Friday, December 31, 2010

Twelve Lessons

Frank Helps You Think It All Out is all about accountability- so a real quick look at the seasons’ selections and a dozen lessons learned.

Tulane pick’em over Southeastern Louisiana: Tulane is just better than an FCS team- Darkwa simply could run over them in “need to” spots. WIN

Tulane +21 over Mississippi: Easiest pick of the season. Carrying an FCS loss, a bad Mississippi team should not have been favored by three scores over anyone- and Tulane’s improved defense was still a secret. WIN

Houston -18.5 over Tulane: Lucky cover- Tulane did not play that badly here. It took Tulane’s improved defense a quarter to find its footing. WIN

Tulane +15 over Rutgers: Again, a dumb line that did not reflect the fact that Tulane’s defense had improved enough to keep them in games versus mediocre offenses. WIN

Tulane -1 over Army: Excusable miss- every team has its worst game of the season mentally wise, hard to guess when it is. Still with the defensive respectability theme, I thought the DTs would control the interior much as they had the previous season. Instead, Ponce de Leon was lame- and Army ran wild. Tulane was plain terrible. LOSS

Tulane +18.5 over Tulsa: Tulane’s first real test against a League offensive machine. I thought they could defend a little (like Rutgers) and score some. But Tulane just can’t keep the League’s real talented quarterbacks to a legit number. LOSS

UTEP -10 over Tulane: Complete miss. UTEP played the “worst” opponent game of the season: turnovers, too much rushing via passing. Like all mediocre C-USA teams, UTEP cannot overcome self-inflicted wounds too readily. And I didn’t know that UTEP would pick this game to play like dopes and hand a win to Tulane. LOSS

Tulane +7.5 over SMU: The slump continued, fourth straight loss. Toledo handed SMU this game, watching Darkwa pile up the carries and yards, but as always, few points. A great day on offense totaled only seventeen- and the Wave could not keep up with a quality SMU outfit. LOSS

Southern Mississippi -9.5 over Tulane: The ATS run to 4-0 was based on a theme: Tulane’s defense was better than folks thought. The slump was busted by another theme: Evidenced by the SMU game,Tulane is starting to wear down. USM starts the big point totals (46 here) that dominate the last third of the schedule. WIN

Tulane -4.5 over Rice: Dumb pick that worked out. True toss up game that went Tulane’s way on a game-ending interception return. WIN

UCF -17 over Tulane: After the Rice and USM defensive debacles, I wasn’t taking Tulane anymore short of -30. UCF did not disappoint, hammering the Wave defense, scoring 61- and covering six TDs. WIN

Marshall -9 over Tulane: Easy. Tulane’s defense continued its free fall. WIN

The 8-4 mark runs the blog’s all-time mark to 58-28 (with two pushes).

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bah Humbug

There has probably been no Eagles’ fan more pessimistic than me this year. And after Tuesday’s shellacking at the Linc by the Vikings, more and more observers are getting on board. How do you think this blurb made my heart skip?
It seemed fair to ponder, after the details of the quad injury were revealed, whether Reid might have been wise to sit a hobbled Vick in favor of Kevin Kolb. Kolb hasn't played since October, but he has been NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice in six career starts; it's not like Reid has Koy Detmer standing there beside him.
People and press are catching on. But first, give Minnesota proper credit. They were a lot of people’s chic NFC pick until quarterback and coaching woes, coupled with general drama (along with Washington, the NFC’s biggest circus), did them in. Given decent quarterback play and good effort, they are a pretty good outfit.

But the Eagles have real problems- and are really starting to stink like the 11-5 fraud from last year. They haven’t played a great game- one that could not have gone either way- since destroying the Redskins back in mid-November.

Philadelphia is a solid organization- so there is almost always a route to ten wins in a division routinely littered with frauds. They manage depth and the roster like the other elite teams in the League, so they survive catastrophic injury situations (like the five, six starters out on defense) with aplomb against teams like the Redskins and Giants. They can rebuild on the fly- put a credible division wining product out even while experimenting with the quarterback position and rolling out many young guys.

But ultimately, it doesn’t mean Philadelphia is “good”. Good enough to beat the League’s many mediocre outfits (Giants, Texans, Jags), even shock someone at home (Colts, Falcons)- but not truly elite.

It starts with the quarterback- who teams are increasingly figuring out. Hard to argue that Vick has not been pretty bad lately, with only one 100 rating since the Redskins rout versus the terrible Texans secondary. In fact, that probably is what Vick ultimately is- a guy who once a month can generate a 100 rating game. Frankly, with the exceptional exception of a seven minute stretch against a Giants team in full collapse, he has been terrible the past two games.

Teams are figuring out how to deal with the big play, but low consistency, low completion total quarterback.
They are coming with more pressure, more blitzers than the Eagles can block, forcing Vick in to a dump off, hit the hot receiver(s), style of play. Defenses are not going to sit passively and give Vick time to generate the giant plays downfield that have defined the Eagles approach this year.

Those extra rushers change the equation that has served the Eagles well. No longer can Jackson, Maclin and Celek run deep routes with impunity. Vick cannot extend plays with that many people careening around. And it isn’t a problem with the offensive line either- you can simply send more people than teams can block. Sure, the line isn’t a great unit- but it is healthy and intact and serviceable. No one can consistently block the amount of pressure they’re seeing anyway.

Instead, Vick has to mature- to check down, dump off. Those throws are absolutely there when six, seven guys are coming after Vick. And big plays are possible burning the blitz- but the quarterback has to make simple throws again and again and again to the right guy, run the raw completion totals up. And that ain’t Vick. And so, right now, they’ve been bad on offense more often than not.

Sure, Vick might escape the blitz a few times, generate a couple of big runs. But a pair of 30-yard runs does not sway matters in a passing, big play League. Then, add in the turnovers that have sprouted as Vick is forced to play a disciplined dink and dunk game, plus the many fumbles that he had gotten away with finally coming home to roost (he had fumbled nine times but only lost one coming into the Vikes game)- and you have a brutal three turnover day from the quarterback.

And the Eagles can’t survive that against a good play-off team- or it will be the Chicago loss again and again: turnovers, quarter after quarter of stagnant offense.

The defense is young and banged up. Productive contributors are out at defensive end (Graham), linebacker (Bradley), safety (Allen) and starting corner- plus Samuel is in and out. The safety and corner situation is particularly horrendous.

So the Eagles need to score consistently. But it is hard to game plan repeated bombs to Jackson or giant catch and runs to Celek. And the alternative, the traditional eight-play, sixty-yard scoring drive, just has not been Vick’s forte ever.

So Minnesota exposed the Eagles- the rookie quarterback got a mere modest two scores but without a mistake or turnover. Vick generated many mistakes and a third score. And the offense can’t do anything much if Vick is forced to play like Kevin Kolb. And folks like me, pointing out that there is a quarterback on the roster who absolutely can dink and dunk (two NFC player of the week awards in six starts) with the best of them, watches the season evaporate under the shaky, yet very expected, existing quarterback play.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trying To Figure Out Why I Am Wrong

In the world of football, I am a believer in order. Raw performance numbers add up to points and then wins- you can deconstruct an approach and put in on some sort of meritocracy spectrum. For years I have opined that 100 yards rushing per game doesn’t matter in C-USA, the importance of completion percentages in a spread offense, etc.

And yet here are Michael Vick and the Eagles, casting a huge shadow over my assertions of the importance of lots of completions, lots of passing yards to winning football games. I seek to laud the quarterback ideal of Brees and Manning and Brady. And I get Michael Vick- winning.

Here are Michael Vick’s last seven games (Eagles lost the asterisked game)- his recent consecutive game starting streak:

17 completions, 218 yards
20 completions, 333 yards
24 completions, 258 yards
29 completions, 333 yards*
22 completions, 302 yards
16 completions, 270 yards
21 completions, 242 yards

I mean, pretty pedestrian totals- particularly when you note the big 29-333 game was a loss, chasing Chicago from behind. In that seven game stretch, Vick features six games of 24 or fewer completions. Drew Brees has less than 24 completions only once in his last seven starts. In Vick’s stretch of seven starts above, he has 149 completions, Brees has 191 over the same period. Similar metrics (300+ yard games) feature the same glaring disparity. So, how are the Eagles overcoming that discrepancy?

Ultimately, I guess this method to victory is hard to do- but not impossible? I mean, the Eagles do get all the bad stuff that goes with a quarterback who can’t sustain passing proficiency: entire halves with little production (twice versus New York, Giants game, Bears, Houston, red zone woes. Their “straight” offense clicks in at a very routine two touchdowns, a few FGs, a game versus good defenses.

But, since Vick took over, the Eagles consistently generate unreal scores from outside the aforementioned straight, routine offense. Every game they seemingly get one or two scores from gigantic plays: giant McCoy and Vick runs, punt returns, bombs to Jackson, Celek- which gooses the base offense performance literally 10-14 points a game over expected from the simple totals. The Eagles have unreal skill players with big play capacity everywhere.

Add in a good turnover performance, and the Eagles have kind of recreated the best part of the McNabb era- an excellent big play to turnover ratio fueled by a mobile quarterback and superior skill players (substitute Jackson, McCoy and Celek for TO, Westbrook and Chad Johnson).

So far it has been enough to compensate for the dozen or so fewer completions Vick leaves on the table each week. And that is the story of the season headed into the post-season. The Eagles’ defense has real problems- so they need to score north of 28 to win consistently.

Philadelphia has made an atypical formula work so far: get giant plays routinely. It is really hard to gameplan for, to predict- let's all go out there and in the general course of things we'll generate half-a-dozen head shaking plays. That is probably why I have problems with it. To Coach Reid’s credit, he seems to get it- dialing up bombs, aggressive fourth down calls, taking shots at the end zone on any down and distance, even from his own side of the field.

The Eagles don’t even pretend to be anything but crazy-time on offense. And it takes them out of my rational expectations bucket- into a realm of great play and players versus routine execution.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Yum. I Love Cupcakes

There was anger at the quality of out of conference competition, particularly in light of the shaky C-USA slate, when the 2010-2011 Tulane men’s basketball schedule was announced. I don’t want to say it was unjustified. I mean, it is lousy. If I were a paying client, I’d be rubbing my temples. Start with Lamar and Maryland-Eastern Shore and Alabama State (trust me, it goes on and on), add in UNO (leaving Division I), throw in a couple actual non-Division I programs, and Tulane achieves uninteresting rock bottom scheduling.

But maybe, such misgivings were misplaced?

To that end, I’m starting to get a better feeling about Coach Ed Conroy. While there is an awful lot about Coach that is still undetermined, I sense that he is a guy with a strategic plan that goes past survival.

Readers here know I am about plans- and sport a belief that Tulane basketball is an easier fix than football. Certainly there are more routes to excellence, and a lot of mid-majors with minimal resources enjoy success. And one route teams have used to sustainability is to schedule cupcakes: to give the impression of momentum in the absence of real progress. This blueprint is definable, been executed, quantifiable. Heck, Coach rode such a strategy of manageable opponents right out of Citadel.

The Tulane community is going to be a lot more forgiving about this schedule if Coach pulls it off. Putting a decent win total up, insulating the program from rock bottom will feel better in March. Sure, the knowledgeable fan will know it is largely a mirage. But the fact the Coach Conroy had a vision and executed said vision- exhibiting tactical competence- will go a long way to people giving him a real chance. There is no need, no soul-satisfying penance, to actually achieve utter six-win irrelevance.

Basically, Coach Conroy wants to build a bakery, devouring soft cupcakes in every hue to success. If, to execute right now the design competently, he had to schedule real program disasters- at the very least, we should acknowledge there is a viable scheme being executed. More than one can say about baseball/football.

This should not be underestimated- selecting a path that has been successfully blazed and vetted, then further actually executing. One of my routine frustrations with the Tulane community, particularly with the revenue sports, is the refusal to just look around, see what the success metrics are, and copy them.

More than any League going, C-USA gives you the success template. For example, you have a football League that defines itself by the passing game: star quarterbacks, wild skill position receiving numbers, officials instructed to call endless defensive secondary penalties. And then I get an e-mail this week pointing me to a Facebook page, with 17 “fans”, calling for Tulane to install the triple option.

Well, that is eighteen people who simply aren’t credible discussing macro program woes. It is not just Bob Toledo who does not get it, who seeks to do something real risky and really hard and against the entire League carefully cultivated culture. It is almost refreshing that Tulane might actually have a coach with a realistic strategic plan and seeming tactical execution.

Sure, Coach Conroy can’t get away with it forever. There is no road to the NIT here- just faux momentum. But the chances for success are exponentially greater with an executed plan than ad hoc strategies. Or the triple option.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Cliffmas! Happy Halladays!

Posted without comment.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Trent Mackey

A lot of C-USA positional play deviates from the norm associated with the NFL. It is not a League of drop back quarterbacks, tweeners dominate the receiving corps, road grader guards are absent, and safeties are not neatly divided into run stuffers, big hitters and coverage assets. But one big exception is the middle linebacker. Done correctly, the “mike” is right off the NFL drawing board.

Like the NFL, C-USA is a passing league with credible quarterback play. It is also a League that rewards getting to point of attack. Due to the spread, similar in concept to the NFL multiple-receiver set(s), it is hard to routinely bring reinforcements into the defensive tackle box. No team can consistently commit safeties inside, or to the run, whole covering four, five receiving options. Even a third linebacker is problematic; C-USA is a league that loves nickel corners to combat the extra receivers and mobile quarterbacks.

So the middle linebacker is alone. But, the absence of extra tight ends and fullbacks means less blocking at the second level. So, if you can cover and move to running back, there are plethoras of tackles to be made. And that is what linebacker done correctly is all about in the NFL and C-USA- accumulating stops.

For large stretches, mike was done correct at Tulane by the choice here for defensive MVP: Trent Mackey.

The Tulane defense really had two iterations this year- the not so bad early effort and the worn out late season mess. Mackey was the clear catalyst for the early renaissance. He leveraged some adequate defensive tackle play into lots of stops. He led the team is “assists”- only Alex Wacha was close (61 assists to 49)- because he brought that mobility inside. Guys would get that first hand on a skill player- and Mackey would clean’em up.

With a decent inside run defense, Tulane was able to, for the first time since Elpheage left, consistently commit safeties to cheat to other things. Since the safeties are pretty good, Tulane could create actual match-up problems. A whole lot of that Rutgers win was set up by Tulane’s ability to commit extra guys to pass coverage and pass rush: people were double covered, multiple blitzers were committed, outright creativity on defense possible- because Mackey was holding the fort inside.

Then the Army game happened, exposing the mess Tulane was away from Mackey in the second level, successfully attacking via run and pass the OLBs. Then, small for an inside player (almost a strong safety body), Mackey wore down- indifferent versus Rice, invisible versus UCF. After the Rutgers game, Mackey’s big play capacity evaporated over the final seven games: only had two “tackles for loss” (both versus Rice), no sacks or picks. The Wave collapsed.

I was very tempted to award this MVP to Shakiel Smith- certainly the most underrated member of the Tulane team. Smith was not the best player on Tulane’s defense for the whole season- but he was arguably the best player in the game they won. Both he and Mackey were fantastic in the Rutgers game- but Smith had a very valiant game (2 interceptions, 14 unassisted tackles, 18 total tackles) amid the defensive craziness and failures versus Rice.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cairo Santos

Somewhere in the bowels of various buildings, devoted to services that scout collegians for the NFL, there are folks inscribing on an index card, or typing in to their computer, the names of guys that surfaced on their radar in 2010. I imagine just one guy made that list from Tulane for sure. And since he played on the black hole that was special teams at Tulane, he is an easy choice for Special Teams MVP.

In 2010, the Special Teams as presented by the well-coached Toledo regime, were the greatest disaster on American soil since the Hindenberg. Kick coverage was beyond terrible. The return game wasn’t much better- and any slight bump in performance over the coverage units was negated by some absolutely brutal turnovers.

Now, there is contemplation in the Tulane community that this was a failure of x’s and o’s- that the youngish second team players that populate the kicking teams are talented, yet misused. I disagree- I think it is because those second team players aren’t really good, that the Toledo recruiting renaissance is a total mirage.

I’ll point to the most noticeable prognostic of the lack of down roster talent populating special teams- the never ending sequence of return men. Eight players returned multiple kicks this year (another three returned one). Even Jordan Stephany got himself into the mix for the last game of the season and his career (2 returns-19 yards). The list goes on: Strozier, Thomas, Banks, the disasterous Van Hooser experiment. That staggering total wasn’t due to injury or sorting out just who was the best of many good options. It was failure again and again. None of them can play C-USA football at a decent level.

The special teams were littered with guys who are just not real good at this level- not because they were not taught properly. Which makes the selection of an MVP pretty straightforward.

PK Cairo Santos had a real nice season kicking field goals: 13-16, only one miss inside of 39 yards. Frankly, he was, along with Ryan Griffin completion percentage and Trent Mackey tackling, one of the three good things that were just routine, easy.

Southern Mississippi’s Danny Hrapmann was first team all C-USA (26 for 30, long of 54) and East Carolina’s Michael Barbour, Jr. was second team (14 for 16, long of 52). Those are similar “make’em” percentages- although Cairo did not bang through any long ones.

The point is that Santos is very near their class, the top class- a rare spot where you can say that about Tulane. I’m not worried so much about nailing a pair of 50-yarders per season as making them all from inside the 40-yard attempt range.

Now he has three years to add 12-15 yards to his leg strength to be a pro-prospect or 8-10 to be all C-USA. He is a nice prospect- and it would help these special teams if he could bury a few more kick-offs, particularly in the Dome.

Lastly, good for LS John Edwards get an honorable mention on the all C-USA team. He does a good job.

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pete Hendrickson

I go to Florida for 48 hours: one day is the earliest freeze on record, the other featured the coldest recorded temperature on that date in 140 years. Then, NYC OTB closes. It is piling on the Tulane fan.

The blog will continue to remain dark to mourn the Toledo-naut victory. And while I will still be winding Frank Helps You Think It All Out down, I still have some more time in me. So, as always, the blog will begin the Tulane football post-season review with the campaign’s best and worst. Today, the offense will be featured.

Offensive MVP: LT Pete Hendrickson

Anytime you select as an offensive MVP a non-skill position player, particularly in C-USA, you open yourself to a fair charge of overthinking.

But real quick, what was the best position grouping for Tulane this year? I’d argue safety, followed by offensive line. And Pete Hendrickson was the best of that lot.

The other two rational candidates were Orleans Darkwa and Ryan Griffin. Darkwa did grow on me as the season progressed- but he had pretty pedestrian, decent games versus UTEP and Rice, did not play at all versus Rutgers. Hard to give a guy an MVP award who was largely “okay” or non-existent in the I-A games Tulane won. Part of that is also Darkwa never got involved in the passing game (17 receptions)- an important part of offense in this League.

Ryan Griffin had a nice season- finishing right at 60% completion percentage (223-372, 2371 yards, 14 TDs, 8 INT). But while Griffin was lauded here this season, there is a long way in C-USA from decent quarterback play to awesome, destructive C-USA quarterback play. Griffin simply was not a plus player, merely mostly okay.

On the whole, the Tulane offensive line was good- and played their best in the games Tulane won: super versus Rutgers and Rice, good versus UTEP. And Hendrickson had a strong, consistent, healthy season- the keystone to this quality group of C-USA players. Despite injuries to the best RB and QB, and an utter disaster at WR, Tulane could both run and pass adequately this year. That was due to good o-line play.

Now, Hendrickson isn’t a real good NFL prospect; I doubt he will be drafted. He is deficient in a lot of requirements for NFL tackles- not nimble enough to get out after edge rushers, ungainly at times. His weight (308 lbs) doesn’t flatter the 6’8” frame, not thick enough. He’d be a better prospect at 6’ 3”.

But he is real strong, and really leaned on defensive ends all season. Any defensive linemen, even BCS League players, he could catch, get his hands on, he simply controlled. The picture above is real illustrative- if Hendrickson gets his hands on quality pass rush specialist Tyrell Graham, Graham is clearly in trouble.

You don’t get that raw, brute strength in a giant much in C-USA. In fact, I cannot think of a Tulane offensive linemen who grew in stature, as opposed to simple size, so much in his time at Tulane.

At the risk of being open to yet another charge- that this a lifetime achievement award versus an MVP- Hendrickson has been a quality C-USA tackle, a real anchor, for three years. Tulane will miss him.

Disappointment Award: AP DJ Banks

All-Purpose player DJ Banks was not touted highly coming out of high school, but experienced summer buzz due to some touting by coaches and yogwf.

Then the season started- and I wondered frequently here what the fuss was all about. It is perhaps no surprise that his best game was versus Southeastern Louisiana. He is clearly a good prospect, but for I-AA.

Much like the NBA, FBS football is the death of tweeners: Banks is a 6’4” small forward. Like many all-purpose style players, Banks has a nice, broad collection of skills- until one realizes that none are I-A. He is a tiny target, can’t block, “speedy for a quarterback” which is not the same thing as “speedy for a wide out”. It was hard to get him the ball in the straight offense, and hard to play him in the straight offense unless he got the ball. That is a hard equation to square.

Banks probably made the right decision to transfer out. He’d be a good player at McNeese, helpful in the Sunbelt.

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Friday, December 03, 2010


From The Hulaballo:
Despite persistent rumors of a potential coaching change, Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson decided Wednesday to retain Bob Toledo as the head coach of the struggling Green Wave football program. Toledo has compiled a 13-35 record during his four seasons with the Wave.

Tulane gave Toledo a one-year extension with an option for the 2012 season. Toledo was also given an endorsement from University President Scott Cohen.
Despair. Darkness.

Accordingly, the blog will go black for mourning.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Matt Schaub

What? Yet another dissenter?

Eagles-Texans Scouting Report


Eagles: Even though he's completed almost 65 percent of his attempts the last two games, Michael Vick has failed to capitalize on some big-play chances. The Giants and Bears contained him as a runner with a disciplined pass rush and zone coverage behind it. Vick has averaged just 3.9 yards per carry the last 2 weeks.

Texans: Matt Schaub is a pocket passer who has a good grasp of the system. He is most effective when the Texans' rushing attack provides teeth to his play-action game. Schaub is least effective when he is forced out of the pocket and has to make plays on the move. He has thrown just seven interceptions in 367 attempts this season.

Pick: Texans

Now Matt Schaub is better than Vick? Even more shocking- he's right, Schaub is better.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

People Are Catching Up

Rumblings that all is not right with the "MVP" quarterback Michael Vick:
Last week, the Eagles converted just 1 of 5 red-zone opportunities against the Giants. But thanks to five giveaways by the Giants, they still managed to cruise to a 27-17 win.

They weren't so lucky against the Bears. This time, another dreadful 1-for-5 red-zone performance resulted in a five-point loss....
And then this:
Aside from a 4-for-4 red-zone performance in their impressive, could-do-no-wrong, 59-28 win over the Redskins 2 weeks ago, the Eagles have been struggling in the red zone for a while now. Take out the Washington game and they're a lousy 6-for-23 in the red zone in their last five games.
That last quote really gives you a sense of the endless laudatory coverage Vick gets. Instead of reading "struggling in the red zone for a while now", it should read "struggling in the red zone since Vick took over at quarterback."

The Eagles have just six total TDs in this recent stretch of Colts, Giants and Bears- two of those TDs were the result of giant, atypical McCoy rushes, another was pretty close to garbage time. They have good, proven skill players who can catch and get open: Jackson, Maclin, McCoy, Celek. What is the problem?

Can’t leave Michael Vick out of that answer. The Colts, Bears and Giants offer decent-to-good defenses. With the back of the end zone providing safety help, these teams cheat the run- particularly the run from Vick. Kept in the pocket, unable to extend plays, Vick isn’t even an average passer. He’s inaccurate (this guy has missed more big throws in four weeks than McNabb did in seasons- and no one says anything), and no one would describe him as heady.

Between the twenties, Vick can outrun the defensive secondary support, beat the safety ot the first down marker, get away from the linebacker containing on the edge. His quality receiving corps gets open, which eliminates the need for throwing perfection. But near the goal line, he is a liability.

The Eagles would not be 6-for-23 in the red zone with Kolb at quarterback. Frankly, it seems hard to argue that Kolb isn’t a better guy to throw those tight slants and fades. Kolb might not have a cannon- but he is a proficient read it and throw it quarterback (ed. note: two NFC player of the week awards in his first six starts). And it is a small leap from “clearly better in the red zone “ to “clearly better".

The Vick for MVP pick talk has died. Next, the pro-Bowl talk will peter out as the ceiling of one, maybe two touchdowns a game against even decent defenses becomes increasingly clear.

It is all about understanding the League. It isn’t the NBA- a star-system where the elite rewrite the rules. It is more like baseball- where the pursuit of important numbers and metrics ruthlessly rule outcomes. And you can’t be a good quarterback in this league if you cannot pass the football accurately. Vick is fun and different- but there is that specific hole in his game. And the League is catching up weekly. Vick gets out of the pocket less. There are fewer blitzers- and more “go ahead and beat the coverage Michael”. And the cruel metrics- red zone pass completion percentage, yards per attempt, time to accurate release- start driving poor red zone success ratios.

By Christmas there will be a burgeoning chorus for Kolb.

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