Polynesian Bowl announces Doug Williams, Trent Dilfer as coaches

… Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council, Hawaii News Now, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel …

(October 14, 2020) – The Polynesian Bowl announced today that two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, Doug Williams and Trent Dilfer have been selected as head coaches for the 2021 Polynesian Bowl.

The Polynesian Bowl is an annual all-star game featuring 100 of the nation’s top senior high school football players. This year’s game will be held on Saturday, January 23, 2021 (6:30 p.m. HST) at Aloha Stadium on O’ahu, Hawaii and will be televised live on CBS Sports Network.

Doug Williams will serve as Head Coach for Team Mauka (Mountain). Doug was named Super Bowl XXII MVP, making him the first black QB to both start and win (Washington) a Super Bowl. Following his playing career, Williams began coaching, most notably serving as the head coach of the Grambling State Tigers. He currently serves as Senior Vice President of Player Development for the NFL’s Washington Football Team. Doug is only one of a handful of players honored in two NFL Stadium “Ring of Honors” (Washington and Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

“The Polynesian Bowl is going to be an incredible cultural experience,” said Doug Williams. “I’m looking forward to coaching the nation’s best high school players in paradise.”

Trent Dilfer will serve as Head Coach for Team Makai (Ocean). Trent played 14 seasons in the NFL including starting QB for the Baltimore Ravens during their Super Bowl XXXV championship. After his NFL playing career, Trent was hired by ESPN as an NFL analyst, a position he held until 2017. He currently serves as head coach of the Elite 11, a quarterback camp featuring the nation’s best high school quarterbacks and at Lipscomb Academy.

“I’m excited to be part of the 2021 Polynesian Bowl,” said Trent Dilfer. “The talent is off the charts. It’s going to be a lot of fun coaching these elite athletes.”

Past Polynesian Bowl head coaches include: Dick Tomey & June Jones (2017), Dick Vermeil & Terry Donahue (2018), Mike Bellotti & Jim Zorn (2019) and Frank Beamer & Steve Spurrier (2020).

About the Polynesian Bowl: The world’s top high school football players gather in Hawaii to celebrate culture & play the game they love. It is televised live on CBS Sports Network, presented annually by the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. Major partners include adidas, BodyArmor, CrossCountry Mortgage, Friends of Hawaii Charities, Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Building & Construction Trades Council, Hawaii News Now, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Sheraton Princess Kaiulani Hotel and Riddell.

For more information, visit www.PolynesianBowl.com and www.PolynesianFootballHOF.org.

The Polynesian Bowl began in 2017 with current Stanford running backConnor Wedingtonthe inaugural Offensive MVP and Iowa defensive lineman A.J. Epenesa the Defensive MVP. The 2018 game was the second year and Washington cornerbackKyler Gordonand Stanford quarterback signeeTanner McKeewere named Co-MVP’s. The 2019 game saw linebackerDaniel Heimuliand receiverPuka Nacua, both now at Washington, earn co-MVP honors. The 2020 game saw BYU signeeSol-Jay Maiavaand Washington preferred walk-onMeki Peiwin co-MVP.

The fifth Polynesian Bowl is set for January 23, 2021 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, with nearly 40 players already selected to the 2021 game.

For a look at the 2021 Polynesian Bowl roster,go here.

Four Down Territory – QB Blast from the Past

This is an era of big data, analytics, and explosive passing in the NFL. The rules disproportionately favor wide receivers, and true shutdown corners …

Welcome to Four Down Territory! This is a space where I’ll write about four things in professional sports every Saturday. Whether it’s the four greatest moments or the four worst blunders or anything in between, the only rule is that I’ll discuss four things. In my ninth installment, I’ll be outlining some of the best quarterbacks to play before the NFL-AFL merger in 1970.

This is an era of big data, analytics, and explosive passing in the NFL. The rules disproportionately favor wide receivers, and true shutdown corners are harder and harder to come by. Thursday’s Hall of Fame game gave me a blast from the past. I want to showcase some of the game’s greatest quarterbacks before 1970, because these guys tend to fall by the wayside when we think of the greatest QBs ever. Their statistics simply can’t match the modern players because the game was different back then. Today, we use the term “game manager” derisively, but that’s what a quarterback should do: manage the game. These QBs were the best at it, thanks to their knowledge of the game and consistent performance. Hope you enjoy!

Slingin’ Sammy Baugh

Slingin’ Sammy was destined for greatness as the sixth overall selection from TCU to the Washington Redskins. Yet, we had no idea of his impact on the very game as we know it. Baugh played during the Great Depression and World War II. These were very lean years for the NFL, as World War II pressed many of the players into military service. During the war, there just wasn’t much interest in the seemingly insignificant games and teams had to merge or fold to field full games. Sammy Baugh was able to rise above these adverse conditions and become one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. His trick was the forward pass, a routine play today but highly uncommon back then. Baugh was more accurate than any quarterback before him, making the forward pass a viable option that Washington used regularly. Passing wasn’t his only strength, as he was one of the most versatile players ever. He played quarterback, cornerback, and punter, filling important needs in a league starved for players. In 1943, he had his finest season as a pro: he led the league in passing, punting (45.9 yard average), and interceptions (11). When all was said and done, Baugh set 13 NFL records over three positions, won six passing titles and two championships, and made Washington the football town it is today. Oh, and every team utilized the forward pass after him.

Otto Graham

We talk about winning as an important individual statistic, even though it’s done as a team. How many times have you heard someone compare players by the number of championships won? We all know that this is what defines legacies, but Otto Graham is still overlooked. Graham won seven championships and appeared in the NFL or AAFC Championship game ten times. He played for the Browns that long ago. Yes, they were actually elite back then. They started play in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), winning four of the league’s eight championships in total. Following the 1949 season, the AAFC merged into the NFL, but this did not change the disrespect that NFL owners had for the AAFC teams. Commissioner Bert Bell scheduled the Browns to play the two-time defending champion Philadelphia Eagles (boy, this really was a long time ago), figuring it would be a smackdown. But, Otto Graham led coach Paul Brown’s innovative offensive, taking advantage of advanced passing concepts and motion shifts to beat Philadelphia through the air. He threw for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns, a great line no matter the era. 14 weeks later, Graham led the Browns to their first NFL championship, passing for four touchdowns to beat the Los Angeles Rams. When all was said and done, Graham was the greatest winner this game has ever seen, and we ought to hear his name more when we discuss winning at any level of football.

Bart Starr

Pretty much every time New England plays, we have to hear about how Tom Brady was a sixth round draft choice and the 199th overall pick. But when we’re thinking about draft steals, our view is too narrow, and Bart Starr rarely comes up. Guy was picked in the 17th round, 200th overall, and again, all he did was win. Starr compiled a 9-1 record in the postseason and a 104.8 passer rating, still the highest mark in league history. His only loss was his first playoff game, the 1960 NFL Championship that they dropped to Philadelphia by three points. Perhaps more importantly, Starr was the engine that made Lombardi’s machine go. He acted as a coach on the field and called his own plays, executing Lombardi’s game plans to a T. Starr and the Packers employed a very balanced offensive attack, placing particular emphasis on the sweep to showcase the mobility of their offensive line. Though Starr never attempted more than 300 passes in any season, his passes were almost always effective. When we think of Starr, though, one shining moment stands out from his five championships. In his and Lombardi’s last hurrah, Green Bay trailed Dallas by three in the 1967 NFL Championship Game, better known as the Ice Bowl. The last drive was vintage Packers football: six passes, six runs, and a -50 degree wind chill. Starr calmly drove Green Bay down the field and his last run on the drive was most memorable. Without telling any of his teammates (but of course consulting with Lombardi), Starr ran a quarterback sneak, using a double-team from center Ken Bowman and guard Jerry Kramer to score the winning touchdown. Had Starr made the wrong call, time would’ve run out and Green Bay’s three-peat would’ve been foiled. He is still the only QB to win three championships in a row. When all was said and done, Starr was a winner who cared most about the team, and who was the best field general for Vince Lombardi.

Johnny Unitas

This is the QB who transcended era, a player so great that he still gets mentioned as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. It’s hard to believe he was cut by Pittsburgh and was paid $6 a game playing semi-pro ball for the Bloomfield Rams. But in a very representative story in sports, John Constantine Unitas made the most of a lucky break. After signing with the Baltimore Colts, he was thrust into the starter’s role after George Shaw went down with an injury. He proceeded to throw an interception returned for a touchdown, but he persevered. In 1957, Unitas led the league in passing (2,550 yards) and touchdowns (24), but the next year he would achieve greater heights. We all know of The Greatest Game Ever Played, but it was only made that way because of Johnny Unitas. In the 1958 NFL Championship Game, Unitas and the Colts found themselves down by three with two minutes remaining in regulation. Undeterred, Unitas introduced the league’s newest innovation in front of a national audience: the two-minute drill. Calling his own plays, Unitas calmly and swiftly led the Colts down the field for the tying field goal. He didn’t call a run the entire drive, instead throwing the ball and finding Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry time and again. In overtime, Unitas had the opportunity to lead a drive to win the game this time, and he mixed the pass and the run to punch it in the end zone and secure the title for the Colts. The game was a master class in timing and execution, the two elements of offensive playcalling that are still used today. Unitas and Berry also showed the world the importance of rhythm between quarterback and receiver, as Berry recorded 12 receptions for 178 yards and a touchdown. This game lifted the NFL to the popularity it enjoys today, thanks to Unitas’ clutch performance for the dramatic victory. Over the rest of his impressive career, Unitas amassed three MVP awards, three championships, an innumerable amount of records, and the distinct title of the best quarterback ever. When all was said and done, Unitas was a hard worker who perfected his craft, revolutionized football, and made it the game it is today.

Artificial Intelligence Could Slash Salaries of Overpaid NFL Star Players

As computing power continues to improve, one company plans to take data analytics to the next level. They are using an artificial intelligence (AI) …

As computing power continues to improve, one company plans to take data analytics to the next level. They are using an artificial intelligence (AI) system to provide recommendations on player salaries for all National Football League (NFL) teams.

Cincinnati-based Pro Football Focus (PFF) is owned by broadcaster and former Cincinnati Bengals player Cris Collinsworth. The company is in business with all 32 NFL teams and 62 college programs. PFF sells player data in every game, provided in a searchable setup. The data package comes with videos.

In an interview with Fox Business Network, PFF’s Collinsworth said:

“We break down every player on every play in every game. So we have this treasure trove of data that we work with.”

For now, teams are using the data provided by PFF to analyze plays, make strategic changes, and recruit new players. Within a year, however, the company will leverage the immense repository of data and use it in conjunction with machine learning algorithms to more accurately predict a player’s market value.

So far, the data analytics firm has discovered that some teams are not making every dollar count.

Initial Analysis Reveals That Some Teams Are Overpaying Players by Millions of Dollars

Early results have been shocking, even to the chief executive of the company. PFF’s analysis shows that some NFL teams are paying more than they should. Collinsworth said:

“Who knew that running backs aren’t as valuable as quarterbacks in the National Football league?”

Even if quarterbacks have more value than running backs on the field, PFF found that no team has won the Superbowl with a quarterback receiving more than 13 percent of the salary cap. Based on this insight, one can easily assume that at least 10 quarterbacks are significantly overpaid.

AI suggests many star NFL players are overpaid. | Source: Shutterstock

Examples of Overpaid NFL Players Based on PFF Numbers

  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the highest-paid player in the history of the sport at $35 million per year. Wilson occupies 20 percent of the team’s $175 million salary cap. Based on PFF’s numbers, the team is overpaying Wilson by $12.5 million per year.
  • The same is true for Aaron Rodgers, who is earning $33.5 million. The Green Bay Packers team is paying the quarterback $11 million more than they should.
  • Atlanta Falcons star Matt Ryan is receiving $30 million per year. PFF data suggests that the franchise is paying the quarterback an excess of $7.5 million per year.
  • Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings is making $28 million per year. He fills 16 percent of the team’s salary cap, which means the Vikings are overpaying by $5.5 million each year.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo is still an unproven asset, but the 49ers decided to give him $27.5 million. PFF data suggests that he is earning $5 million more than he should.
  • Andrew Stafford may be the best quarterback to play in a Lions’ uniform, but he is overvalued by at least $4.5 million.
  • Andrew Luck may have thrown 39 touchdowns last year, but the Colts are paying him $3 million more than they should.
  • Derek Carr and Drew Brees are both overpaid by $2.5 million. That money could have been spent to bolster other positions.
  • Khalil Mack and Alex Smith are both earning $23.5 million. Their teams blew an extra $1 million.

Bottom Line

Overall, PFF can restore some balance in the NFL by using AI technology to disrupt player salaries. Based on data-driven analysis, teams can opt to pay according to the actual market value of the players instead of their star power. Sure, some stars may see their salary dwindle, but if they value winning more than earning millions, they’d understand that the money will likely be used to acquire more above-average players in other positions.

Fantasy football insights with Watson for Week 9

… him to have a solid game, with a high likelihood to positively surpass their projections. Insights provided by IBM Watson in partnership with ESPN.

Fitzpatrick’s opponent on Sunday, the Panthers, is a tough defense and he will be playing on the road. Nevertheless, IBM Insights gave him the fourth-highest high projection and fifth-highest low projection among all quarterbacks this week. It should be noted, though, that his chances to bust this week are three times his projected likelihood to boom.

Watson’s Insight: FitzMagic is back, and IBM Insights project him to pick up this week right where he left off earlier this season, as one of the top-few fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL.

Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago Bears at Buffalo Bills

  • Weekly rank 115, 13th among eligible QBs

  • High projection: 22.4 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 13.5 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.09

  • Bust chance: 0.23

Trubisky has been one of the hottest fantasy quarterbacks in the NFL since his detonation against the Buccaneers in Week 4, and he is projected to continue that success this week in Buffalo. The Bills are solid on defense, and did just limit Tom Brady to zero touchdown passes in their last game. That game was on Monday night, though, meaning that the Bills are operating on a short week. Plus, Trubisky has been consistently productive, which apparently prompts IBM Insights to identify him as having the 10th-highest average high and low projections among quarterbacks this week. He, also, is projected with 2.5 more likelihood to bust than to boom this week.

Watson’s Insight: Trubisky has been playing very well during the last month, and even though he is facing a solid defense he still projects as a top-10 quarterback this week.

Most likely to go boom/Least likely to bust

Prescott’s high projection of 22.3 fantasy points is among the upper half of quarterbacks to play this weekend. His boom chance of 0.26 as calculated by IBM Insights is the highest such probability for any quarterback this week while his 0.07 bust likelihood is the lowest for any quarterback this weekend. The Cowboys are coming off a bye week, and during that interim they traded for top receiver Amari Cooper, which seemingly has increased Prescott’s upside projections.

Watson’s Insight: Prescott will be starting his first game with new target Cooper, and if IBM Insights’ projections play out, Prescott would be a high-floor, high-upside candidate this week.

Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Weekly rank 168, 17th among eligible QBs

  • High projection: 20.0 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 14.7 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.26

  • Bust chance: 0.11

The Browns will be facing the highest-powered offense in the NFL this week, which likely means that Mayfield will be passing early and often. The Chiefs have shown some ability to rush the passer on defense, which could be an issue for the rookie quarterback, but IBM Insights still projects him with a reasonably 20.0 fantasy point high projection and a 0.25 boom likelihood that is the second-highest score this week.

Watson’s Insight: Mayfield was known to love wide-open play in college, and this week he’ll be facing a potent Chiefs offense that will likely cause him to pass quite a bit. IBM Insights projects him to have a solid game, with a high likelihood to positively surpass their projections.

Insights provided by IBM Watson in partnership with ESPN

Fantasy insights with Watson

… the top handful of quarterbacks are likely weekly starts, here are the quarterbacks ranked seven through 15 for this week, according to IBM Watson:.
6:34 PM ET

  • Andre SnellingsESPN

Welcome to Week 1 of the fantasy football season!

Last season, IBM introduced IBM Insights, a tool that uses its Watson technology to scan the web and parse it for fantasy football advice on a weekly basis.

For those who are looking for a tool to concentrate various web opinions into one location to help make roster moves, IBM offers Watson’s Insights as an unsupervised but still quantitative supplement to the more in-depth, personalized analysis that you normally see from our ESPN analysts.

The following article points out some of the recommendations that Watson has for Week 1 of the NFL season, as of Friday.

Starting quarterback decisions

As often pointed out by our ESPN experts, quarterback is one of the more fungible positions in fantasy football. As such, the general recommendation is to wait on quarterbacks in fantasy drafts, because you can usually get one or two good ones late.

However, the flip side to that argument is that if you drafted multiple quarterbacks later, it can be difficult to decide which one to start in a given week. Generally, these decisions come down to elements like matchups, recent level of play and the fantasy manager’s gut.

While the top handful of quarterbacks are likely weekly starts, here are the quarterbacks ranked seven through 15 for this week, according to IBM Watson:

7. Kirk Cousins (ranked 75th among all players)

8. Andrew Luck (77th)

9. Ben Roethlisberger (78th)

10. Matthew Stafford (90th)

11. Jimmy Garoppolo (120th)

12. Philip Rivers (123rd)

13. Patrick Mahomes (124th)

14. Alex Smith (132nd)

15. Jared Goff (138th)

Per Watson, this is a suggested hierarchy of quarterback valuation for Week 1. Thus, if you are choosing between two quarterbacks on this list, or among one of these players and another late-round option, this tool gives you one viewpoint from across the web as to who Watson believes will be the best play options.

Flex play decisions

Who should you use in your flex slot? This is another decision that many fantasy managers have to make on a weekly basis, choosing between using a third running back or a third wide receiver for often one flex slot. In standard 10-team leagues, this can be a decision between two or more good players. Here are the running backs and wide receivers ranked 21st through 26th for this week, according to Watson:

Running back

21. Marshawn Lynch (66th among all players)

22. Lamar Miller (68th)

23. Dion Lewis (72nd)

24. Carlos Hyde (89th)

25. Duke Johnson Jr. (93rd)

26. Rex Burkhead (94th)

Wide receiver

21. Golden Tate (53rd among all players)

22. Brandin Cooks (55th)

23. JuJu Smith-Schuster (57th)

24. Marvin Jones Jr. (60th)

25. Josh Gordon (61st)

26. Chris Hogan (64th)

One trend that stands out to me is that Watson clearly expects there to be more quality depth at wide receiver than running back this week, as the 26th-ranked receiver, Hogan, is rated higher overall this week than the 21st-ranked running back.

The league is moving more and more to different passing sets, and also to more split backfields, and we saw this play out in fantasy drafts, as there were more quality receivers available later than available running backs.

For this week, at least, Watson expects this to result in wide receivers in this range producing better flex scores than similarly valued running backs.

DFS positional thoughts

While running backs and wide receivers rightly dominate season-long fantasy drafts, generally making up the entirety of the first couple of rounds of the draft and the vast majority of the first five rounds, Watson suggests that some of the lesser-drafted positions are expected to outperform value this week.

Watson has two tight ends among the top 10 players ranked for this week, with Rob Gronkowski at seventh and Travis Kelce at 10th. And despite defenses and kickers often not being picked until the last couple of rounds in drafts, Watson has the Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST ranked 27th overall and the Los Angeles Rams D/ST ranked 39th, with kickers Stephen Gostkowski (35th) and Greg Zuerlein (36th) both in the top 40 as well.

These were the top tight ends, defenses and kickers off the boards in drafts, and thus likely guaranteed season-long fantasy starters for Week 1, but these positional rankings could have DFS implications.

If a DFS owner were to weigh Watson into their decision-making, this could suggest that it might be worth paying a bit more for an elite defense or kicker, or even tight end, than to splurge more of the DFS budget on running backs or wide receivers that likely cost much more.

Watson’s rankings suggest that the relative valuation of tight ends, defenses and kickers may be higher this week than they would have been when choosing for a whole season.

Insights provided by IBM Watson in partnership with ESPN