Friday, May 17, 2013

Crazy thought(s)? - AFL, CFL, NFL

Football has been played in many leagues and their are three recognized professional levels. I don't consider college football a recognized professional level sport, due to a lack of direct monetary compensation for their athletes and an open forum to review each colleges financing the sport of football, but this is another topic for  another time.

Have you noticed the differences between the AFL, the CFL and the NFL?
The most obvious one is the size of the field, if you were to list leagues by smallest to largest we would list AFL, NFL, CFL.
Another obvious difference is the speed of the game, especially for the QB and his decision making, listing leagues by fastest required decision or least amount of time to hold the ball, we would end up with AFL, NFL, CFL.
If you were to list leagues by best athletes overall, best to worst, you would list NFL, CFL, AFL
Which leagues pays the most, NFL, CFL, AFL
So does any of this make a difference? It may, from my observations of the athletic skill required for each league, a successful athlete in the AFL or CFL may take that step 'up' to the NFL and be very successful.

As the seasons have gone by, a succession of better athletes continue to arrive in the NFL. They are taller, stronger, faster and much more skilled than bygone years. Players come and go due to injury, retirement, whimsical opinion of decision makers, or for getting into legal trouble. Still the so called lesser athlete will toil away in the lesser known leagues and if he's just outstanding (and sometimes for several years) an evaluator may notice him and he'll be brought into camp for a NFL team. We all know this, but are their specific athletes  that may have an easier time transitioning to the NFL from the AFL or CFL?

I think so, their are well known examples such as QB Kurt Warner who won at the AFL, then NFL level. The same could be said of QB's Flutie and Moon who did the CFL to NFL transition successfully. But they were in different eras, today the bigger faster athlete covers much more ground and with a multitude of defenders able to cover a large area, the windows that QBs have to get the ball to WRs grows smaller each year. Sure there are OCs that design really nice plays that get the ball to nearly uncovered WR, but in the red zone that window is tighter and tighter as the years go by.

The AFL has always had the smallest windows and will always have smallest windows for QBs to make a quick decision and quick throw. This season it's easy to see that AFL QB's Davila, Meyer, and McPherson have that quick decision quick throw and should be successful if ever called up to the NFL. McPherson in my opinion is making the most with the least amount of talent around him. Davila works with the most talented WR corp and Meyer had all things come together for him this season.

Of the three, Davila and Meyer will most likely never get called up, due to height discrimination in the NFL (IMO). McPherson has played in the NFL camps, CFL and AFL games thus due to age, may not be ideal candidate to most coaches, but he's on fire, in the zone, this year and should be called up. AFL QB Grady is another interesting arm, he played exceptionally well last year, but this year due to an arm/wrist injury has not been up to snuff, but he does have the NFL measureables that evaluators like and may one day make the leap to the NFL. Of the remaining AFL QBs only Raudabaugh and perhaps Michna have that quick decision , quick throw that suggest success at the NFL level, though I do believe their OCs also play a big part of their success.

The Ironmen of the AFL should also be able to transition well into the NFL, in particular this year, SJ WR/JLB Huey Whitaker is playing out of this world. I also think the possession WR's (usually really tall and a few are fast as well) would be able to make the leap. It would be nice to see the speedy WRs make it to the next level, but again due a size discrimination at the NFL level, I doubt they'll ever be called up

Within the CFL, defenders should be able to make the transition, after all they have to cover more ground. Even those along the DL have a bigger gap to reach the OL as compared to the NFL. MIA DE Cameron Wake and SEA CB Richard Sherman have made the transition easily. Defending a smaller patch of grass is much easier in the NFL than the CFL, thus even LBs should be able to make the step up to the NFL.

I guess for the AFL, it's the offensive players that would have an easier transition due to the vastness of the NFL field. I suspect if there were a call up of both a QB and his favorite WR, that they would make the transition to the NFL look easy. Maybe CIN OC Gruden will have a hand in bringing up combo QB-WR package that could succeed.

It's these thoughts that have me thinking that for the 2013-14 season CHI will not make the playoffs, partly because I don't believe new coach Trestman will bring the players up to another level and partly because he is an offensive coach. I think Coach Trestman was fortunate to have a veteran CFL QB to run the show (he could call his own plays) and thus this accounted for much of his success, but he failed to recognize the talent he had in his backup QB McPherson who is tearing up the AFL. I just think if all things are equal for a QB, it's tougher to play in the AFL than the CFL, true you may need to wait longer for a WR to get open and thus require a stronger arm due to the length of the CFL field, but in today's game quickness and accuracy are much bigger factors than arm strength IMO and the AFL requires far more quickness and accuracy from their QB. In the CFL, the running game can also be utilized far more often, thus the CFL QB is not quite as important the AFL QB.

This season appears to be CIN year to win the AFC North, both BAL and PIT are rebuilding, not reloading. As for CLE I really do admire their moves via free agency and the draft, but until some consistency is shown on O, D and ST, I'd say they are at least a year removed from gaining any crown.

As for the AFC East, I'm taking MIA to win their title, why not NE? I say because they are overdue for a downfall. NYJ will be in shambles and BUF may be a bit higher than the jets.

The AFC South will likely have HOU at the helm and though I was originally thinking IND would have a sophomoric slump, it's hard to see why they should as their staff have made many commendable moves with personnel. TEN and JAC appear to be a bit stagnant, though I think JAC will rise above TEN this year.

With the AFC West, DEN appears to be in control, though KC may make the worst to first leap this season. I was thinking along the same lines for SD, but their pace of improvement w/personnel has been crawling along, thus I think OAK will not be in the cellar this year and SD will be looking up at everyone.

In the NFC West, SF is the team to beat and looks like SEA will do just that this year. STL and ARI are unfortunately in the toughest division in the NFL and will be looking to stay out of the cellar.

ATL has taken small steps to get better each year, maybe this year they are Super Bowl bound. CAR has too many holes to fill, NO will hopefully regroup this year with a better record and TB with a stout secondary will look to be playoff bound this year for the NFC South

MIN was surprising at times last year and look to continue their rise. DET was disappointing and should continue to fall, but they'll still be above CHI and GB will be king of the hill

PHI will be the most interesting team to watch, at least in the beginning, WAS may have a rough start w/o QB Griffen, so the Giants will still be wafting in that 2yr old SB win, but DAL will have to be the doormat for the NFC East.

We'll see what comes true...

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