Sunday, August 31, 2014

6 comments Bleacher Report Has the Official List of Riskiest Moves Every NFL Team Made This Offseason

Did you know that every NFL team made a risky move this offseason? You probably didn't know that, but it's true because Bleacher Report says it's true. Even teams that barely made any moves, made a risky move by not making a move. I've not changed my opinion on the dregs of Bleacher Report, but I admit they have done a really good job of hiring top-end talent to write for the site. The problem is the other writers on the site who do the 34 page slideshows where the 34th slide is the link to the next slideshow. These are the same writers who are tasked to write the same type of slideshow eight other Bleacher Report writers have written in the past few weeks. So when I say "Bleacher Report" I'm talking about the dregs and not the entire site as a whole. It used to be more of the entire site as a whole, but the content has improved in many ways.

Anyway, this Bleacher Report author has a list of the riskiest moves NFL teams made, even if they didn't make any moves at all. And yes, the 34th slide is the first slide of the next slideshow, which could not annoy me more.

The NFL offseason is a time for boundless optimism, as every club seemingly morphs into an amalgamation of the '85 Bears and '07 Patriots after free agency and the draft. But the truth of the matter is that each franchise has made at least one risky move that could jeopardize its standing in 2014.

"JEOPARDIZE THEIR STANDING!" Now isn't the time for optimism, now is the time for panic! Every team made a risky move, or didn't make a risky move which in itself was risky, that could cause that team to lose games in 2014. Sure, maybe some of the moves these teams didn't make weren't made for a reason, but that's not the point, the point is "JEOPARDIZE THEIR STANDING," that could happen.

Risky moves come in all different shapes and sizes. Some teams neglected glaring areas of need, and instead fortified positions of strength. Others will go into the season with an injury risk at quarterback and a substandard backup.

I guess the question of, "Was there a better backup available on the free agent market or through the draft?" would be a stupid and overly logical question to ask. It's not like there are a bunch of great backup quarterbacks just hanging out on the free agent market eager to take their spot as the second-best quarterback on an NFL team.

It's possible that all of the moves detailed here could work out, but that's extremely unlikely. The probability is that at least some of these moves will come back to bite teams in the derrière.

This is analysis. It's unlikely all 32 teams will have their moves or lack of moves work out. No kidding. Again, the NFL isn't a video game. There is a supply and demand issue. The author says the Bills took a risk in trading up for Sammy Watkins, but if they didn't trade up for Watkins then what were their other options? Take a lesser receiver in the draft and not give E.J. Manuel a guy they perceive to be the #1 receiver he needs to succeed?

Let's start the slideshow!

Arizona Cardinals: Letting LB Karlos Dansby Walk in Free Agency 

I agree in principle with this, but the criticism is off-base.

Compounding the matter is the season-long suspension of linebacker Daryl Washington, which further weakened Arizona's linebacking corps. In a season where the Cardinals are built to challenge the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers for NFC West supremacy, linebacker now looks like their weakest position on defense.

Perhaps the Cardinals should have made Dansby a better offer in an effort to keep him in the desert.

Dansby was signed by the Browns in March and Washington wasn't suspended for the first four games of the season until April and not suspended for the season until May. So while Washington's suspension does compound the problem, it's not as if the Cardinals knew they wouldn't have Washington on the roster for the 2014 season when they didn't match the Browns offer to Dansby. I'm sure if they could predict the future as the author seems to think they should be able to, then they would have worked harder to keep Dansby or find a Plan B.

Atlanta Falcons: Not Acquiring a Top-Notch Pass-Rusher 

Like who? The author never says who this top-notch pass-rusher the Falcons didn't acquire might be. I would figure if there was a top-notch pass-rusher available the Falcons should have signed then the author could at least give this person's name.

But that never happened, as general manager Thomas Dimitroff opted instead to add beef along both the offensive and defensive line. There's no question that those moves were needed, as the Falcons had to become more physical at the point of attack, but it was still surprising to see the team not sign or draft a potentially elite pass-rusher.

Hey, guess what? A pass-rusher is part of the defensive line in the Falcons base 4-3 defense (that was supposedly beefed up). This also brings up the question of how the Falcons can beef up the interior of the defensive line and the offensive line, while still acquiring a potentially elite pass-rusher in the draft. Were the Falcons supposed to secretly draft two players with one draft pick? They had to make choices and if they had not drafted Jake Matthews then the author would say the Falcons were making a risky move by not protecting Matt Ryan. Every team can't fix every hole with a limited amount of draft picks.

Buffalo Bills: Trade Up for WR Sammy Watkins 

What should the Bills have done?

The Bills should have selected an offensive lineman with the ninth overall pick and kept their picks in 2015.

Oh, that makes sense. But what doesn't make sense is which offensive linemen does the author think the Bills should have drafted at #9? There was no offensive lineman other than Taylor Lewan graded to go in the Top 10 of the draft and (spoiler alert) what did the author say about Taylor Lewan in this very slideshow? He says that drafting Taylor Lewan was the biggest risk the Tennessee Titans made this offseason. So..................this is awkward. The author states the Bills should have selected an offensive lineman, but the only offensive lineman worth taking in the Top 10 the author states as being a big risk.
 
Carolina Panthers: Not Acquiring a Top-Notch Wide Receiver 

Yes, there was a long list of top-notch wide receivers just waiting to be signed for a reasonable amount of money to fit under the Panthers tight cap.

Gone are receivers Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Brandon LaFell and Domenik Hixon. That quartet of pass-catchers combined for 156 receptions last season.

Gettleman also signed Jason Avant, Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood, none of whom inspire much confidence.

They did combine for 108 receptions and are much cheaper considering both LaFell and Ginn were free agents. 

It would have been smart for Gettleman to add multiple receivers in the draft in an effort to restock the cupboard for quarterback Cam Newton, but that didn't happen.

It also would have been smart to draft an offensive lineman considering three members of the 2013 offensive line retired and it would have been smart to draft a defensive lineman considering the team can't afford to pay Greg Hardy the $80 million he wants after this season. But again, wide receivers are super shiny! Who cares about the other needs the team had?

Dallas Cowboys: Not Having a Reliable Backup Option for QB Tony Romo

Who? Who should the Cowboys have signed to be the reliable backup? This is typical talk radio bullshit. A guy criticizes a team for not making a move, but has no suggestions for what that team should have done. Was there a large group of reliable free agent backup quarterbacks that I wasn't aware of? Fine, the Cowboys should have gotten a good backup for Romo. Who? Just pointing out what the Cowboys did wrong without a suggestion on what they could have done right is typical talk radio bullshit, simply designed to elicit a reaction.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is 34 years old and is coming off a second back surgery, so it should stand to reason that the team has a reliable backup option, right?

Well, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones doesn't seem to agree with that logical train of thought, as it appears likely that former Browns draft bust Brandon Weeden will be the player a heartbeat away from being the starting passer of America's Team.

Kyle Orton could be the backup if he doesn't retire. Perhaps Jerry Jones decided he didn't want to pay backup money for a guy who may end up being a third string quarterback?

Yes, the same Weeden who owns a 5-15 career record as a starter and has tossed more career interceptions (26) than touchdowns (23).
Yuck.

This is as opposed to the large variety of free agent backup quarterbacks who have a winning record as a starter and have significantly more touchdowns than interceptions?

Green Bay Packers: Signing Undrafted TE Colt Lyerla 

If signing an undrafted free agent is the riskiest move an NFL team has made in the offseason then I would say that team hasn't really made any risky moves. Lyerla is an undrafted free agent. There's no risk behind signing him.

Green Bay is currently unsettled at the tight end position. The team's primary starter there for the past five seasons, Jermichael Finley, is currently a free agent and is coming off major neck surgery. The Packers drafted Richard Rodgers in the third round, and Andrew Quarless remains from last season.

It's possible that the Packers will count on Lyerla to produce in the passing attack. And given his past transgressions, he could prove to be a very difficult player to trust.

So wouldn't the Packers risky move have been to not sign a reliable tight end and rely on a draft pick and an undrafted free agent to contribute at the position? Signing Colt Lyerla is almost a no-risk proposition. There's no risk other than he can't be part of the solution at tight end for the Packers.

Houston Texans: Drafting Tom Savage as QB of the Future 

I'm not sure teams draft quarterbacks and officially label them "QB of the future," but whatever. I won't argue semantics. What was the solution presented by the author?

The team could have traded back into the first round to select Teddy Bridgewater, but opted to stand pat and nab the inconsistent Savage in the fourth.

Yeah, that would have been a much better idea. Unfortunately, the Texans didn't do this. But wait, what did the author say the Vikings riskiest decision this offseason was?

Minnesota Vikings: Trading Back into 1st Round to Draft QB Teddy Bridgewater

Oh. So rather than make the risky move of drafting Tom Savage, the Texans should have moved up into the first round to draft Teddy Bridgewater. By the way, THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE VIKINGS DID and the author said this was the riskiest move the Vikings team made all offseason. So for the second time the author suggests a team draft a different player in the 2014 NFL Draft than they drafted, but then states the team that drafted that player made a risky move in doing so. So the Texans should have exchanged one risky move for another or the author simply can't remember the contradictory shit he's writing. I'll let you be the judge.

Miami Dolphins: Drafting OT Ja'wuan James in 1st Round 

But his drafting of tackle Ja'Wuan James in the first round represented a major reach. James was considered by many to be a fringe Day 1 prospect, and while he should step in and start at right tackle, it's debatable if he merited selecting in that spot.

Three issues with this paragraph:

1. If James steps in and is the starter at right tackle then isn't that a persuasive argument he merited selection where the Dolphins selected him? He is starting as a rookie, which is what they drafted him to do.

2. This whole "Day 1 prospect" thing means nothing. The way the NFL Draft is split up now, a Day 1 prospect is a 1st round pick. So "Day 1 prospect" now means "1st round prospect."

3. Speaking of being a Day 1 prospect and a major reach. That's not entirely accurate. I used the Google machine to do a quick search to see where James was projected to go and this is what I found.

Walter Football had James as a "steal" at #64. He also said there are a lot of teams that would consider taking James in the second round.

NFL Draft Scout had James as a 1-2 round selection.

CBS Sports had James as a 1-2 round selection.

NFL.com had James as a 2-3 round selection.

Granted, not every scout agrees that Ju'wuan James was a first round selection, but the Dolphins needed a tackle and there are plenty of reputable outlets that had him going in the first round or early second round. That doesn't mean he is a major reach at #19.

Minnesota Vikings: Trading Back into 1st Round to Draft QB Teddy Bridgewater

I'm not sure how a team in desperate need of a quarterback that trades back into the first round to take a quarterback that was projected to go in the first round for much of the draft process (and even was seen as possibly going #1 overall) is taking a major risk.

But if Bridgewater falters and proves the critics right, the team's decision to trade back into the first round to select him (32nd overall) will surely set the franchise back and get general manager Rick Spielman fired.

But if the Vikings didn't draft a quarterback who could start for them this year, then the Vikings could struggle to go .500 and Rick Spielman will be fired anyway. Trading back into the first round to draft a quarterback who was projected to go in the first round isn't that much of a risk.
 
New Orleans Saints: Trading RB Darren Sproles 

That made it all the more surprising when Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton dealt Sproles to NFC rival Philadelphia for a fifth-round pick in this past May's draft.

Yes, the Saints traded up to select speedy receiver Brandin Cooks in the first round, and the team is expected to deploy Cooks in a similar fashion to how Sproles was utilized. But Cooks is unproven, while Sproles has been successful at the NFL level for years.

Sproles is also 30 years old, while Brandin Cook is not 30 years old. I mean, sure, the Saints possibly replaced Sproles production but it was a risk to trade Sproles and open up salary cap room to sign other players that would improve their team. Trading a 30 year old running back who isn't really a running back and opening up salary cap room to improve the team at other positions is JEOPARDIZING THE SAINTS SEASON!

Plus, the Eagles are the favorite to win the NFC East, and could end up facing the Saints in the playoffs. Why in the world would New Orleans want to possibly face Sproles come next January?

Perhaps because the Saints were originally just going to release Sproles, but the Eagles were the only team willing to give up a 5th round pick to acquire him? There are two conferences in the NFL. GM's can't worry about trading a player within the same conference or else even fewer trades would happen than do currently occur.
 
New York Jets: Not Acquiring a Big-Name Cornerback 

The Jets tried to bring back Darrelle Revis, but he signed with rival New England. They tried to sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but he inked a deal with the crosstown Giants. They cut Antonio Cromartie, who signed with the Cardinals. They watched as Alterraun Verner (Tampa Bay) and Vontae Davis (Indianapolis) left the market.

So the Jets tried to acquire a big-name cornerback (and of course a cornerback HAS to be a big-name or else he isn't an impact cornerback of course), but they couldn't manage to do so. I'm not understanding the risky move. The Jets did try to acquire a big-name cornerback, they just failed. What would be risky is paying a cornerback a ton of money he isn't worth simply to shore up a position the team perceives as a need. As usual, too many people mistaken making a move for the sake of making a move as progress.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Not Drafting a Cornerback in the 1st Round 

In the first round of May's draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted a potential difference-maker at the linebacker position in Ryan Shazier.
Shazier could shine in coordinator Dick LeBeau's defense and has the opportunity to bring speed and playmaking ability to a linebacking corps in desperate need of both.

Stupid, stupid move. Since when has any NFL team benefited from upgrading their pass rush? It's not like a great pass rush helps take pressure off the secondary or anything like that. As I've said before in regard to this pick, not drafting a cornerback isn't a risky or dumb move if the Steelers are able to upgrade their pass rush. I don't get why some people think an NFL team is capable of fixing every weakness in one offseason. It's not realistic.

San Francisco 49ers: Engaging in Trade Talks for Coach Jim Harbaugh 

There is a lot more to this than the 49ers simply engaging in trade talks for Jim Harbaugh. It's not like they woke up one day and decided they wanted to get rid of him. The trade talks were a result of disagreements between he and Trent Baalke and the fact Harbaugh wanted a contract extension worthy of a head coach who had won a Super Bowl.

But that apparently hasn't been enough to secure his long-term employment, as Harbaugh's contract will expire after the 2015 season. Plus, the 49ers reportedly engaged in trade talks with the Cleveland Browns for Harbaugh's services.

If the author read the article he would see that Harbaugh isn't entirely happy in San Francisco and the 49ers have denied they were involved with trade talks. I don't believe them, but still, they did deny it and there seems to be a reason other than pure boredom to trade Harbaugh. He wants a lot of money and wants more power, power that Trent Baalke currently has.

This is as ridiculous a story as the NFL has seen in a long time. Harbaugh has proved to be one of the league's finest coaches and has helped return the 49ers to relevance.

Which is why Harbaugh wants to be paid like one of the league's finest coaches, if not the league's finest coach, and the 49ers are hesitant to do so. It's a matter of economics, not a risk the 49ers were just wildly taking.

Seattle Seahawks: Not Yet Addressing RB Marshawn Lynch's Unhappiness 

Seattle's risky move was not overpaying a 28 year old running back? I would think it's the opposite that is a risky move. After all, remember what happened the last time the Seahawks handed a huge contract to a 28 year old running back?

The only way to address Lynch's unhappiness is to pay him. The Seahawks will have to pay Russell Wilson in coming years, so I think the risky move would be to pay Marshawn Lynch and reward him for his great play, thereby tying up cap room in the future.

Lynch was the bell cow of last year's Super Bowl champions and still has a lot left in the tank.

Does he have a lot left in the tank? How is that known for sure? His yards and yards per carry were down last year. He's also a running back getting near the age of 30, which historically is a time when running backs start to decline.

The Seahawks would be wise to resolve this situation as soon as possible and make sure Lynch is brought into the fold for training camp.

The only way to bring him into the fold is to pay him. I disagree the Seahawks would be wise to pay him and it's risky to not sign him to a new contract. Lynch is a great running back, but the risky move would be to give him the contract extension that he wants. I don't devalue running backs as much as others might, but the position certainly doesn't have the market value it used to have.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Signing QB Josh McCown and Naming Him the Starter 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon played splendidly as a rookie, tossing 19 touchdowns against nine interceptions and leading a suspect roster to a 4-9 record as the starter.

But new Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht made it apparent that Glennon wasn't their choice for 2014, as they inked free-agent quarterback Josh McCown to a two-year, $10 million deal and quickly named him the starter.

After complaining other teams like the Cowboys didn't have a quality backup quarterback, the Buccaneers do have a quality backup quarterback in Glennon, but this doesn't please the author. The Buccaneers also signed McCown and the author is now stating it was risky to name McCown the starter. It's not like Lovie Smith can't change his mind in August after the preseason starts. So it's risky to not have a quality backup quarterback and it's risky to not allow a quality backup be given the chance to be the starter. Everything is risky.

Tennessee Titans: Drafting OT Taylor Lewan in the 1st Round 

Much like the New York Giants' selection of receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the first round, this isn't an indictment of tackle Taylor Lewan, whom the Titans selected with the 11th overall selection in May's draft: It's that the Titans had more pressing needs to fill.

Oh, ok. I get it. Drafting a quality offensive lineman was a risky move because the Titans had other needs to fill. So wouldn't the risky move be "Drafting an offensive lineman" and not specifically drafting Taylor Lewan? Because saying "Drafting Taylor Lewan in the 1st round" certainly sounds like an indictment of Lewan, which is an interesting opinion considering the author was fine with Lewan being picked two picks earlier by the Bills.

The Titans lost Alterraun Verner in free agency and could have spent their first-round selection on a cornerback to replace him. They could have also tabbed a pass-rusher to fit in new coordinator Ray Horton's 3-4 defense.

Which corner specifically? As usual throughout this slideshow, the author has no suggestions for which specific move these teams should have made to avoid making a risky move. He's able to identify the risk, but stops short of actually providing a specific solution he thinks these teams should have made instead of taking the risk.

Washington Redskins: Hiring Jay Gruden as Head Coach 

It must be said that I'm a fan of new Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden, and I have previously praised the hire in this space.

I don't understand how hiring Jay Gruden is the riskiest move of the offseason in the author's opinion, while also being a good hire in the author's opinion.

But that doesn't mean that bringing on Gruden didn't represent a risk by general manager Bruce Allen.

Sure, it is a risk, but both articles mentioning Gruden were the author's opinion. How can the author think Gruden was a smart choice and will succeed, while also thinking his hire was the biggest risk of the offseason? That is unless the Redskins didn't really make a risky move in hiring Gruden. These two opinions don't have to be mutually exclusive, but it seems to me if the author likes Gruden, then he doesn't think the move to hire him was the riskiest move of the Redskins offseason.

But we do know that, despite feelings one way or the other concerning his potential success, Gruden was a risky hire.

It was a risky hire, unless you listen to the author's previous opinion were he stated it was "a terrific hire" and Gruden is "capable of getting the best out of Griffin and returning the Redskins to the playoff chase." Doesn't sound that risky to me. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

11 comments Gregg Easterbrook Is Never Actually Wrong, He Just Doesn't Understand His Own Argument

Gregg Easterbrook helped ESPN introduce ESPN Grade last week in TMQ. It was the disaster that I was anticipating it would be. ESPN Grade only took the academic and football rankings of teams ranked in the Top 25, then ranked these teams against each other in order to see which college programs took academics seriously. I find it to be a useless metric. Gregg also "previewed" the AFC, while not really providing a preview of any kind, and more was reviewing what happened last year. This week Gregg "previews" the NFC, finds out he was wrong about Jacksonville giving money to build a new scoreboard instead of giving the money to the Jacksonville public schools and talks yet again about "creep." It's the topic some idiot readers write into Gregg claiming to notice and then this gives Gregg cause to continue writing about it. Make it stop.

The 2013 NFL season ended with the Seattle Seahawks crushing Denver in the Super Bowl. But will they even reach the playoffs this season?

No, because they have too many undrafted, hard-working players who have become highly-drafted glory boys who only care about themselves and look into the backfield while trying to cover a receiver. It's been decided.

The two prior Super Bowl victors, the Ravens and Giants, failed to reach the postseason the following year. Those two clubs were a combined 17-15 in the seasons following their confetti shower after the final contest. Fifteen of the 48 Super Bowl winners -- nearly a third of those to hoist the Lombardi Trophy -- didn't make the playoffs the next year.

I can't speak for other NFL teams who have won the Super Bowl, but as I explained in MMQB on Tuesday, the Seahawks may be different because they were a dominant team over the entire season who is bringing back the core of their team. Both the Giants and Ravens weren't dominant over the course of the entire season they won the Super Bowl and also lost key players from that Super Bowl-winning team. The Seahawks lost players like Golden Tate, but a healthy Percy Harvin more than makes up for that loss. So I would think the Seahawks have a better chance than recent Super Bowl winners of repeating as champs.

More than that, the 16-game season means a break here or a bounce there can be the difference between a playoff run and January on the couch. MLB teams play 162 regular-season contests, and NBA teams play 82; in that many the impact of luck washes out, and the best teams earn the postseason invites. Just one of the NBA's 68 title teams, the 1998 Chicago Bulls, failed to reach the next postseason. Then baseball and basketball play five- or seven-game postseason series. Luck might determine the victor in any one game; after seven games, the best team almost always wins.

Which explains perfectly why five Wild Card teams have won the World Series since it was instituted in 1995 and five other Wild Card teams made the World Series, but lost. You know, the better team in MLB almost always wins because the season is so long and a seven game series takes removes the variable of luck. Maybe Gregg thinks the better baseball team just isn't the team that won it's division.

Since football's relatively small number of regular-season contests are followed by a postseason knockout round, practically anything can happen.

Baseball also has a one-game knockout Wild Card round. Gregg does have a point about the small number of regular season contests and how that impacts which teams make the playoffs, but baseball does now have the one-game Wild Card game where anything can happen. 

For the Ravens in their Super Bowl year, two long, fluky, last-second gains at San Diego and Denver were the difference between a magnificent season and also-ran status. For the Giants in their Super Bowl year, every bounce of the ball went their way in the NFC title contest at San Francisco, and then again in the Super Bowl versus New England.

Lady Luck smiled on the Seahawks in 2013 and perhaps will again this year -- but don't count on it.

I don't recall the Seahawks having luck like the Ravens had with Rahim Moore allowing the long pass to Jacoby Jones two seasons ago and the fumble by Kyle Williams of the 49ers three seasons ago that benefited the Giants (was that really luck?). I know, facts are malleable things Gregg enjoys bending to his will.

Conventional wisdom holds that first- and second-round draft selections are the essence of football success. Yet the Seahawks won the Super Bowl the past season with the league's second-lowest total of games played by first- and second-round selections;

So this must mean that first round draft choices are useless because the Seahawks didn't have many players who were first or second round picks. That's the only logical conclusion here.

Seattle got fine performances from mid-round and late-round selections, while seven of the top 10 teams for games by high draft picks failed to make the playoffs.

A little-known guy who goes all-out can be a better NFL performer than a highly drafted star, and Seattle had little-known guys going all out in 2013. This was best exemplified by seventh-round draft selection Malcolm Smith's winning the Super Bowl's MVP trophy, while Peyton Manning (No. 1 overall pick in 1998) and Champ Bailey (seventh overall in 1999) had their heads in their hands.

If anyone should have their head in their hands, it is Gregg Easterbrook for intentionally misleading and lying to his audience. He picks two high draft choices from the Broncos when he wants to prove the Broncos have highly-paid glory boys, but he'll also be sure to talk later this season about little known Julius Thomas and undrafted Wes Welker when it's convenient for him to do so. The Seahawks had first round pick Marshawn Lynch running the football and first round pick (and highly-paid glory boy) Percy Harvin return a kickoff for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Here are the most games played by first- and second-round choices in the 2013 season:

Cincinnati 263
Kansas City 255
Jersey/B 254
Jersey/A 253
San Francisco 243
Detroit 224
Baltimore 223
Tennessee 222
Minnesota 220
Atlanta 219


Over the last three years, eight of these ten teams have made the playoffs.

Buffalo 217
Indianapolis 216
Pittsburgh 214
Arizona 214
St. Louis 210
Carolina 208
Denver 204
Cleveland 204
Washington 203
Houston 198
Chicago 193
Philadelphia 192
New England 190
San Diego 188
City of Tampa 175
New Orleans 173
Jacksonville 163
Green Bay 160
Oakland 158
Dallas 146
Seattle 141
Miami 124


Over the last three years, 12 of these 22 teams have made the playoffs. the results change a bit when you extrapolate the data past one season.

Now, onto TMQ's NFC preview

It's a review, not a preview. Nothing is being previewed.

Atlanta: Was it really just a year and a half ago that the Falcons, hosting the NFC title contest, came within a couple snaps of the Super Bowl? It seems so much longer, especially to those who endured the team's 2013 tailspin.

Gregg Easterbrook earlier in this column: "NFL teams may not make the playoffs one year and then make the playoffs the next year because of the 16 game schedule This is normal."

Gregg Easterbrook here: "I can't believe it's been one season since the Falcons have made the playoffs! It seems so long ago! Who would have thought the Falcons would miss the playoffs the year after almost making the Super Bowl?"

Since they took their home field for the NFC title game, the Falcons are 4-13. General manager Thomas Dimitroff gambled the club's future on the 2011 kings' ransom trade for Julio Jones, and the gamble failed. Not only did Atlanta fail to reach the Super Bowl, but Jones also has failed to justify the trade.

The Falcons are 27-21 since acquiring Julio Jones. Jones has 174 receptions in 34 games played, with 2,737 yards and 20 touchdowns. Gregg is absolutely lying that Julio Jones hasn't justified the trade. Any team in the NFL would trade for a player who averages 5 catches, 80 yards and 0.58 touchdowns per game. Any team. That is 80 catches for 1280 yards and 9 touchdown catches in a 16 game season. Gregg is annoying as hell when he downplays a first round pick's performance simply because he wants it to fit his narrative.

Now the Falcons are on the downward side of a talent cycle. The defense was among the league's worst in 2013 and offered a raft of has-beens.

Gregg linked the Falcons defense for the 2014 season, but he wouldn't know that because he doesn't read the links he posts. The Top 15 defensive players (in terms of tackles) on the Falcons 2013 team had an average of 4.8 years in the NFL (which puts them at the age of 26-28 years of age) and started three rookies on defense. ESPN has to do better than give Gregg Easterbrook a forum for his lies.

The Falcons' running game is expected to make another try at featuring Steven Jackson. But with the most carries in the league in the past decade -- 2,553 -- it's hard to believe Jackson's body can withstand much more.

Which is probably why they drafted Devonta Freeman to back up Jackson. I can't wait until Freeman has a great year and Gregg talks about how Freeman wasn't picked until the fourth round behind glory boys like Bishop Sankey and Carlos Hyde, yet on August 26 Gregg Easterbrook had no idea Freeman even existed on the Falcons roster. He's such a fraud.

Network politics note: Atlanta finished 4-12 the past season and gets a Monday Night Football appearance in 2014; Washington finished 3-13 and gets two MNF dates; Buffalo had a better record than either and will not appear on Monday Night Football.

It's almost like nationally televised games are based on ratings and not a team's record the previous season.

Arizona: The past season, the Cardinals finished 10-6, then stayed home as 8-7-1 Green Bay and 9-7 San Diego advanced to the postseason -- yet another point in favor of TMQ's contention that the NFL postseason should be a seeded tournament, a la March Madness. Because west-of-the-Rockies NFL teams don't seem to impact the national sports consciousness during the regular season, Arizona's 2013 performance is a blank spot in the minds of all but the team's fan base and the most ardent football enthusiasts.

Just last year Gregg Easterbrook wrote a TMQ about how West Coast football was in style and now he's claiming no one pays attention to the West Coast NFL teams, despite the fact two of the four teams in the AFC and NFC Championship Games played west of the Rockies and the Broncos are just east of the Rockies. Consistency is not Gregg's thing.

The Cactus Wrens played stout defense in 2013 and finished sixth overall. Three of the league's top six defenses of 2013 were west-of-the-Rockies, which leads to TMQ's theory that the West Coast Offense has given way to the West Coast Defense. The West Coast Defense is back to basics -- few gimmick fronts, little blitzing, disciplined linebackers.

Yeah, but the 49ers run that 3-4 defense that Gregg referred to as a "fad" a few years ago. I guess that's a fad defense, but not a gimmicky one?

Carson Palmer revived his fading career with Arizona in 2013 but threw 22 interceptions. 

Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the NFL and he hasn't justified the picks given up to acquire him, meanwhile Carson Palmer threw two more touchdowns than interceptions, had the 20th best QB rating, and 19th best QBR rating and Gregg thinks he revived his fading career. There's no logical reason for his points of view.

All coaches claim to face killer schedules -- this helps set expectations low -- but Arizona has an actual killer schedule: eight contests versus playoff teams from the past season, including four games versus Seattle and San Francisco, last year's two strongest teams, and a date at Denver.

Yeah, but since some NFL teams have a hard time making it back to the playoffs in back-to-back years this killer schedule may not mean much due to these playoffs teams from 2013 possibly taking a step back during the 2014 season and not making the playoffs.

Unified Field Theory of Creep: Reader Randall Pierce of Fredericksburg, Virginia: "On August 15th, my wife received an email from Pottery Barn urging her 'not to miss out' on 'spooktacular Halloween costumes.'" Get your Halloween shopping done before Labor Day!

I feel like I need to find a shorthand for, "Retail stores try to create urgency in consumers in order to get them to purchase items as early as possible in order to make as much money as possible." As I've said a thousand times, the fact Gregg Easterbrook and Randall from Virginia don't understand how retail works is more of a reflection on them than it is an example of "creep."

Carolina's defense plays a Tampa 2 with press corners, deep safeties and little blitzing. As in the original Tampa 2, Carolina's fast linebackers are the key.

Carolina does play a Tampa 2, but they really don't. Sean McDermott's defense is inspired by Jim Johnson's attacking defense, so there are definite differences. Still, when the front four can get pressure and the corners are horrendous, that team plays a lot of Cover 2 or Cover 3.

He will be protected by left tackle Byron Bell, an undrafted free agent from a University of New Mexico team that went 1-11. A classic late bloomer, Bell is outperforming several highly touted tackles from his draft year, including first-round selections Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod.

Is Bell outperforming these guys? Bell has a -2.8 rating at right tackle last year and he is now protecting Cam Newton's blind side (in related news, Newton is going to be murdered this year by a pass rusher). The only ones who are really confident Byron Bell can play left tackle is the Panthers coaching staff and I bet most of their confidence is because there are few other options. Just because he's undrafted and starts doesn't mean Bell is a good football player. His performance last year and against Chandler Jones in the preseason says differently.

Half the plots on the many "Star Trek" serials boiled down to this formula:

1. Crew notices something interesting.
2. Captain leads away team that investigates.
3. The thing is not what it seemed! Captain is in grave peril.
4. Remainder of the episode is a rescue mission.


Then stop watching "Star Trek." It's that easy.

Female personnel have served on United States surface combatant vessels for about 20 years and on submarines for about two years, so the show's depiction of a casually mixed-gender complement is accurate. But the women of the James, on active duty aboard a warship during the apocalypse, wear eye makeup and lipstick. Don't they know loose lips sink ships?

That's a great point, Gregg. All women in the military are ugly and never wear any type of makeup. If "The Last Ship" was realistic it would not have the women wearing any makeup and they would spend most of their time on the ship being sexually harassed. Gregg had to admit the show had a realistic battleship depiction, so he was stretching to try and find something to criticize about the show.

New head coach Lovie Smith cut Pro Bowl tackle Donald Penn without even discussing the situation with him.

No way! This must be the first time a person was fired without a three hour long conversation about why he's being fired.

Going into the past season, a scout might have said Tampa's best players were Darrelle Revis, Josh Freeman, Carl Nicks, Mike Williams and Penn. When Smith arrived, all were unceremoniously shown the door -- four waived, one traded for a late-round draft choice.

A scout might have also said different players were the Buccaneers best players. Josh Freeman was traded before Lovie Smith showed up, but again, I wouldn't want facts to get in the way of the narrative that Gregg is pushing. God knows he doesn't give a shit about facts. Carl Nicks was perpetually injured, Darrelle Revis was expensive (highly-paid glory boy who only cares about himself alert!), Josh Freeman had conflict with Greg Schiano and Mike Williams seemed to have some troubles that led to his being traded. It's not like these players were released or traded for no reason.

City of Tampa enters the new season on its third head coach-general manager combination in six seasons. By unloading high-profile players from the previous regime, Smith and new general manager Jason Licht set the bar low: If the team wins, all is well; if it loses, they can't possibly be expected to win now, considering the mess they inherited!

Or they are trying to clean up the mess they inherited, but that couldn't possibly be the case could it?

The Windy City is known for its sports curses -- the Billy Goat Curse on the Cubs (no pennant since tossing the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and his pet goat from a game in 1945), the Shoeless Joe Curse on the White Sox (no World Series win for most of a century because Shoeless Joe could not say it ain't so) and the Honey Bears Curse on the Bears (no Super Bowl victory since abolishing their cheerleader squad in 1985 for the crime of "being too sexy"). Soon the Devin Hester Curse might be added.

Great, so if the Bears don't win the Super Bowl this year then Gregg will blame it on a fake curse and only on a fake curse.

This offseason, Jerry Jones agreed to $110 million ($40 guaranteed) for Tyron Smith. Last offseason, Jones agreed to $108 million ($55 million guaranteed) for Tony Romo. Thus, in about 12 months, Jones promised $218 million ($95 million guaranteed) to two players who have combined for a career total of one postseason victory.

When Gregg hands out facts like this, it makes me want to punch something. He's now blaming an offensive lineman for the Cowboys not winning but one playoff game. I almost don't even know what to say. I can't fathom how Gregg combines the career total of playoff wins of an offensive lineman and a quarterback and then thinks he has a point.

Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs; Smith has never made a playoffs appearance. So let's break the bank to make sure we keep these guys together!

Tyron Smith is 23 years old, has been in the NFL for only three years and was named to the Pro Bowl, as well as was named second team All-Pro. It's fun to bash Jerry Jones, but he paid for a left tackle who isn't even close to being in his prime. Playoff victories have nothing to do with it.

The Lions have spent lavishly on their defensive line -- three recent high No. 1 picks -- and don't have much to show for it, having finished 28th in sacks in 2013. Even this modest performance might decline; high No. 1 draft choice defensive tackle Nick Fairley showed up for camp overweight and out of shape and was introduced to the bench. Last season Detroit was sixth on offense and 16th on defense --

Green Bay has used its last three first-round choices on defenders Nick Perry, Datone Jones and Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix has not had a chance to play, but Perry and Jones have -- and combined for just 11 of a possible 51 starts. The past season the Packers were third in offense and 25th in defense. Green Bay was the sole playoff team that allowed at least 30 touchdown passes. It does not matter how flashy Aaron Rodgers is if the defense can't stop a stiff breeze. And think about this: in 2013, in the traditionally bruising NFC North, Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota all had bottom-quintile defenses.

Remember, Gregg calls this a "preview" and he just can't stop only talking about what happened last season.

The summer's chart-topper was Iggy Azalea's "Fancy," but this song is like gulping an icy drink -- nice for a moment, but soon you wish you hadn't.

Great analogy, Gregg. Reading TMQ is like eating a shit sandwich. There's no reason to do it other than to prove you hate yourself.

If "Fancy" were the song of summer 2014, what would that say about the human condition?

It would say that humans like catchy songs.

But today's short-passing tactics and strict enforcement of the chuck rule -- which TMQ continues to think should be called the Charles rule -- 

Gregg gets paid to write this shit. Paid. To write the "chuck rule" should be called "the Charles rule."

Manning has two Super Bowl rings and is 8-3 in the postseason; Tony Romo is 1-3 in the postseason and has becoming really proficient at watching the Super Bowl on television. Guess who has the bigger contract.

Guess who signed their contract five years ago and the amount a good quarterback receives per season in a contract has increased since then?

Gregg is great at comparing apples and oranges, as long as the apple has been sitting out on the counter for two months, while the orange was just picked, and then he will marvel this orange tastes better than the apple so all oranges must taste better than apples.

Last season, Minnesota finished 31st in defense and 23rd in passing offense. Despite a huge investment of draft picks in their secondary, the Vikings allowed a league-worst 37 touchdown passes and were second worst in passing yards surrendered.

The Vikings started a 3rd round pick, 7th round pick, 1st round pick, and 2nd round pick last year. They were backed up by a 5th round pick, 1st round pick, and two undrafted players. I'm not sure I would consider that a huge investment of draft picks.

Now the Vikings might start a rookie quarterback along with a rookie coach, Mike Zimmer, who has never been a head coach at any level, not even in high school. What could go wrong?

If Gregg had been paying attention, he would know the Vikings named Matt Cassel the starter prior to TMQ being posted. I recognize it's not Gregg's job to actually know what he is talking about, rather it is his job to react to what just happened and then criticize the parties involved. Also, Mike Tomlin was not a head coach at any level before he coached the Steelers, John Fox had never been a head coach prior to coaching the Panthers, and Tony Dungy wasn't a head coach before coaching the Buccaneers. So not having been a head coach at any level doesn't mean anything in regard to whether a rookie NFL head coach will have success in that position.

Unified Field Theory of Creep #2: Reader Tony Manganello of Upland, Indiana, writes, "I teach as an adjunct at a small Midwestern liberal arts university and on March 12, 2014, received an exam copy of a textbook called Cases in International Relations: Pathways to Conflict and Cooperation. It's copyrighted 2015."

I hope this guy doesn't teach copyright law, because this isn't "creep." My understanding from researching copyrights is this just means the publisher mis-marked the date of production and this could be a defense against infringement on this copyright. But what a cutesy little mention of "creep." Very fanciful.

From earlier in this TMQ:

Boys PR watch: New Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is likely to be praised this season for doing a great job. Why? Last season the Cowboys had the league's worst defense, so the numbers can only improve.

In 2012 the Boy Scouts' defense was egregious and allowed the most yards in NFL annals. In 2013, that defense was excellent and finished fourth against yards. This one-season jump from 32nd to fourth, moving up 28 places, is the second-best defensive improvement ever by rank; 2001 to 2002, the Panthers improved from 32nd to second against yards. That team allowed 81 fewer yards per game in its improved 2002 season; the Saints of 2013 allowed 135 fewer yards per contest than the previous year. In essence, the 2013 Saints gave up three fewer drives per game -- spectacular improvement.

The early 2013 arrival of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was the most obvious change, because Ryan is such a visible presence on the New Orleans sideline.

While there is reason to compliment Ryan's improvement with the Saints defense, I just thought this was funny. The ranking can only improve so that's true, but it's fine for Gregg to praise a defensive coordinator when he improves the defense from worst to 4th in the NFL, but silly and egregiously dumb when someone else praises for a defensive coordinator increasing his defense's ranking from worst in the league the season before.

And now the party is joined by Jairus Byrd, one of the league's top defenders. He and last year's first-round choice, Kenny Vaccaro, should give the Saints an outstanding pair of safeties.

Outstanding safeties drafted in the first and second round. Very interesting.

Unwanted by San Diego and Miami, Drew Brees continues to spin the scoreboard at New Orleans and at this point is a slam-dunk for Canton.

I've debunked this myth so many times, I'm not going to do it again. Okay, I will. Both San Diego and Miami made contract offers to Brees and he chose to go to New Orleans, where in no coincidence, he was being offered the most guaranteed money. Gregg has pushed this narrative for a while now, but Brees chose the team that offered him the most money. He wasn't unwanted by Miami and San Diego, New Orleans was just willing to offer him more money to show they wanted him more.

Not bad for a guy who's too short to play QB!

He was the first pick of the second round in 2001. He was considered too short, but it didn't hurt his draft stock too dramatically.

Brees squats in the huddle, gazing up at his teammates then leaping to his feet at the break. This extra exertion -- not many quarterbacks would want to get down then get up before every play -- seems a byproduct of Brees's cross-fit-style offseason conditioning program, which emphasizes core strength rather than bicep and quad strength.

Oh yeah, anecdotal evidence proves this as true.

Jax Tax: Last week I excoriated Jacksonville for spending $43 million in taxpayers' money on Jaguars scoreboard upgrades rather than on improving the city's sketchy public schools. Many Jax fans countered that I did not understand local law. For example, JD tweeted: "The $43 million comes from a hotel tax that is specifically obligated for sports facilities and promoting tourism."

That's true, but what difference does it make?

It makes a difference because you stated this money went to the Jaguars instead of going to the public school system, when this money would NEVER have gone to the public school system because it was earmarked for tourism. Quite frankly, if you don't know the difference then you are being willfully stupid or are just actually stupid. Money earmarked for sports facilities and promoting tourism won't ever go to the schools. So the idea this money could have gone to the public schools was wrong. That's the difference. Just say you were wrong.

If local law taxes hotels to support professional sports, it's still public money underwriting NFL profit.

But that wasn't your argument. Your argument was this money should be going to the schools, not to the NFL. You can't change your argument now that you have been proven wrong. It is public money underwriting NFL profit, but that's not the argument you were making. You made the argument it was NFL money underwriting profit at the expense of the public schools, when this was proven to be incorrect.

Gregg doesn't even understand his own argument he was making. Either that or (surprise!) he's lying and misleading his readers as he is prone to do.

Plus, bear in mind that market theory says whatever you tax, you get less of. Taxing hotel use discourages hotel use, which is bad for tourism. If Jacksonville politicians insist on discouraging tourism by taxing hotel beds, the proceeds should serve a public purpose, not private profit for the one percent.

Gregg is wrong because he didn't do sufficient research on this topic, so he changes the subject to make himself look right and talk about a subject he knows more about. I don't see how someone can read TMQ and not see the fraud that is Gregg Easterbrook. He's a phony. When he's wrong about criticism he makes, he changes the subject. He can't just say he was wrong or say, "You know I didn't even read the article I linked or do any research prior to making the criticism."

Football columns are unlikely to be your best source of information on social trends.

Or in the case of TMQ, football columns aren't likely to be the best source of information about football.

St. Louis: Like the Vikings, the Rams are swimming in high draft selections -- nine first- or second-round choices over the past three drafts. And like the Vikings, Les Mouflons don't have much to show for it, having gone 14-17-1 since the mega-trade that sent Robert Griffin III to Washington for a draft bounty.

It hurts the Rams that their starting quarterback has gotten injured and they had to try and win games with their backup quarterback. Yes, that is Les Snead and Jeff Fisher's fault, but the Rams lack of success isn't tied to their ability to draft well. Also, Gregg is including three picks that haven't played a game yet this year, which not only is nonsensical, but a little unfair. As always, Gregg wants to lie and mislead his readers in order to prove his point and push his narrative. He's a liar and misleader. ESPN loves it.

So not counting the three 1st/2nd round picks the Rams had this year, they have drafted the following players in the 1st/2nd round over the previous two years:

Tavon Austin
Alec Ogletree
Michael Brockers
Brian Quick
Janoris Jenkins
Isaiah Pead

Four of these six guys are projected starters for the 2014 season. Poor drafting hasn't led the Rams to a 14-17-1 record over the last two seasons. Their inability to make the right personnel moves at the quarterback position has done that.

Is all that new talent about to bust out? Stats from the past season don't suggest that. The Rams finished 15th on defense and 30th on offense.

How about a 1/3 of these players get a chance to take at least one snap in the NFL before saying they won't "bust out"? Gregg is throwing out numbers from the previous season when five of these nine players either were rookies or had not taken an NFL snap yet as reason these players won't "bust out." It's very misleading. Of course, Gregg's lazy readers will think he makes a good point. That's what he is counting on.

The torn ACL of quarterback Sam Bradford might mean another forgettable season is in store. Bradford has now torn his left knee twice in less than a year; athletes who experience the same knee injury twice might not come back the second time.

Or they might come back! Aliens might not take over the Earth in the next 100 years...or they might.

The hopes of Les Mouflons' faithful ride on the fact that, according to pro-football-reference.com, St. Louis has the youngest roster in the league and the fewest players who will be 30 by season's end.

Doesn't matter because stats from the past season show these young players won't improve from season-to-season. That's a logical train of thought.

Florida and Texas are football hotbed states, little known for basketball. Yet with this year's Spurs-Heat NBA Finals collision there have now been five Texas-versus-Florida NBA finals, while there's been only one Texas-versus-Florida Super Bowl, the 1972 game between the Cowboys and the Dolphins.

I'll just allow the stupidity of this statement to go understated. Is this statement more stupid or more pointless?

San Francisco: TMQ warned of the Crabtree Curse when San Francisco drafted this gentleman. Consecutive San Francisco seasons have ended on failed throws to Michael Crabtree -- three straight incompletions targeted him at the Baltimore goal line in the Super Bowl, then an interception on a pass aimed at him at the Seattle goal line in the NFC title contest.

Except the 49ers made the NFC Championship three years in a row and made the Super Bowl one year over that span. So if being the best or second-best team in the NFC or AFC is a curse, then it is a curse most NFL teams would like to have on their organization.

Playing a conventional, position-oriented defense in 2013, rarely blitzing -- in the Super Bowl, Seattle blitzed six times on 64 Denver snaps, well below the league average of 20 percent blitz -- the Seahawks not only allowed the fewest points in the league, but they also allowed just 131 second half points in 19 games.

But to be clear, not blitzing isn't a strategy every NFL team should adopt. It only would work well for teams who have a great secondary and/or a strong defensive line that can put pressure on the quarterback. This is very important to know.

Next Week: The crystal anniversary (15th year) of America's original all-haiku NFL season predictions.

Do I usually say the next week's TMQ is my least favorite TMQ of the week? If so, I really mean it this week. Also, these are season predictions that Gregg will in no way stand by, while he mocks others for making bad predictions in his yearly "Bad Predictions" TMQ. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

15 comments MMQB Review: Sam Bradford Is Injured...Again Edition

Peter King eulogized Robin Williams in last week's MMQB by talking about what a great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was, helped his readers understand that depression is serious, decided the 49ers are in serious trouble after their defense collapses this year and Colin Kaepernick gets injured trying to carry the team, and passed on more coachspeak that he thought was wisdom from Chip Kelly. This week Peter talks about why the Seahawks won't win the Super Bowl, mourns Sam Bradford (who would have thought an oft-injured quarterback would get injured?), and has 20 thoughts about the preseason which come right before the entire page of things that Peter thinks he thinks. MMQB in a few years will simply just be six pages of what Peter thinks.

One after one, they fell out of the sky, these perfect or near-perfect throws downfield from Russell Wilson, always landing close to, or in the hands of, a sub-4.4 sprinter like Percy Harvin or wispy rookie Paul Richardson. I mean, always on target. Such beautiful deep balls, and isn’t Wilson supposed to be a system quarterback or game manager, or whatever negative connotation you can think of when you don’t want to acknowledge he’s a top 10 quarterback in the league after two seasons and one Lombardi Trophy?

Every quarterback is a system quarterback in one way or another. I will not acknowledge that Russell Wilson is a top 10 quarterback in the NFL after two seasons. There are 10 quarterbacks who I would take before I took Russell Wilson if I had to choose 10 NFL quarterbacks who I think are the best at their position. Replace Wilson with Jay Cutler and does Wilson have the success that he has had without the Seahawks defense? I'm not sure he does. I think Wilson is a great quarterback and the Seahawks' defense isn't the only reason he has a Lombardi Trophy. He's very good at not making mistakes and running the Seahawks offense. Are there 10 quarterbacks I would rather have than Russell Wilson though? Yes. Do I think he would be more successful than Ryan Tannehill in Miami? Probably, but I'm not sure how much more successful. Basically, Peter needs to calm the fuck down with this "top 10 quarterback" stuff.

If the Seahawks stay relatively healthy, they should be favored to be the first team since the Patriots (2003, 2004) to repeat as champs. But I’m not picking them. History is the reason. Stuff happens. It always does. 

Careful with all of this expert analysis, Peter. You wouldn't want to talk over your readers' heads with all of these technical terms you are using. "Stuff happens" is Peter's reason for not choosing the Seahawks. It sort of sounds like he's trying to think of a reason for the Seahawks not to repeat.

Since New England’s second Super Bowl win a decade ago, and not including the ’13 Seahawks, this is the total playoff victories of the eight Super Bowl champions the following year: 

Zero.

This is a better reason not to choose the Seahawks, but it still doesn't explain how the Seahawks have much of the continuity many of those previous Super Bowl champs didn't have and had season-long success some of the prior Super champs didn't have. The Giants and Packers won three Super Bowls over that last decade, but they had not shown themselves through the season they won the Super Bowl as one of the best teams in the NFL. They peaked at the best possible time. There's nothing wrong with that. The Ravens tore their team apart after the Super Bowl victory and the Steelers lost key players from their team after their Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks. The Seahawks are a Super Bowl champ who has proven themselves to be a consistently great team and have continuity from the previous season. I just don't know if "history" is the right reason not to choose them to repeat. It seems lazy to me and ignores the difference in the Seahawks and the previous 8 teams that won the Super Bowl since the Patriots repeated.

Stubbornness is a good reason why one of the other 31 teams will be my call, but the reality of repeating is that it’s become the toughest thing to do in sports. Think of it: For eight straight years, the defending champ has either not made the playoffs or hasn’t gotten past its first playoff game.

Fine, use stubbornness as an excuse, but don't talk about how the Seahawks were the best team you saw in the preseason (as Peter does here) like you knew how good they were when/if they win the Super Bowl again. I can buy that it's hard to repeat as NFL champs, but it's also important to focus on where each of those previous Super Bowl champs were at when they won the Super Bowl. They were all in different places from each other or had a season-long performance that didn't lead an observer to believe they would be dominating the following season after winning the Super Bowl.

Hard for any team that won the Super Bowl by 35 points to look better the next year. But if Harvin plays every week—which is no lock, with his recent injury history—I could well be eating my prediction in five months.

The three biggest reasons that I see the Seahawks having a good chance to repeat, which Peter is ignoring in favor of "history," are the following:

1. They have consistently been one of the best teams in the NFL over the last two seasons. Their Super Bowl run wasn't them peaking at the right time.

2. They bring back most of their core players and even add better players (Percy Harvin) to the roster which can mitigate any free agent losses they had.

3. It's really hard to win in Seattle and even if the Seahawks are an average road team they will win 11-12 games, which leads to home playoff games.

The biggest reason I can see the Seahawks not winning the Super Bowl again, and again Peter doesn't even touch on this, is that the Seahawks have a great defense, but a run-based offense. If Lynch isn't in full Beast Mode, or Christine Michael isn't going to be good enough to be a #2 if/when Lynch's performance falls off a bit, then I don't know how the offense works with Wilson having more weight on this shoulders to throw the football and win games that way. I could be wrong, but the offense is built around Wilson and a running back who is in his mid-30's in running back years.

And now for some stories from the end of my camp trail. My trip ended Saturday night with the completely forgettable Dallas-Miami game.

Yeah, fuck you Dallas-Miami game. Peter wishes he were with the Rams so he could talk about Michael Sam and ignore Sam Bradford as the real key to the Rams season, then talk about what a great coach Jeff Fisher is when Bradford goes down with another ACL injury so he can prop up his agent's fellow client in his time of need.

And of course Peter will now do damage control (and never ask the question, "Should the Rams be better prepared for this situation?") for the Rams, Jeff Fisher, and Kevin/Marvin Demoff due to Sam Bradford tearing his ACL again. I know very little about Shaun Hill in 2014 and how he differs from Shaun Hill who was the Lions backup for a few years, but unless he is the next Kurt Warner what the Rams have done is a form of coaching/personnel malpractice. They have a quarterback who not only is injury-prone, but coming off an ACL tear and they don't find a more reliable backup for him in the offseason. Great backups aren't growing on trees, but if the Rams season depends on a quality quarterback then wouldn't it make sense to spend the money and time finding a great backup who can take over if Sam Bradford goes down again? It's inexcusable in my opinion they didn't do this. I hope for the Rams' sake I am wrong and Shaun Hill looks like the guy who can make up for Bradford's injury without much fall-off. This is where having friends in the media, friends like Peter King, really helps out. I haven't read anything that is critical of Fisher/Snead for putting their season in the hands of Shaun Hill if/when Bradford went down. I won't read anything like that. Too much effort is put into stating what a "team on the rise" the Rams are, while ignoring the malpractice of putting the season in the hands of Shaun Hill if/when Bradford gets injured again. I'm glad I'm not a Rams fan, because I can't fathom how I would feel today. The Rams are not only turning over the offense to a quarterback who has been in the system for less than a year, but he's also 34 years old, so he's not part of the future and the only thing certain at this point is the Rams will probably have a new starting quarterback next year.

What makes it more irritating to me is the amount of draft picks and time the Rams have put into putting offensive weapons around Bradford. I would think that they would think they would want a better backup plan than Shaun Hill to utilize the offensive weapons they have gathered around the quarterback. I understand teams can't draft quarterbacks they don't believe will be successful, but quarterback is such an important position, and the Rams could not have believed Bradford would play the whole season with a straight face. The Rams have done a lot to put a great offensive around Bradford and I wish they had another more certain quarterback, or young quarterback who the team can test drive for a year to see if he can be the guy, to use these offensive weapons. Tom Brady is envious of the draft picks the Rams have spent trying to make Sam Bradford successful. Maybe I'm drastically underrating Shaun Hill, but the Rams have done so much to have a great offense I can't imagine why they put most of their eggs in the Sam Bradford basket. 

MRI early Sunday morning. A couple hours later, a trainer called Jeff Fisher and said, “Come on down to the trainer’s room.’’ Fisher knew that was bad. If it was good news on Bradford, the trainer would have said, “He’s fine.” And when Fisher got in the room, there was the trainer and Bradford. “I could tell,” Fisher said Sunday night from St. Louis. “I could sense it, and feel it in the room.”

Then Fisher added, "Well, just be sure to add how I need more time as the Rams coach in your column. My contract is up in two years. I would like an extension soon. You can't just turn a team around in one year in the NFL. I would even accept only $7 million per year in my next contract extension. I'm worth it. 8-8 just doesn't happen by itself."

The only good news: The ACL is torn, but nothing else in the knee, apparently, is damaged. He should be able to return whole in 2015. To where? Who knows.

I feel bad for Bradford. Of course, he's made a lot of money (a lot more than Josh Freeman by the way...there is a difference in injury and ineffectiveness, I recognize) and not proven he can stay healthy, but I still feel bad for him.

“We’ve got to go on,” Fisher said, “and that’s basically what I told [backup] Shaun Hill. Shaun shifts gears, and we go. I told him, ‘This is why you’re here. Let’s go.’

Hill is 34. He’s started 26 games (13-13) with San Francisco and Detroit—but his last start was four seasons ago.

This is part of my issue too. Hill isn't the present or the future. The future at the quarterback position isn't on the Rams roster most likely. Jeff Fisher just bought himself three more years. He's a "name" coach who has suffered some bad luck and honestly hasn't done much to help his luck at the quarterback position, but that doesn't matter. The Rams are probably going to draft a quarterback in the upcoming draft, which they probably should have done this year, and Fisher will start over. I don't hate Jeff Fisher or the Rams, but Rams fans deserve better than this. Fisher is incredibly overrated as a coach. He's not a bad coach, but he and Snead have made crucial personnel mistakes at the most important spot on the roster. They've built a really good team around a quarterback who can't stay on the field. Logic would dictate the best backup plan isn't Shaun Hill. Hill is an okay backup and he very well may succeed this season. I feel like Fisher and Snead are getting a pass for completely counting on a injury-prone quarterback who may not even be very good when healthy. I'm not sure I could even tell you what kind of quarterback Bradford is because he can't stay on the field. That's the point. I would feel better about this situation if the Rams had a younger guy they wanted to see play (I don't think Austin Davis counts as that guy) if/when Bradford got hurt. It would give that younger guy a chance for some snaps to see if he can stick with the team.

The Rams are in the toughest division in the NFL. Don't they realize if they really want to compete they can't rely on Bradford so much? Why does this frustrate me so? It's just proof to me of how untouchable Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are. It's the third year of the Jeff Fisher era, where he is 14-17-1, is he really that cocky or unconcerned about his job security that he felt comfortable relying on Shaun Hill as the backup if/when Bradford gets injured? I guess he knows his buddies in the media will go to bat for him. Can't be on the hot seat if no one reports that he is on the hot seat. Sorry, I'm done boring everyone with my ranting about this.

The Rams will monitor cut quarterbacks and may sign one to back up Hill, or to compete with Hill or backup Austin Davis. But I didn’t get the sense talking to Rams people Sunday that this was a priority, because Hill’s been in the system for five months and a newbie wouldn’t be familiar.

This is true. Maybe Hill is the best the Rams could do in the offseason. I find that difficult to believe though.

Now the Rams have to confront reality.

The Rams should have confronted reality in the offseason. Bradford is going to be a free agent soon and he was coming off major ACL surgery. My biggest regret about what I wrote here about the latest NFL Draft is I edited out a rant (I know right, me ranting about the Rams...by the way I also edited out a rant about how Khalil Mack is another athlete/football player the Raiders have blindly drafted based on him having great athletic skill, so we'll see if I'm an idiot about that or not...also, you can see I tend to edit my rants at times and it's a good thing) in my NFL Draft non-grades about how I wish the Rams had taken a quarterback. It sounded silly and petty to me at the time because they got Aaron Donald in the first round and I think he was a good pick. I also didn't hate Lamarcus Joyner in the second round. But the Rams had questions at the most important spot on the roster and it's hard to feel good about that.

By the end of this season, Bradford would have started 49 NFL games and sat for 31 of them, and made $65 million in the process; his was the last silly rookie contract before the new CBA made rookie salaries rich but not kooky.

It's not a great parallel but know Bradford has made $65 million for 49 games, while Peter King busted Josh Freeman's ass for getting paid $2 million to be the Vikings third quarterback this past season.

There is a saying on the whiteboard in Rams general manager Les Snead’s office.

"If anything goes wrong, call Marvin Demoff, who will then call Peter King to try and do some PR on the issue you are having."

“Build to dominate using Redskin picks!” it reads. The Rams made the mega-trade with Washington in 2012 that allowed their NFC neighbor to draft Robert Griffin III. The Rams, meanwhile, thought they had their quarterback of the future, and didn’t draft one until the sixth round this year in SMU’s Garrett Gilbert.

How many years in a row can one team try to figure out if Sam Bradford is the future or not? It's fine to wonder this, but there must be a "quarterback of the future" backup plan in place. The Rams traded those picks three years ago. Three years and they probably know as much about Bradford now as they did then. But hey, they have Shaun Hill for this year and then they will draft a QB. I don't know how Rams fans feel, but I know how I would feel.

Fisher has won with lesser players before. The Titans signed Kerry Collins in 2006 as quarterback insurance, and he ended up winning nine starts in 2008.

Fisher has also not made the playoffs since 2008 and been very average with lesser players before. Simply because he signed Kerry Collins and two years later he won 9 starts as the Titans starter doesn't mean the Rams should try to win games with lesser players at the most important position on the roster. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Hill certainly will have some talent around him on offense, but in the NFC West, St. Louis’s road just got loaded with potholes.

Like I said, almost no NFL teams have spent the draft picks that the Rams have spent to upgrade their offensive side of the football. They are in the toughest division in the NFL. I really hope for them it works out.

The Cards had their eyes on three players as the first round neared its midpoint: Ryan Shazier, Zack Martin and Calvin Pryor. But Shazier went at 15, Martin at 16, Pryor at 18. Now the Cards had a grading gap in the next set of players they liked, and Keim had an idea. There was this one under-the-radar prospect the Cardinals loved: Brown, a wideout from Pittsburg State. The Cards had him rated their fifth wide receiver in the draft. Early second-round grade.

The Cards now had four picks in the top 100: 27, 52, 84 and 91. Keim figured the team had several priorities other than wideout, where they were fine (Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn), 

I feel like I should laugh at the idea of the Cardinals being "fine" with Ted Ginn as their third wide receiver. I know I never felt good with him as the third wide receiver for the Panthers last year. He was third on the depth chart in Carolina because there weren't better options in front of him.

Keim paced. He called around to see which teams between 85 and 90 might take a receiver. He had a scout call Brown in a vague hope to tie up his phone line (as if he wouldn’t have call-waiting) as the picks went by.

First off, this is sort of a dick move to make sure John Brown isn't taken earlier than the Cardinals pick, and second, does Steve Keim think it's 1988? Seriously, "tie up the phone line" was his plan? Part of me likes it because it seems so random.

Arians is lining up Brown in the slot, tight to the formation as a faux tight end with blocking responsibilities, and wide on either side. I watched practice Friday, and Brown was in on six early snaps with the first unit, more than Ted Ginn or Juron Brown. 

Who could have ever envisioned a decent receiver would knock Ted Ginn down the depth chart? Certainly not Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers fans.

So, the penalties are still high in Week 3 of the preseason, but they’re down from the hair-raising 20.8 per game last weekend. For the 16 games this weekend, the combined accepted penalties were 17.6 per game. Average accepted penalties per regular-season game in 2013: 12.2.

I try not to get in a panic about preseason, but the amount of penalties in NFL games is concerning to me. The flow of the game is being disrupted and parts of the preseason games I saw were a little unwatchable at times. I'm sure penalties will be decreased in the regular season. I keep telling myself that.

Joe Haden doesn't seem to mind the rule changes.

In Detroit [in the first preseason game], I got one official say something to me on one play. I went to go jam and my hand hit him in the face mask. He was like, “23, get your hands lower. Get your hands lower. Keep your hands lower.” Once he gave me that one warning, I was just playing my normal technique the way I normally play and I got no flags called. If they obviously see jersey pull, if they see things like that, that is a hold. But if it’s just messing around, bumping, touching, things like that I don’t think they’re going to be too strict on that, because I was playing it in that game in Detroit and it didn’t happen. If it’s pulling and grabbing when the ball is in the air, and all that contact, they’re throwing on that.

So basically just be sure you play the football and get in position to make a play on the football without every touching the receiver in any fashion. Grabbing the jersey has always been a hold, but I've seen defensive backs simply make contact with a receiver in an effort to play the football get called for a penalty. The problem is (and I've never played cornerback at any level, so maybe I'm a moron) once Haden has started grabbing and bumping without the ball in the air, he just has to pull away when the ball is in the air even if he is playing the ball? That has to be a little annoying for a cornerback. Maybe it's the way it has been in the past and I haven't noticed. I'm a little concerned about officials being too strict with cornerbacks who are simply trying to make a play and bump the receiver.

And I think: Cleveland GM Ray Farmer could have two of the top five picks in the draft next April. The Browns have Buffalo’s first-round pick from the Sammy Watkins trade. Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston (if he comes out) or Brett Hundley … plus either a bookend tackle from a reportedly rich tackle crop next year, or another defensive piece. It’s way too early to project things like this, but two picks in the top five of any draft is gold—gold, Jerry, it’s gold!—and Farmer might just have made a golden deal to help the Browns of 2015 and beyond, even as the team faces another apparently lean year now.

Not that Peter is projecting too far into the future or anything, but he has the Bills and Browns getting top-5 picks in the 2015 draft before the 2014 season has even begun. The best way to impress Peter King is to have a lot of draft picks in the next year's draft. It doesn't matter what you do with those picks, the mere fact you own them will cause Peter to call your team a major player in the upcoming draft and project what great things you as a GM will do with those picks. Peter is very impressed with a team that has a lot of draft picks in future drafts. He even sets up fake quarterback competitions.

Then I think: Manziel versus Mariota in training camp next July. I mean, the national press is going to rent the Courtyard in Berea for a month.

You mean exactly like they did this year to cover Manziel in Browns camp when he was competing against Brian Hoyer, eating lunch or simply breathing? I won't say the Browns won't use a top-5 pick on a quarterback next year, but that would be three first round picks on quarterbacks in four years. That seems excessive to me.

So it seems that Peter thinks Browns fans have next year to look forward to already.

1. We all knew the Niners weren’t the Broncos in terms of offensive explosiveness, but San Francisco still was a team that ran for 2,200 yards and scored 25 points per game last year. But there will be alarm bells going off today with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, particularly in protection, as the Niners get ready to go to Dallas in 13 days for the opener. Look at the Niners—what can you have faith in right now on offense?

It's preseason. That's pretty much the only faith 49ers fans need right now. Maybe the preseason is a sign of things to come, but some teams don't game plan in preseason and the 49ers still have time to work out their protection issues.

3. The Browns were led on the field Saturday night by a dog. A real dog.

Oh, not a fake dog? Wherever did the Browns find a REAL dog?

4. Matt Schaub’s not the answer, Oakland. Unless the question is: “Which player is going to finish the job to get this coaching staff, and maybe Reggie McKenzie, fired?” Schaub’s a fine person and had some very good moments in Houston. But he’s lost his confidence, and the Raiders, very soon, are going to have to admit they see the same thing as the rest of the world.

And of course we will get weekly updates on what a waste of money Matt Schaub has been for the Raiders, right? Not to bludgeon a dead horse or anything, but we got reminders every week of how much of a waste of human flesh Josh Freeman was, so I figure with Schaub getting paid more money the reminders will be even more harsh? Or is it just Josh Freeman who is a horrible person for taking an NFL team's money and not becoming the starting quarterback?

8. You may recall me reporting that, early in training camp, Bills GM Doug Whaley went up to E.J. Manuel at a practice and said to him: “Don’t be perfect. Be a football player.” One view on Manuel is he tries to be too fine, too safe. He was awful Saturday in the loss to Tampa, the Bucs storming out to a 24-0 halftime lead and the crowd at refurbished Ralph Wilson Stadium booing the Bills off the field at the half. After the game coach Doug Marrone said something that I thought was particularly troubling about Manuel. “He tries to pinpoint the ball … and that’s really just difficult to do,’’ Marrone said. “We have all done that when we were kids. You play baseball and you start aiming it. You’ve just got to look at the mitt and throw it.’’ Alarm bells on Manuel.

And of course Peter's suggestion that Manuel take more chances, does that seem like a good idea right now? I just wonder, because it seemed like odd advice at the time as well. I feel like young quarterbacks succeed when the game is simplified and they are less prone to taking chances. Peter's advice to E.J. Manuel was just fling the ball down the field if you think your guy is open.

13. Interesting take from a man inside the Washington building and inside the preseason TV booth watching Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins play football this month. Joe Theismann analyzing the two quarterbacks: “Let’s stop beating around the bush. Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now Robert is, basically, learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth and as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know. It’s going to be a decision that Jay Gruden is going to have to make … Right now, Robert Griffin III is his quarterback. Now, if there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition. Kirk Cousins would be the man I believe he would have to go to.” Wow.

And the Big Lead's Jason Fisk had an article that basically showed how Kirk Cousins really wasn't the better quarterback when compared to Robert Griffin, but Joe Theismann has his hot sports takes that get attention and Peter seems to like that.

16. Hairline rib fracture for Cam Newton. The Panthers have major protection issues on their totally rebuilt offensive line, and chemistry issues with a brand new receiving corps. Carolina opens at Tampa, which has been terrific on defense this summer. Trap game if there ever was one.

Can the first game of the season be a trap game? Hasn't the media (and not necessarily Peter) spent most of the offseason saying how the Panthers will regress? So, considering the game is in Tampa Bay and it's the first game of the season I'm not sure it can be a trap game. I'm also not sure the Buccaneers aren't the better team overall right now.

17. San Diego is better than we think on defense.

How do you know how good I think San Diego is on defense? What if I think the Chargers are the second-best defensive unit in football? So is Peter saying the Chargers are the best defensive team in the NFL, since that's the only way they could be better than I think?

19. This from Ron Jaworski on the first three weeks of the preseason:

This quote is about Mark Sanchez, but I'm not even going to finish it. Ron Jaworski says things to gain attention so his quotes are starting to mean less and less to me.

“I am most proud of having never missed an assigned game, be it exhibition, regular season or playoffs, throughout my entire career. It really has been a great run.”

—NBA referee Dick Bavetta, who retired last week at 74. He reffed the most games of any official in NBA history—2,635 in the regular season and 270 in the playoffs—and not just by a little bit. He worked 501 more regular-season games than any other ref in league history.

Bavetta can also take pride in that whenever the NBA needing a playoff series to go to seven games they would call on Bavetta and he would make that result happen. It's just another shining example of the negative work David Stern did as NBA commissioner and then magically was forgotten about by the general public. NBA officials fixed games. Who cares? Need a fix? Better call Dick.

“This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is. It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is. It’s got nothing to do with anything else.’’

—ESPN analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, on the controversy over the Washington team name, to the Redskins Historian website.

It sounds like Mike Ditka would make for a very good baseball Hall of Fame voter. He misses the argument the opposing side is making AND has an overly-enthusiastic love for how it used to be and doesn't want it ever change.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Notes of the Week

How did I miss the fact that Frontier Airlines charges $35 to bring a small carry-on suitcase onto the airplane?

I don't know, Peter. Usually you are on top of things to bitch about that are travel-related.

Happened to me the other day, Denver to San Diego. Frontier did tell me I could check the same bag for $25. Let’s see: $35 to schlep the bag myself and put it in the overhead, $25 to check it and pick it up in San Diego. Because I was in a rush once I landed, I paid the $35.

Oh, so you CHOSE to pay $35 because you were in a rush? Oh, well then I can see why you are bitching then, since you chose to pay the extra $10.

I understand baggage fees, and I understand the concept of unbundling and paying for exactly what you use. 

Do you though? Do you? It doesn't seem like you do.

As the camp trip ends, I am pleased to report that my favorite hotel in the United States, the Arizona Biltmore, has trouble filling the place in August, when it’s regularly 105 degrees or so during the day. (This year it rained hard Thursday night and cooled off the Valley, and it was only about 85 on Friday morning.) The favorable rate allowed me to, in good conscience, stay at the Biltmore knowing I was being a good company traveler. Comparing rates in some of the other hotels on the trail with the groovy Biltmore:

This isn't the late 1960's nor an Austin Powers movie. The use of the word "groovy" without any sense of irony is unacceptable.

Ten Things I Think I Think

Question: If you’ve got a terrific spread scheme (Green Bay does) and one of the most accurate quarterbacks in football history (Green Bay does) and a quarterback with mobility (Green Bay does), why wouldn’t you go for two after every touchdown? (Other than when a single point is the obvious play late in games.)

So Peter's question is why NFL teams don't go for two after every touchdown, except for those cases where they want to ensure they get at least one point? So basically, the Packers could always want to ensure they get one point and never go for two?

Green Bay scored 46 touchdowns last year. Say they score 50 this year, assuming Aaron Rodgers plays a full season; he missed seven games last year. Isn’t it realistic to think if the Packers spent a few more practice plays each week on the two-pointer that they could go 30 of 50, meaning 10 more points over the course of the season?

Yes, that sounds realistic. Just a note, but this could go for other NFL teams too. Other NFL teams could practice two-point conversions and score more points. It's just a matter of doing it, even in situations when it's "obvious" that a team should kick the extra point. Percentages are fun to use.

2. I think every team with a quarterback the coach trusts should go for two after every touchdown—except, of course, in cases where one point is strategically smarter in the last 15 or 20 minutes of a game.

Right, but if the coach trusts the quarterback then what does it matter what is strategically smarter to do in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game? If a coach trusts the quarterback, trust him, and don't lose that trust when he has a chance to convert a two-point conversion that can give his team the lead. That is the issue with Peter's reasoning. If the coach trusts the quarterback, then in situations where a converted two-point try means more the coach should trust his quarterback and let him go for two, right?

It just makes sense to me that if a coach tells his quarterback, "I trust you to go for two and convert" then he can't stop trusting that quarterback in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game and blame "strategy." I mean the coach CAN do this, but it's sort of a mixed message.

7. I think you’d be surprised by the laissez-faire attitude of corners I’ve spoken to in the past week about the points of emphasis intended to cut down on hand-fighting downfield between corners and receivers. “That’s the least of my worries, man,” Aqib Talib said in Denver. “There’s so many big-time receivers, big-time quarterbacks out here. We got educated about it, and now I can’t worry about the referees. I’ve got to just play. If I get a call, it’s on to the next play. I’m not gonna worry about it, not at all.”

I don't think the lack of concern from cornerbacks means they don't think the rule will have a huge impact on the season or reflects their personal feelings about the rule changes. I think these quotes from Talib and others, like Joe Haden, just reflect that these corners don't want to get in their head that they can't bump or play aggressive with a receiver because it will impact the way they play in a game. Corners by nature try to forget a bad play and focus on the next great play they will make, so rule changes that could negatively impact their performance isn't something a great corner will think about why playing.

9. I think it’s going to be hard to stash Michael Sam on the practice squad. Hard, but not impossible. With two sacks this month and more quickness than he showed late in his college season (he’s 13 pounds lighter, at 257, than his college playing weight), Sam is pushing hard for a spot on the Rams’ 53-man roster. If not that, certainly the 10-man practice squad. But the Rams know they risk losing him if they do the latter...I’m sure some teams wouldn’t want to deal with a perceived sideshow with Sam and wouldn’t put in a claim. But where exactly has the sideshow been? Sam’s been the anti-distraction since turning down the Oprah reality show in the spring.

Michael Sam is only going to be a "distraction" if the media makes him a distraction. It helps that Johnny Manziel has taken up a lot of the media's attention, but if the sports media treats him like another football player then the distraction miraculously disappears. The less media attention he receives, the less he becomes a distraction. Funny how that works.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

b. The story of the week comes from ESPN’s Tommy Tomlinson, a terrific inside-the-guy’s-head piece on former University of Kentucky and NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen’s weight problems.
c. One of the best leads I’ve read in a while comes from the story, and from a man, Tomlinson, who has battled his own weight issues: “Jared Lorenzen and I are in love with the same woman. Her name is Little Debbie, and she makes delicious snack cakes.”
d. It’s the carbs, Jared. Attack the carbs.
e. I’m no wise man about that stuff (you couldn’t tell?), but it’s the truth.

WHY FOUR SEPARATE POINTS FOR THE EXACT SAME TOPIC?

All four of these points are about the same topic. In what world do they deserve four separate bullet points?

g. Funnier world: The Red Sox gave a Cuban outfielder, Rusney Castillo, a contract worth $72 million over seven years Friday. They have never scouted him in a game. He has not played in a game since 2012. As one source told ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes, the Red Sox saw him in maybe 30 live at-bats in a couple of workouts. Sports is risky, but this seems almost a desperate investment.

It was less than a month ago that Dan Shaughnessy called the Red Sox "Kansas City-on-the-Charles" which is obviously inaccurate because the Royals look like they will make the playoffs this year and the Red Sox won't, but also inaccurate because less than a month later the Red Sox are spending money again. Peter originally put this Tweet in MMQB as some sort of confirmation this is what he thinks too. Of course, only the most panicked fan thought the Red Sox had just stopped spending money.

The Adieu Haiku

I know Bradford some.
I’m quite sure he’d trade millions
to be whole right now.


Yeah, he might trade those millions to be whole right now. This would make him different from nearly zero other NFL quarterbacks who have suffered season-ending injuries and have made millions of dollars while starting only 65% of his team's games. Just gotta give Jeff Fisher more time. His team is perpetually on the rise.