From Sports Open Line
Another Sunday, another loss for the Rams.
There are lot of things that I could get into regarding yesterday’s 20-13 loss to Cincinnati but there was one thing in particular that just drove me nuts. It was a good thing, actually, but left me wondering “where’s that been all season?”
In the loss to the Bengals the Rams handed the ball off to Steven Jackson 18 times and they threw it his way 10 times – 10 times! – and he caught 9 of them.
What the heck? Where has that been all season long?
Coming into Week 15 the Rams had targeted Jackson 43 times in 13 games. That’s 3.3 targets per game and that is pathetic. The goal should be to get Jackson 30 touches per game. It may not happen every week but the more you get this guy the ball the more good things can happen.
I don’t know if it’s Josh McDaniels or Sam Bradford that needs to take the hint on this but whoever it is might want to find more ways to get the ball in the hands of SJ39, especially when the receivers on this team not named Brandon Lloyd are so inconsistent.
I’m guessing it’s probably a combination of both McDaniels changing his play calling when the backups are in and Bradford perhaps forcing things into different areas.
Whatever the reason, it needs to stop. A lot of us have been asking why they don’t create more ways to get the ball into Jackson’s hands for several years now and I’ve never heard a good answer as to why it hasn’t happened.
Tim Tebow, uh, I mean the Denver Broncos lose to New England
Look, I know Tebow didn’t “lose” that game on Sunday. I wrote it that way to make a point.
Seemingly every time the Broncos won with Tebow at QB we’ve heard about how “Tebow willed them to victoy” in the 4th quarter or that “Tebow is just a winner” who “makes everyone around him believe.”
The Broncos, as a team, were playing outstanding defense and the running game – both with the ball in Tebow’s hands and in the hands of Willis McGahee, Lance Ball & Company – have been getting it done. Tebow certainly had a significant hand in the Broncos winning streak but he wasn’t “winning” the games for them.
And the Broncos lost as a team to the Patriots and just as Tebow was part of the reason they were winning, he was part of the reason they lost as well.
I like Tebow but I have been and continue to be a “Tebow Doubter.” I think his poor passing skills will be exploited as time goes by and his strength, running ability and will to succeed won’t be able to keep it from happening.
Because everyone in the NFL is fast, strong and they like to win too.
Here are some things of note this season that make me think Tebow’s amazing early success won’t stand up to the test of time:
* 42-56 (the record of the teams the Broncos have beaten w/ Tebow starting at QB)
* The losses – Detroit & New England – both came at home in Denver. So even at home they haven’t been able to hang with the two best teams they’ve played under Timmy T. Detroit (9-5) and New England (11-3) outscored Denver 86-33 in those two games.
* In other words, when the Broncos aren’t playing a team their defense can shut down that offense isn’t going to get it done.
* Tebow has been sacked 27 times in 220 passing attempts. That’s not good. He gets sacked once in every eight times he drops back to pass. By way of comparison, Alex Smith has been sacked a league leading 39 times this season but that has been in 358 pass attempts. Or one sack every nine times he drops back to pass. Sam Bradford has been absolutely pummeled this season, getting sacked 36 times in 357 attempts but even that’s better than Tebow’s sack rate. Bradford has been sacked one in every ten pass attempts.
* So how does a mobile QB known for his running skill get sacked at such a high rate? Because he can’t read a defense and he hangs on to the ball too long. Yesterday he took a 28-yard loss on a sack. 28 yards. On one sack. Good QB’s throw the ball away there or simply accept defeat 7-8 yards in the backfield. Running around like you’re in high school just isn’t going to work in the NFL.
* Tebow’s 11-for-22 passing day against New England actually raised his completion percentage to 48.5% on the season. You will not beat good teams with that kind of percentage.
Agan, I like Tebow. This is not about hate. This is simply me saying that Tebow needs to get a lot better at throwing the football before I’ll convert and become a believer when it comes to his long term viability as an NFL quarterback.
Reds acquire Latos from the Padres
The Reds made a bold move over the weekend, acquiring right handed starter Mat Latos from the Padres for starter Edinson Volquez, first baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal and reliever Brad Boxburger.
I love the trade…for the Padres. I “only” like it for the Reds.
Don’t get me wrong, the Reds got better for the short term. Latos is a talented pitcher and he certainly looks like he’ll be the #1 starter for Cincy but is he better by a wide enough margin to deal two elite hitting prospects and a potential 8th-9th inning reliever along with Volquez?
I’m not so sure about that.
Latos is a high strikeout guy who posted a 3.37 ERA in 72 starts for the Padres. Some of his peripheral numbers are even more impressive. Again, he’s the best player in this trade and if that’s good enough for Walt Jocketty then I supposed I should give him the benefit of the doubt but I thought would have been able to get more given what they’re moving.
Volquez looked like damaged goods last season and never found consistency but he has talent and even with all of his struggles he fanned 104 batters in 108 innings last season. Control has been a big problem for him but his stuff is still good and I was already betting on him having a turnaround season in 2012…and that was before he landed at Petco Park.
Alonso reminds me a lot of Adrian Gonzalez. Not a pure home run hitter but an elite hitter who happens to drive some balls over the fence. I don’t think he’ll be as good as Gonzalez but he’s a high average, high OBP guy with 25 HR power who doesn’t strike out a heck of a lot. If he’s the everyday first baseman for San Diego I’d project him at .280/.350/.450 his rookie year with 20-25 HR. He’s going to be a very good hitter.
Grandal is a switch-hitting catcher with power and on-base skills. In his first full season as a prop in 2011 he played at High-A, Double-A and Triple-A (only 4 games at AAA) while posting a combined slash line of .305/.401/.500. He’ll probably spend 2012 at Triple-A but once established I see him as a 25 HR guy as well.
Boxburger has a big arm and fanned 93 batters in 62 innings combined between Double-A and Triple-A in 2011 and then struck out 22 batters in 13 1/3 IP in the Arizona Fall League.
To repeat, Latos is easily the best player in the deal and it makes the Reds a better for 2012. They are certainly a threat to win the NL Central. Long term, however, the Padres should win this deal. If Volquez bounces back, which I expect him to, they’ll either have a nice piece to hang on to or another valuable trade chip to cash in somewhere down the road.
Blues keep on trucking
Even though they lost a game they should have won in Nashville on Saturday, the Blues nabbed 3 points over the weekend and that’s pretty good. Loved the effort against Columbus in the 2nd game of a back-to-back set and while it may not have been the prettiest of games it was a good, gritty win.
Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk continue to establish themselves as elite offensive defensemen, T.J. Oshie keeps on putting the puck in the net and this team keeps getting contributions from players up and down the roster.
Just wait until Chris Stewart catches a hot streak…
Only four teams (Chicago, Minnesota, Philadelphia and Boston) have more points than the Blues this season and with 42 points in 32 games the Blues are on pace for a 107-point season.
Now, I don’t expect that to continue and there will certainly be ups-and-downs later on in the season but right now they’re just about 40% through the 2011-2012 season and they’re right there with the top teams in the NHL.
The Note are at Colorado on Wednesday and then at Phoenix on Friday…