A Catastrophic Fall From First Place

The collapse of the Kansas City Chiefs is now at historic proportion!

The Kansas City Chiefs have managed to do something that has only been done by three teams in the Super Bowl Era.  That is start the season 5 – 0 and lose 6 of the next 7 games.  That isn’t a statistic you want to be known for.  It is a catastrophic fall that has only happened two others times.  Collapse would be the most appropriate adjective.

In this case, it is easy to spread the blame.  There is no question several of the key players are under performing.  In this last game against the NY Jets, the Chiefs premier outside linebacker and pass rusher, Justin Houston, did not register a tackle, hurry or sack.  Key players like Justin have to step up in games like this.  Then the Chiefs have a player, Marcus Peters who, in my opinion, has become a detriment to the team, especially on the field.  He doesn’t tackle, he is giving up big plays and has had several untimely penalties do to his immaturity.  Something needs to be done with him!

The offense, in several of the previous 6 losses, must shoulder some of the blame.  But when your offense scores 30 and 31 points you should win games in the NFL.  This hasn’t been the case for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs have shown signs of undisciplined play on the field, both on offense and defense.  Dropped passes, offensive penalties and confusion.  The defense, has at times, been out of position at the snap of the ball.  How can you make your reads if you are not in position when the play starts?  Poor tackling is the most consistent thing being done on the defense.  These are not effort issues they are discipline issues.  Something good teams don’t have.

So who is responsible for the current situation?  It’s my opinion it is both the players and the coaches.  Andy Reed turned over the play calling to the quarterback coach, Matt Nagy, and they put up 31 points and over 500 yards of offense, that was a step in the right direction.  But Andy needs to get control of the confusion and undisciplined play on the field.

Just as important to a teams overall success, from an offensive perspective, special teams strategy and the defensive approach are the plays being called.  Whoever has that responsibility for the Chiefs defense, is not doing a very good job.  They can’t stop the run effectively.  It seems that every quarterback the Chiefs play against can escape when they need to on critical 3rd downs for first downs.  To me it appears the Chiefs defensive coaches are putting the players in bad positions and have no chance to be successful.

I would go back and look at what the defense did well in the first 5 games and compare it to the the last 6 losses.

One last thing, another trick play may have cost the Chiefs the game against the Jets!  Get rid of them!

The Outdoor Quarterback

Contenders and Pretenders!

It takes more than just good play to make you a contender in the NFL, you have to make the right decisions!

Right now in the NFL there are contenders and pretenders.  The contenders are teams that consistently play smart and aggressively.  The Patriots, the Saints, the Eagles and the Vikings are teams that come to mind.  You can always count on these teams on making the fewest mistakes, play smart and capitalizing on opportunities.  They don’t play with smoke and mirrors and don’t need trickery to win games.  Their play calling, both on offense and defense, is well designed and timely.  They seem to make the right calls at the most opportunistic times.  The contenders in the NFL today have balanced attacks on offense and aggressive style defenses.  Smart teams and smart coaches understand the meaning of, “take what they give you”, from an offensive perspective and,  “take away what they do best”, from a defensive perspective.  There is one other thing that separates the contenders from the pretenders, when the contenders smell blood in the water they take on the mind set of a feeding shark, they continue to attack!  That is the kind of mental make up a contender has.

Now for the pretenders, the Cowboys, Seahawks, Bills, Lions and the Chiefs!  First, injuries happen and when you loose a key player or two it can have a significant effect on a games outcome.  Second, those teams who are contenders also have injuries and manage find the next man up and keep things moving along.  Contenders also seem to find ways to win, even with new players.  You very seldom see drastic changes in their offensive or defensive production.  Teams who are pretenders just don’t do a good job with personnel changes.  Or sometimes it is just bad decisions on the coaches part.  This past week the Bills made a change at quarterback.  The Bills were sitting in the 6th wild card position and are contending for a playoff spot.  If this change at quarterback was an experiment in a science lab, it would have blown up the entire department.  That is how bad of a decision it was.  Five interceptions in the first half by the newly inserted quarterback.  Those five interceptions led to more than half the points scored by the Chargers and may have taken the Bills out of the playoff picture.  What were you thinking?  Not only was this a bad decision, but a really dumb decision!  Now the Chiefs, who are at the top of the pretender list, started the season 5 and 0, lose to a Giants team that was 1-8 and the 31st ranked defense in the league.  The Chiefs only scored 9 points and no touchdowns.  How does that happen?  By bad playing calling and poor execution on offense and really bad tackling on defense!  The Chiefs right now lead the AFC West, not because they are playing well but because the rest of the division is playing badly.   In the game against the Giants, the Chiefs used more trick plays than I have ever seen in an NFL game!  Two of the Chiefs three turnovers were on trick plays.  Those two turnovers led to Giants scores and a Chiefs loss.  Not what contenders do.  Andy,  you are better than that!

If you want to become a contender, do it the right way and get rid of bad play calling and poor personnel decisions.

The Outdoor Quarterback

Quarterback Roulette!

Pick a quarterback any quarterback! It’s time to play quarterback roulette.

You know that teams are in trouble when they switch quarterbacks every other week, or trade for one in the middle of the season.  In the case of the Browns, they totally screwed up a potential trade for the Bengals backup A.J. McCarron.  How does that happen in today’s world of technology?

I somewhat understand the Broncos making a change at quarterback, but I was at the Chiefs game against the Broncos and most of the offensive miscues were not all Trevor Siemians doing.  He had several passes dropped, one for a easy touchdown.  He did have a couple of unadvised throws, one particularly.  Quarterback training 101 and an absolute no no is, don’t throw back across the middle of the field late!  Very bad things usually happen, and it did.  Now the Brock Osweiler experiment begins.

Next, the 49ers have traded for the Patriots backup quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, which I think is a great move.  The only problem is he won’t have the supporting cast that he did in New England.  Even if they would have traded for Tom Brady they still would have a difficult time being competitive.  You need a good offensive line, an effective running game and an above average receiving core.  If they don’t improve in all of those areas, Jimmy may wish he was still the backup with the Patriots.

Let me get this correct, the Patriots trade Garoppolo and then sign Brian Hoyer, the quarterback that Garoppolo replaced at the 49ers. Interesting!  I am not sure I have seen this much activity around potential starting quarterbacks, this late in the season, ever.  I understand injuries will cause general mangers to find replacements. That’s not the case in these quarterback changes.

The current carousel of quarterback is difficult for everyone: the players, the teams, the coaching staffs and most of all the fans.  I have been in this position as a player myself.  Everyone thinks the backup quarterback is the answer. Not true.  A supporting cast of good players is a must.  It really helps if you add a few great players to the lineup as well.

Good luck to all of them!

The Outdoor Quarterback

How Important Are NFL Kickers and Punters?

NFL punters and kickers now play a more strategic role than at any time in league history.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the comment ” kickers aren’t athletes!”  Not true my friends.  I had the privilege of playing with, and holding for, up until this year, the only kicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jan Stenerud.  Jan went to college on a skiing scholarship.  Ryan Succop from the Tennessee Titans played on his college golf team.  I know several punters who played other positions and other sports.  Hall of Fame punter, Ray Guy, was a defensive back at Southern Miss.

I will admit they aren’t the greatest tacklers on the team. I have seen many punters and kickers fail in their attempt to tackle a punt or kick off returner.  They always make the highlights on ESPN when that happens!  A bit embarrassing for the kickers and punters, but they are used to it and just roll with the punches.  But when one of them actually hits someone, the guys on the special teams go ballistic!

Punters are a lot like soccer players in that when they get hit you would have thought someone had cut their leg off with a dull knife.  But, shortly after the penalty is called, they get up and run off the field like nothing happened and you wonder, what acting school did he attended?

All kidding aside, punters today have a unique talent for kicking the ball and having it land inside the ten yard line.  Punters have become a real offensive weapon.  The Chiefs punter, Dustin Colquitt, is year in and year out the best in the NFL for punting the ball inside the 20 yard line.  By the way, he is and avid outdoorsman and golfer.

I have seen several games this year where the Punters were the best offensive weapon the team had and that the place kickers were the only reason the team won.  During the Monday night game just recently played between the Colts and Titans, Ryan Succop kicked 5 field goals in their win against Indy.  His 43 yard field goal set a new NFL record for consecutive kicks made inside of 50 yards, 47! 

Just ask the teams who have lost games because their kicker missed a last second field goal, or had a punter shank a punt and giving their opponents great field position.  What would they have given for a stud kicker or punter?  A lot!

The Outdoor Quarterback

 

Tight Ends Are Key To Today’s NFL Offenses

NFL teams are building their offenses around tight ends.

In the past you could count the number of really good tight ends on one hand.  Today every team has at least one outstanding tight end.  Today the Chiefs have three.  Many other teams have figured this out and are adding tight ends to their rosters every year.

Here are the names of just 10 tight ends who are having significant impact on each of their teams offenses; Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, he is injured and his back-up Ed Dickson, is playing great, Tyler Eifert, Jimmy Graham, Kyle Rudolf, Eelanie Walker, Zach Ertz and Jack Doyle.  I haven’t even mentioned a first ballot Hall of Famer, Antonio Gates, who just broke Tony Gonzalez’s touchdown receptions by a TE.  The majority of these TE’s are big time receivers, not just blocking TE’s.  They can run and are huge targets.  In 2016 the Chief’s TE Travis Kelce led all receivers, both tight ends and wide receivers, with yards gained after the catch.

I remember back in the late 60’s and early 70’s the Chiefs had a TE who was 6’10”, Morris Stroud.  You talk about a target!  How would a 6′ strong safety defend him, they couldn’t.  Now days most of these TE’s are 6’5″ to 6’7″ tall and weighing from 245 to 265 lbs.  As a matter of fact several of the TE’s today are coming from college basketball programs, like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez.  One of the current TE’s for the chiefs, Demetrius Harris, played college basketball and not football.

Just to show you what type of premium NFL teams are putting on TE’s, the 19th player selected in the 2017 NFL draft, by Tampa Bay, was Alabama’s TE, O.J. Howard.

If you play fantasy football don’t leave any of these TE’s of off your starting lineup.  My starting TE is someone I haven’t even mentioned, Martellus Bennet, TE for the Green Bay Packers.

The Outdoor Quartback

October Bass Fishing, Don’t Miss The Opportunity

October is still a good time to catch trophy Bass!

At lot of bass anglers, including myself, have a tendency to put away their rod and reels and pick up their bows, shotguns or firearms for more traditional fall activities.  There is a feeding frenzy that bass go through in October before the waters get to cold.  This is an opportunity to get in on some incredible fishing.

For those of you who live in the south where your waters don’t change temperatures dramatically, like those of us in the Mid West, keep on fishing.  But for us Mid Westerners, this is it!  I have personally caught two of my biggest bass in mid October, both where in the 8 plus pound range.  I have never been much of a spinner bait fan, more of a plastic bait guy like worms, crawdads and lizards, crank baits and top water plugs.  But both of those two October fish were caught with a chartreuse and white two bladed willow leaf spinner bait.  Now I am a bit of a convert and never leave home without at least two of those baits in my tackle box.

I primarily fish out of a two man bass buggy type boat.  The main reason is that we fish a lot of farm ponds, two to 30 acre size ponds, instead of large lakes.  I really enjoy catching fish and well stocked and older farm ponds are an excellent place to catch a bunch of fish, and big ones.  The early fall is a perfect time to fish these smaller bodies of water because they normally turn colder much quicker than large bodies of water, like lakes or reservoirs, that are considerably deeper.

Take advantage of these final weeks of October while water temperatures are still good and the October Bass Feeding Frenzy is on.

The Outdoor Quarterback

How To Prepare For The Bird Season

Shake off the rust and go to your local shooting park and brake a few targets.

It’s about this time of the year that you will find, if you have one in your area, the shooting parks are much  busier than any other time of the year.  Why is that?  Well, all of the upland game bird and waterfowl seasons are just around the corner and the majority of hunters had put their shotguns in cases or safes for the summer.  Now it is time to shake the rust off and get your shotgun out and shoot a few clay birds.

Most hunters don’t forget how to shoot they just don’t practice enough and most of the time they are a little late with their shots and end up shooting behind their pray.

There is a ideal comparison to the shooting sports, bird hunting and several sports activities.  Yes, football for one.  Quarterbacks On the majority of their passes quarterbacks have to lead the receivers.  From my own experiences practice is the only way to condition the mind to consistently find the target.  Baseball, hockey and basketball all have similar aspects to the concept of follow through and lead.  The same applies to shooting.  The pitcher in baseball must follow through with every pitch to be accurate.  Have you heard the comment, repeat the motion?   It applies to all sports including shooting.

Consistency also plays a major roll in becoming a good and accurate shooter.  Taking advantage of shooting at clay birds is the ideal way to develop and maintain your shooting techniques.

All of the shooting sport activities such as trap, sporting clays, 5 stand and skeet all assist in improving your shooting skills.  When you can continually repeat the proper stance and placement of the shotgun to your shoulder and cheek, which are the basic fundamentals of shooting,  your consistency will dramatically improve.

It never hurts to find a shooting instructor to analyze your form.  In my case I always had a coach to watch and video my throwing motion.  There is nothing better than to have another set of eyes to help get you get back on track.

The Outdoor Quarterback

A New Way To Book Your Next Fishing Trip

Take the guess work out for your next fishing adventure, go to OpenAngler.com

My daughter, Jennifer, connected me with a contact she made at her company.  The company is OpenAngler.com and was started by Alicia Aloe, a entrepreneur, who has developed an online booking concept for all types of anglers; saltwater and fresh water.

It’s the times we currently live in when you can use your computer, phone, I-pad or any other form of electronic device to select a guide for you next fishing adventure.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.  You select the state, time of year, and the type of fishing you want to do.  OpenAngler.com does the rest, provides available dates, sets you up with your guide and then handles all the fee transactions.

In the past to plan a trip for you next or even your first fishing experience, you had to do a tremendous amount of research.  That research may include phone calls, emails, browsing the internet just to locate a specific type of species guide.  Also, you may be looking for a guide who specializes in fly fishing, OpenAngler.com has that capability.   Putting you with the right guide for the fishing adventure you are looking for is a great idea.  Alicia’s background is in reservation processing, which is a perfect segue for her new venture, OpenAngler.com.

Before you plan your next fishing trip, and if you don’t have a favorite guide listed in your phone or in your email address, take a look at OpenAngler.com.

The Outdoor Quarterback

Brady, Most Regular Season Wins, Super Bowl Wins, Playoff Wins and ETC….

I believe Tom Brady will go down as the greatest quarterback to have ever played the game.

As a former quarterback who played in the NFL, I am always amazed when I watch Tom Brady play.  At 40 years old he still has one of the best arms in all of football.  I have always said his foot work, release point and overall fundamentals are better than anyone who has ever played the game.  He has Dan Marino’s quick release, Aaron Rogers arm strength with Payton Manning’s, Drew Brees’s and Joe Montana’s command of the game.  I could mention other quarterbacks to compare Tom’s abilities too, John Elway, Brent Farve, Warren Moon and Dan Fouts come to mind.  You would have to roll up all of their collective skills and successes to have one Tom Brady.

He now has the most regular season wins along with the most Super Bowl Wins, add to that the most playoff wins.  The list of his career achievements and where he stands with all time rankings, among NFL quarterbacks, is historic.

All of the quarterbacks I have mentioned are either in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or will be.  They all have had incredible careers in the National Football League.  When all is said and done and the dust is cleard, Tom Brady will be recognized as greatest quarterback to have ever played the game.

There is a short list of players I would stop what I was doing to watch play, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Joe Montana, Joe Namath and Gayle Sayers.  You can now add Tom Brady’s name to that list.

What makes all of this so amazing is that Tom is 40 years old!  If I were still playing, I would be studying Tom’s tapes and would try to duplicate his fundamentals.  Something all these young quarterbacks should be doing.  That’s my compliment to Tom.

The Outdoor Quarterback

October Deer, Where Should You Sit and Why?

October is the perfect month to scout your deer hunting areas, so get off the couch and get in a stand.

Over the years I found that hunting in October is an opportunity to see what deer are showing up at either your food plots or your feeders.  It is a great time to harvest a doe or start your herd management program.  Occasionally someone will get lucky and stick a monster buck who is on a feeding pattern, and gets too close!

If you live in an area where you are getting some early fall temperatures, you will see much more deer movement than those of us living in the mid west where the weather can’t make up it’s mind to start the fall or continue the late summer trends.  Nevertheless it is a chance to get in a tree stand or in a ground blind with your bow and check things out.  I know it happens, which we have already seen this year, that some of the normal deer patterns from the past have changed, because of that, we have relocated our stands.  Ponds dry up, row crops change or acorns are better at one location than another.  There are a number of factors that can redirect the deer.  This is another advantage of going out in October before the pre-rut or rut begins.  See for yourself what the deer are doing, don’t just depend on what is showing up on the cameras.

Use October as a time to find the deer and identify changes in their behavior.  It is a good time to start looking for early signs, rubs, scrapes and heavily used game trails.  Don’t get stuck on one location because the tree fits your stand really well.  If you do your homework during October it will pay dividends in November.  One other note, don’t forget to bring your video camera.  It’s an ideal time to get good footage of the deer in your area.

The Outdoor Quarterback