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 1-6 against playoff teams in ’19 and 6-10 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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2019 AFC Championship Preview: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans

Here we are on the day to find out who will make their way to Miami and Super Bowl LIV. Its the best week of football as the two cities that host the conference championships have the hardcore rank and file fans that have cheered their teams all season. So it has a more visceral emotional feeling than an antiseptic corporate Super Bowl crowd.

The raw emotion that is felt comes from the home team either moving on to the Super Bowl or finality of the season is over.

One week after a historic comeback in their 51-31 win over Houston, Mahomes is in a rare position. This is his 2nd straight AFC Championship Game at home and with a victory he’s off to be the face of the NFL with a Super Bowl appearance. With a loss and he becomes this generation’s Dan Fouts. Who had several great years but had his legacy derailed with huge home losses in ’79 playoffs & an AFC Championship loss in 1980.

Mahomes is on pace to break Kurt Warner’s record for most yards in his 1st four playoff games and will have to carry the Chiefs today. In this game he has to come out and land haymakers early and establish a 14-0 or 14-3 lead to knock Tennessee from the gameplan of turning and handing the football off to bruising Derrick Henry. They cannot come out with jitters as they did last week with 4 drops in their 1st four possessions. This included a couple drops by All World TE Travis Kelce.

If they do Kansas City’s glass jaw can totally be exposed in their defense. Yes the Chiefs have improved defensively this year with a ranking of 16th where they were 31st last year. However a closer look and they are 28th in yards allowed per carry with 4.9 yards per crack.

That doesn’t bode well when Derrick Henry is on a historic playoff run. First the 182 yards in knocking off the #1 defense and defending champion Patriots. Then the 195 yards on 30 carries trampling the 4th ranked Ravens in a 28-12 win. That doesn’t bode well. It isn’t the yards as much as it’s Henry and this offensive line imposing their will on a front 7. On a group giving up nearly 5 yards per carrry? Yikes!

Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill have to make the huge plays as they did last week. Come on… they scored on 8 straight possessions which is an NFL playoff record. Kelce made up for his early drops with 10 rec 134 yards and a playoff record 3TDs. He as to be the guy as cold neutralizes speed and Hill won’t be that effective. One or two big splash plays maybe but Kelce has to move the chains.

To The Chancellor of Football this is a replay of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens run to the title. They changed their quarterback mid year (Trent Dilfer/Ryan Tannehill) who had been shipped from a prior team whose city is hosting that year’s Super Bowl (Tampa/Miami). In 2000 the game that announced this was a hot team powering their way to the Super Bowl Baltimore powered through a physical Titan team on the road. This time Henry and Tennessee gut punched the Ravens in Baltimore’s house.

The last 3 games between these teams the Titans have won including two playoff games with one a 22-21 wildcard win in Arrowhead. No Mahomes wasn’t on the tear that he is now but styles make fights.

In an upset the Tennessee Titans win this game in a 27-17 win playing keep away. This is the NFL’s 100th season and we’re going to back to it’s roots. Titans going to Super Bowl LIV!

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The 2018 Taylor Blitz Times Offensive MVP Preview: Patrick Mahomes

Up until two weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were sailing into uncharted waters. They were scoring at a rate of 37 points per game as they raced out to a gaudy 10-1 record. Patrick Mahomes was leading the most dynamic offense in the NFL that could score from anywhere. We hadn’t seen this lethal speed since “The Greatest Show on Turf” Rams earlier this century. Now what will happen as play calling will change as Kareem Hunt’s departure allows defenses to descend upon the young QB??

Before we made it to last week’s 40-33 win over the Oakland Raiders and last week’s 27-24 escape of the Ravens, the NFL’s biggest controversy saw the Chiefs release Kareem Hunt amid domestic violence allegations.

Of course Mahomes was masterful completing 23 of 38 for 295 yards and another “ho-hum” 4 touchdown performance against the moribund Raiders. But that is Jon Gruden’s tanking organization. Against the Ravens #1 ranked defense, Mahomes had to put in a little more work connecting on 35 of 53 aerials for 377 yards, 2 scores and an interception.

However the next 2 weeks provide a daunting task as Mahomes faces the L.A. Chargers (8th in defense) in an important AFC rubber match before taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a rugged game with the streaking Seahawks. Each of these present formidable challenges for the first year starter although he’s really had a season for the ages.

Aside from Hall of Fame legend Kurt Warner, no 1st year quarterback in NFL history can match Mahomes performance. With 3 games to go he already broke Warner’s single season record of 41 TDs for a 1st year starter with 43. With 4,300 yards he has a legitimate chance at 5,000 yards. Something Dan Marino didn’t do until his 2nd season as a starter.

Yes I know the rules have been relaxed but you have to give credit where it’s due. Look at Blake Bortles, Paxton Lynch, or even Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota…. have they shown this type of promise or command??

Mahomes has benefitted greatly learning from “The Quarterback Whisperer” in Head Coach Andy Reid. Keep in mind Brett Favre’s MVP seasons happened under his tutelage. Reid also drafted and developed Donovan McNabb where they went to 5 conference championships together and resurrected Michael Vick’s career.

The Chancellor and Andy Reid at The Gold Jacket Dinner 2018.

Outside of Kansas City many of us worried Coach Reid had over-invested in turning the franchise over to Mahomes. Yet he has shown maturity even in prime time games with the 352 yard 4 touchdown performance in a 43-40 loss to Tom Brady and New England. He starred again on the national stage with a 478 yard 6TD performance in a 54-51 loss in Los Angeles. Sure he threw 3 interceptions but only 1 other time in history can you find a 1st year starter tossing 6TDs in an NFL game.

However he does get the rubber match with the LA Chargers and the winner is in line for homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Mahomes gets this game at home however defenses are adjusting to the Chiefs without Kareem Hunt.

How will he perform in these last 3 games as a marked man?? As for Taylor Blitz Times Offensive Player of the Year he is definitely in the running and is one of the players who has clearly defined this season.

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The NFL’s Best Team is in L.A. But It Isn’t The Rams

As the games in the NFL are starting to heat up many teams are starting to gain notice that weren’t the early favorites. Now of course you look around and the 8-1 Kansas City Chiefs playing the 8-1 Rams jump out at you. The only team that has played both actually has the longest winning streak in the AFC at 6 straight… and that is the Chargers.

Gordon has been the most electrifying back in the AFC.

Keep in mind we haven’t seen the Chargers at full potential yet as DE Joey Bosa hasn’t hit the field in 2018. Without him the Chargers are still 8th in sacks (26) with 5 1/2 by Melvin Engram III and a respectable 14th overall. Yet the loss of ILB Denzel Perryman, lost to IR this week, could come back to haunt.

On offense Phillip Rivers is enjoying an MVP level season completing 67.2% of his passes for 2,459 yards and 21 TDs. The fact he has matured and has only 4 interceptions shows he has turned the corner. He isn’t having the late game meltdowns as he had earlier in his career or mind numbing interceptions to derail the Chargers when they play inferior competition. His career has been plagued by that.

In all actuality he is playing for his legacy. This is his 15th season and he is in no man’s land with history connecting him to Drew Brees (NFL’s leading passer) and fellow draft alums Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. These men have 5 Super Bowl championships and 9 conference championship appearances between them. All this before bringing up Tom Brady who won 3 more titles during his era and defeating him in the only AFC Championship he appeared in back in 2007.

Even now he sees the future in a young Patrick Mahomes and what he is doing with the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. What will history say about Rivers once his playing days are over?? He is stuck in this twilight and needs a Super Bowl championship to escape this purgatory.

Aiding him in the NFL’s 8th ranked offense is the tremendous play of 4th year back Melvin Gordon. Not only is he on pace for a 1,300 yard season on the ground (672 yards rushing/361 yards receiving) he has 11 combined touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who’s mother wouldn’t wear his jersey when he didn’t score as a rookie. He now has 35 in 2 1/2 seasons. Yet all he hears about is the Chiefs Kareem Hunt, who led the league in rushing last year, and fellow L.A. running back Todd Gurley.

This forgotten team out in Los Angeles is dangerous and has no obvious weaknesses. The one thing they could work on is getting more turnovers.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room… the chip on the shoulder of every one of these LA Chargers. Not only are they vagabonds in LA, ushered away and playing in a soccer stadium in Carson, but they’re complete afterthoughts nationally. They have to drive by billboards touting the Rams and the press has all but anointed them Super Bowl champions. Even in their own division the Chiefs are running away with the AFC West… if you listen to pundits.

Yet when it comes to championship competition like the NFL playoffs, keep your eye on the team that feels they have something to prove. The Chargers are 6-2 with their only losses coming to the Chiefs and Rams. They have a rubber match with Kansas City in 5 weeks where AFC home field advantage could be at stake.

The Rams?? Well… keep in mind the Chargers are to be tennants in their stadium being built in Hollywood Park. It’s been more than difficult for this team to gain traction in Los Angeles where they’re not wanted. What better way for Coach Anthony Lynn’s bunch to get back at all that ails them then to go to Atlanta and pound LA’s favorite team in Super Bowl LIII?? You know… that team that abandoned L.A. back in 1980 for the friendly confines of Anaheim.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves here but talk about some juicy plot-lines… and do not sleep on these Chargers.

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