Tag:Andrew Luck
Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:47 pm
 

Would the Colts considering giving up on Manning?

ManningPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Peyton Manning visited his buddies in the press on Thursday, and he revealed that his rehab progress on his neck has slowed and that it still hasn’t fused. He didn’t say this, but you have to wonder if his career (and not just his season) is in doubt because of his neck problems.

Which leads us to an interesting point made by Manning when talking about his new contract (you’ll recall he signed a five-year $90 million extension in the offseason). Considering Manning is due a $28 million bonus in February, the Colts might have to make an awfully interesting decision about whether they should keep Manning around.

"It's a one-year deal with a four-year extension, if you will," Manning said, via the Indianapolis Star. "I wasn't healthy when I signed the contract and if I'm not healthy in February, I think it's fair for the Colts to be able to make their decision there.”

Manning said there wasn’t a timeline for his rehab and recovery, but he’ll have another “checkpoint” in December to see how his neck is healing. Manning said he’d like to practice this year -- he also said he’d like to play in a game, but there’s almost no chance of that happening -- and part of the reason for that is so the Colts can evaluate him.

"(The Colts have) a right to know where you are physically and what your health is,” Manning said. “Everybody has decisions to be made.”

Can you imagine the Colts releasing Manning if his progress isn’t going as rapidly as everybody would like? Well, think about this. What if the Colts have the first pick of next year’s draft where they could take Andrew Luck. You could say, “Well, that’d be perfect for Luck. Assuming Manning is healthy, Luck can sit at his feet for a couple years and learn how to be an NFL quarterback.” But what if the Colts don’t want to be on the hook for paying tens of millions of dollars to TWO quarterbacks?

Would they be willing to cut Manning loose in favor of Luck? It certainly is not out of the realm of possibility. Which is why Manning’s next checkpoint in early December will be so crucial -- for his own future and for that of his team.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 11:06 pm
 

Luck's dad also thinks 'Suck for Luck' is stupid

Posted by Will Brinson

Not everyone believes that Andrew Luck is a stone-cold lock as an NFL stud, the general consensus is that the Stanford quarterback will be pretty, pretty good in the NFL. (Though I'd still rather have a certain Carolina quarterback myself.)

The possibility of him being a franchise-changing quarterback's inspire several fanbases to fire up a "Suck for Luck" campaign. Luck himself recently called the idea "stupid." His father, West Virginia Athletic Director Oliver Luck (seen right, as a member of the Houston Oilers), agrees with him.

"I played for five years in the NFL, and I never have seen an NFL player take a play off," Luck's father said on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Radio Thursday. "Because these guys are playing for their livelihoods and the coaches are coaching for their livelihoods, I absolutely think it is stupid that fans would believe that a team intentionally loses a game."

The Luck family isn't the only group of people who can't stand the social media campaign, but they're certainly the group most directly effected by it.

Luck came back to school in order to make a run at a BCS Championship and enjoy what is likely his final season as a star quarterback on a college campus.

He's obviously having a great run at Stanford, but there's an exceedingly ridiculous amount of discussion (yeah, I'm guilty too, but whatever) about where Luck will go, who will get him, and how he'll play once he gets to the NFL ... if it even happens next year.

All of that is combining to put a ridiculous set of expectations on young Andrew, and his father -- wisely -- understands that trying to mitigate those expectations will only make things easier for his son as he progresses to the NFL.

Also, he correctly knows that NFL players -- professional football players -- don't tank for some rookie, regardless of who he's compared to. So there's that.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 2:37 pm
 

Manning's progress slow, manages to zing Simms

ManningPosted by Josh Katzowitz

Peyton Manning gave a surprise interview to the local press Thursday, and the conclusion to draw from the briefing is that the progress with his neck seems a little stagnated. Which obviously isn’t highly positive. And considering his neck still hasn’t fused, progress is going slowly for the Colts MVP (this year and every year, apparently).

"Not a whole lot to report,” he told reporters, including the Indianapolis Star. “Still waiting for the fusion to take place. That takes place, they thought, between two and three months. Still going slow with that.

“I still have some of the same issues I had before the fusion as far as the nerves and the regeneration. Still dealing with that, the idea being that this surgery gave me the most stability for the nerves to regenerate. That’s still a process there.”

Manning said there really isn’t a timeline to his recovery. Instead, it’s more like a series of checkpoints, the next of which occurs Dec. 1. That’s when he’ll be three months out of surgery, and doctors can determine his strength and conditioning. But for now, he can’t predict where he’ll be and when he’ll be there.

He does know this: he’d like to practice sometime this season.

“Well, the thing about it is the fact that I am on the active roster, if I were in a position, if I were cleared to practice and if I were at a strength level, conditioning level checkpoint that I were cleared, it’s the greatest venue to go out and see where you are on the practice field as opposed to having to grab a receiver off to the side and go out before walk-through or before practice,” he said. “If I was cleared and able to do that, it would be nice to be able to do that, to go out and participate in a team practice where everything is right there with you, even though you probably couldn’t do everything. So, that’s a hope and a wish.”

But as far as playing this year? You’ve got to think there’s absolutely no chance of it happening.

Manning’s sense of humor, though, is still there. You might recall that CBS/Showtime analyst Phil Simms said recently that Andrew Luck didn’t have an NFL arm. Naturally, reporters asked Manning about that, since the Colts, assuming they have the No. 1 draft pick next year, could take him as Manning’s eventual replacement.

“Yeah, I don’t talk to Phil. Phil doesn’t talk to me,” Manning said. “He did text me after that, saying ‘Hey, sorry to drag your name into this.’ I wrote back, ‘Phil I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ He said, ‘Well on my show, Inside the NFL, I made this statement.’ I said, ‘Phil, I hate to break it to you, but I don’t watch your show, along with a lot of other people that I don’t think watch that show.’ Giving himself a little more credit than probably was merited.”

Ouch.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 5:44 pm
 

Simms thinks Luck doesn't have an NFL arm

LuckPosted by Josh Katzowitz

People just can’t stop praising Andrew Luck.

Even if he throws a pick-6, people come back and say, “Just look at the way he responded after that interception. What a champion.” Hell, we talked plenty about Luck -- and if we’d rather have him or Cam Newton if we were starting a new franchise -- on today's CBSSports.com experts chat.

You have to look high and low to find anybody that has anything negative to say about Luck and his NFL prospects.

Luckily, former Giants star quarterback and current CBS/Showtime analyst Phil Simms has come to our rescue. He told SiriusXM radio that he has detected a flaw in Luck’s body of work.

“I,” he said, “just don’t see big time NFL throws.”

More transcription from PFT: “I’ve watched a lot of him. He never takes it and rips it in there. And you can say what you want but, man, you’ve got to be able to crease that ball every once in a while. …  There’s not a lot of rotation on the ball and there’s not a tremendous amount of power.  Not that you need to have that power arm. I’m not saying you’ve got to have that exclusively but, man, it sure helps when you can do that because there’s four or five plays a game it is about arm strength. And sometimes quarterbacks who don’t have it, they pass those plays up. Why? Well, they go, ‘I don’t know if I can make that throw,’ so they throw it short.”

One NFL scout, talking to CBSSports.com's Rob Rang agrees. Said that scout: "The reality is, Luck is a pretty special talent, but he's not Superman. I don't know that anyone could be as good as the hype he's getting right now."

You have to wonder how long the light emanating off Luck’s crown will continue to shine. Hardly anybody has a bad thing to say about him, and people are wondering how many draft picks he could command if the team that’s selecting with the No. 1 pick in 2012 decides to trade his rights – four first-rounders was the craziest hypothesis I saw.

But positive or negative, the Luck storyline will last for a very long time, through the Heisman presentation to the draft and all the way through training camp and into the 2012 season. That’s a long time for speculation about whether a quarterback can be a franchise savior. That’s also a long time for other people to pick at Luck and find his flaws. Whether they’re imagined or not.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 10:35 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2011 1:01 pm
 

Who Ya Got: Cam Newton or Andrew Luck?

Posted by Will Brinson



Sometimes the most difficult questions can only be answered by bringing the brightest minds together, Roundtable style. Today's question: who would you rather have right now, Cam Newton or Andrew Luck?

If Andrew Luck left Stanford last year, the Carolina Panthers were going to take him No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. He didn't, and they were "stuck" with Cam Newton, one of the most highly-debated quarterback prospects in NFL history.

Cam's been, um, pretty good this year, if you'll indulge a little reverse hyperbole. But is he good enough to warrant passing on Luck, the biggest can't-miss prospect since John Elway in 1983? Who would you take right now if you had to pick one quarterback -- Luck or Cam?



Pete Prisco: Cam Newton or Andrew Luck?  Isn't that like asking whether you want pepperoni pizza or sausage pizza? Prefer DeNiro or Pacino? You can't go wrong with either of them, even if they are different.

Newton, the Panthers' hotshot rookie, has proven a lot of doubters wrong. He hasn't played like a rookie, and he sure doesn't play like some expected. He is a pocket passer, not a player who runs around. He isn't Vince Young, but more like Ben Roethlisberger.  As for Luck, he might be the cleanest NFL prospect since John Elway. I love the way he plays the game. He is smart, accurate, tough and carries himself like the next great star.

So who's my choice? I'll take Luck -- but barely.

PS: I like both sausage and pepperoni on my pie.

Mike Freeman:This is a serious question? Take a player who is proving to be one of the most dynamic rookies in history over an unproven commodity? Take the next great quarterback over a guy whom we have no idea how he'll react once the Klieg lights start to burn?

Not only would I take Newton over Luck. I'd take Christian Ponder as well.

Just remember these two words when anyone guarantees how a college player is going to star on the next level: JaMarcus Russell.

Clark Judge: This one's a no-brainer. I'll choose Andrew Luck because he's the perfect pro prospect, trained in a pro system where he takes snaps from center, operates out of the pocket and has experience with reads and progressions. No, he can't run like Cam Newton, but what do you want -- a quarterback or a running back? Me? I want someone who wins, is accurate, knows where to go with the football, makes quick and smart decisions and doesn't make stupid mistakes. Andrew Luck not only is the best quarterback in this year's draft; he's the best player, period. And he might be the best prospect in years. He took a program that hasn't had a history of great success, put it on his shoulders and carried it into the top 10. I have no doubt he can do that at the next level. 


Ryan Wilson: Without hestitation: Cam Newton. The simple answer is that we've seen Newton for two months and not only is he a legit NFL quarterback, but if he continues to improve, even if incrementally, he's a top-10 quarterback.

Luck, by all accounts, is a once-in-a-genration talent, the best, most complete passer since John Elway in the early '80s. I don't disagree but here's the thing: say you watched last Saturday's Stanford-USC game on a black and white television and the decals had been removed from the helmets. Would it it be obvious to you that Luck was the superior talent compared to Matt Barkley? Did Luck even outplay Barkley?

Josh Katzowitz: We've seen what Newton can do in a real, live NFL game. We've seen him use his amazing athleticism. We've seen his arm strength. We haven't seen him win much, but he will. What do we know about Andrew Luck? He's one hell of a college player. But so was Tim Tebow. So was Eric Crouch and JaMarcus Russell. Hell, even Jason White was pretty damn good in college. I'm not saying Luck is like any of those guys, and I'm not saying Luck can't be a better quarterback than Newton. But we know what we've got so far in Newton. We don't know squat about how Luck will perform in real, live NFL games. I'll go with the awesome present instead of taking my chances on a future that might or might not be more awesome.

Will Brinson: You know how we spend every waking moment debating Tim Tebow's existence? You might have forgotten, but we did the exact same thing all summer long, only it was about Cam Newton and whether he could be an NFL quarterback. We are no longer doing that, because Newton's doing something that Andrew Luck hasn't done yet: succeed in the NFL. Even the Panthers would probably admit if Luck had left Stanford they would have taken him, because Newton wasn't a sure thing.

But he's a sure thing now, unlike Luck. Don't get me wrong -- I buy the hype on the Stanford quarterback. And he could very well be a once-in-a-generation guy. 

But Cam Newton and all his physical abilities are once-in-a-lifetime. We've never seen a person play quarterback that has the combination of mobility, physical stature, arm strength, etc., as Newton. Now that he's shown he can adapt to the NFL game and that his learning curve is vastly shorter than any of us ever imagined, the sky is absolutely the limit with him as an NFL quarterback. And while we may eventually see someone like Newton again, it certainly won't be in next year's draft.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 6:25 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Cam or Luck -- Who ya got?

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Week 8 is officially in the books and we talk about exactly what happened to the Chargers on Monday night in Kansas City. Philip Rivers is forever called a top-5 quarterback, but he certainly hasn't played like it this season.

So, naturally, we debate where Rivers ranks among NFL QBs, and that led us to another discussion: if you had to start a NFL team tomorrow and had just two choices -- Cam Newton or Andrew Luck -- who ya got?

Ask most people and they immediately say Cam. But Brinson posed the question on Twitter and there were a surprising number of votes for Luck. We put the question to ProFootballTalk.com's Michael David Smith during our weekly chat and though he's a big Luck fan, he didn't hesitate to take Newton.

(MDS also discussed the Lions' win over the Broncos, Suh's visit with Goodell, the inevitable Tebow fallout, the Pats loss, and if the Redskins are the worst team in the NFC East.)

Inspired by the Cam-Luck scenario, we took it a step further: If you're starting a team tomorrow and you can have any quarterback currently in the NFL (for the long haul), who are you taking?

Brinson, the biggest Panthers homer you'll ever meet, is smitten with Newton to the point that he'd take Cam after only Aaron Rodgers. Wilson had Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Michael Vick and then Newton. Whether second or fifth, it's a testament to just how well Newton's played the first two months of the season.

At this point, biggest question is whether Cam can sustain that level of play for the rest of the season. Alrighty, talking starts below...

Just hit the play button below to listen (and did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?). If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.


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Posted on: October 31, 2011 4:13 am
Edited on: October 31, 2011 4:29 am
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 8

Posted by Will Brinson



Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 8 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.



1. Denver Gets Tebowned
The past week was full of far too much talk about Tim Tebow, leader of men, winner of games and erstwhile quarterback-at-large. The Broncos quarterback even got his own meme -- Tebowing. And call me crazy, but I don't think any of this attention and chatter and one-knee posing sat to well with the Detroit Lions, who rolled into Mile High Stadium on Sunday and delivered a 45-10 beatdown on the Flying Tebows.

But it wasn't enough for Detroit, coming off two-straight losses with their playoff-contender status potentially wobbling, to simply sack Tebow seven times and limit him to 172 passing yards and 63 rushing yards, most of which was well after the Lions victory was in hand.

No, they made things personal, mocking Tebow's pose several times through the course of the game. First there was Stephen Tulloch Tebowing directly behind Tebow immediately after sacking Tebow.



It was a marvelous moment of meme-worthy irony that would make Xzibit proud. But it didn't end there. Tight end Tony Scheffler caught a pass from Matthew Stafford and busted out Tebow's "celebration" too.

Of course, the Lions aren't saying they were coming after Tebow -- after the game Tulloch said that "it's just fun, no disrespect" meant with his celebration, and that he even told Tebow as much. Tulloch had an even better point, though, when he was asked about all the hype that surrounds the former Florida Gator.

"It’s not his fault; it’s the media that gives him that hype," Tulloch said.

This is true, and it's really the most important thing to mention when talking about Tebow right now, because the debate as to whether or not he's good isn't a debate -- it's one-sided argument with some people using intangible and inconsequential analysis to try and support Tebow under center.

Tebow's failure to be a good quarterback isn't on him. I mean, ultimately, it is him that decides whether or not he succeeds, of course. But the only reason people are up in arms about his shortcomings as a quarterback is that too much is made out of whether not he can be a quarterback.

We saw this same thing happen with Cam Newton, who was the talk of every single NFL conversation during an offseason that featured furious debate about whether or not he could succeed. Now he's succeeding and Cam -- in terms of loud, screaming media scrutiny -- is on the backburner.

Yes, that's right. Cam's success made him less of a focus for the media. There's no one forcing themselves to doubt his ego and character in the face of folks who trump his athleticism and win-loss record. In short, it's the complete opposite of Tebow, who's continued lack of statistical -- if not empirical -- success still manages to generate a substantial amount of debate in the media.

Which is pretty unfortunate for him.

2. Steeling the AFC
For the first few weeks of the season, a lot was made of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their crumbling dynasty and "old" defense. As it turns out, Phil Simms was spot-on when he told Warren Sapp that his comments were a "tremendous over reaction." And if Sapp didn't believe Simms in Week 2, he should certainly believe him after Pittsburgh shredded New England 25-17.

The score doesn't tell the full story of this game, either, because the Steelers were certainly more than eight points better than the Patriots on Sunday. They held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game (their time of possession, 39:22, dwarfed the Patriots 20:38) and out-Pats-ed the Pats, as Ben Roethlisberger utilized all of his available options and a ball-control passing attack to keep the rock out of Tom Brady's hands.

Pittsburgh was dominant on defense too, even if the Steelers looked a little less devastating when LaMarr Woodley left with a hamstring injury that could keep him out against the Ravens on Sunday night in Week 9. Brady was fairly efficient, completing 24 of his 35 passes, but he only managed 198 yards, good for 8.25 yards per completion, more than five yards off his season average of 13.5.

So who's the best team in the AFC now? Well, it's not the Ravens at the moment. Even with Brady under center it's hard to give the Pats the nod with their secondary so depleted. And I'm not quite ready to shove all my chips in the center of Chan Gailey's table. Pittsburgh, though, if they can stay healthy on defense, showed Sunday exactly why they're probably the best bet to repeat their success in 2010.

3. Nine Times? Nine Times
It's pretty hard to believe that since Mike Shanahan became offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1985, he was never shut out by an opposing defense until October of 2011 against Buffalo ... in Toronto. (Can you imagine if he went back in time and told 1985 Mike Shanahan that? I'd definitely pay upwards of $5,000 for a YouTube of 85 Shanny's reaction.)

Then again, it's unfathomable that the Redskins head coach would come into the 2011 season expecting the duo of John Beck and Rex Grossman to lead Washington to the promised land. Because it's not happening. We talked about it last week and the story's still the same -- Beck and Grossman aren't going to get it done, but there's not a whole lot Washington can do to change that right now.

As Pete Prisco wrote Sunday from Toronto, the Bills no-name roster continuing to impress with All-Pro performances is the real story. But, really, again, how on Earth did Shanahan think that he'd end up winning this year with Grossman and Beck? And how can anyone be optimistic about Beck after he's thrown up stinkbombs against the Panthers and Bills who just aren't that good on defense?

Buffalo sacked him nine times on Sunday, and as Ed Rooney will tell you, that's too many.

I follow a lot of Redskins fans on Twitter (and also a lot of Bears fans, but I didn't realize that until they started getting all Fake Jay Cutler on me during the Panthers game), and it was borderline depressing to follow the game through that virtual medium on Sunday.

It's pretty clear that the quarterback situation is the direct result of this year's hopelessness amongst the D.C. faithful -- and can you blame them? When the option of benching your best quarterback is technically benching your backup so you can go back to starting Rex Grossman, you have a serious problem on your hands.

Unfortunately for Shanahan, neither the Colts or the Dolphins are going to trade him that top-overall pick. So here's hoping Matt Barkley really is good.

4. All Hyped Up
All season long, everyone's based the Eagles for their "Dream Team" nickname that was entirely inapplicable. So it seems only fair, after watching Philadelphia dismember Dallas 34-7 on Sunday night, to give credit where credit's due.

For starters, kudos to Andy Reid for clearly outcoaching Jason Garrett and Rob Ryan and running his record after a bye week to a ridiculous 13-0. Props to Michael Vick, who looked comfortable all night long en route to an incredibly efficient 21/28, 279 passing yard night. It probably didn't hurt him much that LeSean McCoy piled up 185 yards on 30 carries with a pair of touchdowns.

Of course, it probably didn't hurt him to get left tackle Jason Peters back on the field. Or for Philly to have an early 14-point lead, forcing Dallas to chase Vick and giving McCoy a ridiculous amount of space to get his joystick-like moves on.

This is precisely what the Eagles imagined for their team when the season began -- an athletic, big-play offense that's capable of exploding to the end zone at any moment and a defense that eliminates the opponent's passing game.

Considering that 68 of Reid's career wins (and one tie!) have come after Halloween over the course of his career, it's not crazy to think that the Eagles -- at 3-4 and now tied for both second and last place in the NFC East -- could end up winning the division.

5. Rams Over Saints
For the Rams sake, it seems like it might be smart to trot Tony LaRussa and the World Series champion Cardinals out to every home game.

But it was the Cards appearance, not LaRussa's wardrobe, at the Edward Jones Dome that inspired the Rams to rise up and knock off the Saints in a 31-21 shocker on Sunday.

"I think the Cardinals being here was great for the city," running back Steven Jackson said. "Whoever showed up today, regardless if the place was empty, today was the day.

"We came out with a mindset we were going to fight."

Because of the particular circumstances leading up to this game -- Sam Bradford out, Saints coming a 62-point outing, Rams being terrible, Al Harris being older than Rafael Furcal (no, really, it's true) -- there was zero reason to think St. Louis could cover the two-touchdown spread, much less win.

But Jackson was inspired, piling up 159 yards on 25 bruising carries. And the Rams defense was even better, limiting Brees from the start and sacking him six times. (Although I wouldn't be opposed to crediting them with just five sacks since Chris Long's third sack probably qualifies more as something you'd see in the WWE ring.)

There's no reason to get carried away and expect the Rams to start making a run in the NFC West, but take a look at their schedule. They've played some really tough teams to get to 1-6 and the schedule gets really, really, really easy from here on out, matchups against San Francisco, Cincy and Pittsburgh notwithstanding.

Or they could stop playing football and just sell tickets to see LaRussa try on Sam Bradford jerseys. I'd be fine with that too.

6. Bengals emerge
Ryan Wilson and I said before the season that the Bengals, by virtue of a puff-pastry-filled early-season schedule, could start out hot and win a few more games than anyone expected. They've done just that after a dominant 34-12 win in Seattle on Sunday moved them to 5-2.

Everyone is surprised ... except the Bengals. Naturally.

"To the people on the outside, they may be surprised and what not," cornerback Leon Hall said. "Every season we come in expecting to win. Just hopefully, we've got some big games coming up, so we execute in those games."

Hall's speaking to the widely-held belief that the Bengals will fade with  Baltimore and Pittsburgh showing up on the sked twice each in the second half of the season. That might be presumptuous, though, because this Bengals team is quietly becoming legit.

Beating the Seahawks doesn't exactly make them the Super Bowl favorites or anything, but their success is coming with a pretty simple formula that's been forgotten in this day of high-scoring NFL games: defense.

Lest you forget, the Jets made the AFC Championship game two years ago with a rookie quarterback, a stout running game and the best defense in the NFL. The Bengals aren't as good on the ground as the Jets (or even close really) and not as good on defense, but Andy Dalton's better than Mark Sanchez and A.J. Green's better than any of the receiving options the Jets had then.

Cincinnati's top-five defense will get a couple bigger tests soon in the form of the Steelers, the Ravens and a game against the Texans, but the Bengals also get the Titans, the Browns, the Rams and the Cardinals the rest of the way home.

Which means there's actually a decent chance they get to double-digit victories and one of the more shocking playoff berths we've seen in a while.

7. Ponder Wins the Weinke Bowl
The differences in Cam Newton and Christian Ponder are pretty obvious right? Their physical stature, their style of play, their respective hype coming out of college, their expectations once they were drafted ... all very different.

But they have one common thread -- they were both tutored by Chris Weinke, former Florida State and Carolina Panthers quarterback.

Ponder won their first matchup 24-21, thanks to a 31-yard honk by Olindo Mare at the end of regulation field goal that was setup by a penalty-flag honk on a holding call against Steve Smith after Cam Newton scrambled for a first down.

"I got a few texts saying already in the HD it didn't look too bad," Smith said of the official's call. "For a 70-year-old man gimping down the field, I guess that's what he saw."

Hilarious. And also probably a statement that will get Smith some kind of fine. From my vantage point, it was surprising, but not entirely unjustifiable to nail Smith with the yellow flag on the play. It shouldn't have mattered though, because as Newton pointed out after the game, the Panthers didn't do enough earlier in the game to take advantage of a game they should have won.

Once again, the problem really became that they can't stop anyone who resembles a physical running back. Adrian Peterson, who led the Vikings with 86 rushing yards and 76 receiving yards, is the definition of a physical running back, and he had his way with the Panthers defense, who let the Vikings convert seven of their 14 first downs (the Panthers came into the game ranking 29th in the NFL, allowing opponents to convert 45.5 percent of their third downs).

And when you can't stop the other team's offense and your own offense stalls out for several consecutive drives in the second half, it makes winning games hard. Newton was brilliant again, and even though the Panthers are losing, fans aren't exactly getting upset at it. The future is bright.

It's bright in Minnesota too, and it kind of makes you wonder what took Leslie Frazier so long to hand Ponder the reigns. Maybe he should have called Weinke and gotten his opinion first.

8. Fast Learners
Speaking of common threads, how about six of the top seven players in the 2011 NFL Draft coming from the SEC and making an immediate impact on the NFL as rookies?

Newton (Auburn), Marcel Dareus (Alabama), A.J. Green (Georgia), Patrick Peterson (LSU) and Julio Jones (Alabama) all hail from college football's best conference and all have put a serious footprint on the league through eight weeks. Hell, on Sunday, Newton threw three touchdowns, Dareus had 2.5 sacks, Green caught a(nother) touchdown, and Peterson returned a(nother) punt 82 yards.

To take it a step further, and move away from the SEC, it looks like this year's first-round rookies are going to be a pretty damn good crop. Ponder's clearly an upgrade for Minnesota, Ryan Kerrigan's been tremendous in Washington, Robert Quinn's coming on strong for St. Louis, J.J. Watt's a day-one starter for Houston, Aldon Smith is wrecking shop for San Francisco ... and so on and so forth.

It's early -- like eight weeks early -- but it's hard to find a slam-dunk bust in the top 10 of the draft like we've seen seen the past few years. We'll know more by season's end, but the point being is that it's an incredibly impressive performance by this rookie class on such short notice.

Or maybe the lesson is to just avoid drafting for need and grab anyone who played in the SEC.

9. Needing a New Nickname
Chris Johnson is often called "CJ2K" as an homage to his 2,006 yards rushing in 2009. His performance in 2011, coming off a contract dispute, is an insult to the letter K. And perhaps the number 2.

Certainly, it's insulting to Titans fans who had to watch him grind out 34 yards on 14 carries in Tennessee's 27-10 win over Indy Sunday.

Oh and speaking of insults, what's worse for Johnson? That Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said Johnson reminds him of Hassy's old Seattle teammate Shaun Alexander, or that Mike Munchak is having him split carries with Javon Ringer?

"The running game hasn't been where we wanted it to be all year, so I guess they just trying new things," Johnson said.

I mean, does this guy care? Because it always seemed like he might care -- there are certain guys in sports that seem as if once they get paid, they're going to reduce the amount of effort they put forth. We saw this with Albert Haynesworth and the Redskins; everyone except Dan Snyder saw his lack of effort coming.

But Johnson always seemed motivated by people who questioned his ability to be a full-time NFL running back. Maybe he's still motivated and just isn't in game shape yet, but his refusal to take accountability for a holdout followed by a monster contract followed by what is easily the worst season by a running back in the NFL this year is disappointing to say the least.

10. Upset Sunday Gets Upset
The Rams taking down the Saints is obviously a big deal. Perhaps the biggest, considering the Rams were two-touchdown dogs at home. But the early goings of Sunday's action had a lot of potential for upsets, with the Ravens losing big to the Cardinals and the Giants struggling against the winless Dolphins.

Both New York and Baltimore came back to win, but the inconsistency they've both shown against mediocre teams this year is terrifying for their fans. The Ravens looked like they might lose to the Cardinal and Jaguars in less than seven days and the Giants aren't that far removed from getting beat by the Seahawks in their home stadium.

And there's one thing they have in common: inconsistent quarterback play.

Both Joe Flacco and Eli Manning are elite-level talents with big arms. Both guys are capable of great performances. But both guys are equally capable of shooting their teams out of games.

Ken Wisenhunt and Tony Sparano deserve credit for getting their undermanned squads ready to play. Particularly Sparano, since I refuse to believe that this scene didn't unfold in the Dolphins locker room before the game Sunday:



(Yeah that's right, I'm only one Teen Wolf reference away from the trifecta.)

Anyway, the point is that Manning and Flacco scare me. As Clark Judge noted, Manning's been great at times this year, but he's absolutely capable of doing what he did against the Seahawks and tossing three picks. Flacco's more concerning, of course, because he's shown zero consistency this season, and has tended to play down to the opposition (Tennessee, Jacksonville, Arizona are all good examples).

The upside of being inconsistent and talented, though, is that you can make big throws. And both guys did that late on Sunday to help their team win. They just need to show up with more regularity if they expect either squad to make it a deep run this year.

Muffed Punts
Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Reggie Bush recorded his second career 100-yard rushing game Sunday. Both of them came against the Giants.
... LeSean McCoy is now the only NFL player to score a touchdown in every game this season.
... Teams coming off a bye this week were 5-1. So much for that theory about being at a disadvantage.
... The Bills are the eighth team in NFL history to start a season 4-0 at home a year after starting the season 0-4 at home.
... Calvin Johnson joins Randy Moss (2007, Pats) as the only players since 1970 to record 11 touchdown catches in their first eight games of the season.
... Five times a team's come back from 20 points to win this year -- most in NFL history.
... Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan are the only quarterbacks with five 250-yard passing games in their rookie season.
... Drew Brees somehow kept his TD streak alive and now has a touchdown pass in 35 consecutive games. Johnny Unitas has the record at 47.
... Patrick Peterson joined Devin Hester and Craig Yeast as the only rookies with more than one 80+ yard return touchdown in a season

Worth 1,000 Words



Jim Irsay Pop-Culture Referencing Tweet That's Sure to Drive Colts Fans Isane of the Week
"No one is "Tanking the season"...that's absurd conspiracy theory mumblings...Suck4Luck doesn't exist n Indy"

Suck for Luck counts as a pop-culture reference right? Whatever, at this point Colts fans want the team to finish dead last right?

GIF O' THE WEEK
I could watch fat men lateraling the football for hours.



Hot Seat Tracker
  • Tony Sparano -- Great effort from Miami, but they came up short. Again.
  • Ken Wisenhunt -- Tough to see that comeback by the Ravens and not get discouraged.
  • Norv Turner -- Unless he wins on Monday.
  • Mike Shanahan -- That 4-12 thing looks more realistic than it did last week doesn't it?
  • Jim Caldwell -- Charley Casserly said he's locked but I dunno.
Chasing Andrew Luck
Colts (-600): They're clearly the NFL's worst team in 2011 ...
Dolphins (-500): But they're in a harder division.
Cardinals (-300): Season. Unraveling.
Rams (-250): Hope!

MVP Watch
Aaron Rodgers somehow picked up some more space on his bye week -- Tom Brady's poor performance separates the Packers quarterback even further. Once again, though, we need to mention Fred Jackson as a viable MVP candidate (though he won't get votes). LeSean McCoy could get some run if the Eagles really get hot.
Posted on: October 30, 2011 3:02 pm
 

Luck 'unlikely' to stay in school, Colts love him

Posted by Will Brinson

Not breaking news for anyone that watched college football last night: Andrew Luck is really, really good. Teams want him, and men want to be him.

Halfway through the early games during Week 8, the Indianapolis Colts are looking like the clear-cut favorite to win the Luck sweepstakes.

And as CBS Sports Charley Casserly reported on Sunday, they're totally OK with that.

"Barring any medical issue with Andrew Luck, if the Colts have a chance to take him next year, they're going to take him," Casserly said on The NFL Today.

Casserly also pointed out Luck, who does have one year of eligibility left at Stanford, is "unlikely" to return to school in 2012. Oh, yes, and he compares somewhat favorably in terms of how teams view him.

"First of all, talking to the Luck camp, it's highly unlikely that he would go back to Stanford," Casserly said. "Talking to general managers around the league, they say Andrew Luck will be the highest-rated quarterback coming out since the 1983 draft, which had John Elway as the first player taken."

That's ridiculously high praise, and probably a bit ironic too, considering the likelihood of Luck replacing the only guy -- Peyton Manning -- who might have left college as more of a sure thing.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com