By KENNY SHELTON
For some peculiar reason, it seems our star Ducklings are struggling to have big successes in the NFL. Bar the J-Stew’s and the Haloti Ngata’s — Oregon alum’s who no longer have the word “struggle” in their financial vocabulary — some of our most prominent Ducks in recent years are fighting to make the final 53 man rosters, while schools like Cal, a grain of salt in the scheme of BCS-relevance, have more players in the league.
The summer began with 35 Ducks filling NFL rosters..
Mark Asper (Bills), Brandon Bair (Chiefs), LeGarrette Blount (Buccaneers), Jairus Byrd (Bills), Patrick Chung (Patriots), Kellen Clemens (Rams), D.J. Davis (Falcons), Ed Dickson (Ravens), Cliff Harris (Eagles), Ra’Shon Harris (Texans), LaMichael James (49ers), Jeremiah Johnson (Broncos), Josh Kaddu (Dolphins), Jeff Maehl (Texans), Casey Matthews (Eagles), Haloti Ngata (Ravens), David Paulson (Steelers), Spencer Paysinger (Giants), Eddie Pleasant (Texans), Nick Reed (Vikings), Dante Rosario (Chargers), Kenny Rowe (49ers), Geoff Schwartz (Vikings), Adam Snyder (Cardinals), Jonathan Stewart (Panthers), Walter Thurmond (Seahawks), Matt Toeaina (Bears), Lavasier Tuinei (Seahawks), Will Tukuafu (49ers), Fenuki Tu’Pou(Saints), Max Unger (Seahawks), T.J. Ward (Browns), Darrion Weems (Patriots), and Demetrius Williams (Jaguars)
Preseason and a substantial amount of the regular season is in the books, and only 20 Ducks grace the final 53 man roster.
Blount, Byrd, Chung, Davis, Dickson, James, Kaddu, Matthews, Ngata, Paulson, Paysinger, Rosario, Schwartz, Snyder, Stewart, Toeaina, Tukuafu, Unger, Ward and Williams all made rosters1.
What is to be said about nearly half our Duck’s not making the final rosters? Is this an anomaly? A victim of system? Both? In the last three seasons, the Ducks have won three Pac-12 championships, made two Rose Bowl’s and a National Championship appearance — a stellar performance record by any measure.
The system defense doesn’t exactly hold up either — while Chip Kelly has drawn up great schemes, he still relys on his guys to execute. And it isn’t like system’s aren’t present in the NFL. Belichick made Matt Cassel a (sort of) star (and got him paid at least). Jim Harbaugh has saved Alex Smith’s career2. Mike Shanahan made Reuben Droughns a household name for a season.
If it’s a system thing, the glove doesn’t exactly fit.
We know it’s not an issue of effort because are Ducks are known to be some of the hardest working players around, embodying the WIN THE DAY mantra.
Are all of our star Ducks doomed to a practice squad occupancy for the entirety of their NFL careers? That seems a bit drastic. I would say our Oregon Ducks are looked upon as underdogs/ undersized/ scheme guys not only in the NFL’s eyes, but in the BCS’s eyes as well. As unfortunate(shitty) as it sounds, our Ducks will have to continually prove themselves worthy regardless of recent successes.
One thing is for certain: Chip Kelly and the rest of the boys deserve a round of applause for making the best out of every situation or better yet, “WINNING THE DAY.”
Despite whatever obstacles the Ducks have found in their way in recent seasons, they have proven to be resilient by responding well to adversity and finishing strong. #Skoducks
- Thurmond and Tu’Pou are still on their teams, but are currently on injured reserve Jump.
- Alex Smith, while big, fast and physical, played at the University of Utah, under Urban Meyer (the ultimate system coach). Well, he’s figured it out. Jump.