Let the games finally begin (Part 1)

By Gary Norris Gray, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: September 8, 2010

CALIFORNIA (BASN) — All NFL teams can no longer hide players nor can they say it’s just a preseason game starting this Thursday, Sunday, and Monday it’s for real.

We thank to fellow BASN writer Michael Louis Ingram who provided all of the stats on quarterbacks in the NFL in his article “2010 NFL Black and Fiction”, a mini-series on the dirth of African American quarterbacks.

Of the 32 teams in the National Football League, each team employs an average of three quarterbacks each year that totals between 90 and 100 quarterbacks.

Only 15 are Black quarterbacks with four starters. The numbers have drastically dropped the last five years, the question should be asked why?

Let’s take a look at the National Football Conference.

EAST

1. The Dallas Cowgirls (Oh, sorry..) Dallas Cowboys still have to prove to many football fans that they can win the big games.

This is the most under-achieving team of the decade. This could be the make it or break it year for them. Tony Romo being Tony Romo, must be the real general of this team. The question remains — Does he have the skills? The offensive line must also keep him upright. Rookie WR Dez Bryant is the future, but he to has to stay on the field. RB Marion Barber has to run more and WR Miles Austin might have to catch for miles and miles for Dallas to win this year. The defense must step up this season. They were M.I.A. during their 2-2 preseason and injuries plagued them this summer. The media has given them a pass because the Super Bowl will be played in their house. Prove it, Dallas!! Prove that you are Super Bowl worthy. Prove that you are Super Bowl winners. Until then the Cowboys are just the Cowboys.

2. The Washington Football Club could be the most improved team in the East. Now if they could only change that awful name. Head Coach Mike Shanahan needs to stop playing mind games with their best defensive player, Albert Haynesworth.

Sometimes goading people can backfire. I hope this is not one of those times. He’s had has a history of this kind of behavior with the Raiders and Broncos. Former division rival QB Donovan McNabb will have something to prove as he attempts to become the second Black quarterback to win the Super Bowl. The Washington Football Club could provide the means to achieve this goal. Larry Johnson might be a surprise in the backfield. Could it be another all star named L.J.? The Washington Football Club sure hope so.Wide receiver Santana Moss catching McNabb’s passes could be the star of this show. Running back Clinton Portis must have another monster year for Washington to improve as well.

3. The Philadelphia Eagles will end up starting Mike Vick at quarterback after Kevin Kolb gets sacked a few times and the Eagles lose three games in a row. Philly gave away Bryant Westbrook and McNabb with very little in return. They now have very big holes to fill this year. Former Golden Bear J.J. Arrington should lead the Green Birds this year. K David Akers will help pin down opponents in their end zone with his kickoffs.

4. The New York Giants may want to be in any other division but this one. The younger Manning brother, Eli still misses all star wide receiver Plaxico Burress. The defense will play now and don’t have to worry about coach’s terrible decisions on the bench. Former SIU Saluki RB Brandon Jacobs must step up to the form of three years ago. I love TE Kevin Boss and his moves. He is so big now you can’t miss him.

NORTH

1. In regards to the Minnesota Vikings, let’s get the Favre issue out of the way. Brett should retire. If the offensive line holds, Favre might do well. But if Brett gets hit a few times, Tavaris Jackson might be taking his place. Running Back Adrian Peterson must keep the pressure off Favre.

2. The Green Bay Packers could win the division with former Cal Bear, Aaron Rodgers who has improved over the years and has shown the league and Favre what he is made of. Some have picked Green Bay to be the NFC representative to this year’s Super Bowl. Fullback Quinn Johnson could be the surprise man in yellow and green. Watch for No. 88, rookie TE Jermichael Finley, who will make some outstanding catches this year.

3. The Chicago Bears were a big disappointment last year. Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? It is very disturbing that a franchise has to depend on such an erratic leader. Tight end Desmond Clark has to take the ball out of Cutler’s hands. The Bears must go back to a strong running game, like the old Monsters of the Midway. This could be the make or break year for head coach Lovie Smith, it may not seem fair but that is the NFL.

4. The Detroit Lions still have a very long way to go. The past two years they started on the right road with great draft choices. Quarterback Shan Hill might get a chance but the job belongs to third year man Matthew Stafford. Another former Cal Bear running back Jahvid Best should shine in the Motor City.

SOUTH

1. This division might belong to the New Orleans Saints but don’t tell the Atlanta Falcons. This should be a two team tussle. The Saints with non-union supporter, Drew Brees look to repeat. The media still glosses over this pass event. Running back Reggie Bush might be preoccupied with the NCAA-USC investigations and Pierre Thomas may have to take the heat off Bush in order for New Orleans to move on in the playoffs. The Giants still miss Jeremy Shockley at tight end.

The Saints defense will carry them most games.

2. The Atlanta Falcons could be the most interesting team in this division. Matt Ryan will settle in as quarterback with John Parker Wilson may not be far behind.

I love the Northern Illinois Huskie Michael Turner. Backup Jerious Norwood running will light a fire under the Dirty Birds. This is the dark horse in the NFC to win this division.

3. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may pass the Carolina Panthers this year in the standings with the coaching style of Raheem Morris. Let’s all hope the organization gives Coach Morris a chance to stabilize this franchise.

The Bucs have clarified who will be the starting quarterback with the emergence of Josh Freeman. 4. The Carolina Panthers are lucky to be in the South Division. They are starting from scratch at the position of quarterback. The league is pushing first round draft choice Jimmy Clausen. Matt Moore will guide this team until Clausen is ready. They also have a very young backfield and they are all on a severe learning curve.

WEST

1. The San Francisco 49ers, 4-0 in preseason, look like the team that has improved the most this summer. Michael Crabtree must come to the camp ready to play. Alex Smith will be the starter at quarterback. Many football experts wonder if David Carr might be a better fit for the 49ers offense. The Niners will be in shape at the start of this season with Mike Singletary’s hard training system.

Bryant Westbrook will help Frank Gore in the backfield. Adding K Joe Nedney was a stroke of genius as he can teach younger guys the game. This club will be a hybrid with the combination of the high flying west coast offense and the smashmouth Chicago Bear running offense, a tough combination to defend.

2. The Seattle Seahawks think maybe they have found a home in the NFC West. They are the orphan child of the league bouncing from one conference to the other. Seattle is a team in transition with new head coach Pete Carroll from USC.

He will invoke the running game in the northwest. It will be USC north in a few years. Will veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck last another season? Watch out for youngster Charlie Whitehurst to take his place if Hasselbeck cannot finish the season. Former Cal Bear, Justin Forsett will have to help Hasselbeck. The rebuilding has already begun in Seattle. With Carroll as head coach, the Hawks will improve on defense, but not enough to win this division in 2010.

3. The Arizona Cardinals have serious quarterback problems. Matt Leinart was a bust and was released during training camp. Former Browns QB Derek Anderson has to step up and direct the team now. Max Hall might be a better fit for this team in the future. RB Tim Hightower will prove that he is being underpaid. ‘Zona has lost too many weapons to win this division.

4. The St. Louis Rams were last in everything last year. Don’t expect anything to change this year. No. 1 overall Sam Bradford has been tabbed as the starting QB. Reserve Thaddeus Lewis needs to either get traded or released to show his skills. Running backs Steven Jackson and Mike Karney need to carry the ball more to relieve the rookie. They also have a very young receiving corp that will grow with Bradford. The future is looking a lot brighter for the struggling Rams.

NEXT: A look at the AFC.