NFL Nation: Ron Jaworski

PITTSBURGH -- ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski recently ranked all of the starting quarterbacks in the NFL. The Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger is sixth on his list after Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Andrew Luck.

"Jaws" performed his usual exhaustive film review in compiling his list, and he offered strong praise for Roethlisberger as well as an astonishing statistic:
I thought Big Ben had one of his best seasons in 2013. We all know he has a unique skill set, with the ability to be a pocket passer but also extend the play when it's necessary. Ultimately, there are two sets of numbers that stand out to me for Roethlisberger. The first is that he has 156 career starts and has won 67 percent of them. That's astonishing. The second is that veteran quarterbacks understand the necessity of coming away with touchdowns and not field goals in the red zone. In the last two seasons, Roethlisberger has 27 TDs and zero INTs inside the 20-yard line."

You can debate where Roethlisberger ranks among NFL quarterback but one thing that can't be disputed: Big Ben is the player the Steeler can least afford to lose for an extended period in 2014.

The 11th-year veteran makes the no-huddle attack go and that will again be an important component of the Steelers' offense. Roethlisberger, who turned 32 in March, is still playing at a high level and he is coming off a season in which he took every snap. Bruce Gradkowski is a capable backup but nothing would help the Steelers more as they try to return to the playoffs after a two-year hiatus than if Gradkowski spends most if not all of the upcoming season on the sidelines.

Here are four other players whom the Steelers cannot afford to lose this season.

WR Antonio Brown: The Steelers' wide receivers become average if Brown is sidelined by a significant injury. The reigning Steelers MVP caught 110 passes for a team-record 1,499 yards last season and he will again make the other wideouts better simply because of the attention he commands from opposing defenses.

C Maurkice Pouncey: The Steelers got lucky that Fernando Velasco and later Cody Wallace played so capably at center after Pouncey tore his ACL eight plays into last season. They cannot count on that fortune again if Pouncey goes down. The three-time Pro Bowler is the unquestioned leader of the offensive line, and he is eager to reward the Steelers for the lucrative contract extension they gave him last month.

LB Lawrence Timmons: Durable and incredibly productive, Timmons should have at least one Pro Bowl on his resume by now. He will call the defense until rookie Ryan Shazier is ready to assume that responsibility. Simply getting lined up properly proved to be a problem for the defense after Larry Foote went down in the 2013 opener with a season-ending arm injury.

DE Cameron Heyward: The 2011 first-round pick is the one proven commodity that the Steelers have at defensive end. Heyward pushed his way into the starting lineup after the fourth game of last season, and he led the Steelers with 31 quarterback pressures in 2013 and tied for the team lead with five sacks. To say there is a significant drop-off after Heyward at defensive end is an understatement.

Jaworski on Chip Kelly: 'He won me over'

July, 11, 2014
Ron Jaworski is never afraid to express his opinion.

In a wide-ranging interview with 97.5 The Fanatic, Jaworski, an ESPN analyst and former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, discussed a variety of topics surrounding his former team.

On how coach Chip Kelly surprised him: "I wasn't sure how this was going to work. I wasn't a big believer in guys coming from the college ranks, leaving that rah-rah college style and bringing a new style to the NFL. Kelly made it happen. He won me over."

On Kelly's offensive scheme: "Chip Kelly did a great job of getting people wide open. I went through all these quarterback throws (across the league), I don't think anybody did a better job at getting receivers open than Chip Kelly. When you look at 400-500 throws of each quarterback and I see guys that are making these stick throws into double coverage and all these things, and I plug in Eagles tape and I'm seeing guys running open."

On adjusting to defenses in Year 2: "I will guarantee you this: every pass that he threw last year was studied and watched by 30 personnel guys with the three teams in this division. They studied Nick Foles to every possible nuance: Where is his foot when he is coming out from under center? Does his heel come up a split second before the snap? Does he flick his hand to get into position before the ball is snapped? They will study every nuance of his game on coaches tape, on television to hear his voice inflection, to see where he turns. Is the ball snapped when his head is looking downfield rather than left to right? All these things, they will have broken his game down. Nick has to make that adjustment. Now that teams have adjusted to him, does he adjust to what they do? It's the same thing with the system: the familiarity with the system for the Eagles is great but now all the teams are studying that system. What does Chip do? Does he take this offense to the next level?"

On losing three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson: "I think it's a big loss. I'm not buying into the, 'Oh, don't worry about it.' I saw this offense. I studied this offense. I know what DeSean Jackson did for everybody else -- what he did to clear zones and open up Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and that plethora of tight ends that they have."

Jaworski on Manziel: 'He's a project'

February, 26, 2014

Some say former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has the talent and skills worthy of being taken by the Houston Texans with the No. 1 overall pick in May.

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski is not one of those people.

Jaworski went on a Philadelphia radio station on Tuesday to give his opinion on Manziel.

Warning, his comments weren't positive about the 2012 Heisman winner.

“Manziel may fall,” Jaworski told WPEN-FM in Philadelphia. “I’m not crazy about him, to be honest with you. I've only looked at five games. I wouldn't take him in the first three rounds. That's my opinion. It's incomplete right now. But he has not done a whole lot to me."

Jaworski appeared on SportsCenter Wednesday morning, talking about Manziel some more.

The Houston Chronicle posted part of the transcript from Jaworski’s appearance.

On his Manziel draft projection
“We have nine weeks to go before the draft actually takes place. I will have looked at all the games that Johnny Manziel has played, so my grade right now is incomplete, but I do not see very many redeeming qualities in his game that project him to be a first-round pick, a second-round pick and, to me, I think he’s a third-round pick and maybe later.”

Reasons for his projections
“There’s a way you have to play the quarterback position in the NFL. Maybe I’m a little bit old school, but I think you have to play the game in the pocket with consistency. The NFL game is about the pre-snap phase of the game, getting in the proper protection, then, when you drop back, reading coverage properly, getting the ball out of your hand early in time with your receiver so when they turn, that ball is there. And it is ball security in the pocket, taking care of the football. It’s mechanics in the pocket: your throwing slot is consistent. And right now, I see Johnny Manziel as a project, a guy that will go down as one of the great collegiate players of all time. I would pay to see Johnny Manziel play in a college game. He’s a great college player, but his game, just in my opinion, does not project to the NFL. He’s a project, and he’s going to have to spend some time working on his game.”

Will his projections change after he watches all of Manziel’s games?
“I don’t see him being elevated to the first round. He will probably move up as I look at more games.”

Should the Texans draft him?
“I can’t advise Bill O’Brien who to take, but I’m certain Bill O’Brien knows what he wants his quarterback to look like. And I actually think they have a quarterback on their roster in Matt Schaub that is the kind of quarterback that Bill O’Brien likes. I think he’s going to say, ‘Hmmm. I like this Schaub guy. He reminds me a little bit of Tom Brady in size and stature,’ maybe not the outstanding consistency of Tom Brady, but you have an experienced, veteran quarterback, you surround him with the right people, I think Matt Schaub can still play a very solid game in the NFL.”
Candlestick Park StadiumHoberman Collection/UIG/Getty ImagesOn Monday night, San Francisco 49ers fans will empty out of Candlestick Park for likely the final time.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The odds are strong that Monday night will see the final game at Candlestick Park when the San Francisco 49ers host the Atlanta Falcons.

Barring a complete breakdown by first-place Seattle, the best the 49ers can do as a playoff seed is No. 5. In that scenario, the only way there could be another game at Candlestick – the 49ers move to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014 – is if they host the No. 6 seed in the NFC Championship Game.

Don’t count on it. According to ESPN Stats & Information, since 1990, a No. 5 seed has never hosted the No. 6 seed in a title game. So prepare to say goodbye to Candlestick on Monday night.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some remembrances of the historic but uncomfortable hunk of cement by the bay, as compiled by ESPN:

[+] EnlargeChris Berman
ESPNChris Berman reported from the field after "The Catch" game in 1982 at Candlestick Park.
“It was not the greatest-played game, but you couldn't have had more exciting a game. … The ball looks like it’s going into the stands and Dwight Clark leapt like a basketball player, made the catch. But the game wasn’t over. There was still a minute to go almost. … It caught even the city by surprise. It was fresh and it was fun, and who knew what they were building at the time. The whole thing sends shivers down my spine, that I was fortunate enough to be there and see it. It’s an iconic game in pro football history, let alone Candlestick. That’s what Candlestick will be remembered for more than anything else: that play, that game, even though there were some unbelievably great games, all the playoff games the 49ers have had there.”

-- ESPN's Chris Berman, who covered “The Catch” from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the 1981 NFC Championship Game

“I have a plethora of memories, phenomenal memories of championship games won and lost, Monday night games, big games, December games, games that decided the home-field advantage almost every year it seemed like. The locker room dripping down from condensation. The high tide would come in and you’d get that smell on the field, really soggy when it started to rain. The infield, when the Giants were playing there, with crushed rock, you’d get skinned up all through September and early October. The wind, obviously, early in the season, was always a factor. The stadium needs to close. She’s gone as far as she can go, it needs to be done. But for me, obviously it’s hard to see her go, it’s hard to see it end, and I’ll always miss playing at Candlestick Park. I missed it the second I left the 49ers, and I still miss being in that park. It will be fun to be there Monday night and see the last game.”

-- ESPN NFL analyst and Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Steve Young

“When the 49ers beat the Giants on 'Monday Night Football' at Candlestick in 1990, I had this old, beat-up car, a Delta ’88. I bought it for $500. It was the worst car you’ve ever seen. The players all made fun of me. They called me ‘Uncle Buck.’ This Giants game is huge, and before we leave for the stadium from the team hotel Charles Haley says to me, ‘I need to ride over with you in that car to the stadium. I’ve got to get in the right state of mind.’ I told him my car might not make it – it was that bad a car. He insisted on riding with me. So he didn’t take the team bus. It’s the biggest game in my life, and my car’s going to break down on the way to the stadium. I don’t have a parking pass or anything. So Haley is out the window yelling at security to let us in. I am a nervous wreck. I think Mike Holmgren and George Seifert are going to fire me – my coaching career is over. Even when we got to the stadium, I was scared to go in the locker room. Fortunately, we won 7-3 and Haley played his tail off.”

-- ESPN MNF analyst and Super Bowl-winning coach Jon Gruden, who started his NFL coaching career as a 49ers assistant in 1990

[+] EnlargeSteve Young
George Rose/Getty Images"I'll always miss playing at Candlestick Park," Steve Young said. "I missed it the second I left the 49ers."
“My first NFL start was at Candlestick against Steve Young’s 1994 49ers team -- and I was pathetic. But it was going home to the Bay Area, close to where I grew up, buying 75 tickets for family and friends. At the time, you try not to get caught up in the nostalgia, the history and who you are playing because they were just awesome. Though I didn’t play well, it’s still a great memory that I was able to have my first NFL start there.”

-- ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, a Northern California native and resident who played his first NFL game with Tampa Bay at Candlestick in 1994

“I remember going onto the field at Candlestick and warming up. I would go to every corner of the field and throw the football because the wind was different in every area of the stadium. You think it would go right, and it would go left. Some areas you think it would knock the ball down, it would take the ball up. You wanted to know what the wind was going to do to the football, and I always felt that was to the quarterback’s advantage, knowing the wind current in Candlestick Park.”

--ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, who played at Candlestick as a member of the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles

“The Eagles played the 49ers the last game in the final week of the 1993 season on 'Monday Night Football.' So we play the game and it ends up tied. They played a full 15 minutes of overtime, and with four seconds left Philadelphia was going to try a field goal. The kicker hooks it. He’s going to miss the field goal but the defender came in and roughed the kicker. So the game is over, the overtime period is over, but with a foul on the last play of a period, you extend the period. The Eagles re-kicked and won the game 37-34. It was the longest regular-season game in NFL history -- a full game, a full overtime, plus one play.”

--MNF rules consultant and former NFL official Gerry Austin, who refereed the longest regular-season game in NFL history at Candlestick on Jan. 3, 1994
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- In his ranking of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks, ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski placed Matthew Stafford right in the middle, at No. 16 of the 32 NFL quarterbacks.

In said analysis, he said Stafford “needs more consistent mechanics to play at a higher level week in and week out” along with questioning his ability to read coverage as effectively under center and he does in shotgun.

On Tuesday, Stafford responded to those criticisms.

“It’s something, like I said earlier, that I work on every time I go out on the field,” Stafford said. “Practice field, game, I critique myself. I’m my own worst critic, except for some of those guys are pretty bad.

“No, I understand those guys. They have a job to do. They’ve got to talk and in the offseason there’s not a whole lot to talk about. I understand that. But don’t get me wrong, I take a close look at my game at all times and try to make sure I’m playing my best.”

Jaworski wasn’t entirely negative discussing Stafford, whom he compared to former Miami quarterback Dan Marino in his mindset of how and when he throws the ball. In some ways, he was actually fairly complementary. From the folks in the ESPN PR department, here is a transcript of Jaworski’s entire comments:
“Last year I took much criticism for ranking Matthew Stafford 14th on my big board. Well, after a very uneven 2012 season, Stafford has dropped this year. He comes in at No. 16. A supremely-talented thrower still searching for the consistency needed to become elite.

“No quarterback has thrown more passes the last two seasons than Stafford. He’s a shotgun passer. Eighty-three percent of his throws in 2011 and 2012 have come out of the shotgun. That’s the largest percentage by a wide margin. I’ve always loved Stafford’s willingness to pull the trigger. He’s aggressive, with an attacking mentality.

“It reminds me of when I played with Dan Marino. Marino said if you see the back of a defender’s jersey, you turn it loose. Stafford has that mindset. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you’re throwing to Calvin Johnson; a lot of trust there, a lot of confidence that he will make contested catches. I felt the same way when I threw to six-foot-eight-inch Harold Carmichael.

“What stood out studying Stafford was he was not as efficient under center as he was in the shotgun. He seemed to struggle to read coverage as effectively. Too many forced throws. Overall, he just threw too many passes with poor balance and bad footwork, with a tendency to fall away from the throws.

“There is absolutely no question that Stafford is a very special arm talent. There are not many that throw it like he does. He has a chance to be a top 10 quarterback. The Lions may disagree, but he needs more consistent mechanics to play at a higher level week in and week out.”

Some of that Stafford understands. But he was also asked Tuesday whether he had spoken with Jaworski recently. He said he had not.

But if he did, what would he say?

“What’s up, Jaws,” Stafford said. “What did I ever do to you? Nah, I’m kidding. He’s a great guy. I actually do like listening to him. He was a really good player and knows what he’s talking about.”

ESPN's Ron Jaworski ranked San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick No. 11 when ranking the 32 projected NFL starting quarterbacks for 2013.

Jaworski now says he thinks Kaepernick can become an all-time great. Jaworski, speaking in the video atop this item, pointed to Kaepernick's arm strength, accuracy and mobility. He also pointed to the coaching Kaepernick is receiving from Jim Harbaugh and staff.

Early returns are indeed promising. Kaepernick ranked second to Peyton Manning in Total QBR as a starter for the regular season and playoffs. Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Eli Manning rounded out the top 10.

Smith's presence on that list stands out, because he hadn't produced at that level previously. I do think the offense in San Francisco forces teams to account for the run, setting up quarterbacks for success on early downs. That is when Smith in particular flourished. As Jaworski points out, there is no denying the physical ability Kaepernick brings to the position. Put him in the 49ers' system and the potential is there, no doubt.

Now that we've begun work on that Hall of Fame bust, let's revisit what Jaworski said when ranking Kaepernick 11th among starters earlier this offseason:
"Normally 10 NFL starts is not enough for me to evaluate a player so highly, but this kid has special talent, is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback with a power arm and outstanding athleticism.

"Remember this? It was a signature play of the 2012 season. It was Kaepernick’s first touchdown run against Green Bay that really caught my attention. You see the press man coverage with two deep safeties. It turned out the Packers doubled Michael Crabtree. But the point is the same. This is what mobile, athletic quarterbacks can do versus man-to-man coverage, especially on third down. It forces defenses to rethink their concepts, it limits their tactical options.

"I remember Kaepernick’s first start against the Bears. It was immediately evident that he gave the 49ers every dimension in the passing game. And I love the way Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman set up Kaepernick with defined reads through the use of shifts and formations.

"Watch what happened here from the coaching tape. All that pre-snap movement was designed to get Vernon Davis matched on linebacker Lance Briggs. As favorable as the matchup was, that was still not an easy throw.

"That’s why Kaepernick has a chance to be very special. He has a complete throwing skill-set with a powerful arm that I absolutely put at gun level. His ball comes out with a lot of energy and velocity. And Kaepernick can drive the ball down the field, on the move, with accuracy.

"Kaepernick is one of the four or five most physically talented quarterbacks in the entire NFL. It will be fascinating to see how he adjusts to the loss of Michael Crabtree, but the elite skill-set is still there."

When ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski watched the second half of the Super Bowl, he saw a San Francisco 49ers offense attack an "old and slow" Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. But, by upgrading the team's biggest weakness this offseason, Jaworski still believes the Baltimore Ravens are the team to beat in the AFC.

"Look at the offseason and the acquisitions they made," Jaworski said. "They get a Michael Huff, they get a Matt Elam, they get a Chris Canty and they get Elvis Dumervil. They've made changes to upgrade that defense. That alone still shows me they're the best team in the AFC."

That led to this response from Skip Bayless: "Ron Jaworski, you know how much I love you. But lord have mercy do I disagree with you on this one."

Click on the video right here to hear the rest of this debate
Listening to St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's conversation with KREF SportsTalk 1400 in his native Oklahoma reminded me to revisit Ron Jaworski's ongoing series ranking NFL starters.

A few words from Jaworski regarding the Rams' fourth-year starter:

"Bradford has always been a talented thrower. In 2012, he took some sure and steady steps forward as he rebounded from a poor 2011 season.

"There's never been a question about Bradford’s arm talent. He has a strong arm with the ability to make every single throw. He can drive the ball down the field and when he’s comfortable and confident in the pocket, he throws with consistent accuracy.

"Bradford has underrated movement. He can get out of the pocket and use his legs to find room to throw. And he's always been effective off boot action. The bottom line is that Bradford has the throwing skill set to be a top-10 passer in this league.

"What are the concerns when I study Bradford? A lack of efficiency in the red zone. Too many interceptions. And it’s a red zone game. You can’t be a high-level quarterback if you can’t execute there. Bradford at times still struggles with basic blitz concepts that a player with his experience level should understand. This interception against the Vikings was a great example.

"Bradford must eliminate the mistakes that diminish the impact of his ability. This season I would expect a little bit different Rams’ offense. With the talent they now have at the skill positions, don’t be surprised to see more spread with Bradford in the shotgun, a faster tempo, just like Bradford’s days at Oklahoma."

Arizona's Carson Palmer was 23rd in Jaworski's ratings. Jaworski has revealed the starters ranked 13th through 32nd without featuring the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick or the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson. The chart includes 2012 Total QBR figures for the quarterbacks Jaworksi has ranked to this point. Matt Flynn and Kevin Kolb did not have enough plays to qualify for inclusion in various rankings, but I have provided their QBR scores anyway.

We've covered Bradford quite a bit this offseason, including earlier Wednesday. A recent take from Bernie Miklasz included additional perspective regarding Bradford's play in the red zone. As Bernie notes, Bradford improved in that area later in the 2012 season, after coaches helped implement some adjustments.

Bradford posted an 86.2 Total QBR score in the red zone over the Rams' final eight games. That figure ranked 12th in the NFL and was above the 67.1 average for 32 qualifying quarterbacks. Wilson was first (98.8), Kaepernick was 23rd (39.1) and Palmer was 27th (18.3) in that category over the same span.

That 86.2 figure for Bradford was up from a 4.7 QBR score in the red zone over the Rams' first eight games. That number ranked 33rd out of 34 qualifying quarterbacks over that span. Alex Smith was seventh (78.7), Palmer was 12th (61.7), Kolb was 16th (56.3) and Wilson was 26th (15.7) over their teams' first eight games of the season.

Red zone sample sizes are somewhat limited when reduced to half a season. Qualifying players averaged 40 red zone action plays over their teams' first eight games and 38 over their teams' final eight games.
Coming in at No. 13 on Ron Jaworski's annual ranking of NFL quarterbacks is the Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III. Here's what Jaws had to say about RG III on SportsCenter on Wednesday morning:
“It’s rare when I evaluate rookies so highly. I believe in performance over time. But in the case of Robert Griffin III, his individual play and his overall impact was so extraordinary, that he comes in at No. 13 on my quarterback big board.

“It began the opening game of the season against the Saints. You know what I loved about this play? RG III’s total awareness of what happened. Listen to him on the sideline. Let’s break the play down and explain what RG III was talking about. Here’s the play fake, and here’s the blitzing safety. There’s Niles Paul, the hot receiver. And there’s the linebacker RG III was talking about covering Paul. At that point, the defense won. That’s a remarkable reaction for a quarterback on his 12th play.

“RG III and the Redskins played offense differently than we had seen in the NFL. Their foundation was the option. RG III led all quarterbacks in rushing with over 800 yards. Often, it was the option. Other times, it was just pure speed. The key of course was the effectiveness of the passing game off the option. Look at the impact of the read-option on the safety. His eyes are focused in the backfield, with no awareness of Aldrick Robinson on the deep post right in front of him.

“As spectacular as RG III can be with his legs, it’s his passing ability that gives him a chance to be a very special player. That’s why I have him ranked 13th after just one season. The question is how will the Redskins handle RG III after his major knee injury? Will we see as much read-option? Or will Mike and Kyle Shanahan incorporate more NFL drop-back passing concepts? It will be a delicate balancing act, and I’m very intrigued to see it.”

So, what's interesting to me about this is that the reaction of Redskins fans to the ranking was that it was too low, while Jaws seems to be defending how high a ranking it was for a quarterback coming off his first year. The thing is, through process of elimination, we can determine that Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick all rank in the top 12, ahead of Griffin. (Here's the list through 15, and Jay Cutler was No. 14.) So while it might be rare for Jaws to rank a guy this high after his first year, he appears to have ranked three other guys in the same situation even higher. (And yes, I understand that Kaepernick was not a rookie last season, but he wasn't a starter in 2011, or even in the first part of 2012 for that matter.)

Personally, I'd definitely rank Griffin ahead of Kaepernick and Houston's Matt Schaub, who's apparently also in that top 12 (along with, in some order, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady and Joe Flacco). And I think you could certainly argue him over Luck or Wilson, though it's no slam-dunk. But then again, you could argue Tony Romo over any of those guys, and Jaws has him 15th. This is one man's opinion, folks, and not only is it one to which he has the right, it's one at which he's arrived after extensive film study and consideration of all of these guys. Easy for fans to pick apart, but he's watching all of them, not just his favorites.

It's also important to note that Griffin is, currently, an injured player. He did not participate in the organized activities of the offseason, and might not be ready for training camp or the start of the season as he continues to recover from the major reconstructive knee surgery he had in January. As upbeat as everyone is about the likelihood of Griffin's recovery, he hasn't yet completed it, and there's no way to know when or if he'll ever be back to full strength. Downgrading him because of the injury is legitimate, as is downgrading him because of the possibility that his playing style and/or the effects of two reconstructions of the same knee in a three-year stretch could make him less effective going forward.

It's tempting to rank Griffin highly because of the greatness we glimpsed in his first season. But in the end, it might be wise to rank him more cautiously until we see it again, and for a longer period of time.

Oh, and a h/t to Twitter follower Ryan Pence (@pencerm) for the "RG XIII" in the headline. He thought of that first.
Apparently, Jaws is not a big believer in the Raiders’ decision to trade for Matt Flynn. ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski has Flynn ranked No. 32 of the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

Flynn was slightly more highly regarded a year ago. Last June, Jaworski ranked Flynn No. 27.

He went from Green Bay to Seattle to be a starter. But he lost the job to rookie Russell Wilson in the preseason.

This spring, Oakland traded for Flynn after Carson Palmer balked at a pay raise. Palmer was traded to Arizona after the Raiders picked up Flynn.

Flynn is 28 and he has started just two NFL games. His arm strength has been questioned. I don’t expect Flynn to light the NFL on fire. I do think the Raiders can get by with him for the short term and since he wasn’t overly expensive, it’s not a terribly risky venture.

If Jaworski is right and Flynn plays like the No. 32 starting quarterback in the NFL, then we may soon see rookie Tyler Wilson or Terrelle Pryor get a chance to breathe life into Oakland’s offense.

In other AFC West notes:

San Diego linebacker Manti Te’o talked about what he is learning at the NFL Rookie Symposium in this video.

The Raiders waived linebacker Mario Kurn. He was on injured reserve all of last year.
Our man Ron Jaworski has studied some tape of Chip Kelly's Oregon teams and has some concerns about Kelly's ability to bring the concepts he used in college with him to the NFL. Per Sheil Kapadia:
“It’s going to be interesting to see if this style of offense projects to the NFL,” Jaws said during an interview with Harry Mayes and Nick Kayal on 97.5 The Fanatic earlier this week. “I’m going to say no.”

“I just don’t see NFL passing concepts in this offense. It’s a movement offense by the quarterback, off the run-action, off the read-action. A lot of short, quick passes, dart routes, bubble screens. Very few plays down the field with NFL passing concepts.”

Jaws added that he’s had several conversations with Kelly and hopes he’s wrong. But he offered an honest assessment of what he’s seen on tape.

Sure, and look. It's entirely possible that Kelly is a college-to-pro flop in the tradition of Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban. But it's also possible that he's a smart guy who understands that what worked in the Pac 12 isn't going to work if he tries to transplant it whole-hog into the NFL. It's possible that the NFL version of Kelly's offense has downfield NFL passing concepts. Certainly, if Michael Vick is the quarterback, Kelly will have a stronger-armed passer than he ever had at Oregon and would be foolish not to find a way to take advantage of that.

I think it's understandable for analysts to be asked and to offer their opinions on what the Eagles will be with Kelly running them. I understand the excitement over new things and the eagerness to know as much as possible about them as soon as possible. But I really think it's important to remember that none of us -- Kelly likely included -- yet knows what Kelly's offense is going to look like in Philadelphia. It is May 22. The first games are still nearly four months away. And any reasonable judgment on whether Kelly can or can't succeed as an NFL coach is much further away than that.

ESPN's Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge are taking opposite sides in picking the Baltimore-San Francisco winner in the Super Bowl.

As they spoke, my mind turned to the few players on each team with the raw athletic ability, notably speed, to make game-breaking plays.

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, tight end Vernon Davis and possibly running back LaMichael James are three such players for San Francisco. Receiver Torrey Smith is one such player for Baltimore.

Jaworski is picking the Ravens based on how well Joe Flacco is playing. He'll be covered either way, however. Before Flacco got on a hot streak against Denver and New England, Jaworski cited Kaepernick as the reason he thought the 49ers would win it all.

ESPN's Ron Jaworski is back with his latest rankings Insider of NFL quarterbacks. He puts Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck just ahead of Russell Wilson among rookies. He's got Sam Bradford quite a bit lower, with a chance to go higher with a stronger supporting cast.

Jaworski offers analysis for each quarterback. What he said about the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick was what stood out to me from an NFC West standpoint.

"Kaepernick is the reason I like the San Francisco 49ers to win it all," Jaworski wrote. "Between his arm strength and his foot speed, there is nothing the Niners' offense can't do. They've got the smashmouth ground game, and the quick-strike deep ball. He has shown good feel in the pocket and, like Griffin, looks to make the pass first and doesn't default to his legs at the first sign of pressure."

Jaworski is expecting the 49ers' coaching staff to have big plans for Kaepernick in the playoffs.
When it comes to completion percentage, the Ravens' Joe Flacco ranks 21st in the NFL at 60.4 percent. Flacco's 250 yards passing per game ranks 15th in the league. His 13 touchdowns are 17th and his 56.4 QBR is 16th (and third-best in the AFC North).

So where does he rank with ESPN's Ron Jaworski?

"[C]learly I think Joe Flacco is a top-10 quarterback," Jaworski said in a conference call with reporters. "For some reason, just doesn't seem to get the recognition that I believe he richly deserved."

Flacco is a top-10 quarterback -- perhaps even a top-five one -- when playing at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium. His 85.1 QBR at home leads all qualifying quarterbacks.

The problem is how Flacco struggles on the road. His 25.0 QBR is the third-worst in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Asked about the disparity, Jaworski acknowledged he didn't have a great explanation for it.

"Here's what I like about what they do, and maybe this is maybe the difference between being great at home and not so great on the road," he said. "They're a deep-ball passing team. They want to throw it down the field. In fact, I got done doing a breakdown which shows passes of 20 yards or more, and he's 25 of 61, 767 yards and seven touchdowns. Now the completion percentage is only 41 percent. But remember you're throwing the ball more than 20 yards down the field, and it's produced seven touchdowns. Because they're such hit-or-miss plays, maybe they've tried more of these on the road than they have at home. That's about the only thing that would pop into my mind right now."'

Jaworski also addressed another quarterback in the AFC North, the Browns' Brandon Weeden.

“With a young quarterback, it’s all about becoming more consistent, and I’m seeing as the season progresses, he has gotten better,” Jaworski said. “So I think Weeden does have a future in Cleveland.”

Jaworski's opinion of Weeden has changed since the preseason when he thought the Browns were rushing Weeden.

"I did not think he was ready to become a starting quarterback in the NFL," Jaworski said. "Now he has gotten better every week. He still needs to improve, but I think he will improve.”

Jaws: Josh Freeman becoming superstar

November, 21, 2012
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning and the offense putting up big numbers, a lot of people are jumping back on the Josh Freeman bandwagon. Count ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Ron Jaworski as one of them.

Jaworksi spent a lot of time singing the praises of the Tampa Bay quarterback in a recent conference call with the national media.

"Josh Freeman is playing phenomenal football," Jaworski said. "I thought last year he really struggled with his accuracy. As their season wore on and their record got worse, disinterest might be the wrong word, but there just didn't seem to be a fire in that Bucs offense. That usually reflects upon the quarterback, and I thought Josh really struggled last season. Two years ago I thought he was really coming on and had the potential to be a superstar. I'm seeing that superstar potential now come to the forefront.

"I think clearly Freeman is on his way to becoming a superstar in this league. He's got all the attributes you would want in a quarterback. Clearly those are being refined."

Jaworski cited the new offensive scheme of coordinator Mike Sullivan for much of Freeman’s improvement. Jaworski proudly pointed out that Sullivan worked at his alma mater (Youngstown State) as an assistant and went on to coach receivers and quarterbacks with the New York Giants.

"Here's what I like, and it is crystal clear what this offense is about,’’ Jaworski said. "It's about discipline. We know (coach) Greg (Schiano) has brought that to the Buccaneers in general. But when you watch this offense, and the first thing that stood out to me, it's much like the Giants' offense. It's not complex; it's not sophisticated. We're not going to beat you at shifts, motions and gimmicks and gadgets. We're going to play football first. That template has worked for Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants. Mike Sullivan is cut from that same cloth."

Jaworski also praised how the Bucs have dealt with a rash of injuries on their offensive line.

"I'm here in Philadelphia, and people are complaining about all the losses in the offensive line," Jaworski said. "Well, Tampa's lost four of their starters in the offensive line. No one's whining, no one's complaining. Go out and do your job. They've developed that nextmanup philosophy that's been heard of around the league. People say it, but you actually have to go on the field and perform."