by Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Seems a bit harsh.
No, seriously, it does.
While most are kinda just shrugging their shoulders and going, “Yeah, OK, makes sense” to Penn State dropping from second to seventh in the polls after playing its part, albeit a losing one, in a college football classic this past Saturday, if you let the gears grind a little, chew down some facts, well, no, it really doesn’t make sense.
It … seems a bit harsh.
Gotta say, if we’re factoring in strength of schedule, as well as where teams play, which we are repeatedly told are critical factors ad nauseam, then Penn State’s current ranking doesn’t compute.
If anything, it proved itself worthy of a high ranking. Maybe not No. 2, but certainly better than No. 7.
Here’s the rub, though – who would the Lions jump to theoretically “right” things?
It’s not like Alabama, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Clemson are unworthy of their spots 1 through 6, either, and, frankly, if you want to point out a team “worse” off than Penn State it is Oklahoma.
The Sooners, after beating the Buckeyes, jumped to No. 2 and stayed there exactly one week before being supplanted by Clemson, the reigning national champ, even though they hadn’t lost. Once they did, in Week 6, they plummeted to 12th … and seem forever slotted below Penn State and the others mentioned, despite being 7-1 and having that blowout of Ohio State in their back pocket, and the reality that the team that stunned them – Iowa State – may be the hottest squad in the country now, finding itself 14th.
The Cyclones not only topped Oklahoma, but they’re fresh off knocking Texas Christian from the ranks of the unbeaten and its No. 4 perch. The Horned Frogs now sit at No. 10.
Hey, still got a Power 5 unbeaten in Miami, which actually dropped a spot to No. 9 despite improving to 7-0, and a non-Power 5 unbeaten in Central Florida, which only just cracked the top 15 this week despite leading the country in scoring, too.
If anything, all of the above shows – once again – that the College Football Playoff is too subjective in its current state. There is no clear-cut, or even fair, way to nail down the top four teams in the country as means to pit two semifinalist winners in a championship game to determine a “true” champion.
Just too many good, perhaps even great, teams out there. Expanding that CFP field to eight or, even better, 16 teams would water down that subjectivity. Lessens it. Maybe it wouldn’t erase it, but it certainly would take the prejudice and “eye test” seen through, well, perhaps, bad eyes out of the picture for the most part.
Until that changes, though, we’re going to have a deserving playoff team such as Penn State on the outside looking in. Again.
Which is why the Lions’ current drop in the polls seems so harsh … since it will play a part in the CFP rankings.
SAQUON = HEISMAN? NOT NOW
Never bought into it.
Oh, he’s an awesome talent. Just a great player.
But all the hullabaloo and hype about Penn State’s Saquon Barkley being a runaway winner of this season’s Heisman Trophy never reeled me in to join it.
He’s just had too many mediocre games, and even “disappearing acts,” for all the highlight-reel plays to offset in my opinion.
Reality is, he’s had two great games this season: Akron and Iowa. The former occurred against a Mid-American squad and the latter against a middling Big Ten team that, frankly, saw his teammate, quarterback Trace McSorley, steal the show when things mattered most anyway.
All too often, for me, have been the “play here, play there and that’s it” outings against the likes Pittsburgh, Indiana and Northwestern. He’s had three 100-yard rushing efforts all season. In eight games.
Sorry, that usually ain’t enough for a running back to win the Heisman, never mind “dominate the field” – even with two kickoff returns for scores and some nice receiving numbers in his back pocket, too.
In the last three games, Barkley has ripped off TD runs of 53, 69 and 36 yards. Tremendous, no doubt. That’s 158 yards on just three carries. The issue, for me, is the other 49 he had, which totaled just 69 yards.
No matter how you slice it or rationalize it, that stinks.
You’re not seeing guys like Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, Stanford running back Bryce Love or, heck, even McSorley fade for such stretches. Ever. Never mind consistently.
In wins or losses.
Can he still win it? Sure.
But he isn’t the favorite anymore, nor was he deserving of the “leader in the clubhouse” chatter we heard the last six weeks or so.
by Jack Kerwin | email@example.com
Got nothing left.
Nothing to poke at. Nothing to point out. Nothing to warn about.
Nope. Seven games into his NFL career and Carson Wentz already has checked off all my boxes of concern.
Frankly, remarkably, only two remained entering this, his second season after being taken with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft:
Now? Well, now, it’s become comical. With dramatically improved touch, particularly on his shots downfield and intermediate throws, Wentz makes it impossible to legitimately … worry.
He has proven to be so good, so fast that those such as myself who want him to succeed and the Eagles to win but are abundantly cautious, not necessarily for ourselves, but as emotional protectors for those who seem to live and die with the fortunes or misfortunes of Jeffrey Lurie’s franchise, well, even we are now inclined to back off. To not be so knee-jerk reactionary with the warnings, the disclaimers, the worst-case scenario observations.
Thing is, the kid seems to have it all covered.
He has been that damn impressive.
It was obvious from the first snap last season that the Eagles were his team, that he was in control, that he had leeway from the coaching staff to run the offense as he saw fit once he surveyed the defense … all of it in a way that most quarterbacks – be they journeyman or stars – never enjoy in their careers.
Ironically, for all those who downplay Doug Pederson’s role in Wentz’s meteoric rise, who even suggest that the head coach is holding back his signal-calling protégé, the reality is it takes a strong stomach, cast-iron balls and supreme faith for someone, anyone to do what Pederson has.
Which is believe so much in his own judgment that he gives an individual under his watch almost free reign to reach his potential, or – gulp – even exceed it.
You wanna know why Donovan McNabb either is, or comes across as being, so jealous of Wentz nowadays? It’s because the latter is given leeway that the former never was.
Andy Reid put clamps on McNabb’s game that Wentz never has, nor will have, as long as Pederson is his coach.
McNabb ranks among the best 2-3 quarterbacks ever to wear an Eagles jersey. Even most of his detractors would consider he was, indeed, actually the best.
Now Wentz is on the fast track to supplant him, and he has no one holding a clipboard or wearing a headset or making personnel moves placing any obstacles in his path.
Feel for McNabb. But can’t hold that against Wentz.
He’s been given the keys to the car, and he’s driving it incredibly well.
It’s not just the numbers that he put up, say, in a game such as Monday night’s 34-24 victory against Washington at the Linc – and, make no doubt, the 264 yards and four touchdowns passing along with 64 yards rushing were impressive. It’s the way they were achieved.
Some of the Houdini acts he pulled off to avoid pressure and make plays compared favorably to those pulled by Randall Cunningham and McNabb himself, and the 64-yard bomb he dropped picture-perfect, in-stride to a racing Mack Hollins in the second quarter burst the fear balloon for good.
Yo, Eagles fans, you really can let your guard down.
Wentz has this.