Around the League

Our buddy NFL Gimpy is off this week so you don’t get MAQB, but you do get an ATL column.

The Niners went 13-3 last year.  One loss came in OT.  Another by just 2 points.  That means the team either won or lost by 3 or less in 15 of 16 games.  Pretty amazing.  The lone “blowout” was a 10-point loss.

The problem with all of this is that I’m not sure SF can duplicate it.  The Eagles missed 2 chip shot FGs in a 24-23 game.  The Rams were dreadful.  They should be better this year.  SF got Cincy when Andy Dalton was just making his 3rd start ever.  The Steelers played a gimpy (no relation) QB in their meeting.  And so on.

I’m not saying the Niners were a fluke.  That was one heck of a good football team last year.  Still, the point is that a lot of things went right for them.  They met teams at the right time.  The Niners stayed pretty healthy.  Expectations were low so the team was able to catch people off guard.

This year the hunter becomes the hunted.  Teams will be gunning for the Niners from Day One.  Is there any chance the team goes into December not having given up a rushing TD this year?  No way.  That was an all time crazy accomplishment.  Teams don’t do things like that.  And they sure don’t do them 2 years in a row.

I’m really curious to see how good the Niners can be.  Will Randy Moss be an impact player or a distraction?  The 2011 Niners had great chemistry.  That was a real team effort.  We’ve already seen Alex Smith saying odd things to the media (the Cam Newton deal).  Jim Harbaugh keeps denying that he went after Peyton Manning.  Now he says Moss is the team’s best WR.

I don’t think the spotlight hit SF last year until the postgame handshake debacle in Detroit.  This year the spotlight will be on the Niners from the beginning.  Can they handle that?  Can they win 11 or 12 games again?  While it is definitely possible, I could easily see this being a team that will decline this year.  Lots of odd variables.

* * * * *

I keep reading good things about RGIII and what he’ll do for the Skins this year.  I admit that I’m excited to see him play.  He was great at Baylor.  I am concerned that too many people are expecting him to be Cam, Pt. 2.  Newton and RGIII are different players.  Newton carried Auburn to a national title and lit up the SEC.  RGIII lit up the Big 12 (or what was left of it) and helped Baylor to beat Washington in the Alamo Bowl.  That’s nothing like winning the national title.

Cam Newton is a freak that could change the game of football.

RGIII is a very good QB prospect.

See the difference?  If things go perfectly for RGIII, he’s a better version of Mike Vick.  If things go perfectly for Cam…I have no idea what that means.  It would be like combining Ben Roethlisberger, Jerome Bettis, and Antwaan Randle-El into one player.

RGIII can be an impact QB and should do some great things for the Skins offense, but he’s only mortal.  Don’t expect him to step in and be an elite player right off the bat.

* * * * *

I got into an odd argument the other day with someone.  He said that the Colts had better skill players than the Skins.  I think that is crazy…for now.  If Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, and T.Y. Hilton turn out to be studs, maybe that changes.

While I’m hardly in love with Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Anthony Armstrong, Fred Davis, Chris Cooley, and Roy Helu, but that is the better group of the two teams.

* * * * *

We know there will be a breakthrough team somewhere this year.  One place to look is the AFC West.  I think the Chargers are declining.  That leaves the door open for Oakland, KC, and Denver.  I realize the Broncos won the division last year, but the team was 8-8 and that was about as ugly a division title as you’ll see (aside from Seattle’s embarrassing 2010 crown).

Oakland is headed in the right direction.  I just don’t know if 2012 is too soon to expect results.

KC and Denver are mystery teams.  Is Romeo Crennel really a good coach?  Is Peyton anywhere close to old Peyton?  I’m going with KC as the team to watch.  Eric Berry will rise from the ashes of the ACL to ascend to the throne at the top of the AFC West.  He will then cure cancer, end world hunger, and force Katy Perry to quit singing so that we can all live in a world worth having.

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Quick Hits

* Could the Vikings be the worst team in the NFC?

* The Packers defense was terrible last year.  I cannot see a repeat of that.  They have too much talent.  Big problem last year was too many guys having off years and the lack of an inside pass rush.  DL Jerel Worthy should help with inside pressure.

* Watching the Dolphins on Hard Knocks will be weird.  None of us knows Joe Philbin.  The QBs aren’t household names.  There is no famous GM.  I love the show and can’t wait to see it, but this will be an odd group.  Someone will emerge as a personality and star of the show.

* One rookie I’m real curious about is Rams WR Brian Quick.  I just didn’t see him going off the board before Stephen Hill, as well as a couple of other guys.  The Rams must really believe in him.  That offense needs help.  Is he too raw to offer immediate impact or will Quick show that he’s a natural and play right away?  Can’t wait to find out.

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7 Responses to Around the League

  1. Dan in Philly says:

    The 49ers won 7 games by a TD or less. The won 6 by more than a TD. The Eagles won 6 by more than a TD, by way of comparison. The 9ers earned their wins, and don’t take that away from them, but the odds they’ll lose 6 or more are far greater than them losing 3 or less again.

    • Tommy Lawlor says:

      They can be just as good a team and go 11-5 or maybe even 10-6.

      Going 13-3 is hard. When a team does that with an offense as erratic as theirs, I’m doubtful that will happen again. I did love watching that defense. Those guys were sensational last year.

      • Dan in Philly says:

        Honestly, I think the Eagles were just as good a team as the 49ers were last year, but between injuries, a horrible start, bad luck in many different ways, it just ended up as an 8-8 team. I think both teams from last year if they were to have played the season 100 times would have ended up averaging 10.5 wins a year.

  2. Iskar36 says:

    I thought your comments about RGIII vs Cam Newton were interesting. If I remember correctly, a lot of people were saying Cam Newton is a guy that is being drafted higher than he should simply because he is a qb. E was certainly considered talented but a lot of people found plenty of faults to his game before he was drafted. The success he had was a major surprise to most people. With RGIII, the talk surrounding him was that he was a 1b to a guy (luck) who most people felt was one of the best college QBs to come out of college in a long time. I understand Newton’s success This quickly in the nfl is rare, but coming out of college how do the two QBs compare. I would have thought RGIII would have been the better prospect, hence why people see him having so much success.

    • Tommy Lawlor says:

      I thought Cam Newton would be a good pro because of what a dynamic college player he was, but no one predicted:

      4051 passing yards
      84.5 QB rating
      7.84 ypa
      21 TDs, 17 INTs

      14 rushing TDs
      706 rushing yards

      Those are video game numbers. To do that as a rookie is…staggering. I cannot imagine RGIII has that kind of a rookie season in him. If he does, the NFL is going to be loaded with great young QB talent for years to come. I tend to think Cam is the anomaly and RGIII will have to settle for being more of a typical rookie.

      • Dan in Philly says:

        Cam Newton didn’t just have a breakout season, he had an earth-shattering one. Personally I think the astounding success he had is part of why RGIII shot up so high – and why there’s no realistic way RGIII can possibly be anything other than a dissapointment given what the expectations seem to be.

        Historically, rookie QBs are pretty bad by league standards, and sometimes despite their physical gifts the struggle in their rookie years leads to years and years of wandering before they are ready to shine, if ever. Will RGIII be able to overcome the extremely likely realization that he’s not Cam Newton? I sometimes wonder how well a QBs like Tim Couch and Akili Smith were affected by the fact they were not Donnavan McNabb or Danta Culpepper.

      • Iskar36 says:

        I certainly recognize that Cam Newton’s rookie year was an anomaly, the point I was getting at was coming out of college, which player was the better prospect? If it is RG3, sure, it would be very difficult to match Newton’s rookie season, but that doesn’t mean RG3 can’t ultimately end up as the better pro long term (nor does it mean he will not end up being a bust either). It just seemed to me that based on the way you described the two players, it sounds like you don’t think RG3 has as high of a ceiling as Newton, but it seems coming out of college, RG3 was the better prospect.

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