Throw King Crimson…Throw…

Disclaimer: Now before you read this blog, let’s make it clear that I am an AJ McCarron fan.  I think he is poised beyond his years and if you need proof, just check my tweets.

 This is a huge weekend for the “quarterback position” for this years’ upcoming NFL draft.  It’s the time of the year when the top college QB prospects will get grilled and prodded like a Bone-in Rib-Eye.  Yes!  You guessed it…The NFL Combine. 

For a few it’s a time to build your case on why a team should select you.  Others will be left to pick up the pieces on what was once a promising career.  For some of these prospects the wheels were wobbly even before getting to this point.  Example: AJ McCarron of Alabama, who I love coming out of their bowl game.  Only to not participate in the Senior Bowl, and to follow that up by NOT participating in the throwing drills at the combine, this I just don’t understand.  AJ’s biggest asset is his LEADERSHIP qualities! Furthermore, his very impressive resume, which includes two National Titles (which could have easily been three), and a possible Heisman Trophy (had it not been for a freak field goal return for a touchdown). 

Up until this point AJ McCarron has done everything right……However, by not playing in the Senior Bowl AJ missed the chance to show just how valuable he could be to a team.  Especially those looking for a potential franchise quarterback in the likes of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Joe Montana.  By doing so he went against what he has always done best, and that is to COMPETE! 

Again, I want to be very clear…I’ve always been a huge fan of AJ and I’ve taken plenty of heat for doing so.  I just don’t agree with this approach when he has so much to gain and not nearly as much to lose.  What is the down side?  That your arm wasn’t the strongest in draft?  No secret, we all know that.  But we also know that there is no other quarterback who was better prepared to seize the moment, like AJ, the Quarterback that played for Americas most demanding Coach (Nick Saban) and Fan Base (Alabama).

 Furthermore, to make things more frustrating you have decided to PASS at the NFL Combine, where the throws are very simplistic and not as challenging as most people think.  So by skipping the Senior Bowl AND the throwing portion of the combine you are taking the all or nothing approach, (just throwing at Pro Day) which could lead to the biggest upset of your career.

 AJ, you are a true competitor and champion.  But you know better than anyone what can happen when you put all yours eggs in one play!  #GoingForTheFieldGoal instead of playing safe for overtime!  You Remember…  

 Good Luck AJ!!!  Hope you have a Rabbits Foot!  If not I’ll put one in the mail.

Roll Tide! 

Some NFL QB’s Being Underpaid???

Interesting topic for debate brought to you by Jason La Confora of CBS: 

http://mweb.cbssports.com/nfl/writer/jason-la-canfora/24438540/face-it-nfl-quarterbacks-are-underpaid-and-salary-cap-is-way-too-low which suggests that NFL quarterbacks are greatly underpaid compared to other sports stars and entertainers.  For years I’ve always felt that the NFL has missed the boat by not protecting and compensating their most valuable asset.  

Finally, someone else agrees with my way of thinking…  

The top tier quarterbacks should be exempt from the salary cap, which has gone in reverse since 2009.  Even though at the same time individual NFL Team profits have gone up!  Did you know that the NFL just set a world record for views on a “single telecast” with more than…………….One-Hundred- and-Eighteen- MILLION viewers who tuned for the #SuperBowl48.  Yes, Peyton Manning was awful but he WAS, and will continue TO BE box office!  This was accomplished by Peyton playing his entire career in a small market!  

Due to the all salary cap restrictions…the NFL’s richest team owner, Paul Allen has had the luxury of owning a Porsche while only having to pay for the price of a Volkswagen!  What a deal?  Or steal?  

Let’s face it…Eddie Murphy hasn’t made a good flick since “Coming to America," yet he still gets 20 MILLION a film!  

"Ba,ba,ba,ba,ba,ba, BOOM!  Help!  Eddie!  Aunt Bunny fell down the Steps!"

Great Read On The Mind Set of Quarterback Russell Wilson

All quarterbacks should take note for their off season…This guy right here…Russell Wilson

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http://mmqb.si.com/2014/02/04/russell-wilson-seattle-seahawks-super-bowl-xlviii/

He talks about his drive to be “better than yesterday & better tomorrow than today.” I think the biggest asset to Russell Wilson’s game is his ability to HANDLE THE MOMENT. He doesn’t ever look at what WAS or what WILL be, just what IS and the importance of being the most efficient player on the field every single down! As a quarterback coach, one of the first things I look for in a QB is his ability to create a NEGATIVE into a POSITIVE.

Russell Wilson continues to impress me with his ability to come up with big timely plays when needed the most. There have been times this past season where Russell has not had a great game statistically, but when needed most has made a key throw or run to keep drives alive. Which then led to game winning moments. Maybe the most impressive thing about his game has been his ability to avoid the big hits and remain heathy. Today’s game is very challenging for the style in which Russell plays so that’s a huge accomplishment! Just ask RGIII!

Braves On The War Path

      Over the course of fourteen weeks we have all watched as the #WashingtonRedskins, a once proud franchise dissolve right before our very eyes.  It seemed like not too long ago that Joe Gibbs was the chief architect (no pun intended) of one of NFL’s most stabled franchises!  Well, that was then and this is now…

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      The glory days of this must see team of the ages have been replaced by the daily soap opera known as All My Children.  The once highly respected #WashingtonRedskins are at a major crossroads, and that’s putting it mildly!  Washington’s head coach Mike Shanahan, who may I add has not one, but TWO Super Bowl championships under his belt, has been second guessed.  The “second guessing” has been done by many people for his handling of the Redskins, and in particular #RG3.  This has always been debatable, but there’s no debate where the majority of the blame lies!  Daniel Snyder must be held accountable for all the bad Karma and what ever negative result comes of this union.

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      With this being said, this is a correctable situation.  First, we must truly understand how it got this point.  Let’s go back to the very beginning.

A.  Dan Snyder needed to hire a coach who had credibility and proven track record for building a team that could compete year in and out. Someone who had the cache, which would attract Free Agents, and more importantly a coach who had a reputation for developing #quarterbacks!  Bingo!  This was accomplished by the hiring of Mike Shanahan.

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B.  Draft a franchise #Quarterback to be the face of the franchise for years to come.  The #Redskins accomplished this by selecting Robert Griffin III.  Robert was a hot commodity and was just awarded #TheHeismanTrophy, which is college football’s highest honor.  #RG3 was a very rare combination of top end speed, a deadly accurate arm with the charm and charisma.  This combo was the perfect recipe of what could make your franchise one of NFL’S hottest tickets.

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C.  Dan Snyder needed Mike Shanahan to know that he “Dan Snyder” wanted to have a hands on approach when it came to running his ball club, which brings us to the problem.  There’s no way that Mike would have accepted this job under those circumstances.  Dan needed someone who was clearly just happy to be employed and would’ve been more receptive to his philosophy, but of course that didn’t happen.

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      So what do you do now?  For the #Redskins and most notably Daniel Snyder, he must, as the owner meet with Mike and give him assurances that this is Mike’s team to run as he’s sees fit.  Now here is where you can save face… 

1.  Extend Mike’s contract as a token of good faith. 

2.  Ask him to work this offseason with #RG3 to make him the franchise player you both thought he was when you drafted him.  Then ask Mike to give #RG3 a year to prove himself.  If he doesn’t work out then the franchise will need to move in another direction as far as the #quarterback position goes. 

3.  Bring #RG3 in your office with Mike at your side and inform him that they will trade #KirkCousins so that he can truly develop as a #quarterback without looking over his shoulder.  The biggest thing is that you make sure Robert understands that he must get off his #RG3 Island, build a better relationship with Mike, and put himself back in the locker room with his teammates.  It must be very clear that #RG3 MUST play well and LEAD this franchise back to box office status or he won’t be here! 

4.  Schedule a press conference with Mike and #RG3 at your side and make a public apology for putting everyone in this situation…including the fans who have supported this organization for the past couple of years.  Vow that this will never happen again! 

5.  Also you need to come to grips that times have changed and with that so must the team name, which has been symbol or your ball club from the very beginning.  By doing so could give the team the good JuJu that it so desperately needs! 

      Right about now your asking yourself, “Why in the world would I do this?”  It’s simple, look at the alternatives…If you fire Shanahan then… #RG3 is the biggest loser because he’ll lose the support of the locker room, which you need to succeed as a #quarterback.  You will also lose, because you’ll never get a more qualified head coach again and the fans will stop supporting your hobby!  Finally, Mike loses because he’ll be remembered as the coach who quit on his team, and was not equipped to handle the modern day player!

     So by extending Mike, trading Kirk and recommitting to the long-term stability of your franchise.  You will be enabling the rehabilitation of your once Pro Bowl caliber #FieldGeneral #RG3, and you’ll put you and your franchise in a win, win, Win situation!!! 

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 Ps. I do have a suggestion for the new team name!  The Tribe!  The helmet logo would go back to the spear, which is part of your past!  Instead of what currently offends many!  Forward progress…forward motion only leads to success! 

Good Luck Chief!

QB Stock Exchange Week 8

     After 8 weeks into the 2013 NFL Season there has been some changes from my first quarter report.  My report is not base on QBR or any other matrix, but more on what my eyes tell me.  In others words, the look, style and feel for the game are the intangibles of this position you can’t teach!

 

 5. Tom Brady- The numbers are obviously down from last year, the Patriots are 6 and 2 so far and if not for Tom they could easily be 0-8.  No other quarterback could piece meal these cast offs, and no names to a wining record.  Due to this point alone Tom stays in my top 5, but just by a thread.

 4. Tony Romo- Even though the Dallas Cowboys are leading the NFC East by two games with a only a 4-4 record don’t let that diminish what Tony has done thus far into season.  Romo single handedly kept the Cowboys from a complete free fall with his ability to create something out of nothing, countless times.  Romo passed for over 500 yards against a then undefeated Denver Broncos team.  However, going head to head with Peyton Manning resulted in victory for the Broncos due to consistent breakdowns in protection, which cost the Cowboys the game.  Tony Romo has nonetheless been a huge bright spot at the quarterback position this year and is deserving of one of my top 5 spots.

 3. Drew Brees- Since the return of Sean Payton Brees has found his groove again.  Last season was incredibly taxing being all things Saints, Drew was the GM, the Coach, the Team Spokesman, and not mention the Quarterback!  That was much too much for one person to handle.  The Saints once again are at the top of their division battling the Seahawks and 49er’s for the best record in the all important NFC race.  Securing home field advantage is most important for an indoor team, and Drew has the Saints in prime position to do just that!

 2. Andrew Luck- In only his second season Andrew is well on his way to being the one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time!  Never has a player mastered the NFL’s most difficult position in such a short time.  Andrew has managed in making Jim Irsay look like a genius.  All for letting the face of the CITY let alone franchise Peyton Manning leave.  In a week seven match up against an unbeaten Denver Broncos team lead by the former Colts Legend Peyton Manning.  Second year starter Andrew Luck showed the national audience that he was more than worthy of all the praise!

 1. Who else but the Book of Football himself…Peyton Manning.  It was no secret that just like my first quarter report he still stands alone at the top of my list, even though the LION KING…aka Andrew Luck is the future of the NFL.  Week after week Peyton has played at history making level, but even with that said its Super Bowl Champion or bust!  Fair or not Peyton’s season will be judged by getting the ring or continue carrying the huge gorilla on his back as the greatest regular season quarterback of all time instead of GREATEST EVER!

Does The NFL Need A Farm System?

NFL is the greatest brand in the market place, but trouble is looming around the corner, and it needs to be addressed before the SHIELD loses it luster.

What was expected to be a night watching the NFL’s MARQUEE matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, turned out to be a night watching recorded programs on my DVR.  Simply put, this game was UNWATCHABLE!  How could the worlds’ greatest brand not have enough quality quarterbacks waiting in the wings ready to step in for an injured or ineffective starter??? 

After some internal deliberation I’m sure, the Vikings decided to go with the recently released Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman as their starter (who keep in mind had only NINE days of practice and a very limited knowledge of the Vikings Playbook), instead of a healthy Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder.  Well…as you might have imagined the end result was an absolute disaster!  Josh Freeman played like it was a local park pick up game, where he and his teammates just made up plays on the fly.  

(As I was writing this blog it was reported that Josh Freeman would start again on a Nationally televised game on ESPN this Sunday night…….This would be followed shortly after with an announcement, claiming Josh has a convenient headache…..)  Is this an attempt for the Vikings to avoid another Prime Time TV disaster, and reconcile the first?  Was the backlash too great for starting an ill prepared Freeman?

If that wasn’t enough…before I could ponder the thought (no pun intended), I saw that Jeff Garcia called the Cleveland Browns asking for a tryout!  That’s right, 43 years old Jeff Garcia!  Hell, you might as well had said Jerry Garcia (who would have been GRATEFUL for the opportunity might I add.)  That one was a reach…I know.  However, my point is… How bad it has been at the QB position for the bottom half of NFL teams!  After all, how many teams are going to kick the tires on Brady Quinn?  The Rams just signed him to fill the back up spot, to replace the injured Sam Bradford who is out for the season.  The truth is the NFL is in a state of emergency, and they are as prepared as the Obama Care Website (and we all know how that’s panning out!…Lol)

Now more than ever the NFL needs to look into some sort of farm system.  This by no means needs to be as large as Major League Baseball’s minor league.  So think more of an expansion of the old Taxi or Development Squad, (and not JUST for players but COACHES in waiting as well. 

Here’s my vision: The NFL signs an additional 22 players for development, and they ‘ll go thru an “in season” apprenticeship.  These players would serve on the scout teams organized by the coaches in waiting.  Other responsibilities would be to organize the “cut ups” their club would use as part of their scouting…”opponents tendencies” and such. The players could be paid roughly $3,000 a week for the experience. 

Once the season is over you add a few players to the Taxi squad and send them and the coaches in waiting with a few current NFL players and coaches as Ambassadors /Mentors, (kill two birds with one stone)…developing the future stars of tomorrow, while continuing the NFL brand development World Wide. 

Maybe this should be done before Brett Favre calls you.  Ahh hah!  I spoke too soon…#StLouisRams just called him as I was wrapping this up!

 Now that I’ve fixed your problem I got to call Obama back before it’s to late!

4th & 9 What You Didn’t Know About One of College Football’s Greatest Rivalries

Let me set the stage: 

     Matt Leinart and the USC Trojans were about to invade South Bend, Indiana, riding high on a 27 game winning streak. The country was anticipating the possible end of one of college football’s greatest streaks.

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     Before the 2005 season began, newly hired coach Charlie Weis raised more than a few eyebrows with a bold statement. At his first press conference he told the Notre Dame faithful, "I surly hope when that team from California comes to town that they’re still undefeated."  Charlie’s statement set the tone for what was to be one of the most epic games in college football’s history.

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     A LOT was riding on this matchup, and to add to the drama…the Nation’s TOP high school recruit at the time Jimmy Clausen, had recently committed to Notre Dame OVER his hometown powerhouse USC.  The hype was building, ESPN’s College Game Day was to be on site as well as a plethora of highly ranked high school football players. 

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      Behind the scenes, Matt Leinart was starting to feel the burden of it all…A 27 game winning streak, a possible Heisman Trophy repeat winner, and a rivalry game hosted in enemy territory.  On top of everything there was a huge demand for tickets (for family and friends) and interviews that came with being the leader of a “defacto” NFL team, (since Los Angeles had none). 

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Yes, the pressure was mounting and Matt was starting to feel the weight of the city on his back.  I remember getting a phone call from Matt on the Sunday night leading up to the big game, he said he was having trouble with his spiral and was hoping I could meet him at USC’s Howard Jones Field.  Quite naturally I said yes, but before doing so I called Steve Sarkisian, Offensive Coordinator for USC and former client of mine to make sure this was ok.  After checking with Pete Carroll they cleared the workout unaware of a rule about “outside consultants working on campus directly with their student athletes.” 

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When I met with Matt I noticed a few problems:

 *Matt wasn’t squaring his front shoulder to his intended target. 

 *This was caused by having his feet improperly placed at the point of release.

*Ironically, one of the things that we particularly paid close attention to were his fade passes. The ball was consistently sailing out of bounds due to bad footwork.

 *The other thing we worked on was his ability to read the safeties in their Cover Two look.  (Notre Dame did a nice job of  mixing up all the variations of that coverage.)

Matt had a great workout, and was more than ready for the challenge of Charlie Weis and Notre Dame.

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     October 16th, 2005- PREGAME: This was my first trip to the Golden Dome stadium and it came with mixed feelings.  It would be my first meeting with Charlie Weis despite Jimmy Clausen being my client since he was 13 years old, so this meeting was little different to say the least.  Obviously Charlie knew my ties to USC and was sympathetic to the situation. 

     During pregame warm ups, I was throwing the football on the sidelines with Pete Carroll and I could tell he was a little apprehensive.  We both noticed that we could not see our shoes due to the high grass.

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Yeah, Coach Weis was no dummy, he knew Notre Dame couldn’t match up with the Trojan’s speed. 

Pete also wanted to know how Matt was doing and was he ready???  I assured him he had been prepared his entire life for this stage…

     Then the scene was being set inside the stadium and resembled a Hollywood Premier.  The who’s who from the rivalry’s history were in attendance: Joe Montana, The one and only Rudy, and Joe Theismann for Notre Dame.  Anthony Davis aka (The Notre Dame Killer), Marcus Allen and Ronnie Lott for USC.  The stage was set for what was to be an ESPN instant classic.  

 THE GAME: The game was a slugfest from the start to the very end. Reggie Bush was having the first of what would be many “Heisman moments” during his final year at USC.image

On the Notre Dame side, Brady Quinn was having a Heisman day of his own, and had just led the Fighting Irish to a late forth quarter lead.  Irish faithful were on the edge of their seats anticipating a possible victory and end to college football’s longest winning streaks. 

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     I was on the sideline for this game just like so many before, but this one was and always will be special. The knot in my stomach was so large I could only imagine what these players were feeling.  

 FINAL DRIVE:  Before Matt took the field on his final drive I pulled him aside and reminded him to remember why he came to USC…for moments just like this!  

"Don’t play like you have something to lose …

Play like you have something to win!

Don’t play like there’s a chip on your shoulder!

Play like there’s an F….in bolder on it!” 

I also took the time to remind him of that Cover 2 look, and that in reality what Notre Dame was REALLY playing was the Cover 1, which was MAN FREE. image

USC’s Dwayne Jarrett was beating his man all day and had a height advantage over his man on our sideline. The first three plays netted a whole one yard and this prompted Pete Carroll to call a time out to design a 4th down play.

      Meanwhile Dwayne Jarrett was trying to pull himself from the game because he had been previously poked in the eye.  I told him he HAD to play and that Matt was going to check out of the play called, only if he thought he could beat his man on a fade pattern.  I washed out Dwayne’s eye with a water bottle and back on the field he went. Matt indeed had noticed Notre Dame DB Tom Zbikowski cheating towards the middle of the field, which meant Dwayne would have single coverage. Matt gave the fade signal behind his back and the rest was history…setting up the most dramatic seven seconds in college football.  

      On the next play Leinart would scramble towards an apparent touchdown only to be hit in mid air and fumble the ball out of bounds at the one yard-line. The clock struck zero and the Notre Dame fans stormed the field.  That’s it!  Game over!…

     “Not so fast,” as Lee Corso would say.  Pete Carroll managed to argue that there should have been time left on the clock giving Trojans just enough to run another play (or possibly two) if they spiked the ball.  Pete won the argument and the black and whites put seven seconds back on the clock. 

     During all the commotion the #Field General, Matt Leinart was quietly whispering to his lineman that he was going to sneak it in, but was going to make the kill sign which was to spike the ball and stop the clock.  I remember watching Pete on the sideline giving the kill signal, he too had no idea what Matt had privately instructed his o-lineman to do.  The most important player to all this was Reggie Bush, who until right before the snap was unaware of Matt’s plan. 

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      What would happen next, no one could have ever predicted.  The ball was snapped to Matt and you could see Reggie flying towards Leinart’s back, providing huge momentum for Matt to cross the goal line.  The outcome would stun the fighting Irish, for only seven seconds earlier they were celebrating the end the USC 27 game winning streak.

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This moment will be forever remembered as the “Bush Push.” 

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Make no mistake about it for me, the game will forever be known as 4th&9!  

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One last footnote:  Not everyone at Notre Dame was a loser.  Charlie Weis was given a 30 million dollar extension because of how they played against USC…HELLO!!!

My Top 5 NFL QB’S So Far This 2013 Season…And What Do They All Have In Common?

1.  Peyton Manning has put away any doubts about who is far and the best quarterback in the NFL. P. Manning is on pace to shatter all single season passing marks, leaving me to wonder will he eclipse 6,000 yards?! Or dare I say it, 60 touchdown passes?

2.  Drew Brees is on pace to win the comeback player of the year.  Which seems ridiculous…considering he’s only a few years removed from that Super Bowl MVP, against the before mention. The Saints are 4 -0 to start the season with a flawless game plan against the previously undefeated Miami, Dolphins.  Drew Brees has the chance to challenge Peyton Manning for the greatest statistical year ever now that Sean Payton is back on the sidelines.

3.  Tom Brady comes in at 3rd this week but could very easily be number two. I guess this just shows you how great the quarterback play has been.  Leave it to “Tom Terrific” to do the unimaginable.  Which is to have the Patriots undefeated at 4-0 with a whole new supporting cast.  Note: (The NFL has never had a quarterback win so often with out a PRO BOWL caliber WR.)

4.  Andrew luck, sophomore jinx??  PLEASE!  This quarterback was the number one player coming out of the NFL DRAFT three straight years!  Luck is a natural born leader and was a no brainier for the Colts to select him number one over all…despite having maybe the greatest quarterback and first ballot HALL OF FAMER of all time on your roster. What Luck has done thus far is make us all reaffirm that the NFL is a passers league!  The ability to extend plays and get out of bad ones is truly remarkable.  The only thing that comes close in comparison is Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan, in other words watching Andrew is like watching the sequel to Peyton Manning! Enough said!

Philip Rivers…who was left for dead at seasons end, has found his groove and has the San Diego Chargers playing at a high level. Thanks to Rivers, he’ll make the Chargers a team that no one wants in the playoffs. The Chargers could quite easily be 4-0 right now instead of 2-2, but make no mistake about it…Rivers and Chargers are for real!

I conclude with this question…What do all these quarterbacks have in common?  My answer would be…These are still the GOLD STANDARDS when it comes to how the position is to be played.  For a quarterback to succeed in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE he must be able to Pass accurately FIRST, extend plays SECOND, and create on the fly THIRD!

The NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE assassins make cowards of them all!  A clear message from the NFL ‘s Defensive Coordinators to those Zone Read Option quarterbacks, “The NFL stands for….

N-OT

F-OR

L-ONG!

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