Tag Archives: Manti T’eo

Thought of the Week – Michael Sam

A lot of controversy has risen over the past week with Michael Sam coming out as an openly Gay athlete.

I usually do not try to get into politics, but I will shed some light on the story with my opinion.

It is the 21st century and times are changing. Whether you like it or not, our society is consistently going in a liberal direction. Homosexuals have existed throughout the history of people, and are showing their colors more in recent times.

So why such a big deal?

American culture has driven people to abide by the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mentality. This mind set is becoming an outdated one. Gay people have been in sports for as long as sports have been around. They just have not been open about it. The Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate may have been fine for those straight people who are uncomfortable with the thought of gay actions, but what about for the Gay Athletes? You have to think that inside these people, they are torn up. They are battling with this reality that they are a homosexual athlete and they cannot tell the world who they really are due to fear of being judged.

Our society dictates this fear of being judged.

When it really comes down to it, if the guy can play, does it matter if he likes women or men? If he is a team player who can contribute to a win, does it matter what his sexual orientation is? So why is this such a big deal, why are people getting so worked up?

Let’s think about this for a second. The only reason this would be an issue in a locker room is because another player feels uncomfortable being around a gay player. Taking it even deeper, why would this player feel uncomfortable? Not that I have ever been in a Pro-Locker room, but from what I have heard athletes shower together and walk around the locker room naked on a consistent basis. So is that what the homophobic athletes are worried about? They do not want a gay guy to look at their goods?

Stop being so high on yourself, bro.

You think you are such a hot stud, that this gay guy is going to see your junk and immediately try to bend you over and rape you in the shower.

Seriously, though. When it comes down to it, that is the only reason someone could be uncomfortable about having a gay player in the locker room. Players need to be more comfortable with their sexuality and get passed the fact that their is a homosexual athlete among them. And the reality is, there have been plenty of gay athletes in locker rooms throughout time and nothing like this has ever taken place. The fact that another athlete would think anything like this would happen in a locker room is just plain stupid. Additionally, couldn’t you say the fact that you walk around naked around other guys makes you gay? Obviously it does not, when you know yourself that you are straight. It is all about adjusting your mentality to a modern, 21st century approach.

The truth though is that this will bring attention to whatever locker room Michael Sam enters in the 2014 season. The media will surround the team and it may be a distraction. In that regard, I understand why you may not want an openly Gay Athlete on your team. But every player fits every team differently. Some teams like controversial players, and other teams like players with no baggage. Look at San Diego Chargers and them drafting Manti T’eo. A handful of team passed on the outstanding college player because of his fake-girlfriend controversy. T’eo had a tremendous amount of media attention throughout the draft and entering the 2013 season. The Chargers handled the situation excellent by keeping T’eo away from reporters and protecting him to enable his growth as a pro player.

Now let’s look at this specific case, in Michael Sam. The guy is a great player. I hear NFL scouts on TV saying this guy is nothing more than a middle round pick. I have seen other mock drafts where he is projected to be drafted in the 2nd round. Michael Sam was a unanimous 1st Team All American and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Some scouts say “I do not pay any attention to Conference Player of the Year Awards.” This may have some validity in weaker conferences, but the SEC is known as the best Conference in College Football. Furthermore, the SEC is widely regarded as the best defensive conference in the nation. SEC has historically produced plenty of defensive pro’s.

Lets look at the last 7 SEC Defensive Player of the Years:

2012 – Jarvis Jones

2011 – Morris Claiborne

2010 – Patrick Peterson

2009 – Rolando McClain

2008 – Eric Berry

2007 – Glen Dorsey

2006 – Patrick Willis…

***EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE PLAYERS WAS DRAFTED IN THE 1ST ROUND; None of these players were drafted past the 11th pick***

The bottom line is, Michael Sam is a good player who has proven himself in the College Rankings. With the combine and pro days coming up, his draft stock may rise or fall. With that said, he is still talented enough, and should be drafted in the 2014 NFL Draft.

The thing Americans and sports fans have to realize is that this whole situation is inevitable. There are gay athletes everywhere, and eventually someone was going to come out. This is the first of many. There will be a growing period and players will have to get used to this new dynamic.

The key will be is how this effects the locker room, how this effects team collaboration and bonding. The truth is, it will only go as far as the straight athletes allow it to. It is solely on the straight athletes to take this gay player under their wing and treat him like they would any other teammate. They need to band together as brothers and fight in the trenches. They will need to joke around and make fun of each other just like guys do. Michael Sam will need to be open to joking about his sexual orientation. Often times, good friends tease each other about anything just to make it into a bonding experiment. Sam should embrace this in order to make the uncomfortable straight players feel a little more at ease as these actions promote a friendly atmosphere. Example: Michael Sam gets a clutch sack in an NFL game and his teammate says “I love you, you big gay mother fucker!!” and Sam says back: “I love you to, you dumb piece of shit!” It will take both sides to help make this situation fizzle away into the normality of our society.

The Numbers Don’t Lie – Truth Behind 2013 San Diego Defense

chargers7

The San Diego Chargers defense had a roller coaster of a season.

Statistics can be straight to the point and tell you how a team played. Some may be misleading causing a diluted reality. Studying statistics is something I have done since college and something that will really help paint a picture. By dissecting stats from the 2013 Chargers Defense we can see just how well they played.

 

John Pagano and his defense seemed to get a slow start. Injuries to linebackers Donald Butler and Manti T’eo, among others, could be to blame. Having a free agent bust in CB Derek Cox could also have something to do with it. The San Diego defense did heighten its play towards the end of the season. Maybe it was the help of some of these injured players returning, most notably Melvin Ingram. Even with their level of play rising, Pagano’s defense still showed its holes at times.

Donald Butler Becoming a Leader on Defense over 2013 Season
Donald Butler Becoming a Leader on Defense over 2013 Season

The last 5 regular season games, the Charger’s defense only gave up an average of 17.6 points/game (17.4 pts/game including 2 playoff games). The Charger’s defense actually finished the season giving up only 21.8 points per game which was the 11th best in the NFL. With an elite Chargers defense, one would expect that stat to translate into more wins. The Chargers actually lost a few games where they could not manage 20 points (Chargers lost to Titans 20-17, Dolphins 20-16). So the defense did their part then right? Might I remind you the Chargers led 17-13 to the Titans with 30 seconds left in the game? A 6th or 7th CB on the depth chart (Crezdon Butler) got burnt for a 34 yard TD pass to a rookie WR with 16 seconds left in the game.

What does this really tell us?

Think about the Chargers offensive game plan for a majority of the season.  Ken Whisenhunt brought back a consistent running game as the Chargers wanted to play ball-control all season. The San Diego offense led the NFL in 2013 with the most 10+ Play drives. Not coincidentally, the Chargers also led the entire NFL in Time of Possession Per Game (33:35).

This leads to my next stat – 959. That is the total number of plays the Chargers had on defense. This is 2nd best in the NFL.  The time of possession stats mentioned above make this believable and understandable.

Despite having the 2nd least defensive snaps in the entire league, the Chargers give up 366.5 yards per game which is ranked 23rd (10th worst) in the league. When taking into account how long the Chargers defense was on the field, San Diego totals 6.1 yards per play. 6.1 in SECOND Worst in the entire NFL. 

That stat is what tells the true tail of the 2013 San Diego Chargers. 

Mike McCoy and Ken Whisenhunt must have known their weakness laid in the defense. They must have known they would have to play the ball control game to keep the ball out of the opponents hands, and keep the defense on the sideline. San Diego got back to the run game in a balanced attack where they rooted their identity in long drives.

Eric Weddle Makes Circus Catch for INT
Eric Weddle Makes Circus Catch for INT

These stats are key indicators in the efficiency of a defense/offense. Balancing those stats that are aided by the opposite side of the ball and plugging in the true numbers shows you how well this defense played.

One of the huge factors in the fate of the Chargers 2013 Defense was their 3rd down efficiency. They got in 3rd down situations numerous of times throughout the season, including this past weekend at the end of the Denver Broncos NFL Playoff game. The way the Chargers lost that game in the end was the epitome of the season. Coming back from all the mistakes they had made throughout the game, all the Chargers needed was a defensive stop to give Philip Rivers back the ball one last time to tie it up. San Diego could not get off the field. They blew a 3rd-and-17 as well as a 3rd-and-6 and inevitably a 3rd-and-1. For the year, the defense’s 3rd down percentage was 39%, tied for 12th-worst in the league.

Considering last year’s San Diego defense was the NFL’s worst 3rd down defense since the 1990s, they have seen improvement. This stat is even more telling considering that the San Diego Offense led the entire NFL in 3rd down percentage (49% which is outrageous).

Although San Diego’s offense really could do a better job of scoring points (12th in the league), their defense seems to be the weak link.

Undrafted Rookie Free Agent Jahleel Addae Has Been Giving Plenty of Playing Time Late in Season with Hard-Hitting Nature
Undrafted Rookie Free Agent Jahleel Addae Has Been Giving Plenty of Playing Time Late in Season with Hard-Hitting Nature

Early on it seemed as if John Pagano’s defense was struggling. As the season progressed, it became apparent this struggling defense had a great deal of young starters — and not the best talent in the veterans. Towards the end of the season he did an excellent job scheming and setting up blitzes with his personnel. The Chargers really need to focus on defense in the offseason and get Pagano some more talent upfront and especially a lock down cornerback. The Chargers were ranked 29th in the league in passing yards per game. A better pash rush will help this, but they simply need more talent on the backend.

San Diego needs to cause turnovers. The San Diego defense failed to effectively force turnovers this season only causing 17, which was 3rd worst in the entire NFL (ranked 30th). The defense has to help the offense out more and come up with big plays. It seemed all season the Chargers just could not make a play on defense when they needed it. Shareece Wright dropping an easy interception, this past weekend against Peyton Manning, sums up the year. The Chargers Defensive backs 7 ints (team total 11) ranked worst in the league.

Melvin Ingram Brought Some Energy to the Defense When He Returned from Injury
Melvin Ingram Brought Some Energy to the Defense When He Returned from Injury

Furthermore, San Diego’s turnover margin was -4. The Chargers were 1 of 2 playoff teams with a negative-turnover margin (Green Bay -1, Denver Broncos 0). You cannot expect to win the Super Bowl with a -4 Turnover Margin.

More Big Plays: There is a lot to like with young defensive ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes. The reality is, they are defensive ends in a 3-4 defense. Their main goal is to open holes for the linebackers to make plays while rushing the quarterback. A Defensive End in this role will not produce many sacks because 3-4 defenses rely on the OLBs to provide the pass rushing.

Corey Liuget Pressuring QB Andrew Luck
Corey Liuget Pressuring QB Andrew Luck

These two young stars combined for only 10.5 sacks this season. With better players on the outside, you would like to see this number rise to 14-15 while your two outside linebackers are combining for about 20+. Corey Liuget led the team with 5.5 sacks. A 3-4 Defense should never have its Defensive End lead the team in sacks.

Kendal Reyes Hit on Peyton Manning
Kendal Reyes Hit on Peyton Manning

For the season, the Chargers only obtained 35 sacks. Chargers were tied for 23rd in this category. Thomas Keiser led all linebackers with 4.5. Keiser was on the practice squad at the start of the season and only got playing time due to numerous injuries on the defense. He had never really had any consistent production in his career at the NFL level, and two of his 4.5 sacks came in one contest.

This is unacceptable by a group of LBs. Jarrett Johnson only had 3 sacks, but he is also the anchor that sets the edge in the running game, not a guy who attacks the quarterback very often. The Melvin Ingram injury and Dwight Freeney injury obviously played a role in the poor production of our OLBs. A full offseason next year for both of these players will be huge. The big question is if Freeney can stay healthy and continue to produce at the high level of his old Hall of Fame self.

Conclusion:

San Diego has a lot of room for improvement on defense. Their stats were primarily aided to the superb ball control of the offense. John Pagano’s late season schemes and blitzes also helped these numbers. With a couple additions up front, and a star player in the defensive backfield, this team could easily improve.