Officially and finally, the 2013 fantasy draft season will conclude tonight, and soon we’ll all start going about the business of eating frozen dinners over three meals on Sundays, while involuntarily crying. It’ll be great, I promise.

For, oh I dunno, eight months, one of the great questions of our time has centered around Robert Griffin III. First we wanted to know if his knee was responding well to treatment. Then we needed to see if he could do most normal quarterback things. And now, we’re wondering if he’ll be used in a Robert Griffin-like fashion at all, and therefore justify the draft discount you just pounced on.

What say you, Mike Shanahan?

Before we departed for the long weekend, the latest round of RG3 absurdity had Dr. James Andrews reportedly taking some sort of ownership over the Redskins playbook. That was disputed, but the mere fact it was given some much play spoke to just how much we need meaningful football in our lives. Even loosely and generally, a doctor has no influence whatsoever on how a player is used once he’s declared healthy.

But naturally, once a concern was expressed over Griffin’s usage and his exposure to more contact following a thorough knee shredding, the fantasy community started to burn things. Chill out, guys, because Shanny said the sun will rise.

“If we didn’t feel Robert was full-go and ready to play and do all the things you ask a guy to do, he would not be playing in this game. If that’s sprinting out, if it’s running the option, if it’s drop back, he can do all those things because he proved it to us in practice.”

Amen, brother.

There’s little doubt that a better effort to protect Griffin will be made by both Washington’s coaching staff, and Griffin himself. Leaving him unnecessarily or repeatedly exposed could end in tears, and Griffin needs to have better field awareness to either slide or duck out of bounds.

But it’s comforting that in a general sense, Griffin will be allowed to be Griffin, or close to it. Without the freedom to run and improvise, Griffin becomes much less valuable for fantasy purposes, as we’re discussing a player who earned 39.5 percent of his 312.5 fantasy points during his rookie year on the ground.

There’s a lot resting with those legs then, for Griffin, for Shanahan, and for you.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

The Dolphins still want to make Daniel Thomas relevant

The ongoing commitment — at least through public comments — by Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin to Daniel Thomas is troubling, especially for fantasy fiends. Sure, it’s all likely little more than words, but I just don’t feel like hearing those words, especially following a draft season when Lamar Miller was widely selected by everyone including cats and birds (just not together in the same league) as a breakout player.

Yet repeatedly, Philbin has talked Thomas up, most recently saying that it was “very, very close” between the two running backs when deciding who would start (sanity thankfully prevailed, and Miller won the job). That difficulty somehow persisted even though Thomas has averaged only 3.5 yards per carry over 25 career games, and that glacial pace slowed to just 2.7 during the preseason.

The likely ending here is that Thomas vultures some touchdowns, but does little else to have any sort of fantasy influence.

Cushing makes bank

Brian Cushing has just traversed a brave new path for all large young football men who want to make all the money: break yourself so that your team realizes how awful life is without you, and then wait for that sweet cash.

We kid, of course, but that’s essentially the conclusion of a nearly year-long course of events for the Texans when they handed Brian Cushing a shiny new contract extension that’s worth $55.6 million ($21 million guaranteed) yesterday, and it will keep him in Houston until 2019. He was entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Although statistically there may have been little difference between the 2011 Texans run defense and the 2012 version after Cushing tore his ACL during a Week 5 game against the Jets, there was clearly a significant presence missing up the middle. That happens when a guy who’s recorded 353 tackles over just 49 career games (an average of 7.2 per game, with a single-season high of 133 in his rookie year) suddenly vanishes.

Here’s the painful magic trick which made that happen…

Worst. Magician. Ever.

The need for security at a crucial position in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defensive scheme was glaring, and the Texans are clearly confident in Cushing’s health. How confident? Ask Cushing’s new-found Benjamins, and they’ll tell you.

Recently the Cowboys signed Sean Lee to an extension too, locking up their own defensive cornerstone at middle linebacker. Lee is only one year older than Cushing and is coming off a serious injury of his own, and he received $5 million less in guaranteed money, and just over $2 million less in average annual base salary.

When the great Cosell speaks, we listen

Greg Cosell is one of the NFL’s premier film analysts, and during his most recent podcast with Doug Farrar he raised an interesting point from his study and conversations with coaches regarding the read-option, and how it should be defended:

I’ve talked with coaches [about the read-option], going back to Michael Vick when he was really the only one doing it in 2003-2004. Coaches would tell me that they would encourage Vick to run, and in fact make him run to a specific area, and they’d have the defense set up in that area.

Aldon Smith has a very direct approach when he wants you to leave his party

Aldon Smith and former 49ers tight end Delanie Walker have been charged in an alleged shooting, facing a lawsuit from a man named Ronndale Esporlas, who claims he suffered “catastrophic injuries” after two bullets struck him following a house party hosted by Smith on June 29, 2012.

How would such a thing happen during what was surely an otherwise peaceful affair with punch and pie served? Welp…

Esporlas claims that, when the time came to end the party, Smith and Walker “appeared on the balcony of the house, brandished handguns, and began shooting in the air.”  Esporlas contends that Walker then made his way to the driveway of the home, where Walker “began firing a handgun in the air and towards others attending the party.”  Which then allegedly prompted a group of people near the street to begin firing gunshots back toward Smith’s house.

Esporlas claims he was caught in the crossfire, struck twice with bullets, and “sustained serious, catastrophic and permanent injuries.”

See, most people just go with a nice, long yawn when they want their guests to leave.

No words

Presented with minimal comment: somehow, everything just feels so right in this picture. This is truly how post-career Emmitt Smith was meant to be presented on camera.

Some context, though that picture is much better without it…video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Oddly, Tim Tebow has actually exceeded expectations

Yesterday I repeated something that can’t be repeated enough: Tim Tebow would be a disastrous flop in the CFL, and thinking that a quarterback who can’t pass will find success in a passing league is the worst kind of failure. Since we’ve in all likelihood watched Tebow’s final dead duck toss in the NFL, it makes sense to paint his professional career as an utter failure, with a handful of games in 2011 when he was propped up by a limited offensive scheme and a strong defense the exception.

But as Joe Posnanski reminded us, Tebow’s career has actually been just fine thanks when viewed through the prism of Heisman winners, and the general NFL failure of the 16 quarterbacks who have won one of the most respected and prestigious individual awards in sports over the past 25 years. Sad things are sad.

Of the names on that list, Tebow is the only one to have appeared in a playoff game and been on the winning end of said game. The list that stretches over a relatively short time period in the long history of college football includes infamous flameouts like Matt Leinart, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, and Troy Smith. For Poz, the root of the burnout lies in a fundamental difference in culture between the NFL and college football.

The point is that while Tebow’s charisma, his odd throwing style, his forcefulness, his often wild throws and his outspoken religious beliefs have made him a national phenomenon, his actual playing career has been fairly predictable. Tebow was the consummate Heisman Trophy winner — a runner and passer, an inspirational leader, an indomitable force of nature. But what works so well for the Heisman winner in college — quick thinking, a sense of the moment, fearlessness when a play has to be made, an ability to inspire teammates and thrill the crowd — doesn’t necessarily translate to pro football.

Finally, the universe is in its proper alignment

Worlds have collided with great force. From this day forward, nothing will ever be the same.


Today in why someone high above hates the New York Jets

We’re all aware that Mark Sanchez sucks a lot. But we’re also aware that Geno Smith may exceed Sanchez’s level of suck right away, and he isn’t near ready to be a regular-season starter. That’s why stomachs on the Jets sideline this year will improve from puke-mode engaged to mere queasiness if a competent backup was available.

I’m not sure if Sanchez fits that job description, but Matt Simms and Brady Quinn certainly don’t. Alas, they’ll have to, because Sanchez will likely be out until at least Week 3, according to Brian Costello of the New York Daily News:

According to a source, the doctors don’t want Sanchez to try to throw too soon and make his injury worse. There is a fear he could do further damage to the shoulder and possibly miss the rest of the season. At the moment, the Jets do not think Sanchez will need to be placed on injured reserve.

And today in common sense and decency

Also from Costello, here’s a fine rebuttal to Manish Mehta‘s column in which he chastised Jets head coach Rex Ryan for daring to maintain some semblance of a family life during football season.

Ask Rex Ryan his biggest regret in football and he won’t mention a fourth-down call, mismanaging the clock or losing in the AFC Championship Game.

He’ll tell you about a day in 1994 when he was in his first season as the Cardinals’ defensive line coach and he was on the practice field instead of with his wife, Michelle, who was giving birth to their second son, Seth, hundreds of miles away. Ryan was coaching for his father, Buddy, and did not want to be accused of receiving preferential treatment.

“That was probably my biggest regret in coaching, that I missed my second kid being born,” Ryan said a few years ago. “It was a stupid decision, a ‘young coach’ move.”

Oddly, we haven’t heard much about Texans head coach Gary Kubiak also skipping town to watch his sons both play and coach in the Texas A&M-Rice game this past Saturday.