[caption id="attachment_2211476" align="aligncenter" width="506"] Dinesh Kumar[/caption]
They say good things come in small packages. Just ask the reigning Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks and they will surely testify that height is just another number when it comes to quarter backs. Standing at a similar height to Russell Wilson, the 5’10” Dinesh Kumar delivered the goods for the Pune Marathas.
Kumar’s performance in EFLI’s inaugural season was worthy of him being named both the “Outstanding Quarter Back” and “Outstanding Offensive Player” in the league.
The lad from Chennai who was initially slotted to play for the Chennai Swarm was drafted into the Pune Marathas’ squad at the last minute after the Chennai franchise was unable to field a team of its own. Under Kumar, the Marathas’ offense was like a raging torrent which obliterated everything in sight en route to becoming the first ever EFLI champions.
For a person who just turned pro at the beginning of the season, his numbers are more than just impressive. Kumar not only gelled in with the team in Pune, but also became their leader. He led the team to a 6-2 record in the regular season, to qualify as top seeds from the ultra-competitive Western Division and then took care of business in the post season.
Kumar’s stats may not be the shiniest amongst all the quarter backs, but he delivered when it mattered. More importantly, his coach and teammates believed in him when the game was on the line. Kumar’s mental acumen, physical talent of adapting to the game and resilience of absorbing punishment and yet produce the goods allowed the Marathas offense to stay balanced while guys like Ramachandran Rahul and Sachin Rathod didn’t give the defensive lines a moment of respite with their strong running.
While the number may not be the gaudiest ones in the league Kumar was efficient. His 60.8 percent completion rate and a quarter back rating of 127.4 were both league leading figures. He particularly preferred the dues against the Colombo Lions, against whom he had two of his best games of the season.
There is however still parts of his game that needs more polishing. His effectiveness in the red zone is still a question that remains unanswered as the Chennai native has only 3 touchdown passes to his name. However, the biggest knock on Kumar is the number of turnovers he has committed. His tally of four intercepted passes is amongst the highest among all starting quarter backs in the EFLI. With more polish to his game and more conditioning, Kumar is however sure to come back better and stronger.
Even when the blitz was upon him, Kumar rarely panicked. The most enamoured of quarter backs want the blitz to come so that they can shred the secondary to pieces on single coverage or pick up easy first down on scrambles. This is where Kumar was really effective. When the offensive line was about to collapse and with no options downfield, Kumar always had the eye to find the gap in the pocket to sneak out and get that vital first down.
The disappointing thing, however, is the fact that Kumar is likely to miss the second season of the EFLI. The quarter back has been re-rostered to the newly bought Chennai franchise which is likely to not feature in this upcoming year in the EFLI as they find local talents to affix in their newly built roster.