I leave for vacation in Las Vegas in exactly 6 days. Thank God. The weather here in Chicago is beyond shitty and if I have to live through one more 20 degree day it might be time to take a bath with my toaster. Not only that but it’s a welcome respite from the 2 month long prostate exam I have been undergoing in getting approved or disapproved by various lenders to buy a new house. A word to wise people, PAY YOUR PARKING TICKETS. When applying for a loan there is no distinction made between someone who has an unpaid parking ticket and a war criminal, I shit you not.
Last week in his column, Dr. Jay Gauss offered his view on the question of whether it is better for an NFL team to go with potential or experience at the all important QB position. Jay firmly believes that , for example, giving the choice of starting Eli Manning Version 2004 or Kurt Warner 2k4, that Manning should be the guy. So let me put on my black resistol hat for a second if I may and take you back to last week:
There were several quarterback changes and non-changes during the 2004 season and in this off-season. Most of these (Bills releasing Bledsoe to play Losman, Testaverde or Henson in Dallas, Warner or Manning in New York) ended up as youth vs. experience. Which is the one to go with, youth or experience?
There are only two types of teams that end their seasons with a win: the team that wins the Super Bowl and the improving team that did not make the playoffs. EVERY TEAM SHOULD ASPIRE TO END THE SEASON WITH A WIN.
Look at the choices that these teams had to make – are the Cowboys any better off now having played Vinny instead of Drew? What about the Redskins? Did having Brunell in the lineup really help matters? Were the Bengals going to win the Super Bowl with John f-ing Kitna? Even the Brees and Rivers debate in San Diego didn’t turn out well: they lost at home to the Jets.
Think back and come up with a team that won it all when they went with experience instead of youth: Brad Johnson over Shaun King (that was difficult), Doug Williams, and Jim Plunkett. I can come up with youth winning it with experience sitting on the bench (Brady in 01, Hostetler over Phil Simms). When there is a real debate over youth and experience, it is usually because experience sucks.
I know, the Giants were “going to the playoffs” with Warner. Would you have wagered a dime on them winning it all with Kurt taking the sacks I mean snaps? It is like Jeff George possessed his body. Yea, Brees won some games, but the Chargers watched the big game on TV like everyone else. Do you think Bledsoe could have won Superbowl XXXVI? IDONTTHINKSO! “You’ve got to go with experience?” Do you know who says that? Old man quarterbacks sitting in the booth, convincing themselves that they still have what it takes to play in the league.
Ten years ago I would have agreed with Jay. We are taught in all things that it is better to build a firm foundation for the future than to live for the fleeting glory of today. House on sand vs. House on concrete I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in and so forth and so on. However, in today’s NFL you have to go into every year thinking you can at the very least win your division and if you don’t do that then you are just making excuses for your own ineptitude.
What this means is that with the freedom of player movement in today’s NFL every position has to be treated as a completely interchangeable part. This includes quarterback . The man who plays quarterback or weakside linebacker or fullback or whatever should be the best available player you have at that position, end of story. If he’s not the best player next year or the year after you let him go and bring in somebody better than him.
If you are an NFL coach or GM and you say to your team that you are going to put all of your eggs in the basket of a young QB and be prepared to suck for a couple of years while he sorts out the nuances of the pro game, you are asking to get yourself fired. You then have 44 other players who all want to succeed who are being asked to put their careers on hold so that dreamy 6 foot 4 Johnny Stongarm can maybe or maybe not harness his potential and become the next John Elway.
Take a look at the quarterbacks who have won Super Bowls since John Elway retired. I see a Kurt Warner, a Trent Dilfer, a Brad Johnson, and Tom Brady (a sixth round draft pick) 3 times. These are all guys who have been adequate to slightly better than adequate who had a tremendous team around them. The operative word there is team. Football is the ultimate team game and putting the development of one player in one position, even one as critical as QB, to the detriment of the development of the rest of the team, is the wrong thing to do. You don’t need a GREAT quarterback to win a Super Bowl in the free agency era NFL. What you need is somebody who is intelligent and confident and can play within himself and the system and allow his team to succeed.
So you’ve heard both sides of the story America. Text your votes via Cingular Wireless to decide who will be your next American Idol! My titties aren’t as big as Jessica Sierra’s but I can turn that mofo out just like Michael Bolo. You know what they say, see a broad to get that bodiac, lay’er down an’ smack em yack em.
NFL COMPOST MORTEM- AFC West
Free agency season is upon us and some big names have moved already, which means that the 2005 season has officially started, hope you enjoyed that 2 week off season. In a happy coincidence, today we wrap up our review of the 2004 season by dissecting the AFC West.
San Diego Chargers 12-4 1st Place AFC West, 10th NFL Total Offense, 18th NFL Total Defense
Every once in a while an NFL team comes from absolutely out of nowhere to enjoy a great season. The 1999 Rams and 2001 Bears are probably the first and foremost teams that come to mind. The big question for a team like this is are they the Rams or are they the Bears? Are they a one year wonder or are they a team that will be competing in the playoffs perennially for the next 5 years?
While the Chargers were a great story in 2004, I’m going to have to say that they are looking pretty Bear-ish to me. The Chargers benefited big time from the fact that every other team in their division had a down year. The Broncos continued to labor under the illusion that Jake Plummer is going to be a big time QB one day, the Chiefs underestimated how bad their defense really was and the Raiders just flat out sucked. Granted, the Chargers did step up and fill the void this past season, but all 3 of these division rivals look like teams that will be improved next year, which means that 5-1 division record this year could easily become 1-5 next year, and that makes all the difference in the world.
QB Drew Brees will again enter the season as the starter next year after a career-saving 2004. He has a one year $8 million contract but will have 04 first round pick Phillip Rivers looking over his shoulder all year. If Brees or the Chargers falter early, they will have the pall of a QB controversy hanging over the team all season. The Bolts have targeted Redskin WR Rod Gardner to steer some coverage away from all world TE Antonio Gates, and but were unsuccessful in trying to lure return man Alan Rossum to shore up the special teams. I love what the Chargers did this past season, but the arrow is definitely pointing down for them for 05.
Denver Broncos 10-6 2nd Place AFC West, 5th NFL Total Offense, 4th NFL Total Defense
How could a team with a great running game and offensive and defensive units that were both in the top 5 in the NFL in yardage still be so overwhelmingly mediocre? Good question.
Bronco Head Coach Mike Shanahan has found you can get a lot of breathing room from winning back to back Super Bowls, but that room is running out. In the last few seasons the Broncos have kind of taken on the same air the Steelers and Cowboys did in the early 80s, and the Bears and 49ers did in the early and mid 90s, a dynasty of the decade before who is still making the playoffs consistently but obviously a shell of their former selves.
You may remember a few paragraphs ago how I said every team should enter every year thinking it can at least win its division. Well I am going to go ahead and contradict that here by saying the Broncos need to drop a bomb on their team as it is currently comprised and begin rebuilding. While I am saying the opposite of everything I said a little bit ago, I will go ahead and say that job #1 is to reassess the QB situation. They are not going to win a Super Bowl with Jake Plummer at QB, they just aren’t. I cannot think of one team in the league that could be better served by handing over the reins to and developing a young QB more than the Broncos.
In order for the Broncos to do that though, they are going to have to take a torch to the rest of the team as well, including Shanahan. Shanahan has shown he can win Super Bowls with John Elway at QB, but as far as developing young QBs he has only the near destruction of Brian Greise and now the developing train wreck that is Jake Plummer on his resume. Shanahan knows how to get a veteran team to 9-7 but it is time for the Broncos to not be that team anymore. Clear some cap space, flush out the coaching staff, and come up with a new plan Stan.
Kansas City Chiefs 7-9 3rd AFC West, 1st NFL Total Offense, 31st NFL Total Defense
Dick Vermiel wants to take off RB Larry Johnson’s diaper….with his teeth! Hayoooooooooooo! Vermiel is such a beautiful human being, I should like to stroll through his vineyards with him.
That said, I think we can all agree that the Chiefs were probably the most disappointing team in the NFL last year. When you are looking to improve your coaching staff we all know it behooves you to hire someone you just fired a couple of years ago, so the Chiefs exhumed former head coach Gunther Cunningham and brought him back to coordinate the defense to one of the all time shitty performances in the history of our sport. However, I feel pretty confident that what happened last year was an aberration, and that the team will be back in contention in 05. The Chiefs won 4 out of their last 5 games, and even in the midst of a horrible season beat the Colts and gave the Patriots all they could handle as well.
The offense is tip top as is, so the offseason focus will definitely be on trying to make the defense respectable. The first step towards this was the signing of Steelers LB Kendrell Bell to a seven year $35 million contract. That’s a nice signing, but the real plum would be if they could land Pats CB Ty Law, who they have also been in pursuit of.
The Chiefs look like a team that will once again be among the league’s elite next year, and should enter the season as the favorites in the AFC West. That’s about all I’ve got to say about them. They’re not a hard team to analyze, offense good, defense bad, need make defense better, you don’t have to be Brian Baldinger to know that.
Oakland Raiders 5-11 4th AFC West, 17th NFL Total Offense, 30th NFL Total Defense
So Randy Moss is a Raider now. Well, let’s see here, in the AFC I can pick from a team that has won 3 out of the last 4 Super Bowls and operates with Ivan Drago like mechanical efficiency (New England), or then there’s the team with the record setting quarterback (Indianapolis), or maybe the team with a suffocating defense that runs for 200 yards a game (Pittsburgh), or I can put my money on the team with a terrible, aging defense that just traded one of its few young, good players in LB Napoleon Harris, is in the process of losing another in CB Charles Woodson, and has invested its future in a 15 year old malcontent trapped in a 30 year old’s body who will be sulking all the way to the bank as soon as the losing starts, which it will. Hmmm…let me see here.
The fact of the matter is that if the Raiders were an NFC team then I might say yes, the quick fix shot in the arm may be the way to go. Not so in the AFC though. In the AFC there are just too many franchises that have gotten it right to expect to add a little spackle here and a little Randy Moss there and be able to have a chance to compete for a championship.
The Raiders have opted to be the backdrop for the Randy Moss soap opera from now until the end of the decade, so I wish them luck with that. As if that were’nt enough, now there’s word the Raiders are interested in another troubled WR, David Boston. The Raiders deserve to suck and I look forward to watching them do that in 05.
THESE THINGS I BELIEVE- MLB PREDICTIONS!
Alright we have spent the last 6 weeks taking a look at the offseason comings and goings in MLB, and now it is time for me to do what every pundit should do, make predictions so they may be laughed at and thrown back in my face when they turn out to be totally wrong, so here we go!
1. NY Yankees 98-64- Their rotation is decidedly better than the Red Sox, giving them the edge.
2. Boston 93-69- The Red Sox are so gay, I hate them even more now that David Wells is on them.
3. Baltimore 76-86- How will they cope with the loss of Jerry Hairston Jr.?
4. Toronto 74-88- If I owned the Blue Jays I would give them back their old uniforms.
5. Tampa Bay 72-90- I question this team’s right to exist. If this was England they would be in the fifth division by now.
1. Cleveland 89-73- That lineup is just fearsome yo.
2. Minnesota 87-75- Rotation is lacking, White Sox will never put it together to take division but Tribe has.
3. Chicago 84-78- They win 80-85 games every year, this year will be no different.
4. Detroit 80-82- I love their young rotation, in a non-sexual way.
5. Kansas City 62-100- Tied to a whipping post.
1. Los Angeles 91-71- AL West Champs by default.
2. Texas 83-79- Their rotation sucks.
3. Seattle 76-86- Barking up the wrong tree with offseason focus on adding power.
4. Oakland 74-88- F this steroid infested franchise, I hope they rot in hell. I’m glad they will suck this year. That rat Billy Beane will jump ship after this season too.
1. Atlanta 94-68- The train keeps a rollin.
2. Florida 90-72- Lack of a closer will keep them from division title.
3. NY Mets 86-76- Beltran is the only guy in baseball other than Bonds that can carry a team to a winning record by himself.
4. Washington 76-86- National Kato.
5. Philadelphia 75-87- And the bottom drops out.
1. Cincinnati 90-72- MMMM that’s good crack!!
2. St. Louis 88-74- Pitchers won’t recapture lightning in a bottle.
3. Chicago 88-74- Kerry Wood’s shoulder is already bothering him, bullpen sucks, lineup suspect.
4. Houston 76-86- Clemens will be a Yankee by August.
5. Pittsburgh 72-90- Yarrrr!
6. Milwaukee 63-99- Bernie Brewer is crying in his MeisterBrau up in the chalet.
1. San Diego 92-70- And an NL Cy Young for Jake Peavy.
2. San Francisco 86-76- This year will be a circus. Barry Bonds is the bearded lady.
3. Los Angeles 79-83- I don’t understand what they did this offseason. Help me understand.
4. Arizona 74-88- A 23 game improvement and they still suck!
5. Colorado 65-97- Merge them with the Devil Rays, then destroy them.
Yankees over Indians
Red Sox over Angels
San Diego over Florida
Atlanta over Cincinnati
Yankees over Red Sox
Atlanta over San Diego
Atlanta over Yankees
The Braves organization deserves it.
NBA SWAP MEET- Trade Deadline Roundup
What went down at the NBA trade deadline? Here’s a quick summary:
– Philly acquired Chris Webber, Michael Bradley, and Matt Barnes from Sacramento for Kenny Thomas, Corliss Williamson, and Brian Skinner
I am non-plussed by Chris Webber. Anytime you have a running debate over whether your team plays better when you are hurt or when you are healthy, there’s a problem. His acquisition will only impede the development of Andre Igoudala and Kyle Korver, and won’t be enough for the Sixers to beat either the Pistons or the Heat in the playoffs. That’s the rule of thumb. If you are making a “right now” trade, you better be sure that you are in a position to win “right now”, the Sixers aren’t. As for the Kings, they still can’t win on the road, so who cares.
– New Jersey acquired Cliff Robinson from Golden State for second round draft picks in 2005 and 2007.
Jason Kidd still has yellow eyes. I don’t see how this addresses that situation.
– San Antonio acquired Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer for Malik Rose and conditional first round picks in 2005 and 2006.
Since this is the Spurs trading with the Knicks I will just assume the Spurs got the better of the deal.
– Philly acquired Rodney Rogers and Jamal Mashburn from New Orleans for Glenn Robinson
Did either team throw in a time machine and dial it up to 1998? No? Well then what the hell.
– New York acquired Maurice Taylor from Houston for Moochie Norris, Vin Baker, and a second round pick in 2006
Speaking of time machines, Corliss Williamson is back on the Kings, Moochie Norris is back on the Rockets. I eagerly await Ricky Martin’s comeback.
– Miami acquired Steve Smith from Charlotte for Malik Allen
And Steve Smith is back on the Heat!! What’s next, a talking banana??
– Houston acquired Mike James and Zendon Hamilton from Milwaukee for Reece Gaines and second round picks in 06 and 07.
James is already ripping shit up with the Rockets, good trade for Houston.
– Golden State acquired Baron Davis from New Orleans for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis.
I heard on ESPN that Baron Davis is a fitness freak. I always thought he was fat. My eyes they deceive me.
– Denver acquired Eduardo Najera, Luis Flores and a future first round pick from Golden State for Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Rodney White.
Rodney White was once the 9th overall pick in the draft, Shitshivli was the 5th overall pick. They just got traded for 2 Latino basketball players. I didn’t even know Latinos played basketball. Ahahaha just kidding, I kid because I love.
– Dallas acquired Keith Van Horn from Milwaukee for Alan Henderson and Calvin Booth
Not a good week for first round draft busts was it?
– Cleveland acquired Jiri Welsch from Boston for a first round pick in 2007.
A first round pick in 2007. Did a check for a bajillion dollars dated March 1, 3005 come with that?
– Boston acquired Antoine Walker from Atlanta for Gary Payton, Tom Gugliotta, Michael Stewart, and a future 1st round draft pick
And Antoine Walker is back in Boston. If only we as a society could attempt to erase the last 4 years too.
Well that’s a wrap for this week people. You’re going to have to go without your pancakes next week because I will be “on assignment” so to speak, skulking around Las Vegas losing my ass on first round NCAA tournament games. The plus side to this is that in two weeks I’ll be back to tell you all about it. See you then!