I GET IT
Great game for the fighting Jakes. Only marred by the nine touchdowns and 650 yards rushing put up by opposing QB Jake "Leidner" JakeManziel....
JLong looks god awful, worst busts in recent history?
Not an appropriate diary topic, but I think points are preventing me from comments so spinning it into one.
I. Jake Long Observations
Watching M alum(s) makes any NFL viewing that much more enjoyable. Due to Jake Long, the Fins have supplanted the Pats as my favorite non-Lions NFL game. Like Brady you can watch him on every offensive play. He’s obv nowhere near as accomplished as Brady. But I still marvel more, esp in pro football, over consistent physical domination. Acceleration, speed, quickness, hand-eye Q, leaping, striking, plowing, etc.
Jake squished opponents like grapes in college. Orlando Pace was the gold standard and better college player IMO due to his inhuman (I guess they all are) level of flexibility and athleticism. He moved like an NBA small forward +100 lbs, was as powerful as anyone, and unlike many other gifted LT’s brought his athleticism to pass pro and run-blocking balance/leverage in equal measure. Pace carried it all over to the NFL and was a top 3 tackle (Tra Thomas, Walter Jones) during his era and has a goofy bronze caricature somewhere in his future.
The question for me going into Jake’s rookie season was whether his raw power would transfer to the pros. I had confidence in his consistency, discipline, leverage, technique, awareness in picking up stunts/blitzes, ability to run-block in space, and ability to be an effective pass blocker. In other words a fine LT. But what if you had an LT that could pass block like Joe Thomas and run block like Jon Runyn?
The media consensus was that Jake’s ceiling was a average-at-best pass blocking LT if he managed to stave off the move to RT. I never thought Jake would look as smooth as Thomas but could match the pass blocking effectiveness, and that if that brute strength carried over you’d have back-to-back rookie pro bowlers at LT in the AFC provided that #1 overall pick notoriety could counterbalance veteran bias and lazy voting.
And so it nearly went (Jake was an alternate despite playing the 2nd half last year on a bad wheel). Jake blew ends 10 yards off the ball and caved in half the DL with regularity. It all snapped into focus during his nationally televised match-up with Mario Williams where the Fins left him largely to his own devises on pass plays, and Williams came out of halftime rushing from the left side of the line.
This season I was hoping to watching Jake put another bullet on an HOF resume and continue beasting defenders in a manor which palpably shortened life spans.
My second boy was born this Sunday, week one, so I wasn’t paying that close attention. I was perturbed to here Greeny squawking Monday about John Abrams owning Jake. But I didn’t think much more of it other than making the Fins-Colts week 2 Freeny match-up that much more interesting.
End prelude commence observations.
A. As far as homer announcers go, Mike Tirico must make Herbie blush. Odd considering
he isn’t an alum. I know Tirico lives in AA now. And as a ‘Cuse alum there’s nothing inherently preventing him from drifting toward an M allegiance. Tirico’s gal may even be an M alum. But those factors alone can’t account for more than 5 inches of the 9" hard on he has for the Blue. Don’t know what gives but not complaining.
B. Tuned into the MNF game as Jaws was inrowing a Jake/Freeny montage during a
TO right before the half, and he was talking about JAKE LONG. Yes!
Tirico must have written the script for that clip bf the game. There were maybe 5-6 iso clips of their ‘battle’, and Long had double-team help from Smiley (not a chip, pure double team blocking) on all but one. Jake still wound up getting pushed into the QB and/or on his ass in over ½ the clips. Jaws kept right on talking about what a phenomenal job Long was doing. It was so embarrassing I had to change the channel for a few plays to gather myself. When I came back Jake was still on the ground in pass-pro, even with assistance.
C. Did Long get hurt in camp? Did he have offseason surgery? Was he held out of a lot of
preseason shit for some reason and maybe lost his conditioning?
Did he go out on South Beach 1 or 2 nights per week too many? And when he did, was he passing the sure thing, C+, HJ from a Kardashian look alike at 10:30 and trying to wait out the Brook Burke-esque gal who started off dancing on the bar, but by midnight is still only on her 3rd drink deep and surrounded by an ever tightening ring of gay friends who are needlessly "looking out" for her?
He doesn’t look like a fat NFL OL by any stretch, but he looks noticeably heavier than last year. He also looked slow and tired. The Fins had more TOP than any losing team in NFL history, and the storyline was about how the Colts D (esp DL) would be folding any minute.
Every time the announcers brought that up a familiar thought floated to me. Why do we assume that offensive players won’t tire before defenders? This game was the perfect example and Long was a microcosm. The Fins set sail on these long grinding drives, but the Colts hung together as they were slowly dragged down the field. Miami executed for long stretches but more often than not ran out of gas first.
D. Freeny is more than a handful for any LT, but Long had more help than all of his ‘08
snaps I watched combined and x 2.
E. Jake played with appalling leverage. This was the most alarming aspect of his
performance. It started with his sets where his back was 6"+ raised above the rest of the line in non-passing situations. Many running plays were draws where he wasn’t asked to do anything other than shove a rushing DE upfield (which he did well). When asked to drive block he usually stood up and leaned on his assignment. Last year when Jake’s assignment was to get to the second level he did so with gusto, regardless of whether the run was designed to his side. When that happened tonight he looked like a WR blocking, just watching the play. When he was blocking playside he often couldn’t decide who to block and didn’t get a piece of anyone.
F. This was a horrid performance. Somewhere between apathetic and tepid. Its difficult
for me to believe that one offseason of cash, acclaim, suntan lotion, and raw foreskin could derail a Jake Long’s passion for football. But there is something physically, mentally, or
conditionally wrong with Jake at this point.
Whatever it is I hope it gets straightened out because the disappointment of watching that far outpaced the joy of watching last season. I’m not saying he’s a bust or will be, but this was a bust-worthy performance.
II. Bigger UM Draft Busts in Recent History
This topic actually came into my head and wouldn’t leave before I realized just how bad Jake was stinking out the joint, because Justin Smiley plays LG next to him.
I don’t see Smiley without thinking of David Baas. Baas was drafted in the 2nd by the 49ers and promptly got hurt and missed his rookie year, then couldn’t beat out Smiley for the starting guard spot (even after Smiley left for Miami last year).
Early 2nd round is an honor for a guard, but I still thought Baas was worthy of a 1st round pick. He was even projected at the bottom of round 1 by some media experts. No matter how ruthless I try to make my judgment of M players going into the draft, my homerism almost always creeps in to some degree. But I wasn’t alone here.
Baas was I guy I watched every run play, then rewound the watch again in slowmo. IMO he was a whisker behind Hutchinson as a college player, and I nearly cried when Seattle took Hutch with the 16th overall pick with the Roar on the clock at #17. In other words, he was a sure MF’ing thing as a pro prospect.
Did I mention my M homerism is irrepressible in evaluating pro prospects?
A. I still shake my head over Baas. I would love to see the stats on the average length of pro
careers, number of starts, etc for guys who miss their whole rookie season with injury. Or otherwise. Thats why someone needs to ring Crabtree’s neck. Uncanny what that does to players.
But Baas missed his first starting year at M and bounced back. He was a flat-out ass kicker. More accolades as a center but that was typical media bullshit. He was a great guard, moved to center in a pinch, that became fluffy, lazy lolmsm story line, and the next thing you know he’s getting post season awards at center. Guards are expected to be strong and he had to be in the 99 percentile in guard strength. A brute. Mauler. Mean streak. But what set him apart even from that was his ability to pull (best I’ve ever seen at M) and block in the screen game.
B. Alan Branch. I was actually advocating the Roar take him with the (I
think) 10th overall pick to play next to Rogers in the 4-3. I know Branch has battled some injuries, but we’re not talking about ACLs and torn triceps here.
Knock on Branch coming out was his potential weight problems (legit in my mind at the time) and work ethic (not legit in my mind at the time).
At M Branch wasn’t always at the right weight. But Carr never called out his work ethic. And following Branch’s Fr year he got leaner/meaner every season, which to me indicated good work ethic. And a work ethic with that ability? To me it he’d be a borderline pro-bowl player minimum with good heath.
Show of hands for those who thought Branch was a better pro prospect that Woodley.
C. Marquis Walker. This one is only about 25% on Marquise. He was a hell of a WR at M.
The #1 ranked recruit at the position even though that call was a misfire. But can’t blame Quise for that. Big, velcro hands, knew how to play the position. Ultimately just not that fast. Hey, not all WRs are.
And he squeezed 99.9% out of what he had to work with his sr. season at M. Sure I’d want to punch him in the face right now over the OSU drop, but that was about the only blemish. That team saddled him up like an RB. And Iowa. Side-by-side it was more impressive than Woodson at MSU.
Yea, I said it.
All that don’t make a second round pick. But that was Chuckie’s fault, not Walker’s. Still, I had him pegged for 6th or 7th and NFL career similar to Avant’s now. Walker flamed right out of the NFL even with his 2nd round pick status.
D. Chris Perry. This one really sucked. Would have been shocked if he ever made a pro
bowl, but how was he not 1,000 rusher 300 yard receiver for 4-6 seasons?
Injuries, sure. But he never got on track even when healthy. Too much tread on the tire perhaps. 50 carries sparty?
E. David Terrell. DT? Ugh. A step-slow Michael Westbrook. When Westbrook was
healthy and on his meds he was a force not unlike a Calvin Johnson who would drive you crazy with some drops. So how does he fail to stick on an NFL roster, despite what (to his credit) seemed to be a solid work ethic and commitment to football?
F. Braylon? Stopping now.
III. Fins-Colts Observations
Anyone talking recently on this site about TOP being overrated? Yeah.
This game will be an interesting test case for the those who would argue that leaving your defense out to dry like that will carry over to future games.
I've been trying to keep tabs on how Jake's been holding up as the number 1 overall pick. Leading up to his selection, I was always suprised that every commentator compared him to Joe Thomas, and each and every one of those comparisons concluded that either Long probably wouldn't be as good as Thomas and/or he was bound for RT.
Joe is a good lineman, smooth, good feet. Great technique and very effective in the run game. Jake was close but couldn't quite match him in those areas, but had always displayed the type of brute, overpowering force that you don't often see translate to the NFL. So I was anxious to see if he could dominate physically at the NFL level, and how he'd fair in his comparisons with Thomas.
The lack of media analysis of the #1 overall pick so far has been very disappointing. Even the dolphins site at scout rarely mentions Long and never discusses his progress. I was even more perplexed to see Jake lined up at RT in all those wild hogcat highlights, yet, he was still being listed as an LT and there was no media mention of a switch. He was blocking well in those highlights so I figured he must have been struggling at LT like many predicted, and had made the switch.
Then I saw the last 3/4 of the Houston-Miami game on NFL replay, which is a fantastic program by the way. There is a lot of commentary which is okay from players, good from coaches, and great from the head of officials. There is the occasionaly indepth breakdown of key plays and they should do a lot more with this. But I digress.
Anyhoo, there was Jake-y at LT squaring off against Mario Williams and holding up quite well. I was confused again, but excited for the measuring stick match up. Then Miami shifted into the hogcat and things became clear. When they go to that formation, Jake doesn't just shift to the right side, he lines up as a TE over there. Brilliant coaching to get Long and Carey together. Even if the defense over loads to the strong side those two can ram enough of a hole playside to get positive yardage. Impressive use of personal.
After the 1st half, Mario Williams went head to head with Jake for one play. That pretty much says it all, don't you think?
Like I said, I missed the 1st quarter and Williams was credited with 2 sacks. I only saw one and it was in the 2nd half, so don't know if Jake got beat early on. Jake did get pushed into Pennington once in the 2nd half by the other DE, forcing Chad to move up in the pocket where Williams got sack #2.
Jake looks like Boselli redux out there. He was crumpling players bobby carpenter-style when asked to fire out. They also blocked down with the TE on his side a lot and had him pulling around the left side. He really showed his knack for picking the right guy to block in those situations and getting effective blocks in space at the second level. This is not an area he needs to improve, but is one I think he will keep getting better at until he's among the best in the NFL.
Williams never got close to the QB in their one-on-one battles. Jake gets off the line and into his pass drops so quickly I swore he false started once or twice. However, he retreats a bit too quickly and too deep. He seems overly threatened by the outside pass rush, which leaves the inside move wide open (though nobody took advantage). When single blocking a pass rushing DE, he did not engaged at the snap, instead retreating into his drop and allowing the DE to come to him. When guys went wide against this, he easily rode them out of the play. But he struggled against the bull rush because the DE was basically getting a 2.5 step running start and blasting into a stationary Long. He held his ground adequately in these situations save for the play where his man forced the sack.
He did not appear to work well with the LG Smiley. When the defense slanted right and Jake wasn't really asked to block anyone himself, his "helping" blocks on the guy Smiley was engaged with weren't very effective. There were many times when no Texan bothered to rush from Jake's side, and once he realized this he wasn't good at sliding and helping the rest of his linemates. Picking nits I guess.
How is that hogcat effective against NFL defenses where the threat of any downfield pass is so remote? The Miami offensive line and TEs deserve a lot of credit for its success, and the coaches have put on a clinic in playing off their own tendencies out of it. Perfect example was the reverse/flea flicker to Pennington who was lined up as WR, which was then thrown to a wide open RB down the field (I would love to see RR steal that one with the throw going to Moundros). But what allows this formation continuing success is the ability to hike it to Brown or Ricky and let the Carey-Long tandem drive forward for 5 yards.