STANZI: Deja vu all over again

16 08 2011

 

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Ricky Stanzi (13) passes to a teammate during the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 12, 2011. The Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 25-0. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Ricky Stanzi has been in this position before – and thrived.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie quarterback was taken in the fifth round out of the University of Iowa with the second highest career win total in school history (26-9), 7,377 passing yards (3rd),  56 TDs (3rd) and a reputation for being a clutch, big-game performer.

Already one of the fan-favorites, Stanzi finds himself in a familiar position; the backup quarterback the fans are looking to be the future of the franchise.

After two seasons, the Chiefs’ fans are not convinced current starting quarterback Matt Cassel is the captain that will guide their ship to a championship. However, Chiefs coaches and management seem to have a vastly different opinion.

The situation mirrors Stanzi’s previous quarterback competition as an Iowa Hawkeye in 2008.

Stanzi started the 2008 college football campaign as a red-shirt sophomore, second on the depth chart behind incumbent starter Jake Christensen. By the time the first regular season game rolled around, Stanzi had worked his way to co-starter with Christensen and the fan-favorite at quarterback, despite only throwing four career passes at the college level. Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said at the time, both players would rotate and get playing time.

But it only took one week for Stanzi to set himself apart as the frontrunner for the starting job.

Stanzi entered the game in the second quarter of the first game of the season, against Maine, after Christensen threw an early interception in the end zone – much to the displeasure of the 70,000+ on hand in Iowa City. Stanzi only went 9 of 14 passing with 90 yards as the Hawkeyes dominated Maine 46-3.

He started the next game against Florida International, going 8 of 10 passing for 162 yards and three touchdowns in his first start while also splitting time with Christensen. Iowa rolled FIU 42-0 earning Stanzi his first career victory.

Iowa then played in-state rival Iowa State, and Stanzi earned his second career victory as Iowa won 17-5.

Coach Ferentz went with experience on the road as Iowa traveled to Pittsburgh. Christensen started the game and split time with Stanzi, but Iowa lost 21-20.

Stanzi’s third start followed against Northwestern. Stanzi threw for 238 yards and a touchdown as Iowa lost 22-17. But the performance, despite the loss, was the first time he played the full game without splitting time with Christensen — and would essentially be the last.

Stanzi earned his first road win against Indiana, 45-9, throwing for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Christensen came in late for mop-up duty, signaling his official demotion to second-string quarterback.

Stanzi finished the 2008 season 8-3, including a win against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, with a 4-game winning streak, and Christensen transferred to Eastern Illinois University following the season. Stanzi went on to lead the Hawkeyes for two more seasons finishing near the top in all of the Iowa passing categories. He even set the mark for 21 consecutive games with a touchdown pass (longest in school history) and is the only player in NCAA history to start three games against Joe Paterno (Penn St) and win all three games.

But if the fans want Stanzi to repeat his previous success dethroning the incumbent quarterback, they should allow him to follow the script he used while at Iowa. It is a similar script Cassel parlayed into his current position.

In 2007, Stanzi spent his entire freshmen (red-shirt) year holding the clipboard, more like sending in the hand signals at Iowa, on the sidelines. He made one appearance at the end of the game in Syracuse, attempting four passes and only completing one to a Syracuse defender, in Iowa’s 35-0 shutout of the Orange.

In 2007, Cassel was also on the sidelines holding the clipboard behind Tom Brady, only making six relief appearances (4/7, 38 yards, 1 Int). Then in 2008, he burst onto the season after Tom Brady suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of the season. The Patriots went 11-5 (10-5 with Cassel as the starter) and missed the playoffs in 2008. In 2009, Cassel signed a lucrative deal to be the Chiefs’ starting quarterback.

Ironically, it is that contract which may be the biggest obstacle to Stanzi taking over the starting role. Organizations may preach they want the best 53 guys on the team and the best guys will be the ones who start. But we all know finances play a role in roster spots and positioning.

The best opportunities for Stanzi to start in the NFL, is for Stanzi to follow in the steps of Kurt Warner and Cassel (ironically) and impress the fans and coaches so much while the starter is out with injuries that they can’t justify taking him out, or being traded to another team in order to be the starter (just like Matt Schaub and Kevin Kolb).

Regardless of how it happens, the best scenario for Stanzi and Chiefs’ fans, is to wait until 2012 before expecting Stanzi to start in the NFL. Anything sooner and you could end up with another Rex Grossman, Jimmy Clausen or Alex Smith. And no one wants that.





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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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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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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Tebow Conspiracy: First (unofficial) Mock Draft Sighting

31 03 2010

Now I know how Major League Baseball players felt when standing in the batter’s box against Randy Johnson. You see this big, hulking presence wind up preparing to deliver one of the scariest fastballs ever in baseball. But no matter how confident you were that the fastball was coming, or how much you readied yourself for that sizzling pitch, you were helpless. It was coming and there was nothing you could do about it.

That is how I feel with this Tim Tebow draft conspiracy. It’s coming. Like a fastball down the pipe, it’s coming. My only hope is that I don’t get drilled in the head with it.

FoxSports.com’s Adam Schein sees it coming, too. I’m sure there was a self-serving purpose to his prediction, but Schein has delivered what I have found to be the first (unofficial) draft projection. Sorry, Adam, but if he does get picked in the first round, I’ve got dibs on the “I called it first” title.

I say “unofficial” because (1) Schein delivered it in his normal sarcastic delivery (professing his “bro-mance” or “man-crush” with Tebow), (2) he made no real attempt to try to pick who might draft Tebow and where, and (3) Schein is not only my list of “serious Mock Draft” providers.

Schein suggests the New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins might be interested in him. First, Bill “Hoodie” Belichick will not take Tebow in the first round. If he’s available in the second, definitely. But Belichick runs too tight of “war room” to allow hype like Tebow-mania to make him change his draft board. And the Redskins will not take him with the 4th overall pick in the draft. No way, no how. Which is perfect for the Redskins because he SHOULD be available when they come around to pick again in the second round (#37).

And after Sam Bradford’s superb pro-day, you can hear the St Louis Rams sewing the letters on his jersey for the Draft day presentation. So, they will have no need to take a quarterback in the second round. He could easily fall right into the Redskins’ lap.

Again, I always feel like I need to say this, but I agree with Schein when he says Tebow will eventually be a solid NFL player. I totally agree. I just do not feel he is worthy of a first round pick. So much could happen, so many things could go wrong. Nothing is guaranteed with him. Then again, what do I know, all of the “experts” have Jimmy Clausen projected to be a top 10 pick – and he hasn’t touched a football since November.

I like seeing Clausen ranked that high. It will make the draft more interesting this year watching to see how far he falls, a la Brady Quinn and Aaron Rodgers.

I may need to hire that guy who took his Wonderlic Test with Tebow if I actually have to hear Roger Goodell read Tebow’s name on opening night of the draft. He’s obviously got experience telling Tebow to “shut the…”

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Carroll fuels Tebow draft conspiracy

24 03 2010

I felt like Mel Gibson in a taxi cab watching Julia Roberts on a treadmill through binoculars. The conspiracy was coming true. I didn’t know whether to be happy it was coming together like I said, or upset that it was coming together like I said.

When I saw that Pete Carroll, new Seattle Seahawks coach, comment “I can’t believe a quarterback of his stature won’t be (taken in the first round),” I also heard the sound of the first dominoes of the conspiracy falling. (courtesy of Jason La Canfora’s NFL.com blog)

First the NFL invites Tebow to be present at the NFL draft, when no one is predicting him even close to the first round. Draft invitations are only extended to potential high first round picks, never to guys who aren’t even on mock drafts in the first round. It makes no sense.

Until you hear Carroll’s comments today. Then it starts to clear up. The NFL gets in the ear of “the new guy” and “suggest” he make a well placed comment about Tebow being first-round talent. Carroll is the first and only person to suggest such an outrageous thing. Other teams know Seattle is in need of a quarterback replacement (with Matt Hasselback’s imminent departure) and no one believes Charlie Whitehurst is really going to be their long-term solution at quarterback.

I challenge anyone to find me a legitimate mock draft (ESPN, NFL.com, FoxSports, CNNSI, Yahoo, Sporting News, etc – not some crazy hack) that has Tebow in the first round dated between January 1 – March 24, 2010. It doesn’t exist.

Now you get the other teams worried that Seattle aren’t going to waste a pick on him in the first round, but they may be hungry to move up and take him early in the second round, or possibly another team like Washington or Tampa Bay might snag him early in the second round.

Let the panic spread!!!

The next thing you know, Tebow is on everyone’s big board. Not because of his talent, but because they want to be the team to take Tebow, and the race is on to see who actually picks him first. It’s more like a game of chicken than a race – to see who the first guy to flinch and take him might be. Now, Tebow is drafted in the 20s of the first round by a team that has no need for him. Why? Hysteria. Tim Tebow fueled hysteria.

Here is my disclaimer: I believe Tim Tebow has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks taken in this draft. I think Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Max Hall, Tony Pike and Tebow are solid NFL-caliber quarterbacks. I guarantee Tebow will prove to be better than Jimmy Clausen. Take that to the bank. But he is not ready yet. He even admitted it. He is not worth the money and the value of a first round pick. Plain and simple.

The only way Tebow is drafted in the first round is through the snowball of hype Pete Carroll just created. And I promise you that someone in the NFL offices had a hand in the remarks made today. Otherwise explain Pete Carroll’s remarks.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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