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ead injuries have sullied the leagues re
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This story appears in ESPN The Magazines November 14 Pain Issue. Nike Air Max Cheap Wholesale . Subscribe today!NFL ratings are down in 2016, and everybody is looking for an explanation. Plenty of theories have been cited: an exhausting election is drawing viewers; off-field incidents and the NFLs treatment of head injuries have sullied the leagues rep; and Thursday night games give us ill-prepared teams, adding to the idea that the NFL TV schedule in general is spread too thin.The other theory bandied about: ugly football. The quality of the game being played in the NFL right now simply isnt very good, the argument goes, and that starts with disappointing performances at quarterback. Is QB play in decline? Is the league getting sloppier because young guys like Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston and others are asked to play right away?Im skeptical.In fact, the evidence says quarterbacks are actually as good as theyve ever been. Really. And contrary to popular narrative, the position hasnt gotten easier to play.Quarterbacks are being asked to do more than ever before. Many are sent to the line with two plays and then kill one based on their pre-snap read. Others wait until after the snap to pick their play with a run-pass option. They also navigate far more complex defenses after the snap, with defensive backs disguising their coverages and pattern-matching instead of dropping into simple zones or man coverage. Theyre facing more complex blitzes too, from defenders who are bigger, faster and stronger than ever.On this alone, you would expect a decline in quarterback numbers, but the opposite is true. QBs -- and offenses as a whole -- are more productive and efficient than ever before.Take the Dolphins Ryan Tannehill. He might be the poster child for the disappointing quarterback of the modern era: a mobile QB with arm strength who struggles to turn those tools into consistent above-average play. Hes the guy who, after being drafted eighth in 2012, started too soon and never lived up to the hype -- but he still managed to get a four-year, $77 million extension from Miami in 2015. Even Dolphins fans would argue that hes frustrating, right?Heres the thing: In any other era, Tannehill would qualify as a superstar. In his 2015 season, widely regarded as a disappointment, Tannehill completed 61.9 percent of his passes with a 2.0 percent interception rate, ranking 21st and 15th in the league, respectively. Those same numbers in 1985? Theyd rank first and second.And keep in mind that Tannehill threw the ball 586 times last year-an impressive volume in any season. A quarterback with those statistics and that volume would have been a star in years past, and thats without getting into the value Tannehill contributes as a runner. Whats below average today would have been above average just 10 years ago and worthy of Pro Bowl consideration in the 1970s and 80s. If you think the 1985 Bears epitomized a golden age of NFL football, think again.Now, I hear you countering: But its obviously easier to pass in todays NFL than ever before. Its true that teams today are throwing shorter passes, which puts an increased amount of pressure on receivers to make plays after the catch. Thats fair. But while we dont have data on air yards (the distance a ball travels before being caught or falling incomplete) going back to the 20th century, ESPN Stats & Information did start tracking it as of 2006, and across the board, regardless of throw distance, quarterbacks completed passes more often and threw interceptions less frequently in 2015 than they did in 2006.And what about that sloppy play? We often hear about all the turnovers. Watch NFL RedZone on Sunday and its one after the other. We see footballs being thrown to a defender without a receiver in the vicinity. We see bad snaps and crippling red zone fumbles. But a declining level of play should mean more turnovers, and again, if you look at the league over time, turnovers of every sort decrease as you get closer to the modern game: A turnover rate of 3.9 percent in 1975 dropped to 3.0 in 1995 and was down to 2.3 percent last year.The anecdotal side of the argument says, Well, if its not bad QB play or more sloppy play, its about the talent coming in. These kids arent ready to play! Sorry, but the idea that colleges arent preparing players like they did in the past is absurd.If colleges were really unhelpful, how could rookie quarterbacks like Wentz and Prescott come into the NFL and excel almost immediately while looking like seasoned veterans? Prescott isnt just winning in Dallas; through Week 9, he ranks third overall in Total QBR at 81.3, behind two MVP candidates (Tom Brady and Matt Ryan). Wentz in Philly? Hes completing 66 percent of his passes -- and he came out of North Dakota State, which is further evidence that NFL quarterbacks can be found all over the place, not just at top schools. Thats not a new phenomenon, of course. Its just a reminder that theres no QB crisis at any level.The QBs arent the only rookies playing well: Cowboys halfback Ezekiel Elliott, Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey and Titans right tackle Jack Conklin have been among the best players at their respective positions in 2016. Coaches around the league have argued that the schemes being run in college football dont fit their pro standards, but that ignores how teams like the Patriots and Seahawks have successfully integrated concepts into their offenses rather than relying on crafting offenses around their players strengths.Think about it: If teams around the NFL really believed that the quarterbacks coming into the league werent up to the rigors of the professional game, we would see these organizations prefer veteran options like Josh McCown and Chase Daniel in free agency and decline to take passers at the top of the draft. And yet, since the new CBA and rookie scale were enacted for the 2011 draft, eight of the 18 players taken in the top three have been quarterbacks, including each of the top two picks in the past two drafts.Theres scant evidence of a drop in the quality of quarterback play. So why are we having a debate about declining performance around the league?The reality is that we see more football now. Weve had access to Sunday Ticket for a while, but the addition of an oft-mediocre Thursday night game presents a disappointing product on national TV. The addition of RedZone doesnt just mean you see every touchdown, it means you see every turnover. Sometimes twice. Just 20 years ago wed get our game, then maybe Troy Aikman vs. Steve Young in the national broadcast. Of course the NFL looked better when networks picked out the best matchups and you couldnt just flip over to see Jacksonville.The league knows it too. As recently as 2011, the NFL was reticent to share the All-22 coaching film that goes out to teams and officials for analysis, with former Texans and Redskins general manager Charley Casserly worrying that it would be used to draw inaccurate conclusions. That tape was made available to the public the following year.The idea that modern athletes are somehow less schooled in the fundamentals is one we hear repeated in every sport, with no real evidence to back it up. But in the NFL, the complaints that quarterbacking is worse now than ever and that young QBs arent prepared dont just fall flat -- the numbers show the opposite to be true. There are plenty of reasons NFL ratings might be declining. Inferior quarterback play is not one of them. Air Max 1/97 Australia . The 29-year-old Baines has established himself as one of the top attacking full backs in the country and was the subject of two bids from United during the last off-season. Everton manager Roberto Martinez says that keeping Baines at the club is a "massive boost and exciting for the future" because he brings "maturity and football knowledge in a very specialized position on the pitch" and an "infectious and positive influence to the rest of the squad. Nike Air Max2 Light Australia .ca. Hey Kerry, big fan of yours, just finished reading your book. I think that we all saw the Canucks/Flames line brawl just after puck drop. It was obvious that something was about to happen, even to the referees because the fourth lines were on to start. http://www.outletairmaxaustralia.com/air-max-flyknit-buy-australia.html .J. -- Marty Brodeur beat the Pittsburgh Penguins yet again. They always played the same position and were part of the same draft class. Now Kemba Walker is joining the elite class Kyrie Irving has already occupied, too.Irving has long been considered one of the best point guards in the league since winning the Rookie of the Year award. Walker is joining that conversation following his terrific start.They will meet Sunday at Cleveland when the surprising Hornets (6-2) visit the defending champion Cavaliers (7-1).Both point guards lead their team in scoring. LeBron James has led his team in scoring in each of his 14 years in the league, but he has willingly turned over a lot of the responsibility to Irving, who is 24 and entering his sixth year in the league.Irving is among the top 10 scorers in Cavaliers history, moving past Campy Russell for ninth place in Fridays win at Washington.Kyrie is a guy who can score and we want him to be aggressive and attack the basket because nobody can stop him, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.LeBron can do both. He can facilitate and so can Kyrie. We have a great balance right now, we just have to keep it going.Walker, meanwhile, has scored at least 20 points in each of the Hornets last seven games.In Fridays loss to the Toronto Raptors, he became the first point guard in Charlotte history to score 40 points, grab 10 rebounds and pass for six assists, according to the Charlotte Observer.Its early, but the 26-year-old Walker is averaging career highs in points, field-goal percentage and 3-point shooting.Hes lightning quick, Jazz coaach Quin Snyder told the Observer. Air Max 97 Mens Australia. Hes one of the better ball handlers in the league as far as his command over the ball. He can get where he wants to go.Irving was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft, while Walker went ninth. For his first few years in the league, Irving was tied to Brandon Knight, who went one spot ahead of Walker to the Detroit Pistons.There was a theory at the time of the draft that the Cavs, who held the first and fourth picks, should select Derrick Williams No. 1 overall and take Knight fourth.Clearly selecting Irving first and Tristan Thompson fourth was the better alternative. Six years later, Walker is emerging as the second-best point guard of the class.He has improved his 3-point shot dramatically over the last two years, which is a big reason why he finished second last year in the NBAs Most Improved Player voting.Now Walker is poised to lead the Hornets back to the playoffs for the third time in the last four years.But if they keep playing at this level, just making the postseason wont be good enough. Charlotte hasnt advanced to the second round since 2001-02 and it has never reached the conference finals.I cant really think that far ahead, Walker told the Observer. The goal for the regular season is to get to the playoffs, then get there and think about things like that. ... But I will say Im super-confident in my team. ' ' '
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