Browsing Posts published by Matthew Vereb

The table below compares two quarterbacks from the 2014 NFL draft class. Statistics were sourced from their 2013-2014 college seasons. 

Player QB A QB B
Draft Year 2014 2014
Height 6’1″ 5’11”
Weight 206 207
Hand Size 9.25 9.75
40-Yard Dash 4.66 4.68
3-Cone Drill 7.07 6.75
Short Shuttle 4.33 4.03
Broad Jump 116 113
Vertical Jump 34 31.5
Adjusted Yards/Attempt 10.1 (3rd highest) 10.0 (4th)
Completion % 63% 70%
INT/Attempt 0.35% 3.03%
College Regression? No Yes
Wonderlic 23 32

Athletic Profile

Quarterback A is a more explosive player, producing higher broad and vertical jump marks while benefiting from better straight line speed. Quarterback B is more elusive, posting 3-Cone and Short Shuttle marks that rival some of the more highly touted running backs in the 2014 NFL Draft. 

Passing Skills

Quarterback A has a slightly higher AY/A, which measures adjusted yards gained per pass attempt while Quarterback B posted a better completion percentage. Quarterback A was much better at limiting turnovers than Quarterback B was. Quarterback A threw just one interception in 284 pass attempts while Quarterback B threw 13 interceptions in 429 pass attempts. 

Other

Other factors, such as breakout age, college regression, hand size, and Wonderlic scores were considered. There has been a ton of analysis completed on QB-hand size relative to NFL success, so Quarterback B has a natural advantage. Quarterback B also scored higher on the Wonderlic test. 

Quarterback A’s last college season was his best season, by measure of his passer rating, while Quarterback B slightly regressed during his final college season. This may be one of the most telling signs yet as the nearly all current NFL starting quarterbacks had their best collegiate season during their final college season. 

So Who is Quarterback A and Quarterback B?

Both quarterbacks are members of the Cleveland Browns.

During 2014, quarterback Brian Hoyer started 13 games for Cleveland as Manziel and Shaw worked as his understudies. Both rookie quarterbacks had opportunities to start, but the results were less than inspiring.

Johnny Manziel

Manziel started in Weeks 15 and 16, but failed to produce. During Week 15, Manziel was completely shut down as the Cincinnati Bengals embarassed Cleveland, 30-0. Manziel completed 10-of-18 passes for 80 yards and two interceptions. He averaged 4.4 yards per pass attempt and posted a dismal a QBR of 1.0. Both of Manziel’s interceptions were thrown into double coverage. Manziel faced Carolina in Week 16 and left with an injury. He was placed onto season-ending Injured Reserve. He completed just 3-of-8 passes for 28 yards against Carolina, averaging 4.0 yards per pass attempt.

In fairness, Manziel’s first two starts were late in the season against two teams that eventually secured playoff berths. 

Connor Shaw

After spending 16 weeks as a member of the practice squad, Shaw was called up to the 53-man active roster after Manziel was placed on Injured Reserve. Shaw’s Week 17 opponent? A meeting in Baltimore against a Ravens team vying for a playoff spot. Shaw turned in a respectable performance, completing 14-0f-28 passes for 177 yards and one interception. Baltimore scored 17 unanswered fourth quarter points to rally and beat Cleveland, 20-10. Shaw kept his team in the game, something that Manziel was unable to do.

Observations

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s game plan was pretty conservative for both quarterbacks. The game plan called for a lot of short throws in an effort to develop rhythm. Simply put, Manziel looked really, really bad and some of his mistakes from his last year at Texas A&M resurfaced in Cleveland. Manziel had trouble looking off defenders and his tendencies to wildly throw jump balls into double coverage continued. Instead of having 6’5″ Mike Evans vs. undersized defenders at his disposal, NFL defenders made Manziel pay for his reckless play.

Shaw was put into a really tough spot in Baltimore, but played well for someone coming off the practice squad. He utilized his rushing attack to stymie Baltimore’s ferocious pass rush while working the middle of the field by hitting tight end Jordan Cameron on a seam routes. Some of his throws were a little short and he threw a costly interception during the fourth quarter, which led to seven points.

If given more time and reps during the course of the season, Shaw may have had a chance to develop, hang on and knock Baltimore out of the playoffs.

Verdict: Is Connor Shaw Better Than Johnny Manziel? 

Simply put: The jury is still out. With Hoyer set to leave as a free agent, expect Cleveland to bring in a seasoned back-up quarterback. The battle for the starting role, however, will probably come down to Manziel and Shaw.

It may seem outlandish to suggest an undrafted rookie is better than the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, but Shaw has the raw skills and make-up to be an NFL quarterback. At the NFL Combine, Shaw demonstrated above average athleticism for a quarterback. At South Carolina, he posted a high AY/A (which suggests the ability to throw the ball down the field) coupled with a low interception rate, which highlights his skill and ability to throw down field with success. Given his ‘undrafted rookie’ label, Shaw did not receive a fair opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job. 

It’s troubling that Manziel could not beat out Hoyer, a career back-up, for the starting quarterback role during training camp. Manziel has a lot of the raw skills needed to be a NFL quarterback, but he has to convince coaches, his team mates, and more importantly, Cleveland fans, that he can quickly go through his progressions, not bail out of the pocket when the first read isn’t open, and stop making stupid decisions when receivers aren’t open. That’s purely the football side of it.

The off-the-field side of Manziel is the troubling part. I’ve never met Manziel, so I don’t know what it’s like to be him. What I do know, however, is that he has a large cult following and isn’t shy about posting his off-the-field activity on social media. He also likes to host and attend parties, which always seem to find a way into the headlines. Is he committed to becoming a better NFL quarterback in the off-season? We’ll know if he did his homework next fall.

Final Thoughts

Let’s not forget that egos come into play when deciding which player starts. Let’s not forget that General Manager Ray Farmer gave into Manziel-Mania by trading up for him in the 2014 NFL Draft. If Manziel doesn’t succeed and Cleveland continues to sputter, Farmer will probably lose his job. Manziel getting beaten out by an undrafted rookie will not look good. Head coach Mike Pettine, however, will play the best quarterback. Will that be Manziel, Shaw, or someone else? It’s too early to tell, but don’t be surprised if Shaw out-right wins the job. He has the raw skills and make-up to challenge Johnny Football, if given the opportunity. 

Hiroki Kuroda, who turns 40-years-old in February, will return to his old team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, for the 2015 season. Over the past few seasons, Kuroda has contemplated retirement, but has returned to take the $12-$15 million offered by the Yankees. After four years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kuroda joined the Yankees during the 2012 season. Kuroda went 38-33 with a 3.44 ERA during his time tenure with the Yankees. At face value, these numbers do not justify Kuroda’s impact with the Yankees since he rarely received substantial run support. While Kuroda’s numbers do not rank with baseball’s elite, Kuroda was reliable, durable, and consistent for a team that desperately needed it. Kuroda threw 620 innings over his three seasons in New York.

CC Sabathia, Mashario Tanaka, and Michael Pineda are (hopefully) locks for the 2015 rotation while Ivan Nova, Chris Capuano, and Nathan Eovaldi will duke it out for the back half of the rotation. Max Scherzer is still available, but reports suggest that the Yankees will not be on him.

Kuroda didn’t generate many headlines with the Yankees, but he was an innings-eater that covered up a lot of holes in the rotation. The Yankees enter the 2015 season with question marks all over their rotation, so losing their only consistent starter, hurts. Still, Kuroda is 40-years-old, so fans couldn’t expect his string of consistent seasons to last forever. I’ll respect Kuroda as a respectable, professional starting pitcher that always gave his best effort. Enjoy Japan, Hiroki!

An outbreak of the mumps caused chaos and confusion throughout the NHL in December, with some of Hockey’s leading stars falling victim to the virus.

Anaheim Ducks were the first team to report players suffering from the viral infection, which is spread by coughing and sneezing. More often seen in children, mumps affects the saliva glands and causes painful swelling on either side of the face below the ears; serious complications are rare, but in some instances infertility could result.

Emergency immunizations and quarantines have been implemented since the outbreak and reviews of the NHL’s infectious disease prevention guidelines are underway.

As of 22nd December, 18 players across the NHL had been infected. These included star players such as Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh Penguins. Teams ranging from the Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers have all been affected.

Ironically, Rangers’ Derick Brassard missed the round of booster shots organised for the team at the end of November due to illness—he would later become one of those infected, along with forward Lee Stempniak, Tanner Glass, a minor league player and a coach.

The Rangers’ form has been barely affected, though. Their pre-Christmas 1-0 win over the Hurricanes completed their longest winning streak since 2011-12, when they managed 7-in-a-row. Demand to see the New York Rangers is always high, particularly over the holidays—and especially when on such a golden run of form, however, you can find here sold out tickets.

The US has seen large numbers of mumps cases recently: earlier in the year, there was a large spate of cases at Ohio State University. More than 100 students were infected. However, late 2014’s NHL outbreak is a rare occurrence in professional sport.

The NBA and NFL will be monitoring the situation closely. Not only to see whether precautions put in place are working, but also because many clubs across the various sports share the same arena or training facility.

In the meantime, Hockey has a busy holiday period to navigate—NHL tickets are available here.

We’re spreading the holiday cheer this season by partnering with our dear friends over at Rukkus, a cheap sports ticket website that finds the best deals on MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL tickets – plus everything in between. What’s in it for you, you ask? Well now you can win free tickets to ANY NY sports game. Just click on the image below.

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You can find all the details on the giveaway here

The slumping New York Knicks (4-11) will travel to Dallas to face the upstart Dallas Mavericks (10-5). During the off-season, these two teams engaged in a trade that sent center Tyson Chandler back to Dallas. Point guard Raymond Felton was also included in the trade, but Chandler, an ex-Defensive Player of the Year, was the key cog of the deal. In return, New York received point guards Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin, center Sam Dalembert, and two second round picks. New York’s star small forward, Carmelo Anthony, who is averaging only 23.2 points per game, is dealing with knee soreness and back spasms. Anthony exited Monday’s game against Atlanta due to back spasms and will not play in tonight’s contest. Anthony is averaging four fewer points per game than last season, but is shooting a lot better from 3-point range. Anthony is making 48 percent of 3-point attempts this season compared to just 41 percent last season. With Anthony injured, JR Smith and Amare Stoudemire will need to step up. Stoudemire is averaging 16.3 points per game over his last three contests. 

As a team, Dallas is averaging an NBA-high 109.3 points per game. Despite the lofty offensive totals, Dallas’ offense has struggled recently. Dallas has lost back-to-back games to the Houston Rockets and to the injury-ravaged Indiana Pacers. Dallas has averaged just 96 points per game in these two losses. Look for Dallas to get back on track against a New York team that is allowing 99 points per game. 

Even though Dallas and New York split last year’s meetings, Dallas has won 14 of their last 17 home games against New York. Anthony averaged 32 points per game during last year’s meetings, but will miss this game.

According the current NBA lines, Dallas is a 12.5-point home favorite over the short-handed Knicks. Since Anthony is not playing and given the revenge factor for Chandler, this feels like a blowout. While it’s never advisable to lay double digit points, the spot seems right and with Thanksgiving occurring tomorrow, I’m not expecting the Knicks to show up. Lay the big number with your NBA Picks.

Official Pick: Dallas Mavericks -12.5

The Patriots, winners of five straight games, will look to continue their winning ways when the Lions travel to Gillette Stadium. New England is coming off a 42-20 road victory over the  Colts.  Jonas Gray ran for 199 yards and four touchdowns in the easy victory.  Tom Brady was not asked to do much, but threw touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright. Gronkowski led the way with 71 yards on four catches while Wright’s only catch resulted in a two-yard touchdown. New England’s defense completely shut down Indianapolis’s rushing attack, limiting the Colts to 19 yards on 17 carries. Andrew Luck threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns, but New England controlled the clock and won the time of possession. 

The Lion will look to bounce back after dropping a 14-6 decision to the Cardinals. Matthew Stafford completed just 18-of-30 passes for 183 yards and no touchdowns. Calvin Johnson was targeted 12 times, but only came away with 59 yards on five catches.Joique Bell totaled 115 yards and did not appear to be limited by injury. Detroit’s defense sold out to stop Arizona’s rushing attack. Fans should not expect to see a huge yardage total from Gray in this meeting.

According to current NFL odds, the Patriots are 7.5 point favorites over the Lions. Brady will seek his fourth career victory over Detroit. In their last meeting, Brady threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns in a decisive 45-24 victory. Stafford missed the game due to injury while Johnson caught four passes for 81 yards and one touchdown. Lay the points and take New England with your NFL picks.

Official Pick: New England -7.5

The Patriots, winners of five straight games, will travel to face the Colts on Sunday Night Football. Both teams enjoyed a Week 10 bye, so expect  an electric vibe when this game kicks off. The Patriots are coming off an impressive 43-21 home victory over the Broncos. Tom Brady threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns while Rob Gronkowski caught nine passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell and Shane Vereen also caught touchdown passes from Brady. New England’s defense gave up 481 yards of total offense, but won the turnover battle, two to one.

The Colts are coming off a convincing 40-24 road victory over the Giants on Monday Night Football. Andrew Luck threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns while Coby Fleener led the way with four catches for 77 yards a touchdown. Ahmad Bradshaw totaled 79 yards against his ex-team. TY Hilton and Reggie Wayne also scored while tight end Dwayne Allen hauled in a touchdown.

Brady has defeated Luck twice and has won four straight against Indianapolis, including a dominant 43-22 home victory last season in the playoffs. New England rushed for 234 yards and six touchdowns in the playoff win.

According to current NFL odds, the Colts opened as two-point home favorites against the Patriots. While this match-up favors the Colts since they’re playing at home, I like the Patriots in this match-up. I always take Brady and Belichick off a bye week especially in prime time. Take the Patriots today for your NFL picks!

Official Pick: New England Patriots +2

The New York Giants have lost three straight and a trip to Seattle will not make things easier. New York was embarrassed by the Colts on Monday Night Football, 40-24. New York faced a double digit deficit for nearly the entire game as its defense was unable to stop Andrew Luck.  Eli Manning threw for 359 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. led the way with eight catches for 156 yards. New York’s once vaunted defensive line was unable to generate pressure on Luck, sacking him only one time. 

The Seattle Seahawks have won two straight games, but currently sit two games behind the Arizona Cardinals in a race for the NFC West. Last week, Seattle defeated the Oakland Raiders, 30-24. Running back Marshawn Lynch totaled 137 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Wilson only completed 17-of-35 attempts for 179 yards. Seattle’s defense, however, played very well and forced three Oakland turnovers. Seattle won the turnover battle, 3-0.

Current NFL odds list the Seahawks as 10.5 point home favorites. Last year, Seattle embarrassed New York 23-0 at MetLife Stadium. Manning threw five interceptions in the loss. Seattle out-rushed New York, 134 to 25. Expect Seattle’s raucous home crowd to make things extremely difficult for a New York defense that has struggled in recent weeks. Lay the points and take the Seahawks for your NFL picks

Official Pick: Seattle -10

It has been an indifferent season for the New York Giants. Expectations were never too high but, the playoffs were to be expected. With a record of 3-4 at the halfway mark they are by no means out of the running for the playoffs but it is going to be one hell of a challenge. A challenge that right now they don’t look capable of completing. But can they, and if so, how?

The Giants are currently way out with bet365 to win the NFC Eastern Conference, and in all fairness they are definitely not going to win that, but more worryingly, their chances of even making it as a wildcard entrant are diminishing by the weekend.

Everyone knows just how important the next few games are for the Giants. Unfortunately, they are pretty tough bunch of games to win. Not only do they have to go to defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks, but they welcome Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, an in form Dallas Cowboys and NFC East rivals the Philly Eagles. That is five extremely difficult games from their last nine fixtures. Assuming the worst and that the Metlife side lose all five of those games, which the way they are playing recently is not that much of a stretch of the imagination, it would leave them with a record of 7-9, and that is assuming they win the games that they should. The only thing a 7-9 record is good for is managerial dismissals.

If truth be told, the run in looks to strong for the Giants and far too many of the teams that they are competing against on the field are competing with them for the playoff position. Right now in the NFC there is already a two game deficit between the Giants and the playoffs. If that gap extends further than the Giants’ season is over.

However, this is the New York Giants we are talking about. The gutsy side that never throw in the towel. If they did the 2011 Super Bowl would be remembered as the year that the New England Patriots won their fourth Super Bowl. The Giants are a gritty, resilient bunch. When the pressure is on they raise their game and that is what you can expect them to do right now. They must, and will, treat these final nine games as if they are playoff matches, and when they have that mentality they are a different side all together. Victories over the Colts and the Seahawks in their next two games will galvanise the locker room and bring some cohesion to the fragmented roster.

He has been very dodgy this season but still, you never back against a Manning. With Eli in your side you know you have a quarterback capable of picking out passes from impossible distances. He, like the Giants, just needs a couple of good games to get the old mojo back. When he does… look out.

The success of the Giants’ season will be decided in the next three matches. If they win at least two of the three they give themselves a shot, anything less and they are too far adrift.

The New York Jets (1-7) have lost seven straight games. Given their recent struggles, New York has benched quarterback, Geno Smith and gave the starting job to journeyman, Michael Vick. Smith threw three first quarter interceptions and was promptly benched. Vick played the rest of the game, but committed three turnovers in the loss. Running back Chris Ivory scored two touchdowns in the loss, but New York’s quarterback play must improve if it wants to save face during this disasterous 2014 season. Don’t expect things to get any easier when New York heads to a raucous Arrowhead Stadium.

The Kansas City Chiefs (4-3) have won two straight games, including a 34-7 victory last week against the St. Louis Rams. Running back Jamaal Charles ran for 67 yards and two touchdowns while wide receiver Dwayne Bowe caught six passes for 64 yards. Kansas City is the NFL’s third best rushing team with 140.7 rushing yards per game. Kansas City’s defense is only allowing 195.7 passing yards per game, which will present a huge issue for New York’s porous passing attack. Kansas City is 2-1 in its home games this year. 

Current NFL odds list Kansas City as 10.5 home favorites over New York. While things have been porous for New York, I’ll be happy to take double digit points. I fully expect New York to bounce back. Vick will be given all of the reps during practice and will have an opportunity to develop some chemistry with his receivers. Vick also adds a dynamic rushing element to New York’s offense. Take the Jets for your NFL picks.

Official Pick: NY Jets +10.5