Monday, September 29, 2014

Jameis Winston and the Heisman Trophy repeat

I’ll start by saying Jameis Winston is an immensely talented quarterback, and if you want to talk about just talent alone, he will absolutely translate to the NFL whenever he decides to enter the draft.  Usually after the first month of the season it’s fair to begin to assess legitimacy of some Heisman hopefuls.  In the first month, we’ve seen another Jameis Winston off-the-field incident.  Running backs Ameer Abdullah from Nebraska, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, and Todd Gurley of Georgia are all averaging over seven yards per carry.  Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is completing almost 75 percent of his passes,  averages close to 300 passing yards per game, and is on pace to rush for around 900 yards as well.

                                                                            Jeff Romance
Jameis Winston has his work cut out for him
if he wants to win a second straight Heisman trophy.
So what am I saying? Forget about the fact that Jameis Winston missed Florida State’s victory against Clemson.  Arche Griffin is the only man to ever win back-to-back Heisman trophies and I’m starting to see why it’s so hard.  I’m not trying to take anything away from Winston, but the odds are heavily against him.  Breakout performances like those of Gordon, Gurley, Abdullah, and Mariota are bound to happen in college football each season.  As a matter of fact, recently the Heisman has been a way of introducing America to the next big thing in football.  Who knew who Cam Newton was before he won the Heisman?  The same can be said for Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel.

Players like Gordon, Gurley, Abdullah, and Mariota aren’t quite in this group as all have been featured on their teams in recent years but never have had the kind of success they’re off to season.
There are just too many talented college football players.  Whether or not all of them translate to the NFL is a different story.  But after a month of the season, I can say confidently that I don’t think Jameis Winston will win the Heisman trophy.  Melvin Gordon was my pick before the season started.   I would like to see Gordon, Abdullah, or Gurley win to end the running back drought.  If you don’t count Reggie Bush, Mark Ingram is the only running back to win the Heisman in the 21st century.  But even if you buy the quarterback bias, I still think the odds are against Winston.  

I already mentioned Mariota and UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and Baylor’s Bryce Petty will remain in conversation if their teams keep winning.  Who knows? Maybe Kenny Hill even has a chance to make it two of the last three years for a Texas A&M first-year starting quarterback to win the Heisman.  While it’s been 23 years since Desmond Howard was the last wide receiver to win, Alabama’s Amari Cooper needs to be considered.  Amongst all these worthy candidates, it’s very hard for the same one to emerge two years in a row.  Jameis Winston was by far the best player in college football last season.  It’s not that easy this time around.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Early Eagles observations

-          Two games in it hasn’t been perfect, but the Eagles are two for two.  Here are some observations:

        Offensive line question marks: Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly filled in Monday night against Indianapolis at right tackle and left guard respectively.  Gardner seemed to have his fair share of difficulties at right tackle, but the Eagles will need him Sunday against Washington, and in week four against San Francisco before Lane Johnson is eligible to return from his suspension.  Dennis Kelly will be needed longer than just two more games with Evan Mathis on injured reserve designated to return.  With the Eagles having signed former Houston left guard Wade Smith, there could be some pressure on Kelly to earn his snaps with Mathis not expected back until the end of November.  The Eagles will definitely need Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans, and Jason Peters to stay healthy.

                                                                Rob Carr/Getty Images
While 27 touchdowns and two interceptions may be tough to
live up to again, Nick Foles has still thrown for over 300 yards
in the Eagles two games so far this season.
-          Nick Foles: He’s been good enough to win two games, but there have been some red flags.  He fumbled twice against Jacksonville and has thrown an interception in each of the Eagles first two games.  It would be nice to see him take care of the ball and not be so indecisive sometimes, but he’s still thrown for over 300 yards in both games so that’s a plus.

-          Darren Sproles: The Eagles best player so far.  His explosiveness in the short passing game and as a returner is just what the Eagles needed to keep LeSean McCoy fresh.

-          Slow starts: The Eagles have been outscored 34-6 in first halves this season.  So you could say they’re lucky to be 2-0.  It would be nice
                                                                     USA Today Sports
Darren Sproles was recently named the NFC's Offensive
Player of the Week after his breakout performance Monday Night.
to see a 60-minute effort from the Eagles on Sunday.

-          Marcus Smith: He hasn't played yet, so it looks like the Eagles weren't kidding when they said he was a project.

-          Defense:  Surprisingly decent against the pass and Andrew Luck on Monday night, but struggled against the run as Trent Richardson looked at times like he was at Alabama again and Ahmad Bradshaw had two receiving touchdowns.  The run defense was pretty good last year and will get tested by Alfred Morris on Sunday so we’ll see if this was an aberration or not but the pass defense was encouraging against the Colts.