Tag: Troy Aikman

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?

The Early Outlook for the NFL’s Wild Card Matchups

Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders secured a spot in the 2021 NFL Playoffs with an end-of-season victory over the Los Angeles Chargers. (PHOTO COURTESY: Getty Images | New York Post)

By Matt Noonan

The 2021 National Football League’s (NFL) regular season concluded last night.

Now, it is time for the playoffsare you ready?

The 2021 season came down to the final day, as well as its last matchup between the Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers.

In some way, this season mirrored the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) from the last two seasons (2019 and 2021) where every matchup and week was needed to determine not just divisional winners, but overall seeding for the 14-team playoff.  

Saturday cannot come soon enough – I am eager for yesterday’s excitement to continue. Does anyone know how to hit fast forward in the next few days?

Either way, I am excited – and I hope you are, as well – for some playoff football!

Over the next few days and weeks, Noontime Sports will be keeping its focus on football – consider this some “overtime” coverage from last summer and fall. We will have some op-eds and commentary pieces to previews, along with a piece about quarterback progression (I guess I can thank those armchair quarterbacks calling Boston radio stations!) over the next few days.

Let’s jumpstart the week with some early thoughts on all six Wild Card matchups — have a great day, everyone!

AFC Wild Card Matchups

Los Angeles Raiders (10-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-7): The Raiders concluded their 2021 campaign by winning four-straight contests, including back-to-back games against the Indianapolis Colts and Los Angeles Chargers. The Silver and Black have been quite the story this season – sure, there was some negative press over the first few weeks, but somehow, they managed to go on a late run to secure an opening round meeting with the Bengals. Don’t overlook the Raiders in this matchup.

New England Patriots (10-7) at Buffalo Bills (11-6): The Patriots ended their season with a disappointing setback to the Miami Dolphins – they also lost two other games before their divisional meeting with the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts. But something tells me this was the matchup coach Bill Belichick and his team wanted. They beat Buffalo last month by running the ball and attempting three passes. But a few weeks later, New England struggled to contain quarterback Josh Allen. The rubber match between the Bills and Patriots should be fun!  

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (12-5): The Chiefs may not be the explosive offense they once were – in fact, it seems as if their defense has played better, especially down the stretch. But here’s my question: will this unit be able to stop a Steelers squad that has averaged 17.75 points in their last four outings? My initial answer: yes, but I also wonder if the Pittsburgh defense is good enough to stop Patrick Mahomes?

NFC Wild Card Matchups

Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4): With a big win on Sunday over the Carolina Panthers, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers were able to move up to the second seed, thanks to some help from the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. Tampa Bay is not the same team as last year – they have some issues on both sides of the ball, which makes them vulnerable. Yet, the Buccaneers should be able to win this game, however, they must find a way to stop an impressive Eagles rushing attack led by quarterback Jalen Hurts. Hurts concluded the regular season with 784 rushing yards on 139 carries and 10 touchdowns while completing 265 of 432 passes for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at Dallas Cowboys (12-5): This is a classic matchup – go ahead and break out those Steve Young and Troy Aikman jerseys. Neither signal-caller will be spotted under center next Sunday, but the 49ers’ offense will provide some challenges for a Cowboys defense that struggled initially at slowing down Philadelphia’s Gardner Minshew and Kenneth Gainwell this past weekend. But while the 49ers’ come-from-behind win yesterday against the Los Angeles Rams was impressive, the question I have heading into this contest is can this defense — San Franciscos’s, to be exact — slow down Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense? This game presents some interesting storylines, as well as features two coaches that used to work together: Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco) and Dan Quinn (Dallas).  

Arizona Cardinals (11-6) at Los Angeles Rams (12-5): Arizona and Los Angeles both scored one win against each other, so like Buffalo-New England, this is a rubber match. To be honest, I did not anticipate this would be a first-round match-up – in fact, I thought Arizona or Los Angeles would be heading to Dallas this weekend. But instead, the Cardinals and Rams will square off once more this season – I am not confident in the Rams’ defense, which struggled to contain the San Francisco offense yesterday, especially in the final minutes. Additionally, will we see a great or subpar Kyler Murray against the Rams? Similar to Dallas-San Francisco, this game also presents some unique storylines.

Daily Noontime: Wednesday, January 29th, 2020

DNJan30th2020

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

Hello, Wednesday – you look rather sunny!

Sure, it’s sunny this morning in the Boston area, but it is also chilly, too – don’t go looking for the beach gear just yet as it will get cooler later and be somewhat cold tomorrow.

But, before we worry about the cold weather tomorrow, let’s dish out a brand new Daily Noontime from your friends at Noontime Nation!

Have a wonderful day, read a joke, get an extra cup of coffee, and maybe do something fun later – you deserve it!


The Boston Sports Scoreboard 

  • The Boston Celtics capped their three-game road trip with a 109-101 win last night over the Miami Heat.
  • With their win over the Heat on Tuesday evening, the Celtics are now 31-15. They remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
  • Boston will entertain the Golden State Warriors tomorrow (Thursday, January 30th) with tip-off scheduled for 8 p.m.

The Noontime Headlines (and Links)

  • Dante Scarnecchia is retiring from the NFL after 36 seasons, including 34 with the New England Patriots. Scarnecchia was the Patriots offensive line coach. (ESPN.com)
  • Tom Brady may be the greatest quarterback, but Dante Scarnecchia could be considered one of the best offensive line coaches. (WEEI.com)
  • Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill may want to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. (ProFootballTalk.com)
  • “I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while,” says Shaquille O’Neal when discussing his former teammate, Kobe Bryant(ESPN.com)
  • Mitch Moreland will be playing for the Boston Red Sox this spring, but it appears like Mookie Betts will be competing for another team. (CBSSports.com)
  • Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams will be singing “Let It Go” in a 60-second spot for Audi on Super Bowl Sunday. (CNBC.com)

Video of the Day: Joe Buck joined The Herd with Colin Cowherd yesterday to discuss broadcasting a Super Bowl to working with former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman

Recapping the Cowboys-Patriots Season Series

Dallas leads the series against New England, but the Patriots have won the last three meetings!

By Matt Noonan 

The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots will meet on Sunday at Gillette Stadium and certainly, I think many NFL fans are excited for this particular matchup.

Both teams have met 10 times during the regular season, yet despite Dallas’s seven wins, New England has won the last three meetings by a combined score of 73-33.

Here’s a recap of the past ten meetings between these two squads, enjoy.

Dallas 44 – New England 21 (Oct. 24, 1971): Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach completed 13-of-21 passes for 197 yards, and tossed two touchdowns, as well as rushed for one score, as Dallas prevailed and earned their fourth win of the season.

Dallas 34 – New England 31 (Nov. 16, 1975): Trailing Dallas 17-10 at halftime, the Patriots rallied to outscore the Cowboys, 21-17 during the final two quarters, but couldn’t muster their fourth victory of the year. Quarterback Jim Plunkett finished the game with three touchdowns, two interceptions, while Roger Staubach tossed three touchdowns – two to Drew Pearson and one to Golden Richards.

Dallas 17 – New England 10 (Dec. 3, 1978): Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach connected with Billy Joe DuPree during the final quarter, which secured Dallas’s third win against New England.

Dallas 35 – New England 21 (Sept. 21, 1981): Cowboys place-kicker Rafael Septien kicked three fourth quarter field goals, which helped Dallas earn their third victory of the ’81 season.

Dallas 20 – New England 17 (Nov. 22, 1984): The Patriots outscored the Cowboys, 14-3 during the final quarter, but couldn’t stop Rafael Septien, who kicked the game winning field goal.

Dallas 23 – New England 17 (Nov. 15, 1987):  Cowboys running back Herschel Walker scored the game winning touchdown in overtime, and ended the Patriots fourth quarter rally. Danny White recorded one touchdown pass and two interceptions, while Steve Grogan and Tom Ramsey combined for one touchdown, one interception, and 209 passing yards.

Dallas 12 – New England 6 (Dec. 15, 1996):  Both Drew Bledsoe and Troy Aikman combined for five interceptions, as well as watched their place kickers, Adam Vinatieri and Chris Boniol combine for six field goals.

New England 13 – Dallas 6 (Dec. 15, 1999): Terry Allen rushed for 53 yards on 18 carries, as well as one touchdown, which gave the Patriots their first win against Dallas.

New England 12 – Dallas 0 (Nov. 16, 2003): Adam Vinatieri kicked two field goals, while Antowain Smith rushed for the only touchdown, as head coach Bill Belichick spoiled Bill Parcell’s Foxborough homecoming at Gillette Stadium.

New England 48 – Dallas 27 (Oct. 14, 2007):  Quarterback Tom Brady connected with Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker,Randy Moss and Kyle Brady for five touchdown passes, as the Patriots embarrassed the Cowboys in Texas and on national television.

Drew Bledsoe Is Officially A Patriots Hall of Famer

It's official - Bledsoe is now a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame!

By Matt Noonan 

It’s been an exciting past few days for the former New England Patriots quarterback, Drew Bledsoe who was recently enshrined in the team’s Hall of Fame on Saturday. Bledsoe was greeted by hundreds of fans that came to celebrate his nine-year career with the team, as well as the special moment too.

Yet, what do we remember most about Bledsoe? When we think of his name, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Well for starters, here’s a few talking points to jumpstart this conversation.

— Bledsoe is a guy that all Patriots fans will never forget. He was a tall, lengthy quarterback that made die-hards cringe. He often overthrew receivers, but when he was “on fire,” he was magical. Yet, he didn’t have the magic or power that Doug Flutie did.

— He butted heads with former head coach Bill Parcells, but somehow managed to lead the ’96 Patriots to the Super Bowl, which they lost. He was also a member of the AFC Pro-Bowl team that season, and led the league with 373 passes completed.

— He started in 123-of-124 games with the Patriots, as well as tossed 166 touchdowns and 138 interceptions. He also completed 2,544 passes for 29,657 yards.

— Bledsoe was the first pick in the ’93 NFL Draft and was selected to four Pro-Bowls too.

— In his nine seasons with the team, Bledsoe led the Patriots to three playoff appearances, as well as one AFC Championship game. Although, while he didn’t win a ring under center, he finally snagged one in ’01 when New England upset St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXVI, (thanks, Tom Brady).

— One of his finest games came against the Minnesota Vikings in ’94, where he helped the Patriots rally to beat the “Purple People Eaters,” 26-20 in overtime. On that particular day, Bledsoe completed 45-of-70 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns.

So, what do you have to say, fans? Was Bledsoe a valuable member of the Patriots?

Absolutely!

He may have not been Brett Favre, John Elway, Steve Young or Troy Aikman, but he was a solid quarterback that loved the game of football. In fact, I think it’s also fair to state that he was one of the main reasons the Patriots became a contender. Bledsoe will always be considered a valuable component of the Patriots modern day success, as well as their franchise, but in the end, he’ll always be remembered for his gutsy performances and efforts.

Bledsoe may not be headed to Canton, Ohio anytime soon, but that doesn’t matter because as of today, he’ll always be remembered as of the great Patriots players who sported the red, white and blue.