Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Dennis Dixon: 2012 Year in Review and 2013 Fantasy Football Outlook

Former Oregon Ducks QB Dennis Dixon Joins the Philadelphia Eagles

With the former Oregon Ducks Quarterback Dennis Dixon joining the Philadelphia Eagles, it would seem that Michael Vick has some competition.  After being behind Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch and with Michael Vick’s lackluster performances during this past season, it is Dennis Dixon who might just take the job away from him — as Michael Vick took the job away from Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb.  But is everything as bright as it seems or is Dennis Dixon merely motivation or a stepping stone for a future franchise quarterback?  Time to check the numbers and see…

2012 Year in Review

With the Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 and 2010 season being the two applicable NFL bearings for Dennis Dixon, he has made a total of 34 of 58 attempts those past two seasons for an average of 58.6 percent and 399 passing yards.  He had an average quarterback rating of 70 which is mediocre.  On the bright side, he had 8 attempts rushing for 59 yards and an average of 7.4 yards per attempt.

While Dixon was an Oregon Duck in his 2007 season, he performed much better with a 161 quarterback rating with 2,129 passing yards, but then again, he was facing much lesser competition and age was still in his favor.

2013 Fantasy Football Outlook

This might be the season Dennis Dixon finally takes over the reigns as starting quarterback if he performs and exceeds Michael Vick in the training camp.  But this is a big might

It’s too early to tell, but given a chance, he should be capable of performing below Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and definitely below San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick.  If Dennis Dixon does start, he should place with a ceiling of QB2 at best and bench — and maybe waiver wire fodder — at worst.

2013-14 Philadelphia Eagles: Rebuilding for a Better Tomorrow

With the off-season already in tow and Chip Kelly as now the Philadelphia Eagles head coach, here’s my blueprint for the Philadelphia Eagles:

  • Quarterback Michael Vick. With San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson rising, it would seem that Michael Vick would be a logical choice to remain a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.  But Vick is actually quite outdated compared to either of those. Vick is comparable to a old-school Corvette versus a modern Saleen S7 in Kaepernick and Wilson. As sleek as Vick may be, his engine would burn out long before he reached the finish line. Vick is outmatched and outdated in this new era of quarterbacks.
  • Quarterback Nick Foles. Nick Foles is no Jeff Garcia nor will he ever be.  Nick Foles has slight potential, but he lacks an upside. Foles is far too predictable.  I would gladly barter both Michael Vick and Nick Foles for San Francisco 49ers Alex Smith, even as a backup.  Smith is an intellectual quarterback, but he lacks mobility.  Still though, he would be a good option for the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Return to 4-3 and Contain Defenses. The Eagles used to be the best at containing the quarterbacks under Jim Johnson, and the Eagles should return to the 4-3.  What the Eagles had in talent in 2012-13 they lacked in mentality and preparation. With Robert Griffin III and his Washington Redskins in their division, the Eagles defense must adjust properly.
  • Running Back LeSean McCoy. He’s one the few bright spots of the Eagles organization.  Talent and skill-wise, he’s been better than Brian Westbrook.  He should be kept.
  • Tight End Brent Celek. He’s another of the few bright spots of the Eagles organization.  He should be kept.
  • Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson. His free lunch with Andy Reid is officially over — and should have been over a while back.  If Coach Kelly wants him to play as kick returner, he plays kick returner.  If he wants him to play cornerback or safety, he plays cornerback or safety.  Otherwise, he gets traded and exchanged for someone more than willing to play, like soon-to-be free agent Green Bay Packers Greg Jennings.
  • CEO Jeff Lurie. Well, he should keep his reins on Chip Kelly.  At least for now.
  • Head Coach Chip Kelly. Chip Kelly must instill discipline of the Eagles team from the start.  However, he seems like a pushover which does not seem to bode well.  Kelly could play favorites like Reid did, and the house of cards will again crumble.

21st Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly: The Deconstruction of the Off-Season

With the hiring of Chip Kelly, the former University of Oregon Ducks and a brilliant mind for college offensive schemes, as the 21st Philadelphia Eagles head coach, he has his work cut out for him. Not only will he be in one of the toughest sports environments as fans can easily bastardize him one moment and praise him the next, he will have to rescue a flogging offense, a porous defense and two quarterbacks reeking of mediocrity. The pistol and read-option offenses have come to a smashing success this season, and the Philadelphia Eagles and the rest of the league will adapt defensively — and change their offensive gameplans accordingly during the off-season. So before everyone in Philadelphia decides to burn the man at the stake before he even has the first opportunity to make a decision of any consequence…

With all this in mind, Chip Kelly has made a good impression — at least with the media.  He has that so-called “winning” personality — smiling, boisterous, catering to the media and knows exactly what to say in a soundbite. In reality, he has established himself as nothing more than Jeff Lurie‘s overpaid $32.5 million lapdog already — to be brutally honest.

Chip Kelly will hopefully remove some of the malignant parts of the Philadelphia Eagles in his attempt to please everyone.  With him already baiting Michael Vick, however, it is not good.  Michael Vick is an outdated and fragile (physically) player even in the new read-option offense.  Vick couldn’t survive another season of punishment.

All in all, Chip Kelly is one interesting choice.  Not one that I would have made, but then again, I am not Jeff Lurie.  I think that Jeff Lurie believes Chip Kelly can produce him the success of Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, and he possibly might.  However, I would have personally opted for former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley or San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman myself.  I would have preferred Greg Roman myself for an offensive-minded coach, but he probably couldn’t endure the Philadelphia frenzy.

I am not so quick to crucify him.  Not just yet.

Philadelphia Eagles 2012: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (The Post-Turkey Edition)

It's About Time For Change. Definitely.

It’s About Time For Change. Definitely.

With the Philadelphia Eagles season pretty much officially drawn to a close after the horrendous 30-22 loss to the lowly Carolina Panthers, it’s time to take a honest look at the Eagles organization. Or the Turkeys organization. Seriously.

THE GOOD

  • Die-hard Philadelphia Eagles fans. You’ve got to give them props for still able to tough it out.  The few that still attend the games should be given a nod, if anything else.
  • Backup quarterback Nick Foles. We now know what he’s made of — and more of what he isn’t.
  • Backup running back Bryce Brown.  On the bright side, the Eagles finally know how to use running backs.  However, it took a losing season for them to recognize it.
  • Running back LeSean McCoy. He has demonstrated he is one of the stellar parts of this team.  Although he had fewer touchdowns to date than when he was a rookie, he was on pace to beat his yardage total.
  • Tight End Brent Celek. Brent Celek has been one of the stalwarts of the Eagles organization. Tough, classy, and  respectable.  He was on pace to exceed his yardage total over the previous seasons.

THE BAD

  • Backup quarterback Nick Foles. At this point, he’s not worth much in trade value after seeing what he’s capable of performing in the national spotlight.  At best, he’s no worse than Kevin Kolb; and at his worst, he’s no better than A.J. Feeley.
  • Quarterback Michael Vick. Even though he had a phenomenol 2010 season, it is no longer 2010.  The league has changed while Michael Vick hasn’t.  Michael Vick is no elite quarterback.  He does not have the intellectual prowess nor the pocket presence on the field as with New England Patriots’ Tom Brady or Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning. He never did. And he never will.
  • Running back LeSean McCoy. Well, his touchdown production is worse than when he was a rookie.  In fact, he had only two touchdowns to date compared to four in his 2009 season.  And he doubled his fumbles since his 2009 season.
  • Tight End Brent Celek.  Well, like LeSean McCoy, his touchdown production this season matched his rookie season with only one.
  • The Defense as a Whole. By the numbers, the defense has only gotten slightly worse than the previous seasons. The Eagles defense currently ranks about middle of the pack, and it hasn’t changed much over the past few seasons with or without Sean McDermott.

THE UGLY

  • The Yankees The Eagles Ain’t. Andy Reid got a bit too ambitious perhaps and over his head these past few seasons.  He sought to buy talent like the New York Yankees, but that was not the prize-winning formula for the Eagles during their winning seasons.  Reid always found ways to find diamonds in the rough and transform them into generally great players.  Jeremiah Trotter was one example as he was a mess in the beginning but eventually became a four-time Pro Bowler.
  • Head Coach Andy Reid. He’s unable to energize the troops.  He’s unable to have decent play-calling. He’s an impotent coach.
  • Juan Castillo and His Wide-9 Defense. After Juan Castillo was let go, unfortunately, the defense improved very little.  The Wide-9 defense requires highly talented players at the end/corners who are consistent.  Unfortunately, the Eagles defense does not possess either in Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie or Nnamdi Asomugha.  One more point, the Eagles should return to 46 defense or the 4-3.
  • Turnovers. We can only wish these were the breakfast kind. The Eagles have one of the worst turnover ratios in the entire league this season.

With five games left, and potentially three or four more losses ahead, the regular football season is drawing to a close. With yet another potential loss to the Dallas Cowboys,  the charade of the Philadelphia Eagles may finally come to an end.

Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Michael Vick: 2011 Reality Check and 2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

2011 Reality Check

2011 was the year in which Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick fell to earth.  I commented on this earlier in the year, decidedly saying that he would fall into solid QB2 or low-end QB1.   In either case, he produced as expected in most of the regular season games. producing such solid QB2 or low-end QB1 numbers.  Aside from him contending with injuries and the DeSean Jackson debacle, 2011 was not one of his better seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

This regular season, he produced 3,303 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and an above-average 84.9 quarterback rating.  On top of that, he had 3 turnovers.  Compared to his 2010 regular season, he produced 3,018 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 6 interceptions, 6 fumbles and a 100.2 quarterback rating.  Obviously, Michael Vick had a heavy dose of reality, but he still did better than his 2004 season with the Atlanta Falcons.  However, this is not saying much as Vick has reached his peak, more or less, in my honest opinion.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was inconsistent much of this past season.  He started fairly strong against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, with 242 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, an interception and a 103.6 quarterback rating.   His best game was against the Dallas Cowboys in which they were trounced 34-7.  Vick had 279 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and a 129.9 quarterback rating.  To keep things in perspective, he was facing the Cowboys 23rd-ranked passing defense during the regular season.  During the 2011 regular season, he had his worst game against the Arizona Cardinals.  Ironically, the Cardinals defense was almost as comparable to the Dallas Cowboys defense.  The Cardinals defense was ranked 18th in overall defense and 17th in passing defense during the regular season.  Yet Michael Vick only threw for 128 yards, had 2 interceptions and a dismal 32.5 quarterback rating.

2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

For the 2012 regular season, I would place Michael Vick again as a solid QB2, and he should be capped at a high-end QB2 at best.  Vick is prone to injury, fumbles and inconsistency as he has demonstrated the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.  He should be handcuffed — if not with Vince Young, then some other quarterback when drafted.  He has reached his peak or thereabouts, I believe. He’s essentially the Eagles’ Brett Favre minus the drama.  However, line coach Howard Mudd will help the offensive line, but it won’t change the fact that Michael Vick is above-average at best.  Comparatively, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has an upside due to his youth and athleticism.

The Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton Conundrum: 2011 Reality Check and 2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

2011 Reality Check

Carolina Panthers‘ recent acquisition of rookie quarterback Cam Newton went better than expected, but Newton isn’t without his flaws.  Statistically, Newton produced 4,051 total passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and an 84.5 quarterback rating.  That put him in the company of veterans Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick and Tennessee Titans Matt Hasselbeck in terms of quarterback rating.  This is impressive given that it is his first NFL season after his departure from the Auburn Tigers.  However, his consistency is the issue.  Newton started spectacularly against the Arizona Cardinals in his first game with 422 total passing yards, 2 touchdowns, an interception and an impressive 110.4 quarterback rating.  However, as he faced tougher teams in his next five games, his quarterback rating went from 72.0 against the Green Bay Packers to a dismal 44.6 quarterback rating against the Atlanta Falcons.  He did well against two hapless teams the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings for his next two games with ratings of 127.5 and 117.6.  Then he went up and down throughout the rest of the season, peaking against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 16 with 171 total passing yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a spectacular 142.4 quarterback rating.  Cam Newton may have been a fantasy beast at times, but then again, it was against weaker teams of the NFL.  He broke several records as a rookie including rushing touchdowns in the 2011 regular season and became the first player in league history to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards.  However, Cam Newton’s statistics, when put in perspective, are a bit over-inflated.

With Cam Newton announcing that Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Vince Young is in the same category JaMarcus Russell, not only is it wrong, it is downright arrogant.  True, given that Newton actually started better than Vince Young and only comparable to Vince Young in his fourth season with the Tennessee Titans, Vince Young had better statistics and quarterback rating through his seasons with the Tennessee Titans than JaMarcus Russell’s three-year tenure with the Oakland Raiders.  JaMarcus Russell never got better than a 77.1 quarterback rating with 2,423 quarterback rating on 13 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 2008.

2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

Cam Newton was a fantasy beast in 2011 with a commanding QB1 statistics, but I would cap him at a mid- QB2 when he matures and as the seasons become more difficult.  The Carolina Panthers season ended with a 6-10, which isn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination.  Mobile quarterbacks in the NFL are generally slightly above-average at best and at worst, mediocre.  Philadelphia Eagles Michael Vick was the exception to the rule during the 2010 regular season, but reality set in the 2011 regular season.  Cam Newton was the exception this season. The Carolina Panthers 2012 schedule have them against some of the tougher defenses in the league including the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks.  Newton will get a heavy dose of reality next season and going forward.  He should potentially end up at a mid-range QB2 with upside during the 2012 regular season.

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The Philadelphia Eagles 2011-12 Season in Review: The Good, the Fads and the Ugly

With the Philadelphia Eagles impressive 34-10 win over the hapless Washington Redskins last Sunday, the game was essentially meaningless as the Eagles could not make the playoffs.  The Eagles end the regular season with 8-8 and third in the NFC East.  Meanwhile, the New York Giants won over their local AFC rival New York Jets 29-14 two weeks beforehand, and with the win, the Giants saved their head coach Tom Coughlin’s job once again.  The New York Giants upped one even further by winning the NFC East title over the Dallas Cowboys and securing the last coveted spot in the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons. Sadly, the Philadelphia Eagles are left contemplating their 2011-12 regular season on their couches and chalkboards.

The Good

Running Back LeSean McCoy Goes to the Pro Bowl and One of the Leading Running Backs in the NFL. It was a matter of time before LeSean McCoy matures as a running back and dominates.  As said previously, he progressed faster than Brian Westbrook did with the Philadelphia Eagles as statistics showed from the last few seasons.  In this season, he surpassed former Philadelphia Eagles running back Steve Van Buren and the entire league this season with 20 total touchdowns.

Former Pro Bowl Kicker David Akers Leaves. When former Pro Bowler David Akers left for the San Francisco 49ers, there was a hole left in the Eagles special teams.  Coach Andy Reid resorted to rookie Alex Henery, and he has been a surprise as he ranks 5th in extra-points made.

The Fads

Quarterback Micheal Vick Matures But Doesn’t Improve. The Michael Vick mystique had all but disappeared within Philadelphia.  His mediocrity has shown like he was with the Atlanta Falcons.  However, this time, he lacked the brashness of his youth.  In fact, with his overall quarterback rating of 82.9, he’s only slightly better than he was with the Atlanta Falcons with 2004 at a 78.1 quarterback rating. His 2011 quarterback rating obviously fails in comparison to his 2010 rating of 100.2. The Donovan McNabb Experiment with Michael Vick has been less than successful.

Tight End Brent Celek Gel with Michael Vick. One of the better tight ends in the league finally gels with Michael Vick.  However, this is a double-edged sword. Michael Vick has been mediocre this season compared to last season, and despite the increase in the number of targets per game, Brent Celek’s numbers has actually been worse than the previous season. Compared to last season, he has 200+ more yards, but he has the same number of touchdowns as he did last season when he should have had more.

Implementation of the Wide 9 Defense. The wide 9 defense hasn’t been entirely bad for the Philadelphia Eagles.  It was distorted by the Eagles turnovers.  In fact, the Philadelphia Eagles have nearly 1,000 less total yards gained by opponents and gained four positions to 8th this season in total defense.  Compared against the run last season, they are about comparable, ranking surprisingly at about 15th. This defensive formation has been astonishingly effective despite how it looks on the field.  Numbers don’t lie.

The Ugly 

Head Coach Andy Reid and Office Politics. Head coach Andy Reid has been on the hot seat this season as the team continuously lost despite having the talent on the roster.  The inconsistent offense, undisciplined defense and the coach hirings and firings ultimately bit Reid this season.

Juan Castillo’s Promotion to Defensive Coordinator. Juan Castillo, the defensive coordinator this season, has been on the hot seat as well.  With St. Louis Rams Steve Spagnulo looming on the horizon, Castillo may not be the defensive coordinator no longer.

Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Goes Diva. DeSean Jackson still has been contending for a better contract all season.  However, this season, his numbers have not been that productive.  He has only 3 touchdowns to date compared to 6 last season, and he has less than 1,000 total receiving yards this season unlike the past two.  Whether he or the Philadelphia Eagles want to trade him in the off-season, that remains to be seen.  There’s no doubt he’s valuable to the Eagles franchise, but his attitude may sour the team.

Defense Lacks Discipline. Dealing with a new defensive coordinator in Juan Castillo was hard enough, but even harder, when the defensive coordinator doesn’t press discipline on the players.  Some of the Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs have been causing commotion on the field by hitting above the shoulder pads and after the tackle.  This is not the professional team that once was when Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and David Akers were here.

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers. The Philadelphia Eagles offense has been lackadaisical as the Eagles are ranked first in turnovers in the entire NFL.  Having the first in turnovers won’t win games, particularly when compounded with a porous run defense.

Cornerback Asante Samuel Unhappy as the Safety Position Crowds. With the acquisition of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, former New England Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel felt that it was three’s a crowd in the safety position. Compared to last season, he’s been a more effective tackler, but he hasn’t nearly had the number of interceptions.  And with the Eagles already considering selling him as trade bait, Samuel is definitely not happy here in Philadelphia.  It is anything but sunny.

Wait Until Next Season…

This season has not been one of the better seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles.  With Vince Young’s announcement the Philadelphia Eagles as the “Dream Team” to the media and general public, the hype fell flat, and it fell hard.  There has been some rumbling about changes in personnel position. Former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnulo has been mentioned as the Philadelphia Eagles’ replacement as defensive coordinator, but nothing has been decided yet.   There will be more media chatter once a decision has been made or not. Until then, Eagles fans, we will have to wait until next season, and perhaps the Eagles will return to playoff contention once again.

Philadelphia Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie: A View on His Pressing Conference

The Philadelphia Eagles fans have been calling for head coach Andy Reid‘s head over this past season like the past seasons, but this time, it was justified as the Eagles ended at .500 with an 8-8 record.  They demolished the hapless Washington Redskins in their last regular season game with a 34-10 win, but it was all for nought.  The New York Giants defeated the New York Jets the previous week with a score of 29-14 and sealed the NFC East title with their 31-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys.  The Jets win saved Giants head coach Tom Coughlin’s job and winning the NFC East title gave them an opportunity to enter the Super Bowl.

On the topic of head coaches, Andy Reid was on the hot seat this season as his team could not gel together until midway through the regular season.  The “Dream Team” could not power offensively through teams like in past seasons, and it hurt them.  Quarterback Michael Vick’s above-average performance this season with 18 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and an above-average quarterback rating of 84.9.  It was only slightly better than his 2004 season with the Atlanta Falcons.  Vince Young did only worse with 4 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a depressing 60.8 quarterback rating.  Neither of them were salvaging Andy Reid’s head nor their offense.  Andy Reid is the NFL’s winningest head coach earning 136 total career victories through the 2011 season.  Reid may be a bit overdrawn at his coaches in important personnel positions — like Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator.  However, he does find gems in the rough on the field.  Running back LeSean McCoy is one of his hidden gems that came to fruition this season.

Concerning wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Lurie commented that he is a “terrific player,” and that he is.  But Jackson has also been toxic in the locker room.  Vince Young could relate as his problem with the Tennessee Titans former head coach Jeff Fisher.  There is no doubt the Eagles will attempt to keep DeSean Jackson.  How much money the front office is willing to separate to keep him is the question here.

One last note is that the front office will not be changed in any way.  At least, the   Philadelphia Eagles aren’t quite as desperate as the Jacksonville Jaguars nor as brain-dead as the Oakland Raiders.

Jeff Lurie didn’t say anything that wasn’t expected, given the failure of the Eagles this season.  He knows there is another season, but if Andy Reid ends up at .500 or less, Reid better prepare to pack up.  Lurie won’t have the patience, the money or the blindfold of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Top Ten Lessons of the 2011-12 NFL Regular Season (With a Bonus!)

Collective Bargaining Agreement and Collateral Damage.  After months of deliberation and stall tactics on the collective bargaining agreement on both sides, finally, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the team owners and the players settled on a collective bargaining agreement.  It gave some of the owners more of a salary cap, and the players more leniency when it came to practicing and injuries. The collateral damage was that there was less time to practice before the regular season, and team “leaders” leading their own practices were insufficient and laughable.  Other collateral damages included more injuries to key players this season and porous and unprepared defenses.

Jim Harbaugh + Alex Smith = San Francisco 49ers Gold. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith finally gets a  proper coach who is more than willing to prepare him after going through several previous coaches.  Alex Smith is not an elite quarterback, but he’s far better now.  From 2010, he improved from a 82.1 quarterback rating to a 90.1 quarterback rating in 2011. Under former Stanford Cardinals head coach Jim Harbaugh, Alex Smith reduced his number of interceptions by half to five this season.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Their Dream Team. A whole lot of talent that went nowhere fast.  This Philadelphia Eagles team was supposed to easily get into the playoffs and a strong contender for the Super Bowl this season. The Eagles are still one of the top three offenses with over 6,000 total yards, but their potency couldn’t overcome their turnover deficiency and porous wide 9 defense with vulnerability against the run.

A Season Without Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning. The Indianapolis Colts team sorely missed their great quarterback Peyton Manning this season as their team has been in last place in their division.  Without Peyton Manning and the Colts standing in the way, the Houston Texans have finally gotten first place and clinched the AFC South.  The media and the Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Saints quarterback Drew Brees or even Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers did not have a yardstick to compare themselves this season.

The Best of the Best: New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees. Even with this strange season, some things always remain consistent — the best remained the best.  The Patriots Tom Brady, Packers Aaron Roders and Saints Drew Brees are among the top three in quarterback rating to date.  As of this week, Aaron Rodgers remains the top dog with a 122.5 quarterback rating followed by Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Dominates Again.  After the fallout last year with Commissioner Roger Goodell, the Steelers defense rose to the occasion this season.  They are first in total defense.

Quarterback Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. I mentioned the Carolina Panthers as a team to watch out for defensively, but their defense is still going through some growing pains. The acquisition of Cam Newton over the pre-season has changed the team for the better offensively. Cam Newton has a solid 85.0 quarterback rating for a rookie quarterback.  Like Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, Newton has mobility but needs improvement on his passing skills.

Cleveland Browns Running Back Peyton Hillis and the Madden Curse. The Madden Curse has been persistent this season as Peyton Hillis continues to battle injuries.  Marshall Faulk had to contend with the same thing until the Curse finally took its toll.

Coaches on the Hot Seat…Again. San Diego head coach Norv Turner and Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sporano are now former head coaches.  With the looks of it, St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnulo is gone as well, and one of his potential new positions next season  might be the defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles with Juan Castillo given another job (hopefully on the offensive side).

Wildcats No More.  After last season or two, the wildcat formation has all but disappeared this season.  True, there are running options with the quarterback on some teams, but it is no longer an established wildcat formation per se.

Bonus: Illegitimacy of College Bowls. The chant has long and been hard about the illegitimacy of the college bowls, but this season perhaps made the issue very apparent — not only to the teams playing but to the media and the general public as well. With Alabama Crimson Tide and LSU Tigers facing each other again, the entire BCS system is put into question, and questions will remain long after the BCS Championship has been decided.

Philadelphia Eagles Wide Receiver Steve Smith: 2010 Year in Review and 2011 Outlook and Beyond

2010 Year in Review

With the recent acquisition of Steve Smith from the New York Giants, he certainly adds a wrinkle to the receiving corps of DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Jason Avant.  He’s no Plaxico Burress that’s for certain as Steve Smith’s record as a wideout for the New York Giants has been spotty at best and negligible at worst.  For the New York Giants, he was quickly replaced by Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.  Compared to either of them during the 2010 regular season, with both nearly having 1,000 yards receiving yards and at least 9 touchdowns for both of them, he was left with 529 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.  He was a shadow of what he was in 2009.

In his 2009 regular season, Steve Smith had his best performance as wideout for the New York Giants.  In that season, he had 1,220 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.  With his 1,220 total receiving yards for that season, he was ranked 8th among wide receivers.  And, with his 7 touchdowns, he was tied for 20th in the company of Indianapolis Colts Austin Collie, Baltimore Ravens Derrick Mason and Dallas Cowboys Roy Williams.  Compared to his other seasons with the Giants in 2007, 2008 and 2010, he has been a dismal failure of a wideout, barely receiving any production whatsoever.

2011 Outlook and Beyond

On the roster chart currently, he is one of the backup wideouts to Jeremy Maclin.  What his role in the new scheme of the Philadelphia Eagles has yet to be seen, as he is gradually recovering and is expected to practice by week 1 of the regular season.  That is hopeful news but it should be tempered.  With Eli Manning, he was a reliable third-down wide receiver, but he was also placed behind Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer in the depth chart of the New York Giants.  And now, he’s in the same situation yet again with the Philadelphia Eagles.

If and when he recovers completely during the 2011 regular season, he will make an splash with the Philadelphia Eagles, but it might be small at best.  He certainly lacks the speed of DeSean Jackson nor the persistence of Jeremy Maclin.  For now, he remains a viable goal-line target at best due to his physical stature, and that is perhaps his best role on this team.  However, with that in mind, he’s also competing for catches with potentially Eagles tight end Brent Celek.  Perhaps the only thing going for him is Jeremy Maclin’s unknown illness.  Who will recover first and fastest?  It appears that currently Steve Smith has the lead.

2011 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Prospect

Steve Smith is an interesting gamble at best, but is he worth it?  Some gambled on Sidney Rice of the Minnesota Vikings last season, but it didn’t come through as expected.  For this season, Steve Smith is a bit like Sidney Rice of the previous fantasy football season minus the upside — really.  True, he’s on an explosive pass-happy offense.  Unfortunately, he’s got competition in his rear view mirror, lots of it.  Jason Avant and Riley Cooper are two of the most notable.  He’s worth a gander in the later rounds of the fantasy football draft, but it will take a person with a lot of moxie to gamble on this one.  I would leave him as waiver wire fodder for now.  If he becomes a starter over Jeremy Maclin, which I sincerely doubt, he’s worth a solid to high-end WR2 optimistically with a dash of upside.  Again, Steve Smith remains a gamble and a large one at that.