Saturday, September 19, 2009

6 comments Bill Simmons Writes A Column That Allows Me To Be Self Indulgent

Bill Simmons has written his Friday picks and it's pretty typical Simmons. The only difference is he just happens to write a column that is in my wheelhouse and that gives me a chance to be self indulgent for a day. He writes about the current worst quarterback in the NFL, Jake Del-Whom,? and he doesn't completely try to speak for Panthers fans though he comes close. He does make some decent points but he also doesn't understand the situation in full since he lives 3,000 miles away and probably knows no one who is a Panthers fan.

One day after enduring Jake Delhomme's second straight nuclear bomb in nine months -- the first against Arizona in last season's playoffs, the second against Philly on Sunday -- an unknown Panthers fan put Delhomme up for sale on Craigslist. The ad only lasted for a few hours before being pulled down, but here's what it said:

FOR SALE BY CONTRACT -- Jake Delhomme, NFL QB, 11 years, 6'2" 215 lbs. Age 34. 15 TD's in 2008, 12 INT's. Loyal. Needs a Loving Home. Serious Offers, Please. Trades Accepted. Contact: (coach) John Fox.

I forwarded it to pretty much everyone I know personally. You can buy anything on Craigslist. I was hoping a wealthy foreigner who knew nothing of Jake's latest adventures would see it as a good deal and make the trade.

Funny, right? It's fun to make jokes about Jake Delhomme. Only seven sports jobs open themselves up to ongoing ridicule, and -- in a worst-case scenario -- genuine venom. The first two? Coach and general manager. The third? Baseball closer. The fourth? Hockey goalie. The fifth? Kicker. The sixth? Jay Mariotti. The seventh? Quarterback.

As pointed yesterday in the comments I actually really like this list. Especially #6. First, Bill talks in length about a non-Boston team and then he insults Jay Mariotti. This is the writing equivalent of hitting on me.

As I wrote yesterday, NO ONE likes Jay Mariotti. Gregg Doyel and now Bill Simmons have taken shots at him.

They brought him back. Even gave him a three-year extension with $20 million guaranteed.

I assume the thinking went something like this: "Well, he's 50 and 30 as a starter. He brought us to a Super Bowl once. He led us to a 12-4 record last season. His teammates love him. He had ONE bad game. Sure, it was a historically bad game. But it was only ONE bad game. If we went in a different direction, we'd have to roll the dice with someone who failed somewhere else (Byron Leftwich, Daunte Culpepper, etc.), we'd have to roll the dice with Mike Vick, or we'd have to trade a high pick so we can overpay Matt Cassel. Let's stick with Jake. It makes the most sense."

Sorry for all the text, but this made absolute and utter sense. He fit in well with what the team did and he has great chemistry (believe it or not) with the team. They love him. They love him like you love that dog you had that was never going to be the smartest dog in any room because you could be happy with him and even when he did something wrong, he acted really sorry.

Even the Panthers GM knew it made sense but also that Jake's time was going to be short in Carolina despite the extension. Here is how he responded when asked if he deserves criticism for giving Del-Whom? the extension:

“I think I catch criticism for giving Jake Delhomme a contract extension, but I think the more valid criticism will be if we don’t find that young quarterback, that guy behind him to bring up that is ready to be our guy, whether it’s a Matt Moore or Hunter Cantwell,”

Clearly, the same fans who are bitching and moaning about Del-Whom? right now have to understand there is no one behind Del-Whom? (I will continue to call him that until he throws for more touchdowns than turnovers he commits in a game) who can do a good job at this point, but the team is already trying to develop his replacement.

On paper? Yes. Maybe it made sense. But the Panthers underestimated the relationship between a player and his fan base.

Seriously don't try to speak for a team's fan base by making proclamations based on what you think from 3,000 miles away and the emails that you received from "Panthers fans" who were complaining about Del-Whom?. They aren't fans, they are half Panthers/Redskins or Cowboys fans and they are reactionary assholes. They are mad so they write Bill, their hero. The fans in this area are very reactionary because they feel like they have to compete with all the crap the Cowboys, Redskins, and Steelers fans talk (There are a ton of Steelers fans in this area, most of which are not from the North or anywhere near Pittsburgh...take that comment for what it may or may not mean). Those who write in to Bill don't represent how everyone in the area feels about represents an angry, reactionary faction of the fans.

Which brings us back to Jake. Even after he reached "had to go" status with Panthers fans, the team brought him back anyway.

Here's what Bill doesn't get. Jake blew up in the 2006 NFC Championship Game against the Seahawks but excuses were made for him because the Panthers were on their practice squad running back for the majority of that game. Why does that game not get mentioned when talking about crappy Jake Del-Whom? performances? Everyone acts like Jake just now started being inconsistent.

There is a Good Jake/Bad Jake dynamic going on. Before there was Good Rex/Bad Rex, there was Good Jake/Bad Jake and the real fans chalked up the loss to Arizona as Bad Jake. Anyone who had half a brain realized replacing the quarterback is not what a team who was bringing back 20 of its 22 other starters and went 12-4 needs to do...despite the fact Jake was awful for a majority of last year. This team was ready to compete and having an adjustment time with a new QB who may or may not be better than Jake, combined with the difficult schedule the Panthers have, was a recipe for failure or a step backwards.

There were those who thought Jake had to go, but I would say the majority thought it was just an example of Bad Jake (and really, really bad game planning) rearing his ugly head in the Arizona playoff game. There is a section of Carolina fans now who argue constantly after that game. There are the Pro-Jake/Anti-Peppers and the Anti-Jake/Pro-Peppers crowds. Somehow those two players have become intertwined in the minds of the fans. I was more Pro-Jake/Anti-Peppers but with one more game like last Sunday I will be in the other group. I can only believe in a player for so long before I no longer trust him.

When I questioned this strategy in last Friday's column, e-mails from Carolina readers started pouring in. They all said the same things. Thank you. I'm glad you noticed. Nobody in Carolina can believe they brought him back. We cannot take it any longer.

Yes, the same people who read Bill's column and look to him as a hero, that's the people I want speaking for my team. Those people who wrote in have a fantasy the Panthers should get a top notch awesome throwing quarterback and that's the best way for the team to win. What I don't get is how these same people claim to be Panthers fans. Do they watch the games? The teams wants to run the ball, run the ball and then pass. You don't need nor should you have a highly paid QB for this job. You need someone who can make plays when necessary but not turn the ball over. Not a Trent Dilfer and not a Brad Johnson, but a guy who can actually take the team down the field if necessary in a minute and a half but also a careful guy. So Drew Brees doesn't make sense for this team.

Of course the same people who argue the Panthers need a highly paid Pro Bowl-type QB also want John Fox they may be assuming the team gets a new head coach with different offensive aspirations. This adds a whole new level of lunacy to some of these fans in my mind.

I watched Sunday's game and can honestly say that I have never -- not ever, in any sport -- heard a player booed by his fans more lustily than Panthers fans booed Jake.

I heard this was true.

Jake cleverly removed all expectations for the 2009 Panthers. Everyone now assumes that Jake irrevocably sucks, which kills their season because Carolina's backup quarterbacks are even worse. They're stuck with Jake, which means they're stuck with 6-10 or 5-11 or maybe even 4-12.

Or so they think.

"Everyone" assumes this according to Bill. I don't. This team should be able to have an average quarterback and still win 8 games. Don't speak for "everyone," because it's not true. Of course Jake can't commit 5 turnovers a game but this team should be 8-8 at a minimum even with Jake. That doesn't mean they will of course.

Because here's what Jake accomplished in three parts. First, any time he plays well from this point forward, Panthers fans will feel like their ATM just accidentally spat out an extra $20. He can't lose.

When you are currently the worst quarterback in the NFL, there is nowhere to go but up...or to the unemployment line.

And third, the booing and vitriol only rallied the Panthers around him. Did you read their quotes this week? Everyone had his back. Left tackle Jordan Gross was the most passionate, telling USA Today, "I love that guy. He was one of the main reasons I wanted to re-sign here. I love blocking for him and he's our quarterback."

For a guy who loves blocking for Del-Whom? Jordan Gross sure did a shitty job actually blocking for Del-Whom? on Sunday. Maybe he should drop talking about how much he likes blocking for Jake and start actually fucking doing his job. The team loves Jake. He takes responsibility for his mistakes and never blames anyone else. Unfortunately he has not been so great at the actual QB position he gets paid to play.

First, I continue to think Steve Smith ranks among the most fascinating professional athletes alive. He's almost Iversonian. Smith seems like the greatest teammate ever, but he's punched out teammates on two separate occasions.

I actually agree. The media in Charlotte has NO IDEA how to cover Smith. One minute he is punching teammates and berating the starting corners in practice, the next minute he is throwing a ball with his kids around the field and coaching Pee-Wee Football. He will never get the respect for how great of a wide receiver he is because the Panthers don't throw the ball enough, and he knows this, yet he rarely complains publicly. Yet, every time Jake misses him when he is wide open (it happens a lot in every game), he will pitch a fit on the sidelines but never have his head leave the game. (Sorry Casey) He used to eat dinner with DeAngelo Hall before every Falcons-Panthers game and the next day gets Hall kicked out of a game because they are taunting each other. No one has a clue how to cover him.

Second, there was something dignified about Jake in defeat. Disappointed, unhappy, shellshocked … but not broken. That makes me think he could come back.

Oh, he is dignified. Well that should turn everything around then. If only he could quit throwing dignified interceptions and stop fumbling the ball with so much dignity, the team may actually have a chance to win a game.

I honestly think Del-Whom? may be in trouble as a starting QB in the NFL. Anything he does less than throw 5 interceptions is going to seem like a win. Simmons is right about that, but I don't think that makes him a good QB. I haven't lost faith in him but he has a short leash in my mind. He usually has rebounded after a bad game or two, we'll see if he can do it again.

But Jake plays in Atlanta this week, then in Dallas, followed by a bye week. He won't have to face Carolina fans again until Week 5. He knows where he stands with them: If he sucks, they will boo him, and more importantly, they expect him to suck.

Suffice to say if Jake sucks in Atlanta and Dallas, the fans will never get a chance to boo him because he won't be the starting quarterback anymore. I don't think lower expectations for a quarterback necessarily means the quarterback is going to recover from what has plagued him.

Well, what happens to a player if he can't hit rock bottom because it already happened? What happens to a player who doesn't have to worry about regaining the trust of his fans because it's already gone?

Can I describe to anyone how much fun it is going to be on Sunday to watch this team play? I still have some trust in Jake, I don't think the trust is completely gone like Bill seems to indicate it is, but I don't really have high expectations for him.

I think Jake reached that point. He has nothing to lose because it's already gone. So why wouldn't Jake just go out there, fling the football and have fun?

I think I may be sick because this makes sense to me. Unfortunately it doesn't mean Del-Whom? will have a better game, it just means he will throw interceptions with more vigor.

What Bill is saying here does make a reasonable amount of sense. There is nowhere for Jake to go but up. He hasn't lost the entire fan base yet though, just the idiots who write in and complain to Bill. There is a possibility there have been two Bad Jake games in a row. To be fair, the offensive line did not help him against the Eagles very much. He nor his backups did not have much time to throw the ball. I think Jake may bounce back a little bit this week but I don't see the Panthers winning the game and Jake probably won't be good enough to win the game. Just because we have lower expectations for him doesn't make him a better quarterback. The fans pretty much have very little confidence in him now, he could destroy what is left tomorrow.

We know Minnesota paid $12 million to Favre, but did you know Peterson's base salary is just $755,000? Can you remember another time a half-decent player made 15 times more money than the best player on his team?

(Holding in a Matt Cassel joke) What is with Bill today? This is another good point and I had completely forgotten about this. Of course, I am sure Peterson has some performance bonuses or a signing bonus capped onto that, so he probably only makes 3-5 times less than Favre, but the point still stands.

As it turned out, the only way Bill Belichick could light a fire under Richard Seymour was by trading him to the worst franchise in football. Great. I was going to use the old "he looked like Forest Whitaker in 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' after his car got trashed" joke, but that movie came out 27 years ago. I need a fresher football reference. None exists.

Did Bill just withhold a joke from an old movie? I don't believe this is Bill writing this column. It can't be.

Well, now we're here. The Cowboys play Sunday night. And you know what? I am genuinely excited for every single punt at New Cowboys Stadium.

Let's take bets on how many punts hit the scoreboard. I say two punts hit the scoreboard. Others can feel free to put their guesses in and the winner gets nothing but admiration.

NINERS (-1.5) over Seahawks

Good news: There are only 12 NFC West intradivision games, and we've already gotten three out of the way. It's like trying to eat Brussels sprouts as fast as possible just to get them off your plate. Go away, NFC West. Go away.

Yes, because the AFC West is just so much better. It's like a toss up between the two crappiest divisions in the NFL and they are both in the "West." I know Bill loves the AFC and enjoys beating up a little bit on the NFC, but at least the NFC West division winner made the Super Bowl last year. Maybe neither the AFC/NFC West are so bad and I have an East Coast Bias. I still think they both stink equally.

I hope everyone enjoys the weekend of NFL and College football. I look forward to losing/beating some of you in the Pick 'Em and NFL Fantasy leagues.


RuleBook said...

It looks like Delhomme isn't the only QB who knows how to throw picks!

Bengoodfella said...

You wouldn't think so after last week. Delhomme actually played well yesterday. I am pissed the Cowboys lost last night because now they are going to be super motivated to be the Panthers on Monday.

AJ said...

So AP makes less then $1M a season...hmmmm...weird. He signed a contract for 5 years and $40M 2 years ago. Kinda odd...I mean if you are gonna say he only gets paid a base THIS year, shouldn't you include that was his ROOKIE contract number, but also include the fact he signed for $40M over 5 years?

In 3 years AP will be making $800M for 10 years.

By the way, Mark Sanchez is the best QB in the game today. King told me that in so many words. And Stafford had a good game according to him...I'm guessing he failed to actually watch the game. He looked horrible. More on King when you post yours though...

Bengoodfella said...

I don't get it either. I know Favre doesn't have any bonuses (I don't think) but you can't include AP's base salary without including his bonuses. You can, but it wouldn't be an accurate comparison. I can't imagine the contract he will get if he continues at this pace.

Yes, Peter King loves Sanchez. It's his new BFF.

Peter's jumping the gun a little bit on some of these QB's in my opinion.

Go said...

I can't think of many teams who have gone 12-4 or better and changed their QB the following season. The Ravens did it after their Superbowl win in '01 and look how that turned out. Jake is awful but it would have been just as risky to throw in a new QB this season. And honeslty who was out there they could've gotten? Cassel, Kitna, Leftwich? Obviously it's their fault for not grooming a young QB but this year nothing else could have been done.

Although they could've gotten Vick and run the wishbone with him, Williams, and Stewart.

Bengoodfella said...

That is exactly right. It just didn't make sense to switch QBs and the team even had to redo Delhomme's cap number, which was part of the extension, just to get under the cap before the draft. That is all Julius Peppers' doing.

They seem to believe they are grooming a young QB but they are only grooming backups at this point.

I don't want Mike Vick! I am glad they didn't do that.