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Are Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick just lazy? NFL Unfiltered Week 13

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Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of, if not the best in the NFL.  He combines talent, work ethic, preparation and high football intelligence. On the contrary, it is the lack of three of those attributes mostly responsible for the disappointing play of Carolina’s Cam Newton and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick.

They fooled me.  Photo: 52isthemike.wordpress.com

Both have outstanding arm strength, the size of linebackers, and the speed of wide receivers. In fact, if you were building quarterbacks in a laboratory somewhere, they’d likely look like Newton or Kaepernick.  

But neither is thriving like their skill set indicates they should because they suffer from Allen Iverson’s aversion to “practice” (at least the little things) as well as a low football IQ.  

Granted, neither player is playing for coaches even remotely imaginative. In Newton, the Panthers employ offensive coordinator Mike Shula. Consider, in nearly eight seasons, (four with Tampa Bay and three plus with the Panthers) Shula’s charge ranked in the top-10 only once.  So, while he likely knows football from growing up a Shula, he has proven himself a below-average coordinator.    

As for Kaepernick, he plays in an offense mired in an identity crisis. The 49ers simply cannot decide how they want to score, or how to use him effectively.  In terms of the 49ers’ production when attempting a forward pass, head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t distinguished himself in any measurable way.  

Still, despite their shortcomings, both Newton and Kaepernick would thrive in Chip Kelly’s offense. But it is also painfully obvious neither player is putting in the work required to consistently succeed.  

Yes, they lift plenty of iron based on their bulging biceps, and willingness to take pictures without clothing (as Kaepernick did for ESPN’s body issue). But are they as diligent about their footwork?  Are they studying film for hours on end searching for ways to beat opponents?  

Maybe, but when you look as lost and disinterested as Newton does and continually throw the ball to Seattle’s Richard Sherman like Kaepernick, it is fair to doubt their preparation. It is fair to question the value of running wind sprints with a parachute.  And it is certainly fair to wonder if they care enough about mastering the subtleties of the game to reach their potential.  

After four seasons in the NFL, Newton and Kaepernick are essentially the same players they were when they entered the league.  

Sadly, both seem satisfied with that.            

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 13

-The Eagles’ success with average quarterbacks has me wondering why other teams haven’t tried to copy them.  Are they waiting for them to win the Super Bowl, or do they believe it isn’t sustainable against good NFL defenses?  

-In my view, Seattle’s Russell Wilson is a perennial MVP candidate. No, he doesn’t accumulate statistics like others, but he makes about three plays each half (one with his mind, one with his arm and one with his legs) that ruins defenses. If you disagree, you must think highly of Tavaris Jackson.  

-There are 32 starting quarterback jobs in the NFL and until Arizona’s Carson Palmer tore his ACL, Drew Stanton had never held one of them.  Yet, because Palmer isn’t Tom Brady, and because Mark Sanchez is playing well, many assumed the Cardinals wouldn’t miss a beat.  The lesson: unless the backup quarterback is equal to or more talented than the starter, or Chip Kelly is calling the plays, teams are usually doomed when the starter gets hurt.  

-When Ryan Fitzpatrick throws 6 touchdown passes in one game, it reminds me how little statistics matter. Can’t you just hear some fantasy football guy (or gal) extolling the virtues of Fitzpatrick?  He could throw 10 touchdown passes this Sunday and it wouldn’t change the fact he failed two franchises.  

-Tennessee quarterback Zach Mettenberger made a throw against the Houston Texans few quarterbacks in the NFL can make. If he works at it and receives the proper support, he will become a very good player.  

-There isn’t a quarterback in the league who plays better with bodies around him than San Diego’s Philip Rivers. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger is certainly more athletic, but Rivers makes just as many plays.  

-If Harbaugh and the 49ers part ways, his next employer better hire a proven talent evaluator along with him. Harbaugh’s ability to identify pro talent is unknown, and his record for developing offensive players is quite poor.

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area. He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention. His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

 

Contact Earl at emyersiii@gmail.com  and follow him on Twitter @EMyersIII

 

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Photo: 52isthemike.wordpress.com