith used to feel before Cam Newton came around, except Smith still doesn't have all that good wideouts around him quite yet.

2. Andre Johnson- Statistically the best, but the game goes beyond stats. He isn't quite at Fitzgerald's level, but the distance between them is almost negligible

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10/2011 Detroit Lions Top 20 Players

October 19th 2011 15:53
1. WR Calvin Johnson- Really the only reason why this offense functions. Stafford's fine, but he would be half the player with Johnson. Of course that goes with most QBs, but Stafford isn't really all that good. He's above-average- which isn't bad- but nothing more; he's overrated by a lot of guys.

2. DE Cliff Avril- Yeah, the underrated Avril is their second best player. To tell you the truth, the Lions aren't really that talented. You may think I am underrating Suh, but the young tackle has a lot to prove. For as great as he is as a pass rusher, Avril is better. One other thing, Avril isn't a liability against the run

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Ah, it's finally October and the sporting world is buzzing. The players and owners are still talking instead of balling over in the NBA, the MLB playoffs are here, the Canadians are worrying about the Canucks and Leafs, and the NFL season is as crazy and messed up as ever. To keep this constant amid all this turnover, I'd like to take a breather and briefly look at a former Steelers' career.

The Detroit Lions took Tom Tracy in the 5th round (50th overall), and that just goes to show how many teams there were in 1956. The running back did nothing in his first two seasons, and "The Bomb" signed on with the Pittsburgh Steelers. For the next 5 and 1/4 seasons, Tracy would play Pro Bowl football in the city of Pittsburgh

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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

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9/2011 WR Rankings

September 24th 2011 13:50
1. Larry Fitzgerald
2. Andre Johnson
3. Calvin Johnson

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9/2011 Player Profile: James Harrison

September 23rd 2011 15:17
I really don't want to address any of the off-the-field stuff in these profiles, because they are strictly about the game. James Harrison is one of those guys who says things that are filled with controversy. We all know that Harrison is one of the best five pass rushers in the game, but his ability on the field goes far beyond pressuring the quarterback and mauling tackles league-wide.

As far as 3-4 outside linebackers go, James Harrison is the best of the bunch. While it can be argued that DeMarcus Ware and Clay Matthews are better pass rushers, neither of those guys bring Harrison's run defense to the table. He's also pretty good in coverage for a guy who is mostly asked to rush the passer. For as prolific of a pass rusher as Clay Matthews is, he is very mediocre at stopping the run. Last season showcased his tremendous ability to get to the quarterback, but he was a huge disappointment in run defense

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2011 Week 1 Preview: Lions and Chiefs

September 9th 2011 15:36
While the best game on Sunday is between the Ravens and Steelers, there are still some other noteworthy matchups coming up. One of these games that you should tune into involves the Bucs and Lions.

Both of these teams were once regarded as two of the worst teams in the NFL, but they have both made remarkable turnarounds and have become solid teams. The Bucs were last year's feel-good story, and many people have tabbed the Lions to make the playoffs. While I think the Lions are overrated and there are far too many people saying that they are a sleeper team for them to actually be a sleeper team, they are much-improved

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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
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I have decided to start a new blog segment where I talk a little bit about a now retired athlete who is most likely not a well-known player. There will usually be very little information regarding the player in question, but I will try and do my best to talk a little bit about him. The inaugural historical player profile will be Dean Hamel's.

Dean Hamel was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 1, 1961 and played his college ball at Tulsa. Hamel is currently working for a company speed and agility training company called "3 Up, 3 Down" after spending six seasons in the NFL for two rival franchises

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8/2011 QB Rankings

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

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8/2011 Team Scope: Detroit Lions

August 15th 2011 15:19
The Detroit Lions have certainly helped themselves again this offseason, but I still don't think they are a playoff team just yet. While the return of Matthew Stafford will certainly be a boost to this offense, I think the Lions are overrated offensively.

Mikel LeShoure figured to be an important piece in Detroit's offense, but we won't be able to see how he fits in this year. Jahvid Best is a mediocre back, and I think Jerome Harrison will win the starting job. He isn't a special player by any means, but Harrison is a better rusher than anybody on this roster

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To qualify a running back must have at least 100 carries. Thanks guys for your feedback, and feel free to comment and criticize. Do you think I should give an extra bonus to the guys with more carries? It seems as if the players in the 100-199 range have the advantage, but this is- after all- and efficiency stat. (The groupings should not be interpreted as tiers, as they are only used to make it look less messy)

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Since the lockout was lifted, Plaxico Burress was talking to his two former teams; the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants. Today, Burress has signed with the other NFL team in New York. The recently released (from prison) receiver was given a one year deal (as expected). He will be paid three million, and that's a price that is a little too high.

Before Burress was sent to prison, he was a very good- but not elite- receiver. At 34 years old and rusty, I only see Burress as a decent player who will mainly be used in the red zone. I think his speed has deteriorated, but I do think he will remain a quality option. I don't get why he is considered a big-name free agent at all. It just goes to show you how fans get it all wrong. Like, how is Matt Roth still waiting for a phone call? He's one of the better pass rushers in the game, and Roth is definitely a better player than Burress; it's just that nobody knows who he is

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2011 NFL Draft Rankings

May 7th 2011 11:25
This post overviews all of the five parts and ranks which teams did the best and worst in the 2011 NFL Draft.


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Detroit Lions B minus- Nick Fairley slipped, and the Lions knew that his value at the 13th pick was too good to pass up on. While he doesn't fill a need- the Lions are already beastly at D-Tackle with Suh, Corey Williams, and Sammie Lee Hill- Fairley was far too talented to not pick. Titus Young will definitely help out Matthew Stafford because Detroit's third receiver last year- Bryant Johnson- was horrendous. Mikel LeShoure will spell the end of Kevin Smith in Detroit.

Green Bay Packers B minus- Derek Sherrod was needed to bulk up the tackles, and Randall Cobb was a nice selection at the end of the second round. He's a playmaking receiver that will most likely replace James Jones. Cobb will probably handle returns, and he will also make an impact in the passing game because the Packers love their four receiver sets.To me, Davon House was the best pick the Packers made. Although they are already stocked at corner, House was a steal as a compensatory pick in the fourth round. House fits what Dom Capers does defensively, and he is another one of those really good press corners. D.J. Williams was a solid 5th round choice at tight end

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