Friday, August 21, 2009

9 comments I Found This Column To Be Completely Dispensable

It is pretty hard to define the word "valuable" or "indispensable" in sports...or to at least come to a consensus on the definition. When it comes time to vote at the end of the year in some sports, especially baseball, those voters who vote for the NL and AL MVP seem to think "valuable" means "plays for the best team in the league and is the best player on that team." Others think of it as an intangible thing, where someone like The Jeter would be valuable to the Yankees because he stands for everything a true Yankee is. I think of it in these terms, "if I took every player off x team, losing which player would cause the team to lose more games, than every other player."

I do sort of a cost-benefit analysis. For example, Mark Teixeira is not the most valuable Yankee, though he may be their best player right now. Alex Rodriguez is probably the most valuable Yankee, though an argument could be made for Mariano Rivera being that guy. How many games or situations does Rivera get the Yankees out of with a win that another reliever would not do so? I am rambling, but you get my point. I use indispensable interchangebly with valuable because they are really synonymous.

I am not sure what John Lopez's measurement for "indispensable" is. He names the MVP/MIP (Most indispensable player) for every NFL team and I take issue with a few of them.

Here, then, is a look at the one player each NFC team could least afford to lose to injury. Call them the "crippling" injuries when it comes to a team's hopes for 2009. And since losing a starting quarterback, obviously, would be devastating to every team, we left them out of this little exercise.

I like how we start the entire article off with a completely wrong assumption. This pretty much ruined any credibility this "exercise" had in my mind. I generally like John Lopez's stuff but making a blanket statement that for every NFL team to lose the starting QB would be devastating is a huge thing to just assume in the beginning of an article.

Is Detroit that much worse with Culpepper or Stafford starting? Are the Jets that much worse off if Kellen Clemens comes off the bench? Even for contending teams, how much is the fall off going to be if Favre gets hurt and Jackson or Rosenfels steps in? The Vikings made the playoffs without Favre, wouldn't the loss of another player be worse? I think it is not a good start to just say the loss of a starting QB to every team would be "devastating." The Patriots didn't fall apart without Brady last year and he is one of the top 2 QB's in the NFL. I am going to do my best to play by his insane "no QB" rules.

Atlanta Falcons, Tony Gonzalez

Last year the Falcons were 11-5 with a rookie quarterback starting without Tony Gonzalez. He has never played a snap for them, yet he is somehow now the most valuable player on the team.

Don't get me wrong. Michael Turner is crucial to the Falcons, much like Adrian Peterson is to the Vikings. And the Falcons have an elite, young and strong-armed quarterback in Matt Ryan. This is a multidimensional team that can do a lot of things at a high level. Most often it will be Turner leading the way. Sometimes, it will be Ryan.

So there is our answer. Michael Turner. Take him off the Falcons and I doubt the Falcons go 11-5. We know the Falcons can go 11-5 without Tony Gonzalez. Sometimes this stuff is too easy to criticize without feeling like I am picking on the author. I am even tempted to not pick Turner because Norwood is his backup and go with someone else as MIP...but I know it is not Gonzalez.

Carolina Panthers, Jon Beason

When play-making defensive tackle Maake Kemoeatu was lost for the season with an Achilles tendon injury on the first day of training camp, everything changed for Beason. For starters, as an undersized (6-foot, 237-pound) middle linebacker accustomed to having his defensive linemen take on most blockers, Beason's prospects for another Pro Bowl season suffered a hit.

I like how his way of convincing the crowd that Beason is the MIP on the Panthers is to describe how losing another player on the Panthers is going to so greatly hurt the Panthers defense. So one of the best MLB in the league gets hurt and all of a sudden that MLB may not make the Pro Bowl? Somebody must have more value than Beason then.

Now, he's going to have to deal with much more traffic, and size coming at him. And how much of that pounding can Beason take?

I want to remind everyone John Lopez chose Jon Beason as the most indispensable player on the Panthers roster, not Maake Kemoeatu. Last year Kemoeatu missed one game and the Panthers defense gave up 300 yards in rushing to the Giants. Generally if you are going to list a player as the most indispensable player on a roster you shouldn't go on and on about how that MIP is going to struggle without another player on the roster.

Chicago Bears, Tommie Harris

But the Bears return to prominence depends also on the defense playing to its expected level, and if Harris cannot stay healthy, the Bears' D suffers a severe blow.

I have always liked Tommie Harris and do understand the importance he has to the Bears defense but.......what would the offense of the Bears look like if Devin Hester got injured? I don't think the Bears defense suffers as much without Harris as the offense may suffer without one legitimate wide receiver for Cutler to throw the ball to. I am almost afraid to mention when Urlacher doesn't play well, the Bears defense generally doesn't play well.

Detroit Lions, Shaun Smith

It sounds crazy calling this notorious attitude problem not even yet at the top of the depth chart as pivotal to the Detroit Lions.

Perhaps because it is crazy?

One of the key aspects of Schwartz' defense is funneling as much as possible into the middle of the defense, where the 6-2, 325-pound Smith will be.

So this MVP/MIP pick goes to a backup DT that SHOULD play well in the offensive system the new head coach wants to set up. I think this pick gets the award for "Most Speculation That Led to The Choice of MIP." He is assuming Smith is going to be a starter, assuming Schwartz will be able to run the type of defense he wants to run this year and assuming Smith will be the best player in that defense. That's a lot of assuming for a guy who is supposed to be the most indispensable player on a team.

Green Bay Packers, Greg Jennings

I am going to be honest. I don't know who the Packers MIP is, but I do know they have a ton of decent receivers on that roster. James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and Donald Driver all could have good years, so I don't know how Jennings is the pick.

Jennings has gone from underrated and overlooked on a national scale to quite possibly the best receiver in the game. Sure, it's probably still either the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald or the Texans' Andre Johnson that leads the way, and certainly Terrell Owens and Randy Moss would have something to say.

Terrell Owens? Is this 2004? I like Randy Moss but there is no way he is the best receiver in the NFL. It's like John Lopez had a brief brain cramp and thought it was 2004, so he put that last sentence in there. How about Steve Smith and Calvin Johnson, do you think they have an opinion? I think they are better receivers than Moss and Owens.

Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson

I hate to disagree with this but I think Chester Taylor could take up some of the slack if Peterson went down. My choices would be Pat/Kevin Williams. When/If they go down this year, the Vikings are going to have a much more difficult time stopping the run.

New Orleans Saints, Pierre Thomas

(the sound of Bengoodfella laughing uncontrollably)

Saints coaches believe Thomas could be a 1,000-yard running back, which could lead to great things offensively, considering Drew Brees' talent and the prolific passing game. Thomas even has been used as the Wildcat back in training camp this year. Big things could be in store for him.

This choice is filled with wonderfully certain words like "could" and "believe," which COULD lead me to BELIEVE this is more of a prediction rather than actually an analysis of who the MIP on the Saints roster is. I am sorry, I can not allow a MVP/MIP for a team to be chosen on what that player "could" do, which the player has never done before, to make them the most indispensable player on a team. Bump that crap.

The Saints don't have an MIP outside of Drew Brees.

Philadelphia Eagles, Brian Westbrook

Completely disagree. The Eagles have played and won without Westbrook in the past. LeSean McCoy can step in, just like Buckhalter has done in the past, to take over some of the production Westbrook puts up when he is in the lineup. Westbrook is a great player but definitely not the most indispensable player on the Eagles roster. He's close but not necessarily it.

The Eagles got a taste of what life without Westbrook is like in 2008 and it wasn't pretty. Westbrook missed a couple of games early and as the season wound to a close, saw his attempts, yards and yards per-carry dwindle.

The Eagles actually got a taste of what life without a great backup running back is like. Again, the Eagles have succeeded without Westbrook in the lineup and they can do it again...especially with the second best RB in the draft backing him up.

I think for this year with Jim Johnson having died, Brian Dawkins in Denver and there being a leadership void (I hate saying it because it sounds cliche but it could be true), the MIP is currently injured, and that was Stewart Bradley. Seriously, ruling out QB's is absolutely no fun for something like this.

Washington Redskins, Chris Samuels

Defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was brought in to make life miserable on opposing offenses. Haynesworth was the big offseason splash and indeed should be huge.

Sorry, but the drop off from Samuels to Mike Williams or Jeremy Bridges is not as great as the drop off from Haynesworth to Lorenzo Alexander or Kedric Gholston. Haynesworth is a guy who can change an entire defense just by being on the field and playing all the time as if he has a contract to play for.

Here, then, is a look at the one player each AFC team could least afford to lose to injury. Call them the "crippling" injuries when it comes to a team's hopes for 2009. And since losing a starting quarterback, obviously, would be devastating to every team, we left them out of this little exercise.

It still annoys me we can't use QB's.

Cincinnati Bengals, Chris Henry

I know Chad Johnson has seen his performance decline but Chris Henry is the most indispensable Bengal?

But Henry truly has been the biggest piece of the Bengals' offense thus far, much more so than Chad Ochocinco, in fact. In his first preseason game, Henry torched the Saints for 100-yards receiving and a pair of deep balls.

Well gee, based on that one preseason game I guess it shows that Chris Henry is the MIP for the Bengals. I didn't realize his one preseason game was so impressive. It looks like I will have to go ahead try to vote him into the Pro Bowl based on his one preseason game.

Chris Henry is the #3 receiver on the depth chart right now. There is Laveranues Coles and Chad Johnson ahead of him. The Bengals could afford to lose Henry. Right now, I have to say Cedric Benson is the MIP for the Bengals. Without him on the field the Bengals will have to rely on Brian Leonard or Kenny Watson for running yards. Having no running game would greatly adversely affect Carson Palmer's ability to throw the ball.

Denver Broncos, Brandon Marshall

No. There are other reasonable options for the Broncos including Jabar Gaffney, Brandon Stokley, Chad Jackson and Brandon Lloyd (I said reasonable, not incredibly helpful). Champ Bailey still can take away half of the field from the opposing QB and that makes him my choice. I would even say as a backup it is either Ryan Harris or Ryan Clady, both guys who will give Orton time to find an open receiver, no matter who that receiver is.

The Denver wide receiving corps behind Marshall is subpar at best. With his size, talent and ability to physically beat defensive backs to the ball, Marshall remaining healthy is crucial.

The backups are subpar but that doesn't mean Marshall is the MIP on the Broncos roster because if he/when he doesn't play this year they can still have offensive success. I guarantee a secondary with Alphonso Smith playing the nickel corner is a lot better than a secondary with Josh Bell/Jack Williams playing nickel corner and if the Broncos can succeed this year it depends a lot on the defense playing well. Champ Bailey is key to that success.

Houston Texans, DeMeco Ryans

We all love DeMeco Ryans but where is the pass rush coming from if Mario Williams gets hurt? Where does the passing game go if Andre Johnson isn't there to take the attention of half the secondary? Those are my only two questions and my two candidates for this team's MIP.

Kansas City Chiefs, Larry Johnson

Why do I find it hard to believe Larry Johnson is the most indispensable player on the Chiefs roster?

But if they want to keep things respectable, establish a new identity and maybe even surprise a team or two as they try to head back to the top of the AFC heap, Johnson could show the way. Getting LJ to play hard and be a good citizen is Haley's top priority. It would be quite the statement to everyone in the organization if Haley can get LJ to buy-in, so to speak.

So this choice isn't based on actual football indispensability but is based on the fact Larry Johnson is an asshole and if Todd Haley can get through to him it will set off an ubuntu-like effect through the entire organization ending with the entire team singing Kumbaya and holding hands as fireworks are set off in the distance and the team goes 4-12 this year?

I am going to do something crazy and base it on what a player actually brings to the team and think about what would happen if that player got hurt? Put me down for Dwyane Bowe. Along with actually being the team's best player, if Bowe gets hurt the Chiefs will have a receiving crew full of underachievers and guys who never have nor will achieve.

New York Jets, Nick Mangold

The Jets have high hopes for quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has yet to disappoint either on the field or off. But opposing defenses can change all that in a heartbeat and turn Sanchez' brain into mush, if health problems persist along the offensive line.

I am not specifically arguing that Mangold is not the most indispensable player on the offensive line, I am arguing the entire offensive line is indispensable if the issue is keeping Sanchez upright. Losing Ferguson or any other member of the line would cause the Jets problems.

I know the Jets want to be able to run the ball but if they don't have the real MIP, Kris Jenkins, on the field they won't be able to stop the run. Without him in the middle, the Jets ability to stop the run is going to be greatly diminished.

-Do you know who I haven't talked about in a couple of days? Brett Favre. Don't like you are tired of him, because you aren't. I know there was some question still as to whether he was an asshole or not...well I think all questions have now been answered.

Maybe Brett Favre lost the keenest segment of the Green Bay Packers fan base long ago.

Or maybe he really, truly lost them on Tuesday, when he signed with the hated Minnesota Vikings, and then in Favre fashion, said “If you’re a true Packer fan, you understand.”

Oh yes, Packer fans. If you don't understand Brett's need to force a trade away from your team, wait an entire season to get revenge and then sign with your most hated rival in an effort to get back at your General Manager for not doing exactly as Brett Favre says, you are not a real Packers fan.

“I couldn’t believe the ‘true Packers fans’ should understand thing,” said Ron Knautz. “I’m 54 years old. I’ve been a Packers fan since I was 5, which is when I knew what the Packers were. I got my picture taken with Bart Starr when I was 12. I’m a true Packers fan. Maybe a true Packers player would understand how I feel.”

Of course in 4 years all of these tensions will be gone and the (true or not true) Packers fans will be able to honor Brett Favre and retire his number...unless he decides he wants to come out of retirement again.

I think it would be hilarious if the Packers held a press conference to say they will never retire Brett Favre's jersey until he dies because then, and only then, will they know he is truly retired. I would enjoy that.

On the rare occasion a fan called to support Favre’s right to play for the Vikings, they were bayoneted by the next five callers, who reacted as if they’d just heard someone pitch the positives of joining the Taliban.

Will Brett Favre have any friends or fans left after this is all over? How egotistical for him to sign with his long time team's main rival out of spite and then tell all those fans who have supported him, bought his memorabilia and pretty much paid his salary all of those years in Green Bay they are not "real Packers fans" if they don't support him.

Brett Favre seems to think he is the king of all things Green Bay Packers since he seems to be the only one able to judge who is a true Packers fan and who is not. The Packers won more Super Bowls in the past without Brett Favre than they won with Brett Favre on the roster and they will win more Super Bowls in the future without Brett Favre on the roster. The organization doesn't end just because his time with the team ended. The "true" Packers fans are fans of the team, not just Brett Favre, so they don't have to support his every new decision every time he changes his mind on what he wants to do when it comes to playing football or not.

Brett Favre is so full of himself. I hope all of Lambeau Field boos him when he returns to play for the Vikings this year. It won't happen but it is my dream.


KentAllard said...

I like the line about how Mark Sanchez has yet to disappoint, either on the field or off. That probably has something to do with Sanchez not having played a game that counts for the Jets as of yet.

Bengoodfella said...

Sanchez has been a Jet a total of less than 4 months now and he is getting credit for having not screwed anything up. He has played ONE SERIES! ONE! Because he didn't thrown an interception, he is the second coming.

I am not kidding when I say I think we are looking at the next Favre-like media darling. Pretty soon Peter King will be camped outside his house.

Martin said...

How can Pierre Thomas be the MIP to New Orleans based on what he might do, but Sanchez not be the MIP of the Jets based on what he might do? This leaves me boggling.

The lack of national knowledge displayed on a daily basis by writers for sports like football or baseball, is astonishing. Peter King is a great example of how this, and this clown is about as bad. They are Joe Morganesque in their lack of knowledge, and proud in it.

Chris W said...

I have always liked Tommie Harris and do understand the importance he has to the Bears defense but.......what would the offense of the Bears look like if Devin Hester got injured? I don't think the Bears defense suffers as much without Harris as the offense may suffer without one legitimate wide receiver for Cutler to throw the ball to. I am almost afraid to mention when Urlacher doesn't play well, the Bears defense generally doesn't play well.

^^^ben, you couldn't be more wrong

a.) Hester hasn't had a tangible high-impact to the offense at any point in his career. While he's definitely the most talented WR on the team, the team has myriad other options at the position, and it's not like losing him even changes the complexion of the offense in any measurable way. Does it hurt? Yes. Is it crucial? Not even close

b.) OTOH, Harris is essential to the sorts of defense that Lovie wants to run. It's essential to get an up front push in the tampa 2, since the d-backs aren't good enough to cover complex offenses in zone if the QB isn't pressured. Harris is really the only player on the team that can provide that push since the DE's aren't really top notch pass rushers. Without him at 100% and motivated, Urly and Briggs have to blitz more often, thus weakening the pass defense as fewer players can cover receivers

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I couldn't think of an MIP for the Saints really. They could live without Colston because they did last year and Brees still threw the ball well. I don't think Pierre Thomas is that guy either just based on, like you said, potentially what he could do. Maybe if someone could present a better argument that wasn't based on what Pierre COULD do I would listen to it.

I couldn't believe this guy missed the Texans pick since he used to work down in Texas, I would think he could get that pick right. DeMeco Ryans is an important guy but without Andre Johnson or Mario Williams I think that team suffers on both the D-line and the WR position to the point I don't think they can make it up.

You may be right Chris, you are the Bears fan. It was just my opinion. Maybe I am giving the secondary and the rest of the D-line too much credit. I actually thought you may have a problem with my pick when I wrote it, so it doesn't surprise me you disagree. Whether that means I know I am wrong or not I don't know.

I realize the Bears have other options at the WR position but I just don't think anyone else provides the ability (whether realized or not) to affect how the defense plays other than Hester. I guess I am over rating him.

I should probably defer to you since you know the team better than I do but I thought the Bears got a decent pass rush, even without Harris, which could be wrong. That could explain the defensive drop off the past couple of years. Your explanation makes sense and I don't want to say I am wrong but I think I have a higher opinion of the Bears secondary and other d-line players than you do.

Since the Panthers are running something similar to the Tampa 2 this year I recognize the need for a good front four, so you may be right. I didn't think the rest of the secondary and d-line was that bad though.

Chris W said...

If you want to know why Peyton Manning raped the Bears in the Super Bowl, it's as simple as understanding what was once a dominating defense became a mediocre defense as soon as Tommie Harris went down.

I realize that that was 3 years ago, but the Bears defense hasn't been anywhere close to dominant in the years since because Harris has been banged up.

The most important player to the Bears in 2009 is Brian Urlacher. After that it's probably Harris. After that it's Jay Cutler or Matt Forte. After that it's Lance Briggs. After that it's probably Charles Tillman. Hester is so far from the top that he's not even worth mentioning. He's right there with Ogunlye, Nate Vasher, and Orlando Pace

Bengoodfella said...

I feel stupid because your explanation does make sense and I guess I missed that one. I am putting too much stock in the Bears offensive performance I guess.

I didn't know Bears fans considered Hester to be so unimportant, or that was so unimportant. From what I have seen and heard he is incredibly vital to the team. I guess not.

Chris W said...

He's clearly the class of a shitty receiving corps, but frankly, he's never shown anything but "potential". It's just really hard to imagine pegging your offensive hopes on Devin Hester.

If he goes down, does that make the receivers worse? Absolutely. But the fact is, he's not even the best receiving threat on the team. That would be Greg Olsen.

That said, the MIP isn't Tommie Harris. It's the article was indeed incorrect.

Bengoodfella said...

I feel stupid for not knowing how much of him was based on potential. I really thought from what I had seen of the Bears game he was more important than that. I think Urlacher probably is the MIP if it is not Harris.

This is why I like it when fans of the teams chime sets the record straight.