A year ago at this time when some of you NFL fan folk were busy taking steaming craps on Blaine Gabbert (sorry), I gave a timid defense, and reminded you that despite the first-year brilliance of Cam Newton (and now Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson), the norm for rookie quarterbacks is still often painful struggling mixed with fleeting flashes of promise. Think of what we saw from Ryan Tannehill last year, or to a lesser extent, Brandon Weeden. Expecting every rookie QB to pull your franchise from its burning ashes immediately is foolish, and unhealthy.
A year later, we have little ammunition left for any such Gabbert defense which leans on inexperience. Prior to the 2012 season he hadn’t quite started a full year yet (14 games in 2011), and worse, he was supported by pretty much no one aside from Maurice Jones-Drew. Now he’s started 24 games, and Justin Blackmon has been added, Cecil Shorts has emerged, and Jones-Drew is healthy again.
The excuses are over, and Gabbert is down to his final opportunity to save himself from an eternal burial in the first-round pick graveyard. Hey, at least one guy thinks he doesn’t completely suck.
From the beginning of Aaron Hernandez’s spiral from premier tight end to a man charged with murder, blaming the Patriots was always an act rooted in misplaced anger.
Yes, character concerns are something we hear about each March and April during the buildup to the draft, and nearly every year there’s at least one player who drops significantly because he may or may not be a complete scumbag. But generally, much lesser misdeeds are the foundation for those concerns, like a drug of alcohol problem, and at worst some sort of petty theft or vandalism. Even more generally, we can summarize “character concerns” (a broad NFL draft brush that sometimes borders on racism when taken to its extreme) under a basic definition: teenage campus heroes being idiots.
It’s certainly possible for some of those small missteps to grow into something larger if the player in question doesn’t gain some maturity. But there are no dots or squiggly lines to be connected between drug charges, and murder. The Patriots and other organizations can take every possible precaution to guard against an Aaron Hernandez situation, but there are no oracles or fortune tellers in NFL front offices.
This is why I’m not surprised to hear Robert Kraft reflect back on Hernandez and selecting him in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and feel “duped”.
You probably remember Hue Jackson mostly as the failed Raiders head coach, which is an unfortunate label because it forever puts him in the same sentence as Tom Cable, a place where no name should reside.
But he’s still gainfully employed as a football teacher of sorts, now with the Bengals as the running backs coach, and an assistant to head coach Marvin Lewis. In that capacity he said something pretty encouraging about a rookie running back who may take a bit of time to emerge, but he has the potential to be rather stud-like by mid-season.
Let’s meet Giovani Bernard, Jackson’s every down player.
About three weeks ago Michael Vick made a grave error when speaking to the assembled media in Philadelphia. He didn’t insult a teammate or a coach, and he didn’t criticize the team’s offense. He didn’t say something awful about a teammate’s wife publicly (yes, that’s happened), and he didn’t engage in the sacred ritual of June smack talk while supplying an opponent with something to put on a bulletin board.
Hell, he didn’t even say the words “dream team”. His mistake was being honest and open.
Somehow we’ve made it through two entire weeks without a Robert Griffin III post, which is a truly superhuman feat of strength during this offseason. You’ll recall that the last time we checked in with everyone’s favorite quarterback who plays for the football team in Washington (I believe their name has been the center of some discussion and controversy), he was planting and cutting for the first time, and generally being awesome.
Even more generally, on a practice field in shorts throughout May and June, he’s looked like the Robert Griffin III we’ve come to know and adore with all our love. He’s bounced around and thrown a lot of throws, and he’s sprinted around with ease.
Of course, Griffin and everyone around Griffin are still approaching the quarterback’s recovery from multiple torn knee ligaments with the most cautious kind of optimism when speaking publicly. All signs point to first a full training camp, and then a Week 1 return just eight months after reconstructive surgery. But there’s still the significant matter of facing contact, and how the knee will respond when a man who weighs several hundred pounds lands on it.
Let’s not think about those dark thoughts right now, though, because as football fans watching RG3 is a lot of fun, and for fantasy footballing purposes we need him around badly. So instead let’s pay much more attention to the comments below from Kirk Cousins, the Redskins’ backup quarterback who won’t be the backup at all if Griffin can’t go in Week 1.
No worries, Cousins doesn’t think that will be a problem.
You’ll recall that I’m a firm believer in the need to wait on tight ends this year. And most years, because as appealing as Jimmy Graham and a healthy Rob Gronkowski are with their production usually so far ahead of their peers, the gap isn’t nearly sufficient to justify a second-round investment.
Of course, with Gronk needing constant backiotomies (Dustin Parkes is the specialist of that procedure, and I’m not sure of the spelling), the belief that you should wait until the later rounds grows even further. Oh, and there’s the whole bit about his teammate Aaron Hernandez possibly being “directly tied” to a homicide. Not cool.
So now more than ever you need to wait on those TEs to fall and tumble, especially after a year when the likes of Heath Miller and Brandon Myers were among the top 10 producers at their position, and they were both drafted over 10 rounds after Gronkowski and Graham.
One of your primary targets with high upside could be Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, and this morning we learned about a pleasant bit of information regarding him.
Darnell Dockett has had a pretty eventful week, which makes this week like most Darnell Dockett weeks. First, he unveiled a new mask, showing the world that he is, in fact, a blorgon.
Now, he’s used his favorite social media platform (no, not the one which allowed him to shower in front of the entire Internet) to tell us why he truly enjoys football. Something about violence, and hurting people.
We’ve always known this to be true about defensive players, especially those in the trenches who get to deal out the most concussions pain. But to see it expressed so openly — and randomly — like this is just so…Darnell Dockett.
Maybe Dockett is just being pragmatic here, because football is indeed one of the few occupations in which inflicting bodily harm is morally acceptable. Of course, one day office jails everywhere will hire Terry Tate-like brutes to increase productivity, and all retired football players will have a new outlet for their bodily harm urges.
Oh also, I think we’ve found the NFL’s new marketing slogan. Something like “The NFL: where bodily harm to an individual is morally acceptable”. Yeah, we’ll work on it.