Garrard Retires; Now Starts The Clowney Sweepstakes

Cortland Lee

There are reports out from many media outlets that New York Jets quarterback David Garrard has called it quits and will retire from the NFL due to a nagging knee injury. Adam Schein from CBS Sports tweets a text he received from Garrard:

“Having to call it quits. My knee is not holding up. Continuing to swell after practices. Limiting what I can do.”

Garrard will finish his NFL career playing a respectable nine seasons throwing for 16,003 yards and 89 TDs.

Garrard will probably look to “retire as a Jag” and sign a one-day contract with Jacksonville. I must say, I hate these one day contract notions. Retire where you are! If you wanted to retire with the first you played for, you should have simply stay with that team. Signing a one day contract is not going to negate the two or three years you spend stinking up the place padding up you retirement account. It’s just annoying.

But back to the Jets….

Now I am definitely not here to fight for Garrard’s induction into the Hall of Fame. He is certainly not that caliber of a player. What is intriguing though is that Garrard’s retirement cuts down the Jet’s starting quarterback competition to Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, rookie Geno Smith, and Matt Simms, son of former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms. The Jets started with six quarterbacks on their roster after drafting Geno Smith in the second round of the NFL Draft last month. Just days later first year general manager John Idzik, who has made many bold moves since taking over for Mike Tannenbaum, cut quarterback Tim Tebow.

The Jets are going to be an awful football team this year but honestly they are headed in the right direction. They have cut down their payroll considerably by releasing overpriced veteran players, traded away their best player for good value in return, and drafted some great young players for the future. The next thing they need to do is get rid of Mark Sanchez but not yet. While I believe young Geno Smith is the future of this franchise, Sanchez is the best man to set them up for the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes.

Jadeveon Clowney is the clear consensus number one pick in next year’s NFL Draft and will make an immediate impact on any team he plays for next year. The Jets need to let Sanchez do what he does best, stink up the place, and draft this once in a lifetime player.

Advertisements

No Seats On The Bandwagon in Dallas: Cowboys Are Still America’s Team

Cortland Lee

We are living in the age of the bandwagon fan. I have never seen so many Miami Heat fans in my life. Once Lebron James decided to take his talents to South Beach, he triggered the largest exodus since the Old Testament. I understand having favorite athletes in professional sports. I grew up a huge, huge Emmitt Smith fan and I still am to this day, but when he headed to desert I wasn’t magically a Cardinals fan. I don’t remember Michael Jordan fans shape-shifting into Chicago White Sox or Washington Wizard fans either.

Are there any loyal fans anymore? The answer is yes…Dallas Cowboys fans.

These fans have stood the test of time and held on this train-wreck of a franchise for years. After many decades of successful seasons, hall of fame players, and championship banners, the Dallas Cowboys are the epitome of mediocrity. The last 15 seasons: 123-124 (including playoffs), three division titles, 6 playoff appearances and only one playoff win. Dallas has been outscored 101-166 in the playoffs.

Still in their disastrous run, their fans have faithfully stood by cheering on.

The Cowboys were the most watched team in the NFL last year and have been for some time now. The top two most watch NFL games last season were Cowboys/Redskins….and Redskins/Cowboys. Week 17 Vs the Redskins was the most watched regular season game in NFL history with over 30 million viewers. Overall the Cowboys played in six of the top ten most watched NFL games last season.

Not only are people watching the Cowboys play on television, but they are attending games. The Cowboys were number one in attendance last year and they have led in attendance every year since the new Texas Stadium opened. Merchandise and apparel sales finished second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Oh and there’s more….

According to an ESPN Sports and Facebook fan poll, the Dallas Cowboys are the NFL’s most popular team and the most popular team among women in all of sports. They have over five million fans on Facebook and over a half of million followers on Twitter which are both tops in the NFL.

Not sure why, but the Cowboys are still America’s Team.

Overrated: Alabama, LSU, and the Rest of the SEC

Cortland Lee

Before I start this post, I will admit: I am an Oklahoma Sooner fan, have been for some time now.  My opinions are never fact, but just hear me out.

Top to bottom, the SEC is overrated.

In a recent interview with Tulsa World, University of Oklahoma Head Football Coach, Bob Stoops was asked about the “achievement gap” between the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and the Big 12 conference.  Stoops lashed back with some pretty interesting sound bites and in so many words, said that the SEC conference is overrated.

I love Stoop’s comment here and here’s some evidence from my Twitter page:

                       

CortlandIU Been saying it every year…the SEC is overrated & overhyped by the media.             12:19 AM Nov 11th, 2012 from Echofon

 

Notice that this tweet is from November 2012, around six months before this article, however; I have felt this way for a long time. The article in the Tulsa World goes on to give some great facts to support Stoops (and my own) position:

Four of those bottom six did so poorly last year that their coaches got fired. The year before, two SEC coaches were canned. The year before that, it was three.

As far as that bloated NFL Draft number – one-quarter of the total players drafted last week was from the SEC – it’s much the same way: 46 of the 63 came from the top half of the league. The other seven schools produced just 17 draft picks.

I have also included a few facts of my own:

SEC Regular Season records minus Alabama & LSU: 43-53 in 2012, 33-47 in 2011, 34-46 in 2010

Bowl Record of SEC teams minus Alabama & LSU since 2010; 15-12

BCS Record of SEC teams minus Alabama & LSU (since BCS inception): 9-6

Part of the hype also is created by the media. The 2009 season marked the beginning of a new 15-year, $2.25 billion contract with ESPN, which coincides with a 15-year, $825 million deal with CBS. Every other top highlight on ESPN’s Sportscenter is from the SEC which explains how there has been an SEC player in the top 3 of the Heisman vote every year since 2006.

Maybe I am just whining due to Oklahoma’s recent BCS blunders, but evidence shows that top to bottom, the SEC simply is not at all what ESPN makes them appear to be.

 

 

 

My Beef With Colts Unsigned Pick Bjoern Werner

Cortland Lee

The Indianapolis Colts reported today that they have signed six of their seven 2013 draft picks to deals. This leaves Bjoern Werner, the 24th overall pick, as the only one unsigned. I find this very interesting since this was virtually the only pick I had beef with Grigson for drafting.

I’ll explain why…

Under second year head coach Chuck Pagano, the Colts defense has been totally revamped as Pagano has brought over a 3-4 scheme similar to what the Baltimore Ravens run. Werner played DE in Jumbo Fisher’s defense in Tallahassee. Scouts have projected Werner as a 4-3 DE in the NFL drawing comparisons to Osi Umenyiora or Jared Allen. Werner even made a comment to the New York Daily News that he would “love to be selected by the New York Giants. “ The Giants run a great 4-3 defensive scheme under Perry Fewell.

My beef with the Werner pick is:  Is he’s a great fit in our system here in Indy? My first thought was, “maybe he plays a 3-4 DE like JJ Watt.” One of Werner’s strengths in college was the ability to get his hands up and bat down balls, but Werner stands 2 inches shorter than Watt and has arms about an inch shorter. Watt also has an incredible motor, strength and quickness. He posted better measureables in the combine than Werner in the shuttle, cone drill, and bench press. Werner’s scouting report states he has an inconsistent motor during games and does not finish plays.

My first thought was wrong (thankfully). Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky have Werner playing  standing up on the line of scrimmage in minicamp. Again, this is not a good fit! Werner scouting report states he lacks length, explosiveness, and ability to turn the corner. These are all essentially skills needed to be a successful 3-4 outside linebacker.  Pagano and Manusky have recently compared Werner to Cleveland Browns outside linebacker Paul Kruger. Kruger, a former 4-3 defensive end for the University of Utah, made the switch to outside linebacker while playing for the Baltimore Ravens. Looking at the pre-draft measurables, you can definitely see a trend:

Werner

Ht

Wt

40   yd

Shuttle

3-Cone

Vert

Broad

Bench

6   ft 3 ¼ in

266   lb

4.83   s

4.40   s

7.30   s

31   in

9   ft 3 in

25   reps

                         

 

Kruger

Ht

Wt

40   yd

Shuttle

3-Cone

Vert

Broad

Bench

6   ft 4¼ in

263   lb

4.79   s

4.47   s

7.52   s

32½   in

9   ft 1 in

24   reps

 
                           

 

There is one thing though; Kruger was (and still is) very athletic with a high motor. Kruger played four years of high school football as a quarterback and was recruited to Utah by Urban Meyer to play QB in his spread option offense. Kruger also grew up in an athletic household as his parents were both college athletes and his brother just signed as an undrafted free agent with the Cleveland Browns. After Urban Meyer left Utah for Florida, Kruger was asked to switch to defensive end in the 4-3 scheme and excelled. After being drafted by Baltimore, at first as a 3-4 defensive end, Kruger eventually switched to OLB and his career took off. Pagano and Manusky are counting on Werner to possess the athleticism and versatility Kruger had which made the switch to OLB easier. All Werner knows is playing 4-3 defensive end, and at this point, I am not sold he is a good fit in our offense.

Overall, I think Werner is a great prospect. In the short amount of time he has played the game of football, he has been impressive. I just believe he would have been a better fit in New York (like he wanted) at the 19th pick or in Denver at the 28th pick. I would have liked to see either Grigson pick up Werner’s teammate cornerback Xavier Rhodes, or trade down in the second round.

Ronde Barber Calls it Quits: Hall of Fame Bound Though?

Cortland Lee

Yesterday veteran cornerback Ronde Barber of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced he will be hanging up his cleats and retiring from the game of football. Barber had an impressive 16 year career all with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers which included a Super Bowl championship in 2002, five Pro Bowl selections, 3 All-Pro selections,  47 interceptions in which eight were returned for touchdowns, 1,234 tackles, 28 sacks and 16 forced fumbles.  Barber is the Buccaneer franchise leader in interceptions and defensive touchdown returns and is the only player in league history with 40 or more interceptions and 20 or more sacks.

Barber’s leadership and toughness on and off the field won’t show up in the stat line, but he brought 100% effort to the field every day. Out of his 16 years playing football, Barber went 15 consecutive years without missing a game, over 13 consecutive seasons without missing a single start.

Great career but Hall of Fame great?

Let’s look at some other Hall of Famers or soon-to-be Hall of Fame players and their careers (tackles not an official stat until 2001).

Deion Sanders (Hall of Famer)

13 seasons, 8 Pro Bowl selections, 6 All-Pro selections, 53 career interceptions in which nine were returned for touchdowns, 492 tackles, 10 forced fumbles and 1 sack.

Aeneas Williams (Eligible for Hall of Fame)

10 seasons, 8 Pro Bowl selections, 3 All-Pro selections, 55 career interceptions in which nine were returned for touchdowns, 677 tackles, 8 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks.

Champ Bailey (Current Player, highly considered as a lock for the Hall of Fame)

Currently 14 season, 12 Pro Bowl selections, 3 All-Pro selections, 52 career interceptions in which four were returned for touchdowns, 799 tackles, 7 forced fumbles, and 3 sacks.

Barber’s career clearly stacks up to some of the best of this era. Before writing this article and just hearing word of Barber’s retirement, I wasn’t sure he was of hall of fame caliber. After looking back on his career and comparing him with other great players of this era, he deserves the vote.

 

 

Revisiting the Anquan Boldin Trade And Why Everybody Wins

Cortland Lee

Anquan Boldin told the Palm Beach Post in April that he was “shocked initially” by being traded to the 49ers but I was not.

After back to back 1000 yard seasons in Arizona playing on a dynamic offense lead by Kurt Warner, Boldin signed a 4 year, $25 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens at 29 years old. Since then Boldin has been a mere shadow of his former self posting near career low numbers in catches and yards.

Many fans were outraged on Twitter after news of the trade especially after a brilliant playoff performance that help the Ravens win a Super Bowl. And with right reason, in four playoff games Boldin reeled in 22 catches for 380 yards, and 4 touchdowns, many of those catches in clutch 3rd down situations.

But was this really a bad move?

Baltimore has lost several key players this offseason in addition to Boldin which include: safety Bernard Pollard and guard Bobbie Williams, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe (Miami Dolphins) and Paul Kruger (Cleveland Browns) and cornerback Cary Williams (Philadelphia Eagles), and safety Ed Reed (Houston Texans), and lost linebacker Ray Lewis and center Matt Birk to retirement.

With young nucleus of Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and Torrey Smith on offense and Haloti Ngata & Terrell Suggs anchoring the defense, the Ravens are transitioning into a small rebuilding time.

Boldin was scheduled to make $6 million this season which is the sixth highest base salary for a wide receiver in 2013, more than Roddy White, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, and Hakeem Nicks. Boldin will also be entering his 11th season in the NFL and turns 33 years old week 5 of the 2013 NFL season. 

Boldin’s regular season numbers of 65 catches, 921 yards, and 4 TDs clearly do not warrant $6 million but his leadership and clutch playoff performances do; which is why trading him to the San Francisco 49ers makes sense for everybody. Boldin still gets to make great money in the last year of his contact and compete for a championship. The 49ers will get a clutch receiver to help Colin Kaepernick in the passing game and veteran leadership to mentor young 49er wide outs Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham. The Ravens get financial flexibility needed to rebuild their defense and a 6th round pick in which they used to draft a young offensive tackle, Ryan Jensen who could provide more security for their multi-million dollar franchise quarterback, Joe Flacco. This also allows the some of the younger Raven wide receivers, Jacoby Jones, Tandon Doss, and tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson to fully blossom within the offense

Anquan Boldin is great veteran player who still does have some left in the tank, but Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome made a great move not only for the franchise, but for Anquan and the 49ers.