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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Weekend Brings Moments of Redemption for the NBA and Drew Bledsoe

The Buffalo Bills beat the St. Louis Rams 37-17 Sunday on the strong play of their special teams.

Mark Campbell caught three touchdowns, baffling the Rams defense and fantasy football owners everywhere. The Bills advance to 4-6 and give folks in upstate New York something to cheer about this week.

Bledsoe, who I have given up on, finished 15 of 24 for 185 yards and one interception. The three touchdowns were the most Bledsoe's thrown since he had three in Buffalo's 38-21 win over Miami on Dec. 1, 2002.

Yet as happy as I am for the win, Bledsoe did not play as well as his statistics imply. On a number of occasions, Bledsoe passes were either under- or over-thrown, and sometimes the quarterback's decisions were suspect.

When Sam Aiken had two steps on a Rams defender, Bledsoe's long ball was underthrown, forcing the receiver to slow down for the catch; it was a long completion that should have been a touchdown.

Eric Moulds and Drew Bledsoe seemed to be out of sync with each other, with catchable balls hitting the ground, costing the Bills a touchdown pass and nearly an interception.

Even when Bledsoe completed a pass, it seemed in many instances to be a good play on the part of the receiver, rather than an accurate throw by the quarterback.

This has been frustrating to watch all season long, and I have long wondered what the problem was.

I finally figured it out this past Sunday: Bledsoe's fundamentals are deteriorating.

Take a look at the two photos below, one of Bledsoe earlier in his career with the Patriots, and another from Sunday's game against the Rams.

Pay special attention to Bledsoe's shoulders and feet.

Good passing requires good balance, with the quarterback's lead foot pointed at his target, allowing for greater velocity and accuracy. Each drop back has a rhythm all its own.

In the older photo, Bledsoe is showing good form. He is planting his right foot into the ground before releasing the pass, shifting his weight to his left, and forward foot, as he releases the ball. This shows good balance, and increases the chance for the quarterback to complete the pass.

In Sunday's photo, Bledsoe does not seem to be playing with the right kind of footwork. His shoulders and feet are equidistant to the receiver, making it harder for him to maintain optimum balance. Because his feet are side by side, Bledsoe is shifts his weight to the back of both feet, and putting his elbows out of position to throw the ball. This puts more pressure on his arm to throw a fast and accurate pass, and often leads to problems downfield.

Bledsoe still has a great arm, but not good enough to play with bad mechanics in the NFL.

With this minor detail in his passing motion, Bledsoe's passes continue to sail over- and under-thrown, causing unnecessary incompletions and interceptions.

It is a testament to his arm and grit that he was able to throw three touchdowns Sunday. He truly is a special athlete and a gifted quarterback. He made a lot of good decisions and managed the game well.

But from a technique point of view, Bledsoe threw off his back foot almost every time Sunday afternoon. He's been doing that a lot lately.

The good news is that it seems to be an easy thing to fix.

The bad news is that he doesn't have a whole lot of time to do it.

The NBA did the right thing.

On Saturday, the NBA suspended Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson of the Indiana Pacers and Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons indefinitely for their participation in Friday's brawl with fans, and each other.

Artest was suspended for the rest of the season, and nine players overall were banned for more than 140 games, including some of the harshest penalties the league ever issued.

The NBA made the right choice, as Friday's incident was a black eye on the sport. I probably would have suspended some of the other players longer, but I applaud the league for the steps it has taken.

Hopefully, by the time the NBA finals come around, the league will have put this shameful incident behind it.