The Beta Quarterback Revisited

When you look at life from a psychological standpoint, you have leaders and you have followers. Well in the Taylor Blitz Times lexicon of NFL football describing the quarterback position, you have the alpha and the beta.

The alpha infuses confidence in his football team through his play and leadership. His teammates are inspired through his verve, spirit, and fight which in turn raises their level of play to meet his.  You can see the confidence in their eyes when the game is tight. He doesn’t shrink when games are on the line or when the team is up against a superior opponent. This is what every coach covets each year in the NFL draft.

dakslumped

Dak was 0-5 against playoff teams in ’19 and 5-9 over the last 3 years. Beta Quarerback

Then you have the beta quarterback that many teams seem to be afflicted with. He comes through with the physical gifts that scouts and coaches can see where he can improve, and can possibly sculpt a winner from. He shows promise and can win you a few football games yet isn’t a leader. This is the guy that looks to his teammates for confidence when they’re looking to him for theirs.

Subsequently when the situations get tight or they’re up against tough teams, he shrinks at the moment of truth.  Sure they win games they are supposed to win but the superior opponent he needs to beat to become a champion, he will always come up short. Late game interceptions, missed connections in crucial times, & mangled last minute drives which short ciruit his team’s efforts. Most important he always loses when an alpha quarterback is leading the other team. Constant big game heartbreak follows this guy….always.

Well this is how The Chancellor of Football sees the game. As you read those first two paragraphs, certain quarterbacks started to form in your mind.

One play after overthrowing a streaking Emmanuel Sanders in the endzone, Jimmy G took a sack and forced fumble that ended Super Bowl LIV.

One of the most unique aspect of the beta quarterback is he almost rises to prominence in the same way. Usually they are under appreciated talents that are among the best of the back-up quarterbacks.

Good enough to make the roster, run the scout team offense, and if we lose our starter he can pilot the ship for 3 or 4 games. Yet with the advent of complete NFL free agency, these are the guys signed after they have done well when they have relieved an injured starter. Jimmy Garoppolo was signed after performing admirably for Tom Brady in New England and is the poster boy for the beta quarterback.

The San Francisco 49ers had fallen on hard times and were in the middle of a meltdown under overmatched Coach Chip Kelly.  The Niners were struggling with Colin Kaepernick finding rhythm in Chip Kelly’s offense after a successful run with Coach Jim Harbaugh.

Then the 49ers brought in Kyle Shanahan who was the hotshot offensive coordinator who had taken the Atlanta offense to Super Bowl LI. To run his offense he needed a franchise QB and the team jettisoned Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert as each appeared damaged goods. They brought in Jimmy Garoppolo who had gone 2-0 during Tom Brady’s suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season.

Kirk Cousins is another beta quarterback

The 49ers surprised opponents in 2017 when they went 5-0 under Garoppolo. However the sample size wasn’t large enough to make a full judgment. He couldnt finish the ’17 or ’18 seasons and in 8 games he had thrown 12 TDs yet had an eyebrow raising 8 interceptions. Desperate for any competent quarterbacking after the last few years GM John Lynch & Shanahan had tied their success to Garoppolo’s wagon.They began to assemble talent around him. The team made progress and when Garoppolo didn’t do so well, the thought process was: “Once he matures, he won’t throw those passes.”

However that incessant tic never seems to leave this guy. It’s in his DNA and it becomes glaring once the rest of the team assembled with him should thrive with his leadership.

All season long as it became apparent the 49ers had turned the corner experts held out Jimmy G was the weak link that would let San Fran down. The Chancellor of Football was one of them. 49er fans would point to games he performed well in yet didn’t notice how he struggled in a prime time game at home with Western division leading Seattle. He played well as long as the team was out in front and they could sic that front four on opponents.

Once the 49ers outlasted New Orleans and Drew Brees 48-46 it looked like Garoppolo was on the precipice of proving his doubters wrong. Yet a knock kneed performance in a 29-22 home loss and a mundane Monday Night performance when they beat Seattle 26-21 raised suspicions.

When Shanahan started to cover up his QB in the 2nd quarter of the 49ers divisional playoff win over Minnesota, it appeared he lost confidence in him. He turned the game over to his rushing game and defense and nearly won a title. Lost in 49er euphoria was Shanahan only allowed his QB to throw the football 27 times total in 2 playoff games. He really didnt beat any Alpha QBs as the 49ers used smoke and mirrors to keep him from throwing in obvious situations.

Then came Super Bowl LIV and alpha QB Patrick Mahomes. For 3 quarters it looked like the Niners were about to pull the upset and Jimmy G was on the precipice of proving his doubters wrong.

Then the moment of truth… San Francisco was up 10 and the pilot light in the alpha Patrick Mahomes came on. He made play after play to will his team back in the game. The beta?? Jimmy G went 2 for 9 in the 4th quarter when his team desperately needed a play from him. All we got were deer in the headlights looks on television closeups. He had one last chance to bail his team out with 1:40 to go… Emmanuel Sanders split two Chiefs defensive backs and was streaking to a game winning touchdown… all he needed was one Garoppolo throw from a clean pocket. Jimmy overthrew him then had a sack and forced fumble on the next play to kill the 49ers Super Bowl chances.

Beta!!

Had he completed it he would be have gone into the pantheon of Super Bowl champions and would have completed his winning touchdown in about the same spot Joe Montana completed his to John Taylor to win Super Bowl XXIII. Same spot in the same stadium some 30 years earlier…

Like Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo is a beta QB….fools gold. They don’t have an alpha and they know it. The rest of us had already come to that conclusion before Super Bowl Sunday. This game just cemented it. Like S

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Super Bowl LIV Preview: Kansas City Chiefs v. San Francisco 49ers

We’re just 36 hours from crowning the 100th NFL champion with the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV. The narrative has largely been framed around the coaching experience of the Chief’s Andy Reid against the youthful brilliance of Kyle Shanahan. It should be as both have earned their way to football’s summit.

However the narrative that has dominated the headlines concerning both teams on the field is how can the 49ers 2nd ranked defense stop they dynamics Chiefs offense and all world QB Patrick Mahomes??

Kelce is crucial in moving the chains in LIV.

Over the last two seasons Mahomes has thrown for 76 TDs to just 17 interceptions. With TE Travis Kelce (97 rec. 1,229 yds/ 5TDs) Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, and Mecole Hardman the NFL  hasn’t seen this type of lethal speed since The Greatest Show on Turf St Louis Rams. This team can get deep on anyone.

One matchup to keep your eye on is LT Eric Fisher protecting against super rookie Nick Bosa. Each are former 1st round draft picks and had Fisher started all 16 games he might have been a Pro Bowl performer as he had been in 2018. Yet Bosa (9 sacks) Erik Armstead (10 sacks) and DeForest Buckner (7.5 sacks) have benefitted with the return of Dee Ford. They have to collapse the pocket and protect their secondary. If Mahomes can buy time he has the arm to get deep to Hill, Mecole, or Watkins on a 31 year old Richard Sherman.

Mahomes has only been sacked 17 times in the 14 games he’s started and the Niners plan to get after him. Watch for Kansas City to attack with screens early on to slow the pass rush down. Reid and OC Eric Bienemy did adjust to a 2TE alignment and run the Titans, a run heavy offense, out of their gameplan. Can they do that on the 2nd ranked 49er defense though??

However…Did you know the San Francisco 49ers outscored the Kansas City Chiefs this season 479-451?? Did you know the Kansas City Chiefs allowed fewer points than the 49ers 308-310??

Can Mostert continue his hot hand??

Over the last 5 games of the season the 49ers gave up 147 points which included 46 given up to the Saints on the road. However the defense coming in hot is Kansas City where they only gave up 32 points over the last 5 games. For all the talk of 49er DC Robert Saleh it’s Chief DC Steve Spagnuolo whose defense has jelled as the season concluded.

He put the Chiefs in goalline defense on 4th and 1in the middle of the field in the AFC Championship Game. “Spags” has lined up his defense with 4 and 5 down linemen to stop bruising NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry when he had to. Now that Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones is healthy he has a pivotal role stopping the 49er running game.

Mathieu has been putting the smack down on receivers in 2019.

All Pro and Pro Bowl S Tyrann Mathieu will be pit against 49er Pro Bowl TE Kerry Kittle. Number 85 (85 rec / 1053 yds / 5 TDs) has to have a dominant game against Mathieu and Sorenson. Don’t know if Kittle can get lose on the instinctive athletic safety. Spagnuolo had to learn the strengths of his new defense and Mathieu as his wildcard defender

Shanahan’s running game is the key to the 49ers winning it. He has taken the ball out of Jimmy G’s hands in these last two playoff games. He’s only thrown 27 passes while the offense ran 89 times and controlled the flow of both games. What is going to happen if forced out of that game plan?? Can they unhide Garoppolo??

murray.49ersThe 49ers defense in games against mobile QBs Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson, they went 3-2 in those games giving up 27, 21, 25, 26, and 20 points while allowing an average of 147.6 yards rushing in those games. The Chancellor was front and center during the Halloween contest when they let Kyler Murray run 5 times for 34 yards to keep drives alive in a 28-25 loss. Keep in mind this is with 4 games played against division rivals they knew best.

When they faced a Lamar Jackson they didn’t know… he burst for 101 yards rushing. Mahomes will keep his eyes up and buy time for Hill and Watkins to get deep. In figuring the winner of this game the best defense will win.

Kansas City will win this game as they can be stopped for half the game and explode for 24 in just a few minutes. Patrick Mahomes will bring the Lombardi back to Kansas City 38-21.

Andy Reid finally wins that elusive Super Bowl!derrick.thomas

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2019 NFC West Previews & Predictions

Once the final seconds ticked away at the conclusion of Super Bowl LIII, a series of questions rose to greet the Rams before they trudged back to their locker room. Scott McVay’s “Boy Wonder” status had been ripped to shreds in a 13-3 loss where the Rams offense couldn’t get out of it’s own way.

What was the impetus for RB Todd Gurley’s diminished role in LIII just as it had been down in the NFC Championship in New Orleans?? Did Gurley really hurt his knee where Rams brass kept it quiet or was it fall out from his appearance on LeBron James’ show “The Shop”??

How did the NFL’s highest scoring team, averaging 32.9 points per game, wind up tied with the Dolphins of Super Bowl VI with the lowest game total in S.B. history with 3 points?? Have McVay and Jared Goff recovered from being dominated in a world championship game when all eyes were on them??

When you lose a Super Bowl all questions rise to the surface and no team recent memory has as much to answer to than the defending NFC Champions.

One of the teams they have to stave off to repeat as NFC West champions is the #1 rushing attack of Seattle. Pete Carroll’s 3 headed monster, Chris Carson (1,141 rush yds), Mike Davis (514 yds) & Rashad Penny (420 yds) combined for 15TDs while averaging 4.7 yards per rush. Their combined 2,084 yards running established attitude and tone the Seahawks hadn’t seen since Marshawn Lynch. With Penny coming on at the end of the season it’s hard to see this group along with the front line not becoming the bellwether focal point of a young ball club.

2019 NFC West Predictions

  1. Seattle Seahawks 11-5 *
  2. Los Angeles Rams 9-7**
  3. San Francisco 49ers 6-10
  4. Arizona Cardinals 4-12

Pete Carroll’s team finished winning 6 of their last 7 and was the most solid NFC team coming down the stretch. Now they add the 4.3 speed and size of 2nd round draft pick DK Metcalf to bolster a receiver group in flux. He has the size and speed to become the 1st #1 receiver in Russell Wilson’s tenure. For the 1st time this team will be known for their offensive strength and rely on timely defense vs an overpowering one.

Eventually 49er QB Jimmy Garoppolo was going to have to hit the field and earn his large contract. Truth be told he struggled at the beginning of last year which should be the case at the start of 2019. He hasn’t played against live fire in nearly a year. Fan favorite backup Nick Mullens will have a chance to wrest a few starts from Garoppolo if this team starts 0-3 with a bye in the 4th week.

However the 49ers have bolstered their defense with the signing of free agent LB Kwon Alexander,1st round draft pick Joey Bosa and acquiring DE Dee Ford along with former Raider and Seahawk LB Malcolm Smith. The 49ers should have one of the better defenses in the NFC. It will make for closer games however the Niner offense lacks explosion so they’ll keep games close but…

The Niners running by committee and lack of explosive playmakers on offense will short circuit efforts early in the season. They’ll win a few ugly games late. Keep in mind this team was 1-5 in the division last year. They have to establish themselves here.

In Tinsletown the Rams are ready to bounce back from their Super Bowl meltdown… however we need to find out about Todd Gurley first. Last year Gurley was one of the best weapons in the NFL yet something happened. On Dec 2nd, Gurley rushed for 132 yds on 23 carries and 2 scores and was the big strike RB earning his $57 million contract. Two days later he appeared on Lebron James show “The Shop” where James famously made the comment “NFL owners had a plantation mentality” and all of a sudden we didn’t see him carrying the football.

In the last 4 games of the season he had 11, 12, 0, and 0 carries to finish the season. Interestingly in the wild card win over Dallas he burst for 115 yards on 16 carries yet played 2nd fiddle to CJ Anderson’s 123 yards on 23 carries and 2 scores. Then back in hibernation mode with 4 attempts for 10 yards in the NFC Championship Game and 10 carries for 35 yards in the Super Bowl. Hmmmmmm?? OK

Well there was some fudging with the injury report with an arthritic knee unofficially we learned leading up to the Super Bowl yet it wasn’t reported. Another theory is Gurley was silenced and pulled out of the lineup for the appearance on The Shop… it came at the height of the national anthem debate and in the black community we spoke of it on social media and in the blogosphere. He didn’t defend ownership or give a rebuttal to the “slave mentality” comment and we won’t know for some time.

Either way Gurley and the Rams have to deal with the psychological fallout from this and the Super Bowl flameout or a star running back with an arthritic knee. For one who relies on jump cuts and option routes on LBs and Nickel backs in the passing game, this is a problem and he could be worn down by week 12.

We’re waiting to see how Jared Goff bounces back from the Super Bowl. Goff enjoyed a Pro Bowl year completing 364 of 561 passes for 4,688 yards and 32 scores. Yet he only threw for 1 TD in 3 postseason games and didn’t throw for more than 300 yards in any of the 3. In this copycat league teams will follow what the Patriots did and disguise their coverages then shift into a new look when the play clock gets down to :15. This is when Sean McVay can no longer speak to him in his helmet speaker. He HAS to be able to audible and move his offense into different formations to beat defenses on his own and not just rely on presnap play design.

Keep in mind as NFC Champs they are going to get everyone’s best shot and this team was only 3-3 against playoff teams in the regular season. If the Rams can start fast they won’t have to deal with all these items discussed except Taylor Blitz sees a 3-3 start this year and the talk will begin. They will miss the playoffs in 2019.

Pete Carroll and the Seahawks win the division.

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2018 NFC Predictions

Although we made it through week 1 of the NFL season we still have to get in our selections for the NFC. The majority of the offseason centered around the Los Angeles Rams amassing a defensive arsenal equal to what they deploy on offense. However we have seen this in the past not play out as it does on paper. Do the Rams have the mettle to make it to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII??

3d illustration of an NFL logo behind a transparent silver American football over a metallic silk background

Another team which looks to make a move are the San Francisco 49ers now that QB Jimmy Garopplo is fully entrenched. Can they build off the 5 straight wins to conclude the 2017 season?? We watched the Chicago Bears tilt the field with the trade for Khalil Mack and the terrorizing affect he had against Green Bay in week 1. Do you realize there are no Pro Bowl Tackles in that division?? What does that mean to Minnesota??

2018 Predictions:

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings 12-4*

NFC West: Los Angeles Rams 12-4

NFC South: Carolina Panthers 11-5

NFC East: New York Giants 10-6

Wildcard: Philadelphia Eagles 10-6

Wildcard: Atlanta Falcons 10-6

NFC Champion: New York Giants

This is a season starting with tremendous parity where many teams face unbelievable stretches in their schedule. One team that will have a stretch kill their season is Green Bay. They should finish 4-2 going into their bye week. Then they play 4 of 5 on the road against the Rams, Patriots, Seahawks, and rubber match to today’s game in Minnesota. Honestly ask yourself in which of these 4 games would they be favored?? An Aaron Rodgers 20 point come from behind miracle was needed just to make it to 1-0. Its realistic the Pack could be 5-6 going into the stretch run of the season.

Talib and the Rams defense is star studded.

As for the 49ers and Rams in the NFC West, Los Angeles is a legitimate threat with All World DT Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh (when he starts playing), and the best corner tandem in Aquib Talib and Marcus Peters fortifying that defense. However by week 6 the NFL will have an 18 game sample size to study Coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff dating back to last year. In week 4 they play Minnesota (#1 defense in 2017) and Denver (#3 defense in 2017) out in Mile High where they could stumble.

Jared Goff was 0-2 against Minnesota and the World Champion Eagles last year and those two played for the NFC Championship. Will this team grow in stature to leapfrog these two teams?? Or can a chemistry issue show up and derail a championship team on paper like the ’94 Miami Dolphins & ’00 Washington Redskins?? Will Jared Goff and Coach McVay make adjustments to offset defensive coordinators taking away what they do best?? Its a long time until January.

The 49ers will make a move next year. Teams will scheme Jimmy Garoppolo and expose him as a second tier quarterback. Keep your eye on what happened to him in Minnesota in week 1. They’re not ready yet and Jimmy G is reading his press clippings.

The Eagles have to navigate uncharted waters as a defending champion with a backup QB a Super Bowl hero. Not only are they going to get everyone’s best shot, Nick Foles isn’t playing well to begin the season. We still may not see QB Carson Wentz until we get out to week 6 or 7. This will short circuit their ability to establish an offensive rhythm before the end of the season. Their defense will keep them in every game, however there will be a few balls that will bounce other teams way this season.

In New York the Giants have a home run hitter in RB Saquon Barkley to team with WR Odell Beckham. This may be the NFC version of the Steelers LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown. However the signing of New England’s LT Nick Solder allowed Erick Flowers to be moved to RT where he should be more effective. Then you add massive rookie G Will Hernandez and this line is improved to a strength where they were a liability last year.

Now who do you take away first?? Do you commit to the run and leave Odell Beckham one on one in the back end?? If you have your defense focused on the pass where does that leave Barkley running the ball or catching out of the backfield?? Those same linebackers watching for Barkley out of the backfield will leave TE Evan Engram open. This weaponry will lead to Eli Manning’s rebirth. They will catch stride somewhere at the midpoint of the season as Head Coach Pat Shurmur has the chance to learn what they do best and their best element of attack.

By season’s end watch out as Eli could be heading to that 3rd championship we suggested a few years back. Experience and firepower might be too much for the leaders in the conference to hold off.

That is what the crystal ball of The Chancellor of Football shows.

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