Tag Archive: Patriots


Fast Fifteen: Wide Receivers

Welcome to the First and Fifteen Fast Fifteen.  It will take in various things as the offseason and (hopefully) subsequent season roll on.  The first series will focus on five teams with the best and worst situations at each position group, plus five that could break either way.  Today we’ll take a look at the best and worst receiving corps in the NFL.  Note that this takes in tight ends, running backs and wide receivers.

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Fast Fifteen: Quarterbacks

We are introducing a new feature today, the First and Fifteen Fast Fifteen.  It will take in various things as the offseason and (hopefully) subsequent season roll on.  The first series will focus on five teams with the best and worst situations at each position group, plus five that could break either way.  We’ll start off with the games most important position, Quarterback:

The Best:

New England Patriots: How good is their QB situation?  When their incredible starting quarterback (Tom Brady, for those of you just joining us) was injured, their backup quarterback led them to an 11 win season.  So?  That’s what backup quarterbacks are supposed to do.  Except Matt Cassell hadn’t started a game since high school.  The Patriots find talent deep in the draft and make the most of it, and that puts them at the top of this list.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees was supposed to be washed up following a shoulder injury, and the San Diego Chargers, with replacement Phillip Rivers in the fold, let him walk.  Only two teams had any interest in him, and he signed with New Orleans- and the rest is history.  For the first time in a long time (ever?) the Saints aren’t horrible, and much of that is thanks to Drew Brees.

Cleveland Browns: They won’t make many ‘best-of-anything’ lists, but they deserve to be on this one.  Question marks surrounded every quarterback in last years draft, including first overall pick Sam Bradford.  Colt McCoy was no exception, and despite a stellar record at Texas, he slipped to the third round.  When injuries thrust him into the starting job, he showed up despite a lot of lackluster talent around him.  The Browns are on the upswing, and should feel lucky to have gotten McCoy to settle their QB woes.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Their starting quarterback was suspended the first four games of the season, and they went to the Super Bowl.  I think that says it all.

Green Bay Packers: This Aaron Rodgers guy is pretty good, in case you hadn’t heard.  However, while he gets them on this list, their backups need work.  They were ok when he missed a game, but because of their defense, not their quarterback.  Prolonged absences from Rodgers could sink them.

The Worst:

Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre is gone, and he wasn’t there this last year anyway.  I said it in the Vikings Draft Needs, but no one on the Vikings roster inspires any kind of confidence moving forward.  It’s full of ‘serviceable’ quarterbacks.  Not to say one of them couldn’t step it up, but right now, it’s a huge mess.

Arizona Cardinals: After the season that just happened, the Cardinals probably deserve their own category.  A mess of veteran journeymen, undrafted free agents and busts sunk their season from the start.  The worst part is that the Cradinals could be back in contention with some stability here (see Warner, Kurt).

Tennessee Titans: Up until late in the past season, they wouldn’t even be close to this list.  The last few years, when one Quarterback has been down, the other has been up, and it has worked for them.  But Kerry Collins is showing his age, and Vince Young is showing his temper.  No solution exists on their roster.

Carolina Panthers: For some reason, headed into last years draft, a lot of people thought Jimmy Clausen could be an NFL quarterback.  That is not the case.   Combined with Matt Moore- who showed some flashes of promise, but no consistency- and the departure of interception machine Jake Delhomme, there’s a reason the Panthers own the top spot in the draft.  Sadly for them, there is no sure-fire QB prospect in this draft.  Expect another year of limping along.

Washington Redskins: I know they belong here, but it’s so hard with the Redskins to know where to assign blame.  The organization as a whole is such a walking disaster, you hate to even begin to put the blame on the individual players.  However, none of that changes the fact that when Rex Grossman started a game, he became the instant favorite to be the 2012 starter.  Yeah, it’s that bad.

Those That Could Go Either Way:

Denver Broncos: This has a lot to do with coaching, but with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton both on the roster, there has to be a fundamental scheme for which one you’re going to use.  If it’s done right, this will be a dangerous team next year, but I’m not counting on it.

Seattle Seahawks: Most people probably see the Seahawks as belonging on the ‘worst’ list, but there is considerable evidence to the contrary: Matt Hasslebeck still has gas in the tank, which he showed in the playoffs, and despite the fact that most people are ready to hang him, the jury is still out on Whitehurst.  He played well at times, and not so well at others, but it was his first chance to start since college.  There is a lot of potential at quarterback for Seattle- for good or disaster.

Jacksonville Jaguars: David Gerrard is good, but he needs to improve if the Jags will be.  They showed promise this year, but the entire future of the team is shaky.  A playoff berth would go a long way to getting fans into the stadium and keeping them in Jacksonville, and that starts with Gerrard.  If he implodes this year, look for a complete rebuild.

Indianapolis Colts: Peyton Manning is a good as it gets, but he took a beating this year, and for the first time in a long time, the Colts came close to missing the playoffs entirely, and even then, it was an early exit.  With the rest of the AFC South breathing down their necks, the Colts can’t afford another down year.

Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis returns, with a new offensive coordinator.  Owens and Ochocinco probably do not.  However, Carson Palmer says he has had enough.  He may be tempted by the chance to play without the distractions of the most petulant and arrest-prone receiving corps in the NFL, but if I am in his shoes, I never want to wear orange and black again ever, no matter what.

Divsion Round Thoughts- Sunday

Another great weekend of football is past- but the Championship games look awesome.  Let’s hope the trend holds.  Here are my thoughts, observations, and whatnot from yesterdays games:

  • Can we be done with the ‘Quarterback wins’ metric?  Matt Ryan has played in TWO playoff games, and lost both.  Aaron Rodgers caught a lot of flack coming into this postseason for his supposed inability to win playoff games.  But what about Tom Brady?  He has lost three in a row- does that mean he’s a bad quarterback?  What about Mark Sanchez, since he’s won a bunch, but isn’t really that great?  It’s stupid to tie a handful of games to a quarterbacks legacy, especially when they’ve only been playing/starting for a few years.
  • The playoffs do not need to be reseeded.  Sure, the Seahawks went 7-9 in the regular season, and won the division, and yes, I see how that is kind of lame, but when is that going to happen again?  Let’s keep it the way it is and in 20 years or so, when it happens again, we can all be mad about it (it won’t matter, there will be an 18 game season), but if the playoffs are reseeded now, it’s closing the barn door after the horse is out.
  • Excellent game plan by the Jets.  I don’t have to say anything that has been said a hundred times already, but I will add this- you should come up with a game plan because of your quarterback, not in spite of him.  The defense was spectacular, but the offense (Sanchez) still made mistakes, and if the defense was anything but stellar, we’d be previewing a Patriots/Steelers championship.  Sanchez is still to hot and cold to be effective over two more game against better defenses than he saw Sunday.
  • I won’t say much about the Seahawks here- I have a whole post about that- but they should be proud.  They got as far as they did winning when they needed to, in the face of a lot of doubters.  Good teams need to do that, and they can be proud of that.
  • The Bears will have to play much better than they did yesterday when they play Green Bay.  Green Bay has a potent offense and and incredible secondary.   They will make Chicago pay for any mistakes, and Seattle let them get away with quite a few.
  • That being said, Cutler was spot on all day.  He didn’t make many of the mistakes he usually does, and showed why Chicago gave up a kings ransom for him.

The Line: New England by 8.5

New England’s Key to Victory: As usual, Tom Brady.  The jets have a potent secondary, but if Brady is on, he will light them up.  And Tom Brady doesn’t have off days, so look for him to have a big day.

New York’s Keys to Victory: Predictably, stopping Tom Brady.  More accurately, slowing down Brady.  On top of that, they need Mark Sanchez to play like Brady, and he’s struggled with any kind of consistency all year.  With that said, he has good receivers around him, and New England has a young defense that can be tricked and exploited.  If Rex Ryan and the rest of the Jets coaching staff put together a solid game plan, they can pull off the upset.  However, they can’t afford the mistakes they made against a banged-up Colts squad.  They will have to play mistake-free ball in order to keep this from being another blowout.

My Pick: Patriots 35, Jets 21

It’s First and Fifteen…

Hello, all, and welcome to First and Fifteen, a blog about all things football!  The middle of the playoffs might seem like an odd time to get started, but hey, why not?  We’ll be here through the rest of the playoffs and the offseason with observations, analysis and opinions.  Hopefully you enjoy the ride!