Sports Outside the Beltway

10 Best NFL Quarterbacks

Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders ranks all 32 teams at quarterback using some highly scientific formula. Actually, though, he’s mostly ranking the top 32 presumptive starting quarterbacks, since the backups barely factor into the equation.

His top 10, then:

1. Colts (2006 Rank: 1)

If you lumped together all of Peyton Manning‘s third down pass attempts from the last three seasons, you would get this stat line: 243-of-384 (63.3%), 2889 yards, 38 touchdowns, eight interceptions. The dude is pretty good on third downs.

Take four years of Peyton’s fourth quarter performances and add them together to get this stat line: 304-of-454 (66.9 percent), 3,589 yards, 22 touchdowns, 10 interceptions. He’s pretty good late in the game, too. If you are only interested in “late clutch” situations (fourth quarter, game within seven points), Peyton is 229-of-335 (68.3 percent) for 2,768 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He’s not too shabby with the game on the line.

In short, Manning is the guy you want to give the ball to in pressure situations. The “playoff choke artist” isn’t dead; he never existed. The Peyton Manning we saw in January and February — the guy who battled back from a 21-3 lead in the AFC title game against the Team of the Decade, who threw for 247 yards against the league’s best defense in the rain-drenched Super Bowl — is an all-time great, a legend in his prime.

Jim Sorgi has been in the system for four years and has looked good in mop-up duty. John Navarre provides much needed preseason comic relief as the third stringer.

(Note: Manning naysayers should email their complaints to me at, not Aaron Schatz or Rupert Murdoch.)

2. Patriots (2006 Rank: 2)

Fourteen wins. Twenty-four touchdowns. Over 3,500 yards. Another 724 yards and five touchdowns in the postseason. Welcome to an off year, Tom Brady style. When Brady comes within four points of reaching the Super Bowl, he’s a disappointment. With three rings on his fingers and a new crop of receivers to throw to this season, he’s sure to find a way to bounce back in 2007.

Brady is best in the league at spraying the ball to his backs and tight ends in space, and he has the best pocket awareness since Troy Aikman. Only Peyton is better at dissecting and dismantling coverage schemes. Some micro-analysts think he can’t throw the deep ball. Just wait until Brady sees Randy Moss and Donte Stallworth streaking down the sidelines. He’ll show you a deep ball.

Backup Matt Cassel has been with the Patriots so long that he once fumbled in Nickerson Stadium. In a preseason game, of course. Cassel is a swashbuckling scrambler with a case of fumble-itis, but he knows the system. Rookie Matt Gutierrez posted marginal numbers at I-AA Idaho State but has NFL size and arm strength.

3. Eagles (2006 Rank: 8)

Donovan McNabb surprised many by participating in a May mini-camp; it was an encouraging sign that he is ahead of schedule in his ACL rehab. McNabb underwent a grueling off-season program of knee exercises that included, among other things, long games of tag. Yes, as in “you’re it.” Don’t laugh; children’s games can help athletes improve the strength and flexibility in their legs. In fact, legend has it that Dan Marino overcame his collegiate knee injuries by riding the Double Dutch Bus.

When healthy, McNabb is an elite quarterback. He’s great at launching deep passes, but he’s even better when the Eagles offense is balanced and he has the chance to throw underneath. McNabb underthrows some passes and is starting to lose his scrambling ability, but he’s a great decision maker in the pocket and one of the hardest quarterbacks in NFL history for players not named Ronde Barber to intercept.

McNabb has missed 13 starts in the last two seasons and is coming off a major injury. Luckily, the Eagles have the best quarterback depth in the NFL. A.J. Feeley is an Andy Reid disciple who knows the system and takes what the defense offers. Rookie Kevin Kolb is a shotgun quarterback with great touch and mobility; the Lewin Career Forecast ranks him as an excellent long-term prospect. Kelly Holcomb, acquired in the Takeo Spikes trade, may be the odd man out, but he’s a heady veteran who can win a game or two if called upon.

4. Bengals (2006 Rank: 6)

As Carson Palmer continues to recover from that devastating ACL injury, the Bengals could move up this list. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

Carson Palmer slipped a bit after his tremendous 2005 season. The lingering effects of his ACL tear troubled him early in the season, and injuries on the offensive line resulted in 36 sacks. Still, 4,000 yards and a 28/13 touchdown-to-interception ratio are nothing to apologize for. Palmer may have the quickest release in football and excels at throwing deep outs and comebacks. He also knows how to check down and can buy time in the pocket. The Bengals would rank third, but mediocre backup Doug Johnson and rookie Jeff Rowe wouldn’t win many games in Palmer’s absence.

5. Seahawks (2006 Rank: 3)

You may have seen Matt Hasselbeck sporting a blonde wig during mini-camp. Do not be alarmed. Hasselbeck and Mike Holmgren just had some communication issues. Holmgren said that the quarterback had to be more like Montana. Holmgren meant “Joe.” Hasselbeck thought he meant “Hannah.”

After suffering through his worst season in five years, Hasselbeck probably felt the need to wear a disguise and lay low. Hasselbeck missed four games with a knee injury, then started forcing balls into coverage when he returned. Dropped passes and instability on the offensive line didn’t help. Hasselbeck is healthy again (the minor off-season surgery on his non-throwing shoulder is not an issue), so look for him to return to form as soon as he loses the wig. He’s a consummate West Coast quarterback who breaks down coverages well and puts tremendous touch on the ball.

Backup Seneca Wallace is a 5-foot-10 scrambler with an average arm. Mike Holmgren changes the offense when Wallace is in the game, calling more shotgun formations and rolling pocket plays. Despite his physical limits, Wallace has a little bit of Flutie Magic and can surprise opponents.

6. Saints (2006 Rank: 10)

He’s short. His passes don’t exactly whistle in the air. He can run a little, but he’s no Michael Vick. He came from the type of spread college offense that has been churning out NFL busts for two decades. Drew Brees‘ measurables don’t add up to a Pro Bowl quarterback, but here he is. Brees has now enjoyed three straight outstanding seasons for two different teams, so it’s time to give him his due. Brees is a mechanically sound technician with great touch and accuracy who has good pocket awareness and gets rid of the ball quickly. Combine all of those “little” skills, and you get 4,400 yards, 26 touchdowns, and a deep playoff run.

Backup Jamie Martin has been in the NFL for 13 seasons, most of them as a third stringer. He’s auditioning for an offensive coordinator’s job. Second-year pro Jason Fife is a project.

7. Rams (2006 Rank: 17)

Another year, another 4,000 yards or so and 24 touchdowns. Bulger may be the most consistent quarterback in the league. He rarely has a truly bad game, and when he does (like last season’s 151-yard, zero touchdown, seven-sack effort against the Panthers), it’s pretty obvious that there were breakdowns elsewhere on offense. If Rex Grossman could take Marc Bulger pills, Bears fans wouldn’t need so much ibuprofen to get through the fall.

Backup Gus Frerotte is a streak shooter with a great arm and tons of experience. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a fleet-footed Ivy Leaguer who throws well on the run. Neither could lead the Rams to the playoffs, but both could win a game in a pinch.

8. Steelers (2006 Rank: 4)

He led his team to a 15-1 season. He won a Super Bowl. Then he turned 24. He accomplished so much that it was easy to forget how young Ben Roethlisberger was. He crashed his motorcycle. He needed an appendectomy. He battled back, but he couldn’t overcome the distractions and the expectations. He was awful early in 2006, throwing no touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first three games. He got better, but he kept pressing. Roethlisberger was a terrible fourth quarter passer in 2006: four touchdowns, 11 interceptions, many of the picks coming at the worst possible times. He was trying too hard, playing outside the system. It was a miserable year.

Now, the good news: Big Ben is healthy and focused. The new coaching staff plans to maximize his strengths by introducing more spread formations and a no-huddle package. And he’s still only 25 years old. Think of last season as his “rookie lumps” year. He just had it out of order.

Backup Charlie Batch has a poor arm and has lost much of his athleticism, but he’s crafty and played well in relief over the last two seasons. Brian St. Pierre has been hanging around practice squads for four years. Brian Randall, a former standout at Virginia Tech, will try to make some noise in camp.

9. Ravens (2006 Rank: 12)

Steve McNair is Captain Checkdown, a dink-and-dunk specialist who never met a slant, hitch, or curl route that he didn’t like. McNair still has the arm to throw deep but rarely does; just 13 percent of his passes traveled 16 or more yards in the air, easily the lowest figure among starters. McNair is a marksman on short routes, and while he isn’t very fast, he knows when to tuck and run for positive yardage.

Backup Kyle Boller has plenty of experience, throws a great deep ball, and can run away from trouble. Boller played well when McNair was hurt last year but still overthrows too many receivers. Rookie Troy Smith has all the intangibles but must prove that he is more than a shotgun-option rollout quarterback.

10. Chargers (2006 Rank: 22)

Philip Rivers finished fifth in the league in DPAR (88.6), threw for 3,388 yards, and led his teams to a 14-2 record. Still, his performances against the Raiders in Week 12 (14-of-31, 133 yards, one interception) and Chiefs in Week 15 (8-of-23, 97 yards, two interceptions) suggest that Rivers is still suffering through some growing pains. New coach Norv Turner will focus on fundamentals to improve Rivers’ awkward backpedal and delivery style. But Turner’s system lacks creativity, and Rivers may struggle when opponents figure out the game plan. Backup Billy Volek went from heir apparent to dirty dishrag in Tennessee in just a few weeks last year. Volek has a live arm and has proven he can win games off the bench.

11. Cowboys (2006 Rank: 21)

Tony Romo is no half-year wonder. Romo spent three years on the Cowboys bench learning the ropes from Sean Payton before bursting into the spotlight last October. When he’s focused, his mechanics are solid, his release is quick, he makes good decisions, and he can make plays on the run. Focus, though, is the key. By December, Romo seemed to be reading his press clippings; he started scrambling around in search of highlight-film touchdowns and carrying the football like it was an overfilled diaper pail. With a season to settle into his role as a starter, Romo will calm down and return to the form he displayed during his nine-touchdown, one-interception November run.

Backup Brad Johnson aged quickly last year. He’s a fine sounding board and mentor for Romo, but the Cowboys are in trouble if he plays.

Okay, so that’s 11. But I wasn’t going to leave the ‘Boys off the list when they were so close! Moving up 11 spots over last year is quite impressive, especially considering that Romo fell apart down the stretch and single handedly (quite literally) lost the Cowboys’ playoff game against the Seahawks.

The other 21 teams are rated at the link.


Yanks hanging on to prospects

Especially Phil and Joba -

Two vitally important players to the Yankees’ future are pitchers Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. The Yankees’ unwillingness to part with either will have ramifications before the trading deadline next Tuesday.

Without giving up Hughes or Chamberlain, the Yankees will probably have no chance to acquire first baseman Mark Teixeira from the Texas Rangers. General Manager Brian Cashman is closely guarding both players, so there is a greater chance that they will affect the Yankees on their own than through a deal.

Hughes started for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, throwing six shutout innings, allowing two hits, striking out seven and throwing 73 pitches in a 4-0 victory over Louisville. He is tentatively scheduled for one more start as he recovers from hamstring and ankle injuries.

Hughes will rejoin the Yankees as soon as he is ready, replacing Kei Igawa in the rotation. The question is whether Chamberlain will eventually join him in New York.

Continued here.

If Joba does join the big club, I don’t want him as a reliever. I just don’t trust Torre to use him effectively and efficiently. He’ll either ride the bench for weeks (ala Edwar Ramirez) or be used every other day (ala Everyday Scott Proctor).


Fantasy Football Sleepers

Trainig Camp is about to start and that means that Fantasy Football drafts all around the world are going on. We all pretty much know how the first bunch of picks are going to go (Tomlinson, Jackson, Johnson, Gore, Alexander, Manning…) but what’s left after those guys? Who can be had later that can produce high round talent? I’ll clue you in to some of my sleeper picks this season. This doesn’t mean you should go out and draft these guys right away or try to get each one but these are guys you should keep on your radar.

QB – Matt Leinart (ARI) – After putting up decent numbers as a rookie, especially with the bad line in front of him, he should rise up as one of the best young QBs in the NFL. His stats last year (2547yds, 11/12 TD/INT ratio, 2 rushing TDs, and 2 fumbles lost) weren’t anything to write home about but he was a rookie. He has talented recievers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and a RB that can make grabs out of the backfield in Edgerrin James. The Cardinals will be a surprise team and the improved defense will give the offense enough clock to make plays. Look for Leinart to be a top 10 QB this season. Also, take a long look at Jay Cutler (DEN). Don’t be surprised if Jon Kitna (DET), J.P. Losman (BUF), and Matt Schaub (HOU) have good years as well. Keep a late pick eye on those guys.

RB – Laurence Maroney (NE) – Now that Cory Dillon is out of the picture Maroney is the starter every week for the Pats. He is also a high reward/high risk guy. He wore down late in the year and had offseason shoulder surgery. Don’t let that scare you. He wants to be great and he should be nothing less. The Pats offense is going to flourish this year and Maroney will be a big part of it. He is #1 RB that you might be able to get as your #2.

RB – Ronnie Brown (MIA) – Brown is often overlooked because he barely cracked 1,000 yards (1,008 to be exact) but he did it by only starting 12 games and missing 3 games. Trent Green is the new QB in Miami and loves to dump the ball of to the RB and Brown has the hands to be a 40-50 reception back. He has added bulk to go along with his outside speed. Just be careful of injuries. This could be the year he breaks out as a top-10 back. Also keep an eye on Brandon Jacobs (NYG) and rookies Marshawn Lynch (BUF) and Green Bay RB Brandon Jackson.

WR – Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis (PHI) – Donte Stallworth is now in New England and the Eagles will have a healthy Donovan McNabb. That formula paves the way for breakout seasons from both Brown and Curtis. I wouldn’t fo so far as to say that either will become #1 fantasy options because McNabb ill spread the ball well between those two plus RB Brian Westbrook and TE L.J. Smith. They should both top 60 receptions and grab atleast 14yds/rec with enough TDs to make them viable options at #2 and #3 on your team. I would also take a good look at Brandon Marshall (DEN), Drew Bennett (STL), Santonio Holmes (PIT), and Brandon Jones (TEN).

TE – Vernon Davis (SF) – Davis is a beast! He is so athletic. He has the speed of some recievers, the hands of the top TEs, and the power to lay out defenders. He could end up being Alex Smith’s numero uno target. He is a, dare I say it, more athletic version of Antonio Gates. If Davis doesn’t have a break-out season then I will be incredibly surprised. These TEs should provide good value late in the draft: Marcus Pollard (SEA) and Tony Scheffier (DEN).

Again, don’t reach too far for these guys. Let them fall to you at a good spot and grab them then. Try to keep to your own plan and if one of these guys falls in your lap then jump at the opportunity, that’s what fantasy sports is all about, getting value with each pick. That’s how I’ve won the trophy each of the last 2 years in my league!

-Jonathan C. Mitchell


Move over Michelle Wie Part II

Kimberly Kim again proves she may be the best teenage Korean-American golfer.

Kimberly Kim shot 10-under 62 Monday in the first round of stroke play at the U.S. Girls’ Junior to etch her name in the USGA record books once again.

Kim’s score tied Christina Kim for the lowest 18-hole score in a USGA girls’ or women’s championship. Last year, Kimberly Kim became the youngest winner in U.S. Women’s Amateur history at 14 years old.

Kimberly Kim had 10 birdies and no bogeys Monday at the par-72, 6,391-yard Tacoma Country & Golf Club in Lakewood, Wash.

“I was telling my dad that I’ve been hitting really bad and putting really bad, so don’t expect anything,” she said. “But today I played really good. I just played really solid the whole round. I don’t know what it was, but everything just seemed to work out.”

She shot 31 on each side, making four birdies on the front nine and six on the back nine, including four in her final five holes. Kim’s score was the lowest of the day by six shots. Three players, including Golfweek’s top-ranked junior Mina Harigae, finished at 4 under.

Christina Kim shot 62 in the second round of stroke play at the 2001 U.S. Girls’ Junior, at the time setting the record for lowest score in any USGA championship. Billy Horschel broke that with a 60 in the first round of last year’s U.S. Amateur.

This golf nut didn’t even know about Horschel’s round. Kimberly was last year’s US amateur champ at age fourteen. She already has a very impressive record. Again you have to wonder if K2 is the future Korean-American superstar on the LPGA Tour rather than the much more heralded Michelle Wie. Kimberly can definitely play in addition to be much more low key than Michelle(She lists sleeping as a hobby!) and without the drama.(Questionable withdrawals, overbearing father, Firing a caddy through an agent)

A look at the Junior Girls leaderboard sees names like- Kristen Park, Stephanie Kim, Michelle Shin, Sue Kim, Stacey Kim. It won’t just be the ROK supplying the LPGA with players named Kim in five or more years.

Note- Michelle is supposed to be playing at the Evian Masters beginning Thursday. I really think Michelle needs a long break from golf to alllow her wrist(s) to heal.


Joba and Kennedy promoted, Clemens strong

The Yanks top two pitching prospects were promoted from double-A Trenton to triple-A Scranton. They’re now just one step from the Bronx. Tyler Clippard and Chase Wright were demoted to make room.

As for the big Yankees -

It is hard to think of any series with the Kansas City Royals as a significant test. But facts are facts, and when they faced the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium on Monday, the Royals were coming off series victories on the road against Boston and Detroit, the teams with the two best records in the majors.

“We watch the scoreboard,” Yankees Manager Joe Torre said, “and they’ve been playing good teams very tough.”

That might be true, but there was not much evidence in this game. The Yankees thumped the Royals, 9-2, behind seven strong innings from Roger Clemens.

The Yankees have won 9 of their past 11 games and have scored 47 runs in their past three games. They gave Clemens a 4-0 lead in the second inning and he protected it, allowing four hits and striking out three.

The victory was the 351st of Clemens’s career, or 100 more than the combined career total of all of the Royals’ pitchers.

Continued here.


Pro Bowl Honors Overrated

A Todd Archer Dallas Cowboys training camp preview contained a line that brought to mind one of my pet peeves: “[Center Andre] Gurode broke through last year, earning a Pro Bowl spot.”

Now, it’s true that Gurode broke through last year and that he went to the Pro Bowl. Whether he “earned” it is an open question. The problem is that nowadays going to the Pro Bowl is a lot less prestigious than it once was and players, especially those who have been before, often come up with any excuse to get out of it. As a consequence, a good chuck of the roster is filled with second and third alternates. Gurode was such a case: He wasn’t on the Pro Bowl roster when it was announced or for several weeks thereafter; he was a last minute replacement.

Another problem with the game is that, especially for positions where no statistical measure of performance exists, the same guys tend to go year after year even when they’re long past their prime. Future Hall of Famer Larry Allen will be named to the Pro Bowl every year until he retires, even though his days of greatness ended years ago. Ditto current Cowboy Flozell Adams, who can barely stay healthy.

It may just be time to call the whole thing off. Name a Pro Bowl and an All-Pro roster at the end of the season — or, better yet, after the Super Bowl — to create some buzz and to anoint the year’s best players. But let’s not have the game, which most of us have long since stopped watching. That way, the fifth alternate center doesn’t get to claim that he was a “Pro Bowl” player.


Bedard’s standard

Dan Haren – Game Scores > 75 – 1 / Avg Game Score – 60 / Best 3 game stretch – 216
Johann Santanna – Game Scores > 75 – 3 / Avg Game Score – 59 / Best 3 game stretch – 196
Jeremy Guthrie – Game Scores > 4 – 5 / Avg Game Score – 61.7 / Best 3 game stretch – 213
Mark Buehrle – Game Scores > 75 – 2 / Avg Game Score – 57 / Best 3 game stretch – 208
Erik Bedard – Game Scores > 75 – 7 / Avg Game Score – 61 / Best 3 game stretch – 253
John Lackey – Game Scores > 75 – 1 / Avg Game Score – 55 / Best 3 game stretch – 197
Chad Gaudin – Game Scores > 75 – 2 Avg Game Score 51 Best 3 game stretch – 196
Justin Verlander – Game Scores > 75 – 2 / Avg Game Score – 57.5 / Best 3 game stretch – 216
Josh Beckett – Game Scores > 75 – 1 / Avg Game Score – 57 / Best 3 game stretch – 197

(The number of Game Scores above 75; Average Game Score and best 3 game stretch for the current 10 leaders in AL ERA. Here’s a definition of game score. Game score is a measure of a pitcher’s dominance; 75 was an arbitrary cut off marking the best pitched games.)

Friday night’s game held some drama for Oriole ace Erik Bedard: He had a no-hitter through five innings again Oakland. But then

… Ellis, quickly ended the drama by hammering Bedard’s 1-0 pitch over the scoreboard in left field.

Left fielder Jay Payton raced back and looked as though he thought he might have a play for a second, but the ball disappeared into the seats. Bedard barely flinched, quickly turning to plate umpire Bruce Froemming to call for another ball before Ellis had even touched home.

The possible disappointment on missing out on a no-hitter, though, shouldn’t obscure a different truth.

Erik Bedard is having an incredible streak (and a fine season).

Over his last three games – 23 innings – he has allowed a single run, six hits and 5 walk. He has also struck out 33, saw his ERA drop by half a run and faced only 7 batters above the minimum. His dominance can be measured by the cumulative game score of 253 he has accumulated over those three starts.

So how has Bedard’s season compared with other leading pitchers in the American league? I isolated certain aspects of game score and Bedard ranks with the top pitchers in terms of dominance and consistency.

No other AL pitcher has dominated as Bedard has this year over a three game stretch. His average game score is not the highest – he’s had a few bad outings – but it is close the top – including a no -decision as recent as July 2. But he also has accumulated the greatest number of game scores 75 or greater among American league pitchers. The latest three game stretch may well mark a peak for him this year.

The Orioles are amazed.

In winning his fifth straight decision, Bedard, who is now 9-4 with a 3.12 ERA, allowed just Ellis’ home run and walked three while striking out 11. How dominant has Bedard been? In his past three outings, spanning 23 innings, Bedard has surrendered just one earned run and allowed only six hits. He also has struck out 33 batters during that span.

“What the guy is doing now, is he’s dominating,” Orioles interim manager Dave Trembley said. “He’s making it look easy. He’s throwing all his pitches for strikes. When he’s pitching, the guys know they have a chance to win.”

Hall of Famer, Jim Palmer is impressed too.

“I just think it’s an evolution of pitching three or four years and having overwhelming talent,” said Palmer, who has more wins (268) than any other Oriole. “There’s never been a doubt about that.”

(h/t Sox and Dawgs)

Cookin’ with Gas looks at the stats for more than a year and concludes

I think Erik Bedard has a darn good argument as one of the best five pitchers in MLB right now. In fact, the only one I see who is really better (when taking things such as league and park into effect) is Johan Santana.

Throughout the year Bedard has been one of the top strikeout pitchers. He currently leads in that category of Johann Santanna (by a significant margin). The Orioles may be having a disappointing season, but Bedard has been about as good as a pitcher could be.

There may not be much to root for at Camden Yards this year, however Erik Bedard’s continued success is great to see.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.

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Yanks score 38 runs in two games

17 last night, 21 today.

When the fourth inning was done — after the Yankees had batted around, after 10 runs had scored and it had taken 29 minutes to record three outs — the thrashing that led to the Yankees’ 21-4 victory over Tampa Bay yesterday was still not complete. The Devil Rays had barely dipped into their woeful bullpen at that point, so the Yankees had plenty of time to pad the lead in their latest laugher.

There would be a chance for Shelley Duncan, who made his major league debut Friday and who began the day as the designated hitter to give Johnny Damon a day off, to emerge as a minor folk hero. He belted two home runs, giving him three for his career. That is 495 fewer than Alex Rodriguez has.

A few minutes after Duncan took his second curtain call of the day in the sixth inning, Rodriguez smashed a pitch into the left-field seats at Yankee Stadium for his 34th home run this season and the 498th of his career. In the eighth inning, a two-run home run by Robinson Canó put the Yankees’ tally at 20.

By the time the Devil Rays wearily departed the Bronx, the Yankees had scored 45 runs in 28 hours, a monument to how efficiently even a team with significant issues can take advantage of the truly troubled. The 10 runs in the fourth were the most the Yankees had scored in an inning this season and the six home runs hit were the most they had hit in a game in two years.

Continued here.


Dallas Cowboys 100-Yard Rushers

Kickholder has a rather startling statistic: Julius Jones needs only three more 100-yard games to rank fourth on the Dallas Cowboys‘ all-time list.

While I think Jones has been unfairly maligned for his performance since joining the team, it’s not like he’s joined a team that hasn’t had it’s share of superb running backs. How could he already be closing in on fourth place all time after three seasons?

Here are the numbers Kickholder has compiled:

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Name No. Team Record %
Smith, Emmitt 76 57-19 75.00%
Dorsett, Tony 43 39-4 90.70%
Hill, Calvin 19 18-1 94.70%
Perkins, Don 10 4-5-1 40.00%
Walker, Herschel 9 5-4 55.56%
Jones, Julius 8 5-3 62.50%
Thomas, Duane 6 6-0 100.00%
Hambrink, Troy 5 3-2 60.00%
Newhouse, Robert 5 5-0 100.00%
Garrison, Walt 2 1-1 50.00%
Reeves, Dan 2 1-1 50.00%
Laidlaw, Scott 2 2-0 100.00%
Marsh, Amos 2 2-0 100.00%
Pearson, Preston 1 0-1 0.00%
Barber, Marion 1 1-0 100.00%
Palmer, Paul 1 1-0 100.00%
Warren, Chris 1 1-0 100.00%

Now, anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Cowboys would have guessed that Emmitt and TD would rank 1 and 2. That’s a given. TD was a first ballot Hall of Famer and Emmitt will join him the minute he’s eligible. And, as most know, Emmitt set the NFL career rushing title before going off to fame and fortune with his mad dancing skilz.

Herschel Walker didn’t play all that many games with the Cowboys, having spent his first few seasons in the USFL and then being traded off to the Vikings in the deal of the century. And, yeah, he shared carries with TD his first couple years. But, man, Hershel was a stud. And JJ has shared with MBIII the last couple of years, too.

Dan Reeves and Duane Thomas and Walt Garrison were pretty doggone good ball carriers in their day. And they played before the modern pass-happy era. But, sure enough, Julius already has more big days than they had.


British Open- With 18 holes to go, Sergio Garcia leads by three

Will the Spaniard nicknamed ‘El Nino’ finally win a major Championship?

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – The cheers grew louder as Sergio Garcia crossed the bridge over Barry Burn toward the 18th green at Carnoustie, a reception so warm it gave him chills. He removed his cap in a steady rain and soaked up the adulation. It was a scene fit for a coronation at the British Open.

For Garcia, the odds have never been better. He has never played better or felt so confident.

Garcia played close to perfection Saturday, a 3-under 68 that gave him a three-shot lead over Steve Stricker, with no one else closer than six shots. And while this will be the third time he has played in the final group at a major, there are two drastic differences.

Garcia finished off his bogey-free round with a 5-iron that never left the flag and sent him chasing after it, screaming out instructions with an intensity that showed he already knew the outcome.

“Oh, be good,” he said. “BE GOOD!”

It hopped onto the green and stopped 12 feet left the flag, and the only disappointment was having to settle for par.

Sergio’s play was near flawless yesterday. He only has one player within five shots of him. I think Sergio will pull off his first major today.

Stricker might have to match his record round to give Garcia a fight. He ran off three straight birdies at the start Saturday, and was equally impressive with four par saves at the end for a 64, the best score ever at Carnoustie during a British Open.


The 27-year-old Spaniard has held a 54-hole lead nine times in his career, and he has only converted five of them. Two years ago at the Wachovia Championship, he squandered a six-shot lead in the final round and lost in a playoff.

Sergio has had a history of near misses in major Championships. The 99 PGA Championship where he finished second to Tiger Woods after making a recovery shot from behind a tree was Sergio’s best chance to win a major previously.

Sergio also had his chances at the 2001, 2002 and 2005 US Opens. He finished in the top five at both last year’s British Open and PGA Championship.

Els, a three-time major champion, overcame a triple-bogey 8 on the easiest hole at Carnoustie to shoot a 68, leaving him in the large group at 3-under 210 that included Chris DiMarco (66), Padraig Harrington (68) and K.J. Choi (72).

These players are all good and capable of shooting a low number. But they would have to hope Sergio either falls back or plays par golf. If Sergio is under par today, he will win.

How about Tiger?

One guy Garcia won’t have to think about is Woods.

Trying to become the first player in more than 50 years to win the British Open three straight time, Woods beaned a 63-year-old woman in the head. It left her bandaged and bleeding, and Woods queasy at the sight of blood on the links.

He wound up with a 69, leaving him eight shots behind at 1-under 212. Woods has never won a major from behind, and only once has he made up an eight-shot deficit on the final day of any tournament — the 1998 Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand.

Tiger is out of it. Paul Lawrie came back from 10 shots behind at the 1999 British Open also played at Carnoustie. I don’t expect similar miracles today.


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