Where is Alf? ¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Posted: January 21, 2015 in Home

My contract with Bleacher Report will end at the end of this month, as it has every year since in 2011. This time, however, it will not be renewed. I don’t have much of an explanation for you other than B/R is going in another direction with their NFL coverage, which is completely in their right to do.

I would be lying if I said I was totally cool with this, but by the same token, its somewhat of a relief. Since I graduated college and entered the shitty adult world (sorry youngins, enjoy it while it lasts), keeping up the dream of writing about sports for a living, while, you know, making an actual living took a lot of sacrifice. I worked a job where I commuted about 4 hours a day, worked 9 (nights), wrote for 3 or 4 (or more), did some bullshit workout to not get fat and filled in the space with sleep. My days began to build around how I was going to balance getting my writing done that day without falling asleep mid-paragraph.

I developed a bad relationship with a game I used to love. Football got me through some tough times as a youngin. It was becoming a burden through no one’s fault but my own.

I thought I was losing my fanhood because I was becoming more analytical, but it wasn’t just the Jets I didn’t care about. NFL Sundays were becoming a chore, and not because I had to write—just watching the games became work.

It hit me that my relationship with football was changing when I was watching/blogging Jets/Ravens with my brother in 2013. Ed Reed (of course) watched a ball sail over his head to further embarrass the Jets; all I was worried about was the time of the touchdown so I could update it on my blog, completely emotionless as to what had happened.

“You just really don’t give a shit anymore, do you?” My brother asked.

He was right. A younger version of me would have his head buried in a pillow (just as a younger version of Reed would have never let such a thing happen, but that’s another topic).

I was compensated fairly for the work I did put in, but money was just a byproduct of why I put myself through this season after season. I definitely gave a shit—about the product I was putting out every day. Every article with my name on it was my best possible work. I just didn’t give a shit about what makes the NFL so fun.

For most people, football is an escape. For me, it was just a second job—which is the last thing I wanted it to be. I wanted to do something I loved so I would never have to work, not work so much I never got to do anything I loved. Taking out a tough day at work by going into detail about how terrible Stephen Hills’ releases are off the line of scrimmage is not an ideal stress reliever.

So, that’s why I have been keeping away from twitter, taking a step back to re-evaluate what I really want out of this. I’m not sure what the future holds for my writing career, but I do know I still want to write – its a form of communication where, I, a stutterer, am on an equal playing field as everyone else. I have to write.

Eventually I will likely pursue other writing opportunities and return to heat up the TLs with #takes on the reg, but I will probably take the next few weeks to step away from the game. If you’ve followed/read/RTd/favorited/sent me hate mail/made fun of my Revis #lust, thank you – you guys helped keep me going more than you think. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity B/R gave me as a nearly-broke college kid and to have kept me around for as long as they have.

To the next chapter.

Alf

Interview With Eric Decker

Posted: April 26, 2014 in Home

I had the opportunity to interview new Jets wide receiver Eric Decker recently. Read here for my story on Decker’s transition to New York, his thoughts on the Jets and how he made it so far in his football career.

My latest story on B/R that breaks down why the Jets can’t wait around to keep Wilkerson, both from a financial and psychological standpoint.

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I wrote this piece for B/R a few weeks ago. It details how Tebow got to where he is today, from his miraculous birth to being on the back pages of New York tabloids.

I have never been a fan of the attention Tebow gets, but I enjoyed spelling out the complex story of who was the most popular man in American sports.

Click here to give it a read.

I just did an extensive piece about the Jets QB options in 2013. What I found was, no matter what avenue the Jets take, keeping Sanchez as the starter just makes more logical sense.

The only hope for Sanchez to not be the Jets starter is for either a) he plays badly enough over the next month to start one of the backups or b) Mike Tannenbaum is fired. Even if Mr. T is fired, it still makes more fiscal sense for the Jets to keep no. 6.

Here’s why.

Latest at Bleacher Report: 9 New York Jets Who Could Shock the Word in 2012

Taking a look at some sleepers that could surprise for the Jets next season. 

Link  —  Posted: June 5, 2012 in Home

According to Bleacher Report draft guru Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout), many of the top players in this draft have no interest in going to Cleveland.

It comes as no suprise that Cleveland is a team players want to avoid. They don’t win many games, and a lot of good careers have gone unnoticed.

However, Cleveland has a top-five pick. Whoever is picking in the top 5 is going to be a bad team. You could argue that the Rams have had no more success in the past five years or so than the Browns, but no one is avoiding them.

The answer lies in how much money the Browns are spending. At least the Rams are trying, by signing guys like Cortland Finnegan and hiring a proven coach in Jeff Fisher. The Browns seem more interested in bringing back the west coast offense at all costs than winning games.

In a surprising move, the Houston Texans traded ILB DeMeco Ryans to the Eagles for a 4th round pick and a swap of 3rd round picks. Ryans was taking up a fair share of cap room, and he only played about half of defensive snaps last year as his pass coverage skills went South.

He is also a much better fit in a 4-3, and should be an immediate upgrade over anything the Eagles have.

I expect Boston College ILB Luke Kluechly to still be in play in the first round fr the Eagles. He may be a better fit as a WILL backer anyway, and he’s just a damn fine football player to just pass on.

Clearly, the value of veterans is deteriorating, and quickly. The NFL is becoming so much about pure athleticism that age is becoming a bigger factor every year.

In a somewhat surprising move, former Rutgers head coach of Greg Schiano was given the head coaching job of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, left vacant by Raheem Morris.

The Bucs took a lot of time in making their decision, interviewing everyone from Marty Schottenheimer to Chip Kelly before finally agreeing to terms with Schiano. When you look at some of the guys they brought in for an interview, it was clear that the Bucs had a clear vision for what they wanted in their new head coach: someone with experience as a leader of men.

By the end of Raheem Morris’ tenure, Tampa Bay’s team was far to undisciplined to produce a winning product on the field. The team was exceptionally young at key positions, players were getting into off-field problems, and their coach, who turned 35 in September, could not demand enough respect from players that were often not much younger than he was.

Morris was hired after the 2008 season, which he started as the defensive backs coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator in the same year, and was eventually given the head coaching job after Jon Gruden was fired after the season.

That same off-season, the Buccaneers began their purge of veteran leadership to start afresh, showing legends guys like Derrick Brooks the door. They hired a young Morris in hopes that he would grow with his young team and be there for the long haul.

However, it did not play out as smoothly as they hoped. Tampa learned, the hard way, that combining young players with an inexperienced coach is not a recipie for success.

Which is where Greg Schiano comes in.

Schiano took over a Rutgers program that was among the worst in college football. He had a slow start, but finally, the team started to go in the right direction in the 2005 season, finishing 7-5 and making a bowl game for the first time since 1978. In 2006, Rutgers was ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 1976, and finished 10-2. Quite a remarkable turnaround for a program that has been dormant for so long.

A man with a defensive background, Schiano favors a “power football” mentality while still generating big plays from his offense. In the 2009 and 2010 drafts, Rutgers has had three players go in the first round: Devin McCourty, Anthony Davis, and Kenny Britt – a defender, offensive lineman, and a big-play wide receiver. He also produced great players like Ray Rice and Gary Brackett.

For a Bucs team that lacks mental toughness and disipline, the move seems like a natural fit.  Jim Harbaugh’s success in his first season as coach of the 49ers and erasing some of the stigma that comes with college coaches making the transition to the NFL, there is more reason to believe that Greg Schiano can have immediate impact.

What does this mean for the Bucs this off-season? You can expect them to get another running back, as Schiano has always used a back-by-committee at Rutgers. Expect them to get bigger on defense and start to get more diverse and multiple on defense and emply more man-coverage schemes.

Still, this is a bit of a gamble by the Bucs, as going from college to the professional ranks is hardly a fluid task. But if there is to be a “second coming” of Jim Harbaugh, Schiano is the man for the job.

Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State

Burst: In terms of acceleration, Quick is average coming off the line. He does display quick change of direction when setting up routes, but he is not going to gain separation right away with straight-line explosiveness.

Catch in Traffic: One of Quick’s best attributes. Having to play with poor quarterback play, Quick is not hesitant to extend his hands and expose himself to make a play. His large frame certainly helps him out-muscle defenders. He knows how to shield his body and take a hit. He shows exceptional balance taking hits and staying on his feet.

Leaping Ability: Another strength of Quick’s. Quick is not going to necessarily burn defenders with speed, but he can win a jump ball with defenders around him. Has a knack for attacking the ball at its highest point. His 6’4 frame is certainly helpful in the red zone, where he was often utilized inAppState’s offense. Has the ability to shield defenders and use the sideline to his advantage.

Lateral Quickness: One of Quick’s best attributes is his great balance. He can get in and out of his breaks quickly without wasting motion. His quickness allows him to set up routes and get away from defenders after making a catch.’

Route Running: Brian ran a very simple route tree atAppState, and is a bit raw in this area. He has shown the ability to set up defenders with subtle movements, but it was usually against lesser competition. The transition to an NFL offense may take some extra time, but the ability is there.

Press Coverage: Unfortunately, Quick did not see a ton of press coverage, coming from a IAA school, and this will make the adjustment to the NFL game more difficult for him.

Run After Catch: This is one of Brain’s biggest strength areas. For a man of his size, he shows incredible balance to catch a slant route, shake the defender with his back turned, and turn it into a huge gain. Quick is not the fastest guy, but he gains speed as he goes, and is tough to bring down with just one defensive back.

Size: At 6’4, Quick is great red-zone target and is the kind of big target quarterbacks love to throw to. He can sometimes be a bit reliant on his ability to get jump balls because of his height, as he is not the kind of player that is going to torch a secondary with pure speed.

Overall: Brian Quick has a ton of raw ability that is going to excite scouts. To me, he is like a poor man’s Plaxico Burress: A lot of big-play ability that comes from winning jump balls and shaking defenders after the catch, but he is not going to necessarily scare a defense with pure speed. He is not going to get wide open very often, and quarterbacks are going to have to trust that he will come down with the ball in traffic more often than not.

Still, there is always the worry whether his ability will translate from a smaller school to the NFL level. He ran very simple route trees at Appalachian State and did not face great competition. I expect him to come off the board in the mid to late rounds.