Category: Noontime Commentary

Noontime Commentary: Learning More About The Ever-Changing QB Position

Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback — he has also evolved with the position. (PHOTO COURTESY: Boston.com | AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

By Matt Noonan

When I was growing up, I always wanted to play quarterback (sadly, I never did).   

I loved watching Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, and Steve Young – all three played the position extremely well. But as much as I loved watching all three compete on Sunday, I fell in love more with the position from watching Tom Brady quarterback the New England Patriots.

Brady, as we all know, has become the greatest to play the position. Sure, some might argue that Joe Montana or someone else is better, but I believe Brady is the best because he continues to raise the bar and elevate the position on a yearly basis.

The former New England Patriots quarterback inspired all of us in this region, including the backyard signal-callers to those spotted under center on Friday evenings at various high school stadiums, to mimic his play, which is certainly not easy. And while Brady continues to impress, especially these days as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he is what I, along with others in the football community consider one of the last remaining drop-back/pocket passers.

Sure, it might be hard to call Brady a drop-back passer knowing his footwork and agility have improved over the last few years. But saying he is the same type of signal-caller as Lamar Jackson, a cerebral quarterback that relies more on his legs than his arm, would be a hard comparison.

Jackson, along with Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes, are what some coaches might consider the “modern-day quarterback.” And the same could be said for Aaron Rodgers, who entered the National Football League (NFL) five years after Tom Brady and has shown similar improvements, especially in his ability to attempt acrobatic off-balanced throws from all angles. Ever see Rodgers’ “pop pass?”

Aaron Rodgers, along with Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, were just three names a few coaches mentioned when speaking with them about producing a piece on the “modern-day quarterback” — well, more what has changed about the position. We all know how amazing these three quarterbacks are, but one might not realize that their Sunday or Monday performances are just a sliver of what makes them great signal-callers.

As I learned from recent conversations, playing quarterback at any level does not mean you have to possess the strongest and accurate arm. Nope, there is much more to the position than just throwing the ball 30, 40, or 50 yards.

For starters, coaches believe their quarterback must possess a slew of skillset, including the following: leadership, accountability, knowing how to read multiple defensive schemes, making the necessary changes at the line of scrimmage, and watching a lot of film.

Of course, there are other intangibles and thoughts that were generated by coaches in both the college and high school world, but one thing many harped on is that their team must find the right individual to operate a popular offensive scheme: the spread offense.

What’s the spread offense?

It’s an offensive scheme that finds the quarterback in the shotgun formation with three, four, or five skill position players – think halfbacks, fullbacks, wide receivers, and tight end – spread out along the line of scrimmage. When defenses see this formation deployed, they must be ready to defend different zones/areas of the field, as well as be alert for a possible running play.

(Hopefully what I described above makes sense, but if not, I have included an introduction video to the spread offense below!)

To say the spread offense is a major reason the quarterback position has changed would be an understatement – the same could be said about how the game’s speed has changed, too.

Like anything in life, change can be perceived as both good and bad, but when it comes to the quarterback position, I believe this new wave makes the game fun and enjoyable. It is certainly a different position than the one I watched growing up in the 1990s, but now, I am ready to mimic Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Allen in the backyard.

Anyone up for a game of pick-up football?

A Note From The Noontime Sports Desk

By Matt Noonan

Allow me to be one of many – yes, I know I am not the first – to wish you a Happy New Year!

Let’s hope for a much better year than last year, and yes, 2020.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020, I, like many, was caught off guard – what the heck am I going to cover?

To be honest, I did not know what to do with so many games, practices, and tournaments being sent to the sidelines. But I knew we would persevere.

Over the last year or so, I, like many under the creative umbrella, have found ways to engage with our audience by identifying new stories to tell (or share) – sometimes, I was lucky to record interviews in-person (think football coverage last fall) and through our new virtual reality of Zoom and FaceTime.

I am proud of what I, along with Mia Len, Brian Willwerth, Andrew Pezzelli, and Zach Weiss, were able to provide for you, our fans, and friends, through our blog, podcast, and social media channels. And I hope what we produced – or created? – left you eager for more.

All four individuals listed above were instrumental in keeping our engine roaring, as well as providing me with that much-needed boost to keep churning out a variety of content, even if it wasn’t the usual post or podcast about small colleges and high schools in New England.

I love New England; it is my home and where I have lived and worked for a little more than three decades. This region will certainly remain the focus of our coverage, along with the occasional story or interview from other pockets of the United States. And maybe, just maybe, we will be lucky to tell a story from another country – never say never!  

With a new year comes new ideas and thoughts, along with hope for better days – I am an optimist, 2022 must be better than 2021, right? 2022 will mark a new chapter of content and coverage for Noontime Sports.

I am excited to pursue some new avenues and paths that may not always be sports or athletics-focused, but that is totally fine with me. Additionally, we will continue to tell a variety of stories through our podcast — some shows will feature myself blabbing about one, two, or a few topics while others may include a guest or round table. It has been so much fun hosting and producing a podcast, especially last year, and I certainly hope you will stop by our Anchor page to listen to one of our 156 shows.

Our social media accounts will not disappear – don’t worry, they won’t be silent for too long and will be populated shortly with new links, graphics, photos, and videos. And if you’re not following us on social media, hopefully, this post will inspire you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Change is never easy; we all know that. But I believe it is time to open the playbook and tell some different stories than we have in the past. We will certainly keep our eyes on the teams, programs, and athletes we have covered over the last few years, but again, I think it is time to flex those creative muscles and have some fun.

As I conclude this “so-called” state of Noontime Sports, I want to personally thank everyone that has stopped by the site, listened to our podcast, and consumed at least one or many of our videos. As I said, New England is a special place filled with so many amazing people, and I truly appreciate everyone’s continued support and excitement for our coverage.

2022 will mark 13 years of Noontime Sports – crazy, right? – but again, being an optimist (and someone that smiles and laughs too much), I believe this new chapter will be filled with some amazing memories and moments with new and old friends.

Happy New Year (again) – let’s make 2022 a great year, everyone!

Noontime’s 2021 Sounds of the Year

By Matt Noonan

It seems hard to fathom, but another year is slowly winding down.

2021 felt more normal than say 2020 — yes, there were some challenges we all faced, along with a few delays for some games to be played earlier this year. But overall, 2021 brought a sense of hope and renewal with perhaps the biggest story for many being the return to the field.

In addition to populating our blog, our podcast — the Noontime Sports Podcast, to be exact! — welcomed a slew of new and old guests to the show. We discussed a variety of topics from mental health to content creation and coaching — we are super-excited for a brand new year of podcasting with shows appearing in your feed every Thursday.

So, before we officially bid farewell to another year of content creation, we invite you to enjoy some of our favorite sounds of the year (as seen above!).

Thank you for the continued support for coverage, and I cannot wait to begin a brand new year of storytelling in just a few days.

Noontime’s Stories of the Year: The Return to the Field

The Endicott College football team enjoyed a successful 2021 campaign by winning its first conference crown since 2013. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan/Noontime Sports)

By Matt Noonan

There are still a few weeks left, but 2021 is slowly ending.

Before we usher in a new year, it is time to look back on some of our favorite stories, podcasts, and videos from the last 12 months, beginning with perhaps our favorite storyline: the return to the field.

After a year away due to the Covid-19 pandemic, numerous colleges and high schools eagerly returned to the field this fall for football games, soccer matches, field hockey contests, and cross country meets. And there was a jubilant feel for each outing.

Sure, we saw some college and high school games played earlier this year – ever heard of spring football in Massachusetts? – but those games did not have the same feeling that I and others experienced this fall. The return to the field was discussed multiple times on our podcasts this summer – in case you want to revisit our preseason coverage, you can visit both our podcast and YouTube pages to relive those conversations and thoughts with coaches and media members.  

I blogged a few times about the return to the field, as well as how this past football season will be one I and others will remember for quite some time. Like many, I missed seeing the student-athletes compete at all levels last fall – to be honest, it just seemed strange. But 2020 is in the rearview mirror, and I believe the excitement for the return to the field will continue throughout the remainder of the 2021-22 school year.

It will be hard to replicate this season next year, but the excitement for games will continue – I guarantee it. There were a lot of great stories that emerged from this past fall’s return to the field and we will do our best to highlight those between now and the end of the month, but for now, thus concludes our initial “stories of the year” post – be on the lookout for more over the next few weeks.  

Noonan: The 2021 Small College Football Season Was Worth The Wait

The first ten week of the small college (NCAA Division II and Division III) college football season have been very exciting. But what will happen in the 11th week? We’ll just have to wait and find out. (PHOTO: Matt Noonan/Noontime Sports)

By Matt Noonan

We have reached the final week of the small college football regular season – that went by fast!

And while there is still more football to be played after the final whistle sounds for most contests tomorrow, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the last 10 weeks.

To say the 2021 New England Division II and Division III college football season has been fun would be an understatement. It has been a blast – can I say incredible?

Many fields, bleachers and press boxes sat quietly at this time one year ago – yes, Coast Guard Academy and the United States Merchant Marine Academy did compete in the Secretaries Cup, but that was the closest we would get to a small college football experience due to the Covid-19 pandemic (other teams outside our region did compete once, twice or a few times last fall or this spring).

Tomorrow, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine will meet again – the contest will mark coach Mike Toop’s final regular season game with the Mariners while a slew of other teams, including Amherst College, Anna Maria College, Husson University, Bentley University, and the University of New Haven will also be in action.

There will be games that will decide conference champions.

There will be contests pitting two rivalries.

And there will be matchups between two teams – excuse me, two programs – looking to gain some much-needed momentum heading into the offseason.

But no matter the outcome of every small college football game tomorrow, both locally and around the country, a celebration should be in store for everyone as this will be a season we should all remember five, ten and yes, 50 years from now.

The 2021 small college football season provided us with a sense of joy and excitement that maybe we did not have before the pandemic. But it also provided us with some new (and exciting) storylines like Anna Maria winning its most games in a single season with six victories as of this evening to New Haven capturing its first Northeast-10 Conference (NE10) crown since 2012 with an impressive win one week ago against Bentley.  

Framingham State won another Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown after starting 0-2 for the second consecutive season, and American International College was one of a handful of teams to watch from the get-go, especially when they were winning dramatic road games, including a come-from-behind 40-33 victory in week two against Pace University.

Of course, there were others – and yes, there are still more stories being written as I type this somewhat “ode-to-the 2021 small college football season.” But no matter what, it has been so much fun seeing the local teams back on the gridiron this fall – enjoy the final day of the regular season, everyone, and make sure to stop by for a few blog posts throughout the weekend.