Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Forward Pass

Nobody these days can think of a football without a passing game. the game of football changed a lot after rules were changed and forward pass became an integral part in 1906. The change was made to make the game safer and it just exploded the game to a new level of excitement and entertainment. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy a bruising Running Back rolling down the football field; escaping the linebackers, stiff arming the wannabe tacklers and high stepping into the end zone. Offensive linemen love run blocking as it their natural tendency to move forward and pull/push the defensive linemen to create holes for the running back.

But there is something magical about the forward pass. QB getting the snap from the center, Dropping back, looking for an open receiver and throwing the ball deep down for the receiver. Nothing is more prettier in a football game than a perfect spiral and receiver catching the ball in stride. That is why QBs are the the one that make or break a team and Wide Receivers are the Divas of the football game.

QB takes snap from the center, drops back, it can be a 3 step, 5 step or 7 step drop, scans the field and let the ball go. Offensive Linemen have to hold the pocket, and protect the QB from the Defensive linemen, linebackers and blitzing players. The pass blocking is not the natural motion for a lineman. They have to move back and hold ground against the big defense tackles and have to be speedy enough to counter the speed of a edge rusher. If the O-line can block for an avg. of 3 seconds, it gives ample time for the QB to make a play. 3 seconds does not sound too long of a time but when you are against 290 pound freaks who can run 40 yd in 4.5 seconds and bench press 400 pounds; 3 seconds do seem like an eternity. Pass blocking is the reason Left Tackle is sometimes the highest paid player in the team.

At pro level, the window to catch the pass and the throwing lane is incredibly small. That is why scouts look for an accurate passer. Lot of people get vowed by the fact that a college QB can throw 80 yards deep with flick of his arm but they forget that if he can't fit the ball in small hole; he won't be able to survive the league for much long. Accuracy and tendency to read the defense are the most important qualities a QB needs to have to play at pro level. At college level, the defenses are simple and not much studying is needed by the QB but at the pro level, each week the QB will see different schemes. Basic scheme might be the same but there are many wrinkles added to the scheme and QB is not studying hard, he will be exposed at the game.

Passing game has changed the landscpae of NFL. It has become a more pass happy league. 10 years ago, the mantra was "if you can't run, you can't win". Now it is all about passing, if you can't pass, you can't win or win the BIG one. West coast offense changed the way passing game is played. We will talk about west coast offense in another post. Get your popcorn ready and enjoy the upcoming season, even though it is few months away.

Monday, March 29, 2010

4 or 5

Eagles have 3 QBs on their roster. The veteran McNabb, the untested Kevin Kolb and the infamous but talented Michael Vick. McNabb and coach Reid have been joined at the hip. Andy Reid drafted McNabb in first round and Philly fans hated the pick. They wanted Ricky Williams. We all know how that pick turned out. McNabb is entering 15th season as the starting QB. He has had amazing success. five appearances in NFC championship by no. 5 but the record is 1-4. His one and only Superbowl appearance will be remembered as the chunky QB throwing up in the 4th quarter as the clock ticked away.

McNabb is a very good QB. I can't stay great because of the shortcoming in the championship games and his inaccuracy which is evident if we look at the pass completion percentage. He is not the elite QB like Manning but very close. His relationship with Philly fans has been anything but smooth. They love him, they hate him. Now with the new QB Kevin Kolb waiting in the wings; the talking heads are thinking that McNabb is gone for good and the only destination possible for no. 5 is Minnesota if and only if no. 4 calls quits in Minnesota but we all know that ain't happening anytime soon.

Number 4 (Brett Favre) wore the purple colors last year after bleeding green and gold for ages. He turned his fans into haters the moment he decided to wear those Viking horns and move to the arch rival Minnesota Vikings. Last year was a phenomenal year for no. 4. Statistically, this was his best year and he is 40! He defied all odds and took the team to NFC championship game. This was no longer AP's team, it was Brett Favre's team. His hand-prints all over the success of the Vikings but we all know "Favre giveth, Favre taketh away". He threw that ill timed interception in OT and thew away the vikings change to go marching down to Miami to face the Colts.

Since that game, no. 4 has been mowing lans in his Mississippi estate and not telling anyone if he is coming back. Rumors are flying that Vikings are going to say good bye to no. 4 and and give the reins of franchise to no. 5. Personally I don't think it is going to change a thing in Minnesota. We all know the love of head coach Brad Childress for no. 4 and also the fact that he was QB coach of no. 5 with the Eagles. The transiiton of 5 will be smooth into the Vikings offense but that's not where the problem lies.

The problem is the head coach himself. Can any sane football fan claim that he/she has complete confidence in Brad "auditioning for American idol" Childress? He looks lost on the sidelines and you can expect him to be out of challenges within first quarter of the game. There is one game I can think of where he out coached the other team and it was last year's NFC division championship game. The Vikings team outplayed the Cowboys but we all know who was the head coach on the other side and it does not take a genius to out think Wade Phillips.

4 or 5 or 12, it won't matter till the man wearing the headset is replaced. Till then, stay hurting Vikings Fan, Green and Gold is going to kill you this year.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mike, where are you?

"Mike. Mike. 54, Mike.". If you have ever watched any NFL game for more than 5 minutes and paid a little attention to all the yelling going on the field, you must have heard the word "Mike" from the QB. If QB happened to be Peyton Manning, the yelling is accompanied by lot of hand signaling and weird calls "x alpha, z 52.." but one thing you can clearly hear is "mike..MIKE 54".

Who is Mike and why is every QB in the league looking for him? Mike is the Middle Linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, there are 4 linemen who are lined against the 5 offensive linemen. It looks something like the pic in upper right hand corner. "O" represents the offensive linemen and "X" represents Defensive linemen. You can see that defensive linemen is one short compared to offensive linemen. In early days of NFL, there were 5 D-linemen but a change was made and one guy was taken out and moved back. This guy was able to go from 3 point to 2 point stance and watch the whole offensive field. He was able to see the whole offensive unit and call the plays for defense. We know this position as Middle Linebacker, also known as Mike.

Here is the mike; every QB is looking for. Why is mike so important, one might ask? Well, we know Mike is the signal caller and also he is the one who will run towards the linemen and try to block the the running game or do a blitz. If QB can identity the Mike, he can alert his offensive linemen and they know who to block when the ball is snapped. It is not always easy to identify mike, his duty is of middle linebacker but he might be using a decoy to fool the QB. That is why QBs study the film to find where mike is.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


TAINT; it is an abbreviation for Touchdown after an Interception. Why would I title my post as TAINT? This is the only way I can remember SuperBowl XLIV; interception by Manning and the score by Saints. One play that sealed the victory for Saints and shutdown the doors for a 2nd ring for Peyton Manning and the Colts.

It's been more than a month since that play happened but I have been unable to get the courage to switch to NFL Network channel or read extensively about football. I do keep myself updated about the football world but I am not breathing football anymore, I just can't do it. Time will heal the loss and time will make that ill fated throw less hurtful but it will take some time for time to work the magic.

Before time does what it is supposed to do, I can use writing to go through the sad phase. NFL draft is just around the corner. Rookies, mini camps, training camps, holdout dramas are not that far. NFL season is getting closer. We have very active free agency. Uncapped salary years made the team little less thrifty. Peppers and Boldin were the biggest signings. LT is unemployed, not for long though, TO is not a Bengal, Chad is dancing with the stars and Sergi is backup of baby Manning. All part of the Not for Long league.

Let's get ready, dust off our jerseys and reverse the hats. NFL season is just around the corner and that TAINT is little less painful with each passing day.