Category Archives: NFL

What if Andrew Luck Came Out Last Year…?

It is truly amazing that this actually happened.

Prepare for 1500 words on what would have happened if Andrew Luck was gay.

Just kidding. Were talking about Luck entering the draft last year as opposed to this year. However that article may have been just as if not more interesting. We’ll put it on the backburner for now.

So like many of you, I watched the Peyton and Jim Irsay press conference today and it just felt weird. Now, I’m not on either side here. I’m not a Colts fan and I don’t particularly loathe Peyton Manning for any reason. I’m you normal, average football fan who can appreciate the 6’4’’ quarterback with a laser, rocket arm. That’s why it surprised me how weird it felt watching Peyton stand there behind Jim Irsay as Irsay seemingly was realizing as he spoke that he was really doing this.

I thought about it for a second, trying to pinpoint where my unsettled feeling was coming from. Then it hit me. This shouldn’t be happening. It was like everyone involved felt like they were in some parallel universe where this situation should have never occurred. This wasn’t meant to be. But a series of events transpired and suddenly everyone feels like Neo when he wakes up in that oozy-bubble thing with all those tubes connected to him.

The press conference that happened today was the result of a decision that did not happen recently; one that seemingly had no effect on Peyton Manning or the Indianapolis Colts at the time it was made. As Dr. Ian Malcolm once said: “A butterfly can flap its wings in Peking and in Central Park you get rain instead of sunshine.”

In our case, you can associate the following: “Butterfly” = Andrew Luck, “Flap its wings” = Stay in school, “Peking” = Stanford, “Central Park” = Indianapolis, “Rain” = Cutting the greatest player in your franchise’s history without knowing for sure he can’t compete at the same all-world level  to put an entire city on the shoulders of a 22-year old with more pressure on him than maybe any other player in the history of sports, and “Sunshine” = Peyton coming back and playing out his career in white and blue.

The fun part of this game is going back in time, changing one little detail and letting the dominoes fall. We will play this little game and see just where we might be if Andrew Luck decided to take the money and come out of school last year, which for all intents and purposes he was very close to doing.

DOMINO #1: The first thing that changes is that the Carolina Panthers select Andrew Luck with the #1 pick in the draft. No question this would have happened. Luck takes over from day 1 and becomes the face of the Panthers. This is a no-brainer pick at the time, even though the Luck-Newton debate would probably be slightly more competitive than the Luck-RG3 debate. This opens up some very interesting scenarios for Cam Newton, especially with the knowledge we have now of how good he would have been.

DOMINO #2: So where does Newton end up? You have Denver at #2, Buffalo at #3, Cincinnati at #4, San Francisco at #7, Tennessee at #8, Jacksonville at #10, and Minnesota at #12. All of these would be appropriate locations for the Heisman trophy winner. Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Minnesota all used those picks to take a QB and Cincinnati used their high 2nd rounder on one.  Newton wouldn’t last past Cincinnati at #4 in this scenario, so for any of these other teams to grab him, they would have to trade up. Considering all these teams need a QB, and one of them could have fallen in love with Newton, this is a perfectly plausible scenario.

Let’s analyze the sexiest question. Could Denver have passed up Newton at #2? Knowing what we know now, you would have to say absolutely not. But at the time, it would have been an all-time difficult decision. Let’s look at it from the perspective of John Elway’s love life: Elway at the time was married to Kyle Orton – she cooks, she’s faithful, she’s someone you can have kids with, but not exactly the nicest to look at. Sort of a very unexceptional arranged marriage. Elway isn’t exactly excited about his current significant other. One night Elway gets a call from his buddy Josh who has been dating this hot young blonde. After Josh, probably too young to be dating and slightly irresponsible, blacked out from too much tequila, Elway was stuck taking home Josh’s date. Orton hasn’t exactly been appreciating Elway, so he decides to bed the young blonde even though he knows she doesn’t really have it all upstairs. The next morning he wakes up next to Tim Tebow and immediately regrets the decision. She looks great naked but he already knows she’s not long-term material. (There is way too much innuendo to even begin to get into with Tebow here, so we will just move on).

In our new Luck-comes-out-early situation, Elway now gets a third option: He can get away from the awkward one-night stand and divorce his mediocre wife and take a chance with a 21-year-old who just won Miss Universe. You aren’t sure what you are getting long-term, but it could solve all your problems. Does winning Miss Universe translate domestically, or will you be stuck with years of high-maintenance and adultery and end up losing half of everything you have?

A difficult decision indeed. I say Denver may field some trade offers a la the Rams this year, but let’s say the power of Tebow prevails once again. The Broncos pass on Newton and take Von Miller, which still gives them a franchise-calber defender and changes their path very little. This also (if this is even possible) intensifies the scrutiny Tebow is under, knowing the team passed up on Cam Newton because of him. This can only yield more entertainment and might finally kill Skip Bayless as he tries to find some way to defend this decision when Cam Newton is single-handedly saving the Buffalo Bills…which means…

DOMINO #3: With the 3rd overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills select Cameron Newton, Quarterback from Auburn University. Ryan Fitzpatrick becomes the lame-duck starter, mails it in for 4 weeks until the Bills get fed up and put in Newton. Newton performs as he did this year, but because he misses 3 games, he loses Rookie of the Year to Andrew Luck.  The Bills then don’t give that premature ejaculation of a contract to Fitzpatrick and the franchise is set up with an attack of Newton-Jackson-Spiller-Stevie Johnson for the next five years. I’ll pause here and give all the Bills fans a second to punch the nearest wall.

DOMINO #4: Ryan Fitzpatrick gets cut at the end of the season and ends up as your opening day starter for the 2012 Washington Redskins. With Fitzpatrick on the market, and the Redskins falling short of getting a QB anywhere else, this is almost a certainty to happen. Fitz goes 5-2, becomes the toast of DC, and Dan Snyder gives the bearded one The Premature Ejaculation Deal. Fitz  then goes in the tank, throws 10 picks in the next 3 games and get benched for The Sex Cannon, who the team resigned as a backup before the season. After Sexy Rexy does his thing for a few weeks, he is benched for rookie Brock Osweiler, who the Skins drafts way too high in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, and the Redskin Quarterback Clusterfuck continues for another year. This is my favorite domino because it means the Redskins have another year where they somehow cease to make any progress whatsoever.

DOMINO #5, 6 and 7: The Bengals still take AJ Green and the Cardinals follow suit with Peterson. For funzies, I think the Browns stand pat knowing Marcell Dareus has fallen to them at 6 with the Bills taking Newton instead. Knowing what we know now, Aldon Smith is the pick here, but back then Dareus was higher. The Browns selected DT Phil Taylor and DE Jabaal Sheard with their next two picks, so clearly that’s the position they were looking at. They tell Atlanta no thanks on the trade (even though it was a good one for them – and still would be here) and they snag Dareus.

DOMINO #8: The Niners now have an interesting choice to make with Julio Jones on the board. Jones or Aldon Smith? Looking at it from our perspective, it’s a tough choice. Both performed excellently as rookies – Smith probably outshining his expectations more than Jones, but both can be argued were equally effective. The Niners desperately needed another weapon on the outside in the playoffs, and Jones could have put them over the top…ever-changing NFL history by beating the Giants, Eli not getting his 2nd ring, and perhaps Tom Brady and Bill Belichick becoming one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history. Or it could be argued that without Aldon Smith, that defense isn’t as effective and nothing changes. I’ll leave this answer up to you.

DOMINO #9: For the sake of not over-speculating the draft, we will stop there. On to the season, where the Colts will still be awful as Peyton misses every game. However, Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian keep their jobs, and the Colts go into the 2012 off-season with a re-grouping mentality and the #1 overall pick. They never even consider cutting Peyton. It may not even be mentioned as a possibility. Because of the success of Newton and Luck last year, RG3 becomes the coveted prize and the Colts are in a fantastic position of being able to hold out for the highest bidder. But trust me, they DO NOT do this for Robert Griffin III.

DOMINO #10: The Colts hear lots of offers, but end up swapping their #1 overall to Cleveland for Cleveland’s 1st (#4) and 2nd (#36) round pick plus their #1 in 2013. The Colts get 3 of the first 36 picks plus a potential top-10 #1 next year. They take Trent Richardson at #4, giving them an immediate impact runner who can carry the team post-Peyton. They then get Coby Fleener, Andrew Luck’s favorite target at Stanford with the 33rd pick to give Peyton another red-zone target and a successor to Dallas Clark. They snag a offensive lineman at #36, and continue to add pieces with the #1 pick in the final 4 rounds. They re-sign Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Robert Mathis in the offseason, hopefully add some depth in the secondary, and come into the year with a healthy Manning/Richardson/Wayne/Garcon/Collie/Clark/Fleener offense with Mathis and Freeney still anchoring an improving defense. If you are a Colts fan, is that better than a Luck/Addai/Maybe Garcon/Definitely not Wayne/Clark offense with Robert Mathis almost for sure leaving as well with a new coach and a new GM? Um chyeah. Not even close.

This gives you another definite run at the Super Bowl with a wide-open AFC South that was unexpectedly weak last year. With Matt Schaub’s health uncertainty and Mario Williams leaving for greener pastures (and by greener pastures I literally mean fields upon fields of money), all the Colts would have to do is win 10 games with a last place schedule and Manning/Richardson/Garcon/Collie/Clark/Fleener/Mathis/Freeney and they win that division. Plus they get a Jake Locker-led Titans team and Blaine Gabbert aka Mark Sanchez Lite and the Jags two times. I like those chances.

Ipso facto, if Andrew Luck comes out last year, we get to avoid this awkward press conference the Colts had today. Luck is the new face of the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton gives the fans of Buffalo a lot to be excited for, the Browns mortgage their future for RG3, and Peyton gets the band back together, adds Trent Richardson and some pieces and takes another run at the Super Bowl all while Ryan Fitzpatrick watches as a much, much poorer man (and a Redskin backup to boot). Quite a different picture than we have now, wouldn’t you say?

Speaking of Harvard, if this goes down, none of this Jeremy Lin stuff would have happened. Even the slightest ripple in the space-time continuum would alter the series of events that let everything fall into place for Lin. So the New York Knicks can thank Andrew Luck for staying in school. And so can whatever team ends up with Peyton Manning.

Aaron Rodgers, the Indianapolis Colts, and The Gyllenhaal Switch

I’ve been taking a stand for a few years now that angers people:  “Batman Begins” is better than “The Dark Knight.” Sorry I’m not sorry. I would watch “Batman Begins” before “The Dark Knight” ten times over. There are two words that bring me to this shocking conclusion and two words only: Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Her selection in “The Dark Knight” to play Rachel Dawes, the love interest of Bruce Wayne/Batman, is very much like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic. No one saw it coming and it’s not a whole lot to look at on the surface.  Every time she is on the screen it angers me to the point where I cannot enjoy the movie. Even when she isn’t in the scene…in the back of my mind I know she is lurking somewhere and  shall be on screen wasting my time and Batman’s time once again.

I have nothing against Maggie Gyllenhaal personally. She seems like a very nice woman and I’m sure that she is. It’s not even really that I can’t buy into the “hey-audience-pretend-not-to-notice” actress swap they pulled because Tom Cruise told Katie Holmes she had to worship an alien race that came out of a volcano instead of filming the second Batman movie (I wish I was making that up).

This is not an adequate replacement.

It is just preposterous to me to believe that Bruce Wayne would go to such lengths to save Maggie Gyllenhaal. I watch the movie waiting and hoping for Christian Bale to turn to the camera and say “Eff this. I’m not wasting any more precious time saving this 7.  There are much more important things going on here.”

You tell me which is more believable: A mastermind criminal nicknamed “The Joker” places a bomb on two ferrys – one transporting criminals and one normal citizens – and gives them each the ability to detonate the opposing ferry’s bomb while he watches from an abandoned skyscraper OR Maggie Gyllenhaal playing an attractive and compelling love interest.

For me, if Katie Holmes is in “The Dark Knight,” I’m 100% on board. Gyllenhaal ruins it for me. Luckily, the movie was good enough and had enough going on despite her that it was still well-received and very successful.

Now if you were to take a movie that was not so good…perhaps a movie that was completely reliant on its attractive female lead – “The Gyllenhaal Switch” as we will call it just won’t fly.

For example…how do these sound?

“Tomb Raider” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Into the Blue” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Entrapment” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Desperado” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Summer Catch” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

“Striptease” starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

You get my point. If you Gyllenhaal Switch any of these movies they turn into unwatchable turds. What if Aladdin went into the market and saved the poor cloaked girl stealing an apple…and when the hood came off it was not Princess Jasmine…but it was Princess Maggie? Animated Disney movies might have ceased to exist at that exact moment.

Fortunately for us, none of these things happened.

Unfortunately for the 2011 Indianapolis Colts, they were forced to pull off their own Gyllenhaal Switch. (and I’m not saying this because Curtis Painter is about as attractive a woman as Maggie Gullenhaal).

Curtis Painter also the son of Dr. Okun from Independence Day..."peace....nooooo peace"

The Colts had to take their charismatic, compelling, sexy leading actress and replace her with someone who was the 8th hottest chick in “Mona Lisa Smile.”

This has caused the Colts to be 0-12 this year with basically the same supporting cast as 2010.  The Colts were the movie “Tomb Raider” and Peyton Manning was a young, busty Angelina Jolie. Gyllenhaal Switch that shit and you go from a 10-6 playoff team to not winning a single game through twelve weeks.

This made me wonder. If the Colts were “Tomb Raider,” what are the Packers this year? Is Aaron Rodgers as valuable to his team/movie as Manning/Jolie? If you take him away, are the Rodgers-less Packers as bad as the Manning-less Colts?

This is Peyton Manning.

Using some statistical comparisons to Peyton Manning and the 2010 Colts, we can try to get that answer.

There are 3 ways to compare the situations. The first is comparing Peyton Manning’s 2010 season with Aaron Rodgers’ 2011 season (projected out to 16 games):

2011 PACKERS: RODGERS (Projected)

2010 COLTS: Manning (16 games)

Record

16-0

10-6

Yards

5,125

4,700

TDs

49

33

INTs

7

17

Comp. %

70.6 %

66.3 %

NFL Rank

3rd

1st

Sacks

39

16

QB RTG

125.3

91.9

PPG

35.0

27.2

TOP

31:37

29:55

Rodgers statistically is better across the board. More yards, TDs, Comp %, and QB rating while having less INTs and no losses (so far).  From an individual standpoint, Aaron Rodgers in 2011 is much better than Peyton Manning was in 2010. The statistical difference (especially TD-INT ratio) alone could be worth an extra 4-6 wins depending on how the Packers finish the season their last 6 games.

If you go to the next level metric-wise, you can compare the two quarterbacks with some stats help from Football Outsiders.  Using their QB metrics (DYAR, DVOA, and EYards – All explained here, we can get a better idea of just how valuable each QB is to his respective team.

2011 PACKERS: RODGERS (Proj: 16 games)

2010 COLTS: Manning (16 games)

DYAR

1,720

1,679

DVOA

55.0 %

25.0 %

Eyards

4,432

6,032

The two are almost exactly the same when it comes to DYAR – which compares each player’s production versus what the average quarterback would produce in the same situations in relation to total yardage. In DVOA  – which measures the value of each player on each play over what the average replacement would be – the advantage goes significantly to Rodgers; he is that much more valuable than whoever his replacement would be on each play. The final stat, EYards – “Effective Yards,” which measures how effective a player is beyond just the sheer numbers (and based on usage) – goes to Manning. Looking at the 3 next-level stats, Rodgers is worth more every play while Manning is worth more because of the volume of how much he was used…so their respective values to their teams somewhat evens out.

A good comparison here is Brookyln Decker in the movie “Just Go With It” against Jolie in “Tomb Raider.” When she is on screen, Decker’s performance in “Just Go With It” is off-the-charts. Scene-for-scene, it’s arguably some of the best stuff we’ve seen in cinema in quite some time. Jolie on the other hand is the entire movie in “Tomb Raider.” It’s 100 minutes of Jolie being consistently hot. Her usage rate is nuts.

Rodgers is much like Decker. You would probably give Decker – a blonde Victoria’s Secret model crossed with a Hooters waitress – the slight edge over Jolie – brunette, extremely attractive, and almost equally as endowed, but with a few extra years and the burden of being somewhat of a legitimate actress.

Looks just like Aaron Rodgers to me.

So statistically, both QBs are about as valuable to their team; just in different ways. You may even give Rodgers the edge.  Now we have to look at some other factors, though – the supporting casts.

The 2010 Colts and the 2011 Packers were both lacking high-producing backfields and both had similar weapons as far as receivers and tight ends go (very good – with Manning dealing with some WR injuries throughout the year). From an offensive line standpoint, the 2010 Colts gave up only 16 sacks – which was 29th among quarterbacks – while Peyton was 1st in pass attempts – an incredible job by the line.  While some of this can be attributed to Manning, Aaron Rodgers in 2011 is on pace to be sacked 39 times. So offensively, both teams are very similar – with the Colts having better protection.

On the other side of the ball, both team’s defenses were not particularly good. Two defensive stats can be used to compare these: the NFL Total Defense Rankings (based on yards per game) and Football Outsider’s Defensive Efficiency Ranking (“Defensive DVOA”):

2010 IND Defensive DVOA = 8.2 % (24th)

–          Total Defense: 341.6 ypg (20th)

2011 GB Defensive DVOA = 12.3 % (26th)

–          Total Defense: 397.8 ypg (31st)

Comparing the two, Indianapolis had the better defense…or to put it more appropriately, Indianapolis’ defense was less awful. Green Bay’s 2011 defense is among the very worst in the league.  While they do have quite a few take-aways and have had some opportunistic plays, from an overall standpoint they have been one of the worst in the league.

Finally. with the hypothesis – the Packers losing Aaron Rodgers – you have to take into account whoever the replacement would be. As an example, here is how the Colts’ Gyllenhaal switch fared this year:

2010 COLTS: Manning

(16 games)

2011 COLTS: QBs (Proj: 16 games)

Record

10-6

0-16

Yards

4700

3106

TDs

33

13

INTs

17

15

Comp. %

66.3

56.1

NFL Rank

1st

26th

Sacks

16

33

QB RTG

91.9

71.8

PPG

27.2

14.5

TOP

29:55

25:27

The Colts’ QBs have been well below average. It is arguable that you could say Matt Flynn would fare better than the Colts’ group of Gyllenhaals (Collins/Painter/Orlovsky). If you give Flynn the benefit of the doubt and say he would be average, the difference between Rodgers 2011 season and Manning’s 2010 season would most likely be about the same as the difference between Flynn’s potential average season and the Colts’ QBs in 2011. (Note: Flynn looking like Matt Damon does not warrant a comparison in this NFL-to-Hollywood analogy).

With Flynn as the unknown entity in this situation, it is conceivable that as a QB with almost no experience, Flynn could be just as bad as the collective of Colts’ QBs this year – which would make the drop-off in quarterback play for the hypothetical Rodgers-less Packers that much more pronounced.

Considering everything – Green Bay defense, offensive line, and backfield – without Aaron Rodgers this team doesn’t win 6 games. It looks like Manning (10-6 in 2010) is going to be worth about 10 wins if the Colts’ stay on their valiant path to 0 wins. By all statistical indication, Rodgers is worth at least 10+ wins, and if the Packers finish 16-0 with him, they would be at best 6-10 without him. I say closer to 4-12.

So the conclusions we have drawn here are as follows: the 2011 Colts are “Tomb Raider” without Angelina Jolie, Brooklyn Decker in “Just Go With It” may have the highest VORP (VORA?) of any actress in any movie ever, and The Gyllenhaal Switch is the opposite of The Ewing Theory.

Oh yeah…and the 2011 Packers might be as bad as the 2011 Colts without Aaron Rodgers.

*** I’d also like to point out we went 1600+ words without “Tim,” “Tebow,” or “Jesus Christ” being any of them. Your welcome.

Simplifying Chris Johnson’s Beef: He’s Right

If the Titan's don't give up some money, you may not see this for quite some time.

Chris Johnson is holding out.  You all know this.  Like many things in the NFL, though, situations aren’t properly understood by the fans or explained by the media.  I was curious as to the particulars of the situation, so I dug a little bit and wanted to explain to all of you why Johnson is holding out and why he is absolutely correct.

Unbiased disclaimer: I don’t like players holding out.  You signed a deal, you play out the contract.  So I come into this with a negative perspective towards CJ and his current situation.  A few things in this particular case swing me the other way though:

1. Leverage

Chris Johnson has it.  A lot of it.  Right now Vegas has the Titans 2011 win total over/under at 6.5.  If CJ is in camp right now and ready to go week 1, that number is 7.5.  If Vegas knew he wasn’t playing a game all season, and you have a Matt Hasselbeck – Javon Ringer backfield, that number could easily be 4.5.  You could make a very nice argument that Johnson is more important to his team than any other running back in the league.  The Titans will be undoubtedly worse without him on the field.

2. Performance

Johnson has played three years.  He has played in 47 of 48 games over those three years.  His average numbers per season look like this: 300 carries, 1,533 yards, 11 TDs, 2 fumbles lost.  These numbers are very similar to Adrian Peterson, who would be the only other RB over the last three years you could argue was as good or better than CJ.  His numbers over his four years in the league look like this: 296 carries, 1,446 yards, 13 TDs, 3.25 fumbles lost.  Looks about even to me.  Well here are their respective contracts:

Very similar contracts for the first three years, as per the difference in draft position and the SOP for 1st-round rookie RBs.  Chris Johnson considers himself the best running back in the league – and most people can’t really disagree.  He is 1 or 2 on everyone’s list.  He has produced the last three years – better than everyone except maybe AP.  He deserves the money, and he is young enough to warrant the investment as all signs point to this continuing.

3. Liability

If Johnson gets badly hurt or hits a wall at any point in the next two years – not uncommon for running backs in this league – and he gets cut, he only gets the remainder of that guaranteed 7 million.  Which would mean over 3 or 4 years, he only gets 7 million dollars and his career could possibly be over.  NFL contracts are not guaranteed – we all know this.  Johnson realized this last year and held out for a short amount of time.  He was appeased by the team with an extra $2.5 million.  He produced again, and again was not given more money.

The average length of an NFL player’s career is 3.3 years.  Running Backs have the shortest average career length at 2.57 years.  Considering Johnson in an elite running back, his liability is extreme every time he touches the field. With 300 carries a year, the propensity for injury is massive.  Johnson isn’t Natrone Means either, he is a smaller back, he is the focus of every defense the Titans play, and he has been relatively injury-free so far in his career.

His contract still has two years left, so even if he shut his mouth and played out his current deal, performed on this same level without injury, the Titans could simply franchise him in 2013, and he wouldn’t be able to go out and get his big deal (he would still get the average of the top 5 RBs in the league, so not terrible).  He would be stuck for three years.

4. Relative Compensation

We’ve been comparing AP and CJ and come up with basically the same production.  AP is the highest paid RB in the league and makes 10.72 million this year while CJ makes 800K.  If AP is number 1, where is CJ you ask?  How about 31st.  He is the 31st highest paid RB in the league.  This puts him behind franchise-caliber All-Pro backs like Atlanta’s Ovie Mughelli (3 mil), Detroit’s Maurice Morris (1.625 mil), San Fran’s Moran Norris (1.5 mil), and Buffalo’s Corey McIntyre (950K).  I’m not sure who those last two guys are either.

He is the 241st highest paid player in the NFL.  On NFL Network’s player-voted rankings of the Top 100 players in the league that was recently done, CJ came in at 13th.  He isn’t even in the top 13 paid players on his own team – he is 19th.  Cortland Finnegan walked out of Titans’ camp this year and he makes 3.29 mil this year.  If you want to see the 18 players ahead of CJ on the Titans’ roster, check this out. The highest paid Titan is Safety Chris Hope who makes around 6 million a year.

The numbers I could find using rotoworld.com and musiccitymiracles.com put the Titans with about 9 million in cap room this year.  Clearly plenty of room to give CJ some more money.

IPSO FACTO…

Chris Johnson is 100% correct in holding out.  He is vastly under-appreciated, vastly under-paid, and seemingly stuck without a big pay-day for three more years. That would make him a 28-year-old running back with six years on his odometer.  (I would bring up Shaun Alexander getting his big contract at that point in his career and then somehow having a negative total of broken tackles for the remainder of the deal but it gives me Nam-like flashbacks).  His career could easily be over at that point, even if he was not significantly injured during that time.

He needs to get paid now, and he is too valuable to the Titans for them to be playing these shenanigans with him for the second year in a row.  So as this situation continues – if the Titans don’t give him what he deserves – remember that CJ is right and they are wrong.

The defense rests.

(For future reference: There are a few running backs who, with another productive year, will be in a similar situation next year.  Matt Forte is already grumbling this year – he is only scheduled to make 555K this season.  Other young, top-tier backs who are going to be vastly underpaid as per their expected production this year: Rashard Mendenhall (612.5K), Ray Rice (555K), Arian Foster (525K), and Shady McCoy (480K).  It will be interesting how each of these teams and players handle these situations as they become more tense.)

Hey Chad Pennington, Relax with the Comeback Player of the Year Bullshit

ESPN.com – Hard-luck quarterback Chad Pennington tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a pickup basketball game and will undergo surgery next week. Pennington’s agent, Tom Condon, said in a news release Thursday that Pennington will have the operation April 7 and well-known surgeon Dr. James Andrews will perform it. The release did not say which knee Pennington injured. The former Jets and Dolphins quarterback is now a free agent. The 34-year-old Pennington twice has been selected the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, but he lasted just two plays last season with the Dolphins before hurting his right shoulder again. He had surgery on it for the fourth time, but said he wants to try to return to the NFL this season.

If I’m James Chadwick Pennington, I’m not buttering my own toast let alone playing pick-up basketball (and by “buttering my own toast” I mean literally buttering his toast and also masturbating). Especially considering his history, and the fact that “playing pick up basketball” is at the top of the list of “poor off-season decisions for athletes” along with being on a sex boat, trying to kill farm workers with a machete, wearing sweatpants while carrying your gun in a New York Club, running an underground dog-fighting ring, hiring someone to kill your wife, riding in a limo with Ray Lewis’ limo driver, using a cell phone to facilitate a drug deal, “training” with Baron Davis, or anything involving a motorcycle.

Greinke goes down like two weeks before this from playing ball, and the anti-gunslinger has no reservations about going out there and potentially ending his career. This is the same Chad Pennington who is throwing rainbows and sunshine passes every Sunday and was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship while at Marshall, but decides to go rogue and play pick-up basketball when he isn’t even signed yet this year? Dangerous and not smart. I’m not buying it.

Pennington is clearly setting up shop to make a run at Comeback Player of the Year in 2012. He’s already the only player in history to win the award twice (2006 and 2008), and has really nothing else going for him. Why not take a dive in a pick-up game, relax for the entire year and ramp up for 2012? This way you have nothing to lose. Either you kill it and make it number three – pretty much locking that record up for the history of the NFL, or you fail miserably and everyone feels bad for you because you got hurt. Shit is genius.

Either way, he needs to come back and play a little more, and hopefully play poorly. James Chadwick currently has the All-Time NFL record for Completion Percentage at 66.0%. I looked through some NFL records, and I can’t find more of a joke than this. The only thing that comes close is “Most Consecutive Completions in a Game,” which is 24 by Donovan McNabb. How he went 24 passes without throwing a check down 90 miles-an-hour at someone’s feet or skipping a comeback route five yards in front of his receiver is beyond me. Pennington has never made a Pro-Bowl yet he holds the All-Time Completion Percentage record. Other records Pennington holds: “Only Quarterback in NFL History to Have Never Thrown a Pass Longer than 25 Yards,” “Most Lob Passes in One Game (24),” and “Only NFL Player to Miss a Game With a Yeast Infection.”


Straight Cash Homie: NFL Playoff Picks Sunday

Went one-for-two yesterday with a Steelers comeback win and an Aaron Rodgers deflowering of Atlanta. Looks like the parallels between the 2010 Falcons and 2006 Chargers were valid after all. I’d think to think the game would’ve been different if Matty Ice didn’t throw that first half walk-off touchdown pass to Tremon Williams, but we will never know. Moral of the story yesterday: QBs win you playoff games. Big surprise, right? Yesterday it looked like this: Aaron Rodgers > Big Ben > Joe Flacco > Matt Ryan. Simple as that. The theme continues today.

Sunday, 1:00pm – Seahawks (+10) over BEARS

Let’s be honest, this line has to be too high, right? Jay Cutler has all the trimmings of a playoff collapse. Let’s look at all these things that uninspired confidence:

1. This is his first playoff game ever.
2. He is such a dick, he inspired Rick Reilly to roast him in a column this week. The usually fang-less Reilly reserves his selective criticisms for the likes of high-profilers Obama and Tiger Woods. Cutler’s misplaced bravado was enough to make Reilly interested.
3. He is extremely turnover prone. This year: 16 picks and 9 fumbles. Last year: 26 picks and 4 fumbles.
4. He was sacked more times than anyone else in the league.
5. He notoriously makes poor decisions throwing the ball, and as Keyshawn pointed out today has had quite a few balls hit defenders in the hands this year that weren’t caught.
6. His teammates don’t like him.
7. This is his first playoff game ever.

If I am the Seahawks defense, I can’t be more excited to play Jay Cutler. He is clearly the biggest question mark in the playoffs and I can’t see him not making a few mistakes.

On the other side, Matthew Michael Hasselbeck showed off his playoff chops last week and has to be confident coming into this week. Mike Williams had his breakout game in week six against the smaller Bears’ corners with 10 catches. Look for Seattle to exploit that matchup again.

Seattle wins this game if two things happen:

1. Jeremy Bates has a good day play-calling. Trust me on this as I’m one of the few people who have watched every Seahawks snap this season outside of Seattle; when Bates is clicking and the team is in a groove they can move the ball on anyone. When they get cute and try the wrong things at the wrong times (see: the four 25-yard floating jump balls on 4th-and-1s this year) they will not succeed. If the Seahawks can out-coach the Bears like they did the Saints last week, they will win this game. (Okay that was a pretty obvious statement a la John Madden…but it is true. I love Brett Favre.)

2. They have to keep the Bears receivers in front of them. If Cutler hits a few big plays and gets some confidence it could be bad. In the Seahawks “Bandit” package where they play three safetys, rookie safety Kam Chancellor is very vulnerable. If the Bears do there homework, they’ll find this out.

Sunday, 4:00pm – PATRIOTS (-9) over Jets

The 2010 New England Patriots are first in the league with 0.525 points per play. The next closest in the entire league was San Diego at 0.424. The Jets? 0.332. Why do I bring up this stat? Because it is reeeeediculous. The Pats weren’t even close to that number last year. Not enough people are realizing how good Brady and the Pats are this year. The yards-per-play stat says this: If both teams run 50 plays, the Pats win 26-16. If the Jets run 60 and the Pats 40, the Pats still win 21-20.

IT IS NOT ABOUT “KEEPING BRADY OFF THE FIELD!” This is what you’ve been hearing all week. It’s about limiting his plays. The Pats won games this year with the following TOP (time of posession) numbers: 27:43, 25:35, 24:52, and 19:12. Remember in the NFL we play 60-minute games.

I have no doubt the Pats win. Mark Sanchez isn’t going into Foxboro and beating this team with this quarterback and this coach that had a week to prepare. Brady didn’t watch the Jets game last week because he didn’t have to. What could he possible have seen that he hasn’t already? He’s been going to the theatre, wearing Uggs, and rolling around on a Razor scooter like a boss not giving two shits about anything to do with the Jets. And now he will go out and shred them per usual on his way to his fourth Super Bowl. The line has moved to 9 but I’m still confident in at least a 10-point win. Take the Pats.

Straight Cash Homie: NFL Playoff Picks for Saturday

As Wes Welker would say, it is time to put your best foot forward.  This is arguably one of the best weekends in sports: Week 2 of the NFL Playoffs.  You still get four games in two days, you don’t have any shitty wildcard teams left, and you have fantastic matchups where teams are playing as hard as possible because a win means a conference championship game.  I suggest just sitting back and enjoying the 48 hours of football.  However, if you’d like to make things a little more interesting, risking some of your hard earned dollars on the outcomes of these games can be fun too.  For those of you doing the latter, here is how you should play it for Saturday, we’ll do Sunday tomorrow.

Saturday, 4:30pm – STEELERS (-3) over Ravens

Ben Roethlisberger has never lost to Joe Flacco

Ben Roethlisberger has not lost to the Ravens in six games.

Ben Roethlisberger is 8-2 in his career against the Ravens

Ben Roethlisberger is going to take the Ravens into a bar bathroom and have his way with them.

Why do I begin with three legitimate sentences and one other sentence about Big Ben?  Because Big Ben does not lose these kinds of games.  He doesn’t lose many games in general, but especially not second-round home playoff games against the Ravens.  You may not like him, his face may look like a Salvador Dali painting at this point, and he may not make the best off-the-field decisions, but the guy wins football games.  Herm Edwards texted me something interesting the other day: “You PLAY to WIN the GAME.”

I can’t explain it.  I can’t quantify it.  I can’t even give you a score because it does not matter.  Ben will find a way to win this game and you can take that to the bank.  The only way this thing goes south for Pittsburgh is if Troy gets hurt.  In case you forgot the last time these two teams played, Polamalu literally single-handedly won the game with his absurd blitz off the edge resulting in a Flacco fumble and a Steeler touchdown.  I am confident he will be on the field and effective.  So confident in fact, I have dust off Punxsutawney Polamalu.

Gun to my head, I say take the Steelers and lay the three points.  I’m not excited about it, but you can’t not bet on NFL playoff football.  I won’t be mad at you if you take Baltimore, but know Big Ben wins this game somehow.  Trend right now is 62% of the public is on Baltimore (+3).  This is the highest of any of the games this weekend.  Like I said, I’m not mad at you, but how can you all be betting against Big Ben?  You’re not betting on the Ravens unless you think they can win.  You NEVER bet on an away dog in the playoffs unless you think they can win.  At least I hope you aren’t doing that.

 

Saturday, 8:30 – FALCONS (-2) over Packers

Another game that is a complete coin flip.  So why am I still doing the Dirty Bird?  Why the hell not?  Matty Ice wins games at home.  I’m not going to get cute here, I like what Green Bay has going on.  Rodgers is a stud, that defense is solid, and they should have run up on the Eagles.  On the other side, I don’t like the running back situation, Donald Driver is 80 years old, and they don’t have anyone to cover Rowdy Roddy White.

My only worry…Are these Falcons the same exact team as the 2006 Schottenheimer Chargers? Let’s analyze:

Regular Season Record: 2010 Falcons 13-3, 2006 Chargers 14-2

Stud Young Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Philip Rivers

Top 5 Running Back: Michael Turner, LaDanian Tomlinson

Go-To Tight End: Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates

Big-Play Wide Receiver: Rowdy Roddy White, Vincent Jackson

Good Regular Season Coach Unproven in the Playoffs: Mike Smith, Marty Schottenheimer

It was a little too quiet of a 13-3 season in my opinion.  If they didn’t have that big game against the Saints this would have been the most under the radar 13+ season since the 2006 Chargers.  The parallels are all over the place for me.  This team is built to win at home and in the regular season.  The Chargers ended that season with 10 straight wins, went on bye, then lost to the Pats at home 24-21.  This Falcons team has come in winning 9 of their last 10, went on bye, and now face the Packers at home.

This scares the hell out of me.  However, I believe in Mike Smith more than Schottenheimer.  I HATE Philip Rivers with a fervent passion and I like Matty Ice – especially at home.  I think it’s a good game, but that crowd should be into it and I think Green Bay got beat up a little bit last week and won’t be able to run the ball.  Atlanta has the second best run defense in the league and THE BEST RUN DEFENSE AT HOME IN THE LEAGUE.  That’s enough for me to say they aren’t the 2006 Chargers…I hope.

Steelers and Falcons are the picks today.  Good luck!

Cromartie v. Brady: Behind the Numbers


I'd bet Brady's "mothers" may be slightly more attractive than Cromartie's as well. And less coked-out.

Saw this screenshot from a Comcast broadcast on Barstool.  One of the better graphics I’ve ever seen.  Nine kids by 26?  This is rivaling some of the greats like Travis Henry and Shawn Kemp.  Funny enough, the most ridiculous stat on that page is the four interceptions by Brady this year.

CROMARTIE MATH

What is the over/under on the number of kids Cromartie finishes with here?  I’d put it at 12.  He has to slow down at some point, right?  If he continues at this pace (a kid every 2.8 years or 1,054 days), and we conservatively estimate he will live to be 62 (the average of 69.7 years average life expectancy for african-american males and 55 years for NFL players), he should end up with about 22 kids.  I say we bump the over/under to 15.  How this isn’t a prop bet somewhere is beyond me.  Speaking of good props that could come out of this, how bout this one: More likely to be a professional athlete, a kid of Brady’s or a kid of Cromarties?  Odds are JET Brady or Ben Brady, with perhaps the genealogy of the next step in the evolution of the human race (Brady+Bridget Moynihan or Brady+Gisele), turns out to be a stud quarterback.  However, Cromartie has at least nine shots at this thing, and odds are he can get an NFL or NBA guy out of there somewhere, especially with the family already having multiple guys in the NFL (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie).  These are the kind of debates that should be on SportsNation by the way.  I’d say odds are Future Cromartie +400, Future Brady +1250, Neither -110.

In relation, here is the clip from Hard Knocks this year where Cromartie tries to remember all of his kids and their names.  Give the guy a break it’s hard to keep this stuff straight.  I’m sure he does fine with a playbook.

What does SportsNation think?