Monthly Archives: March 2012

It’s A Business, But Sometimes It Bums Me Out

The Giants have cut Brandon Jacobs. It’s not a surprise by any means. He was due to make $5 million this year and considering the Giants gave him an average of 10 carries a game the past two seasons, you can’t blame them for this move. But, it’s a move that makes me feel icky. I understand the business side of it, I even criticized Jacob’s running style this season, but he was a guy I enjoyed rooting for.

The thing I loved about Jacobs was the fact that he was damned by the scouts from the moment he came into the league and he proved them wrong. In fact, it’s probably worth revisiting the 2005 Giants’ draft and looking at all the “experts” who have egg on their face now.

You have to remember that the 2005 draft was compromised by the 2004 draft. The Giants traded for Eli Manning in 2004, but included their first and fifth round picks in the 2005 draft to do so.  I don’t think there is a Giants fan out there who would ask for a redo on that one, but it left New York with only four picks in the 2005 draft. Those four picks ended up being- Corey Webster, Justin Tuck, Brandon Jacobs and Eric Moore.  Seven years later, I would call that a pretty successful draft. (Just want to point out that in researching this piece I couldn’t find anyone who gave the Giants anything higher than a B- in that draft. Something to keep in mind next month when the new set of grades roll in.)

But the experts hated it and they hated Jacobs because he was just too big.  You kept reading things about how he couldn’t keep his pads down when running and how he didn’t have the speed to break the big run.  He won’t make the Hall of Fame, but seven years after being drafted he has almost 5,000 yards on the ground and an average of 4.5 per carry.  All in all, not too shabby for a fourth-rounder who most scouts thought would be out of the league in short order.

And he was a pleasure to watch. Jacobs didn’t run through people, he ran over them. Over time, he showed a bit of ability receiving the ball. When he was in solely to block, pass rushers took notice. I’m not sure how much tread is left on his tires, but the Giants will miss him next year.

 

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Forget It Jets Fans

I don’t think a lot of fans are surprised that the Colts have decided to cut Peyton Manning.  Peyton’s contract included a $28-million bonus that would have been triggered if he had remained on the roster. Considering that fact that he had multiple neck surgeries over the past 12 months and hasn’t played a down of football, Indianapolis did the responsible thing. But, now we have Jets fans everywhere clamoring for Peyton Manning and expecting him to be wearing green next year. If you are one of those, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Let’s start with the obvious, the Jets put a lot of faith and money into Mark Sanchez. Sure, “The Sanchize” has his faults, but his completion percentage, number of touchdowns and QB rating have increased every year he has been in the league. I recognize that the Jets would throw him over in an instant for an established superstar at QB, but is Peyton that guy right now?  Until he puts on the pads and shows he can throw like he did against NFL-caliber competition the guy is a huge question mark.  And, even if he can compete in this league, the Jets need to make sure he will take them to the Super Bowl and nothing less if they are going to sign him.  After all, Peyton has maybe five years left in his career, Sanchez could have fifteen.

But the real reason that Peyton Manning won’t become a Jet doesn’t have anything to do with the team.  It has to do with his brother. Put yourself in Peyton’s shoes for a second. You are one of the greatest QB’s in the game, but questions linger over your destiny. Start with the questions about whether or not you are a pressure player because you haven’t won a lot of playoff games. Follow those up with the idea popular in a lot of circles recently that your YOUNGER brother, Eli, is the better QB because he has two Super Bowl rings.*  Considering that, would you sign a contract with a team that forces you to face those questions every single day?

And that’s the harsh reality for the idea of Peyton as a Jet- every day he would be compared to Eli and until he won the Super Bowl it wouldn’t end. And don’t forget, the Jets’ biggest rival is New England.  Every time the Jets lost to New England, Peyton would hear about how his brother owns the Patriots and he can’t beat them. Do you think he is going to sign up for that when he could go to Miami or some other place out of the searing spotlight and rebuild his career?

I spent a long time trying to think of an historical precedent for the Peyton situation.  A-Rod to the Yankees doesn’t work because Manning has a title. Ditto that for LeBron to the Heat. Gretzky and Montana were already considered the best at their positions and had multiple titles when they moved on. From an accomplishment standpoint, Brett Favre is probably the best fit, but Favre actually retired and then started team hopping. So this is uncharted territory here and Peyton now has a chance to change the way history judges him.  Pick the right place and he wins another title which puts him in the conversation of the greatest QB’s ever  Maybe I am judging him unfairly, but I can’t imagine he will try and accomplish that with the added distraction of competing with his brother.

 

*So here’s my two cents on this whole issue of where Eli rates as a QB.  If you ask me who is the better QB, I will tell you Peyton.  If you ask me who is the guy I want with the ball in his hands and the game on the line, I say Eli. And of all the QB’s in the NFL history, Eli has to be close to the top of the list of guys you want in that situation. Ken Stabler, Joe Montana, Eli, maybe Roger Staubach, I can’t think of a lot of other guys in that conversation. Don’t get me wrong Pats fans, Tom Brady is amazing, but I think we can all agree that Eli is the guy you want with the ball when the pressure is on.

Mutiny Over The Bounty

The NFL has a problem on its hands and it is going to be very interesting to see how this ends. I for one am not shocked that the Saints instituted a series of bounties to reward defensive players who knocked opponents out of games. Instead, I am left to wonder how many other teams did the same thing?

Football is all about violence.  Two practice drills come to mind. At my school they were known as “The Ring” and “Head to Head”  In “The Ring” a player stands in the middle of a circle of his teammates.  The coach takes turns calling out the numbers of those teammates who then run full speed at the player in the middle and try and knock him on his ass.  The player has to quickly figure out where the rusher is coming from or he gets destroyed. In “Head to Head” two players lie on their back with their helmets touching.  A coach stands over them and drops a ball into one of their hands.  That player gets up and tries to run, the other player tries to tackle him.  These are extremely violent and brutal drills, but they also capture the essence of the sport- football is a series of violent collisions happening all over the field 100’s of times in a game.

Now, I don’t offer those stories as justification for what has reportedly happened in New Orleans.  Paying someone to hurt another person is disgusting and perhaps this is the lone example of it, but I don’t think it is. I’m not saying everybody did it, but I would bet we will hear of quite a few teams that did when the NFL starts to investigate and they will have plenty to investigate. A football team has 53 players on the roster, plus 8 players on the practice squad. During the season, players get hurt and a team signs new players.  Conservatively, you probably had at least 65 players per team in the NFL last year.  That’s over 2,000 players in 2011 and if you assume half of them played defense, you have over 1,000 players who may have been part of a bounty scheme.

I don’t think most players are going to willingly admit to this, but some of them might. While we have no idea who tipped the league off to the New Orleans situation, let me offer up a guess.  Someone who got cut from the Saints roster, losing his livelihood saw a chance to extract some payback from the organization. Considering that fact that football contracts are not guaranteed, do you think there might be some other willing witnesses out there? How about a player who is on the Saints now, but played for another team in the past where this went on.  Think he will be willing to talk if New Orleans gets heavily penalized here?

I don’t think I am writing anything that hasn’t occurred to the NFL. I imagine the execs in the NFL offices are praying that this isn’t the case, but also preparing for the chance that it might be. This isn’t quite the Black Sox Scandal, but it has the potential to be close in terms of its reach. The NFL better buckle up, the next few weeks could be rough ones.

Now He’s Ripping Off The Giants?

I kid, I kid, but some headline writer will come up with that after they read this excellent piece about A-Rod.

As the article says, it’s hard to believe he did this, but I am thrilled to hear it. I hadn’t thought of it until I read this, but Posada’s retirement may free up Alex in way we hadn’t anticipated. Someone on the Yankees needs to be the vocal leader, that’s certainly not Jeter’s gig, so maybe Alex will fill that void.  Either way, you gotta love the speech.

Forcing It

Jeers to MLB for forcing the new wild card playoff round on us this year.  By doing so, they have changed the format of the divisional series from a 2-2-1 to a 2-3.  Now, the lower-seeded team will open up at home, while the higher seed will have to wait until Game 3 for a home game.  Things will revert back to normal in 2013.

The reason for this change is of course money. By expanding the playoffs, the owners get more money. I have nothing against the idea of expanding the playoffs, in fact I think it restores the integrity of winning the division.   But the idea was floated after the 2012 schedule had been developed. That meant MLB had a choice of either shoehorning the expanded playoffs into the schedule for 2012, or waiting until 2013 when they could be planned properly. It’s not a surprise that they didn’t wait.