A PASSING FANTASY ISSUE 63 1999 SEASON SUPERBOWL
NFLBP PLAYER NEWSLETTER ed Robert Crowther
Slightly different look this week, I'm staying with my brother and I didn't get the newsletter finished before I left so I've had to contend with Word once again (I think I'm winning - found the Auto Correct menu and turned everything off). Before I get on with the newsletter I'd like to make a last call for pro bowl votes - only three sets received so far so we could do with a couple more. The address remains:
2 Lily Terrace
Or email at '[email protected]'.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES REVIEW
The Patriots built an early lead on the back of some early turnovers by Cincinnati but struggled to move the ball the length of the field on the Bengals’ defense. Cincy were in the lead by halftime and didn’t look like giving it up, the league’s top defense was able to offer little opposition as the Bengals controlled the game in the second half. New England managed one field goal in the second half but Cincinnati were able to repeatedly take advantage of the weaknesses in the Pats’ secondary. Reigning champions Green Bay had an ominously impressive victory over the visiting 49ers. San Francisco found it difficult to get any sort of scoring opportunity while the Packers’ offense was marching up and down the field with ease. The 49ers limited the Pack to only three scores in the first three quarters but, with little support from the offense, their defense wilted in the fourth.
DIVISIONAL BOWL REVIEW
The Chiefs joined the disturbingly long list of teams to take advantage of the Raiders’ secondary this season and were comfortably in control by halftime. The Panthers came out passing and built an early lead in Philadelphia but ran out of steam in the second half, the Eagles took the lead in the third and held Carolina scoreless in the fourth.
SILVER BOWL REVIEW
Seattle racked up four touchdowns in the first half and, surprisingly, that was too much for the normally potent Steelers to make up. The Dolphins look likely to shoot their kicker after he missed two field goals in Arizona, Miami failed to take advantage of a lot of good drives while the Cardinals were perfect on four field goal attempts.
BRONZE BOWL REVIEW
Denver found it tough going in Jacksonville but looked in control until two fourth quarter touchdowns got the Jaguars back in contention, a fourth quarter field goal made up for the Broncos’ earlier extra point miss. Buffalo struggled to move the ball on the visiting Saints but got a kick return touchdown to give them the edge.
The grades below do not take into account retirements, step reductions or drastic changes in strategy. They are just a reflection of how well I think the players acquired fit the needs of the team, given the draft position.
Offense 21 Run 6 Pass 23 Defense 21 Run 17 Pass 20
1 RB 4 ORI 2 WR 2 OPL*1 3 OL 2 OQB FA DL 8 3 DBZ DL 4 3 DBZ
Free agents should have immediate impact and offense should have more variety, but missed opportunity to upgrade secondary. GRADE B
Offense 9 Run 4 Pass 20 Defense 24 Run 18 Pass 24
1 WR 2 OPL*2 2 QB 3 OPS 3 DL 2 DBZ
A receiver they won't throw to, a QB to hand it off and not nearly enough help for the defense. GRADE E
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Offense 14 Run 9 Pass 19 Defense 18 Run 10 Pass 22
1 OL 3 OQB 2 DB 3 DPL 3 DB 2 DPL FA DB 3 1 DPS
Did very well to wait for the DB with the second pick, obviously not planning to pass much next year. GRADE A-
New York Jets
Offense 24 Run 24 Pass 7 Defense 3 Run 16 Pass 1
1 TE 3 OPS 2 WR 2 OPL*1 3 OL 1 ORI
New receivers can help dig up the QB after every pass attempt. GRADE E-
Offense 20 Run 18 Pass 14 Defense 11 Run 20 Pass 3
1 RB 3 ORI 2 WR 2 OPL 3 OL 1 ORO
Run defense will continue to be a problem. GRADE D
Offense 18 Run 20 Pass 11 Defense 6 Run 5 Pass 5
1 QB 5 OPS 2 DL 3 DBZ 3 LB 2 DRO FA DB 6 2 DPL
Picked up a one man offense and enough defensive help to be up there with the Bills and Pats. GRADE B
Offense 22 Run 21 Pass 12 Defense 14 Run 22 Pass 2
1 RB 3 ORI 2 WR 1 OPL*2 3 DL 2 DBZ
Offense needed a shot in the arm but perhaps should have got more help for the run defense, especially when they have to face Cincy twice a season. GRADE B
Offense 3 Run 7 Pass 5 Defense 23 Run 19 Pass 19
1 OL 3 OQB 2 LB 3 DRI 3 WR 1 OPS FA LB 4 3 DRI
Another team who waited to get the defensive player they needed, will probably regret not taking another DB when they next play Green Bay. GRADE B+
Offense 11 Run 15 Pass 10 Defense 16 Run 8 Pass 21
1 OL 3 OQB 2 LB 2 DRO 3 RB 1 OPS*1 FA OL 4 2 OQB RB 9 2 ORI
Had a major need at OL and addressed that, another team that neglected a weak looking secondary. GRADE B+
New Orleans Saints
Offense 7 Run 1 Pass 21 Defense 17 Run 9 Pass 23
1 RB 3 ORI 2 WR 1 OPL*1 3 WR 1 DKR
Still needing secondary help after all these years. GRADE E
Offense 17 Run 17 Pass 13 Defense 20 Run 23 Pass 7
1 OL 3 OQB 2 DB 2 DPL 3 LB 2 DRO
Offense should really improve with the addition of a quality OL, defense will still struggle to stop the run. GRADE C
Offense 6 Run 23 Pass 2 Defense 19 Run 24 Pass 4
1 OL 3 OQB 2 WR 1 OPL*1 3 DB 1 DPL
Hello? Run defense? GRADE E
Offense 1 Run 8 Pass 3 Defense 15 Run 14 Pass 16
1 LB 3 DRO 2 DL 3 DBZ 3 RB 2 ORI FA QB 4 3 OPS
The thought of Seattle with a half decent defense is kind of scary. GRADE A
St Louis Rams
Offense 2 Run 22 Pass 1 Defense 22 Run 21 Pass 18
1 LB 3 DRI 2 DB 2 DPS 3 LB 2 DRO
The thought of St Louis with a half decent defense is even more scary. GRADE A
Offense 23 Run 5 Pass 24 Defense 2 Run 2 Pass 17
1 RB 3 ORI 2 WR 1 OPL 3 LB 1 DRO
Offense was an obvious target but could have got better value for their picks in the second and third rounds. GRADE C
New England Patriots
Offense 12 Run 10 Pass 15 Defense 1 Run 1 Pass 14
1 WR 2 OPL*1 2 DB 2 DPL 3 TE 2 OPS FA OL 7 3 OQB DB 7 1 DPL
Addressed all major needs, which is pretty impressive this far down. GRADE A
Offense 4 Run 12 Pass 4 Defense 13 Run 15 Pass 13
1 OL 3 OQB 2 RB 2 ORI 3 DB 1 DPL
Can't help but think that defense was the way to go with at least one of the first two picks. GRADE D
Offense 19 Run 16 Pass 16 Defense 9 Run 12 Pass 8
1 DB 3 DPL 2 QB 3 OPL 3 TE 2 OPS
First pick obviously has the Rams in mind, QB seems unnecessary unless they've suffered a retirement. GRADE C
Offense 8 Run 3 Pass 18 Defense 4 Run 3 Pass 10
1 WR 2 OPL*1 2 QB 3 OPS 3 PN 1 OPN*2 FA LB 3 1 DBZ
Ran the ball forty times a game last season, will have to change their strategy if they want to take advantage of these picks. GRADE B
San Francisco 49ers
Offense 16 Run 14 Pass 17 Defense 10 Run 11 Pass 7
1 DL 3 DBZ 2 LB 2 DRI 3 DB 2 DRO
Building on strength may leave them lacking firepower. GRADE B
Green Bay Packers
Offense 13 Run 19 Pass 8 Defense 8 Run 7 Pass 9
1 QB 4 OPL 2 OL 2 ORI 3 RB 1 ORO*1
First pick seems a waste unless incumbent has retired (in which case it was very sensible). GRADE B
Offense 10 Run 13 Pass 9 Defense 7 Run 6 Pass 11
1 OL 3 OQB 2 DL 2 DBZ 3 TE 1 OPL
Got all the players I wanted, now we'll see if I wanted the right players. GRADE B
Kansas City Chiefs
Offense 5 Run 11 Pass 6 Defense 12 Run 13 Pass 15
1 DL 3 DBZ 2 OL 2 OQB 3 DB 1 DPL
Addressed needs nicely with the second last pick. GRADE A
Offense 15 Run 2 Pass 22 Defense 5 Run 4 Pass 12
1 DL 2 DBZ 2 LB 2 DPS 3 QB 2 OPS FA 5 2 DPL
Are obviously expecting improvement in the offense with maturation of young QB, defense will remain one of the best after this draft. GRADE B
Despite losing to the Bengals in the championship game, spirits are high in the Patriots camp. The side that had developed a nasty habit of picking first in the draft turned around their form and ended up AFC runners-up. After a very successful draft in which the Patriots have shored up their very leaky pass defence and added some new weapons on offence, things look promising for next year. The other major personnel change has seen the Patriots release their long-time starting QB, handing their three year veteran backup the reins. After year one success, the Patriots sights are set high and their coach is confident that they will not disappoint.
There’s been a lot of activity at Sun Devil Stadium during the offseason, and it isn’t stopping during mini camp. Clyde Simmons, the new anchor of the defense, is adjusting to his new nose tackle position by refining his run stuffing and also his pursuit and open field tackling. Mark Smith, who's moved to the outside of the defensive line, has joined Simmons on his workouts in open field tackling. Matt Darby has also been busy, perfecting his pass coverage skills, as he anticipates a move to CB during training camp. The front office are still not finished in the free agent market, as they are looking to sign a player whilst mini camp is in swing and then the possibility of another at the start of the season. Wholesale changes are expected during training camp and at the start of the season in player positions as draftees and free agents claim their roster spots and established veterans move around to accommodate them. Once the wheeling and dealing in free agency has finished I'll try to make an assessment of the offseason, but so far it's gone quite well. We haven't been able to get 100% of what we wanted, but we're still not finished. Oh, and we've made it to the 'Silver Bowl (sponsered by Armitage Shanks)' final - who cares! Without trying to sound too confident, I'd say that the Cardinals will make it to Superbowl V, where we'll meet ... the Broncos. Those of you who are unfamiliar with Mark's style of play will be in for a rude awakening, and I'm also going to be adopting the same style. There'll be a lot of shell shocked players and coaches in both conferences once next season is underway.
Bengals’ offense vs Packers’ defense : The Bengals like to run the ball, and do that extremely well. Even facing the league’s best run defense last week they managed over three and a half yards per carry. The Packers are solid, but not great, on run defense but should have a real advantage in pass defense. Expect Cincinnati to have reasonable success running the ball but, should they fall behind, to struggle to catch up late in the game.
Packers’ offense vs Bengals’ defense : Green Bay like to pass the football and Cincinnati’s pass defense is only average in terms of yards conceded. However, the Bengals have been leading in a lot of games and their opponents have had to pass a lot to catch up – the average attempt on the Cincy defense only goes for six yards, one of the best figures in the league. The Packers will find it tough going but may be able to take advantage of the Bengals’ attacking style to break a few big plays.
Special teams : The Bengals have a slight edge in the return game, but probably not enough to make a difference. Both place kickers have been extremely consistent this season, so any trips into scoring range are likely to result in points. It is in punting and punt coverage that Cincinnati have a significant advantage, their punter kicks the ball further and they allow opponents only five yards per return. In a defensive encounter (which is likely) the Bengals should have a field position advantage, getting them in field goal range more often and reducing the impact of any turnovers.
Keys for the Bengals : 1 Must establish run.
2 Don't fall behind early.
3 Blitzes must get to QB.
Keys for the Packers 1 Must get big plays against blitz.
2 Need to take the Cincinnati running game out of the equation somehow.
3 Don't turn the ball over.
Quentin Jenkinson - Bengals by 3
Dave Pinder - Bengals by 3
Rob Crowther - Bengals by 1
QJ - Patriots by 1 Eagles by 3 Broncos by 10
DP - Chiefs by 7 Cards by 2 Broncos by 7
RC - 49ers by 3 Eagles by 3 Cards by 3 Broncos by 3