ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Seattle Seahawks Defeat the New Orleans Saints!



The NFL Playoffs are already off to a great start.  Just about nobody, except for the only Seattle fan on the East Coast, thought the Seahawks had a chance to pull off a victory against the defending Super Bowl Champs.  However, their defense really showed up tonight and came up with a bunch of key early drive stops which gave Matt Hasselbeck and company good field position all night.  This was one of the best performances that I've ever seen from Hasselbeck.  He was connecting with WRs all over the field and his deep ball was about as perfect as you could ask for as he dropped long passes into Brandon Stokely and Mike Williams for scores tonight.  The highlight of the game was absolutely Marshawn Lynch's return to Beast Mode with that incredible 67 yard run.  The Seahawks will face the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday night in Atlanta where the Falcons have only lost 2 games with Matt Ryan as the starting QB.  Seattle will have to bring the same energy they had tonight if they hope to beat the Falcons.

PLAYOFFS!! Saints vs. Seahawks and Jets vs. Colts


The Playoffs start this weekend with a bunch of great games.  Right now we'll go over the whos and whats of todays games.  The afternoon game will feature the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints traveling to the Pacific Northwest to face the first Playoff team with a losing record in NFL history, the Seattle Seahawks.  The night game is a match-up of the embattled New York Jets against the injury riddled Indianapolis Colts.

The Saints got off to a very slow start this season only to really start turning it on over the last half of the season.  They are without two of their top three running backs after they put Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory on Injured Reserve to end their seasons.  They'll have to take their potent passing attack into one of the loudest stadiums in the league today.  Although I doubt it will give Drew Brees and friends too many problems because they have looked very good lately.  The Seahawks are hoping that their starting QB Matt Hasselback is healed up enough to play today from a hip strain suffered two weeks ago.  If he plays look for him to key on big WR Mike Williams.

The late game today features two of the league's most talked about QBs in Peyton Manning and Mark Sanchez.  It's also a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game, which of course P.E.Y. won.  The Jets offense despite having stars at nearly every position have had a very hard time scoring points this season.  They've had narrow wins against both good and bad teams all year.  They'll really have to put it together today in order to beat Peyton who always has his team ready.  Unfortunately for Peyton, he is going to be getting, in some cases 3rd and 4th string guys, ready to play.  They'll all have to be on the same page if they hope to beat a very good Jets D.  With Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis lining up at Corner it's going to be a very challenging game for Peyton but should be a lot of fun to watch him go at those two great Corners all day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Preview of the 2011 Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs. LSU


The Cotton Bowl this year is one of the few none BCS games to feature two ranked teams in #11 LSU vs. #17 Texas A&M.  The Aggies are coming off one of their best seasons in recent memory, while the Tigers had a relatively good season but with more close games than they probably care to remember.  This is a meeting between two very good defensive squads and like most LSU games in recent memory will probably be fairly low scoring.

The Aggies made a QB switch half way through the season when they switched from Jerrod Johnson to sophomore Ryan Tannehill.  Tannehill was formerly their starting WR but had been recruited to play QB and was essentially being groomed to take over the job next season.  Since he has taken over as the starter they have been undefeated so it seems like it was a pretty good move.  Their running back Cyrus Gray has rushed for over a 1,000 yards and has 12 TDs on the year.  He has rushed for over 100 yards in every game since they made the QB switch too.  

Peterson

The A&M offense will have a very tough task tonight as they face what has become perennially one of the best defenses in the country.  The Tigers D is led by stars Drake Nevis and Patrick Peterson.  The Defensive Tackle and Cornerback, respectively, could be chosen in the first round in this year's NFL draft.  Peterson is being talked about as though he could be one of the best CB prospects to come out in the last decade.  Aggie Star WR, Jeff Fuller will likely be seeing a lot of Peterson tonight and if he has a good game you can expect to see his draft stock rise quite a bit. As you can see, this won't be an easy game even for the on fire Aggie offense.

Von Miller
Things won't be much different when the Tigers have the ball though.  They offense hasn't been so hot this season behind their constant dual "non" QB controversy system with Jarret Lee and Jordan Jefferson.  Their big threat on offense is RB Stevan Ridley who has also rushed for over 1,000 yards and has scored 14 TDs this season.  WR Terrence Toliver was expected to have a breakout season this year but fell well short of his numbers from last year with only 36 catches and two TDs on the year.  The 6'5" Senior will be looking to have a big night in order to show scouts that he has what it takes to play in the NFL.  The star on Texas A&M's defense is without a doubt LB Von Miller.  Miller plays sort of a hybrid DE and OLB position and is a phenomenal pass rusher.  Look for him to be all over whatever QB is taking the snap for LSU tonight.  He is another one of the very talented players in tonight's game with a shot at the first round of the NFL draft come April.

Due to all the talent on defense in tonight's game, I think it's going to be pretty low scoring.  But this is college football and that means crazy things are bound to happen.  Just because it might not be a shootout kind of game doesn't mean it's not going to be a lot of fun to watch, especially with Les Miles at the helm.



Sudden Death Overtime is Dead, Long Live Sudden Death Overtime

1958 NFL Championship Game won by the Baltimore Colts in Sudden Death Overtime
This past Spring the NFL Competition Committee decided that the existing Sudden Death Overtime rules had become increasingly unfair and as nearly 60% of the games since 1994 were won by the team with the first possession.  This was due to several factors but primarily the change in kickoff placement from the 35 to the 30, which happened in 1994, and the overall improvement of NFL Kickers.  The Competition Committee decided it had to change the overtime rules after last season's NFC Championship Game was won by the Saints on the first possession of Overtime with a successful 40 yard field goal attempt.  


Although the new rules were made last spring, they decided that these new rules wouldn't begin until this season's Playoff games.The new rules end the practice of a first possession field goal ending a game.  Instead each team must possess or have the opportunity (be punted or kicked to) to possess the ball unless the team that has the ball first scores a touchdown on it's initial possession.  If the team being kicked to fumbles the punt or kickoff and the kicking team recovers it after they've scored a field goal, the game is over.  Only after both teams have had the opportunity to possess the ball does the game become sudden death.

This is definitely a step in the right direction and I do like that they've kept the sudden death aspect of the game alive with the changes.  However, I'm afraid that it really changes the dynamics of that 2nd kicking play whether it be an onside kick after a field goal or a punt.  It would seem to be in the kicking team's best interest to try and kick it in such a manner that they would have an opportunity to recover it.  I wonder if this will make teams who just made a field goal try to go for an onside kick in order to end the game rather than give the other team a chance.  These plays are certainly a lot more interesting now.  Hopefully it works out for the best and it will definitely take some getting used to seeing a game end on a random onside kick.


Which Way Did He Go? Lots of Coaching and Player Moves. Andrew Luck Comes Back, Rich Rodriguez is Out, and Jim Harbaugh is the New Brett Favre

He had that frustrated look on his face since the day he got there.
So many big moves going on these days, it made sense just to put it all in one post.  I'll list the guy on the move and give a quick breakdown of the situation.  Cool?  Ok great.

Andrew Luck
Staying in school.

  Whhhhaaaaaaat?!
He decided yesterday that he would rather spend his Senior year at Stanford than making untold tens of millions playing in the NFL.  With the possibility of injury or a bad season knocking his draft stock down he risks losing up to $50 million guaranteed by choosing to go back.  Yes, it's great that he loves school, learning, education, college, his girlfriend, his professors and I think we should admire him for that.  But it's crazy to think that his decision was anything but crazy.  He could very well play college next year and stand out even more, but what if he doesn't?  I loved college but there is no chance I would turn down even half of that guaranteed money for another year of school.  Haha, half... Who am I kidding, I wouldn't turn down 2% of that.

My advice to Luck is to write a book about how awesome a $50 million a year school experience is.  I want to hear about everything that makes it worth it.  Or maybe start a blog?  OR MAYBE YOU COULD "GUEST" BLOG FOR SKOHRBOARD!?  Seriously if there is any chance that you're reading this Andrew, shoot me an email at Thomas@SKOHRboard.com and we'll get you all set up.  The best part is that my inability to pay you is okay because you can't take any money right now anyway!

Jim Harbaugh
Undecided.
At this point it looks like he will go back to Stanford for another run at glory with Luck or head to the pros and coach the San Francisco 49ers.  If it were up to me I'd take a shot at the Pros.  Yes it sounds like I'm selling out again but this is a business.  An awesome business, but let's face it these guys are doing it to make money.

He is in a position right now to essential make his own demands and get paid like a professional coach.  Which even if he only lasts there for 3-4 years is still a lot more money than he could be making in college.  Plus if he does flame out in the NFL, he can always go back and coach college football but if he has a few even mediocre years in college there is very little chance that he'll get another shot at the NFL or at least a shot with as much bargaining power as he has right now.

Now there's a Michigan man


Rich Rodriguez
Involuntarily ousted from Michigan.
This move surprised me.  It seems that I might have been the only one, but I think it's too soon.  Rich Rod has a different style of game and it takes some time and the right players to make it work.  We all saw what he did in West Virginia so he is clearly not a bad coach.  All of this, "He isn't a Michigan man," nonsense is laughable.  The greatest "Michigan man" ever is probably Bo Schembechler, who played college football in Ohio then was an assistant coach at Ohio State, which if you weren't sure is the sworn enemy of every Michigan man.

Rodriguez just needed another year to have that offense humming right along.  Their defense was atrocious and I'm sure he was fixing it.  But it seems to me like the Michigan administration succumbed to fans in this one and made a decision that really set their football program back another 3 years at least.  Think about it, Rodriguez spent the better part of the last 3 years recruiting guys that fit his unique spread system. Now if they bring in a "Michigan man" who likes defense, power running, and tall, nonathletic, white QBs it's going to take another few years to get rid of the current players and ramp up recruiting of players who fit the new scheme.  However, if they gave Rich just one more year he could have had all his guys in place and hopefully the defense would have been better.  Then they would have been on rebound or the better side of the swoon, now they have just started it all over.







Wednesday, January 5, 2011

SKOHRboard's Post Season 2011 NFL Mock Draft

Now that the NFL regular season has ended and we know the first 20 slots of the draft order, it's a perfect time to do a new mock draft.  Lots of what happens in the Top 10 depends on Andrew Luck's decision to come out in the next 10 days.  He is clearly deserving of the top pick but if he doesn't come out it will be very interesting to see what teams do because there are about 4 guys of equal or similar talent behind him. 


I've taken the current standings to determine the ranking of the playoff teams so don't get angry at me because the Seahawks don't have the 32nd pick.  I used DraftDebacled.com to create this mock so head over there if you want to make one of your own.  This first round has 9 Defensive Linemen, 6 Offensive Linemen, 4 Cornerbacks, and 3 Quarterbacks.  


Please let me know what you think in the comments! 

Round 1
1. Panthers
team
Andrew Luck
 QB from Stanford

Luck is clearly the top pick in 2011 if he comes out.  After him there are a few elite guys but there is definitely a gap.  Despite Clausen being drafted in the 2nd Round last year, if the Panthers and a new coaching staff have a shot at Luck they'll take him.  They could probably even trade Clausen for an experienced vet to give Luck some time before he becomes the starter.

2. Broncos
team

Nick Fairley
DT from Auburn

Fairley has been absolutely dominant this season.  Every time I watched an Auburn game I saw him spending most of his time in opponents backfields' disrupting everything.  He will look great next to Dumervil and together they'll give the Broncos a very solid defensive front.
 

3. Bills
team


DaQuan Bowers
DE from Clemson

Bowers has had a real breakout year in 2010.  He led the country in sacks with 15.5 and was the runner up in tackles for a loss with 25.  Bowers could be everything that Aaron Maybin hasn't been, most notably effective.
 

4. Bengals
team
A.J. Green 
WR from Georgia

Green has solidified himself as the top WR in this year's draft.  While the Bengals seem like they should really just get rid of everyone they can and start over, they have already committed to bringing back Marvin Lewis so that probably means another year of Carson Palmer.  If they keep Palmer, they are going to need some playmakers because they are almost definitely going to get rid of Owens and Ochocinco.  Green is the kind of guy who can step in and make an impact right away.

5. Cardinals
team

Patrick Peterson
CB from LSU

The Cardinals need a lot of help and they'll most likely take the best player available (BPA), which in this case is the very talented Patrick Peterson.  Peterson should step in opposite Rodgers-Cromartie to immediately give the Cards a very good secondary.

6. Browns
team
Julio Jones 
WR from Alabama

Julio Jones is going to be a #1 WR in the NFL and there may not be a team that needs one of those more than the Browns.  Their top WR had only 40 catches this season.  Jones is a physical freak who shows up in big games and Colt McCoy will love having him as a target next year.  

7. 49ers
team
Ryan Mallett
QB from Arkansas

Mallett didn't win the Sugar Bowl but he didn't lose it either.  "The Legend" is a pro-style QB with a big arm.  Ideally he would go to a team and have a year or two to develop.  Unfortunately the 49ers aren't really in a position to do that and may rush him into the lineup if they do take him here.  This is a team that has needed a top QB for years and Mallett could be the answer with so many great targets like Gore, Davis, and Crabtree.

8. Titans
team


Prince Amukamara
CB from Nebraska

Prince has had a great year and while he may not have the upside of Peterson, he is already a very polished CB and could start immediately.  The Titans had a big letdown this season and a shutdown Corner playing opposite Cortland Finnegan could really help their pass rush become even better.

9. Cowboys
team


Von Miller
OLB from Texas A & M

Von Miller is the top OLB in this year's draft and is a phenomenal pass rusher from the LB position.  Miller would be able to come in and help solidify the Cowboy Linebacker group right away. They need help in a lot of places but Miller is a Texas guy who fills a definite need.

10. Redskins
team


Cam Newton
QB from Auburn
Hooray!  It's Jason Campbell 2.0!
Snyder is definitely the guy who will draft to make a splash.  Newton is not NFL ready at this point though.  I guess they could keep Grossman in there for a year while they coach up Newton but I just feel like this is a Redskin kind of move.

11. Texans
team
Marcell Dareus
DT from Alabama

How tough would it be to block Dareus and Mario Williams?  Dareus didn't have quite the dominant season that people thought he would this year, but he was the focus of almost every blocking scheme he faced.  His ability was showcased in their crushing win over Michigan St. as he was in their backfield time and time again.

12. Vikings
team
Gabe Carimi 
OT from Wisconsin

Carimi's stock may have slipped a little this year but he is still a top OT if not the elite OT people thought he could be.  The Vikings definitely need to fix their offensive line.  They were the first group blocking for Brett Favre in 19 years that let him get so banged up that he couldn't start.  

13. Lions
team
Robert Quinn
DE from North Carolina

Quinn was suspended for the 2010 season for illegal interactions with an agent.  Which doesn't mean he is bad at football, it means the NCAA is annoying.  Quinn is one of the best DEs in this very deep DE class.  He is extremely quick and has long arms.  Quinn could compare to Demarcus Ware and I'm sure the Lions would be pretty happy if they could get someone even close to that.  

14. Rams
team


Justin Blackmon
 WR from Oklahoma State

Blackmon was by far the most productive WR in college football this year.  He is fast, tall, has great hands, and can get open.  What is not to like about this guy?  Blackmon had 10 games in a row with at least 1 TD and 100 yards this year and that includes the game when he faced Amukamura!  Blackmon will be a huge help for a Rams team in dire need of WR help.  Blackmon, Avery, and Amendola sounds like a pretty good group actually.

15. Dolphins
team
Mark Ingram 
RB from Alabama

Ingram won the Heisman last year but was banged up all season and it showed.  He didn't run with the same speed or power that he did the year before.  However, if you saw any of their bowl game you saw a finally healthy Mark Ingram and he looked fantastic.  The power and burst were back.  With the Dolphins probably losing one or both of Ricky WIlliams and Ronnie Brown this off season they are going to need some help at RB.  


16. Jaguars
team
Cameron Heyward
DE from Ohio State

Heyward had a dominant Sugar Bowl game while facing off against one of the top rated OTs in Demarcus Love.  He was all over the field and in Ryan Mallett's face the entire game causing him to have trouble stepping up into the pocket and finishing the long stride of his throwing motion.  Heyward leaps a slow looking Clayborn in my opinion and I'm sure the Jaguars will be happy to finally have that solid DE that have seemingly been looking for ever since they became a team.

17. Patriots
team


Akeem Ayers
 DE from UCLA

Ayers is a versatile DE/OLB kind of prospect who is fast and can get after the QB.  Which is exactly what the Pats need.  They have very little pass rush and Ayers would fit their style of smart but tenacious players.  He could be perfect in their 3-4 system.

18. Chargers
team
Michael Floyd
WR from Notre Dame

Floyd is a top WR who can absolutely be the #1 guy in a year or two.  He is fast, has good hands, and a great ability to high point catches.  Those are all qualities that SD has looked for in WRs over the years.  They may franchise Vincent Jackson again next year but will most likely not have him around after that.  Malcom Floyd probably won't be around much longer either so they definitely have a need for someone for Rivers to throw to beyond Antonio Gates.

19. Giants
team
Travis Lewis
OLB from Oklahoma

Travis Lewis is a fast rangy Linebacker who is able to cover lots of ground behind a stout defensive line.  He is a perfect match for the Giants who have a very good defensive line but have been looking for better linebacker play every since Antonio Pierce started to slow down.  Lewis would be great playing outside and could be very valuable against their division rivals when Vick escapes from the pocket.

20.Buccaneers
team


Nate Solder
OT from Colorado

Solder has been ranked as the top OT by some but I think he is probably a late first round pick due to his lack of bulk.  He is very athletic but might be just a bit too tall to defend against a strong bull rush.  Solder would be a great addition to the Bucs offensive line who saw some success this year but could definitely use an upgrade.  Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount would be very happy about this pick. 

21.Seahawks
team


Adrian Clayborn
DE from Iowa

Clayborn dealt with a lot of double teams this season but managed to hold his own.  Although he didn't dominate he didn't really disappoint.  He is a solid DE who can anchor a whole side of a defensive line.  His pass rush can be dominant at times but he is a very good all-around defensive end.  The Seahawks found some success this year with Chris Clemons but could clearly use some more players who are able to pressure the QB.

22. Chiefs
team


Derek Sherrod
OT from Mississippi State

There are a few OTs who will be drafted in the 1st round this year and Sherrod is one of them.  I'm not sure what their order is at this point but Sherrod has to be in the top three.  The Chiefs need to add more talent to their Oline.  Maybe they can take Sherrod and move Brandon Albert back to Guard?  Either way it won't hurt to have a guy like Sherrod keeping defenders off of Cassel and Charles.

23. Colts
team


Mike Pouncey
OG from Florida

Pouncey is the twin brother of the phenomenal Pittsburgh rookie Center Maurkice Pouncey.  He has all the physical tools and if he is anything like his brother he should be able to step in and help a very patchy Indy offensive line.  Mike played Guard at Florida for the last 2 years and moved to Center this year.  That versatility will be key for him in Indy when he is asked to move back to Guard until Jeff Saturday retires.

24. Eagles
team
Ras-I Dowling          CB from Virginia

Dowling was in the same echelon as Amukamura and Peterson at the start of the season but injuries nagged him at the start of the year and ultimately caused him to miss a lot of time this year.  He has great size for a CB at 6-2, 200 but still has the speed and agility to hang with any WR on the field.  The Eagles really need some help opposite Asante Samuel.  Dmitri Patterson has looked serviceable at times but isn't a corner they can trust to start for an entire season.  If Dowling tests well and proves he is back from the injury, he would be a great addition to the Eagles defense.

25. Packers
team


Jimmy Smith
CB from Colorado

Smith is another tall Cornerback who will be able to learn for at least a year from some of the "seasoned" vets they have in the Green Bay secondary.  His speed and height really set up apart and he could develop into a great CB.  The Packers are going to have to address their aging secondary soon and Smith gives them a chance to do that right away.
 

26. Saints
team
Cameron Jordan
DE from California
Cameron Jordan is a very solid Defensive End who is able to play both the run and get after the passer.  Jordan isn't the quick or sudden kind of athlete that many 1st Rd DEs are these days, but he is solid in all phases.  This will help free up the rest of the Saint's D to attack the ball and go for big plays as Greg William's likes them to do.  Jordan has great size and a head for the game which will make him fit in very well in New Orleans.

27. Bears
team
Anthony Castonzo OT from Boston College
Chicago desperately needs to improve their offensive line.  They got a little better as the year went on but Cutler is still dodging defenders far too often.  Castonzo is another late 1st Rd OT with great size and strength who seems like a good fit for Chicago.  I'm sure Cutler and Matt Forte will be very happy to have another 1st Rd OT on their team.


28. Jets
team
Jonathan Baldwin 
WR from Pittsburgh

Baldwin could be the immediate successor to Braylon Edwards whose contract is up this year.  He will probably be asking for serious #1 WR money despite incredibly inconsistent hands and off the field problems which means that the Jets will probably part ways with him.  They'll look to replace him with another tall and speedy WR with inconsistent hands in Jon Baldwin.  I haven't been that high on him because I don't think he can really catch that well.  For some reason his hands just look awkward when he makes a grab, almost like Terrell Owens.  But if he ends up having a career anything like Owens I think the Jets will be happy with this pick.  Or at least the next team that he goes to will be happy.  

29. Ravens
team
Greg Jones
MLB from Michigan State

Greg Jones is a tackle machine who registered over 450 in his time at MSU.  He is a fast Middle Linebacker who is also tough against the run.  Jones is the perfect guy to learn from Ray Lewis and step into his shoes if he ever decides to stop playing.  He is smart, has huge production, and doesn't get hurt which just sounds like a perfect Ravens pick to me.  

30. Steelers
team
Rodney Hudson
OG from Florida State
Hudson is arguably the best OG in this year's Draft but I feel like the allure of the Pouncey twin will make Rodney fall a bit.  Hudson is a dominant OG and has started at Florida State for four years.  His ability to play at a high level so consistently will be a huge factor in the Steelers selecting him.  After their rookie center, Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers have had revolving doors at the rest of their O Line positions.  Hudson should be able to come in and help solidify the interior of their line right away.  

31. Falcons
team
Kyle Rudolph      TE from    
Notre Dame
Atlanta is now in a position where they can build for the future.  With no serious gaps they can afford to address one that is coming down the road, when Tony Gonzalez decides to retire.  Rudolph is one of the best and most well rounded TE prospects to come out in a while.  He'll hopefully have some time to learn behind Tony and figure out how to take his game to the NFL level.  Rudolph could turn into a great weapon for Matt Ryan.


team
J.J. Watt             DE from Wisconsin
Watt is listed as a DE but can also play DT if need be and from what I've seen, he can even bump out into zone coverage at times.  His size, athleticism, and versatility make him a great pick for the Patriots here.  They'll be able to really continue their defensive youth movement by taking Watt and Ayers with their 2 first round picks.  Both are smart, versatile, and played at a high level in college which is just what the Patriots like to draft.









 UPDATE:  Andrew Luck has decided to stay in school and will return to Stanford rather than enter the NFL Draft.  So has Travis Lewis.  This means that the beautiful Mock you see above is already obsolete, so I'll get busy putting together another one for you guys.  However, I won't do it until after the declaration deadline on January 15th.  I'll start putting together a new Mock after the whole player pool becomes official.



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