Ricky Stanzi: Destination NFL (part 1)

18 11 2010
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes

It is clear that Ricky Stanzi will be an NFL quarterback, and the first drafted Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback since Chuck Hartleib (1989, Houston Oilers). Let’s take a look at the teams that might be the best places for Stanzi to play on Sundays in the future.

For those who disagree with his potential as an NFL quarterback, stay tuned for my feature breaking down the numbers to prove Stanzi’s potential to play in the NFL.

First, let’s just remove all of the teams who have recently drafted a quarterback with a high draft pick, have an established, young quarterback, or will likely pass on Stanzi in the draft. That removes Dallas, Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Miami, Tennessee, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, New York Jets, New York Giants, Green Bay, Denver, San Diego, Houston, Atlanta and Philadelphia.

Next are the fringe candidates; the teams who most likely will not take a serious look at quarterback but may look to add a solid insurance policy at quarterback – not a future starter.

The Arizona Cardinals lead this list with their uncertainty at the quarterback position. Derek Anderson and Max Hall are definitely capable quarterbacks in the NFL, but neither has shown enough to prove they are the “quarterback of the future” for the Cardinals. Pittsburgh may look for a more dependable backup to Ben Roethlisberger, but they also have to worry about the backlash of Roethlisberger’s recent indiscretions which may dictate a premature departure from the Steelers for the man once deemed to be the Steelers’ next “quarterback for life.” Plus it’s easy to see Stanzi make the transition from the Iowa to the Steelers offense and uniform.

The Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints are not looking to replace Drew Brees anytime soon, but would definitely entertain the need for a solid backup standing on the sidelines. Chicago would also be an easy fit for Stanzi. But I believe the Bears have been doing everything to avoid a quarterback controversy with Jay Cutler, just look at their backups (Todd Collins and Caleb Hanie), but having an actual NFL-level quarterback standing on the sidelines may help Cutler’s performance on the field and would alleviate the death-blow that any injury to Cutler would currently be. Jacksonville definitely fits in that group as well. David Garrard is solidly cemented as the Jaguars’ starter, but they could benefit greatly from a capable backup behind him. Plus with free-agency and salary issues a future possibility with Garrard, having Stanzi in the wings may ease the Tums
consumption when it comes time to negotiate with Garrard, who will warrant a good-sized deal that the Jaguars may not be able to match.

The Carolina Panthers are on the fringe of the fringe teams. They just drafted Jimmy Clausen in the third round, but they are in dire need of a serious quarterback. I pulled no punches this off-season with my appraisal of Jimmy Clausen, which has been almost spot on. He is overrated, lacks the “IT” factor, and is just embarrassing to watch. He was drafted on hype and Notre Dame’s reputation, not on his NFL ability. Now, if the Carolina Panthers are willing to admit their mistake, Stanzi would be major upgrade at the quarterback position, but he would be more of an immediate fix (which will be discussed in Part 2) because the Panthers currently do not have a capable quarterback to mentor the Mentor, Ohio-native, Stanzi. But I don’t see them taking a quarterback in the top three rounds of the draft in two consecutive
years.

Part 2 of the series will cover the more likely destinations for Ricky Stanzi in the NFL Draft.

Part 3 will breakdown the justification why Stanzi is a solid NFL prospect.

Mr. Pressbox Out!!

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First Quarter Grades: Big 10 and Big 12

22 09 2010

After Week 3 of the 2010 college football season, most teams have played three games, so it comes logically to deliver the first quarter grades – the Midterms, if you will. Here is a quick look at the grades:

Big 10

TEAM            [Grade]      NOTES

Ohio St  (3-0)          [A]      Looked good, just as expected.

Wisconsin (3-0)    [B+]   Had a close win vs Arizona St to remain undefeated

Michigan St (3-0) [B+]    Needed trick play vs Notre Dame to stay 3-0

Northwestern (3-0) [B]   Haven’t played any real competition yet.

Iowa (2-1)                   [B]    Tough loss to ranked team. Solid start.

Penn St (2-1)              [B]    3 non-competitive games to start the season

Michigan (3-0)         [B]    Close games to UMass & Notre Dame aren’t real impressive

Illinois (2-1)              [B]    Loss to Mizzou exposed weaknesses for Illini

Indiana (2-0)            [B-]     Only 2 games vs Towson & W. Kentucky

Purdue (2-1)             [B-]     Lost to a diminished Notre Dame team

Minnesota (1-2)      [C-]     Losing to SDSU alone almost earned them a “D”

Big 10 MVP: Denard Robinson (Mich) / John Clay (Wisc)

Big 10 Heisman: Terrell Pryor (OSU) / John Clay (Wisc)

Big 12

TEAM            [Grade]      NOTES

Nebraska  (3-0)          [A]      Destroyed Washington & Jake Locker’s draft status.

Oklahoma (3-0)         [A]      Quality opponents to start season, Air Force & FSU

Texas (3-0)                 [A-]    Undefeated but not the same Texas team

Kansas St (3-0)         [A-]     Billy Snyder & Daniel Thomas are driving this train

Oklahoma St (3-0)  [A-]      Solid A if not for close game vs Troy

Texas A&M (3-0)     [A-]      Did their job in 1st Qtr, but nothing impressive

Missouri (3-0)           [B+]    Close games against average competition

Texas Tech (2-1)      [B+]    Could easily be 3-0, played Texas tough

Baylor (2-1)               [B]        Only loss was to TCU

Colorado (2-1)         [B]         Won the games they should have won, lost to Cal

Iowa St (1-2)            [C+]      Toughest start of any team (vs Iowa & K St)

Kansas (1-2)            [C}          Jekyll & Hyde; lost to NDSU but beat Ga Tech

Big 12 MVP: Brandon Weedan (OSU) / Jerrod Johnson (TAMU)

Big 12 Heisman: Daniel Thomas (KSU) / Landry Jones (OU)





Iowa Hawkeyes First Quarter Analysis: A Different Ricky Stanzi

20 09 2010

Ricky Stanzi, Iowa Hawkeyes“Be careful what you wish for.”

How many times have you heard that?

“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.” That’s been the warning for as long as I can remember.

Since January 6, the number one key to the Iowa Hawkeyes’ success has unanimously been that Ricky Stanzi must decrease the interceptions, especially the “pick-6s”. That has come from fans, media, coaches and even Ricky himself.

Preseason magazines, college preview shows, every article written on the promise of the 2010 Hawkeyes building on their success of 2009, and water cooler conversations among fans have all shared the same view; “the Hawkeyes cannot continue to win if Stanzi keeps throwing interceptions.”

So in the offseason, Ricky has had that mantra running through his head mixed in with all of the patriotic songs and verses, play calls and defensive reads he needs to work on to take that next step in his senior season as the Iowa quarterback.

Some pundits mentioned Ricky in the preseason Heisman talk, “as long as he cuts down the interceptions.” He was placed on the Davey O’Brien preseason watch list, “but he needs to reduce the number of interceptions.”

So Kirk Ferentz and Ken O’Keefe spent the offseason drilling into Ricky’s head, “don’t take the big risks, check down, hold on to the ball, run with it if you have to, throw it away, don’t gamble deep.” And it showed on opening day against Eastern Illinois.

Ricky looked afraid to throw the ball more than 10 yards down field. But when he tried, it worked (all three times). He looked anxious to hit the check-down receiver or the running back out of the backfield. He passed on wide open receivers (Marvin McNutt and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos) at least six times in the first two games, opting for either the tight end or running back instead. He definitely did not look like the Ricky Stanzi with the Captain America swagger he carried in the Orange Bowl, or in the fourth quarters against Indiana and Michigan State, or even late against Penn State in 2008.

Ricky Stanzi is now just Steve Rogers.

I wish the stats would show what is clearly evident by watching Stanzi version 2010, compared to Stanzi version 2009, but they don’t. They actually support the efforts of Ferentz and O’Keefe, except one major stat, and prove you can’t measure swagger with numbers.

After the first three games in 2009, Ricky was a clean 60 of 100 (60%) passing attempts for 644 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. He was sacked only eight times behind a veteran offensive line against teams like Northern Iowa, Iowa State and Arizona, and had 12 official rushing attempts.

In comparison, after the first three games in 2010, Ricky is 47 of 74 (63.5%) for 711 yards with six touchdowns and only one interception. All marked improvements from a year ago. He has been sacked nine times with 21 official rushing attempts. All of these numbers can easily be attributed to the new philosophy designed to reduce turnovers and interceptions.

But the most glaring statistic of them all is not the reduced interceptions or increased rushing attempts and sacks, it’s the record.

After the first quarter of the 2009 season, Iowa was 3-0, on their way to a school-record 9-0 start, ending with a BCS victory in the Orange Bowl. In 2010, the Hawkeyes are 2-1 (ranked 18 in both polls) with more questions than answers and seemingly lacking an identity to claim for the 2010 season.

This could easily be just like 2002, when Brad Banks led the Hawkeyes to an undefeated Big 10 conference run and an 11-1 regular season record. But in order for that to happen, the swagger of the Iowa Hawkeyes must return, and that begins with their leader, Captain America, Ricky Stanzi.

There is definitely a different feeling with this year’s Hawkeyes. But the teams have switched sides of the field and the Hawkeyes come out in the second quarter starting with Ball State, Saturday (Sept. 25), and then Big 10 conference play with Penn State and then to the Big House against whatever Michigan team decides to show up. The Parade to the Roses starts now.





Mr Pressbox Pre-Draft: Mock this

21 04 2010

Opting to forgo a traditional mock draft that will be as useless as most people’s NCAA tournament brackets after the top five picks tomorrow night, I decided to add a little more foresight into my pre-draft analysis instead of a simple mock draft.

So, here are a few views from the Pressbox about what to expect from the draft:

1. Trades and trade rumors will intensify Thursday during the day leading up to the draft. During the draft, the trades will slow to a minimum. Then overnight Thursday leading up to the draft on Friday will hit a fever pitch heading into the second round. Overall, most of the trade action will take place during the downtime between days, not during the active draft rounds.

2. Sam Bradford will be the No. 1 pick by the St Louis Rams.

3. Ndamukong Suh will only escape being drafted by the Detroit Lions if someone trades up to the #2 spot (not likely)

4. Gerald McCoy will wear Warren Sapp’s old number for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

5. The Washington Redskins will draft a quarterback in the first two rounds. The stupid thing to do would be draft Jimmy Clausen at #4. The smart move is to draft OL Russell Okung with their first pick and then draft a quarterback with their 2nd round pick.

6. The 1st round will be top-heavy with OL picks.

7. The 2nd round will be a quarterback clearing house. Expect Colt McCoy (if available), Tim Tebow, Tony Pike, Dan LeFevour, and others, to go once the run on quarterbacks starts.

8. The Kansas City Chiefs fans will want the Chiefs to draft S Eric Berry, but Scott Pioli will choose a safer investment for the money paid to a #5 pick either drafting OL Bryan Bulaga or Trent Williams.

9. C. J. Spiller will most likely be drafted by a team trading up to get him. (Favorites: San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle or San Diego).

10. Tim Tebow WILL be drafted by a team who trades for the pick to select him. (Favorites: Seattle, Washington, New England or Minnesota).

11. The San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49ers will both draft running backs in the first or second round.

12. Tim Tebow will be mentioned at least once during every selection discussion of the first round on both the NFL Network and ESPN coverage.

13. One big name player will be traded during the actual selecting of the first round (involving either Washington or New England).

Follow Mr Pressbox on Twitter for pick by pick analysis during the first and second rounds, and comments all weekend.

With the first pick of the 2010 NFL Draft ….

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Does Clausen draft day no-show foreshadow his draft stock?

17 04 2010

Not long after Jon Gruden compared Jimmy Clausen to Ryan Leaf (voted one of the biggest draft busts in history), Clausen made the best decision he has made in the last 3 years, declining the NFL’s invitation to attend the first round Draft festivities Thursday in New York.

This more than likely means Clausen sees the writing on the wall. He sees his stock value drop, while Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy gain ground on the draft boards. Clausen was a lock at #4 to the Washington Redskins prior to the Donovan McNabb trade. But since then, he has been slipping down the boards to #7 Cleveland, #9 Buffalo, #10 Jacksonville and even #13 San Francisco and #14 Seattle.

Clausen may have even got a phone call from other first-round free-faller from Notre Dame, Brady Quinn, who may have advised him the best place to be is at home watching on TV, not in New York with the world watching him suffer more embarrassment every time his name is not read by Roger Goodell.

He has already been compared to Ryan Leaf, and has a better shot at being mentioned in the same conversation with Nortre Dame quarterbacks Rick Mirer (former Irish QB who was #5 on the Biggest NFL Draft Busts list) and Brady Quinn than being compared with Joe Theisman and Joe Montana. The higher Clausen goes, the better chance he has of making the Biggest Draft Busts List in a few years.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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NCAA flagged for excessive buzzkilling with new rules

15 04 2010

The NCAA has gone too far!!!

OK, we could say that on a daily basis, but this time it’s true. OK, we’ve all probably said that a hundred times already, too. But I’m serious. The new NCAA football rules are too much.

I understand and support the new wedge blocking rule on kickoffs. But the ban on eye-black messages is questionable and the new anti-celebration rule is just ridiculous.

It is no surprise that the NCAA waits until AFTER it’s Demigod Child Tim Tebow moved on to put this rule into place. They would never tell Tim he couldn’t do something. He could have written F*** USC on his eye black and got away clean as a surgical utensil. But now that he is gone, it is no longer acceptable. Because NOW, instead of wholesome religious references, unscrupulous football players might try to pay homage to deceased friends, area codes, or even put gang signs on them.

But the Nike Swoosh is OK?. Makes sense to me.

Now the new anti-celebration rule that penalizes teams by incurring the penalty from the spot of the infraction and removing the points is just unconstitutional.

I understand they want to reduce taunting and unsportsmanlike behavior, but this is just insane. You can tell a bunch of old white guys sat around a table sipping their Scotch while smoking cigars when they came up with this one.

High-stepping, pointing to the crowd or opponent and diving into the endzone uncontested are just a few examples of new rule violations. But who decides when and where the infraction officially occurred, and how? Will instant replay be used? Will there be a celebration cop on the crew? And how far will it go.

Just wait until the first game when a player is flagged for celebration after a visiting player returns an interception for a touchdown and slows down after glancing over his shoulder to see who is following him. Is slowing down and looking back at your opponent now considered taunting? How much slowing down is too much? If a player walks the final three yards into the endzone, is that excessive?

And then, wait until the first meaningful game is decided by an excessive celebration call for something minor like fist-pumping after a game/season-changing play. What if it is the player’s first career touchdown? Or an emotional day for a player who just lost his father and just broke away to score the game-winning touchdown? What happens if Team A is penalized for a certain celebration on Week 2 (and loses the game) and then Team B is not penalized for the same exact type of play during Week 5? Can Team A dispute the results of the game? How can the NCAA ensure consistency in the calls?

It is not a black-and-white, clearly defined situation. Of course, some instances are more blatant than others, but where does it end? Who has the final say? Can a coach challenge the interpretation?

And after a banner year for referees being fined or suspended for blowing pivotal game calls, do we really want to give them more power to institute a new rule than has too much room for individual bias and interpretation.

I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all! Flag me for that!!

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Tim Tebow declines NFL Draft appearance, raises stock

14 04 2010

By declining the NFL’s invitation to be in attendance for the first round of the draft April 22, Tim Tebow demonstrated yet again he knows how to make a tough decision.

Sure he could have let the NFL use and abuse him like a circus elephant to try to increase ratings and sell advertisements for the made-for-prime-time Thursday night NFL Draft extravaganza. But he made the right call, which will likely end up as another touchdown in Tebow’s NFL career.

Anyone who has read my work knows I absolutely believe Tim Tebow is not worthy of a first-round draft pick. But they also know I believe Tebow is one of the top 5 quarterbacks in this year’s draft class .

Over-hyped quarterback prospect Jimmy Clausen has yet to make an official decision regarding his invitation. If he is smart, he will save himself the embarrassing fate of fellow Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn by watching his draft stock plummet from home.

As things stand now, after the recent trades and free agent signings, I believe Tebow will be drafted early in the second round, probably by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or a team that trades up to snag him before pick #40 (i.e. New England Patriots or Seattle Seahawks).

My mock draft hits the streets Saturday. Stay tuned.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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