Posts by Ray Habib

Three Impressive Preseason Rookie Performances

Though many will argue that their importance is minimal, preseason football games give fans a reason to get excited. Big name starters sit or play a few possessions before the bench warmers and "no-namers" start playing. One thing the preseason does is highlight rookie performances. It isn't important if Aaron Rodgers throws four

Though many will argue that their importance is minimal, preseason football games give fans a reason to get excited. Big name starters sit or play a few possessions before the bench warmers and “no-namers” start playing. One thing the preseason does is highlight rookie performances. It isn’t important if Aaron Rodgers throws four touchdowns in a preseason game, but if a player like Marcus Mariota accomplished such a feat, fans and writers alike would lose their minds. Many rookies follow up with their preseason numbers, while others have impressive showings only to fall down the depth chart as the regular season approaches. 

After week one of the preseason, let’s take a look at the most impressive rookie performances:

Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions RB:

Abdullah has been attracting hype all across the fantasy football world, especially after wild comparisons were made claiming that Abdullah has “Barry Sanders” speed. Abdullah had an impressive run in his first preseason outing, leaving Jets’ defenders’ heads spinning as he gained 45 yards on a speedy run. He finished the night with 7 carries for 67 yards, clearly a chunk of the yardage coming from the one carry. His runs highlighted his potential when he has the ball in his hands. 

Without a big name running back on Detroit’s roster, Abdullah could push for the starting gig, though he currently sits behind Theo Riddick who had a solid game himself. The Lions have two phenomenal receivers in Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and a franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford. What they need is a running back that is better than Joique Bell and less injury prone than former Lion Reggie Bush. Abdullah is doing himself justice with the way he is running, and he can find himself atop the depth chart if he keeps it up.

Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles WR:

USC product Nelson Agholor’s first NFL catch just happened to be a 34 yard touchdown catch-and-run. Agholor extended on the sideline to catch a “could-have-been-better” throw from Mark Sanchez and took it to the house for his first NFL 6. Agholor showed impressive breakaway speed, turning around after catching the ball and beating several Colts defenders with his feet to score. 

The Eagles lost their best receiver in Jeremy Maclin at the end of the 2014 season, as sides failed to come to agreements on a new contract. With that, all that was left was uncertainty. Jordan Matthews had a decent rookie year, but aside from him there were no true prospects. Enter first round pick Agholor. While preseason might not be a telltale sign of greatness, it doesn’t hurt to see Agholor making plays. He could secure himself the spot as the Eagles number 2 option, especially with a weak performance from Riley Cooper.

Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks WR:

This is a low-key name compared to the aforementioned names on this list. Lockett had huge plays for the Seahawks on the special teams end. He returned 4 kickoffs, including one that went 103 yards for a touchdown. Special teams is an underrated area of the game from a fans perspective, but Seahawks fans have a reason to be excited about Lockett’s preseason performance. According to football outsiders, the Seahawks finished 19th overall in special teams rankings. With a defense that intimidates opponents and an offense spearheaded by Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and most recently Jimmy Graham, an electric returner on special teams could make the Seahawks even more of an NFL Juggernaut. 

While preseason might not be the most fun to watch, nor the most telling sign of what is to come, it does certainly highlight performances of young NFL players, namely rookies. Since there is no pro-football comparison to make for these young players, their preseason performances are fans’ first real glimpse at what their teams rookies might become. 

Read More 581 Words

The Most Important Quarterback In The Game?

I won't make you read the entire article just to figure out who the NFL's most important quarterback is. It isn't Aaron Rodgers. It isn't Tom Brady. It isn't Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson,

I won’t make you read the entire article just to figure out who the NFL’s most important quarterback is. It isn’t Aaron Rodgers. It isn’t Tom Brady. It isn’t Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, or Philip Rivers. The most important quarterback in the league is this guy: 

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, of all of the elite quarterbacks in the league, none are quite as important as the butt-fumbler himself–Mark Sanchez. A highly touted USC recruit and former decent-at-best New York Jets quarterback now finds himself in a funky Philadelphia Eagles roster with an even funkier head coach. 

The Eagles made a questionable trade in the off-season, acquiring the “but he could be good if he was healthy” quarterback of the NFL, Sam Bradford. Bradford is the reason that Sanchez is the most important quarterback in the league. Bradford, as a private report released today by Bleacher Report, has a “10-12% chance of being re-injured.” Despite intense rehabilitation for Bradford’s knee, his injury struggles are present.

Sure, but any other quarterback in the league could get injured, so why isn’t his back-up the most important in the league? Well, depending on who you are talking about, it could be for any number of reasons. For example, why isn’t Scott Tolzien as important as Sanchez? Well, for starters, the Packers have their franchise quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers gets hurt and misses 5 games, it will certainly affect the Packers for 5 games. But that injury won’t affect the Packers future. The Eagles don’t have the luxury of a franchise quarterback quite yet with Bradford. 

Sanchez is a guy who is on the brink of being able to start for the Eagles, but they can’t just hand him that spot after taking a pretty expensive shot on Bradford. Another reason Sanchez is more important is due to the health of Sammy B. Rodgers, Brady, Wilson, and Luck; they don’t have the injury history of Bradford, and so their backups don’t have much responsibility. Their backups also aren’t quite as good. 

Bradford has only played 49 games out of his 80-game career, and it was never his talent that costed him playing time. It was Bradford’s constant struggle to stay healthy, tearing his ACL twice in 5 years — that kept him off the field. Bradford epitomizes the idea of a “he could be great” quarterback, because, well, he could be great. But in order for him to even be good, or even usable, he needs to stay healthy. 

Chip Kelly’s sports science program has made the Eagles the healthiest team in the NFL since he took over, but even Kelly himself admits that not all injuries can be prevented. So what happens if, and most likely when, Bradford misses playing time for one reason or another? 

The Eagles are considered by many to be the NFC East favorites, and if you ask anybody why they might not be, they will quickly point to the quarterback situation.

Sanchez could be the saving grace for this Philadelphia team, and he isn’t taking his opportunities lightly, either. Sanchez has hosted team practices at his home in California, since the team cannot quite yet meet in practice form with the coaches. Sanchez had time to learn the system and develop his game within it. 

Still, though, his 2014 performance when he took over for then-starter Nick Foles was hardly memorable. That being said, however, he did show glimpses of game play that lived up to his hype.

Starting 9 games in 2014, Sanchez threw 309 passes, completing 64.1% of them. His TD/INT ratio was not a pretty sight, tossing 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He did, however, have some very impressive statistical games, such as his 74% completion against the Redskins, where he threw for 374 yards and 2 touchdowns, finishing with a 99.9 passer rating. 

While not a perfect quarterback, he is the closest thing the Eagles have to a “sure thing” at quarterback, since Bradford has health issues and Tim Tebow is, well, Tim Tebow. 

The best case scenario for one of the NFL’s most intriguing teams is that Bradford stays healthy and lives up to his maximum potential. Unfortunately, even Chip Kelly doesn’t have a magic wand that grants such a season.

So, should Bradford fall, look for Sanchez to take the reigns. And while Bradford continues to rehab, Sanchez keeps the title of the most important quarterback in the league. Whether you love the Eagles or you love to hate the Eagles, they are one of the NFL’s most electrifying franchises.

Read More 711 Words