The Great Playoff Equalizer
The modern game is the passer’s paradise. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Andrew Luck have all thrown for 6,475 yards, or more, in their first two full seasons as a starter.
Wilson 6,475 (2012 & 2013)
Luck 8,196 2012 & 2013)
Rodgers 8,472 (2008 & 2009)
Rivers 6,540 (2006 & 2007)
Brees 6,851 (2002 & 2005)
Brady 7,384 (2002 & 2003)
Manning 7,874 (1998 &1999)
The top half of this list of players are barely into their careers yet an argument could be made for every one on this list to end up in Canton, if they continue at their current pace. Yet, on Saturday, prior to the New Orleans Saints taking the field vs. the Seahawks in Seattle, ex-Steeler and HoF QB Terry Bradshaw said,
“So, many offensive coordinators are waking up and realizing, it’s okay to run the football. If you look at last week, New England’s running the football. Now the Chargers ran the ball 40 times last week and upset Cincinnati. New England’s running it. The Chargers are running it and the Saints are running it. In 11 games this year they (the Saints) didn’t even rush for 100 yards but last week 185 against the Eagles… on the road… outside… where everybody says they can’t win a football game. Now we’ve got bad weather and I expect today Ingram will come out running and they will run, run, run… and they will dominate the line of scrimmage. Shocking, isn’t it fellas?”
Running the ball is the solution in the playoffs? Hmm.
I’ve had the privilege of watching NFL football since the mid 1950’s with my father. So, I’m familiar, first hand, with the different eras that many of the games great players have played in. However, I don’t think there’s ever been an era with as many potential hall of fame performers at the QB position as there are right now.
When you consider that there’s only 23 QBs in the hall of fame in the modern era, then the seven additional players above would be amazing. You don’t consider some of the players on this list as HoF material?
He seems to be everything Fran Tarkington was and more. Fran played 18 years and threw fro 47,003 yards (8th all time). Approximately 2,600 yards per year. Wilson would have to play 15 years to beat Tarkington’s numbers but it seems very doable although he’s been sacked 77 times in his first two years.
Don’t like him? Me either. However, he already has thrown for 4,000 more yards than Len Dawson who is in the hall of fame. Rivers has thrown for over 4,000 yards in 5 of his past 6 seasons. If he averages 3,500 for the next three he’d end up in 12th place all time right behind Dan Fouts.
Yes, it may be a quarterback driven league but, the running game seems to be dictating the final outcomes of championship games.
The Saint tried to run the ball in their game rushing it 26 times for 108 yards. However, the winner of this game, the Seahawks, ran it 35 times for 174 yards.
In the late game on Saturday, the New England Patriots took control of the ground game from the first hand-off of the first quarter and never gave up the ground game. The Indianapolis Colts, who made a mid-season trade for RB Trent Richardson thought the ground game was so important they gave up a first round pick in this May’s draft. However, they were only able to rush the ball 21 times for 69 yards in a losing cause. Their inability to run the ball was likely the difference in the game.
The Patriots made use of an old tried and true method of winning football games: running the ball until the opposition couldn’t stand up. It worked. They rushed the ball 46 times for 234 yards and 6 rushing TDs. That’s right, 6 rushing TDs.
Bill Belichick reinvents the old. You could almost read the thought bubble above his head after that game:
I’m going to win another championship with Tom Brady the same way the Broncos won two Super Bowls in 1998 and 1999 using Terrell Davis as a battering ram for John Elway.
If the Chiefs had been able to successfully run the ball enough to gain first downs in the second half of the game against Indy… long enough to run the clock out… then they would have been the team playing the Patriots in Foxborough. In that case… I can also project that the Chiefs would have defended the run noticeably better than the Colts did.
The four remaining teams in the tournament have strong running attacks. Here are their regular season league rushing rankings and yardage gained.
No one should argue that Denver’s rushing status is too low to be included on a list of teams with a good running game because it doesn’t have to be “that” good to be highly effective… obviously, because of their QB.
So, how would the Chiefs come out on this list? They’d be 10th in the league with 2,056 yards rushing for the year and place right behind New England (and would have been in front of New England had the Chiefs played all their starters in week 17).
Playoff teams appear to becoming less and less gimmicky. In recent years, teams have employed two TE sets and now it’s the standard for all team’s who want to take advantage of players who can help them attack the middle of the field. The Wildcat offense came and went. Actually, the spread offense and it’s occasional use is a variation of sporadically implementing the Wildcat.
Now, the best teams are using and employing every resource including the good old fashion ground game.
The real use of an effective rushing attack has re-surfaced this year as a result of so many teams making quick scores using a high wire act passing game. Teams, like San Diego, have come to realize that there’s a very effective way to keep Denver from scoring 50 points against them: hog the ball, run the clock by keeping the ball on the ground.
To do that… and be successful means gaining enough yards to make first downs that keeps the ball in your own hands. To do that… a team must have good-to-great running backs like: Marshawn Lynch, LeGarrette Blount, Frank Gore yes, even Knowshon Moreno. Clearly a back like Jamaal Charles belongs on this list and had the Chiefs progressed to this point in the playoff process, would have been given a great deal of credit for the Chiefs success.
With QB Alex Smith ascending and Jamaal Charles ranking near the top of the league in all RB categories, the Chiefs are in as good a position as they have ever been to take over a game with the rushing attack in the postseason. Let’s hope that time comes again soon.
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Trading And Drafting
With this year’s draft coming up in less than four months on May 8-10 it’s a good time to garner any insight that can be garnered if possible. One big obvious gap in the Chiefs picking is their lack of a second round pick which was traded away to get Alex Smith into a Chiefs uniform. When analyzing the Chiefs roster it’s plain to see that they’re more than one player away from taking it all. Do I hear 2 players, yes, now do I hear a 3.
Yes, when lining up all the holes and potential holes in the Chiefs line up, considering their own bushel of free agents potentially hitting the free world market, the Chiefs are a handful of players, on both sides of the play yard, away from reaching the place where they can say they’re regular contenders.
That being said, the Chiefs are in the best position in this coming draft to trade out and pick up extra picks. When you’re constantly picking in the top 10 or 15 it’s very difficult to negotiate trades that ultimately get your team a quantum leap up the league rankings by season’s end. By picking in the 23rd position, the Chiefs couldn’t be in a better spot for trading down and picking extra players. In the graphic below, you can see that in the past ten season, when comparing the A) top ten picks to the B) 11th to the 19th picks or the C) 20th to the 25th picks or the D) 26th to the 32nd picks… that picking in the top ten, is the worst position to be in if you’re a team looking to move down and improve your team by gaining extra picks.
+ 37% of the draft picks taken between picks 11-19 has been traded in the past ten seasons.
+ 47% of the draft picks taken between picks 20-25 has been traded in the past ten seasons.
+ 36% of the draft picks taken between picks 26-32 has been traded in the past ten seasons.
You can see that’s good news for the Chiefs, that is, if John Dorsey decides to trade out of the first round and pick up more picks which, I am in favor of the Chiefs doing since they have many needs to fill this offseason. With nearly half the draft picks being traded in that “pick range” in the past ten years… the odds are very good.
A lot of fans don’t like mock drafts done based upon trades because trades are a lot less predictable. However, it looks like the Chiefs have a good chance to pull that off this year, so here goes. I did a mock last month of four players the Chiefs could take in the first four rounds.
John Dorsey has stated that he believes the way to build an organization is through the draft. Here then, is a mock of three players in the first three rounds, based on the Chiefs only getting one second round choice and two third round choices. That may not sound like a good idea however, if you’ve been keeping track of all the underclassmen coming out in this draft then you already know this draft is going to be deep in several areas and so, the Chiefs might as well stock pile as many draft picks as they can get this year. The following pick positions were arbitrarily selected.
Adams is everything the Chiefs could ask for in a rookie WR. Physically, he’s the clone of Dwayne Bowe and has better hands and leaping ability. His 4.46 speed and moves gets him everywhere the Chiefs would want him to go. Catching balls from Derek Carr at Fresno State for the past two years, Adams has over 3,000 receiving yards. 3,031 to be exact. He led the nation this year in receiving yards (1,719) and receptions (131). Adams also averages 13.1 yards per catch and knows what to do with the ball once he pulls it in. Draftek has Adams ranked at #41 but CBSSports places him at #52. If he’s still around at #55 he’d be a prize for sure.
No, Fiedorowicz is not the high profile, high flying TE prospect that has gotten tons of attention this season. However, he’s huge and would give Alex Smith a target over the middle that can’t be missed. Plus, Fiedorowicz has good hands and an above average break on his routes and for a guy who goes 6-7, that’s saying something. When DBs have to bring Fiedorowicz down it’s not going to be a fun task for them and he should be a big help in the running game. With 4.68 speed for a man that big… if he ever gets to full speed… watch out. A late third round pick, Fiedorowicz would be a bargain. Oh yea, did I mention… he plays basketball.
Moses started all 12 games for the Cavaliers in his senior season. Despite facing #2 Oregon, and teams like Miami, BYU and #8 Clemson, Moses only allowed 2 sacks in 506 passing attempts.
Here’s a video of Moses vs. Oregon in 2013. His pass protection is superior to his run blocking but, I could see Andy Reid doing miracles with this raw talent.
What do you say Chiefs fans? It should be the Chiefs going to Denver this weekend instead of the Patriots… right? Woulda, coulda, shoulda………………