Tag Archives: Matt Leinart

Food for Thought 11-15-2011

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Matt Leinart (pictured above) will start at quarterback on Sunday for the Houston Texans. Will he be able to demonstrate some of the amazing talent he showed in his college years?

By Josh Kramer

NCAA Basketball is back.  Football is out in full force.  And the MLB off-season activities are moving full force ahead.  There is so much to talk about in the wide world of sports.  Here is what has my attention.

Time Machine

-Where were you on the evening of January 4th, 2006?  If you were most Americans, you were glued to your television set watching one of the greatest National Championship Games of all time featuring two quarterbacks that were poised to become legends.  If you are still clueless to what game I am talking about, I will give you a hint.  The two quarterbacks went by the names of Leinart and Young. Continue reading

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And so it begins

Photo courtesy of signedautograph.com. Todd Heap (pictured above) was one of the more surprising cuts thus far in the current free agency bonanza.

By Josh Kramer

All parties involved begged for it, and now they got it.  NFL football, after the longest work stoppage in League history is officially back.  And the wildest free agency bonanza that we will probably ever get to witness in our lifetime is on.  And yes, this will top last July’s epic, “Decision.”  Though the lockout was just lifted yesterday, there has already been action galore.  And I must say, the cuts have surprised me.

Three teams that are expected to be major contenders this year have stolen the show with a couple of surprising cuts/releases of players in my eyes.

Baltimore Ravens Continue reading

“Food for Thought”

It is almost a foregone conclusion that Carmelo Anthony (pictured above) will not be wearing a Nugget's jersey at this time next year. Could he be wearing a Laker's jersey?

It is yet another jam-packed Tuesday in the sporting world. And all of you know what that means. Lets jump into another round of “Food for Thought.”

Here are some of the major headlines today.

Melo to LA? Continue reading

“Leinart vs Young Part?”

Vince Young shocked the world in January of 2006 when he defeated Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and the mighty USC Trojans. Last night, he once again showed why he owns Matt Leinart.

Last evening, America got to witness a familiar sight.  A blast from the past.  Matt Leinart and Vince Young were once again competing on the football field.  Different times with much different personnel, but a very similar result.  Now I realize it was just a preseason game, and it is hard to judge much from these “pretend” games as many like to call them. But Young once again demonstrated why he has, and will most likely continue to be, the better pro quarterback than Leinart.

I will admit, I, along with most of the rest of the America (outside of Texas), was all about the Matt Leinart and the USC bandwagon 5 years ago.  I figured there was no way that Vince Young, and a very strong Longhorns team could beat the seemingly “professional” (little did we know) looking team out of USC.  The Trojans were invincible.  Outside of a minor hiccup against Notre Dame (USC still won the game), there never appeared to even be a chink in the Trojan armor.  I was very surprised when Young finished 2nd in the Heisman Voting that year ahead of Matt Leinart.  But who really cared?  Leinart was projected to be the better pro QB by the Mel Kiper’s of the world and was on his way to a second consecutive National Title.  Or so we thought…

Welcome to the 2005 BCS National Championship.  Seemingly a home affair for the heavily favored Trojans in Pasadena.  USC was leading late in the game and Matt Leinart was putting up another strong performance.  But the real story of the game was the amazing play of Vince Young.  The guy accounted for 467 total yards of offense, which is a mark that has never been touched by another player in a BCS National Championship game.  Not to mention he led his team to 41 points against a very tough USC defense.  How didn’t this guy win the Heisman Trophy, I, and many other people wondered?  Either way, late in the 4th, Young scampered into the end zone past a diving Frostee Rucker to secure the stunning upset victory for Texas.  It was the end of a Trojan dynasty.  And little did we know, not only was this the beginning of the end for the program, but it was also the end of Matt Leinart as we knew it. 

In 3 years as the Trojan starter, Leinart threw for over 30 TDs and less than 10 INTs each year.  He also completed over 63% of his passes, won a National Title, and won a Heisman Trophy.  Vince Young also was a starter at Texas for 3 seasons.  In his first 2 years as the starter, he threw for 18 TDs and 18 INTs.  Very modest numbers to say the least.  But he was still finding ways to lead the Longhorns to victories.  Do realize that he rushed for a combined 2,074 yards in these first 2 years as the starter as well.  He was not your prototypical NFL pocket assassin.  As a senior though, his game began to gel on all cylinders.  He threw for 26 TDs and only 10 INTs.  He also rushed for 1,050 yards and 12 TDs.  The man was doing it all.  Looking reminiscent of Michael Vick at Virginia Tech.  Well the BCS National Championship Game marked the end of an era for Leinart.  And apparently the beginning of a new era for Vince Young. 

Come April 29th, 2006, NFL Draft Day. Mel Kiper had been stressing for months what a great class that was coming out.  Guys like Reggie Bush, Mario Williams, AJ Hawk,  and how there were 2 can’t miss QB prospects.  The draft started out with a major debate as the Texans took defensive end Mario Williams rather than “Heisman Trophy” winner Reggie Bush (appears to have been the right decision now).  Following this, Vince Young was the 3rd overall selection, while Matt Leinart fell to 10th overall.  I was in disbelief.  Leinart had the look of a big time NFL quarterback and had all the tools.  He was 6 foot 5, had a strong-arm, a pocket presence, and had that Tom Brady like moxy, or so it seemed.  Vince Young reminded me of Michael Vick.  And  guys like Michael Vick could get teams victories in the League, but guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were the pocket guys that could bring teams Super Bowls.  Sure Vince Young would be fun to watch I thought, but Leinart would be the one hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy in a February within the next few years.  Boy was I wrong.

Now I will admit that neither of these guys have panned out to be superstars.  But it appears Young just needed some time to adjust to the pro game and is slowly but surely becoming a solid NFL quarterback.  Leinart on the other hand, not so much.  For Leinart’s career, he has played in 29 total games over a 4 year stretch, throwing 14 TDs and 20 INTs.  His passer rating has been a very subpar 70.8.  Young on the other hand has played in 45 games, throwing for 32 TDs and 39 INTs.  His passer rating has been an also subpar 72.3.  But he is a guy on the rise.  A guy who brought Tennessee back from the dead last season.  Leinart on the other hand has not shown any signs of improvement.

Will Young continue to soar into a star in this League while Leinart’s career continues to fizzle out and end in the near future? Or will these guys continue to compete for many more years to come in the NFL? 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

TheSportsKraze

“BCS Numbers Game”

With very high expectations, can Ohio State junior quarterback, Terrell Pryor, lead the Buckeyes to their first National Championship since 2002?

 Today the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll came out for the 2010 version of NCAA Football.  There was really nothing too alarming or surprising.  The top 25 was dominated by the BCS Power conferences.  There were only 2 teams from non BCS conferences in Boise State and TCU who made the cut.  Both of these teams have become perennial powers and will be tough again in 2010. 

The two teams at the top are Alabama, the defending National Champions, and perennial power, Ohio State.  Both of these teams are thought of as heavy favorites.  Alabama is supposed to be even better than last year if that is possible and the Buckeyes went through a “rebuilding year” last season in which they still won a Rose Bowl.  This Buckeye’s team will be very dangerous and the Big Ten will be stronger than it has been over the past few years.  But lets look at the history of the BCS and gauge these teams chances of bringing home a BCS title. 

Since the system that we have all grown to love (jk) took over College Football in 1998, only two teams have won the title twice.  These two teams are LSU and Florida.  Also, no team has ever repeated as BCS National Champion.  In addition, 6 of the total 12 championships have been brought home by teams from none other than the SEC.  Are you really surprised?  Lastly, 4 straight championships have been taken home by the vaunted SEC.  This is why people have considered this to be the best conference in the NCAA football ranks for some time now.  They are deserving and should continue their dominance this year.  

Since 2002, only one preseason #1 in the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll has taken home the BCS National Championship.  And that was in 2004 when the USC “professional” Trojans knocked off preseason #2 Oklahoma.  Who cares if this USC team might have cheated.  They were a dominant force led by Heisman winner, Matt Leinart.  Also since 2002, only two preseason #2 teams in this poll have won the BCS Championship.  This occurred in 2007, when #2 LSU took home the title over an “overrated” OSU team.  It also happened in 2005, in arguably the greatest College Football Game ever.  Vince Young, put the Longhorns on his back and led them over the seemingly “invincible” USC Trojans.  The image of Frostee Rucker, USC’s star defensive end, diving at Vince Young on Vince’s last burst marked the end of an era (USC Dominance).  Unfortunately for Frostee, Young made it into the end zone on this play.  Pete Carroll and USC were unable to stop the man who should have brought home the Heisman that year (he still may get it due to Bush’s issues now).  Lastly, only twice in the BCS since 2002 have the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the USA Today Preseason Coaches’ Poll met in the BCS National Championship game.  This happened in 2004 and 2005 in the years of the USC Trojan.  Though Vince Young made sure this tarnished era in Trojanville ended on a sour note.  

So there you have it.  Only once has a team in Bama’s #1 ranked position taken home the title (since 2002).  Also no team has ever repeated in the BCS era.  So their chances of repeating are not too likely.  In addition, only two teams in Jim Tressel and the Buckeye’s position have taken home the BCS National Championship since 2002.  I will state that both of these teams have more than enough firepower to run away with a National Title.  But the odds appear to be against them. 

So will the Tide Roll into Glendale, Arizona come January, or will the Buckeyes be able to crash the party? 

This is all a part of what we like to call the “BCS Madness.”  Get excited for the College Football season as it inches closer. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze

“NFC West Preview”

See any resemblance to Joe Montana or Steve Young? Well Alex Smith is ready to lead the 49ers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

The NFC’s version of the Wild Wild West has not been the most glamorous conference in recent memory.  In fact, they have not sent 2 teams to the playoffs since 2003.  They also have not had more than one team with an above 500 record since 2003.  So generally, you have one team do solid, another team do around 500, and the other 2 just finish absolutely abysmal.  This year appeared like it could be different.  It appeared that there could possibly be 2 teams with a fighting chance to make their way into the playoffs.  That was until Arizona lost their quarterback to retirement and one of the best receivers to the Ravens (Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin). 

NFC West: Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, 49ers (alphabetical order)

St. Louis Rams (4th place):  The Rams had a nightmarish season last year.  And though I think they will do better than one win this season, I do not see them finding themselves out of the division cellar just yet.  Sure they drafted a very talented quarterback in Sam Bradford.  And sure they have an outstanding running back in Stephen Jackson.  But really what else is there?  I mean Albert Pujols cannot suit up for this squad.  This squad featured one of the worst passing games I have ever seen in recent memory.  And to think, we are only 10 years removed from the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Guys like Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson must step up and provide the rookie Bradford with some targets.  Sure Stephen Jackson is a great guy to have for rookie Sam Bradford to hand the ball off too.  But the NFL has become a pass first League.  You cannot win without some sort of passing attack.  The Rams, unfortunately, are going to struggle in this department all year.  The Rams defense is not to amazing either.  In fact, it looks to be on its way to a horrific year.  I guess a team that goes 1 and 15 generally is not too strong in many areas.  James Laurinaitis will have a ton of weight put on his shoulder to anchor the defense.  He is no longer a rookie and will be expected to be the engine that makes the defense go.  But other than that, there is not a whole lot of promising prospects on this defense.  I do think they will finish better than 1 and 15, but not much.

Seattle Seahawks (3rd place):  Rainy Seattle will once again fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.  This team features both a sub par offense and defense.  Matt Hasselbeck is a very savvy veteran that really just does not have much to work with.  Sure TJ Houshmandzadeh is a great possession receiver, but the loss of Nate Burleson hurts.  Golden Tate, the outstanding receiver out of Notre Dame will be expected to produce from Day 1.  He will be expected to be a big play guy similar to a Steve Smith type of mold (lots of pressure on the little guy).  This team cannot survive simply with Houshmandzadeh.  I mean this team does not have much of a rushing attack.  Justin Forsett and Leon Washington are not necessarily gamebreakers.  Maybe Washington will surprise some people and start to really produce, but I wouldn’t count on it.  Then you look at the Seahawks on the other side of the ball.  And there really isn’t a whole lot of star power to look at.  Who will step up?  Nobody really knows.  The main thing Seattle has going for them is the arrival of former USC Head Coach, Pete Carroll.  Now normally coaches do not do so hot going back and forth between the League and College in any sport.  But this guy has been running a professional program for years now.  Plus he had 15 years of “official” professional coaching experience before he arrived in Trojanville.  Just ask USC what they think about it.  Maybe he could get this team to come somewhere near 8 and 8?  I would say it is highly doubtful they win 8 games, but who knows, it could happen.

Arizona Cardinals (2nd place):  This is a team that probably lost the most of any team in this division.  They lost a big time number 2 receiver in Anquan Boldin.  They lost a big time quarterback in Kurt Warner.  And with Kurt and Anquan, goes a major part of the high-flying attack that has carried the Cardinals for the past couple of years.  This is a team that has lived and died on the pass reminiscent of the way many college teams play today.  They had a rushing attack that did not even average 100 yards a game.  Yet they advanced to the playoffs?  Go figure.  Times have really changed.  Offenses have slowly but surely turned into pass first teams all around the League.  I mean the Cardinals do have 2 decent running backs in the massive Chris “Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.  But neither of these guys get many opportunities in this pass happy Cardinal’s offensive scheme.  If Steve Breaston does not emerge as a big time number 2, Arizona’s offense could collapse in that teams will double on Fitzgerald and the passing attack will die.  And this does not even get me started on Matt Leinart.  The man came into the League with so much upside but has vastly underachieved.  This year will be his chance.  There is also a defensive side of the ball.  And the Cardinals are not too good at defending.  They like to play shootout style games where they score a ton of points, and give up lots of points.  A way that you can tell this team has struggled defensively is players like  Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle are 2 of the top 4 tacklers on the team.  These guys both play in the secondary.  So I feel like this team will probably win 6 to 8 games.  But there have been too many losses on the offensive side of the ball for them to outscore all of their opponents and their defense does not appear too promising on paper.

San Francisco 49ers (1st place):  Yes, this is the year we have all been waiting for.  The 49ers long awaited return to the playoffs.  There were the Joe Montana days.  Then the Steve Young days.  Now there are the..Alex Smith days?  You better believe it.  This team has not gone over .500 since 2002.  Well that all changes this year.  There will be a changing of the guard, or at least a retro look in the West.  With the 49ers back on top.  This team has been knocking on the door for a few years now and is ready to come inside. The 49ers have a solid defense that is led by in my eyes the best linebacker in the game, Patrick Willis.  You should have heard of this guy already, but if you have not, he is here to stay.  They also have the veteran leadership of a linebacker that has been around the block in Takeo Spikes.  This team boasts arguably the best linebacking core in the League.  They also have a solid secondary led by former Pro Bowler Nate Clements, and the veteran Mark Roman.  So expect this team to be ranked among the League’s elite on the defensive side of the ball.  And on offense, this team looks to improve from a dismal showing last year.  They will be led by a young group in Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Josh Morgan.  These guys are all young, but ready to show that they are entering the primes of their careers.  Also do not forget about the always dangerous Ted Ginn Jr.  This team will not be one of the League’s elite offensively, but you better believe that they will put on a much better performance than last year as they begin to gel and enter the primes of their careers.  Hopefully the 49ers can keep this core group on the offensive side of the ball together for years to come.  San Francisco will return to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.

So there you have it, a changing of the guard in the NFC West.  A return to the old.  The 49ers are back and look poised to be solid for the next few years with a relatively young group.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Fair Punishment”

Former Trojan stars, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, with former Coach Pete Carroll.

ESPN recently caught up with former USC Trojan star quarterback Matt Leinart.  They sure did not want to talk to him about his NFL career up to this point (hopefully it turns around).  The topic of discussion centered around the recent probation and punishment put on USC for various recruiting violations and breaking of other NCAA rules.  They asked Matt how he feels about the probation and the taking away of all the victories accumulated in 2004 and 2005.

You really think this multi millionaire is going to care?  I mean honestly why would he care?  Matt can save face and act like it hurts, but it probably means very little to him now.  Now he is an NFL quarterback and a millionaire.  USC helped get him there.  He went 37 and 2 as a starter in Trojanville and led the team to 2 consecutive National Championship Games (1 title).  People will never forget those few years of greatness.  Those teams with Leinart, Reggie  Bush, and Co will go down as some of the greatest teams in College Football history.  You really think people are just going to forget what was accomplished?

This is becoming a  reoccurring theme in NCAA sports.  Teams break rules. A few years later, the NCAA takes away some victories, puts the program on probation, fines them, and takes away some scholarships.  You really think these punishments are going to bother the former stars of those teams and other guys who likely were receiving money and extra benefits on the side?  I know it sounds arrogant, but do you really think Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and Pete Carroll truly care?  They can all act sympathetic and it may bother them a little, but  they are all making big bucks in the NFL and away from the current chaos in Trojanville. 

Now I do feel bad for the kids and coaches currently there.  The ones that had nothing to do with what happened in 2004 and 2005.  These kids are just there to play football and the coaches are just there to coach.  No allegations have been made concerning them.  Unfortunately, they have to suffer the penalties, go two years without being able to play in a bowl game, and play at a program that has less scholarships to give out.  Less scholarships will likely lead to less Ws.  This will lead to unhappy fans, players, and an unhappy program as a whole.  Everybody likes to win and people have come to expect the Trojans to be a National Title contender every year.

A prime example of someone who has wreaked havoc on the College scene in a similar fashion is John Calipari.  I apologize for calling out Coach Cal, but his career relates to this issue sadly.  Now I realize that he never has seen the repercussions personally in that he has fled from his two prior programs.  But his former places of work, Massachusetts and Memphis, have each received sanctions from the NCAA for events that occurred while he worked at the institution.  Do you think he really cares?  He sees none of the consequences.  He can act like he feels bad.  But he has moved on to bigger and better things.  The man is the highest paid employee in the state of Kentucky and can get any recruit he desires at the winningest program in NCAA basketball history.  So maybe his wandering into the grey area at his former programs was a good thing that helped put him in position to get the dream job he currently sits in.  But is it fair that the current players and coaches at his former institutions have to deal with the NCAA for events that happened while they were not even there yet?

The NCAA really needs to figure out a new system to provide fair punishments for people and programs that break the rules.  And I am not saying that I have a solution.  Because I don’t.  Like you can’t just suspend Leinart, Bush, or Pete Carroll from their current jobs for events that happened in Trojanville over 5 years ago.  Or can you? 

Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.

-Kraze