Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2 comments MMQB Review: Pre-Combine (i.e. Luck/Griffin-only) Edition

This Thursday the most important (overhyped) event leading up to the NFL Draft takes place, the Combine. We all know the Combine as the draft-related event where the media takes it seriously enough to intensely cover it, but also want us to remember it may mean nothing (the Mike Mamula-type stories get told every year of a player looking good at the Combine and shooting up the boards) in terms of whether a player will be a good NFL player. In preparation, Peter King has prepared things we didn't know Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. And...um, that's pretty much all he does discuss in reference to the Combine. Apparently they are the only two players worth discussing prior to the Combine.

We understand Peter writes shorter MMQB's, because as Peter warned us last week he doesn't have many interesting things to write about during the NFL offseason, so his MMQB will be shorter. Of course, many would argue he doesn't have very much interesting to write about during the season and that doesn't stop him writing a MMQB that is up to 6 pages long. Either way, to prepare us for the media hyping of Luck and Griffin Peter is going to start hyping Luck and Griffin.

Starting Thursday in Indianapolis, 326 players, 750 media members and 900 agents or so will collide at the stadium the Manning brothers made famous, Lucas Oil,

I'm not sure Eli Manning made Lucas Oil Stadium famous by winning the Super Bowl this year any more than the stadium is famous for hosting the NCAA Tournament in 2010 or for being the site of the Combine. Whatever, I will try not to nitpick, but my basic point is Eli Manning didn't make the building famous.

Every combine has a story, just as every draft has one. Often it's about the quarterback.

I'm guessing Gregg Easterbrook is going to name a Non-RB, Non-QB Combine MVP in his very next TMQ as a response to the focus at the Combine on quarterbacks and running backs.

Fourteen years ago, with a significantly smaller media crowd (maybe 10 or 12 reporters) on hand, Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf competed to be No. 1, and Leaf came in overweight and botched his interview with the first-picking Colts,

Obviously there were no signs Ryan Leaf wasn't worth investing the #2 overall pick in him. The Chargers were blindsided.

Five years ago, it was the duel (yikes!) between JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, two guys who clearly did not like each other,

Brady Quinn thought JaMarcus Russell needed to sparkle up his outfits a little bit and drop a few pounds in order to show off his body a little more, while Russell thought Quinn needed to stop touching his ass and asking if he wanted to wear a mini-skirt, lipstick and heels around town "just to screw with everyone" and "be ironic." These two just couldn't get on the same page.

This year, there's about as much drama accompanying the top pick as 2007. Al Davis wanted the big arm of Russell then. I believe Jim Irsay wants the risk-averse Andrew Luck of Stanford to lead the Colts now.

If Irsay (is he the co-GM now? Why do I feel like he has named himself co-GM?) doesn't draft Andrew Luck then he should be shot. Luck is the right choice.

But prepare this week for an onslaught of news about Luck and the quarterback sure to be taken very soon after him (likely second if St. Louis trades the pick, or third or fourth if the Rams don't deal), Baylor's Robert Griffin III.

I like how Peter tells us to prepare for an onslaught of news about Luck and Griffin...and then writes his MMQB main feature about Luck and Griffin. I find it interesting he warns us about the onslaught of a story and then uses that story as his main feature in a column.

I spoke to their two coaches late last week, Art Briles of Baylor and David Shaw of Stanford, just to get a flavor of the two top prospects in the draft, and what impressed me was how similar the two quarterbacks are in many ways.

Peter King is always very interested in comparing two objects/people/places/events and then finding out they are EXACTLY ALIKE! Peter must have really enjoyed matching games as a child.

Both are 22 (born exactly five months apart).

Not really shocking considering they were both redshirt juniors in college. In fact, knowing they were both redshirt juniors being five months apart in birth seems like a long time. Morris Claiborne was born five days before Robert Griffin. I think that is a much more interesting fact.

Both declared for the draft with a year of college eligibility left.

Again, both were juniors in college. Knowing this, you would know they had a year of eligibility.

Both Luck and Griffin went to a college that had not only an "A" in the school name, but Baylor are the "Bears" and Stanford are the "Cardinal." Both schools have animals as their team name! Now get this, the mascot for the Cardinal is a tree and Bears fucking love trees. It's almost like Griffin and Luck went to the same college.

Both are athletic, though Griffin's more of an athlete.

In case the NFL ever installs hurdles in the middle of the field this will come in handy.

He had a Cam Newton-type career, with 2,199 rushing yards and 32 rushing touchdowns at Baylor.

Cam Newton had 1473 rushing yards and 20 rushing TD's in one season as a starter at Auburn. Griffin started nearly three full seasons at Baylor to get to the statistics he put up. Let's just stop comparing the two players.

But what's most interesting aside from the football is what both coaches stressed about their players. I asked both coaches to tell me about the life each man is about to dive into. In college, there was pressure on the shoulders of both Luck and Griffin, obviously.

I disagree with Griffin having pressure on him as compared to Luck. I'm not down on Griffin as a quarterback, but the Baylor program was bad until Griffin got there and simply getting to a winning record was good. Obviously there was some pressure, but expectations were also fairly low for the Baylor program. I don't know if Griffin had as much pressure on him as Luck may have had.

"One other thing: I remember early on at Stanford, I told him one time, 'Andrew, this is your huddle, take charge of the huddle.' He looked at me and said, 'Coach, before that can be my huddle, I have to earn it. I don't want it handed to me.' That is how he will approach the NFL -- like whatever he gets, he'll earn.

What is weird about Luck having this attitude of wanting to earn everything is that he expects to play right away in the NFL. I'm sure he expects to earn the starting job, but it is clear Luck wants to play right away, so I would also guess he probably doesn't want to compete with an established quarterback. I'm being hard on Luck, but he states in the article that "Every competitor wants to play every down, every play. So, of course, who wouldn't want to start?" I'm probably reading too much into this, but if a person doesn't expect to start from Day 1, would Andrew Luck think this person isn't a competitor?

More importantly, what is the difference in attitude when it comes to "expecting to start from Day 1" and "expecting to start from Day 1." It seems Luck doesn't want the starting quarterback job handed to him, but he also probably doesn't want a ton of equal competition for the job either. I'm probably just being hard on him.

Briles, on Griffin: "The thing about Robert is he's a football player.

Which is incredibly convenient since the team drafting Griffin probably isn't looking to draft a basketball player or figure skater with one of the first picks in the 2012 draft.

More about Griffin and Luck from Indy later in the week.

Oh, please, please, please can we have more? Please? I want the coverage saturated with stories about Griffin and Luck. Because they are such interesting stories knowing they will probably go in the Top 5 picks of the draft. I don't care about the players who can increase their draft position from the Combine nor do I want to hear any clues about what teams choosing in the first 10 picks think about other players. I want you to repeatedly tell me the same things I already know.

But the sense you get from the scouts and GMs who are studying both players is you won't find many holes in either one -- and certainly not on the personal side.

And we all know being a good quarterback in the NFL depends mostly on how nice you are personally.

I'm hearing Rice wants an Adrian Peterson-type of contract; Peterson signed a seven-year deal worth up to $100 million last September, with the major provision that he'll make $40 million in the first three years.

This is a tough situation because I'm not even sure Adrian Peterson is worth $100 million over seven years, but don't the Ravens have to eventually pay Rice since he is such a large part of their offense? But that's a lot of money to pay a running back. Running backs are the hardest because they seem to have such a short shelf-life and there is a history of running backs getting big deals and then underachieving (DeAngelo Williams/Chris Johnson/Shawn Alexander).

Even though they paid Haloti Ngata $12.2 million a year on a five-year contract in September, I don't see them going anywhere near that for Rice -- and certainly not in the Peterson league.

He may be worth that much, but there is no way I see him getting Adrian Peterson-type money.

I'm sensing the Ravens really want Rice back, but the Ravens have too many great players to sign to go nuts on him.

Plus, they have Joe Flacco who apparently believes himself to be one of the best five quarterbacks in the NFL. Clearly, he hasn't watched enough game tape on himself.

The Packers have $14.42 million available to spend. The franchise number for Flynn would be $14.41 million.

This is a tough decision. If the Packers franchise Flynn they can get some value for him when they trade him. Otherwise, the Packers probably wouldn't get anything for Flynn if they don't trade him and let him go in free agency. So do they franchise him and hope they find a trade partner or just let him go in free agency? I would almost just let him go if I am the Packers. They have other needs and tying up their cap space until they are able to trade Flynn seems like it would be a result of getting a little too greedy by wanting to get value for a pending free agent like Flynn.

"I appreciate the enthusiasm for it and I hear it from the fans consistently. People want more football. I think they want less preseason and more regular season and that's the concept we are talking about here. We wouldn't add an extra two games without reducing the preseason and we are not going to do it without the players' support, so we did that in the collective bargaining agreement instead of having the unilateral right, which we had. We determined that we were going to do this together. We are going to make changes in the offseason and during the preseason and during the regular season to make the game safer. If we can accomplish that we'll look at the idea of restructuring the season and taking two preseason games away and the potential of adding regular season games, but I don't think that will happen until at least 2013 or 14."

-- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, on ESPN radio in New York, via sportsradiointerviews.com.

Just who exactly is the commissioner hearing from "constantly?'' And if you're out there, I'd love to hear from you.

I'm actually with Peter King on this. Who the hell are these fans that consistently tell Roger Goodell they want a longer season? Do they exist solely in his imagination? Is there an anonymous group of fans out there who really want more football and I've just never met one of them? Or is Roger Goodell lying?

On average, veteran players play all of a regular season game. So to say the four series a veteran would play in the preseason (at less intensity, for the most part) is equivalent in any way to a regular season game is misleading at best. I've asked fans, by Twitter poll, if they'd like to see 18 regular season games, and the overwhelming answer was no.

What fans overwhelmingly want are for the owners to not line their pockets with ill-begotten cash by selling preseason tickets at face value. Perhaps Roger Goodell is functionally retarded and believes the fans want to pay less for preseason tickets or want two less preseason games, so this naturally means they want two more regular season games in place of two preseason games. This would be a wrong of Goodell to believe. I would hope he isn't that stupid. The fans (At least the ones I have talked to) don't want two more regular season games, they want the NFL to stop ripping them off for the preseason games. NFL teams will never get rid of two preseason games and lose the revenue from those games, so they will want to make up the games elsewhere.

Goodell is completely missing the point though. Fans don't want an 18 game season, they just don't want to pay full price for two shitty home preseason games. Clearly, it seems Goodell is only hearing from the fans what he wants to hear. Fans say, "We don't want to pay full price for preseason games. If we have to pay full price, then get rid of two preseason games." Goodell hears, "We want to replace two preseason games with regular season games!"

Four teams -- the Giants, Raiders, Steelers and Panthers -- were over the league's projected $120.4 million salary cap at the close of league business Thursday. They have until 4 p.m. March 13 to get under, and all of them certainly will.

Yes, they will. I'm pretty sure each team will have an easy time of getting under the salary cap.

Oakland and Carolina, though? Not exactly coming from a position of strength, having to cut away with definite needs.

As I have said repeatedly, I don't expect Peter King to know every NFL team's strengths and weaknesses, but if he is going to criticize a team at least know if you have a point or not. I do know Carolina's situation. Carolina isn't going to have to cut from anywhere to get under the cap. They can release Thomas Davis (and re-sign him at a cheaper price as is expected), restructure Steve Smith's deal (which they will look to extend him anyway), and release Jimmy Clausen. That puts them under the cap and they don't lose any players from a position of definite need.

Peter can't know every team's cap situation, but if he is going to start spouting off his opinion about a team cutting away from definite needs I would expect him to at least see if reality reflects this statement as being true.

1. I think, ESPN, that most of America is going to tune into "Monday Night Football'' for your opener Sept. 10 and say, "Who's the idiot who thought 'Monday Night Football' would be better without Ron Jaworski?'' Jaworski is without question one of the five best analysts doing NFL games. And now he's not doing NFL games. Great! Throw another log on the fire of the studio shows! Add the 942nd analyst!

I get Peter's point, but he does work on NBC which has a studio show that has Dan Patrick, himself, Bob Costas, Rodney Harrison, Mike Florio and Tony Dungy doing a pregame/in-game show. That's sort of bloated. Regardless, ESPN was stupid for getting rid of Ron Jaworkski, for a couple reasons. I like Jaworski more than I dislike him because I think he gets into X's and O's that helps the viewer understand what he/she is watching. Jaworksi's departure also means those who tune into MNF will have to deal with Jon Gruden speaking in hyperbole about how great "this guy" or "that guy" is. He's not my favorite analyst, but also not the worst. Still, that's a lot of Gruden in one broadcast.

4. I think Cliff Avril is the 6,781st NFL player to say what he said last week -- that he may hold out from training camp if the Lions tag him with the franchise designation this year. Cliff: You know that 10-year deal you rubber-stamped last July, the one the players agreed to with the owners? The franchise tag thing is in that. What, you didn't know it was possible to be an emerging star and the Lions would give you a one-year deal at the average of the top five defensive ends in football, $10.6 million? You're not getting a lot of sympathy from anyone, complaining about that deal, in the first place; in the second place, it's been a part of the football landscape for two decades. If you hated it so much, you should have pushed your player reps to fight harder to rid the game of it.

I, and this is scary, agree with Peter King on this. I know players don't like the franchise tag, but there are worse lots in life than to be "stuck" making as much as the average of the top 5 players at your position. Avril is going to be 26 years old when the season starts. He will have time to get his free agency payday.

9. I'll be at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this weekend, and will be having a Tweetup Friday at 6 p.m. at the Sun King Brewery in Indy. Look forward to seeing you all with your draft and free agency questions.

Just make sure your Scouting Combine questions are about Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin. As long you have questions about them, Peter will answer your questions. Be careful though, a lot of the media is going to try to shove the stories of Luck and Griffin down your throat.

a. Was that Spike Lee with a Jeremy Lin Harvard replica jersey Sunday at Madison Square Garden? Wow! That guy has some serious friends in high places to be able to pull that one off.

No one knows how to jump on a bandwagon like Spike Lee.

Then Peter rattles off three more points about Jeremy Lin. As we learned with the three summers-long Brett Favre saga, Peter has very little idea of when his audience is growing tired of a story.

j. This political season is going to be so depressing. It's all I can do to not make a fool of myself commenting on it. I wish you'd let me.

It's Peter's column, so I don't get why he won't comment on politics. He talks about when he is having a colonoscopy, so hearing his opinion and listening to him think through political matters would probably feel a lot like a colonoscopy to the audience. If Peter's opinion of Red Sox-related matters is any indication, I would love to hear him discuss politics in order to give me more to write about here.

k. Not a big fan of the Pekingese winning Best in Show at Westminster. The Dalmatian or German Shepherd would have been my choice.

Of course Peter would have an opinion on a dog show.

l. So Josh Beckett on Sunday talked about "lapses in judgment'' in his clubhouse behavior in 2011. Why, oh why, oh why, can't he come clean and say, "I was wrong to drink beer in the clubhouse during games.''

Perhaps because he really wasn't really that wrong to drink beer in the clubhouse? Beckett is a starting pitcher. Should he have drunk beer in the clubhouse during a game? Perhaps not, but is this why the Red Sox collapsed down the stretch last year? Probably not. Peter just wants to blame someone or something for the Red Sox collapse, because the collapse sure as hell couldn't have happened because the Red Sox didn't play well...even though that is why it happened. It was drinking beer in the clubhouse and it is over now. Teams drink champagne after clinching a division/league title and this doesn't cause this team to play poorly in the next round of the playoffs. So why would Beckett drinking beer in the clubhouse when he isn't pitching cause him to pitch poorly?

If that's what happened -- and with no one ever denying it, it's hard to imagine it didn't happen -- a full apology to the fans is what's needed from the Red Sox and the offending players.

If Peter writes a bad column, does he need to apologize to us when he has also listed what kind of beers he drank during the week in his "Beernerdness" portion of MMQB? After all, poor performance is directly involved with alcohol consumption.

Based on what I've heard in the last few months, and over the weekend, that apology is never coming. Sad. Just sad.

What is sad is you want an apology. It's over. Move on to this upcoming year.

m. Thanks, Tim Wakefield.

So he is thanking Wakefield? Isn't Peter supposed to be super upset about the Red Sox collapse? Does it make it fine for Wakefield to have had a 5.25 ERA in September and October of 2011 because he didn't drink beer in the clubhouse during games? I guess, a poor performance is fine as long as you suck without help from drinking alcohol.


rich said...

Every combine has a story, just as every draft has one. Often it's about the quarterback.

Like last year when the big story was the Falcons trading away a bunch of picks for AJ Green.

Or the year before when it was Suh vs. Bradford (I guess it counts as a QB story though...)

Then in 2009 there were the stories around Andre Smith showing up to the combine with pancake titties bouncing around.

2008 it was still the Giants beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl and the Patriots not having a first round pick due to "Spygate."

The only really big QB story I can remember from the recent past was Pete Carroll saying Sanchez wasn't ready to leave USC... and boy was he right.

Brady Quinn thought JaMarcus Russell needed to sparkle up his outfits a little bit and drop a few pounds in order to show off his body a little more

This may be the funniest thing I've read on this site and eerily enough, probably the most accurate.

This is a tough decision. If the Packers franchise Flynn they can get some value for him when they trade him.

My question is - if the Packers franchise him, how many teams are willing to take on 14M for a guy with what? Three NFL starts?

And even the teams who would trade for Flynn (Miami?) Can say "hey we're taking 14M off your books for a backup on your team. Here's a second round pick, be happy you're getting it."

I don't see the Packers getting more than a second and maybe a fifth for Flynn, so I'd say let him walk. The Packers have needs to fill during the off-season, but with the picks/cap space they have, what they'll get for Flynn isn't going to make a big difference for them.

Avril is going to be 26 years old when the season starts. He will have time to get his free agency payday.

This is what makes me realize these players are dumber than bricks. If they sign a long-term deal, they're not getting 10M a year.

So you can basically get a year where you're making 150% what you would under a long-term deal... while still being young enough to secure the long term deal the next year.

RBs are probably the only ones where the risk of an injury makes it advantageous to want the long term deal.

Was that Spike Lee with a Jeremy Lin Harvard replica jersey Sunday at Madison Square Garden? Wow! That guy has some serious friends in high places to be able to pull that one off.

Not really. Unless I'm mistaken (and I could be), but the ivies don't put names on the back of their jerseys. So it's a matter of finding the right number.

So maybe 10 minutes on ebay and $50?

So why would Beckett drinking beer in the clubhouse when he isn't pitching cause him to pitch poorly?

This is what I don't get about the whole thing. Who gives a shit? Unless it's a really important regular season game (which really only happen the last day of the season)... if it's not your turn to start, you have nothing to do. If the veterans on the team (including Wakefield) didn't have a problem with it, then why should anyone else?

It's not like they're going to bring Beckett in to pitch the 8th inning of a regular season game in July.

The guy had an ERA under 3, a career best in years in which he pitched over 30 innings. Let him drink his beer.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, please don't remind me of that picture with Andre Smith's shirt off. I still have nightmares about that.

I think the Packers should let Flynn walk as well. I know it stinks to get zero value for him, but once they franchise him they will lose leverage in a trade b/c other teams know they will have to get rid of him. I don't know the rules very well, but I think the team that trades for Flynn can re-work his contract so he doesn't count against them at $14 million. I could be wrong about that. Still, I can see why the Packers shouldn't tag him. If it takes a while to get rid of him, they could be up against the cap.

I agree with you a/b RB's being franchise. I actually have a Howard Bryant article I will write about that is similar to this. Avril is going to make a lot of money for one year's work and then probably get a long-term deal. I guess I am showing my ignorance by not understanding how this is a big deal. He is still young, so it isn't like he won't have time to sign a FA contract on the market.

I see how the perception of drinking in the clubhouse can look, but in reality it isn't that big of a deal. I just have a hard time believing pitchers drinking during a game would hurt the team more than pitchers drinking after the game. It just seems like an old story where there is an explanation for the BoSox collapse last year desperately trying to be found.