Friday, January 6, 2012

Then You Have to Catch It - Passing, Part 3

We've been talking about passing in football.  If watch NFL teams like the Green Packers and New Orleans Saints you almost feel sorry for the opponents as Rodgers and Brees throw the ball with almost supernatural accuracy. 

Then there is Indianapolis.  The Colts won just two games this season, two of a possible sixteen.  Worst record in the NFL.  This is the team that played in the Super Bowl in 2009.  Won fourteen games that year.  Won twelve in 2008, thirteen in 2007.  Ten in 2010.  And only two in 2011?  What happened?

If you're a fan at all you know the Colts have Peyton Manning as their quarterback.  One of the best in football.  Sometime in the 2010 season, Manning was injured.  He had surgery after the 2010 season and sat out 2011. 

And that has made all the difference. 

Loss of the passing attack led by a premier quarterback, devastated the team.  Brought them from one of the best to one of the worst. 

Two points - passing is important for success in the NFL.  And passing is difficult.  The ability to pass is part natural ability, part practice and practice and practice.  Peyton Manning has a brother, Eli, who plays for the Giants and is similarly talented.  They are sons of Archie Manning, who played quarterback in the NFL for fifteen years.  Guess what the Manning sons did for fun from the time they were born.  No wonder both Eli and Peyton are so great at passing the football.

In Women's Professional Football, very few quarterbacks have grown up throwing the football practically every day of their lives.  And that's what it takes to be a skilled passer.  Years of practice throwing, learning how hard to throw, how to lead a runner, how much loft to put on the ball. 

In the time I've been watching the Outlaws I've seen very few really effective passers.  Teams try to pass the ball but with inconsistent success.  Still, the passing has provided some wonderful photos.

This is one of my favorite shots of all.  I love the way football players go all out, exerting maximum effort, as they compete for the ball.  The effort is rarely more visible than in receivers reaching for the ball.  In this photo, it is receiver and defender together leaping high.  I think the Outlaw is #6, Griff, a defensive back.  The pass was thrown by Dallas and the player in white is the intended receiver.  So Griff's job was to prevent the catch.  And I believe she did. 

The football is hard to catch.  Often receivers are flying through the air.  Often the ball eludes them.

Just out of reach for Monica.  Heroic effort, though.

Julie Wilke's first game as an Outlaw, first pass thrown her way,
completed for a touchdown.  Later she played quarterback and got
on the other side of the pass/catch game.

Looks like a miss.  Good effort, though.

Not sure but this looks like an incompletion, too.

Will she catch it?  I think she did.

I think this is a catch, too.  At first I couldn't find the ball in the
picture.  Then I noticed it blocked my view of the defender.

Browsing the attempts I tried to remember the specific play.  Was the pass completed?  Or did one of Woody Hayes' bad things happen (remember, he said when you pass three things can happen and two are bad).  If I were certain of the outcome, I'd make this a quiz.  What do you think?  Complete or not.  But I don't know in every case. 

I do know that there's a downside to catching a pass.  The football attracts other players.  Some who want to spoil your fun.  Historically defensive backs have been hard hitters.  If you catch the ball, they'll try to hit you hard before you secure the ball in your arms, trying to jar it loose.  There is now an NFL rule against hitting a "defenseless" receiver.  Which strikes some of us older guys as spoiling the game.  Us older guys who were never pass receivers.

I don't know if this was a catch or miss.  I do know that if she caught it she was going to have to take a pretty solid hit.  In fact, even if she didn't catch it the defender might lay a hit on her about the time the ball got to her.  Just to make sure. 

I love this picture (above) because it shows a player violating the cardinal rule of sports "Keep you eye on the ball."  When I first saw it I wondered why she was looking up the field.  Then I realized she was looking to see if anyone was taking a bead on her, going to hit her, try to jar the ball loose when she caught it.  I think she did make the catch.  And didn't get immediately tackled.

The following two photos are here because I admired the effort of the receiver, leaping high to catch the ball.  Then I wondered how she managed to keep her balance.  It appears she's jumping toward the ball and stretching out so much that when she lands, her feet won't be under her and she should land on her face.  But she did catch it and did advance it...

Wait a minute.  I said she advanced it.  But she is running to our left, running in the direction from which the ball was thrown.  I think this photo pair is an example of the other bad thing that can happen when you pass.  It can be intercepted. 

Three things can happen - reception (good), incompletion (bad), interception (very bad).

Next posting we'll take a look at defending against the pass. 

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