Archive for the ‘Ponderings’ Category

cam newton celly2

During draft season we have a lot of time to think, a lot of time to talk, and a lot of time to listen as others talk. On the surface those aren’t bad things, because analysis is what we do around here, and thinking mixed with talking is what leads to the learning and evaluating. It’s a cycle, you see.

But sometimes that cycle can more so resemble a spiral of blinding, white nothingness, and the result is both comedy, and anonymous drivel.

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brady hat2

“Old” can be a moving target in football, but it’s one we still generally have pinned down. Running backs are considered old at the age of 30, which is why, if they’ve been handling a steady workload throughout their career (hi there, Chris Johnson), we begin to talk about decay at the depressingly early age of 28.

Wide receivers last a little longer, but as we’ve seen with the likes of Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco/Johnson in recent years, their abilities decline steeply at around age 35.

Then there are the quarterbacks, those weird, timeless beings. The most talented among them can stay effective well into their late 30′s. If there’s an average offensive line in front of him, a good quarterback won’t get laid out too often and add a few years, too. But arm strength still fades, as does the mobility or foot speed required to avoid a rush.

So, every year, the few teams riding a true generational talent at QB wrestle with a key question as the draft nears, and selecting an heir to the throne with a high pick is an attractive option:

When is your really great old quarterback too damn old?

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chris johnson again2

Chris Johnson is many things, and few of those things are good right now. Set to turn 29 a few weeks into the 2014 season, he’s an old man by the standards of his position, a decline made even more real by his 2,014 career touches. He’s also a shell of his former self, with less explosive downfield shaking and/or baking, and much more backfield dancing that ends badly. He had only 1,077 rushing yards this past season, which is a drop of 287 yards from his total just a few years back in 2010, and he arrived there at a career low pace of 3.9 yards per carry.

Those numbers are bad news for a running back, and with Johnson that’s especially true when we toss in another awful digit: $8 million, his scheduled paycheck in 2014. It’s a hefty sum, and one set to make him the highest paid running back in the league not named Adrian Peterson next season if he stays with the Tennessee Titans.

Which is why he’s not staying with the Tennessee Titans.

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How Dri Archer broke science

archer2

Each year we’re smacked in the face repeatedly by a whole lot of numbers from the annual Scouting Combine. As I’ve reminded you almost daily, some of them matter, and most of them don’t. If you’d like to locate the former, look at the periphery of a position group.

But with still one day remaining as defensive backs take the field today, we already have this year’s number that will jettison your mind from its usual resting place. Thanks for that, Dri Archer.

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cousins throw2

Yesterday in this same space I referred to the drug that is hope in the NFL, one which gives normally good, sane-minded football folk that addict twitch. It may not often be mentioned directly, but as Combine activities begin today with interviews there will be many lost souls wandering Indianapolis who are absolutely baked on hope. They’re the people who eventually end up spending an early first-round pick on the Blaine Gabberts of our world.

Which brings us to a more specific sort of NFL drug, and a more dangerous strand of the hope virus: quarterback desperation.

There really isn’t a cure yet for the most extreme cases. Clearly we all know and understand that quarterbacks are sort of important, especially in today’s NFL where offense is rooted in passing. But if a team is constructed properly elsewhere and the offense is designed in a way that fits the currently employed pivot, it’s entirely possible to win games without investing heavily in your quarterback either in the literal sense, or through a high draft pick. Just look at the Seattle Seahawks season which culminated in a championship only a few weeks ago, and they paid Russell Wilson the NFL equivalent of a half-eaten cookie.

But that requires patience, and patience requires job security, and job security requires winning, and winning usually requires a quarterback who at least meets the definition of league average. That’s the math equation which leads to a price set far too high on a promising young backup nearly every offseason, and teams actually entertaining said price. Enter Kirk Cousins, and the reported second-round pick the Redskins are asking for in return.

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josh-mccown2

The problem with names in fantasy football is that they’re completely meaningless, which becomes even more true right now as the playoffs begin.

Name value is a phenomenon which exists due to historical precedent after a player has established a pattern of consistently high production. It’s debunked through a simple thought: what happened in the past is not destined to repeat in the future.

Generally this is understood, but right now during the fantasy playoffs when each roster decision is vitally important, you’ll stubbornly stick with the star players and star names, even if there are better options and matchups available elsewhere. And you’ll do that because it feels right, safe, and comfortable.

Which brings us to this question which I promise is very real and legitimate, and not at all a joke: who should you start between Tom Brady and Josh McCown?

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Foles post game2

If Nick Foles can maintain his current pace throughout the remainder of the regular season — or even something close to it — we may be seeing one of the more significant victories for the growing “why the hell are you drafting that quarterback so early?” crowd.

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