NFL Ducks: Pushing for the Playoffs
As the current Oregon football team begins preparing for their showdown against the Texas Longhorns (whose coach, Mack Brown, is expected to resign after the Valero Alamo Bowl), college football has entered the elongated calm before the storm of bowl games. The weekly rhythm of the football season has come to a halt, and many are left with an unfamiliar void in their lives as a result.
Also, the NFL regular season is entering the final stretch, so it is as good a time as any to check in with our beloved football “#producks” and see how they have fared.
Throughout the season, and perhaps more than ever in 2013, Duck fans have had been able to supplement their weekly football consumption by tuning into the games played on Sundays with a genuine interest, despite not having a local NFL franchise. With over 30 former Ducks currently on NFL rosters, many of these former Oregon players are thriving at the next level. Some are key contributors and role players to their teams, while others are playing at an all-pro level.
Here are the players who have my vote for NFL Duck MVPs, if such awards were handed out:
MVP Offense: Kellen Clemens – The former QB from Burns, OR, has been more fun than anyone to watch on offense, and simply because he touches the ball on virtually every play. Clemens has been in the league since 2006, but is getting his most extended playing time right now in St. Louis. Sure, he’s on a bad team, but because of a dominating defensive line, the Rams are at least competitive. If you haven’t managed to see Clemens in action, I recommend tuning in. He still has a live arm and he uses his mobility to his advantage in extending plays or just taking off and running with it.
MVP Defense: Kiko Alonso – While a serious argument could be made for T. J. Ward in Cleveland, Kiko Alonso is a virtual lock for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, at this point. Add in the ever-growing “Legend of Kiko Alonso” among Bills fans, the former Rose Bowl MVP has become a certified star in the professional ranks. His staggering production is a bit of a painful reminder of what the Ducks have been missing on defense this year.
MVP special teams: LeGarrette Blount – The New England Patriots have been one of the most dominant franchises for more than a decade, and, if head coach Bill Belichick makes a decision, there’s probably a good reason for it. At face value, his decision to move the 6-foot-2, 260-pound LeGarrette Blount to kick returner might seem unusual, but Blount has proven to be consistent and productive at more than just the running back position. Because of his overall production, he gets the nod over fellow special teams standouts LaMichael James and Drew Davis.
Overall, several former Oregon players have made an impact for their teams, and most remain in the playoff picture. All told at this point, 25 of the 32 total (78.1%) are still in position to hoist the Lombardi trophy at the end of the season.
Here is a look at each team and player. Player season stat totals are listed in parenthesis.
Clinched playoff berth:
Seattle Seahawks (11-2) -
Max Unger, C (Starting center); Walter Thurmond III, CB (31 tackles, 2 tfl, 1 sack, 1 forced fum, 1 fum rec, 1 int, 1 td, 6 pass def)
New England Patriots (10-3) -
LeGarrette Blount, RB (102 carries, 460 yards, 3 tds; 1 rec, 4 yards; 15 kick ret, 349 yards)
Denver Broncos (11-2) –
John Boyett, S (PS)
In the hunt/needs help:
Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) -
Geoff Schwartz, OG (Starting rotation)
San Francisco 49ers (9-4) -
LaMichael James, RB (10 carries, 37 yards; 1 rec, 2 yards; 13 pr, 135 yards; 7 kr, 187 yards); Adam Snyder, OG (Starter)
Carolina Panthers (9-4) -
Kenjon Barner, RB (6 car, 7 yards; 2 rec, 7 yards); Brandon Williams, TE (PS); Jonathan Stewart, RB (48 car, 180 yards; 7 rec, 44 yards)
Arizona Cardinals (8-5) -
Kenny Rowe, (PS) OLB
Philadelphia Eagles (8-5) -
Patrick Chung, S (26 tackles, 1 fum rec, 3 pass def); Brandon Bair, (PS) DE; Jeff Maehl, WR (4 rec, 67 yards, 1 td); Casey Matthews, LB (9 tackles, 1 fum rec, pass def); Will Murphy WR (PS)
Dallas Cowboys (7-6) -
Darrion Weems, OT (Played)
Chicago Bears (7-6) -
Kyle Long, OG (Starting guard); Dante Rosario, TE (1 rec, 14 yards)
Miami Dolphins (7-6) -
Dion Jordan, DE (18 tackles, 2 sacks); Josh Kaddu, LB (PS)
Baltimore Ravens (7-6) -
Ed Dickson, TE (18 rec, 219 yards, 1 td); Haloti Ngata, DT (34 tackles, 2 tfl)
New York Giants (5-8) -
Spencer Paysinger, LB (57 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fum rec)
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) -
David Paulson, TE (5 rec, 72 yards)
Literally or Virtually Eliminated:
St. Louis Rams (5-8) -
Kellen Clemens, QB (91/172 52.9% 1,200 yards 5 td, 5 int; 14 car, 57 yards)
Buffalo Bills (4-9) -
Kiko Alonso, LB (131 tackles, 11 tfl, 2 sack, 2 forced fum, 1 fum rec, 4 ints, 8 pass def); Mark Asper, OL (rotation); Jairus Byrd, S (37 tackles, 1 sack, 4 int, 6 pass def)
Cleveland Browns (4-9) -
T.J. Ward, S (92 tackles, 8 tfl, 1.5 sack,2 int, 1 td, 8 pass Def)
Atlanta Falcons (3-10) -
Drew Davis, WR (9 rec, 146 yards, 2 tds; 13 tackles – special teams)
Houston Texans (2-11) -
Eddie Pleasant, S (15 tackles, 2 pass def)
PS – Practice Squad • RES – Injured Reserve • PUP – Active/Physically Unable to Perform