NFL Scouting Combine, Something For NFL Junkies!

The NFL Combine is now must watch TV, football junkie or not!

If you are a NFL football junkie, then this weekend you were in heaven watching the NFL Scouting Combine.  I will admit I watched it off and on from start until the last day.  Of course I spent a lot of time watching the quarterbacks.  A couple of the guys I really like threw very well and were faster than I thought, Josh Allen from Wyoming and Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma.  There were a few others I thought helped themselves and a couple quarterbacks, I think, may have hurt their draft position.

The wide receivers and tight ends looked good.  The Alabama receiver, Calvin Ridley, lived up to his billing.  Ran very well, showed soft hands and ran  great routes.  I was most impressed with the tight end from Oklahoma, Mark Andrews.  Caught the ball very well, looked comfortable running his routes and appeared to always be under control.  The question I have would have about Andrews is his ability to block at the next level.  The Stanford TE, Dalton Schultz, caught my eye as well, and my guess is he can block.

The one player that may have moved himself from the second overall pick to possibly the number overall pick is running back Saquon Barkley.  Saquon stood out in every activity he participated in.  His performance at the combine was very impressive.  I think the Browns would be making a devastating mistake if they down’t take him with the first pick.  Having the fourth overall pick as well, Cleveland should be able to grab one of the top three quarterbacks.  I can guarantee that one of these three quarterbacks, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold will be on the board at pick number 4.  Now that all changes if they can sign a veteran free agent quarterback before the draft.

We will find out in late April!

The Outdoor Quarterback

My Top Three Quarterbacks In This Years Draft?

The three quarterbacks I like in this years NFL draft.

Every year I am drawn to the group of college quarterbacks being talked about and evaluated for the NFL draft.  Over the years the one conclusion I have been able to reach is, everyone sees something different in each of the quarterback prospects.  I have watched all the top rated quarterbacks play this past season, many of them several times.  There are a few I really like and think will develop into NFL starting quarterbacks.

There are three that stand out at the present time.  Those three have the key characteristics and skills to play in the NFL, they are Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Mason Rudolph.  In my opinion these three quarterbacks have next level talent.  I don’t think any of them are ready to step in and start as a rookie for any team.  Although there is one wild card among the top 8 or 9 talked about quarterbacks; Baker Mayfield.  He reminds me of Drew Brees with the running ability of Michael Vick.  Baker is a winner, plays with an uncontrollable desire to win.  He has the kind of attitude that he will do whatever it takes to win.  A player like that is hard to evaluate from a pure NFL style quarterback.  I know one thing, I would want him on my team.  I still don’t see him as one of the top quarterbacks being drafted, at least early.  Someone is going to select him, for sure.

Sam, Josh and Mason all are big strong throwers who have the athletic ability to run.  The can and will keep drives alive with their mobility.  All of my top three have the ability stand and deliver from the pocket.  It looks like  they can read coverage’s, follow their progressions and make decisions quickly.  The three of them fit the Carson Wentz quarterback mold, something most teams are looking for.  They are all exceptional athletes.  They play with no fear and will put the ball in tight spots when needed.  I personally like their physical size, arm strength and athletic abilities.  I have been impressed with their foot work in the pocket.  Even with great arms you must have your feet in the right position to be an accurate passer.

There will be several other top quarterbacks drafted.  I just don’t see them in the same light as I do in Darnold, Allen and Rudolph, including Baker Mayfield.  From what I have seen, Josh Rosen may throw the best deep ball of any of the quarterbacks in this years draft.  There is just something about him and his foot work that concerns me.  He appears to lack the mobility and instincts to avoid a NFL rush.  For him it will depend on how quickly he can process the information he sees at the snap of the ball.

I am interested to see how they all perform at the NFL Combine.

The Outdoor Quarterback

A Super Bowl To Remember!

The Eagles and Nick Foles bring home the Lombardi Trophy to Philadelphia.

What a Super Bowl, one to remember for sure.  Nick Foles played like Tom Brady and Tom played like everyone thought he would.  A lot of records set in this game.  Tom threw for over 500 yards, a new Super Bowl record.  Nick threw 3 touchdown passes and caught one himself, something never done in a Super Bowl.  Combine yardage for both teams was over 1100 yards, and new Super Bowl record.  Longest field goal kicked by a rookie kicker in a Super Bowl, 46 yards.  One punt in the game, another SB record.  All and all, a great game to watch.  Great throws and catches, outstanding runs and gutsy fourth down play calling.

My only question is what happened to both teams defenses?  They were no shows!  The Eagles blew coverage’s several times and both teams missed tackles on critical plays throughout the game.  Only one sack by either team.  Fortunately it came at the right time for the Eagles.

I have always said that one or two plays can determine the outcome of a game.  In this Super Bowl I can think of three.  The missed field goal by Gostkowski, which wasn’t his fault.  The hit on Brandin Cooks, which knocked him out of the game.  The missed pass play to Tom Brady.  Loosing Cooks really hurt the Patriots.  I think his loss may have been the difference in the game.  The missed field goal was a momentum changer.  The pass play to Tom stopped a drive which kept them from scoring.  All of these plays had some affect on the outcome of the game.

The most impressive aspect of this Super Bowl was the play of Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles.  It seemed like he had an answer for every time the Patriots scored.  He matched Tom’s performance play for play.  Watching the game you would have thought Nick had played in several Super Bowls.  It never looked like that the game was too big for him.  Played like a veteran, calm and with focus.

Congratulations to Doug Pederson and the Eagles.

The Outdoor Quarterback

 

Will It Be The Patriots or The Eagles?

Weather won’t be a factor in the Super Bowl, but turnovers will be.

It’s time to pick, will it be the Patriots or the Eagles that will become Super Bowl Champions.  It comes down to this, if the Eagles can win the time of possession battle, no turnovers and win the field possession game, I predict they will win.  Of course there are several other factors.  Example, if the Patriots get off to a quick start and get up by 10 or more, It will be very difficult for the Eagles to come back.  Tom Brady and the Patriots are not the type of team to sit on a lead, they understand the value of playing to the last whistle.

There is something about this game, hard to put a finger on it but I just get the sense that the Eagles defense is ready to play.  They should be the difference maker.  I know the Eagles have a few key players who have come down with some kind of illness this week, which could play a major role in the game.  If they can recover in time to play in the game, it could be the determining factor for the Eagles to win.  One of the things that needs to happen is for Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles to play with confidence early.  Whatever pregame nerves he will have, and he will have them, need to be put aside on the first snap of the game.  If he is focused and does not let the game get to big for him, I am going with the Eagles.  This is against my better judgement, picking against Tom Brady and the Patriots.  I just feel like the Eagle’s defense will be the difference.

I am an AFC guy and normally pull for the them, in this case that would be the Patriots.  But there is something I like about the Eagles.  When coach Doug Pederson was with the Chiefs, I got to know him a little.  What I really like about him is his offensive philosophy. He is always playing to win game instead of playing not to lose.

The Outdoor Quarterback

Super Bowl Week Is Here

Early jitters from Nick Foles could be the difference in this years Super Bowl

Super Bowl week is here and everyone is getting their parties planned for the big game.  For those current and former players who are attending the game, the best part of Super Bowl week are the private parties and events.  It shouldn’t be any different in Minneapolis.

I have found that unless your team is playing, the day of the game is miserable.  It is the longest game day experience you will ever have, and doing it in sub zero temperatures will make it worse.  Everything leading up to kickoff takes too long.  In my opinion that is why the offenses have had a difficult time getting going.  In most Super Bowls it usually takes a whole quarter for either offenses to move the ball with any consistency.  Defenses, on the other hand, start fast and make big plays early in the game.  I predict that will happen in Super Bowl LII.

Even though Tom Brady is playing in his EIGHTH Super Bowl, I still believe he will need a couple of series to find his rhythm.  A little known fact, the Patriots have never scored in the first quarter of any Super Bowl they have played in.  Opening ceremonies are just to long and proves my point.  You can’t expect either offense to come out of the locker room reading to play after warming up then sitting down for 40 minutes.

If the Patriots can put a good opening drive together, it could be a long day for the Eagles.  On the other side of the coin, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, is playing in his first Super Bowl.  The big question is, can he over come early jitters and be productive to start the game.  The Eagles just can’t afford to get behind early.  Something else they can’t afford to do, is put all the pressure on Nick to win the game.  It will be important to protect him early on so he can gain some confidence.  For the Eagles to win, Nick must make good decisions, sometimes that means throwing the ball away on third down and punting.  If he has a solid performance not great, plays consistent, moves the chains and has no turnovers, the Eagles have really good chance of winning.

One of the keys to beating the Patriots and Tom Brady, is keeping him off the field.  The Eagles defense has to be a factor throughout the entire game.  One big play on defense could be all it takes for Eagles to beat the Patriots.

One last thought, it’s tough to bet against Tom Brady!

The Outdoor Quarterback

 

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Upland Game Birds Are High On January Hunt List

Hunting pheasants and quail in January is one of if not the best time to be in the field.

There is still time go chase some great upland game birds.  I know it is late in the season for some areas, but January is one of the best times to take to the field.  If there is snow on the ground in the area you hunt, don’t miss the opportunity to take after the pheasants and quail.  The conditions are ideal for the dogs.  Information I am getting is, the birds are holding tighter.  The recent cold spells we have been having has the pheasants in big bunches.  Also, the quail are being found in traditional habitat and thickets.  So if something looks birdie, make sure you go check it out.

I have been hunting quail for over 50 years.  For many of those years quail hunting was my very favorite outdoor activity.  Growing up in Southern California, outside of Riverside, we had huge covey’s of California Quail.  It wan’t unusual to see coveys of a 150 birds or more.  Then when I got back to the mid-west and discovered that a 25 bird covey of bobwhite quail was really good.  Now I realize why all the guys I hunted with got so excited.  We are still not back to covey’s that big in the mid-west, but quail populations are on the rise in Kansas and parts of Oklahoma.

Looking forward to getting out over the next 10 days and see what we can find.  It looks like we may be heading to western Kansas.  Reports have been very good and we have access to good areas.  What makes these late hunts fun, is the dog work.  Dogs live for these types of opportunities, and it is up to us to make sure they get out and do what they were bred for.

The Outdoor Quarterback

NFL Final Four

The NFL version of the final four is here and should be an exciting Sunday.

It’s not college basketball’s March Madness, but it’s the NFL’s version of it.  The final four teams left in the playoffs, Vikings, Eagles, Patriots and Jaguars, are ready to determine who’s going to the Super Bowl.  It’s no surprise the Patriots are there once again!  After all the injuries I think everyone is surprised the others made it this far.  If you are tired of the Patriots being here again, there is a simple solution, just step up and beat them.  Until that happens or Tom Brady  retires, get use to it.

This weekend of playoff games could be very interesting.  If the Jaguars can keep from turning the ball over and play their style of defense, I give them a good chance to win.  This has to be a game of no mistakes, including untimely penalties.  Turnovers, defensive penalties, and giving the Patriots great field position will allow Tom to put a lot of  points on the board.  I just don’t see Jacksonville scoring 40 points again.  If the Jaguars can keep Tom and the Patriots under 23 points, I think they will win.  Everyone knows that Tom and the Patriots have been here before, many times, but this is the first kick at the can for Blake Bortles.   Hopefully he can stay calm and keep up his error free play.  The old saying, “Defenses win championships” may never be to put to the test more than this weekend.  Personally, I love the underdogs but it is hard to bet against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

The NFC Championship game is full of incredible stories.  Both quarterbacks, Nick Foles of the Eagles, and Case Keenum of the Vikings are great stories with potential storybook endings.  Basically Case was the third quarterback on the Vikings roster.  Right now, in my opinion, he is the league MVP.  The way he has played this year and how he has led the Vikings is something Disney couldn’t have scripted.  Nick Foles stepped in for Carson Wentz, who at the time of his injury was the leading candidate for this years league MVP.  Now he is in the position to take the Eagles to the Super Bowl.  Before this season started, you could’t have made this up.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs from NCIS always talks about his his gut feelings.  My guts are telling me that the Eagles are going to win.  But the rest of my anatomy is on the Vikings.  Nothing would be better for the NFL than to have the Vikings become the first team in NFL history to play in a Super Bowl hosted by their home town.  If that happens, Disney will come out with a fairy tale type movie, guaranteed!

The Outdoor Quarterback

 

The NFL Playoffs Continue

The Vikings against the Saints should be the best game of the weekend, it’s indoors so no blizzard just great football!

I am still depressed over the Chiefs loss!  It’s time to get over it and move on.  The next round of the NFL playoffs are coming up and there will be some great games.  In my opinion the Vikings against the  Saints  will be the best game of the weekend.  Even though I played for the Vikings and I like their chances, there is something about the Saints this year.  They may have to best tandem running backs in the NFL with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, who is in the running, no pun intended, for offensive rookie of the year.  It has been a long time since I have seen two backs that complement each other like they do.  If the Vikings stop the run, which their defense can, then you have to deal with Drew Brees.  I am not sure there would be many other quarterbacks I would rather have playing for me in the playoffs than Drew, maybe Tom Brady, Joe Montana or John Elway.  I know it is a short list!

One thing about the Saints this year is the improvement of their defense.  They are fast, play with great intensity and everyone runs to the ball.  They are led by Cameron Jordan, who’s engine never stops running.  Of all the defensive players in the league right now, I wouldn’t hesitate to turn the channel to a Saints game to watch him play.  There are not many other defensive players I would do that for, JJ Watts, Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Luke Kuechly are about it.  Along with Cameron, all of the players are game changers, keep an eye on 94.

Two of the best stories in the NFL this year are quarterback Case Keenum and wide receiver Adam Thielen.  I can absolutely make a case for Case Keenum as the NFL MVP.  To do what he has done for the Vikings this year is incredible.  I have been so impressed with how he has led this team and what he has accomplished.  I have become such a fan of his, I made him my starting quarterback in fantasy football.  The other big story this year for the Vikings is the play of wide receiver Adam Thielen.  He has caught 91 passes for 1,276 yards. Not bad for a free agent.  Adam had the longest pass reception for the vikings this year, 65 yards.  No question about it, he will be Case’s favorite target against the Saints.

Just a reminder, both teams play in a dome stadium, so no advantage for the Vikings.  The noise for the home town team will be!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Worse Playoff Loss in Chiefs History?

Since 1953 no home team has lost a playoff game with a halftime lead of 18 points or more!  Welcome to the record book Chiefs.  Embarrassing and frustrating are the two words that come to mind.  I can’t remember ever seeing a team dominate the first half of a playoff game more than the Chiefs did.  Then to see a team play like they did in the second half.  Alex Smith had a perfect qb rating in the first half, even with several passes dropped.  The second half was sort of typical on how the Chiefs have approached the second half when holding a lead.  This play not to loose philosophy instead of playing to win attitude is what cost the Chiefs the game.  The one play that may illustrate what I am referring to was a third down and less than 1 to go, the Chiefs called a quarterback option play that lost them three yards!  Just a reminder, the Chiefs have the number one running back in the NFL, Kareem Hunt.  Wouldn’t that have been a better option?

The defense strategy early on was pretty good, man coverage and pressure the quarterback.  Then for some reason, back to the play not to lose approach, we started playing zone coverage without a spy on Marcus Mariota.  A formula for disaster in this league.  The biggest bone head move by the defensive coaches took place late in the 2nd quarter.  Tennessee was running a hurried up offense, no huddle, and our defensive genius decides he is going to substitute two defensive linemen.  Well when two go in two must come out.  The problem was the Titans were already at the line of scrimmage ready to snap the ball while the Chiefs linemen being substituted for were less than half way off the field.  The Chiefs sacked the quarterback but too many men on the field penalty wiped that out!  So instead of a seven yard loss, they got 5 yards on the penalty plus the down over.  This all resulted in the Titans kicking a field goal.  The Chiefs lost the game 22 to 21, you do the math!  Now, it isn’t the only reason the Chiefs lossed the game, our field goal kicker missed a kick well in his range.  In the playoffs you cannot afford to miss on any scoring opportunities, ask the Carolina Panthers.

The Chiefs had zero turnovers and the Titans had two.  Normally when you win the turnover battle, you win the game, not the Chiefs.  It’s one thing to lose a game when players don’t perform or execute the game plan.  But when you add poor coaching to the mix, it’s hard to be victorious!

Not trying to make anyone feel better about the Chiefs loss, but the call when Derrick Johnson hit Mariota and caused a fumble and the Refs ruled his forward motion had been stopped was maybe the worse call by an Official in playoff history.  Even as a former quarterback, that was a great hit which resulted in a fumble.  I am sure the NFL will be sending the Chiefs a letter stating it should have been ruled a fumble.  Perfect!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Playoffs Are Here And The Chiefs Are At Home!

The Chiefs are in position to win a home playoff game, let’s see if they can!

Well of course I am going to talk about the Chiefs winning the division and getting a home playoff game!  Let’s just hope there isn’t a mid- season relapse and that they continue to play like they have for the past three weeks!  Very proud of how they have battled back to the way they started the season.

The Titans will be coming to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs.  Tennessee  has beaten the Chiefs the last two times they played.  Over the years, playing at Arrowhead has been a huge advantage.  I guess they will find out if that is still true late Saturday afternoon.  Should be a great game!

Two key players will be absent from the Chiefs roster, De’Anthony Thomas and Akeem Hunt.  Both have contributed significantly to the Chiefs offense and special teams this season.  Running back C.J. Spiller has been signed to the Chiefs roster for the fourth time this year.  Spiller knows the offense and should add depth to the running back position and on special teams.  He could be a factor in this weeks playoff game against the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans are led by third year quarterback  Marcus Mariota.  No question Marcus is a play maker and can hurt you throwing the football as well with his legs.  A key scramble with a picture perfect stiff arm, led to a critical first down that put the game on ice for the Titans and secured their playoff position.

I think their defense in underestimated.  They are number one in the NFL in not giving up deep passes, while the Chiefs, believe it or not, lead the NFL in  deep throws.  This could be a key factor in winning or losing the game.  If the Chiefs can complete one pass play over 40 yards, I believe they will win.  They need to stretch the field early to open up the running game for Kareem Hunt.  The Chiefs have the weapon that can do that, Tyreek Hill, the Cheetah!

Go Chiefs!

The Outdoor Quarterback