Posts Tagged ‘Jake Locker’

Calling it down the middle, the AFC South has been a one-team buffet for years now. In the Manning days, it was the Colts to have their way with, but in recent years it has reverted to the Texans, who have won the last two division titles. The Colts had a resurrection last year under its newest star signal caller Andrew Luck, and made every game of the season count. But while this was happening, there were the Jaguars and Titans, who have been on a search for identity while both of these runs have been going.

Now with a new year on deck, there are new dynamics all around. Can the Texans hold off the rise of the Colts? Or were the upstarts in Indy moving ahead of their time, and on course for a return to the middle in year two. Meanwhile, will the Jaguars be able to avoid the path that nearly landed them atop the NFL Draft a year ago, and can Tennessee saddle up with its old horse with a few new adjustments to get him back to where he was?


QB: Andrew Luck RB: Arian Foster, Chris Johnson WR: Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Cecil Shorts TE: Owen Daniels OT: Duane Brown, Eugene Monroe OG: Andy Levitre, Wade Smith C: Chris Myers

DE: JJ Watt, Derrick Morgan DT/NT: Aubrayo Franklin, Jurrell Casey OLB: Brooks Reed, Robert Mathis MLB: Brian Cushing, Paul Posluszny CB: Jonathan Joseph, Jason McCourty FS: Ed Reed SS: Bernard Pollard

K: Rob Bironas P: Shane Lechler KR: Mark Mariani PR: TY Hilton


Watt broke through to rare air in his second season, leading the NFL in sacks and taking the Texans defense to elite status.

Watt broke through to rare air in his second season, leading the NFL in sacks, taking home Defensive Player of the Year honors and taking the Texans defense to elite status.

HOUSTON TEXANS (12-4 in 2012)

The Good: There are playmakers everywhere on this defense. In addition to Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt, who may have had the most complete defensive season in NFL history a year ago, Ed Reed has entered the picture as well. Age is catching up, but for the most instinctual player in game, that shouldn’t be much of a hindrance. Add in Brian Cushing, Jonathan Joseph and Brooks Reed, and they’ll be a problem once again.

The Bad: Which Arian Foster are they getting? The straw that stirs the drink on offense has be held back by HIS back for much of the offseason, and durability could become an issue. Ben Tate may be the best backup runner in the game, but for a team that’s so built around moving the ball on the ground being without its biggest weapon for a stretch is a tough scenario.

X-Factor—DeAndre Hopkins: Years back, the Texans could stretch the field, and it was not just Andre Johnson that could do it. But in recent years, that element has not been as prevalent. In an attempt to bring that back, the club added Hopkins with the 28th pick of the first round, who adds another vertical threat. On his 82 catches at Clemson last year, he averaged 17 yards per.

Schedule: @SD (W), TEN (W), @BAL (L), SEA (W), @SF (L), STL (W), @KC (W), IND (W), @ARI (W), OAK (W), JAX (W), NE (L), @JAX (W), @IND (L), DEN (W), @TEN (L)

Prediction: They have been the roosters in the hen house for years now down south, but the Colts put a charge into them by being able to beat them with the big play. They have addressed that on both sides of the ball, and still have the veteran core in addition to the developing young core that has kept them where they have been, and will stay. 11-5


Luck set seven records as a rookie passer, including the most wins for a #1 pick quarterback, which was a 10 game turnaround from 2011.

Luck set seven records as a rookie passer, including the most wins for a #1 pick quarterback, which was a 10 game turnaround from 2011.


The Good: They have invested in giving Andrew Luck everything he could possibly need at every stop. With Reggie Wayne still the mainstay and TY Hilton, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener still developing, they added Darius Heyward-Bey to be a home run hitter down the field. If Ahmad Bradshaw can add a new dynamic out of the backfield catching passes as well, a top 5 offense could be in brewing.

The Bad: They won with smoke and mirrors on defense last year. If the offense didn’t go big, they were getting run off the field. Only one playoff bound team gave up more yards than Indy’s 5,988 and 24.2 points a game. It is tempting to fate to think that will work twice, especially with dates versus San Francisco, Denver, Cincinnati, Seattle and a double dip with Houston on deck.

X-Factor—Matt Hasselbeck: In a perfect world, he never sees the field. But what he could do for Andrew Luck’s development as a passer could do more for the club than anything else. Cutting down on the 18 interception/9 fumble season rookie effort he posted as a rookie is on his shoulders, but the benefit of a year with a three-time Pro Bowl, former Super Bowl QB could escalate his curve immediately.

Schedule: OAK (W), MIA (W), @SF (L), @JAX (W), SEA (L), @SD (L), DEN (L), @HOU (L), STL (W), @TEN (L), @ARI (L), TEN (W), @CIN (W), HOU (W), @KC (L), JAX (W)

Prediction: The team is going to go where the offense can take it. Luck will have to take better care of the ball, and they will have to get more from the ground, but it could see over 5,000 yards in the air by natural progression. But the defense is still similar to what took the field last year, and the likelihood of the same breaks that got them 10 wins a year ago are unlikely to come down again. 8-8


After spending last fall watching the back of a Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M, Joeckel is tasking with re-installing confidence in the Jags attack.

After spending last fall watching the back of a Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M, Joeckel is tasking with re-installing confidence in the Jags attack.


The Good: They have a good set of playmakers on the outside in Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts. Shorts had a breakout season across the board his second season, going over 100 yards four times and averaged over 19 yards a catch in five separate games. Blackmon came on strong late in the year, including a seven catch, 236 yard breakout versus the Texans in week 11.

The Bad: They did little to turn the corner for a defense that gave up 380 yards and 27 points per week. This was due to a unit that put the least pressure on opposing QBs in the game a year ago (JJ Watt in 20.5 sacks, Jaguars 20). And with the inconsistent play on offense, once they get behind and survive with offenses having that much comfort to work with.

X-Factor—Luke Joeckel: While grabbing someone that could create some pressure would have been a good call, getting a guy with a chance to be a premium pass protector was too good to pass on. Blaine Gabbert has been unsteady with his pocket presence early in his career and landing Joeckel could help provide some much needed security.

Schedule: KC (L), @OAK (L), @SEA (L), IND (L), @STL (L), @DEN (L), SD (L), SF (L), @TEN (L), ARI (L), @HOU (L), @CLE (L), HOU (L), BUF (W), TEN (W), @IND (L)

Prediction: A bad defense with maybe the most decisively bad situation at quarterback in the NFL, the Jaguars are not in a place to make an impact outside of boosting the win column for others. With Blackmon suspended for four games, and game scenarios that don’t lend towards getting their lone bright spot, Maurice Jones-Drew, the ball as much as they’d like, a run to top of the 2014 Draft looks likely. 2-14


Johnson has never finished a season under 1,000 yards on the ground, but his yardage per game has dropped three straight years behind questionable blocking.

Johnson has never finished a season under 1,000 yards on the ground, but his yardage per game has dropped three straight years behind questionable blocking.

TENNESSEE TITANS (6-10 in 2012)

The Good: There’s an offense that has some shake to it, and they have a line to help it grow now. In recent years, Chris Johnson hasn’t lost a step, but he hasn’t had much time to get them moving before somebody met him. With the addition of Andy Levitre and the selection of All-American guard Chance Warmack, the former 2000 yard runner could see the most open field he’s found in years.

The Bad: The Titans gave up the most points in the NFL a year ago, including over 30 points seven different times. It’s a unit that hasn’t played to its talent, but also has to tackle better at linebacker and get better and coverage as well. In a division with two aggressive offenses in Houston and Indianapolis, and one of the best runners in the league, there’s little leeway for a soft unit week to week.

X-Factor—Jack Locker: Of all of the teams in the NFL, the Titans probably have the biggest unknown quantity behind center. The issue with him has never been the talent, but how it apply it regularly. In his first year as a starter, it was interrupted by an injury halfway through and saw him throw multiple interceptions in four of his last six games. If he turns the corner, they have a chance to succeed.

Schedule: @PIT (L), @HOU (L), SD (W), NYJ (W), KC (W), @SEA (L), SF (L), @STL (L), JAX (W), IND (W), @OAK (W), @IND (L), @DEN (L), ARI (L), @JAX (L), HOU (L)

Prediction: With a defense that is up in the air and inconsistent quarterback play, it is tough to see the Titans being a candidate to jump too far forward, or at all. They will be able to move the ball better on the ground, but if they cannot keep opponents honest, it won’t mean much. Look for a holding pattern here. 6-10


The end of the year is upon us. In some places it’s already underway. However, in the world of sports, 2010 ended before it even started, and here in THE CHEAP SEATS, sometimes I too missed the memo on that, and gave those unfortunate souls too much of the benefit, while giving nowhere near enough doubt.

On the other hand, sometimes I flat-out underestimated what would come to be (see my #1 flub of the year below for that…). While still in other areas, I got Superbad-level blindsided by a breakout year from a team or player. For some casual-to-serious sports talkers, this is fine. But since I release a good number of my opinions for public consumption, I end up with a Mike Tyson from ’87 level blow to my ego/conscious when these things go bad.

At any rate, my first year (or 8 months actually) writing this site has been full of some decent writing and solid observations, if I do say some myself (yet luckily, I’m not alone. Thanks Mom). I’ll be putting up my “Best of 2010” links on my Twitter feed all day, so check out @CheapSeatFan for that countdown all day to round out the first year of the decade. That frees me up to “celebrate” my fumbles, errors and self-inflicted tragedies of over projection here today with this column. Happy New Year and happy finger-pointing….

10. Arian Foster-Nowhere Man (August 11th): I figured Houston would just throw a million times to Andre Johnson and company, while only running the ball when they really needed to, if then. So it made perfect sense to me to leave an undrafted free agent, who only had ONE good week the year before, outside my top 20 running back for fantasy football in 2010. Little did I know that he’s have 16 GREAT weeks in his this year. I won’t be caught sleeping again in ’11 (And you probably won’t catch Foster in next year’s draft with a pick lower than four).

9. The F*cks & Sprockets (7/27, 10/28 & 10/29): I had a lot of good things to say about the outstanding summer prep of both the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets. You couldn’t tell me that they wouldn’t be mainstays as competitors this year. While there is a lot of season to go, I think its safe to say I overestimated the addition of Corey Maggette & John Salmons, and the return of Yao Ming (who has since returned to his real home, the injured list).

Yeah man, I know that feeling...keep on reading.

8. This isn’t my idea of a “Fantasy”: This isn’t about an article, more or less, this is a personal matter. I’d like to publicly say I was off base by calling my fantasy football team a “juggernaut”. My receiving corps of Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith and Brent Celek didn’t quite click, and I’m still waiting on “the ultimate up and comer” Shonn Greene to report to work, even though the season is over. Lets just say my record looked a lot sexier backwards than forwards, but that’s the case about many things in life.

7. Wingless Redbirds (9/3): While I didn’t write about this prediction in advance, because the site wasn’t up yet, if I had, I would’ve called you crazy if you would’ve told me I’d have to write a concession letter like this before September even started on behalf of MY St. Louis Cardinals. I’d have definitely called the white coats if you said the that the Cincinnati Reds, led by a reborn Scott Rolen & NL MVP *sigh* Joey Votto, would be the reason. Here’s to sanity returning to both me and the NL Central by April.

6. The Passion of the NFC (10/6): I mean come on!!! I’m not alone on this one, and if anybody says they knew it,  show them section 16 of the Ten Commandments. I mean the only prophets worthy of speaking on this are Wade Phillips, Brad Childress and Mike Singletary. But I’d be a little more careful about approaching the last one than the first two. At least I’ve still got the Saints for now.

5. Locked Down (7/15): Back in July, I bought into the hype of a can’t miss kid by the name of Jake Locker, who foolishly passed on millions of dollars and guaranteed NFL stardom. Then he had a game that read like this against some legit talent

20 attempts, 4 completions, 71 yards (45 of which were on 1 pass), 1 TD & 2 interceptions

Thanks a lot Nebraska for blowing that up in my face. At least Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are here with me in the ER too.

4. His Beautiful Dark Twisted Year (8/13): I’ll let the numbers address this one as well.

– Randy Moss in 2009: 1 team, 83 catches, 1264 yards & 13 (league leading) touchdowns

– Randy Moss in 2010: 3 teams, 27 catches, 375 yards, 6 TD….through 15 games, and 3 attempted releases (only 2 of which worked)

My bad on recommending him in the same breath as Andre Johnson for your ensured fantasy success.

That angry mob with the torches and pitchforks are the folks that took Moss in their drafts. Sorry people.

3. Three The Hard Way: Few months back in the midst of the NBA’s free agent circus of the summer, I made a real big case about why the Miami Heat assembling a super trio wouldn’t work strategically or financially….yeah. And this is why Pat Riley is who he is and not who I am.

2. The Return of the Bungles (8/28 & 10/6): Maybe I got caught up in the hype, or maybe it actually was just karma visiting Cincinnati for the first time since 2008. Whatever it was, it made perfect sense to me that the Bengals would take a step forward after sweeping the AFC North in 2009. Well chose them to take far too many steps forward here, and I look my greatest loss of the year here, having the Bengals rep the AFC in the Super Bowl in my NFL prediction article.

Apparently adding Terrell Owens, drafting an amazing group of college guys and returning all of a core that went 10-6 the year before has a reverse effect in the Bizarro Land of Marvin Lewis & Carson Palmer. The bright side? I learned to NEVER go with a team that features two grown men that wear tights and call themselves “Batman and Robin”, unless its I’m in a movie theater (and maybe not then either).

1. Lamb Chops No More (8/24): I’m a man, a grown one at that. I can fess up and admit my mistakes and biases, and often times in discussion, I am against all things Rams. But on both a logical and fan level, this was both a tremendous defeat and huge upset. The St. Louis Rams took home a six-pack of wins from 2007 to 2009, and languished among the worst of the worst in all of sports.

Finally, for all of their losing, they “earned” the top pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. With that choice they took a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, that had not played for basically an entire season after injuring his throwing arm no less, in Sam Bradford. With all of those time tested elements for professional disaster mixed into one guy, it seemed assured that they would continue on the same track. Instead, what did they do? They won more games in 4 MONTHS than they did in three years and are a game away from starting the new year in the PLAYOFFS!!!

It's been all downhill for my Rams predictions from this moment on. Go ahead...enjoy it "friends" and "family".

It’s safe to say I picked them to do far, far less than this a few months back, and to the satisfaction of virtually everybody I know in my hometown, I have eaten every word of it weekly. Now for the final twist of fate, I am actually rooting for them to win and make the playoffs (only because I am the president of the Missouri chapter of the “Pete Carroll Anti-Fan Club”).

These are indeed strange, wacky times here in THE CHEAP SEATS.

The quarterback position is the most hyped, dissected and scrutinized position in all of sports. None more so than during the NFL Draft and its lead up stages. From the time that some QB’s are sophomores in college, how they can relate to the NFL game is heavily discussed. This is a necessary process of sorts, because having a solid QB is everything in the NFL game. Very few, if any, teams make any noise in January without a solid QB. Virtually none make it to Super Bowl Sunday without an exceptional one (the 2001 Ravens with Trent Dilfer at the helm are the last victors to have a questionable QB by my evaluation, but that team had one of the great defenses of all-time).

Newton has all the skills for both the National Championship Game and Heisman, but are they enough to make him an elite NFL QB too?

Also, no position is paid more before even taking a snap than the QB position, especially at the top spot. 2010 top pick Sam Bradford, despite having proved his worth now, was automatically one of the top five highest paid players in the league due to this phenomena. All of these factors make understanding both what a young signal caller is, and can become, crucial, for both on-field and payroll successes.

Here is a look at the newest crop of youngsters being looked at as the next answer for some QB, and win, hungry NFL franchises. The 2011 class has been heralded as one of the deepest classes in sometime. While that sometimes proves to be a disastrous proclamation (see the 1999 NFL Draft), it sometimes pays off greatly, with multiple Super Bowl winning and Pro Bowl attending QBs (see both the 1983 and 2004 Drafts).

It’s a crap shoot of the highest order in the sporting universe, but if you’re going to gamble, go big or go home.

ANDREW LUCK-Sophomore-Stanford Cardinal

Measures: 6’4/245 lbs

Stats: 3,051 pass yards, 28 TDs/7 Interceptions, 70% completions; 438 rush yards

Should be picked….: As the #1 pick, no lower than 2.

Compares to: Ben Roethlisberger

Breakdown: Big time playmaker who is a horse that can deliver the ball anywhere. He’s the clear-cut choice as top QB on the board, and also top player in the draft. While he’s not a runner in the Tebow style, he can make plays with his feet and is hard to bring down. Like Bradford, he’s the type of guy a struggling franchise can rebuild around. Carolina currently has the top pick, and it will stay that way unless they trade it, but their selection of Jimmy Clausen in 2010 should not be a deteriment to taking Luck, who has the ability, like Sam Bradford before him, to turn a franchise around in short order.

RYAN MALLETT-Junior-Arkansas Razorback

Measures: 6’6/240 lbs

Stats: 3,592 pass yards, 30 TD/11 interceptions, 66.5% completions

Should be picked….: In the top 20, potentially top 10

Compares to: Joe Flacco or Carson Palmer before the knee injury.

Breakdown: A big tosser with easily the strongest arm in college football, that would already be a top 5 arm in the NFL. He can make any throw down field and would create a virtual game for many teams such as the Cardinals and Niners who have none right now. He may benefit from sitting for a little while to gain some touch on his passes and increase his awareness, but he’s the type that will be able to pick up some big yardage numbers over the course of his career.

CAM NEWTON-Junior-Auburn Tigers

Measures: 6’6/250 lbs

Stats: 2,589 pass yards, 28 TDs/6 interceptions; 1,409 rush yards, 20 TD

Should be picked….: Hard to say. Could be anywhere in round 1, but no later.

Compares to: Vince Young or Josh Freeman

Breakdown: His numbers are amazing and he seems to always find a way to make it work, with either his arm or feet, evenly. In the NFL he won’t be able to run the ball in the same order, because he’s not flat-out fast like a Michael Vick. However, he will be able to make plays on the move, and if he develops a solid intermediate passing game and puts a bit more zip on his outside ball (which he currently lacks), he will be a problem of the highest order, because on short yardage gains he will still be able to run the ball well and will force defenses to stay honest, which opens up deep options. However, he will definitely benefit from sitting for a while to gain some polish, which is why he may not be the answer for a team that is on the verge of competing right now, such as Minnesota or San Francisco.

BLAINE GABBERT-Junior-Missouri Tigers

Measures: 6’5/240 lbs

Stats: 3,186 pass yards, 16 TD/9 interceptions, 63% completions; 5 rushing TDs

Should be picked….: Late first round, perhaps to a team trading up.

Compares to: Aaron Rodgers or Tony Romo

Breakdown: He has a world of talent, and has played in a wide open system to showcase everything he can do. He isn’t a running QB, but has the mobility to make plays on the run and pick up extra yardage in the open field. With better coaching on his footwork in the pocket, he could become a very good pocket playmaker. His biggest issue is his lapses in judgement with the ball, which could become detrimental in the NFL, where he won’t be able to just lean of his natural talent. He has all the tools, but needs to be reeled in some to maximize them. Good player for a team that doesn’t need a starter right now or next year.

JAKE LOCKER-Senior-Washington Huskies

Measures: 6’3/230 lbs

Stats: 2,209 pass yards, 17 TD/9 interceptions, 56% completions; 302 rush yards, 5 TD

Should be picked….: Second round for now.

Compares to: Mark Sanchez or Matt Cassell

Breakdown: Despite being a senior, Locker is the oldest prospect here, Locker is by and far the rawest. He has all the skills to be a multi-threat trouble behind center, but he has far too many lapses in judgement still and seems to be struggling to make the transition from run first (and second) QB, to a pro style, versatile threat, which his skill set suggests he could be. He has played in a sub par program and has been leaned on quite heavily, and many scouts feel the best is yet to come when he plays with a higher standard of talent. While this could be true, and his skill set is undeniable, it’s too late in the game to commit either the future of your franchise or a huge sum of money to his continued development on potential only. He could pan out to be a true late bloomer, but it would be better served on a team where he can back up indefinitely.

Others to watch: Christian Ponder-Florida State, Pat Devlin-Delaware, Terrelle Pryor-Ohio State, Nick Foles-Arizona