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Will Officials Really Increase Defensive Holding Calls During the Regular Season? 2

Posted on August 17, 2014 by Dean Hybl
New emphasis should reduce the ability of Richard Sherman to hold defenders downfield.

New emphasis should reduce the ability of Richard Sherman to hold receivers downfield.

After watching Richard Sherman and other “top” defensive backs manhandle receivers during the 2013 season while rarely being penalized, the NFL has made a point of emphasis for 2014 to crack down on defenders using their hands to keep receivers from getting into their routes.

So far in the preseason officials have been throwing flags like confetti during a parade, but it is not yet clear whether NFL Week 1 odds should be adjusted to account for the change.

There is no question that in recent years some of the top defensive players in the league have been able to skirt the rules originally created in the late 1970s to keep defensive backs like Hall of Famer Mel Blount from completely dominating the game.

The 1978 rules to limit the ability of defenders to put hands on receivers were the first of a multitude of rules that have been created over the last 36 years that have helped increase offense within the game.

The impact in 1978 was immediate.

In 1977, only one quarterback, Joe Ferguson of the Buffalo Bills at 200.2 yards per game, averaged 200 yards passing per game and only Bob Griese (22) and Ken Stabler (20) had 20 or more touchdown passes.

The 1978 season did also see the addition of two more games, but regardless, the increase in passing offense was quite obvious. Fran Tarkenton led the league averaging 216 passing yards per game and six quarterbacks averaged 200 or more yards per game. In addition, Terry Bradshaw tossed 28 touchdown passes and four others eclipsed 20 touchdown passes.

Of course, that was just the start of the offensive explosion in the NFL. In 1979 Dan Fouts passed for 4,082 yards (255 per game) and 10 eclipsed 200 yards passing per contest.

In 1981 Fouts became the first quarterback in NFL history to average 300 yards per game and half of the teams in the NFL (14 of 28) had a starting quarterback who averaged more than 200 yards per game. Fouts and Steve Bartkowski of the Atlanta Falcons passed for at least 30 touchdowns and 11 quarterbacks had 20 or more touchdown passes.

Those numbers seem a bit pedestrian compared to the current game when 26 of 32 teams had a starting quarterback passing for more than 200 yards per game in 2013, but were important in the evolution of the game.

Surprisingly, even with such prolific offense, some defenses have still been able to have an impact. That was certainly the case in 2013 when the Seattle Seahawks allowed opponents only 14.4 points per contest.

They were especially dominant in the playoffs when they held both the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers nearly 10 points below their season averages to reach the Super Bowl. Read the rest of this entry →

NFL 2014: Pack Your Bags, 49ers are Super Bowl Bound 2

Posted on August 11, 2014 by Peter Getty
It may be early, but one fan already believes he knows which NFC team will be playing in the Super Bowl.

It may be early, but one fan already believes he knows which NFC team will be playing in the Super Bowl.

NFL kickoff 2014 is nearly a month away, too far into the future to hear any predictions about who’s likely to reach the Super Bowl. Especially from a fan touting his own team.

But if my early prediction about the World Cup is any indicator, I deserve an exception.

The San Francisco 49ers are about to embark on a tremendous season.

The offseason has been tumultuous, to say the least. This may ultimately serve to provide the intrinsic motivation the team needs to push them forward for a great start to the season. They’ll need it, to be sure. Coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke have been embroiled in a power struggle that hasn’t yet been resolved. The season will need to be a rousing success in order to keep everyone happy.

On top of that, some players are unhappy about contracts, and defense is worrisome due to the ongoing threat of suspension of Aldon Smith due to off-field antics (if you can call a fake bomb threat to LAX ‘antics’). Chris Culliver and Adam Kilgore were arrested in the offseason, and even Colin Kaepernick had a run-in with the law (though was rightly exonerated of any wrongdoing).

So…what’s going right with the 49ers? Read the rest of this entry →

Sorry Michael Vick, You Are Not A Pioneer 9

Posted on June 22, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Randall Cunningham showed that quarterbacks could be weapons both throwing and running with the football.

Randall Cunningham showed that quarterbacks could be weapons both throwing and running with the football.

It always amuses me when contemporary athletes act like there is no sports history before they bestowed their presence on their particular game.

The most recent athlete to proclaim his own place in sports history is New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick.

Even though he didn’t come into the league until 2001, the 82nd year of the NFL, Vick is certain that he “revolutionized” the game and “was the guy who started” the era of athletic, mobile quarterbacks.

Evidently Vick had never heard of Fran Tarkenton, Roger Staubach, Randall Cunningham or Steve Young, all of whom used both their legs and their arm to forge great NFL careers long before Vick ever took a professional snap.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. Vick is a gifted talent and has been a dynamic running quarterback for more than a decade, but to suggest that he started the trend of athletic quarterbacks just isn’t correct.

Whether the motive of his recent assertions stem from a true lack of historical knowledge or if they are more related to his desire to create his own legacy as his career is winding down, Vick needs to realize that that though he holds the NFL record for rushing yards in a quarterback, he is just one of many quarterbacks in NFL history to use both his arm and legs to achieve success.

Interestingly enough, while Vick has been a solid NFL quarterback, he really isn’t near the top of the list among quarterbacks who combined running and passing to create a dual threat.

First off, it must be understood that just because a quarterback racks up a lot of rushing yards doesn’t mean he is a great dual threat. Read the rest of this entry →

The Top 5 Biggest Draft Busts in NFL History 3

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Scott Huntington

With the 2014 NFL draft now in the books, it makes sense to look at some of the worst mistakes made by teams at the draft. Of course, scouts, general managers and head coaches work hard in the months leading up to the draft, trying to acquire the best possible player at their draft position. Every season, however, there are players drafted in the first round who do not work out for whatever reason, and these picks set their franchises back for years to come.

The following are some of the worst selections in recent memory.

Tim Couch

Ravens v Browns

The 1999 NFL draft was supposed to have a very special quarterback class, and Tim Couch was the first one selected. The Cleveland Browns, who were returning to the NFL after their original franchise moved to Baltimore, took Couch first overall, ahead of players like Donovan McNabb, Edgerrin James, and Champ Bailey.

The result was disastrous, as Couch would only start 59 games over his five-year career. While Couch did have potential, the Browns put the fate of the franchise on his shoulders, and he failed to live up to the hype. Read the rest of this entry →

First-Round Draft Woes of the Raiders over Past Ten Years 1

Posted on April 08, 2014 by Scott Huntington

The news that Johnny Manziel has recently been on a two-day visit with the Oakland Raiders has raised some eyebrows around the NFL. It has also brought back memories of some of the Raiders’ terrible first-round draft picks. And with the likes of JaMarcus Russell in Oakland’s recent history, it’s easy to wonder if Johnny Football with be the Raiders’ next big bust. No matter what happens with Manziel, Oakland won’t be rid of its terrible draft record anytime soon, so let’s look at who the Raiders picked first over the last ten drafts and who they looked over.

JaMarcus-Russell

2013: D.J. Hayden

Although it’s far too early to decide what sort of player Hayden will ultimately turn out to be, it’s worth noting that he is one of only three players on an NFL roster out of the eight first-round picks that the Raiders have had over the past ten years. Another note that may be of importance is that Sheldon Richardson was taken directly after Hayden. Richardson’s impressive rookie campaign points in the direction of potential dominance in the future, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Read the rest of this entry →

The History of Fantasy Football 35

Posted on February 04, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Since the explosion of fantasy football into modern sports culture, it’s hard to imagine a time when Sundays during football season weren’t accompanied by millions of people constantly checking their lineups. Young or old, man or woman, it seems like almost every football fan is involved in a fantasy league come kickoff each NFL season. Since the very first fantasy football draft in downtown Oakland, fantasy football has grown far more than the game’s inventor could ever had imagined.

fant-foot

The Beginning

As a branch off from a fantasy golf system, fantasy football was the invented in a bar called the Lamppost by a limited owner of the Oakland Raiders and businessman Bill Winkenbach. In his home, Winkenbach and seven other men held the inaugural draft in 1963 for their league, the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League, or GOPPPL.

With the scoring based solely on touchdowns, the GOPPPL began with each roster consisting of two quarterbacks, four halfbacks, two fullbacks, four offensive ends, two returners, two kickers and four defenders. As the very first fantasy football selection, George Blanda was chosen by Andrew Mousalimas in the now 50-year-old league.

How The Game Has Changed

From players to league sizes to scoring and more, fantasy football has drastically changed over its lifespan. For starters, the number of participants has grown from the original eight to an estimated 24 million. The greatest change of all to the game—the internet–helped the game gain incredible popularity and encouraged a number of modifications. Instead of the one league in Oakland, there are now countless leagues on countless websites, including ESPN, Yahoo, NFL and CBS to name the most prominent.

Although the prize for the winner of any fantasy league—money–has remained roughly the same, the consequence for the loser has evolved from the original football with a dunce cap on it, called the Dunce Trophy, to anything from buying the winner dinner to carrying out embarrassing chores to even getting a tattoo of the winner’s choosing.

A far cry from the GOPPPL having to get statistics and research from one magazine, fantasy football owners can now rely on websites and programs, like Scout Pro Fantasy Football Software. Sites like Scout Pro provide readers with player analysis, rankings, fantasy tools and more. Software from Scout Pro can even take stats and expert analysis and create fantasy point predictions that can be customized to fit the website that you play on.

By The Numbers

As a whole, fantasy sports are estimated to now have an economic impact of more than $2 billion a year. Of the estimated 32 million fantasy sports players, over 75 percent are from fantasy football. Some fantasy football leagues have buy-ins of up to $10,000 while others are completely free.

For fantasy football, committed owners are estimated to spend an average of nine to 12 hours per week on their respective teams. Although men dominate the fantasy sports landscape, an estimated 20 percent of participants are women.

Thanks to a few men in an Oakland bar, watching football has been forever changed. The game of fantasy football continues to grow, and its 50-year history doesn’t appear to be coming to an end any time soon.

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      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

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