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NFL Unfiltered Week 2: Is Colin Kaepernick judged fairly?

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Every week of the NFL season cowardice replaces fair and impartial NFL analysis.  

The experts could simply apply what I like to call the Rajon Rondo principle when breaking down pro football. Instead, they hide behind euphemisms while masking their true agendas.

For the NBA uninitiated, Rondo is a lead guard for the Boston Celtics. He is awkward, a poor shooter, and selfish, often playing his own game at the expense of his teammates. Admittedly, I do not like his game at all.

Before his injury, however, he played terrific defense, rebounded like a maniac and made a significant impact on a championship squad. So any truthful analysis of him must also include those facts.  Kaepernick photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Unfortunately, many NFL “experts” refuse to give similar nuance and context in their analysis of certain players.  Specifically, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  

In assessing himself, Kaepernick called his performance Sunday night “terrible,” and it was. But that is no excuse for frauds like ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Herman Edwards and Tim Hasselbeck to carry an air of vindication.  

Shame on them and shame on every other NFL “expert” for allowing personal biases to get in the way of honest evaluation.

The truth is, Kaepernick doesn’t do everything right on the football field.  He plays recklessly at times, primarily because of supreme confidence in his ability to make plays.  His mechanics are sometimes poor and he prefers to take what he wants, instead of taking what the defense gives him.  

Furthermore, he doesn’t understand the complexities of defensive schemes very well, and I am not certain he is fully committed to that part of the game.  

Nevertheless, he owns four playoff victories, three of which occurred on the road. And in those victories, he didn’t merely hand the ball to a tailback, he made significant contributions. In other words, he is a very good player.  

Without question, Chicago Bears savior Jay Cutler outplayed him, but he too has demons, and they exposed themselves last week in a loss to the Buffalo Bills. But guys like Paolantonio, Edwards and Hasselbeck never dismiss Cutler. There is always an overt or implied benefit of the doubt given to him and quarterbacks like the Cincinnati Bengals’ Andy Dalton.  

Is Cutler the kind of quarterback who leads a team to playoff victories?  Is Dalton the right guy in Cincinnati?  

Based on their careers to date, the answer is a resounding no, and one good nationally televised game does not change that.  

Conversely, Kaepernick has more playoff wins than all but seven current starting quarterbacks.  Not to mention, four times as many as Cutler. Dalton, meanwhile, is 0-3 and by all accounts, the Bengals are a good football team.     

Yet, the experts continually extol their virtues, while deflecting commentary on Kaepernick.

When personal preference replaces thoughtful analysis, the pundits ought to have the courage to say so.    

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THINGS THE PUNDITS COULDN’T OR WOULDN’T SAY: Week 2

-It’s important Nick Foles master the intellectual part of football like Peyton Manning, because he has the worst skill set of any of the league’s young quarterbacks.

-During the Monday Night telecast Jon Gruden said, “Marshall Faulk didn’t gain a lot of yards in Indy.”  He must have forgotten about the 5,320 yards he gained in five seasons with the Colts.  If you really start listening to what these folks say, you won’t ever take them seriously again.  

-Luck struggles as much as any developing young quarterback, but it takes an act of God for anyone to say so.  

-After 31 NFL starts including playoffs, Kaepernick is the same player he was in 2012. That is both good and bad. He still makes a couple of plays each game that takes your breath away, but he is still forcing the ball to Michael Crabtree at important moments.  For the rest of this season and perhaps Kaepernick’s career, two questions merit answering: is Jim Harbaugh coaching him properly? Or, is he is averse to proper coaching? My gut tells me it’s the latter.

-The Arizona Cardinals went for a two-point conversion with over 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and failed. Only the New York Giants’ ineptness saved them. Bruce Arians is a good head coach, but that is too early to go for two.  

-Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan each faced good defenses with a full complement of receivers and running backs. Neither managed much offense, which tells you all you need to know about their playoff chances this season. Even if they miraculously get in the tournament, they cannot win.

-There is little difference between the play of Giants quarterback Eli Manning now and ten years ago. The difference is the play of his teammates.  Eli Manning Lombardi Trophy

-It seems like a lifetime ago since Victor Cruz played like a hungry, undrafted free agent.  These days, he is a high-priced, average receiver, who is useless in the middle of the field.  

-A very good win for the San Diego Chargers, but head coach Mike McCoy butchered their last possession. They called a timeout while attempting to run out the clock. Very sloppy and explains why they gave away their opener to the Arizona Cardinals.

-The most undervalued decision in today’s NFL is whether to try to return a kickoff. The intelligence of a team’s kick-returner affects wins and losses much more than you realize.  

-Washington head coach Jay Gruden certainly did not wish any ill on quarterback Robert Griffin III, but Griffin’s dislocated ankle makes Gruden’s rookie season a lot easier.   

-Wasted timeouts contribute to losing almost as much as bad quarterback play, and I bet Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith agrees.  

-Carolina Panthers linebacker, and reigning Associated Press defensive player of the year Luke Kuechly, is a very good player.  However, many of his “tackles” are the result of falling on top of piles.  

 

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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Kaepernick photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Manning Photo: USAToday.com