Tuesday, June 17, 2014

0 comments Ross Tucker Says Alex Smith Deserves Tony Romo/Jay Cutler Money Because of Team Performance, But Not Because of Team Performance

I generally try my best to fair. I really do. Ross Tucker writes pretty well for an ex-athlete and generally does a good job making the point he wants to make. That's me being fair. He is also the guy who wrote a column stating the Lions should just not draft anyone, rather than draft Matthew Stafford and pay him what the going price for a quarterback drafted in #1 overall in 2009 was. So there's that. I mean, not drafting anyone at #1 overall was his solution. So he has a history of some lunacy. Now Ross Tucker has written an article saying Alex Smith "deserves" Tony Romo and Jay Cutler money, but not because of his team's performance, but mostly because of his team's performance.

I have a problem with the word "deserve" being used in sports. The Cavs supposedly didn't "deserve" the #1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft because they have drafted #1 overall twice recently, a guy like Alex Smith who was overpaid for most his career "deserves" money like Romo and Cutler, and it goes on. I think in the realm of sports what a team/player "deserves" is over-used. It's all relative I guess, but does Alex Smith "deserve" a big contract or does the fact he didn't always live up to his previous 6 year $49.5 million contract mean he should be underpaid compared to other quarterbacks who are probably a little overpaid? What does "deserves" really mean anyway?

After all, is the fact Romo and Cutler got Romo and Cutler money a reflection on their ability or the fact the quarterback market usually errs on the side of overpaying for a quality quarterback? The NFL is a QB-driven league, so teams will overpay to keep a quality quarterback around. This leads to situations where quarterbacks like Alex Smith who is more middle-of-the-road wants money like quarterbacks who are a tier above him have received. So Ross Tucker doesn't ask if Cutler/Romo's contract is a reflection of the quarterback market more than it is a reflection of Alex Smith's talent compared to Romo and Cutler. So maybe Alex Smith doesn't deserve as much money as Cutler and Romo because they didn't deserve that amount of money originally. And yes, I realize the market sets what each player is worth, but Cutler nor Romo ever hit the market as a free agent. I'm rambling and hopefully you get my semi-coherent point.

Speaking of semi-coherent, let's read about Ross Tucker using team performance as his reason for why Alex Smith should get paid like Cutler and Romo, while saying he doesn't want to use team performance as to why Alex Smith should be paid like Cutler and Romo.

Jay Cutler, Tony Romo and Alex Smith.
Which name doesn't belong?

I don't know the category, so it's impossible to answer this question. If the category is "Quarterbacks who haven't won a Super Bowl" then they all belong. If the category is "quarterbacks who are first round picks" then Tony Romo doesn't belong.

My guess is that we are thinking of the same player, but I'm fairly confident that our reasoning is different.
Only one of those three NFL quarterbacks turned 30 years old this month. The other two are 31 and 34.

Only one of those quarterbacks hasn't thrown for 4000 yards in a season. Only one of these quarterbacks has thrown 20 touchdown passes in a season once. I can cherry-pick numbers too!

Only one has won 75 percent of their regular season starts over the last three years. The other two are not even close to winning at that high of a clip.
Only one has helped lead his team to the postseason each of the last three seasons. The other two have not gotten their team into the postseason even once over the same stretch.

Only one quarterback has taken his team to the NFC Championship Game once and then had his backup take that team to the Super Bowl and NFC Championship Game over the following two seasons. To say Alex Smith "led" his team to the postseason in 2012 is a bit misleading. He started the first nine games and then took one snap the rest of the season. Alex Smith's 6-2 record is impressive, but I think it's fair to say Colin Kaepernick is who led the 49ers to the postseason in 2012. Whatever though, I won't let facts get in the way of Ross Tucker's opinion.

Only one of these quarterbacks has had to quarterback two different teams during the previous three years.

Probably because the other two quarterbacks have only played for one team over the previous three years. It's kind of difficult to lead a team you don't quarterback to the playoffs isn't it?

I've heard a lot of criticism of Tony Romo, but the fact he hasn't led another team besides the Cowboys to the playoffs in the last three years is completely new criticism. It's clear at this point that Ross Tucker is cherry-picking his information and he's only cherry-picking team-related information at that.

It's a bit of an unfair comparison isn't it? Alex Smith is the only quarterback of these three who has played for two teams over the last three years. What did Ross Tucker expect?

Only one of them makes less than $10 million per year. The other two are in the $18M per season range.

I can't believe Alex Smith only gets paid $10 million per year! Actually, Tony Romo's cap hit for 2014 is $11.7 million, Alex Smith's cap hit is $8 million, and Cutler's is $18.5 million. The average for Romo and Cutler are $18 million, but I think Ross Tucker understands the cap hit is what really counts when comparing quarterbacks to each other in terms of money.

So what's my point? There are several reports out there that Smith wants to be paid like Romo and Cutler. Some people think that is crazy.

I don't think it's crazy to ask to get paid like Cutler or Romo. I think it would be crazy if the Chiefs paid Smith like Cutler or Romo. Not because Smith may not relatively deserve similar money if taken in terms of his team's performance, but because I believe Smith is more easily replaceable than both Cutler and Romo are. Smith seems to take care of the football and his teams win games, but this doesn't mean he should paid on-par with quarterbacks like Romo and Cutler. In terms of individual achievement, both Romo and Cutler have performed at a higher level individually.

I don't.

Clearly you don't. Of course Ross Tucker also doesn't seem to be able to acknowledge that the Cowboys seem to have some buyer's remorse at signing Romo to that contract, so this could be an indication Smith may deserve to be paid like Romo, but the Chiefs could be smart not to care what Smith deserves.

What would you be asking for at this point if you were Smith?

I would ask for as much money as I thought the Chiefs might give me. If I were an impartial football columnist then I would not look at it from Smith's point of view as to whether Smith deserves what he's asking for. Smith is entitled to ask for as much money as Cutler and Romo, but that really doesn't mean he should be paid that much.

I'm not one of those people who looks only at a quarterback's won/loss record,

Actually, yes you are the exact one of those people who looks only at a quarterback's won/loss record. From earlier in this column:

Only one has won 75 percent of their regular season starts over the last three years. The other two are not even close to winning at that high of a clip.Only one has helped lead his team to the postseason each of the last three seasons. The other two have not gotten their team into the postseason even once over the same stretch.

That same quarterback has not only helped get his team to the playoffs the last three years, but he's won a playoff game and played extremely well in two separate playoff games during that time.
Only one of these quarterbacks has had to quarterback two different teams during the previous three years.

And the conclusion Ross Tucker reached prior to saying he's "not one of those people who looks only at a quarterback's won/loss record:"

So what's my point? There are several reports out there that Smith wants to be paid like Romo and Cutler. Some people think that is crazy. 
I don't.

So whether he wants to be or not, he is one of those people.

because there are a lot of factors that go into that and it would be foolish to look only at that one thing. Still, it would be equally foolish to completely dismiss it.

But you...you...just made a case...the entire case you made...you only mentioned...the team performance thing is tied into the win/loss record...that's all you made mention of...the conclusion that Smith should get paid like Romo and Cutler...win/loss is all you looked at when making the case. You see, right?

In this column Ross Tucker will make zero mention of Alex Smith's individual performance and compare it to Romo or Cutler's individual performance. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. None. Zero. That's how many times Ross Tucker will compare the individual statistics of Jay Cutler and Tony Romo to Alex Smith. His entire case for why Alex Smith should get paid like Romo and Cutler is based on win/loss record of Smith's teams compared to Romo and Cutler's team. That's it. Then he tries to act like he's not someone who bases the entire conclusion on win/loss record.

Winning the game, after all, is the goal.  You know that, right?

I do know that. I also know that Colin Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game over the last two seasons. This isn't a Brady/Cassel case where one quarterback played well, but didn't match the elite performance of his predecessor, Kaepernick has performed as well and better than Smith did in terms of team performance (since that seems to be what Tucker cares so much about).

Make the plays that help your team, or maybe more importantly, don't make the plays that prevent your team from winning.

Yes, this is what being a quarterback is all about. I won't state this as being untrue. Quarterbacks who don't make the plays that prevent their team from winning are seen as game managers and generally are also seen as more replaceable than quarterbacks like Cutler and Romo. Fair or not, NFL teams tend not to give $100 million to quarterbacks who just try to avoid making mistakes.

Plus, it's not like other statistics that people look at are only quarterback measurements. Touchdown to interception ratio, yards per attempt and completion percentage, for instance, can all be products, at least in part, of scheme, coaching philosophy, and talent surrounding the quarterback on both sides of the ball.

Fair point, but what is a more indicative product of a team's overall talent and coaching talent than that team's win-loss record? Quarterback measurements are somewhat a product of the talent around that quarterback, but the record of that quarterback's team is entirely indicative of the team's overall talent. Ross Tucker makes a valid point, but fails to understand this same point can be used to dismiss Alex Smith's claim to deserving as much money as Cutler and Romo. It's entirely possible Smith's appearances in the playoffs and decent performance at quarterback are the result of coaching philosophy and scheme, just like Cutler and Romo's lack of playoff appearances in the last three years are a result of these factors. It goes both ways.

Really, what's the best argument for why Smith is not worth Romo/Cutler money? That he's not as physically talented as those two?

The best argument for why Smith is worth Romo/Cutler money is based the assumption that Cutler and Romo are worth the money they are paid. But yes, the best argument for why Smith isn't worth Romo/Cutler money is because in terms of individual performance. Smith doesn't put up the numbers that Romo and Cutler put up. Quarterbacks are often paid on their individual performance and Smith's individual performance isn't on par with Romo and Cutler's individual performance.

Well, neither is Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, so where does that leave us? 

Ross Tucker can't really believe this. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning aren't physically talented, but between Brady and Manning they have had one season where they didn't throw for more yards than Smith's career high for passing yardage in a season. There have been two seasons where Manning/Brady didn't throw for more touchdowns in a season than Alex Smith's career high in a season at 23.

It's not about Brady or Manning not being physically talented, it is about the performance of the quarterback overall. Brady/Manning are not athletic, and more importantly, they simply blow away Alex Smith's individual statistics. It's not even close. You know what else? In fact, Alex Smith is more athletic than both Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, so Ross Tucker is not only wrong in comparing Smith to Manning/Brady but he is also wrong that Smith isn't more physically talented than Cutler/Romo. That's not true.

Or perhaps the argument is that Smith hasn't been asked to carry as much of the load as the other two. There probably is some truth to that, but whose fault is that?

Whose fault is it that his head coach doesn't have the trust in him to carry a larger load? Well, in terms of fault I would say that's the quarterback's fault for not instilling enough confidence that he can get the job done with a heavier load. 

All a quarterback can do is carry out the coaching staff's game plan to the best of his ability and Smith has done that at an extremely high level for three straight seasons.

And yet another irrelevant comment. It doesn't matter if Smith has carried out the game plan or not. What's being questioned is whether Smith deserves the same amount of money as Romo and Cutler when his individual performance isn't as impressive and he carries less of a load than Romo and Cutler. Based on this, he does not deserve as much money as them because he isn't as valuable to his team as Romo and Cutler may be.

It’s not as if Smith hasn't produced at all. He threw 23 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 15 games last year with a new team in a new offense while winning 11 of those contests.

That's great. It in no way means he deserves to be paid like Tony Romo, who threw 31 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. Jay Cutler threw 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 11 games. A guy whose career high of 23 touchdown passes doesn't necessarily deserve a contract in excess of $100 million. There's a big gap between saying "it's not like he hasn't produced at all" and that quarterback deserving to be one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL.

And it's not like he's throwing to the same caliber of weapons that Romo and Cutler have at their disposal. Frankly, it's not even close.

And neither Cutler or Romo had the defense that Smith had last year in Kansas City. In fact, it's not even close. The Chiefs defense gave up 19.1 points per game, while the Bears and Cowboys defenses gave up 29.9 and 27.0 points per game respectively. So there's that little bit of information that Ross Tucker conveniently ignores. Romo and Cutler were asked to score almost 10 more points per game to win a game than Smith was asked to score. Think that plays a part in each quarterback's win-loss record last year?

Smith thinks he deserves what those guys make and I don't blame him.
Not one bit.

You don't have to blame Smith, but it doesn't make right. I do enjoy how Ross Tucker used the team-achievement approach to stating Smith is on-par with Romo and Cutler while saying that he doesn't only look at a quarterback's win-loss record. I enjoy it, because well, that's the entire basis for his argument that Smith should be paid like Cutler and Romo were paid.