NFL 2017 Off-Season

A thread to discuss NFL news prior to the start of the 2017 season. Let’s discuss free agent activity first.

I heard the Browns got Osweiler and a 2nd round pick.
Seahawks got Luke Joeckel for a one year deal.

I really wanted the Seahawks to get a veteran lineman, but I’m really uneasy about this pickup. I don’t know much about Joeckel, but I don’t get the sense that he’s good. I have a vague feeling that this is a project for Tom Cable, and I don’t really have a lot of confidence in Cable’s ability to work on projects.

DeSean Jackson goes to the Bucs.

Alshon Jeffery to the Eagles.

Brandon Marshall to the Giants. Man, the Giants seem to really be stacking their team (starting from last year). This must be a bitter pill for Tom Coughlin, as I don’t the Giants spend as big in free agency when he was there.

459 Responses to “NFL 2017 Off-Season”


  1. don

    Texans had to pay the Browns to take the Osweiler contract with a couple more picks (a future 2nd and a future 6th) and only got a fourth rounder in return. I don’t recall this happening before. I’m sure if I look it up I can find other occurrences, but off the top of my head I cannot think of any.

    I’m guessing that it will cost the Texans that 4th rounder to get Romo as well.

  2. Reid

    I can’t think of another comparable situation, either, but that doesn’t mean much. I saw a post(?) showing that the Browns have eleven picks(!) for this draft and next year. If they can make good picks, this could be a turning point for them, although we’ll probably have to wait about two years to see if this helped.

  3. don

    I wonder how much the Texans would have saved if they just cut him. I’m guessing not enough, which is why they went this route. The best would be if Osweiler does pretty well as a Brown. They would just have to move the Texans at that point, because no fan should have to put up with that. haha

  4. Reid

    I read that the Browns are eating half of Osweiler’s salary, but I don’t know if that’s true.

    As for Osweiler doing well for the Browns, the last I heard was that the Browns are looking to trade him or possibly just release him. Tough day for Brock Osweiler, who I actually think could have been successful with the Broncos last year.

  5. Reid

    I believe Patrick DiMarco and Kyle Juszczyk got picked up by the Bills and Niners, respectively. I believe the latter is the highest paid FB, now. I wish Seattle went after (or could develop) fullbacks like. (The Broncos had what seemed to be a promising FB, but he got hurt.)

  6. Reid

    Torrey Smith also to the Eagles joining Alshon Jeffery–Eagles seemed to do a good job of addressing a weakness.

  7. Mitchell

    Doesn’t Seattle have a four-time Pro Bowler at FB? Marcel Reece?

    Ah. Just looked up his numbers. He only played in 4 games last season and ran the ball twice.

  8. Reid

    Seahawks picked him up late in the season–and they were looking for FB before the season, when Reece was available. He was pretty good before, but I never got the impression that he was a good blocker.

    What do you guys think about AP, Jamaal Charles, and Latavius Murray as FAs? I wouldn’t mind getting the first two, at a really discount price. I’m not keen on Murray, but if the price was right, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give him a try.

  9. don

    Believe it or not based on cost I think I would take Murray first in that group (Of course unless I got the cost thing wrong and he is not significantly cheaper). I agree Murray isn’t as good as the other two (was), but I think he’s good. He’s not a game breaker, but he runs with decent power. Is Murray that much different than a Melvin Gordon? They seem to be about the same no?

  10. Reid

    Murray has power and speed, but my sense is that he doesn’t have good vision, instincts, or he doesn’t read blocks well. The impression I got was that Washington and Richard were significantly better at finding seams. It’s like Murray is big, strong, and fast, but he’s not really a RB, if that makes sense. Gordon, on the other hand, seems to have the instincts and vision to be a good RB. Ball security seemed like the main problem with him.

    Maybe the Raiders run-blocking wasn’t that good, or maybe Murray would do better in another system.

  11. don

    The Jaguars now have the following blue chip players on defense: Dante Fowler, Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell, Myles Jack, AJ Bouye, Jalen Ramsey, and Barry Church (Who’s not really a blue chip player.). At some point they have to be good right? They should go after Cutler or Romo and just see what happens.

  12. Reid

    Campbell is a good signing, I think–although I feel like he’s inconsistent. I feel like he should consistently dominate, and he doesn’t seem to. At times, I think he could be one of the best lineman. Man, I think Denver almost signed him. That would have been something.

    Back to the Jags. Yeah, on paper, that seems like a great lineup. Plus, you omitted Telvin Smith. (Also, is Amukamara still on the team?)

    I’m ambivalent about Doug Marrone, more negative than positive. I wish Tom Coughlin were coaching this team.

  13. Reid

    Broncos get: Menelik Watson from the Raiders; Ron Leary from the Cowboys.

    Rams: Andrew Whitworth OT from the Bengals. (Shoot, I wanted the Seahawks to get him.)

    Right now, with regard to the Seahawks, I just want them to get TJ Lang. I won’t care about anything else (unless they don’t get Lang, and somehow get a really good O-lineman). (Note: I really can’t speak with any authority about how good Lang is. I’m just basing this on a) what others seem to think; b) desperation for a good veteran lineman).

  14. don

    How come the Broncos have so much money to spend? They just paid Miller last year, and they have a lot of stars on that team.

  15. Mitchell

    Brandin Cooks and the Saints’ 4th-round pick to the Patriots for a first-round pick and a 3rd-round pick. Cooks only has one year left on his contract, so he’s a rental, as Martellus Bennett was.

    Martellus Bennett to the Packers. He’s not what he once was, but I think he proved last season that he’s still better than most of the receiving TEs, and definitely an improvement for Green Bay.

    Terrelle Pryor to the Redskins. It’s a good pickup, but the Redskins are a disaster now.

  16. Reid

    Don,

    I have the same impression. I once heard a Broncos fan respond to people who said the Broncos would be messed up because of their big FA acquisitions. (This was the year they got TJ Ward and some other FA.) The point was, the Broncos weren’t going to be in a bad situation. So, I’m guessing Elway has done a good job of managing the cap so he can do stuff like this. But apparently, he didn’t have enough to land Campbell. The Seahawks seemed to have managed their cap fairly well, too. They have a bunch of players they have paid, but they have decent cap space to sign quality FA this year.

    Mitchell,

    The Brandin Cooks pick-up looks like a good one. They also picked up Dwayne Allen, TE from the Colts, if I’m not mistaken. Allen seems like he could be just as good as Bennett (although he hasn’t really looked great when he was with the Colts; still, I would’ve been fairly happy if the Seahawks picked him up).

    Bennett is kind of an enigma. I would have thought that he would have been better in Belichick’s system. But he could be really good with the Packers.

  17. Don

    The Seahawks seemed to have managed their cap fairly well, too. They have a bunch of players they have paid, but they have decent cap space to sign quality FA this year.

    Did the Seahawks sign any big names this year? Denver didn’t sign any big names either I guess, but they seem to have be able to get two solid o-linemen, as well as couple other pieces.

    On a sort of similar note, the Cowboys lost two starting o-linemen, with Doug Free retiring. Things are looking pretty thin in that position for Dallas like it is for the league as a whole. It was already a shaky group even with all their starters there with many injuries and question marks.

  18. Mitchell

    I’ve spent a lot of time this weekend thinking about the Cleveland Osweiler trade. As you know, I’ve been kind of rooting for them since the Browns hired Paul DePodesta, one of Billy Beane’s Moneyball guys. Moneyball is about exploiting inefficiencies in the market, and I’ve been wondering where those are in football, and how they might even exist.

    When you’re looking at a nine-player baseball lineup, it’s easy to think about offensive value. Although a shortstop and a right-fielder have different jobs on defense, they have the same basic job on offense. 70 RBI by a shortstop are as valuable as 70 RBI by a right-fielder. That’s sort of Moneyball’s founding principle.

    But football is so much more complicated. I’ve been wondering what DePodesta’s been up to this past year, and the Osweiler trade is clearly one of the big ideas.

    It isn’t Osweiler the Browns were trading for, as everyone pretty much knows. It’s that 2nd round pick they got with him. Basically, whatever share of Osweiler’s contract the Browns are paying is being added to the cost of paying whoever they draft in the 2nd round. The inefficiency seems to be in what teams pay 1st-rounders, and the bargain seems to be in what teams pay 2nd-rounders. I haven’t looked at numbers so I can’t verify; I’m basing this off of my own speculation.

    But the Browns have a huge number of draft picks this year, and even if my belief (that the NFL draft is a craps-shoot) is true, more picks in a draft means more chances at being lucky in later rounds.

    It points back to Reid’s (possibly over-explained–sorry!) thesis on building a good team the Seahawks way. By loading up in a couple of years on lots of later-round picks, the Browns can conceivably have a terrific, bargain-basement team in two or three years. Then they can spend money on a QB (which I just don’t see any way out of) or find the next Russell Wilson (or shoot, just the next Dak Prescott) and be contenders.

    In case I have not made it clear, I loathe the concept of tanking in order to get better draft picks. On the other hand, I don’t mind the concept of rebuilding. Stick young guys in there who aren’t quite ready and let them learn on the job, and if it means going 3-13 now for the hope that the same guys will be 13-3 in two years, I can live with it, as long as the guys on the field (and the guys coaching them) are doing their best. If it also means that you give up first-round picks in order get more late-round picks (and not to spend so much money on what’s essentially a dice-roll), that’s not tanking; that’s rebuilding in a smart way.

    Still thinking about this, but what do you guys think? Are the Browns onto something? And how does this compare with what Sam Hinkie was trying to do with the 76ers?

  19. Reid

    Don,

    Did the Seahawks sign any big names this year?

    Not in free agency, but they redid Michael Bennett’s contract before the end of the season. I’m not sure if Denver renegotiated any of their existing contracts.

    It was already a shaky group even with all their starters there with many injuries and question marks.

    I didn’t know about Free retiring, but if he wasn’t, “shaky” seems to be pushing it, especially if you compare their OL to many others in the league. I think the ‘Hawks and Vikings are still in a bad place. The Bengals lost Whitworth, and maybe someone else–I’m sure there are more teams who aren’t in a great situation. (I’m not exactly sure about the Cardinals current situation, but they seemed to not be very active in free agency regarding their OL, and that seems like a mistake; unless they have younger players they’re really happy about.)

    On another note, Detroit seems to want to really build their offense on their OL. They had a solid OL last year. They lost someone in FA recently (can’t remember his name), but signed TJ Lang, and maybe someone else. I’d be happy if I were about this if I were a Lions’ fan.

  20. Reid

    Mitchell,

    The inefficiency seems to be in what teams pay 1st-rounders, and the bargain seems to be in what teams pay 2nd-rounders. I haven’t looked at numbers so I can’t verify; I’m basing this off of my own speculation.

    This makes sense, although I don’t have a lot of confidence in my understanding of such things.

    Still thinking about this, but what do you guys think? Are the Browns onto something?

    If you mean, trying to hoard a lot of draft picks and build a team based on young players, even if that means initial struggles, I think that isn’t a new concept. I think teams like the Seahawks have been trying to do that. The Browns could be taking it to another level–although they could be doing this because they don’t really have many (any?) foundational-type players now.

    And how does this compare with what Sam Hinkie was trying to do with the 76ers?

    Off the top of my head, I would say the strategy isn’t that great in the NBA–mainly because the one-and-done principle produces a lot of raw players–and the NBA isn’t a great league for developing players.

    In the NFL, I think college players are more developed when coming into the league (except for O-linemen), and the NFL is generally better at developing players. By the latter, I mean that the chances of a player developing into a really great player is higher than the same thing happening in the NBA.

  21. Don

    Mitchell,

    I’m pretty much in 100% agreement with you. The Browns are gathering draft picks and making good deals and not really doing “splashy” things, and that seems really smart. The only retort if it is one, is you don’t have to go 3-13 to then go 13-3. Meaning you don’t have to be crappy or take two steps back to take three forward. New England is a model of consistency and I know a big part of that is Tom “Freakin” Brady, but you have to admire how they can consistently “cut the fat” of big name guys and still be great. Maybe you weren’t necessarily saying the Browns have to suck in the short term, but my point is that you hope you can rebuild without having to demolish everything. This is pretty much what Philly was (maybe still is) doing.

    Reid,

    Dallas depth at o-line was bad last year after Collins went down, and this coming year it’s very possible that it will be worse. And the thing with offensive lines is one bad apple really can spoil the bunch. The hope is the backup guys that were hurt last year will be healthy and one will be good enough to start or Dallas will need to spend money to pick up a guy. If not, my guess is their line will not be as good, and may not be good enough to carry that offense like they did last year and 2014. But you are right that they are not in the position that the other teams you mention are. I think the thing to remember though, is those other teams’ successes are not as dependent on their offensive line as the Cowboys’ are.

  22. Reid

    Don said,

    New England is a model of consistency and I know a big part of that is Tom “Freakin” Brady, but you have to admire how they can consistently “cut the fat” of big name guys and still be great.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think comparing any team to the Patriots makes a lot of sense. I don’t think there’s any other team that can do what Belichick does; and it goes back to my belief that it’s Belichick’s coaching/schemes that really make them successful. No other coach has that type of impact on both the offense, defense, and probably special teams as well.

    Don,

    Your comment just sounds like fan-worry to me. Or, maybe I’m seeing your comments from the perspective of a fan who has a terrible OL. As an example, let me comment on this remark:

    And the thing with offensive lines is one bad apple really can spoil the bunch.

    I don’t see it that way. In my view, if you have three good-to-great linemen, the other two lineman can be schnooks and you’d be OK. When I say “schnooks” I don’t mean utterly terrible players, but just guys that are average or maybe a little less.

    The Cowboys don’t seem to have depth, but if Collins lives up to their potential, then really, they only have to find a decent guy at RT. Barring injuries, they will be fine.

    It should be said that good depth seems kind of fanciful and unrealistic, as there are teams struggling to find average starters.

  23. Don

    I don’t think there’s any other team that can do what Belichick does; and it goes back to my belief that it’s Belichick’s coaching/schemes that really make them successful.

    Your opinion is that because Belichick is such a great coach, he could actually suck at being a GM and it doesn’t matter because his coaching ability will overcome that? That’s pretty bold. So getting rid of all those guys that he did could have been terrible for all thirty-one other teams, but not for the Pats? I’m not completely disagreeing, but if that’s true, it makes Belichick almost a god-like coach, because in general and in all sports, coaching cannot overcome talent.

  24. Reid

    I don’t get the sense that Belichick is a great GM. Would you agree with that? And my point is that the Patriot success is not primarily due to the talent, but the coaching (with the exception of Brady). This is not the same as saying Belichick could be successful with terrible players. My sense is that Belichick prizes smart, team players–and if you combine that with his coaching, these players can be productive–to the extent of building a championship team. The smart players can execute his amoeba approach–but Belichick’s the only person who can coach this way. Seriously, who else does this to the extent he seems to?

    (One other thing: the salary cap is the big reason this approach can be successful. I’m a bit more doubtful this would work in prior to the 2000s. But this doesn’t change the fact that Belichick’s one of the only coaches who can coach this way. If Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, Don Shula, Joe Gibbs were coaching now, I have a feeling they wouldn’t–couldn’t–coach in the same way. For one thing, there doesn’t seem to be another coach who knows all aspects of the game as well as Belichick seems to.)

  25. Reid

    I was looking at the available FAs right now. The list was long and there was a few that caught my eye. The only name I can remember now is TJ McDonald, the Rams safety. He had a quiet year last year, but the year before that (or was it 2014?), he stood out for me. I don’t know if he has a motivation problem or what, but I wouldn’t mind if the Raiders and Titans took a look at him. (Seahawks, too, actually, if they could get a good deal.)

  26. don

    I think Tom Coughlin is trying to build another Giant-like team in Jacksonville. They just invited another big name free-agent defensive linemen, Dontari Poe for a visit. Does Poe even have room to play with Jackson and Campbell already on the team? I’m not sure but like the Giants, the Jags seem to think they can never have enough d-linemen.

  27. Reid

    Poe could be a two-down lineman. I’d like the move, if they could do it. (On another note, Fowler seems disappointing, although maybe he could get better.) Also, Johnathan Hankins is still available I believe.

    Seahawks pick up Eddie Lacy. I like this move, although what it says to me is that the team doesn’t trust that Rawls and Procise can stay healthy. I sort of feel that way about those two as well, hence I like the move.

    But the glaring problem remains the OL. Right now, if they don’t pick up any vets, the ‘Hawks are basically banking on their guys to improve. That’s basically what they’ve been relying on (too heavily in my view) for the past few years; and if the past few years are any indication, then I would anticipate a shaky OL again. (I don’t know how much more I can take of this. I sometimes think–wish–Wilson would go to another team with a good OL.)

  28. Don

    Poe could be a two-down lineman.

    It’s not important but I’m not sure what this means. Two-down linemen isn’t a term I know with the hyphen in there. I know two down linemen are the two inside linemen in a 4-3 scheme.

    I’m not sure what Jacksonville’s defensive scheme is, but I’m guessing it’s a 4-3. I just assume Campbell and Jackson were the two inside guys.

  29. Reid

    I mean, he could play on 1st and 2nd downs–i.e., when the run is more likely, and be replaced by a pass-rusher on 3rd down.

  30. Mitchell

    I haven’t heard anyone talking about where Kaepernick should land, but now that the Bills have resigned Tyrod Taylor, I think Buffalo would be a great spot for him.

  31. Reid

    The Bills have a new coach, so I’m not sure what the offense will be like. But if it’s an offense like the Panthers’, then I think the Bills would be a great spot for Kaepernick. At this point, I’m of the belief that the best chance for Kaepernick is to play in a system like Carolina’s–i.e., a system that will incorporate his running into the offense. (I sort of feel this way about RGIII, too.) And yes, I think Carolina would also be a good spot for Kaepernick.

  32. Mitchell

    Since Taylor’s main value is the mobility he adds to his throwing, I like Kaepernick in Buffalo, especially since Taylor is unlikely to start 16 games. Carolina works for me too, although I’m kind of forgetting the Panthers even exist for some reason. What about as a backup to Russell Wilson, who also is unlikely to start 16 games?

  33. don

    I wonder what the cost of acquiring Kaepernick? Is he going to only receive back-up QB money, which from what I saw is still a pretty good sum? If so I like you guy’s picks. I would even say that Dallas should go after him if he’s a reasonable cost. He could succeed with a good offensive line and a great running game.

  34. Reid

    To me, the key is the nature of the offense. I think Kaepernick would thrive in an offense like Mike Shula’s or the one RGIII played in in his rookie year.

    This would take the Cowboys and Seahawks out of the equation in my view. While both teams design a running QB into the offense, the extent to which this occurs is not large enough in my view. To say it another way, I think the QB would need to do a lot of traditional quarterbacking to succeed in both the Cowboy and Seahawk offenses.

    Don, I don’t think you would be happy with Kaep. If I put my anti-Cowboy hat on, I’d be happy if he went there. (I’m guessing the market for Kaep won’t be real high, but all it takes is two to really want him. I though Hue Jackson liked Kaep–also Denver, but I don’t know if Kaep is a good fit with Mike McCoy’s offense.)

    If the Fox was willing to adopt an offense like Carolina’s I think he might be worth considering in Chicago. (I wouldn’t be that happy if I were a Bears fan, though.)

  35. don

    Yes Kaep as your one is not a great option, I agree. As a back-up I would take him. Here’s Dallas options at back-up as far as rumors: Kellen Moore, Mark Sanchez, Josh McNown, and Chase Daniels. All okay options and if was cheaper than Kaep, I would probably go with the cheaper option and pray they will not be needed. If Kaep is the same price (and I think Mark Sanchez was pretty well paid last year), I would probably go Kaep. I think his experience in big games is more valuable than throwing talent, which Chase Daniels is supposed to have. Plus if Kaep has to make a few plays, I think he can do it. He was okay on a bad San Fran team last year. He was able to make some plays with his feet. I’m not sure the others on the list are capable.

    You would rather have Boykin as a back-up?

  36. Reid

    I think I’d take McNown over Kaep–the others might be close. With a back-up for the Cowboys, the first thing you’d want is a guy who could protect the football. To me, that takes Sanchez and Kaep out of the picture. (Don’t know enough about Daniels or Moore in that regard.)

    By the way, which team is Fitzpatrick on? He’d be someone I’d consider, too (although he can be shaky with ball security).

  37. Reid

    On another note, TE, Jared Cook, supposedly visiting the Raiders tomorrow. He visited the Seahawks as well. I’m not really high on him. The guy has been a disappointment. Plus, the Packers could use a TE, but they let him walk. Not a good sign.

  38. Mitchell

    Dont’a Hightower resigns with the Patriots for something like four years and $45 million. Wow.

  39. Reid

    Has Hightower looked really good to you guys? He never really stood out for me. Same with Jamie Collins. At least I never really could understand why some would speak glowingly of them.

  40. Don

    I’m pretty sure The Ringer guys like Hightower. It’s hard to say and part of it is that I felt New England’s defense in general is just okay. So it may be easier to contain Hightower since teams can sort of key on him. But who do you think New England’s best front seven guy is?

  41. Reid

    The Ringer guys aren’t the only ones who have praised Hightower. And, by the way, I don’t think anyone made comments like he’s one of the best LBs. Also, the praise occurred when they had Collins and Chandler Jones.

    As for the best Patriot in the front seven, I’m not sure. I’ll say this: no one really stands out to me. They may have a bunch of good players, but I don’t think they have any top players–I never thought Collins and Jones really stood out for me. Compare that to players like Michael Bennett or Bobby Wagner–these two are not the best at their positions, but they’re right below that. I don’t think the Patriots have anyone in their front seven like that.

    By the way, I think the best defensive player they have now is Malcolm Butler. He seems like a really complete corner. I’m impressed with his tackling in addition to his cover skills. He may not be the best CB, but he’s very good.

  42. Reid

    Dontari Poe to the Falcons. Seems like a good pick up (on a 1 year deal), although I don’t know how much Poe has left in the tank.

    Latavius Murray to the Vikings. You know who Murray sort of reminds me of? Herschel Walker–and I don’t mean this in a good way. Murray is fast, big, and strong, but doesn’t have the other attributes to a be a really good RB.

  43. Don

    Dontari Poe to the Falcons. Seems like a good pick up (on a 1 year deal), although I don’t know how much Poe has left in the tank.

    I had to look up his age after this comment, and he’s only 26. I thought he was really young. Why would you say that?

    Latavius Murray to the Vikings.

    I think it’s good for the Vikes. They need a power runner with that o-line. I don’t think Murray will do well in Minnesota however, but I’m not sure if Leveon Bell would do great in Minnesota.

    Would you rather have Kaep or Osweiler? Another rumor was that Denver would try and get Osweiler if the Browns released him. One, this cannot be true because Brock hates the Broncos, and two, why?

  44. Reid

    I had to look up his age after this comment, and he’s only 26. I thought he was really young. Why would you say that?

    I thought I read something that said he might be losing his effectiveness or something. But I could be totally wrong about that. Plus, whenever I’ve watched the Chiefs, he really didn’t stand out for me.

    I think it’s good for the Vikes. They need a power runner with that o-line.

    Unless the RB is someone like Lynch, Campbell, or Sweetness, I don’t think it will matter much.

    Would you rather have Kaep or Osweiler? Another rumor was that Denver would try and get Osweiler if the Browns released him. One, this cannot be true because Brock hates the Broncos, and two, why?

    I definitely would prefer Osweiler, especially if the team has a good running game. I really think the Broncos would have been a lot better if Osweiler stayed (and if they didn’t have those injuries on offense). To me, he’s one of those borderline starter-backups–the kind of QB that needs a really good run game and defense to be successful. I do have some questions about his ball security, though. Think of a QB caliber of a Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Going after Osweiler makes a little less sense with McCoy’s offense, but if Kubiak was still there, I could see it. As for Osweiler’s bitterness, I think it’s something that could be overcome, especially since Osweiler’s in a “beggar’s” position right now.

  45. Reid

    Cowboys lose Carr, Wilcox, Church, and Claibourne. Is that right? If so, that seems like a big loss. Carr and Claibourne weren’t great, but they seemed to contribute to a solid secondary. Wilcox and Church seemed vulnerable in coverage, but they were good hitters.

    The bigger question is, who do they have left? Byron Jones and Scandrick? I think they have a couple of younger players. Supposedly this is a strong draft for corners, so maybe they’re not in bad shape.

    Raiders get Jared Cook. I’m sort of meh on this. A one-year team friendly deal would be OK, though. Cook has potential, but he’s never really lived up to it. I’d say the chances of him doing this now are very low.

  46. Reid

    More on Lacy going to the Seahawks

    Besides the fact that Lacy is good insurance in the event Procise and/or Rawls gets hurt, here are some other reasons I really like this move:

    1. Lacy will add competition. Both Rawls and Procise (and Collins) will really have to stay on top of things because Lacy has the talent to take their spots.

    2. Similarly, the competition might have a positive impact on Lacy, particularly with his battles with his weight. This is really a great opportunity for Lacy to be a featured back, a new version of Marshawn Lynch. If he can do well this year, he could be the featured back, which can translate into a longer-term, lucrative contract. Of course, I think Rawls, or even Procise, has the potential to be a featured back as well. And I’m sure Rawls (at least) will be competing hard for this role.

    3. Lacy will provide depth. There’s a decent chance Rawls and/or Procise will get hurt and miss playing time. Lacy allows the ‘Hawks to not really miss a beat.

    Having said all this, none of this matter if the OL doesn’t significantly improve from last year. Picking up Luke Joeckel really doesn’t evoke a lot of optimism for me. Basically, the Seahawks will be relying on a player, who has been somewhat of a letdown, to live up to his potential. And, this actually applies to most of their other linemen (Glowinski, Fant, and Ifedi). If the improvements aren’t significant, the OL won’t be good enough, and their RB group won’t matter diddly.

    Here’s something that I would be excited about: trade Jimmy Graham for Joe Thomas of the Browns. I don’t dislike Graham–I think he could help the team–but in terms of priority, the OL is far above TEs/pass-catchers. Thomas is old, but they need a quality veteran presence, in my opinion. Badly. (Thomas could help Fant, who is as raw as they come.)

  47. don

    Re Cowboys:
    I actually think Carr and Claiborne are decent options at corner, and both were definitely improving with age. I didn’t hear that Claiborne has left yet though. The Cowboys are definitely getting killed in free agency. Add to Wilcox and Church, they also lost Jack Crawford and Terrell McClain, who was their most consistent performer on the d-line last year. The Cowboys could actually be worst on defense next year, which is both scary and sad.

    Re Joe Thomas:
    I would doubt that the Browns would go for Graham, but what if they asked for like three picks in the next two years for Joe Thomas, something like a 2nd, 4th this year and a 3rd next. Would you like that? I can see the Browns trying to ship Thomas, but just not for Graham.

  48. Reid

    I think Claibourne going to the Jets. Yeah, I forgot about the losses to D-linemen. On the bright side, I would think the Cowboys cap is in good shape, and the draft has both good pass-rushers and CBs. The only problem might be that the defense will be young. (Also: Jaylon Smith should be ready next year, right?)

    Re: Graham for Thomas.

    I would think this would appeal to Hue Jackson. Plus, Thomas is old, and what kind of offensive weapons do the Browns have?

    I don’t think I would like the package of draft picks you mentioned. You’re getting a guy who may play two or three years and giving up younger-cheaper players. Normally, I wouldn’t want to trade or spend on an older player, but the Seahawks need someone that badly.

  49. don

    Yeah you seem right about Claiborne, but he hasn’t signed yet. Also I’m pretty sure free agents, which all these guys were, do not count against the team’s cap going forward, so it would not create more cap space if they sign with another team.

    Joe Thomas is 32. I had to look him up as well. I don’t think he had any injuries in his career and I would think he can be good for another 4-5 years, which is a normal contract length. I’ll be surprised if the Browns want Graham, who hasn’t played a full season with the Hawks yet right? But if you are right, Graham for Thomas would be a great deal for Seattle if they can pull that off.

  50. Reid

    I’m pretty sure free agents, which all these guys were, do not count against the team’s cap going forward, so it would not create more cap space if they sign with another team.

    Well, the team would have to pay them something for the upcoming year if they were on the team–this may or may not affect the cap depending on the contracts. But besides this, I got the sense that the Cowboys cap would be pretty good, especially if they dump Romo’s contract (although there might be an amount counting against the cap next year).

    As for Thomas, he could play for 4-5 years, but is he going to be good for those years? That’s a bit more iffy, I would say.

  51. Mitchell

    Joe Thomas is a Pro Bowler every year. The Browns would LOVE to deal him to someone needing an impact lineman for a playoff run this year. But no way are they going to trade him for a veteran TE and no draft picks. Like no way. Hue might like Graham, but Hue’s job is to do his best to win today. DePodesta’s job is to take the long view, and he’s the one making the decisions. Thomas to the Seahawks makes a LOT of sense. He’s running out of time to be on a winner. Their window may be closing. But that doesn’t mean the Browns are going to trade him for something that doesn’t add to rebuilding.

  52. Reid

    You’re so sure that Graham doesn’t add to the rebuilding? 30 isn’t young I guess, but the thing is, they don’t really have any weapons right now. Also, they’ve got a ton of draft picks. I think I would be OK with sending a late round pick (5th or 6th) with Graham to the Browns.

  53. Mitchell

    I don’t think a late round pick and what is probably a huge salary are going to do it. And I feel pretty strongly that Graham doesn’t fit the mold for rebuilding the way I think the Browns are doing it. In three years he’ll be 33, which is when I would expect to see the rest of the team hitting its youthful peak, assuming the draft picks pay off.

    I could be wrong. You need a veteran or two on each side of the ball to teach young guys how to be pros. My impression is that Joe Thomas is a guy like that. Is Graham?

  54. don

    I think the Cowboys are like the bottom five cap wise right now, which is why they are unable to make any splashy moves. Having these free agents sign with other teams, still keep them in the bottom five. But yes not having to add big contracts is making it easier for the Cowboys not to slide even closer to the cap, which is why all these free agents are leaving. Romo will add a little more to the cap room once they release him, but I think the bigger impact of releasing him would occur in the next two years.

    I think linemen who rarely get injured and never had any serious injuries can play well late into their careers at a very high level. I’m not saying for certain Thomas fits that category as I don’t know his past injuries, but I was just guessing that he has remained pretty healthy. Also, Mitchell makes a great point about the difference between what the Brown’s GM would want versus what the Brown’s coaches would want. I agree that it would be completely surprising, outside of a monetary reason, that the Browns would do that trade. I also don’t think teams value a pick lower than the 4th round, so adding anything lower would hardly make the deal more enticing.

    Reid,
    The better discussion because there are so many unknowns is not what is fair between the two teams, but how much would you as a Seattle GM give up to get Thomas, if he was projected to be a Pro Bowler for four years. Would three draft picks above the 4th round in two years still be too much? What about those picks over three years? Or Graham and a 3rd rounder this year? Even Graham and a third seems too little, as Graham is always hurt. You are right though, how long Thomas can play at a high level will definitely be a big part of what Seattle wants to do. But if Seattle makes an assessment that Thomas can play the length of his contract at a high level, I think I would lean to do any of those deals, as he can be a difference maker by himself. I cannot imagine three draft picks would have the impact Thomas, by himself, would have over the short term.

  55. Reid

    Mitchell,

    In three years he’ll be 33, which is when I would expect to see the rest of the team hitting its youthful peak, assuming the draft picks pay off.

    Is it reasonable to think that Graham could still play at a high level at 33? To me, that’s the big question, and I’m not sure about the answer to that. I’m not sure about the way age affects TEs. If he’s still a true playmaker at that age, then I think a deal would be worth it. Who are the weapons that the Browns have on offense? Barnidge? Isaiah Crowell? I know they lost Terelle Pryor.

    I would also look at the type of offense Jackson wants to run. If he’s not going to use Graham as a traditional TE (like the way the Seahawks are trying to use him)–if he can be used more as a pass catcher–then I think the move makes sense.

    My impression is that Joe Thomas is a guy like that. Is Graham?

    I don’t know. So far, the feedback I’m seeing about Graham has been really positive, in terms of what kind of teammate he is. I’m not sure if how good of a mentor he would be, though. But to me, that’s not a big issue. If you can expect him to be an elite playmaker for four years or more, then I would think that alone, justifies the move.

  56. Reid

    Don,

    I think the Cowboys are like the bottom five cap wise right now,…

    Bottom five? Man, I thought they were doing a better job of managing their cap.

    The better discussion because there are so many unknowns is not what is fair between the two teams, but how much would you as a Seattle GM give up to get Thomas, if he was projected to be a Pro Bowler for four years.

    I think you also have to factor in how good Graham is going to be. Obviously, if you predict that Graham will decline, then the ‘Hawks would have to give up more in trades, but if you think Graham can be an elite playmaker, then I don’t think you have to give up a lot. In fact, let’s suppose that we assume Graham will return to putting up similar numbers he did when he was in New Orleans–and say we expect that for four years at least. You don’t think a straight up trade would be worth it?

  57. don

    Manti Teo is a Saint.

  58. Reid

    Well, hopefully this helps his career. He’s been disappointing so far, which I take no pleasure in saying. Hope he does well there. (There’s now three Hawai’i boys on the Saints–Manti, Max Unger, and Hauoli Kikaha.)

  59. don

    In terms of injury, I would say you are right Teo has been terrible. I wouldn’t doubt if he has missed half of his games so far. But he started just about every game in which he was healthy and I think in those games he has led his teams in tackles. Yes from the middle linebacker position that may not be saying a whole lot, but he has done alright. When he was drafted, he wasn’t drafted to be a sack guy or a great cover guy, so I think he’s done what a lot has expected he would do. He just needs to stay on the field.

  60. Reid

    I’ve actually watched a few games where I’ve keyed in on him. This is not something I normally do for LBs, so I can’t compare these observations to a baseline impression. Having said that, he didn’t look good to me. He seems slow, not in the right position, or often getting blocked (while not being able to shake the blocks). I’m not expecting him to be a good pass-rusher or great in coverage–but for a MLB, you would think he’d be good against the run, right? Didn’t look that great to me.

    I was hoping that his intelligence could really make up for a lack of physical tools, but I haven’t really seen that, yet.

    I should say again that I don’t completely trust my assessment of LBs. People more knowledgeable than me will praise LBs like Donta Hightower and Jamie Collins, and I really don’t share that impression. This makes me question my judgment.

  61. don

    I think a lot of us, Hawaii folk, has keyed on him. I thought he wasn’t very quick, not only in terms of point A to point B, but lateral quickness as well. He was also not very fluid. He was also not a great tackler. I also agree that he’s doesn’t seem strong enough to fend off blocks or even hold up blockers. I’m not sure about being in the wrong position though. I always thought his physical limitations were keeping him from making plays more than his mental ability. He was, however, as I said in the previous post somewhat productive. I looked up Te’o stats from a couple years ago, which was his best year, and he averaged over six tackles a game. To put that in perspective Sean Lee in his best year last year averaged over nine a game. So yes Te’o is nowhere near elite, but he’s not that shabby.

  62. Mitchell

    I didn’t see that many Chargers games, but when I’ve seen Manti I have been impressed with his lateral movement and reaction to where the ball is going. So we are seeing different things even while looking at the same thing. Maybe my sample size is too small.

  63. Reid

    Don,

    I think a lot of us, Hawaii folk, has keyed on him.

    As in, just watched him, while basically ignoring everything else? I don’t know why, but that surprises me a little. You really can’t see what the offense is doing, unless the LB gets close to the player with the ball. I don’t think many people would enjoy watching football this way–I know I don’t. But his a hometown boy, so I guess it makes sense.

    I’m not sure about being in the wrong position though. I always thought his physical limitations were keeping him from making plays more than his mental ability.

    Let me put it this way: his understanding of the game doesn’t seem to be compensating for this physical limitations.

    To put that in perspective Sean Lee in his best year last year averaged over nine a game. So yes Te’o is nowhere near elite, but he’s not that shabby.

    Meaning he’s basically average. If so, I’d mostly agree with that.

  64. don

    I think Te’o is an average starter. Not sure if that what you meant, but I don’t think it’s the same as being an average linebacker. If you draft a player that can start for ten plus years, that is a successful draft pick especially outside of the first round. Not saying Te’o is a successful draft pick, actually the opposite because of all the games missed, but when playing he has enough production to be a starter on a team in the NFL.

  65. Reid

    I think I just meant he was an average player, at best. I haven’t thought of what an average starter really means. An average starter could be a relatively weak player. Now, if you said a “solid starter” that’s different to me. Is Te’o a solid starter? I don’t think I’d go that far. I guess, if he ends up starting for ten years, that would qualify as a “solid starter,” although even with that, you have to look at the quality of the team he plays on. If, in those ten years, he plays on a weak and/or talent-depleted defense, being a starter doesn’t say much.

  66. Mitchell

    I heard a great interview last spring on the Baseball Tonight podcast. I can’t remember who it was with, but he was talking about the baseball draft, and he said that a successful first-round draft pick is someone who someday makes the major league club. Of course there are the nearly surefire picks like Griffey or Harper, but most of the time, there’s so much uncertainty that what you’re really going for is picking a major league baseball player.

    I imagine the threshold is different for basketball, which has what? Only three rounds or something, and a tiny roster? But from listening to Bill Simmons for so long, I get the sense that a second-rounder who becomes an everyday starter is a pleasant surprise, and anyone after that.

    I wonder what it is for football. A ten-year starter is unquestionably a successful first-round pick, at least if it’s lower than the first five selections. What about a five-year starter? The average career (the last time I checked) was 4 years. Remember when the draft was twelve rounds (Rod Martin was a twelfth-rounder, three-hundred-fiftieth pick or something like that)? It makes so much more sense the way it currently is. Six rounds, I think. But man, even those deep sixth-round picks — how much hope do they have to make the big roster?

    I’d like to hear a GM in each sport talk about what the goal is for a high-first, low-first, second, third, fourth, and fifth round pick. What makes it a successful draft?

  67. Reid

    There’s been speculation that the Seahawks are willing to consider trading Richard Sherman. I don’t know how much stock to put into this idea, but I do get the feeling that they are considering this and/or they want to send a message to Sherman–namely, that they’re not happy with his conduct last season.

    If this is true–if Sherman’s attitude/ego got out of hand, and Sherman really isn’t contrite or doing things to make amends–then I would definitely support trading him. It would be a big loss to the team, but if he’s ego or pride become a problem, this is about the coach’s authority and the culture of the organization.

    Who would I want in a trade? An O-linemen, of course. Joe Thomas comes to mind, but I’d be open to an established quality veteran. I really can’t see any other position, except for another good CB or maybe a really good D-linemen.

    Speaking of which, if they did trade Sherm and then put more emphasis on the DL. That is, they tried to build a really good DL to protect the back end, I would welcome that, especially if, at the same time, they significantly improve the OL. I would be surprised if they do this, though, as this seems like something far outside Carroll’s philosophy. (He’s a DB guy–maybe one of the best secondary coaches of all time.)

  68. don

    Is the talk in Seattle that Sherm was worse last year than in previous years? He was always sort of a “problem child” before, but for the most part he seem pretty harmless. He is much more expendable now that he didn’t perform to his norm last year, but he was hurt right?

  69. Reid

    Is the talk in Seattle that Sherm was worse last year than in previous years? He was always sort of a “problem child” before…

    My sense is that the consensus, among fans, and even reporters, is that his acting out was worse. Sherm’s been cocky and outspoken, but I don’t think he’s ever really got on a coach (Bevell) in public (on the sidelines). Additionally, he didn’t seem to display the necessary contrition after that. (I got the sense he never really apologized to Bevell.) Finally, Sherm told a reporter he’d “ruin their career.” I don’t remember Sherm ever saying anything like that in the past.

    He is much more expendable now that he didn’t perform to his norm last year, but he was hurt right?

    He was hurt, but I thought his performance was solid, if not very good. There were/are other problems in my view. I also do not think he’s “expendable.” Losing him would definitely hurt the team–their defense will take a hit, especially since DeShawn Shead, the other starting CB, probably won’t be ready to play at the start of the season.

    I don’t mind his outbursts–I think they generally haven’t hurt the team. But if he starts thinking he knows more than the coaches, and he doesn’t need to apologize when he speaks inappropriately, then I think his ego is becoming a serious problem. And that can be a serious problem for the team, coach, and the culture.

  70. don

    I’m pretty sure in the advance metrics, Sherm was out of the top ten last year, and possibly not in the top twenty. I remember reading an article and he was pretty far down.

    On the trade, it’s rare that a team would trade one star for another. Most trades now involves draft picks. I would think Seattle would take any team’s first round pick for Sherm, but I doubt that will happen. Based on the little I know, rarely does a team give up a first round pick for a veteran, just because of how the salary cap and rookie pay scale affects a team.

  71. Reid

    I could be wrong, but I’ll put it this way: I don’t want Sherm to leave; I’m not open to him leaving the team because I think his skills have diminished; and talent wise, the team will be significantly worse off without him (even if Shead were healthy to play; Shead’s decent, but not great in my view).

    As for a trade, I don’t think any team will give a first rounder. As for trading someone like Thomas, I actually don’t think that Thomas coming over and playing great is a slam dunk–I tend to think that there is more than a minor risk. At worst, I expect him to be a good LT, and I would expect him to be that way for at least two years, but I think it’s reasonable to anticipate three. After that, I’m not sure. And I’m not sure if he’ll be healthy as well. (It seems like linemen can play at a fairly high level when they’re older, so maybe this isn’t such a big deal.)

    Sherm’s 28, I believe, so there’s some risk in taking him because once he hits 30, I think you can’t be sure he’ll play at a high level. Also, he’s had injuries in his career.

    But if you mix in some draft picks, to balance things out, I feel like the deal could work.

  72. don

    Reid,

    The Titans have two picks in the first round. Almost every pundits is saying either a corner or safety with the number five pick. What kind of help would you like to see with their second first rounder? Many are mocking a receiving weapon with that pick.

  73. Reid

    I think answering this question is really difficult without knowing the landscape of draft prospects–and I almost nothing. (I’ve heard that this is a good year for CBs, pass rushers, and TEs, but that’s it; and I’m not entirely sure this is correct.)

    But if I just look at the Titans’ needs, CB and WR are definitely up there. I think they could use a pass-rusher, either at LB or DL. Generally, I don’t like using a really high first round pick on a WR. Even if the player is someone like Julio Jones, I’d be hesitant. QB, D-lineman–those positions are probably ones I’d go for. (I’m thinking about top 5 picks.) Anything other position, my preference is to trade out of the first round.

  74. don

    It’s ridiculous if the Texans don’t even give Cutler a look at this point. He could be a difference maker on that team.

  75. Mitchell

    I think the Texans should convince the Broncos to release Trevor Siemian, then pay Siemian seventeen million bucks a year.

  76. don

    Haha stupid but very funny.

  77. Reid

    It’s ridiculous if the Texans don’t even give Cutler a look at this point. He could be a difference maker on that team.

    They have to be considering it. Who’s there QB now–Tom Savage? They have to at least consider Cutler–also Kaepernick. Did someone sign Fitzpatrick? I think he’d make a good backup somewhere. (I wouldn’t mind if the Seahawks consider him as a backup.

    I think the Texans should convince the Broncos to release Trevor Siemian, then pay Siemian seventeen million bucks a year.

    I don’t know about $17 million, especially for the Texans, who after the Osweiler signing went south. I like Siemian, but he’s a significant risk, if you’re thinking of him as a starter. An ideal situation would be a team a run-first team, maybe one looking for a placeholder as well. (A team with a West Coast oriented offense would be ideal as well. Maybe a team like the Niners.)

  78. Reid

    Richard Sherman update. I understand that Sherman approached the Seahawks for a trade. That about settles it for me, especially if his desire to be traded is quite strong. If that’s true, the chances of a trade occurring are better than 50/50, and I would support a trade at this point.

    I think the Seahawks are looking for a solid player and draft pick. This is a good approach versus just getting picks, even if they are a bunch of relatively high picks. The chances that a draft pick will perform at a comparable level to Sherm is very low in my opinion. It could happen, but I would expect that it doesn’t. The Seahawks don’t have another starting CB as well. So if they just get draft picks, I’d expect a significant decline in the defense (unless they really improve the DL, which doesn’t seem very likely, either). So only getting draft picks for Sherman likely means forgoing next season for the future.

    But if they could get a good player–particularly at CB, OL, or a really good pass rusher, the ‘Hawks could stay in contention for next year.

    Besides something like trading for Joe Thomas (and I’m not even sure the difference he’d make would make their Super Bowl hopes viable), I thought of some other teams:

    Titans: Taylor Lewan or Jack Conklin. I’m not sure the Titans would do this deal, but they definitely need help in the secondary. (I have a few doubts about whether Sherm would fit LeBeau’s defense, although that’s not based on much.)

    Colts: I’m not sure if the Colts have anybody worth trading on the OL, or at any of the other positions I mentioned. If they bundled this with good picks, though, the deal could work.

    Patriots: Malcolm Butler. I don’t think Butler is as good, but I don’t think he’s far behind. But man, I hate the idea of Sherman as a Patriot.

    Raiders: This would be great for the Raiders. Sherm would fill a big need in a big way. But I’m having trouble seeing who the Raiders could get that would make this worth it. Maybe someone like Gabe Jackson and some picks. I’d be very open to getting Osemele, but I don’t know if the Raiders would go for that.

    Marshawn Lynch to the Raiders

    Rumors are that Lynch has said he wants to play and that the Raiders just need Del Rio to green light this. A part of me would be excited to see Lynch on the Raiders, but, realistically, I don’t think he’d make a huge impact and would have limited carries. I also don’t like the thought of seeing him play at a diminished level, especially if he looks really bad. Finally, I’m not sure if the Raiders offense would be a great fit for Lynch.

    In terms of marketing and money, though, I would think this would be good move for the Raiders. Lynch in a silver and black uniform would look awesome, too.

  79. don

    Sherman’s price supposedly has come down to draft picks, a first round this year and something next year. Titans has two picks in the first round this year. If they can get Seattle to pick up some of Sherman’s contract, they should think of doing the deal.

  80. Reid

    I don’t really like that Seattle would just get draft picks for Sherm–because that would leave big holes that rookies would be unlikely to fill in my view. Because of that, I think Seattle fans shouldn’t expect the team to be serious Super Bowl contenders next year (although it’s not impossible).

    The other thing that I heard about: Titans traded up for their #5 spot to the #1 to get Garrett. I don’t know anything about the guys, but if he is a really good pass rusher, I think that would definitely be worth it. Morgan and Orakpo aren’t elite pass rushers. Jurrell Casey is really good, but they need an outside guy.

    This isn’t to say that they shouldn’t consider Sherman–because they definitely need help in the secondary.

  81. don

    Weird, because how I took your original post is that you pretty much wanted Sherman out of Seattle despite the cost. So I guess you would be okay with Sherman staying if you cannot get a proven veteran in return? Also you think losing Sherman would mean no chance of winning the Super Bowl? He’s good, and at one time, I felt the best out there, but I don’t think he’s the difference between winning the Super Bowl or not. As it stands now Seattle is probably in the top five in terms of odds to win the Super Bowl. I think it’s New England, and then everybody else which includes: Dallas, Green Bay, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Denver. Losing Sherman wouldn’t drop them out of the everyone else category, imo.

    I’m not in the camp of kicking Sherman out of Seattle, but then again I’m not sure how contentious it is over there for him and the rest of the team/coaching staff. However, if I was in the “get him out of here camp”, I would almost prefer the two draft picks, especially if next year’s pick was in the top three rounds. Seattle would be able to sign two rookies for four years under the rookie pay scale, and at least dump a good portion of Sherman’s cap space to the receiving team. This cap space would probably be equal to a decent free agent signing next year if they chose to use the cap space that way.

    I wonder what it would take for the Titans to get to the number 1 spot. I wouldn’t give up a pick in the top three rounds of this year’s draft to move up I don’t think, and I think it would cost at least that if not a little more (ie: a pick in future drafts).

  82. Reid

    Weird, because how I took your original post is that you pretty much wanted Sherman out of Seattle despite the cost. So I guess you would be okay with Sherman staying if you cannot get a proven veteran in return?

    Your first impression was correct–but this is based on the assumption that Sherman wants out, that he has really become a problem in the locker-room. If this is true, then I would prefer he’s traded–and I tend to lean toward trading him even if the deal is a little less than ideal.

    My point is that, if I had my druthers, I would prefer getting a quality player, either at CB or OL, and a draft pick, rather than just getting picks. To me, the latter would significantly lessen the Seahawks’ chances of going to the Super Bowl. Basically, if they don’t get a good-to-great, experienced O-lineman and/or a solid veteran CB, then I think their Super Bowl hopes drop significantly. (Remember, that Seattle’s other starting CB tore his ACL and might not even play next year.)

    The key to me is getting a good veteran lineman. Without this player, I think the chances are great that the OL will struggle again. They defense, even with Sherman, probably isn’t good enough to overcome this problem–not allowing to win the Super Bowl, anyway.

    owever, if I was in the “get him out of here camp”, I would almost prefer the two draft picks, especially if next year’s pick was in the top three rounds.

    In terms of sustaining success in the future, I’d agree. But I think you’d have to almost consider 2017 as a sacrificial season. The Seahawks’ hopes would probably still be better than a lot of teams, but their chances would be a lot less in my view (for reasons I mentioned). But sacrificing next season for being Super Bowl contenders for the following five years might be worth it.

    I wonder what it would take for the Titans to get to the number 1 spot. I wouldn’t give up a pick in the top three rounds of this year’s draft to move up I don’t think, and I think it would cost at least that if not a little more (ie: a pick in future drafts).

    The Titans have the #5 picks and another pick in the first round. Trading the #5 and some other picks might be able to get the job done.

  83. Reid

    I don’t really see that. If he’s right, then they’re underachieving in my view. Or, the other defensive rosters aren’t that great (which actually might be accurate). Maybe they’re the most talented in terms of having the most good players (versus having a few great players and a few good players). I’d put Earl in the elite category, and Sherm real close. Wagner, Bennett, Avril are all very, very good, but not vying for best at their position in my opinion. Same with KJ and Kam.

  84. don

    I would say Earl, Sherm, Bennett, Wagner, and Kam all have Hall of Fame potential. If four of five make it, that would be an incredible number. Yes, it’s way too early, but they have a great chance of being in the conversation especially if they stay together. KJ and Avril, I doubt will be in that same conversation, but as you said they are very good.

    You are not saying that on paper the Jags are above the Hawks right? Off the top of my head, on paper (ie: big name players), there are only two other teams that can be mentioned: Broncos and Panthers. Cardinals maybe? What’s your take?

  85. Reid

    I would say Earl, Sherm, Bennett, Wagner, and Kam all have Hall of Fame potential. If four of five make it, that would be an incredible number.

    I think Earl and Sherm have the best chance–I think Earl is better than Sherm, but CB seems to have a better chance of getting in than safeties, so maybe Sherm has a better chance.

    If Bennett, Wagner, and Kam get in, I would say they have to have fairly long careers, and play a fairly high level. In other words, they’re going to get in more because of playing well over a long period. I like Wagner, but do you think he’s in the ball park of Seau or even Urlacher? OK, Wags and Urlacher is a decent comparison, but I don’t know if Urlacher should get in. I think someone like Kuechly definitely has a chance. Kam would have a few more years like he did in 2013, and I don’t really see that happening.

    You are not saying that on paper the Jags are above the Hawks right?

    No. And I don’t know if there is another team, on paper, that’s better. But hearing that the Seahawks have the most talented defensive roster just didn’t seem right to me.

    Broncos were the other team that came to mind. They lost Ware, though, so I think that makes a difference. But they did add Domata Peko (solid DT). I have questions about the Panthers secondary; same with the Cardinals. Honey Badger hasn’t been the same since his last injury.

    What about the Rams, Jags, or even the Giants? Maybe those teams could be up there. I really like the Broncos secondary, and they have Von Miller. Their LBs are solid as well. They lost Wade Phillips, too.

  86. don

    My opinion is if Seattle stay relevant for the next four years and their defense is top five (both pretty easy to imagine), I will say those five guys I mentioned will have a good chance to get in.

    Who in Urlacher’s time should get in over him? He’s probably one of the top three(?) LBs during his era. Wagner probably is not in the Seau category, but Seau was sort of a rogue guy that probably cost his team some plays. I think I would rather have a Wagner on my team.

  87. Reid

    My opinion is if Seattle stay relevant for the next four years and their defense is top five (both pretty easy to imagine), I will say those five guys I mentioned will have a good chance to get in.

    That’s an interesting way of evaluating the players; it’s not the way I was evaluating them, though. In today’s NFL, I think if you have a lot of good-to-very-good players, plus no real bad players–and you have a good defensive coach–you can have a really good defense.

    Who in Urlacher’s time should get in over him?

    Urlacher’s time overlaps with Ray Lewis and Junior, right? (By the way, I think Lance Briggs was solid, but not HoF material.) What about Derrick Brooks?

    Right now, I’d take Seau over Wagner.

  88. don

    The Ringer guys were talking about the importance of the back-up QB. Of course they are important, but they also cost a lot. They cost about the same as a starter in another position. Would you rather have a good back-up QB or a starter in another position?

  89. Reid

    It depends on the other position and how good they are. If you’re talking about a good OLB in a 4-3 defense, I’d go for a solid back-up, especially if the alternative is a good OLB and and horrid backup.

    The bigger issue to me is that there just aren’t enough decent backup QBs.

  90. don

    But what is the value of a Josh McCown or a Derek Anderson? The only value they have is if your QB goes down early and they can play .500 ball, which will keep your team a playoff team (ala Patriots last year). Then your number 1 comes back with enough games to “warm up” and you win it all. Anything outside of that it’s hard to imagine that a back-up QB would give you a greater chance of winning the Super Bowl then without him.

    If your back-up is a starter but didn’t get a chance yet, ala Brady and Hosteller, then of course that’s different. These guys became #1’s, and thus keeping young unproven talent as your back-up seems prudent. But paying career back-ups doesn’t seem like it would pay off.

  91. Mitchell

    There are plenty of decent backup QBs. But most of them are starting.

  92. Reid

    Anything outside of that it’s hard to imagine that a back-up QB would give you a greater chance of winning the Super Bowl then without him.

    I guess for teams that really don’t have a shot at winning, having a quality backup QB isn’t that important. In those situations, I would think the team wants a young QB that needs time to develop. But for any super bowl contending team, a backup QB is important.

    Mitchell,

    There are plenty of decent backup QBs. But most of them are starting.

    Nice.

  93. don

    I think Reid might like this The Ringer article:

    https://theringer.com/2017-nfl-draft-top-prospects-leonard-fournette-deshaun-watson-302c5ae6434c

    Unless he thinks Mike Lombardi is a clown.

  94. Reid

    I liked it, although I haven’t really kept up with Lombardi’s draft ratings over the years, so I don’t have a good sense of how much stock to put into his comments. I liked categories he used to rate players (e.g., day one starter, developmental player, etc.).

    One question I had involved system fit, which is something only occasionally seemed to address. Are we to assume that if Lombardi didn’t explicitly mention this about a player that the player could start for any team in any system? I kinda wish he made that clear.

    Also, I like draft analysts to distinguish what they’re certain about versus what they’re uncertain about–and to do this in nuanced way. Lombardi does some of that, but I would have liked more of that.

  95. don

    I liked how Lombardi gave a little window of the Patriot’s draft process. But to not mention rounds into a draft room seems a little absurd. What if the Pats had Brady graded as a starter, and after round 2 90% of their “starter” grades were off the board. By their drafting process they would have to take Brady in round 3, even if everyone knew he would be around in rounds 5 and 6. Where a player is projected to go, has to matter at some point.

    In terms of system fit, Lombardi wrote about where a player’s strength would shine, for example Fournette at the Saints or the TE Howard in the Patriot’s system. I, however, read the article as in the players mentioned could be a starter in any system. Do you think that’s not possible?

  96. Reid

    By their drafting process they would have to take Brady in round 3, even if everyone knew he would be around in rounds 5 and 6.

    But doesn’t Lombardi mention a situation like this? If I recall, he says this is where you would trade back–getting multiple picks in the process, while being able to land Brady. Or am I misunderstanding you?

    In terms of system fit, Lombardi wrote about where a player’s strength would shine, for example Fournette at the Saints or the TE Howard in the Patriot’s system.

    Yes, and I thought I mentioned that Lombardi did say things like this–I just would have liked to read more of this.

    I, however, read the article as in the players mentioned could be a starter in any system. Do you think that’s not possible?

    No, I think it’s possible–I just think he should have been more explicit–e.g., “This guy could play in any system.” Indeed, this could be another tier or a sub-tier for starters: players that can play in any system. My guess is that those players are extremely rare. For example, I would think the number of those players in a draft would be be about 5 or less.

  97. don

    In my Brady example, I was just trying to point out that if you have no idea (or don’t care) in what round a player is slotted to be taken, then you would pick a guy in an earlier round than you have to. So if Pats wanted Brady (ie: starter grade), but had no idea they could get him in the fifth or sixth round, they might pick him in the second or third round based on what Lombardi is saying. Whereas if you sort of know Brady is a consensus sixth round talent, but the Pats think he’s a second round talent, they can pick a more unanimous second round guy and still get Brady later as well.

  98. Reid

    So if Pats wanted Brady (ie: starter grade), but had no idea they could get him in the fifth or sixth round, …

    My understanding is that the Patriot approach doesn’t preclude them from knowing how other teams are rating the players (i.e., determining what rounds they will go in). That would be foolish, if that were true. I assumed Lombardi was describing how Belichick chose to analyze players.

  99. don

    But it’s not like the rating of players by other teams is public knowledge. So I would think most teams will assess what rounds players will be taken based on their own assessment of players (ie: What round I’m willing to take a player is how the rest of the league will be assessing this player.). Of course that could be wrong, but how else would a team know.

  100. Reid

    I would be shocked if teams don’t have a sense of both how players are viewed generally, and how teams view these players. Teams sometimes will take a chance and not take a player, based on the fact that they don’t think other teams will take them. Of course, they’re not always right, but sometimes they are. How could they do this, unless they had a sense of how others viewed the players? Or, do you think teams just rate players and just ignore how other teams–or even draft analysts–rank the players? I’d be surprised if most teams operated this way.

    And would it be so hard to get a general sense of the rounds players would get drafted in. There are a lot of draft analysts out there, giving their opinion on this. Teams also can talk to scouts and other teams to get a sense, too. Getting a general sense doesn’t seem that difficult.

  101. don

    I just assumed every team had their own rankings and assumed other teams rankings were somewhat similar (of course need and fit would be different). I cannot imagine a team looking at Kiper’s Big Board with all the scouts and coaches they have.

  102. Mitchell

    Seriously. And why would any team think Kiper knows better than it knows from its own research. His record isn’t any better than theirs.

  103. Reid

    It’s not just Kiper. You don’t think the teams talk to scouts and executives from other teams, and then get a sense of which rounds players are likely to be taken? You don’t think journalists and more informed fans have a general sense of which rounds player will be chosen? I would be shocked if the teams don’t have any sense of which rounds players will be taken.

  104. don

    Yes I know it’s not just Kiper, there is also McShay. Haha

    I think scouts must talk to other scouts from other teams. I think there must be some job security in a scout talking to other scouts hoping everyone is seeing the same thing. I do not think GMs talk to other GMs about their draft board or specific players. And if they do, I doubt anything can be trusted.

    Dan Patrick asked Ian Rapoport (?) or some pundit how he knows he’s not being lied to. Rapoport said I trust three GMs and everyone else is lying to me. But he also said because of his rapport with those three GMs, he almost never asks them about their own teams or put them in a position where they cannot tell him the truth.

    Reid may be right and teams use all this info from all sources to build a probable or mock draft. I just wonder how much stock that a team puts into that. So if Lombardi is right and they don’t create a, for a lack of a better word, mock draft of their own, they have to put their entire stock on a mock draft that is created from outside sources. Or it could just be that I’m just reading too much into his “no one was permitted to mention rounds” comment.

  105. don

    I was being more sidetracked responding to Reid comments than making my original point clearer. Lombardi picked 14 players who he would give the highest grade, starter, in this year’s draft. Let’s say, knowing what we know now, the Patriots had Brady as the 15th player in this year’s draft with that same grade. How I interpreted Lombardi’s article is the Patriots would pick Brady at worse late in the second round (ie: The other 14 guys would have been picked by then.), because they are not concerned about what round “Brady should go in”. Basically teams categorize players by what round they should go in because they don’t want to pick them earlier than they should and essentially “wasting” their chance to get another player plus a Brady in this sixth. If the Patriots are categorizing their players without saying what round the player should go in, but still using what round the player should go in as a gauge, I’m not sure what the difference is in their drafting strategy.

  106. Reid

    Or it could just be that I’m just reading too much into his “no one was permitted to mention rounds” comment.

    Yeah, my sense is that you’re taking this too literally. I interpreted this to mean the following: when Belichick evaluates players, he doesn’t want to use the rounds the players will go in as a kind of proxy for how good the players are–which is the way I think some people think. That is, player “X” is a first round talent, while player “B” is a middle-round talent. Belichick and Lombardi don’t approach evaluating players that way–according to my understanding.

    If this is true, this doesn’t preclude them from getting a sense of when other teams will take players. They may even construct a mock draft board for this purpose. In fact, I think I would be surprised if they don’t have some way to gauge this. I say this because teams not only need to evaluate players, but they also have to have a sense when they’ll be drafted. Let me put it this way: the GMs that do both have a huge advantage, right? I mean, if you’re only great at evaluating talent (especially if you only know how well players will fit into your team), then you won’t be able to maximize value. Do you guys agree with that?

    (Plus, even with the little we know, don’t you guys have a sense of where players will go. And look, if a team is scouting a player from a Division III school, and you know that no other team has been looking at them, it’s safe to assume that player won’t be drafted in the higher rounds, if at all. How could teams not have a sense of the type of interest that exists for the players?)

  107. Reid

    From the Lombardi article:

    Ever wonder why the Patriots always move backward in the draft? Most times, their draft board features maybe 14 or 15 potential day-one starters — grades dictate everything. Why waste a first-round pick (and first-round money) on one of those 14–15 prospects if you believe you can land one later and land another asset?

    It’s not really clear here, but doesn’t the reader have to assume that the Patriots have a sense of what rounds the players will be drafted in? If not, I don’t understand the passage.

    By the way, in thinking about this a little more, I don’t think I agree with the approach of not including the rounds when assessing a player (even for your own team). Here’s my thinking. The rounds should reflect the level of risk and certainty (or uncertainty) one feels about a player. Let’s go back to the Lombardi/Belichick method:

    We wanted to define the prospect’s role on our team, and we wanted to predict how long it would take for him to achieve that role. That’s it. Instead of predicting rounds, our system forced our scouts to grade every player as (1) a starter, (2) a potential starter, (3) a developmental player, (4) a backup, or (5) someone who couldn’t make any NFL team. In Belichick’s room, no one was permitted to mention rounds — that job was for useless coffee-guzzling scouts and cliché-spouting TV commentators.

    Somewhere in this, I would think there should be an assessment of risk. For one thing, let’s say you grade someone as a starter, but there are questions about motivation. Where does this player belong? Do these questions drop him into category 2? What if his talent and motivation puts him at #1, but he has character issues (like an Aaron Hernandez). It doesn’t seem like the criteria Lombardi makes room for that sort of thing. Drafting Russell Wilson in the 3rd round, I think reflects this type of risk, I think.

  108. Mitchell

    Everything you’re saying makes sense, but with the success rate of most of these teams, it seems to me that the Patriots’ approach makes even more sense. Rather than spend too much time thinking about a round number, prioritize the people you think will be successful, and pick them when your turns come up. Maybe the Patriots are saying that everyone is overthinking this, especially considering the results.

    I know you will pshaw this, but consider it just for a second. what if the difference between a million hours of preparation and analysis is only a smidgen more successful than half a million, or a quarter million. Would you take that savings in resources for that smidgen of a decrease, especially if you have confidence in your coaches? I know I would.

    Did the Patriots make a mistake taking Aaron Hernandez? Or did they get a deal? I’d say they made a good pick who paid off for the time he was on the field. I might say this even if he’d been taken much higher in the draft (and received the corresponding salary).

  109. Mitchell

    I don’t listen to Lombardi’s new podcast (yet; I’m still undecided because so much content in my stream is backing up), but whenever he’s been the guest on other podcasts, I’ve enjoyed what he’s shared. I don’t know if he’s got what it takes to carry a whole show, and the producer who co-hosts with him (Tate something) doesn’t do it for me either.

  110. Don

    That is, player “X” is a first round talent, while player “B” is a middle-round talent. Belichick and Lombardi don’t approach evaluating players that way–according to my understanding.

    But what you seem to be saying here is that there is very little difference between what Belichick does versus the rest of the league. There are some differences in “point-of-view”, but it’s slight, mostly it’s just using different categories to describe the same thing. A round 1 player could be a starter in Belichick’s verbiage.

    Somewhere in this, I would think there should be an assessment of risk. For one thing, let’s say you grade someone as a starter, but there are questions about motivation. Where does this player belong? Do these questions drop him into category 2? What if his talent and motivation puts him at #1, but he has character issues (like an Aaron Hernandez).

    Now I think you are being too literal. You seem to be saying that the “Belichick method” only measures on-field talent. I don’t think that’s true. Character, injury risk, motivation are all things that would move a player up or down in Belichick’s categories as well I would think. Belichick has already come out to say he wouldn’t draft Joe Mixon (He assaulted his girlfriend.), when many are saying he is a top three running back. That’s why I don’t really see the difference between what Belichick is doing versus the rest of the league.

    Everything you’re saying makes sense, but with the success rate of most of these teams, it seems to me that the Patriots’ approach makes even more sense.

    Again, I’m a little confused in knowing what the difference is in the Patriots’ approach.

    Did the Patriots make a mistake taking Aaron Hernandez? Or did they get a deal?

    I don’t think they got a deal. He only played three years and I don’t think he was a pro-bowler. I had to look it up, but he was drafted in the fourth round, because of his character issues. I’m guessing three good years for a fourth round pick seems about right, which I would equate to a fourth round pick playing six to seven years for a team as a off and on starter.

  111. Don

    There is a lot of talk of the demise of the offensive linemen in college, and how the spread offenses are hurting their development. This year there are few o-linemen that are worthy of first round consideration. Most pundits are saying three at most and two have injuries. But when you look at last year’s class, only one year removed from this year’s class, you had Jack Conklin (some say an all-time great), Laremy Tunsil, Taylor Decker, and Ronnie Stanley. I think there were others that have done well, too. I wonder how serious, NFL teams should be thinking about the future of NFL-ready o-linemen.

    Reid,
    If future drafts are going to be like this year’s draft and only have a limited amount of top graded o-linemen, wouldn’t you be in favor of Seattle moving up this year to grab one of those three o-linemen. It would probably cost at least their first and third round picks this year and probably a future pick as well. Right now most mock drafts have Seattle taking a DB because of where they are picking more than need, is my guess.

  112. Reid

    Mitchell,

    Rather than spend too much time thinking about a round number, prioritize the people you think will be successful, and pick them when your turns come up.

    That is, the Patriots basically ignore which the likely rounds players will be taken? This seems unwise. Now, there may come a point where a team consumes too much time and resources to get a good sense of when players will be taken. At that point, I agree–the team shouldn’t invest that time. But you seem to be assuming that teams have to spend too much time and energy to get a good sense of this. I don’t get the sense that that is the case.

    Did the Patriots make a mistake taking Aaron Hernandez? Or did they get a deal? I’d say they made a good pick who paid off for the time he was on the field.

    It’s hard to say. If they knew then what they know now–that is, Hernandez would kill someone after however many years he played–would they take him? In any event, this is a tangent to my point–which factoring rounds as a way to reflect uncertainty/risk.

  113. Mitchell

    That is, the Patriots basically ignore which the likely rounds players will be taken? This seems unwise. Now, there may come a point where a team consumes too much time and resources to get a good sense of when players will be taken. At that point, I agree–the team shouldn’t invest that time. But you seem to be assuming that teams have to spend too much time and energy to get a good sense of this. I don’t get the sense that that is the case.

    Actually, I haven’t been reading this whole conversation; I’ve been a little backlogged. I was working off your question about talking about round numbers. All I am saying, though, is that in order to save minutes, you shave seconds. If Lombardi is saying the Patriots don’t even talk about round numbers when talking about draftees, my suggestion is maybe it has to do with this. Save resources here and there so you can be the most prepared football team in the NFL. Which they are.

  114. Reid

    Don,

    But what you seem to be saying here is that there is very little difference between what Belichick does versus the rest of the league. There are some differences in “point-of-view”, but it’s slight, mostly it’s just using different categories to describe the same thing. A round 1 player could be a starter in Belichick’s verbiage.

    Is it really slight? It seems like the difference could be significant. I mean, players that fall in category 1 (first day starters) might be another way of saying 1st round player, but after that the correspondence seems to weaken. It seems like a developmental player could be a 2nd round player or higher. You could even take a developmental player in the first round. Does that make sense?

    Now I think you are being too literal. You seem to be saying that the “Belichick method” only measures on-field talent. I don’t think that’s true. Character, injury risk, motivation are all things that would move a player up or down in Belichick’s categories as well I would think.

    OK, is it clear to you how they incorporate those factors into the categories? Where does a player who has starting talent, but has character issues? Potential starter? Also, it’s not clear if the categories allow for finer distinctions between potential starter. Player A and B may have starting talent, but player A has a slight injury concern and a slight motivation issue, but great character. Player B has significant better talent, doesn’t have injury, but there’s a significantly higher uncertainty about motivation and character. Both could conceivably fall in category #2–potential starter–but the categories, alone, don’t express these differences. This is where using rounds could help. If a team place more importance on character (and being certain about this), then you would give player A higher round grade.

    You could forgo the round designations and just make a rank the players, but without a sense of which rounds is important, I would think you would not have a good sense of value. If the next best available on the list could be taken at a later round, you could trade down, get an additional pick and still get that player. But if you’re not thinking about when players are likely to be drafted, you can’t really do this.

    I wonder how serious, NFL teams should be thinking about the future of NFL-ready o-linemen.

    For this fan, I think they should think very seriously about this. Terrible OLs make the games unwatchable to me, and a part of me feels like there are too many of these OLs. On the flip side, suppose there were a plethora of good OLs–so that QBs would have a lot of time to throw and RBs would have good running lanes. Or to say it another way, suppose the DLs weren’t as good. Would that make the game unwatchable? I tend to think not, and maybe the opposite is more likely. (If the DLs didn’t look completely terrible, I think the games would be watchable–if not significantly improved.)

    I get the sense that at least a few others feel like the OLs need improvement and the colleges aren’t getting the job done. These are the people that advocate for a developmental league (or at least this is one big reason why they’re doing it). Thinking about changing the CBO–to allow for more practice time–might be another thing that they can do.

    If future drafts are going to be like this year’s draft and only have a limited amount of top graded o-linemen, wouldn’t you be in favor of Seattle moving up this year to grab one of those three o-linemen

    Even if you remove the quality of future drafts, I actually favor moving up–but only if they feel really confident that the linemen is a first day starter. I think the OL desperately needs at least two linemen that are really solid, if not great–players that can hold their own. This gives the OL a shot, to me. If you don’t have this–and the other guys are developing or trying to make comebacks–you almost have no shot at developing a competent line. That’s what it seems like to me, and barring any major development, I feel like Seattle’s OL is headed for a repeat of last season (which should be intolerable).

  115. Reid

    Mitchell,

    All I am saying, though, is that in order to save minutes, you shave seconds.

    You’re talking specifically about saving time during the actual draft? If so, I’m not sure how not talking about rounds would help all that much. Also, if the Patriots can account for the rounds players are likely to be chosen prior to the draft, they could bake this into their draft board, without talking about rounds…I guess.

  116. Mitchell

    No, I was using the “save minutes by shaving seconds” metaphor to mean that to save a lot of resources for other purposes, cut down a little here and there.

    The whole first chapter of Michael Lewis’s new book talks about the Houston Rockets and how Daryl Morey had to teach his scouts to stop thinking about some of the things they were used to thinking about. I’ll go into specifics later, since I’m up against a deadline, but I’m speculating that the “what round is so-and-so likely to go in” question may be one of those things that the Patriots have identified as not worth their time. Pure speculation, but of course if you’re used to thinking in conventional terms, it doesn’t make any sense not to think about where players will go. Is it at all conceivable that this approach might have merit?

  117. Don

    On the flip side, suppose there were a plethora of good OLs

    Are you saying in the past the o-line play was much more sound than now? Maybe, but I haven’t heard much pundits really saying that. Some of that can be assumed based on the talk about how there are so little good o-linemen in this year and maybe even next year’s draft, but haven’t heard that being said specifically. It also doesn’t explain why there seem to be a lot of good o-linemen in last year’s draft.

    but only if they feel really confident that the linemen is a first day starter.

    Yeah it seem the ‘Bama guy Robinson, and maybe Lamp from W Kentucky (Who seems to have the physical tools, but maybe not the experience playing high quality opponents.) are the two guys people are high on. There is also the Wisconsin guy and Bolles from Utah which some mocks have Seattle getting. I think if Seattle can get Bolles at where they are, that would be good without having to spend extra picks on Robinson, Lamp or Ramczyk (had to look him up).

  118. Reid

    Mitchell,

    Pure speculation, but of course if you’re used to thinking in conventional terms, it doesn’t make any sense not to think about where players will go. Is it at all conceivable that this approach might have merit?

    It’s definitely conceivable, and it would be more persuasive if you could demonstrate, specifically, either why that knowledge doesn’t really help or why acquiring that knowledge is too costly, if not impossible.

    Don,

    Are you saying in the past the o-line play was much more sound than now?

    No, the thought never entered my mind. I made my comment in relation to my opinion that terrible OLs make the game unwatchable to me. So I wondered out loud about the opposite scenario: if there were many good OLs how might that impact the enjoyment of the game.

    As to your question, I think the answer depends on how far back you. Are OLs worse than five years ago? ten? twenty years? My sense is: maybe a little; yeah; yes, quite a bit.

    As for last year’s draft, even if there were a high amount of quality OL (and I never really got that sense, but I’ll take your word for it), the talk about the demise of linemen has been going on for a couple of years, at least.

    Yeah it seem the ‘Bama guy Robinson, and maybe Lamp from W Kentucky (Who seems to have the physical tools, but maybe not the experience playing high quality opponents.) are the two guys people are high on. There is also the Wisconsin guy and Bolles from Utah which some mocks have Seattle getting. I think if Seattle can get Bolles at where they are, that would be good without having to spend extra picks on Robinson, Lamp or Ramczyk (had to look him up).

    Lombardi’s comments about Robinson made me sit up a bit. That’s when the idea of trading up came to me. If he’s a first day starter, I do think the ‘Hawks should really consider it. Basically, my sense is that the OL will not really change, in terms of performance unless they acquire a vet or get plug-and-play rookie. If their OL is like last year, their Super Bowl chances shrink dramatically, and Wilson’s chances of getting hurt (or at least accumulating more pounding) go up significantly.

    As for the other guys you mentioned, based on what I’ve heard they don’t seem like impact players right off the bat. So while they may be good at some point in the future, I’m sort of thinking about the present needs. (I am utterly sick to my stomach watching Wilson play behind a shoddy line. And I’m disgusted that the front office is basically going to repeat this again–barring some big moves.)

  119. Reid

    Any thoughts about the draft? I haven’t really been following comments, so I don’t really have much to say. One impression I have: Trubisky at #1 (Browns) seems like a huge risk. From what I recall, he only played one meaningful season. And are there still question marks just based on that one season? If so, it just seems too risky. (Then again, was Carson Wentz in a similar situation? My sense is that there were at least a few who were really high on Wentz, but there were questions about the division he played in. Also, he seemed to come out of the blue.)

    I don’t know much about the players. I’ll be happy if the Raiders can improve on defense (almost at any position, but LB, CB and then on the DL or S. I wouldn’t mind if they got another O-linemen.) I’ve said enough about the ‘Hawks. Titans are in a somewhat similar situation to the Raiders, except they really need WR help.

    Don, what’s your hope for the Cowboys? Mitchell, do you even care who the Raiders draft? (Oh Beast Mode is a Raider, if you guys haven’t heard already.)

  120. don

    I’ve been hearing the Wisconsin kid is a pretty good prospect. I’m pretty sure he will be a starter from day one. Bolles and Lamp I’m less certain about, but Lamp has great physical abilities it seems.

    Dallas is either going to get a DE or a DB. I don’t think anybody at this point will make a huge difference. I think Dallas has a greater shot of getting better if Jaylon Smith plays next year than anybody in this draft at their drafting point.

    Titans will get better. They may get Lattimore (CB from Ohio St) or the TE from Alabama, which many are saying is the best offensive player in the draft. People are also saying Ross from Washington with their second round 1 pick.

    Sherm is saying he wants to be in New England, but the Patriot’s first pick is not till Friday (tomorrow). And how is it that the Patriots still have Butler on their team, when everyone said he was moving before the draft.

    Oh it was already reported (not sure how they know) that Garrett was going number 1. I also heard rumors that the Browns will then want to move up to get Trubisky however because they are worried he will not last until they get to pick again at 12(?). Based on reports they really want Trubisky, but that’s why they may take Deshaun Watson. Hehe

  121. Reid

    I don’t know anything about the Wisconsin guy, but I know Bolles is kinda on the old side (24?). I think Lamp is not a guaranteed starter.

    You don’t think the Cowboys get an impact player? If they got a starting CB or a good pass rusher that could make a big difference. (Actually, a good starting CB might just bring them back to last year’s level.) I guess you’re, right, about Jaylon Smith having the biggest impact (although in a 4-3, I tend to think the DL or secondary have the biggest impact, with some exceptions).

    As for the Titans, I’m gunshy about Alabama CBs. Has any of them had great success, especially given the round they were drafted in? Ross would bring speed to the team, and they need it. (I really hope Mariota has improved on this deep passing.)

    Sherm said he wanted to go the Patriots? When? I totally missed that.

    How can it be reported that Garrett is going #1? I guess, the Browns are that sure?

  122. Reid

    Garett to the Browns.

    Bears going after Trubisky?

    Edit: Bears seemed to give up quite a bit–1 3rd, 1 4th and another 4th next year. Niners just moved back one spot.

  123. don

    Yeah, seems like a ridiculous move by the Bears, and a great start for GM Lynch.

  124. don

    I think I’m hoping Mariota gets OJ Howard. I keep hearing about going two TE sets with Howard, it would be perfect with Walker.

  125. Reid

    Yeah, a part of me would be happy if Howard went to the Titans (if Lombardi is accurate). Then again, I think they really need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball. (I still think they should move on from LeBeau, too.)

    4. Jaguars: Fournette. Seems like a good pick, if they’re going to be a run-based team. If not, I don’t really like it.

  126. Reid

    5. Titans: Corey Davis. I don’t know anything about him.

    Who might take Howard?

  127. don

    I heard that Davis was moving up the board quickly (wasn’t originally project 1st round I think or at the very least late 1st round). I think I read a comment that some Dallas fan asked if Dallas should take him if he fell to 28.

  128. don

    I would have liked the Howard pick over Davis for sure. But Davis may be the real deal.

  129. don

    Mike Williams is somewhat a surprise to the Chargers as well. I like that all these offensive players are going off the board, and I’m hoping that means more defensive players to choose from for the Boys.

  130. Reid

    I really don’t like drafting WRs this high–unless they’re really, really good, and you’re confident that they’re really, really good. For example, while I think Amari Cooper is solid, I’m not that happy with him at that pick–at least so far. If you get someone like Julio–OK. The guy better be a force either via speed or being able to go up and get anything, even while covered.

    9. Bengals: John Ross. I would think this will free up AJ.

  131. don

    Is picking a Howard changing a team’s offense too much? How many two TE sets do teams want to run? Dallas loved to run the two TEs and it hurt them a lot when Swaim went down last year. I think it’s a mistake for the Titans and the Bengals passing on Howard.

  132. Reid

    Having said what I said about WRs, hopefully, Williams is really good. Phillip Rivers need receiving help.

    I don’t really get passing on Howard, if he’s good and almost a sure thing. A TE that can block and catch? If you’re a run-oriented team, that’s huge.

    I like that no O-linemen were taken. Maybe Seahawks move up.

    Who are the best remaining players?

  133. don

    QB going next…

  134. Reid

    Watson? I guess that makes sense.

    What about Howard to the Saints? I would think Payton would like that, their TE now is just OK.

  135. Reid

    Whoa, Chiefs: Mahomes. I heard he needs work, but I’m not sure about that.

  136. don

    Chiefs had to move up that high to get “wassup” Mahomes. I guess they had to move ahead of the Jets. Crazy.

  137. don

    Jamal Adams, safety from LSU, was supposed to be a top five pick. I think the Saints go defense.

  138. don

    Ooops, Adams went to the Jets, forget my last two post. haha

  139. don

    Mahomes a Favre like player is what I think I heard.

  140. Reid

    Maybe Chiefs wanted to get ahead of the Browns.

  141. don

    Yes.

  142. Reid

    Wonder if Browns wanted Mahomes. I guess the Chiefs didn’t want to take a chance.

    Man, ‘Hawks could probably move up without giving up too much.

  143. Reid

    Part of me wishes more CBs go–so that a trade opens up for Sherm.

  144. don

    It’s not supposed to be a strong year for QBs, but if Watson goes next, all three QBs were taken on trades moving up.

  145. Reid

    What do you think about McCaffrey to the Panthers? I’m hearing he’s more of a slot. Or maybe someone like Darren Sproles. Would a player like that be worth drafting at 8? Seems kinda high.

    Texans moving up. QB? Or maybe OL. It’d be crazy if they got another pass rusher.

  146. Reid

    I’m OK with teams moving up for these QBs–if they’re extremely confident in these QBs. To move up out of need and just taking best available, that doesn’t make sense to me. You’re better off solidifying other positions. (Actually, this is obvious–and most teams probably are doing this.)

  147. Reid

    Maybe Hawks don’t think that highly of Robinson; or the other linemen are close to Robinson that making the move isn’t worth it. I just want a good plug-and-play guy.

  148. Reid

    I would think Cardinals need help on the OL. I think they need help in the secondary as well.

  149. don

    McCaffrey does seem like a reach at that high of a pick, but I think he’s a good fit for Carolina. Sproles had a good stretch of games last year as a starting RB. If McCaffrey can have similar production and stay on the field, he can be the play-maker the Panthers need.

  150. don

    Pundits loved Reddick. He could be great.

  151. Reid

    Are they counting on Jonathan Stewart, though? I really like Sproles, but if you’re going to get a RB/slot–unless he’s like Marshall Faulk–then I sort of feel like this isn’t worth it.

    On another note, related to our discussion about studying which rounds players will be drafted, it seems clearer, watching the draft, that this is important. It can really affect if you should move up or back. If you’re really going at gauging where players go–and this depends on your understanding of the needs of the other teams and how they operate–then you can really increase the value of the draft.

  152. Mitchell

    There’s no doubt the Panthers’ greatest need is a reliable RB. They addressed that with their first pick. Now the OL.

  153. don

    Sproles don’t seem to play the slot as much as McCaffrey though. McCaffrey in the slot or creating mismatches from the RB position seems good to me. The part is the risk is how many plays can they get from him. Is he strong enough to be a three down guy or can he stay healthy.

  154. Reid

    I don’t know anything about Reddick. Don’t know anything about Derrick Barnett, either. (I think the Eagles do need to restock the DL.)

    Man, I feel like the Colts would want an O-linemen–then again, I feel like they need a ton of help on defense. Maybe Broncos would go for an O-lineman?

    By the way I got this from a tweet:

    Props to CLE. Now own ALL of its picks in 2018, plus:

    HOU 1st (Watson)
    HOU 2nd (Osweiler)
    PHI 2nd (Wentz)
    CAR 4th (Lee)
    PIT 6th (Gilbert)

    Browns are really taking the stockpiling of picks to another level. (If next year’s draft is supposed to be great, this could be great for them.)

  155. don

    Houston gave up much less then the Bears did to move up one spot.

  156. Reid

    Re: McCaffrey

    He seems perfect for the 3rd down, no? The question I had was whether he was a bellcow type of back. If he is, then I think he’s a solid pick.

  157. Reid

    I wonder if Titans have a shot at OJ Howard.

  158. don

    I didn’t say third down back, I said three-down back as in staying on the field for all three downs, basically the same “bellcow type” as you said. I don’t think he is, but I think the hope is he will play enough.

  159. don

    Howard may go next… He seems like a Raven type pick.

  160. Reid

    I didn’t say third down back, I said three-down back as in staying on the field for all three downs, basically the same “bellcow type” as you said.

    Ah, OK, my bad.

    Who are the good CBs left? I’m a little worried about the Raiders, and a little about the Seahawks with regard to CBs (although I rather the latter get a lineman).

  161. Reid

    Howard and Reed on the Redskins. That seems pretty formidable.

  162. Mitchell

    I’m not at all worried about the Raiders. They have the 24th pick. The prize for doing well in the regular season is having slimmer pickings in the draft. It feels great.

  163. Reid

    That’s one way to look at it (and it’s a pretty good way). I’m just thinking about their defense–and I want it to get a lot better.

    On another note, I think I might be happy with Howard going to the Seahawks–assuming he’s a legitimate blocker. I feel like the OL suffered quite a bit when the Hawks lost Zach Miller.

  164. don

    Jackson is a fast corner, and a great returner. Titans could have done worse. I think many thought Dallas could get him.

  165. Reid

    Well, they need a speedy CBs. Hopefully, he’s a good tackler as well. The Titans CBs seemed slow and bad at tackling.

    Howard to the Bucs–with DeSean and Evans. They’ve got some weapons on offense.

  166. don

    I heard the Bucs like to run a lot of two TEs, so yes Howard would be great for them.

    I didn’t hear anything pre-draft about Dallas getting or going after Taco. I’m hoping that’s because they didn’t think he would fall to them. There seem to be a few good corners left, I hope Dallas chooses to move up to grab one of them.

    Raiders take a flier on Conley. Hopefully he’s innocent, and they did their homework. If so it might be kind of a steal.

    Seattle traded down twice and picked up two extra picks in this year’s draft. Good move I think.

    Titans may have taken two fliers in the first round. Both with great upside, but both were slotted below others in their same position that were still available. I’m sort of cheering for Mariota, so hopefully it pays off.

  167. Reid

    Raiders take a flier on Conley. Hopefully he’s innocent, and they did their homework. If so it might be kind of a steal.

    I’m uneasy about this, but I’m assuming McKenzie wouldn’t have pulled the trigger without doing a lot of homework, and being really confident that Conley is innocent. If not, I don’t like this move at all.

    Seattle traded down twice and picked up two extra picks in this year’s draft. Good move I think.

    It may be a good move, but what it strongly suggests, to me, that the Seahawk FO–or most teams–believe that any of the linemen are plug-and-play players. If this weren’t the case, I would think these players wouldn’t be available. Another possibility is that the Seahawks believe the one or more of the remaining linemen are automatic starters, but very other teams believe this is the case–and the Seahawks understand this–so they’re trading back. This would be the best case scenario for me.

    Titans may have taken two fliers in the first round. Both with great upside, but both were slotted below others in their same position that were still available. I’m sort of cheering for Mariota, so hopefully it pays off.

    If they’re taking “fliers” I disapprove of the moves–especially at the #5 spot. For that pick, a team should either a) get someone they think is a sure-fire good player or; b) trade down. Of course, they could be wrong in the “a” situation–but I’m OK with that if they chose a player out of great confidence that the player was almost certain to be a good. (This is assuming the FO is competent at evaluating players.)

  168. don

    I think the Titans took “fliers” in the sense they weren’t the #1 guys in their position on most boards, but not “fliers” like how Dallas took Jaylon Smith knowing he wasn’t going to play last year. The guy they took at #5 was probably a top ten if not top fifteen pick. The risk with him is he played for a small school so didn’t face top talent. The corner they took was probably bottom first round to second round at best, and many had him out of the top five in terms of corners. That being said though, Lombardi loved him.

  169. Reid

    In other words, there are other players way riskier than they are? I haven’t been following the draft closely today, but it’s hard to feel excited about the Seahawks draft. I’m more enthused about the Raiders (with the caveat I mentioned earlier). I need to check up on the Titans. Don’t know anything about the Cowboys, too.

  170. Reid

    If you haven’t seen this, check this out:

    Man, those Philly fans–they were loud. I must admit, I loved what Pearson did. (Pearson was one a favorite of mine growing up.) I love Charles Davis’s remark about the Goddell, too.

  171. don

    I only had a chance to look at the Yahoo version of grading the draft, but all of teams mentioned on this site had bad drafting grades (between C- to C+).
    Titans: Yahoo thought the Titans picked their two first round picks too high, which is what I was saying previously. They didn’t seem to have a problem per se about the players themselves.
    Raiders: Yahoo didn’t like the Conley pick, but seem to infer that if he can play soon, that the draft grade should be better (I guess I would have to add that if is able to stay out of future trouble as well.).
    Seahawks: Yahoo seems to not like all the defensive players that were picked (as opposing to picking OL) as well as where the center that was picked would fit.
    Cowboys: Yahoo didn’t like the Taco Charlton pick as a pass rusher. They also said that Dallas didn’t have him as one of the 18 guys with a first round grade on their board. I wonder why they picked him then.

  172. Mitchell

    That Drew Pearson announcement was terrific. You know the Philadelphia fans enjoyed it, too. Very cool. I think in order to bait them, someone else should have come out dressed as Santa Claus.

  173. don

    Yeah Drew seems likeable, at least in that moment.

  174. Reid

    I couldn’t tell if the Philly fans liked it or not–it seemed like they weren’t happy, but maybe they were happy booing him.

    As for the yahoo rating, one thing I would ask is if those raters are a) taking into account system fit and, b) how well do they know the system and existing personnel of the teams. If they were doing both, the ranking would be more compelling to me.

    This isn’t to knock their ratings–I really don’t know enough to have an opinion.

  175. don

    I don’t think most articles that evaluate a team’s draft goes into system fit, most talk mostly about value (ie: Was the player worth where he was picked.). But when you read articles on specific players sometimes (actually most times) there is at least some talk about how the player fits in the system. I heard that some express that McCaffrey is a bad fit for Carolina, because Carolina likes to pound the ball. I can see that, but I also think they are somewhat innovative and will use him well. I heard that the Raider’s round 2 pick Melifonwu is an amazing athlete, but they question whether he can play free-safety, because the strong safety spot is already taken by Joseph.

  176. Reid

    But when you read articles on specific players sometimes (actually most times) there is at least some talk about how the player fits in the system.

    That’s more or less my sense as well. But how well do they understand the system. It’s believable that they at least have a general sense, but I would think that the specific details of that system (including intangibles) can a make a big difference, and I’m not sure the analysts have a good sense of this. (They would have to know a lot of information; it’s also unlikely they’ll know as much as the coaches/FOs).

    Re: Melifonwu

    I heard he’s not that physical, which, if true, is a huge red flag for me. The other thing: I’m not as enthused about players who have great physical abilities, but not very good football skills/knowledge/temperament. It’s true you can’t teach some of the physical abilities, but how often do these type of players achieve great success in the NFL? I don’t know the answer to that, but my guess is that the numbers are low.

  177. Mitchell

    I like listening to Cian Fahey talking about football. This is part of his interview on Dan Le Batard yesterday.

    Cam Newton last season threw the ball further than 20 yards downfield more often than behind the line of scrimmage. That seems like kind of a simple thing, but it’s fascinating when you consider all the offenses in the league are focusing on short throws and high efficiency. It’s fascinating that Cam’s numbers are going to be compared to guys who are throwing the ball short all the time, and he’s expected to get the same numbers and completion percentage while pushing the ball that far down the field. I was kinda shocked at how wide that gap was; we all know he pushes the ball down the field, but I didn’t realize it was that bad.

    What are the other things that surprised you once you started doing the research?

    In general there weren’t too many surprises. There were startling little things. One of the things I track is interceptable passes. When the ball is thrown, did the DB have a better chance of catching the ball than the WR? Ryan Fitzpatrick against the Chiefs in that incredibly awful game he had at the start of the year threw the ball 44 times and had 8 interceptable passes, and Colin Kaepernick threw the ball 331 times last year and only threw 7. So it’s the kind of thing that’s just an unbelievable disparity between the two when the way we talk about Kaepernick is the guy who can’t run an offense and the way we talk about Fitzpatrick is average guy.

    Who is the QB who based on your research, your information, was better than we thought he was.

    I think Marcus Mariotta is a guy we’re not talking enough about. I think we give him credit because he was a high pick and the Titans did well last year, but I think he’s probably comfortably better than all the other young quarterbacks in the league; that includes guys like Derek Carr and Jameis Winston. He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal technician who works the underneath coverages and manages the pocket brilliantly but he plays in this offense where he’s asked to force the ball downfield. I had him as the 23rd ranked deep passer last year, but he had the 12th most deep passes and the 5th most passes over ten yards, so the coaching staff isn’t doing him justice; they’re not really playing to his strengths, and that’s going to mask how good he is because if you put him in an offense like the Patriots or any other short-throw offense or intermediate-throw offense, he’d probably be putting up huge numbers and lauded as the star he is.

    Who is overrated, Cian?

    Unfortunately, you have to go to the same draft class; I think it’s Winston. I think we’re still talking about Jameis as the guy we thought he’d be, because we all knew he was this phenomenal mind, and he still has a phenomenal mind, but the problem is his career has been defined by his flaws, and his flaws are his accuracy is really bad. He tends to miss Mike Evans when he’s wide open every week, and his ball (something) in general is really bad and he combines that with these inexplicable decisions where he throws the ball straight to the defender. Winston is the guy who I’m really fascinated by in general because you can see he’s an outstanding talent and player, but you have to put the performances on the field for it to be actually valuable, or we’ll just be waiting for him to prove he’s not Jay Cutler over the course of his career.

    You talked about Jameis Winston there. He does seem to have an accuracy problem, but how much will he be helped by the skill position help that they got him? Because they seem to now have overwhelming skill help.

    Yeah, they do, and he kinda plays his strengths because the way he moves in the pocket and the way he understands and diagnoses problems, he can mask any offensive line issues; he can play in tight pockets and play against pressure comfortably. So they’re kind of building in the right way in that sense. I think having DeSean Jackson is usually valuable. I’ve talked to you before about how he can alter offenses. I’m not sure his value is going to be as high in Tampa Bay because they always want to push the ball down the field; they run a vertical offense, so every defense is preparing for them to throw the ball down the field, so having Jackson isn’t like adding him to a short passing game where you’re now confused: do you want to cover the short game or a deep game? They’re already going to be covering a deep game, but Evans and Jackson is an unbelievable combination; they’re going to be like Jordan Reed and Jackson in Washington, where they just completely alter what the QB needs to do to get the ball downfield.

    Sell your book with something else in it that might be surprising, or a good fact that might be not in the mainstream.

    I think Cam Newton’s shoulder surgery came out at the end of last year, and when you were watching Cam, he was kind of a contentious point because the offense was going that well, but if you were watching him over the when he couldn’t throw the ball, and this was at a time we didn’t know about the shoulder surgery. We got to week 17 and Cam had the worst game of his career. 11 of his 27 interceptable passes came over the final 2 weeks and in four of the final 5 games the accuracy dropped below 70% even though that only happened five times all season, and that’s the kind of thing you can notice with a trend. You can say about Cam right now that because we know he was injured and his accuracy wasn’t where it was at the start of the year, you can say Cam’s going to be fine moving forward. That said, it brings you back to the issue about how versatile the offensive around him is going to be. That’s all gotten into in great detail in the book.

    Could you see that Andrew Luck was hurt?

    Yeah, very clearly. Andrew Luck went from being a guy who could push the ball 40 yards downfield with a flick of his wrist to a guy who has a slow throwing motion and who had to be methodical. The same is true of Russell Wilson. He had two injuries early in the year, he couldn’t plant his feet and his passes started to float. He was still generally a good QB, but Wilson has had one of the best arms in the league but having a great arm doesn’t matter if you can’t set your feet, so I would expect him to rebound fairly quickly, because last year his passes were floating; it wasn’t just that he was missing throws; he didn’t have full control of his weight when he was releasing the ball.

  178. Reid

    That seems like kind of a simple thing, but it’s fascinating when you consider all the offenses in the league are focusing on short throws and high efficiency. It’s fascinating that Cam’s numbers are going to be compared to guys who are throwing the ball short all the time, and he’s expected to get the same numbers and completion percentage while pushing the ball that far down the field.

    I wonder if Fahey is also thinking about the pass attempts. That is, offenses that rely on short passes, generally pass the ball more, while run-oriented offenses generally pass the ball less. The latter also tends to rely on longer pass plays. If you have two QBs that are equal in quality, but one in the dink-and-dunk offense and the other in the run-first, I could see the percentages being somewhat close

    By the way, for what it’s worth, when I evaluate a QB, I would assess the quality of the throws and decision-making more than completion percentage. This is a good segue to Fahey’s comment about Mariota.

    Mariota is really good with passes in the middle of the field, particularly short and medium range passes. But I think he’s really bad at throw bombs on the outside. Yes, if he played in spread offense that rarely threw on the outside, he’s look a lot better, but the fact that he struggles on those outside bombs is not a small deficiency in my view. Also, I’m still shaky on his ball security. Finally, his footwork also seems like a weakness. (And I imagine some offenses could mask this, but like the ability to throw a good go ball, bad footwork would also be a significant deficiency.)

    I’d choose Carr over Mariota right now.

    …and Colin Kaepernick threw the ball 331 times last year and only threw 7. So it’s the kind of thing that’s just an unbelievable disparity between the two when the way we talk about Kaepernick is the guy who can’t run an offense and the way we talk about Fitzpatrick is average guy.

    If Fahey’s suggesting that Kaepernick’s ball security is actually pretty good, I wouldn’t agree with that. In terms of ball security, I think both Fitzpatrick and Kaepernick aren’t that different–I would have the same level of trust with both. I tend to think Fitzpatrick has better pocket skills than Kap, though. At this point, I’d be very surprised if Kap develops into a decent pocket QB. I think his best bet is to play in an offense like Mike Shula’s.

    You can say about Cam right now that because we know he was injured and his accuracy wasn’t where it was at the start of the year, you can say Cam’s going to be fine moving forward.

    I’m not as sure as Fahey is. Here’s a scenario where I could see he and the Panthers really struggle and have a similar season. Cam takes similar hits as he did last year. The defense doesn’t do as well–they don’t get a lot of turnovers or score–in other words, there aren’t many blow out games. If the Panthers don’t put a string of good games together–if every game is a grind and they can’t get in a groove or they struggle for a series of games, I could see it all going downhill for Cam. In general, when things are going well for Cam, I get the sense that he can find and groove and that feeds his confidence–which creates a positive fly-wheel effect. But if there’s a lot of adversity and he struggles to find a rhythm, I could see the fly-wheel going in a negative direction.

    The same is true of Russell Wilson. He had two injuries early in the year, he couldn’t plant his feet and his passes started to float. He was still generally a good QB, but Wilson has had one of the best arms in the league but having a great arm doesn’t matter if you can’t set your feet, so I would expect him to rebound fairly quickly, because last year his passes were floating; it wasn’t just that he was missing throws; he didn’t have full control of his weight when he was releasing the ball.

    The injuries had to have an impact, but Wilson may not bounce back if the OL is as inconsistent and bad as they were at some points last season. It’s almost impossible for a QB to succeed if he can’t trust his OL. If the Seahawks don’t pick up a good veteran lineman, there’s a good chance this will happen again.

  179. Don

    Man I have to watch a little more of Carr, because I thought the parts I saw he’s clearly better than Mariota. As I said before though, I have been favoring Mariota over Winston. In fact there are times when I saw Winston against the Cowboys and question whether he is even a franchise QB. I agree with Fahey when he says about Winston, “he can play in tight pockets and play against pressure comfortably.” I think for a NFL sophomore, he has those traits. But overall Mariota seems to have more talent throwing the ball.

    The other part I questioned is how Fahey thinks Mariota is good in the pocket. He’s gotten better, but if Brady is the gauge and king of pocket awareness, Mariota is miles behind. Significantly so that I question whether he’ll ever be close to Brady in that area.

    I actually trust Kaep a little more than Fitzpatrick in terms of protecting the ball. And it’s because Kaep may make errors holding the ball too long or staying in the pocket too long and then making bad decisions or just being inaccurate, but overall Kaep errors on the side of being too cautious with his passes. Fitzpatrick is Favre-like in his choices at times. My take on Fitz is the more mistakes he makes the more he’s willing to make, as in the more chances he’ll take, almost counter-intuitively.

  180. Reid

    Man I have to watch a little more of Carr, because I thought the parts I saw he’s clearly better than Mariota.

    I had the same impression (although I think Carr’s ball security seemed to diminish a bit).

    As I said before though, I have been favoring Mariota over Winston.

    I no longer feel this way–or at least I’m less certain now. I don’t think I’ve watched enough of Winston to comment (which is why I didn’t respond to Fahey’s remarks about Winston). In some ways, I feel like Winston has better pocket skills, even though I feel like he seems to move awkwardly.

    Fitzpatrick is Favre-like in his choices at times.

    I agree with this. I think of Fitzpatrick (and Cousins, to some degree) as a gunslinger, without much of a gun.

    When you’re talking ball security between the Kap and Fitz, I think it’s pretty close–especially if you’re talking about a playoff situation. I think Fitz has more pocket skills, but he doesn’t seem to know his limitations. Kap doesn’t seem to have the skills needed to be a good pocket QB–and that translates to turnovers at times. If he could play on a good run-first offense–particularly one designed for his skillset, and a good defense, I could see Kap having success. (This basically describes Carolina.)

    It’s interesting if the Seahawks don’t take Kap, even though he’s available and inexpensive. Actually, it would be quite damning, because I think the Seahawks would want a backup QB who was similar to Russ; so that they don’t have to change the offense much. (Then again, I don’t think Kap is really a great scrambler, and that by itself may lead to changes in the offense.)

  181. Reid

    Here’s a tweet I saw from a fan who does cap and draft analysis:

    This was information that he got from a “leak/dump.” I’m not sure about the source, but it sounds like it was from the Seahawks organization. In any event, if Seahawks were considering going up for a D-lineman this tells me a couple of things:

    1. The Seahawks didn’t believe there were any surefire O-linemen in the draft–or even CBs–at least this is the implication I gather from the thinking;

    2. Or, the Seahawks believed that a few D-linemen could make the biggest impact on the team–more specifically, the defense. (In Hsu’s tweets, he mentions that the Seahawks had Solomon Thomas as the highest rated player in the draft.)

    If the Seahawks were going to move up to get Thomas, if they traded Sherman, my big takeaway is that Pete Carroll would actually be willing to go with defense based on a strong front seven and a relatively weaker secondary. The other possibility is that the existing DBs (or the ones they acquired in the draft) would play at a high level. Carroll might be the greatest DB coach of all-time, but I’m skeptical of this. I don’t believe that between the existing CBs on the roster and whatever rookies they acquired via the draft, that they could find two that were in the same ballpark as Shead and Sherm. (Shead is coming off a torn ACL and might not even play next season.) Therefore, if Carroll would have traded up to get Thomas, I would conclude this means Carroll would be OK with a defense build on the front end.

    I find these bits of information interesting because my sense is that the Seahawks should shift to a front seven based defense–basically, a defense that can shut down running games, primarily with the DL (or at least not heavily involve the safeties and secondary), and neutralize a passing attack from the pass rush more than the coverage. One reason I’m thinking this is that I think more teams are shifting to a run-first pro style approach, particularly against the Seahawks, and the Seahawks defense is designed to stop a spread-based offense.

    I see two options for the Hawks–either get stronger in the front seven or build an offense that can really extend drives and chew up the clock. The details above mildly suggest that the Seahawks are going for the former (while moving away from a suffocating secondary).

  182. don

    The Ringer guys were saying that Seattle’s defensive style is more conducive to having a good front seven than good CBs. They didn’t really go into great detail, but they felt Seattle really missed Bruce Irvin and was having trouble replacing him in the scheme.

    There is talk that Dallas is looking at Kaep as a possible pick-up once Romo’s cap money is freed up. I wouldn’t mind that, but I sort of like Kellen Moore.

  183. Reid

    I’m not sure what they mean by “more conducive” to having a good front seven. Are they thinking about the 4-3 scheme, and maybe specifically the way Carroll runs it? Or are they thinking about the personnel on the team?

    To me, the strength of the team has been the secondary. Additionally, their front seven is predicated more on speed than power/girth, in my view (although they rely on those fireplug tackles that they utilize on first and second downs)–and I should have been clearer about that. They can be a solid run-defense, but their run defense depends on positioning, more than the DL either being immovable or getting good penetration. In Ndamukong Suh’s last year in Detroit (I think), it seemed like it was impossible to run against them. The LBs, Tulloch and Levy, played a big role in that, but I think it started up front. The 2013 Cardinals defense was like that, too, if I recall correctly, with Campbell and Dockett as the foundation against the run. (Niners under Harbaugh were also tough). Seattle’s never been that type of run defense, in my view, and I’m advocating that they shift more towards that approach. This would probably mean that the secondary may not be as good, but if teams are becoming more balanced–and even more run-first when they play against the Seahawks–I’m thinking the counter-move to that would be to beef up the DL–get the four linemen that can blow up running plays and rush the passer. (You can bring in a nickel pass-rusher on 3rd downs.)

    As for Kaep going to the Cowboys, I feel the same way I would if he went to the Seahawks: I’m mostly ambivalent. I could see him being a decent as a backup, especially on a run-oriented team, and even more so if the Cowboys would incorporate Kap’s running into the offense. For a few games, that might work.

  184. Mitchell

    I still think Kaepernick’s agent should be working to get him to Buffalo or Seattle. Not only are those good fits for him, but those QBs are almost sure to make sure he gets some time on the field.

  185. don

    It’s all about price. Back-up QBs get paid well, so keeping that in mind, if Kaep gets paid as an average to a little better than average back-up I would be somewhat thrilled to have him. As I said before, I like Moore though, and I doubt Dallas will keep three QBs on their roster this year like they did last year. I would definitely take Kaep over Drew Stanton and Derek Anderson, two of the so-called better back-ups. I would put him even with Josh McCown, AJ McCarron and maybe even Jimmy Garoppolo. Those guys are better QBs, but I think Kaep’s game experience (especially playoff experience) puts him at worse even with those guys.

    But as I sort of alluded to before, I’m not sure how valuable a back-up QB is. If you have to go to them for any extended amount of time, especially at the end of the season, I doubt the team’s chances of winning a Super Bowl is very high.

  186. Reid

    Oh, Buffalo would be an intriguing spot for Kap, although they have a new coach. Still, I assume they’re going to incorporate QB-running into their offense. It would be interesting if McDermott installs Shula’s offense. If so, that would be a great place for Kap. In that type of offense, I could see him becoming the starter.

    … but those QBs are almost sure to make sure he gets some time on the field.

    Because you expected them to get hurt? I think if Seattle’s OL is competent, I think there’s a good chance Wilson wouldn’t get hurt. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance the OL won’t be competent. 🙁

  187. Reid

    Don,

    I sort of like Moore, too, although–it’s more the idea of him, as I haven’t seen him play a lot. He makes me think of McGloin from the Raiders: he has the intangibles to play the position, but he barely has the physical tools to play the position.

    With Kap, I think the system will make a huge difference. If he’s playing on a team that utilizes him in a conventional, pocket-oriented offense–he’s not going to be very good. If they put him in Shula’s offense or the Shanahan one in RGIII’s rookie year, I think he could return to his glory days. However, I think it’s unlikely I’ll trust him to protect the ball, especially in big games. This can be mitigated if he’s on a team where he doesn’t have to throw the ball a lot.

    But as I sort of alluded to before, I’m not sure how valuable a back-up QB is. If you have to go to them for any extended amount of time, especially at the end of the season, I doubt the team’s chances of winning a Super Bowl is very high.

    As a Cowboy fan, I would think you would value a backup a lot more. Compare 2015 and 2016. Granted, Prescott developed into a started, but suppose he didn’t. Suppose he kept them a float until Romo came back. Wouldn’t that have a lot of value? Compare that to a situation where Matt Cassel was the backup instead of Prescott.

    You could also point to Osweiler/Manning. You could argue that Osweiler saved the season.

    Now, if you’re team isn’t a playoff contender, than the backup probably has little value. But if you are a playoff contender, the backup seems really important.

  188. don

    I get that a good back-up is better than a crappy back-up, but at the same time, I cannot see a likely scenario in which my back-up plays nine games for example, and Dallas still is able to win the Super Bowl. The first nine games might be okay, but even then it would be a long road back. You compound the problem with Dallas having an inexperienced starting QB. New England may get away it, and maybe a few other veterans, but just think if Dak has to come back in Week 13, if the back-up plays week 5-12, and have to win most of the games at the end of the season and then in the playoffs. That’s pretty farfetched, imo.

    In Dallas’ case, Dallas had a throw away season with Romo hurt and they got a few more good draft picks (ie: Elliot) to make them a better team. I would rather have that scenario then hoping my back-up QB can take them to the playoffs.

    I agree there are offenses that would make Kaep a better option at QB then a conventional one. I just think as a back-up he’s savvy enough to play in any offense (again as a back-up). In fact I’m pretty confident Linehan’s offense would sort of be okay with Kaep back there (better than most back-ups).

  189. Reid

    If your team is a playoff contender, in a nine game stretch, a good backup QB can keep you in contention–hopefully, until the starter comes back. This is even more true for teams with strong defenses and good run-first offenses. If Osweiler sucked (let’s say the Broncos had Paxton Lynch in 2015), there’s a good chance they don’t make it to the Super Bowl. And the team was actually good enough to win a Super Bowl if Osweiler had to play.

    As for Kap, I disagree that he’s “savvy enough to play in any offense.” That’s his problem–he lacks the mental/psychological skillset to play in the pocket. The sense I get is that he struggles to read defenses, and tends to panic and make poor decisions when he’s pressured. That’s what I’ve seen since he’s been in the league, and I haven’t noticed any significant improvements. You can mask these deficiencies with a strong defense and a run-heavy offense, that limits his passing attempts, but if you’re in a pass-heavy offense, especially a spread offense, I think he would likely be horrible.

  190. don

    The Ringer guys were talking about the draft and the back-up QB scenario came up. Lombardi said he would, like what the Patriots seem to do, draft a new back-up (Well as long as their starter is their starter, I’m guessing.) every 3-4 years, which is the length of the rookie contract. Lombardi was sort of alluding to what I’m saying in that if you have to rely too much on your back-up, there is virtually no chance of winning a championship anyway. So don’t spend too much on a back-up by always having one that is still in their rookie contract. Then you can develop that newly drafted QB to then either trade him or to become your future starting QB.

    As far as the Broncos, I think that team could have won with just about anybody at QB and I think after seeing what Osweiler has become and what Peyton was that year, they pretty much did.

  191. Reid

    I don’t think the Patriots provide a strong defense for not spending much on backups (and that’s assuming the Patriots don’t use a high draft pick for a QB). I say this because I think the Patriots could achieve a lot of success even if they didn’t have a great backup. Matt Cassel is one bit of evidence for this.

    As far as the Broncos, I think that team could have won with just about anybody at QB and I think after seeing what Osweiler has become and what Peyton was that year, they pretty much did.

    I recall that Osweiler actually played fairly well–to the degree that if he didn’t, they wouldn’t have won those games. The game that comes to mind is the one against the Patriots (in the regular season). Think if the Broncos don’t get home field advantage and have to play the Patriots in Foxboro. I don’t think it’s a given that the Broncos come out winners. I mean, the game in Denver came down to the last play.

  192. Mitchell

    I think you’re forgetting that to the Patriots, the only “lot of success” is winning the Super Bowl. Could they have won the Super Bowl with Cassel? I don’t think so. If Brady goes down, they might make the playoffs, but I don’t think they’re counting on a backup to get them to the last game.

  193. Reid

    Would it be reasonable to expect them to find–and pay for–a backup that could get them to a Super Bowl? Could they be certain that that backup would be significantly better than the backup they would get through their normal procedures?

  194. Mitchell

    Reasonable, I guess, but how many backups like that are out there?

  195. Reid

    Not many. I think it depends on the team, though. If you’ve got a great defense and a great running game, there are probably backups that can get you to, and maybe win a Super Bowl. Really, though, I sort of feel like expecting a backup to not only get you to a Super Bowl, but to win it, is pretty unreasonable. What you’re hoping for is a backup that can keep your playoff hopes alive. (Obviously, this doesn’t apply to teams that have almost no chance of going to the playoffs.)

  196. Mitchell

    So you do agree that the Patriots’ approach to their backup QB, as articulated by Don, is a good idea?

  197. Reid

    It seems pretty good–although haven’t they used fairly high draft picks for Garappolo and the QB before him (whose name escapes me)? My main point was that the Patriots are the best example, as their success seems heavily dependent on their coach.

  198. Mitchell

    I’m confused again. The Patriots are or aren’t the best example? I feel like we’re agreeing but disagreeing and I can’t figure out where.

  199. Don

    although haven’t they used fairly high draft picks for Garappolo and the QB before him

    The Pats strategy isn’t so much about not using high draft picks for their back-ups so much as not paying them after their rookie contract has ended. Garappolo may be the exception to that rule if they think Brady could be done soon. I think the Pats’ thinking is that even if they have to use a high draft pick to get a Garappolo, he would be worth more than that when and if they need to trade him. So in other words, they are sort of “renting” their newly drafted QBs as a back-up to see if they can get more value for them down the road. Basically they don’t seem to want to pay a “career” back-up. I’m agreeing with that strategy.

  200. Don

    Also if New England’s offensive system is so great (ie: They can succeed with any QB.), why don’t others run it exactly the way New England does (a lot of teams do similar things). From what I understand there are a lot of simple concepts in their offense.

  201. Reid

    Mitchell,

    I’m confused again. The Patriots are or aren’t the best example? I feel like we’re agreeing but disagreeing and I can’t figure out where.

    The Patriots aren’t the best example–if we’re advocating an approach that all teams should use.

    Don,

    The Pats strategy isn’t so much about not using high draft picks for their back-ups…

    I thought the primary issue was the degree to which backup QBs are valuable–and, as a result, how much teams should invest in n the backup. If the Patriots are using high draft picks, that’s investing a lot–although the situation is a bit different in that Brady is an older QB, so using high draft picks is about investing for the future, rather than just getting a QB that will just be a backup.

    Also if New England’s offensive system is so great (ie: They can succeed with any QB.), why don’t others run it exactly the way New England does (a lot of teams do similar things). From what I understand there are a lot of simple concepts in their offense.

    First of all, I don’t think the Patriot offense is the only reason for the success–it’s the ability to change their offense, defense and even ST teams, in a chameleon-like way, week to week. I don’t think any coach can do this–which is why I think Belichick is so remarkable. This hypothesis makes sense if you consider a) the Patriots have been remarkably successful since Belichick has been there; b) the NFL is a copycat league, but c) no other team seems to be able to play like them. If other coaches could play like the Patriots, I feel like they would.

  202. Don

    I thought the primary issue was the degree to which backup QBs are valuable–and, as a result, how much teams should invest in n the backup.

    No it’s more about how much they pay the back-ups or more so how much these back-ups cost against the cap. They don’t like to get past the rookie pay scale. I think first round top ten picks for QBs may get the same as back-up QBs, but outside of that, rookie QBs make less than career back-ups.

  203. Reid

    What I meant is the issue we were discussing. I thought you brought up how the Patriots handle their backup QB situation as part of that broader, initial discussion.

  204. Don

    I thought you brought up how the Patriots handle their backup QB situation as part of that broader, initial discussion.

    Yes, but I never meant to infer that the Patriots wouldn’t spend high draft picks on their QB (nor do I remember ever mentioning it), only that they wouldn’t want to retain him, if possible, past their rookie contract.

  205. Reid

    Yes, but I never meant to infer that the Patriots wouldn’t spend high draft picks on their QB (nor do I remember ever mentioning it),…

    I think I mentioned it first–but that point is relevant to the larger question, right? If the Patriots spend a high draft pick on a QB, especially when they already have a great QB, then shouldn’t that be seen as “spending” quite a big on a backup?

  206. Mitchell

    LeGarrette Blount is signing with the Eagles. I honestly don’t know what to think about the Eagles anymore.

  207. Reid

    My vague sense is that the Eagles are shifting to a more offensive-oriented team. I say this because they seem to have let go key pieces on defense while picking up (expensive?) pieces on offense. (I’m not really including Blount in this.) This sort of fits with the HC being a former OC.

  208. Reid

    Kaepernick’s meeeting with the Seahawks. I’m not a fan of his, but I was actually warming to the idea of him as a backup. However, I realized something that changed my mind. It’s likely that Seattle’s OL will be unreliable, leading to a shaky run game and inconsistent, if not poor, pass protection. This is a bad situation for Kaepernick. Some may think Kaepernick, because of his athleticism, is a good scrambler. I’m not one of them. While he can make plays scrambling, especially taking off and running, I think these are situations where he tends to make costly mistakes. The ideal situation for him is a team that can run the ball well, limiting his pass attempts, and give him great pass protection when he does pass. I think there’s less chance of this happening in Seattle. Because of this, a team like the Cowboys looks like the better destination for him.

    On another note, I’m wondering if this might be the best offseason for the Patriots–at least offensively. They lost Bennett, but they picked up Dwayne Allen (TE) and Brandin Cooks (WR). So far, they still have Michael Floyd, too. This might be the most weapons Brady has had since the 2007 team.

    Actually, they seem to have done well on defense, too–picking up Kony Ealy (losing Jabaal Sheard, though) and Stephon Gilmore.

  209. Mitchell

    Jeremy Maclin released by the Chiefs. You know what’s weird? I can’t think of a team that wouldn’t be better by adding him, assuming every team could afford him. It’s easy to think of teams that would be bad from his point of view (the Sporting News mentioned Baltimore, but I wouldn’t wish the Ravens on anyone with actual talent this coming season).

    I don’t know what the Redskins cap looks like, but for some reason I’m thinking he’d look good there. Maybe because of the gunslinger QB.

  210. Reid

    I can’t think of a team that wouldn’t be better by adding him, assuming every team could afford him.

    His price tag is key. I perked up when I heard he was released–as I initially felt like he could be a good addition to another team–and, like you mentioned, almost any team would benefit. But in thinking about this more, I think Maclin, at best is really good #2 WR. I’m not skeptical that he perform at that level now. So I’m thinking he would be a good #3 guy, a supplemental WR that could nudge an offense to the next level, assuming the team has a solid #1 and #2.

  211. Reid

    For what it’s wroth, I’m just going to say that if there aren’t problems with Richard Sherman and the Seahawks this year, I’ll be surprised (pleasantly). The reporting has just strengthened my impression that Sherm’s ego has gotten too big, and I don’t get the sense that it’s “shrunk.” If it did, I’d expect certain type of comments from coaches and teammates–e.g., “Richard has grown in really tremendous ways; I’m really proud of him, etc.”

    If I’m right, then the smarter move would have been to try send him to another team.

  212. mitchell

    Maclin is a Raven. I think this is a terrible move for him. Maybe for anyone.

  213. Reid

    You mean, terrible for both Maclin and the Ravens? Why do you think it’s a terrible move for Maclin? I think Marty Mornhinwig is still their OC, and he’s a west coast offense guy, which I assume would be good for Maclin.

  214. Mitchell

    Terrible for Maclin and anyone else who signs on this year. Good for the Ravens, obviously. Something about the Ravens (and I like the players and head coach) tells me they’re at the beginning of a long slide into sub-mediocrity. They’ve already begun the slide, and I don’t think anyone’s really calling them on it because of their recent history.

  215. Reid

    Do you have any idea who the Ravens picked up and lost in the off season? I have no idea, but I’ve been going into each season, thinking they would be better than they turned out to be. To be fair, I think they’ve had some serious injuries in the last two years. I think the key with them is getting their run game going.

    I understand that Maclin turned down the Bills to sign with the Ravens. I think that was a good choice.

  216. Mitchell

    Well it’s not a bad choice if those were his two options. The Bills are in the Patriots’s division, while the Ravens only have to beat the Steelers, Bengals, and Browns. I remember looking at the pluses and minuses for the Ravens roster some time ago and not being impressed, but I don’t remember specifics.

  217. Reid

    I’m curious to know how sure Benoit is about this. This doesn’t sound like a great move to me (and Benoit sounds like he agrees)> My guess is that the Panthers might be incorporating more quick-strike pass plays into their run/option offense.

    Edit

    Pretty cool podcast from the MMQB.com. I only listened to the section with Ross Tucker, and I thought it was interesting.

  218. Mitchell

    That’s why he’s Riverboat Ron!

    Eric Decker to the Titans. He seems like a good choice for Marcus. Did you know that over the past 3 (I think) years, Decker has the second-most redzone TD catches in the NFL? The first most is Brandon Marshall! Why aren’t the Jets in the playoffs every season?

  219. Reid

    How is the switch to a more quick-strike pass offense fitting to Mr. Riverboat?

    You’re a big Decker fan, yeah? If the price is right, the move seems like a good one, although I think they need some speed. Also, I’m more focused on Mariota’s ball security and footwork (which I think will help his deep passes). And maybe more than this, I’m thinking more about their defense.

  220. Mitchell

    I actually don’t know how it applies to being Riverboat Ron, except that you were saying the move doesn’t make sense for Cam, so it’s Ron rolling the dice again.

    I had zero belief in Decker as a receiver. I was certain that Peyton MADE him and that as soon as he left, he was going to disappear (like a lot of other former Manning targets). I was right for a year, and then he had that amazing (fantasy) season where he was catching one TD a game. I love that. He wasn’t averaging one a game (as in, two this week and zero next week, which can drive a fantasy owner crazy). He was scoring one a game. I didn’t get a lot of points on yards from him, but that one TD per game was bliss.

    So then I just started liking him even when he wasn’t on my team anymore. Plus you have to root for white receiver.

  221. Reid

    … so it’s Ron rolling the dice again.

    OK, got it.

    Those hidden players that can score one TD per game (or come close to it), can be pretty cool finds when you’re playing fantasy football. I had some players like that, but they didn’t literally score one TD per game.

  222. Reid

    I believe the Raiders made Derek Carr the highest paid player. All in all, while I don’t think Carr is the best QB, I think the move makes sense. Unless the cap stops going up, my guess is that in a few years this deal is going to look good for the Raiders. I’m saying this with the assumption that Carr turns out to be a really good QB. I believe he is a franchise QB, someone that can lead a team to the Super Bowl. What I’m less certain about is how good he’ll be. I think he could eventually a top three QB and potentially a hall of fame QB. Right now, I’d say I like Russell Wilson’s and Luck’s chances of being in the hall of fame, than Carr, but not by a lot. I think at worst, Carr will be on the level of Flacco, and I don’t think that’s likely (i.e., I think he’ll be better).

  223. Mitchell

    Highest paid of all time if you go by per-year amounts. I have mixed feelings, but whatever. He’s a good QB and it looks like all the commenters think this is a good move.

  224. Reid

    What do you think the final standings in the NFC South will look like at the end of the regular season? I ask this because I saw a short ESPN segment on this the other day. I really clueless with regard to the changes in the rosters, but I feel like this will be a hard division to predict.

    Here are some of my comments, going team by team:

    1. Carolina: I guess if I had to choose, I’d pick them to win the division, although this is close to blind guess. I know they have changes to their personnel, but I have no idea how this will impact the team.

    2. Buccaneers: I have no sense about the quality of their defense, but, on paper, the offense seems like it could be really formidable (assuming that their OL is decent, which I don’t know to be the case at all).

    3. Saints: I tend to think they will be solid, but I have zero idea of how much or if their defense will improve. If they don’t improve much, I tend not to favor them, unless the other teams do poorly (including due to injuries).

    4.Falcons: While I don’t really know the effects of personnel changes, two things stand out for me. First, I think losing Shanahan could have a significant negative impact on the offense. Second, I think getting over the Super Bowl loss will be a huge challenge, and I think it’s going to negatively impact. How much, I’m not sure. It’s possible that the defense gets even better–and that could make a huge difference.

  225. Mitchell

    This was a fun read. Bleacher Report’s most dominating players at each position.

  226. Reid

    Comments about the piece:

    I really like Joey Bosa. I expect him to be a dominant player–maybe along the lines of JJ Watt.

    I would chose Von Miller over Khalil Mack.

  227. don

    It’s sort of splitting hairs but here are my comments:

    Matt Ryan over Russell Wilson is absurd. Matt Ryan over Cam is sort of absurd as well.
    David Johnson is a complete back with amazing talent, but I would rather have Bell on my team. I might even want Elliott on my team over D Johnson as well.
    I thought Whitworth and the rest of the Bengals OL had a tough year last year. Hard to believe Whitworth is going to have a better year than Tyron Smith next year (barring injury).
    I heard Yanda is a bad man, and a furious competitor. However, most people think Zack Martin is a much greater athlete especially getting to the outside in the zone blocking scheme. I think most think Tyron is best o-linemen on the Cowboys, but many don’t have Martin that far behind.
    My understanding is Zack Martin makes Travis Frederick better (maybe some would say Frederick makes Zack better as well), but I think apart pundits feel Martin would fare much better than Frederick.
    Brandon Graham, who I only heard of his name, was ranked over Bennett, Vernon, and JPP? I have to pay attention to this guy.
    Richard Sherman was picked over Patrick Peterson, Desmond Trufant, and Josh Norman (who pundits were saying had an underrated year last year). I like Sherm’s ability/willingness to play the run so I’m not completely saying this ranking is incorrect. Just pointing out who was left off of this list.
    I didn’t realize McCourty was that good. I have heard a lot of good things about Reshad Jones from Miami, who wasn’t on this list.

  228. Reid

    Matt Ryan over Russell Wilson is absurd.

    Yes. For some reason, I just didn’t care enough to react to this. I’d also choose Rodgers over Brady. I’d choose Phillip Rivers and maybe Roethlisberger over Brees, Ryan, and Newton.

    David Johnson is a complete back with amazing talent, but I would rather have Bell on my team. I might even want Elliott on my team over D Johnson as well.

    Johnson seemed too high for me as well, and I like Bell and Elliot over him, I think.

    Brandon Graham, who I only heard of his name, was ranked over Bennett, Vernon, and JPP? I have to pay attention to this guy.

    I wouldn’t choose him over Bennett, for what that’s worth.

  229. Mitchell

    Well, they did say Johnson was the toughest call in the toughest position. I would have said Elliott first and Johnson second, only because I think teams are going to figure Bell out and he’ll still be good but not ridiculous, as he was this year.

    I only saw the Raiders play twice last year (I think), in the playoffs and in that late-season Mexico game. So yeah: two games against the Texans. So I’m not in a place where I can rate Mack. But clearly, his opponents think he’s great. I want to make it a point to watch him this year.

  230. Reid

    Bell’s been one of the best backs for a couple of years in my view. I would have had him over Johnson for sure. Is there anyone else out there? I feel like we’re missing someone.

  231. Mitchell

    Well Rawls of course!

  232. Reid

    Rawls hasn’t played enough. If he can stay healthy, and the OL is solid, he could be up there. (Lacy, too, for that matter.)

  233. Reid

    QB Discussion: Derek Carr vs…

    How good is Derek Carr? Would you take him over Luck? Flacco? Dalton? Ryan?

    Vs. Luck: I’m taking Luck, but I continue to be a big fan of Luck. My sense is that Luck just as a bad supporting cast (and I feel like he’s playing for a bad organization). My guess is that the ball-security issues are a temporary problem that could get better.

    Having said that, I think Carr could be as good if not better.

    Vs. Dalton or Ryan: I’m taking Carr. Here’s the thing about those two QBs: if they have a really good supporting cast, they can be really good (although I don’t have much faith in them in the clutch). With less than a strong supporting cast, I think they would be mediocre. Now, even the performance of the best QBs will drop with a weaker supporting cast. But the drop in performance shouldn’t be that significant.

    To be fair to Ryan, I thought his OL was shaky in pass protection, but he played well under those circumstances. This is probably the best I’ve seen him.

    Ultimately, though, I lump Ryan in with QBs like Palmer, Dalton, Eli, maybe Cousins. These are QBs that can be quite good, even spectacular with a really good supporting cast (especially good pass protection). But if they don’t have this, they can just be average or less. (Maybe Cam Newton would be in this bunch as well.)

    To some degree, I could say this about Stafford and Flacco, but I actually like them more than the others–especially Flacco. I think Flacco needs a lot of help, but I like his poise. (However, this is based heavily on a short sample.)

    Where does this leave Carr? To me, Carr is an unknown in this regard. He could be like a Palmer, Ryan, etc. Or, he could be more in the class of an Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson. I heard someone say that Carr is one of the most overrated players in the league. That could be true, but I think there’s a possibility that he could be a top 3 QB at some point.

    (I’d say the same about Mariota, maybe Winston–although I think Mariota’s chances for being top 3 is slightly better.)

  234. Mitchell

    I really want to have an opinion about this, but I just haven’t seen him play enough.

  235. Mitchell

    But I did enjoy this breakdown of Derek Carr’s contract and whether or not he’ll be able to live up to it, based on what value it adds to his team. Cian Fahey basically compares the Raiders to the Saints team that won the Super Bowl.

  236. don

    Luck and Carr are pretty close for me, the rest are not.

    The Ringer had a podcast about “assessing value” in the NFL. Basically it was about who should be paid the most next season. They separated the podcasts into two sections: QBs and non-QBs. In fact I think they were estimating that the tenth most valuable QB is still a little more valuable than the first non-QB. They used Stafford as an example of a QB as questionable whether he is more valuable than the best non-QB. I think both hosts still picked Stafford. The top five valuable non-QBs were isolated to two positions. If I gave you the positions you probably could guess the five players or at least get close. What two positions do you think are considered the most valuable non-QB?

  237. Mitchell

    Left tackle and defensive end?

  238. don

    Mitchell,

    Thanks for the link. I remember reading a couple articles from that website last year, but I forgot about it. Good article.

    The latest article on that website is about Mariota. Fahey seems to love Mariota.

  239. Reid

    Don,

    Luck and Carr are pretty close for me, the rest are not.

    Meaning, you’d definitely take Carr over the others? For me, Flacco is pretty close, although Carr’s potential upside might give him the edge.

    They used Stafford as an example of a QB as questionable whether he is more valuable than the best non-QB.

    That’s interesting. So, Stafford over Von Miller, JJ Watt, Khalil Mack? Man, I don’t know–that’s pretty close for me. If we’re talking Miller vs. Stafford, I think I lean toward Miller.

    What two positions do you think are considered the most valuable non-QB?

    Is DE and outside 3-4 LB counted as the same or different? If they’re different, I’d choose these two positions, I think.

    If we’re talking about a pass-rusher, and another position, I’m not sure what position, I’d choose. I think it depends on the nature of the question. If we’re talking about positions, generally, I might say CB. LT would be in there for consideration as well.

    But I think a really good DT or S is really valuable. I sort of feel the same about a really good C as well.

  240. don

    After listening to the podcasts my exact thoughts were I would have thought left tackle and defensive ends were going to be the majority chosen. But only one of those are correct.

  241. Reid

    Mitchell,

    Some comments on the Fahey piece.

    The Seahawks kept their defense in tact and prioritised putting weapons around Wilson because the quarterback doesn’t need ideal conditions in the pocket to be effective. He’s not the type of passer who will drop back and deliver the ball on time every play. Wilson is at his best when the play breaks down and he can create off the cuff, threatening the defense underneath with his feet while keeping his eyes up to punish them with precision deep passes if they move too soon.

    It’s not necessarily that Wilson makes his offensive line better. He does allow the offense to function without a competent offensive line though.

    I agree with this passage–and it’s mostly positive. The part I have bolded feels like a veiled insult, though. The evidence to me suggests that Wilson would be able to consistently throw the ball on time–if he had consistent pass protection and solid pass-catchers (The latter not always the case.). On a side note, I saw a stat that said Wilson was under pressure 46% of his snaps last year. I don’t put a lot of stock in stats, but that seems crazy high, and I’m skeptical. Still, I do think he was under a lot of pressure. The crazy thing is that the Seahawks relied more on spread, quick passing plays.

    Re: Fahey’s comments about the Raiders

    I tend to agree that the Raiders will have to be more offensive-oriented, although I don’t know if that’s because the cap skews heavily toward the offense, preventing the Raiders from building a good defense. The bigger problem might be that they just haven’t hit on enough draft picks and free agents (e.g., Sean Smith, Bruce Smith).

    I disagree slightly with the “dynamic wide receivers” comment–if he means that this is a good group. A part of me feels like this group may seem better than they actually are. For one thing, I don’t think much of Crabtree, even as a #2. If we hate to rate the best #2s in the league, he’s not someone that would quickly come to mind. I also think that while Cooper is solid, he also don’t seem like an elite WR–at least not an elite #1. Name all the very best WRs, and I think he’s right outside that group. Could he get better? I hope so, but right now, he’s not a great WR. Also, both of these two guys drop too many gimmes, in my opinion.

    The other WRs and TEs would be solid, I guess, if Crab and Cooper were really good. They’re kinda inconsistent to me. (I’m not expecting much from the TE that came over from the Packers, either–can’t remember his name, now.)

  242. don

    Reid,

    I think we’ve had this conversation a hundred times, but I’m not a Flacco fan. And I’m not in the minority, a lot of pundits don’t think that highly of him. I don’t think he would be in my top ten QBs.

    I’m pretty sure safeties are not well paid, but I agree they are valuable. Earl Thomas seems be the center of that Seattle defense and is a huge reason they can play that “one-high” defense which really helps in stopping the run. Landon Collins and Tyrann Mathieu both put up huge numbers and were really impactful the last two years.

  243. Reid

    Don,

    I’m not sure about pundits, but other people I talk to don’t think much of Flacco–so I know I’m in the minority. Here’s the thing with him (and I’m sure I’ve said this before): He’s not the type of guy that you can build around. Instead, he’s an ideal QB for a good run-first offense. Put him in that type of offense, and he will do well. Equally important, he can make the few handful of plays AND protect the football–both of which you need to win the Super Bowl.

    In a way, while these QBs can’t “single-handedly” win games, carry a team for long stretches, or put up big numbers–they’re the type of QB that pairs up well with a good run game. (And Flacco can throw the deep ball.)

    I think Kirk Cousins best chance is to be a QB like this. Same with Dalton (although I don’t know if they can protect the ball and make plays in the big games).

    While these QBs aren’t spectacular, they’are actually very rare, which is kind of odd when you think about it. What’s being asked is pretty modest, compared to QBs in more QB-centric offenses. But they’re still hard to find.

    Re: safeties

    Yeah, they’re important, but you’re mention some of the best. (And Mattieu was unreal a few years ago.) And if you have those type of players at safety, yes they’re valuable. But overall is that position super valuable? I’m less sure about that.

    By the way, what was the second most important position.

  244. don

    So put Flacco on Dallas’ team last year and he would look brilliant. But that was the knock on Dak that he looked good because he was on Dallas’ team. I think for a QB to be considered one of the best, they need to be more than just good behind a good supporting cast.

    Yes I mentioned some of the best safeties but no linebackers have had the impact Landon and Mattieu had the last two years. Because offensives have changed, safeties impact seem to have change as well, making them more valuable.

    I wasn’t sure if Mitchell didn’t want me to say, but it was defensive end and wide receiver. So the top guys picked were Miller, Mack, and then Beckham, Julio, and Ant Brown, Watt was in there as well but his injury sort of made him fall. I think part of it is these are the highest paid players, but the Ringers guys’ argument was that nobody affects a game more than these guys outside of QBs. And that’s sort of true. This kind of goes hand-in-hand with how corners are no longer asked to be in “cat coverage”. Deion’s impact would be as great as an Ant Brown if he took away half the field, but no corners are asked to do that anymore. On the other hand defenses have to game plan for these receivers.

  245. Reid

    Don,

    Yeah, I think Flacco would have looked good with the Cowboys and that they would have been successful, possibly going all the way.

    I think for a QB to be considered one of the best, they need to be more than just good behind a good supporting cast.

    Put aside the question of best QB, for a moment. (I certainly don’t think Flacco is the best QB.) What do you mean by “more than just good?” If you mean, putting up high-volume statistics, I don’t agree with that. If you mean, they can make keep plays in big moments, while avoiding disastrous ones–if you even mean that they can occasionally carry a team–I agree with you. A Super Bowl QB has to be able to do these things. But they may not put numbers like Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers.

    Yes I mentioned some of the best safeties but no linebackers have had the impact Landon and Mattieu had the last two years. Because offensives have changed, safeties impact seem to have change as well, making them more valuable.

    You could be right about safeties. But for LBs, a player like Kuechly or Bowman (in his prime), they could have a big impact. I think of Wagner as well.

    A great DT like Aaron Donald can be really huge as well, but those players are so rare, it seems.

    The WR choice kinda surprises me. If you think of players like AB, Julio, Bryant–yeah, then the position seems important. But that’s similar to thinking about Earl Thomas when thinking about the importance of safeties. If you take the best players out of the equation, how important is the position? I would guess that’s what they’re asking.

    In general, WRs and CBs, to some degree, seem less important because of the spread offense. In the conventional pro set, they seem more critical. Similarly, the spread has diminished the value of RBs–maybe even the LTs. Meanwhile, QBs and pass rushers may be even more important.

  246. Mitchell

    The last six Super Bowl winners:
    Patriots
    Broncos
    Patriots
    Seahawks
    Ravens
    Giants

    Did any of these teams have all-pro caliber WR1s?

  247. Reid

    Patriots: No, but Gronk would sort of count.
    Broncos: No, unless you count Demaryius Thomas. (I wouldn’t really count him–not that season.)
    Patriots: Same as above.
    Seahawks: No, not really.
    Ravens: Not really.
    Giants: They had a good trio, but I would say no. (Man, I can’t even remember who they were: Mario Manningha…Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith–I had to look up the last two.)

  248. Don

    But for LBs, a player like Kuechly or Bowman (in his prime), they could have a big impact. I think of Wagner as well.

    From what I hear, Kuechly is unique. He impacts the passing game probably more or as much as he does the run game by being a great cover guy. He is like another safety on the field. I’m not sure if Bowman and Wagner would have a similar impact as those safeties that I mentioned. They definitely have huge impacts, but I wonder if they are players offenses have to game plan around. I’m guessing they are guys offenses needs to concerned about, more than game plan around.

    The WR choice kinda surprises me. If you think of players like AB, Julio, Bryant–yeah, then the position seems important. But that’s similar to thinking about Earl Thomas when thinking about the importance of safeties. If you take the best players out of the equation, how important is the position?

    But The Ringer podcasts was about individuals. Those individuals just happen to all play the same position, and so I grouped them. Maybe you are right and if they assessed positions, WR wouldn’t be as high as other positions.

  249. Don

    In terms of left tackles the best are probably Trent Williams, Tyron Smith, Joe Thomas, maybe Bakhtiari and Donald Penn. None of them have ever won a Super Bowl as well.

  250. Mitchell

    Right. Of course a great LT doesn’t necessarily take his team to the Super Bowl. But the better question would be if any recent Super Bowl winners have won without a great LT. I honestly have no idea.

    PS: Tyron Smith is one of the few guys on the OL I specifically watch. I guess that’s partially because the Cowboys are always on TV, but it’s also because he’s noticeably amazing.

  251. Reid

    But The Ringer podcasts was about individuals.

    Oh, OK, that’s slightly different, then. Here are some names I’d choose:

    Von Miller
    Aaron Donald
    JJ Watt (if he were healthy)
    Luke Kuechly
    Earl Thomas
    Julio Jones
    Rob Gronkowski
    Khalil Mack
    (I think Joey Bosa could get in this list soon.)

    Mitchell,

    But the better question would be if any recent Super Bowl winners have won without a great LT.

    Who was the LT for the last two Super Bowls for the Patriots? Broncos. Seahawks–unless you think Okung is great.

  252. Don

    Actually Donald and Watt was in the conversation on the podcasts as well.

    Your list is in order? You have Mack behind all those guys? Wow.

  253. Mitchell

    Did you guys hear that Khalil Mack signed an endorsement agreement with Mack Trucks? Genius!

  254. Reid

    Don,

    My list wasn’t in order.

    Mitchell,

    I saw that. Makes total sense.

  255. Reid

    from USA Today Mariota’s Trainer Convinced Him to Slim Down, Against Coaches’s Wishes

    “I have always told Marcus that I thought he should play at 215 pounds because I felt like he was the fastest at that weight. The No. 1 injury QBs suffer in the NFL is AC sprain and that’s from getting hit. I told him that they can’t hit what they can’t catch so he should think about playing at a weight where he is his fastest.

    Is it me, or does this seem wrong? IF he’s in the pocket, the extra padding seems way more valuable than extra speed. In the pocket, the latter is has almost little value at all, in my view.

    Now, if they’re going to have Mariota run with the ball a lot, that’s a different story perhaps, but I don’t get the sense that they’re going to do that. Or, I’ll put it another way: he’s still going to spend a lot of time in the pocket.

    (The article makes essentially the same point.)

  256. Don

    Reid,

    You might like Fahey’s article on Mariota if you didn’t already read it: NFL’s Overlooked Superstar.

    That reminds me I wanted to ask who you guys think will have a better year between Winston, Mariota, Dak, and Wentz?

    I don’t think Mariota’s weight will benefit him a whole lot either way. He’s too slight that a few pounds will make a difference, and nobody’s fast enough to always avoid big hits. He just needs to become more comfortable in the pocket which will increase his awareness and reduce his chances of taking a big hit (ala Tom Brady).

  257. Reid

    Don,

    I skimmed the article before, and read more of it recently. I don’t really agree with comparing him to Brady or Roethlisberger (although I guess I can see why he’d choose the former). I think of someone like Aaron Rodgers–not on that level, but in terms of skill set.

    I do agree with Fahey that a spread offense would suit Mariota better–something like Mike McCoy’s/Adam Gase’s offense or even Belichick’s. (It would be something to see if Belichick incorporated Mariota’s running, which I think he would to some degree.) Actually, I have a feeling Whisenhunt’s offense would have been good fit, especially after he came from working with McCoy. (I like Whisenhunt as an OC. He might be the best at using a spread offense, while incorporating a power running game.)

    I’m also still not totally sold on Mariota’s ball security. Also, I think he needs work on his footwork and deep ball. (That makes me wish he were in a west coast system.)

    By the way, you know I don’t favor a spread offense, but I could see him putting up big numbers in such a system.

    As for his weight, I think the extra ten pounds could make a significant difference in protecting him.

  258. Reid

    Forgot to answer this:

    That reminds me I wanted to ask who you guys think will have a better year between Winston, Mariota, Dak, and Wentz?

    I have a hard time answering this. Winston and Wentz have gotten more weapons. Mariota as well. I have no clue, and I would be guessing. Wentz and Prescott may struggle because defenses have a better game plan for them, and if that’s true, then that leaves Winston and Mariota. Between them, Winston’s weapons seem better (not sure about his O-line). He has an offensive-minded HC. Mularkey may have an OC background, but I think he’s more conservative. That points to Winston having the best year, in terms of numbers.

    If we go by the way I evaluate QBs, I might choose Mariota–with the idea (hope) that his ball security would be better. I’m also thinking Prescott’s ball security should be solid, unless the pass pro and running game struggle.

  259. Reid

    Comments on this:

    Agree and disagree on some of this.

    Turning Cam into a pocket QB isn’t going to make things easier for Cam (and Cowherd clearly recognizes this at the end), but Cam’s health, his availability and longevity, are really the key issue here to me. Cowherd mention success of pocket QBs over running QBs, but I think that’s secondary–specifically in relation to Cam. Normally, I agree: you gotta be a really good pocket QB to win it all. You can run like Young and Wilson, but ultimately you have to perform in the pocket. I think someone like Cam is an exception–or, to be more specific, his pocket play seems to be good enough at this point, for him to win it all–if he continues to play in the offense that utilizes his running. I think that last caveat is critical. Put Cam in a conventional offense, and I’m not sure his pocket skills would be adequate.

    If the Panthers are trying to transition Cam into a pocket QB (like how Harbaugh tried to with Kaepernick), primarily because of protecting Cam physically, that makes sense. It makes less sense–or seems like a riskier proposition–to make this move to try and get him to develop more as a pocket QB. Why riskier? He may never have the ability to do this, and the team would be forcing him into something he’s not, taking away a strength, and then maybe hurting his confidence or psychology. It could also be really disruptive to the team and the offense. Now, if, in their assessment, the Panthers feel like a) Cam can make the transition, and; b) he’s totally on board with this, then the move makes sense.

    But if one or both isn’t the case, this is a dicier proposition. I’m guessing they have to believe that Cam can make the transition. Then again, maybe they’ve determined that Cam won’t last playing the current style, so they have to try to transition him, even if there’s a 50/50 chance it may fail.

    A part of me feels like they should keep the style, but try to modify it for safer runs. Well, that’s probably what they’re going to do, anyway.

    (I still would like to see Kaepernick go there.)

  260. Mitchell

  261. Reid

    I know we discussed this before, but let’s get an update on where you guys on ranking the newer QBs (came in the last two or three years). Candidates: Prescott, Carr, Wentz, Siemian, Mariota, Winston, Goff…anyone else I’m missing? Let’s not count the rookies this year.

    I’m going to answer this in terms of who I think has the best chances for being a really good QB (say, top 3):

    1. Carr
    2. Prescott
    3. Wentz
    4. Mariota

    The difference between these for is pretty slim in my view. Physically, I like Carr and Mariota, and based on their physical skillset alone, I think they have the highest upside. I still have questions about Mariota’s ball security and ability to throw the perimeter deep ball. I wish both Carr and Mariota improve a lot on their footwork.

    Wentz and Prescott have impressed me with their poise. In some ways, I want to put Wentz ahead of Prescott because I feel like he had a bigger burden to carry, and handled it well. With Prescott, I’m not if Prescott could do the same in a similar situation. But I’d be surprised at this point, if he really slips significantly.

    5. Winston

    My sense is that he’ll be like an Eli or Matt Ryan. Potentially a top QB with a great supporting cast, but far less without it.

    6. Siemian

    I really like Siemian, but he seems to have a lot of physical limitations. Could be a great backup or a potential starter on a good running team. I really like his poise and level-headed play in the pocket. He seems to have really good footwork, too.

    7. Goff

    Didn’t really impress me at all. Also, the Memphis QB–Lynch–he also didn’t impress me. Both Goff and Lynch seem like a long way off from being really good.

  262. Reid

    Injuries continue to disgust me

    Ravens: Nick Siragusa, torn ACL;

    Seahawks: Malik McDowell (vehicular accident, broken his orbital bone; first reports possibility out for the year)

  263. don

    I’ll go Carr number one for the next three years. I’m not 100% sold on the Raiders success, but I think Carr will play well. Fahey seem to be saying Carr has lazy footwork in the pocket and not always setting his foot before throwing the ball and isn’t particularly accurate even when he does. I thought Carr was pretty good in the pocket and in terms of accuracy average in short range, but pretty good in medium to long range passes. My problem with Carr is he needs to be a little more judicious. I don’t see him as careless like I view Eli for example, but he just needs to make better decisions overall.

    Mariota would be my second pick. I sort of agree with Fahey in saying Mariota is good in terms of accuracy (being compared to Rodgers) and his ability to go through his progressions (being compared to Brady). I mean compared to those two guys may seem extreme, but I can see where he’s coming from. He lacks Brady’s pocket awareness and Rodgers ability to extend plays. Mariota can be good outside the pocket, but I don’t necessarily see it in the way Rodgers is able buy time and make plays.

    Wentz would be my third pick. I really like what I see in him. However, a lot of the pundits are not quite as high on Wentz as I first thought. Wentz started the year pretty hot (ie: not really making mistakes), but towards the end he wasn’t playing as well. I heard a lot of pundits criticize his accuracy and even his decisions. I just like how poised he seems in the pocket and his arm strength.

    I’ll go Dak fourth. I like all his intangibles. In fact out of all the QBs listed I think Dak plays with the most poise and he seems to be the most judicious with his throws. In terms of tangibles, Dak has good physical abilities like a strong arm and great feet, but he doesn’t seem to have the accuracy, touch, or timing of the guys I pick above him. Although the criticisms of Wentz makes me wonder if he is a better thrower than Dak.

    Winston would be fifth. I just am never impressed when I watch him. Don’t get me wrong I think he’s a good QB, just not a great one. I like the comparison with Eli, but not for the same reasons as Reid. I don’t necessarily think either Winston or Eli can be a top QB with a good supporting cast, but they are good enough. I think I compare Winston with Eli in terms of them making a few head-scratching throws a game.

    I have Siemian sixth. I like Siemian more than just a back-up. He is pretty poised, but he just seems hesitant to pull the trigger sometimes ala Alex Smith. Of course that’s because of inexperience (although I don’t see that in Wentz) so it may change, but I worry overall about him moving forward especially with Paxton waiting in the wings.

    I’ll go Goff last. I think my first impression is that Goff seems okay and I think he will show he deserves to be a starter in this league next year. I just am not confident he’ll be as good as the others listed.

    To answer my own question for next year I like Mariota, Dak, Wentz and then Winston.

  264. don

    My question is for next season you had to bet on three teams to win the Super Bowl not named the Patriots. Who you got?

  265. don

    Oooh and one of your three teams has to be a non-playoff team from last year.

  266. Reid

    Re: Carr

    I agree that his footwork needs work, and I do have some concerns about his ball security. (His ball security seemed better in his first year.) However, I tend to think his accuracy is not as bad as Fahey suggests. I’m not entirely confident on that, though.

    Re: Mariota

    I don’t see him as a guy who excels at extending plays, either. However, a part of me things that Rodgers seems really good at this because his offense line is so good. Even when the pass rush gets by, the overall integrity of the pocket is so sound, that it provides good lanes/space for Rodgers to move. I don’t mean to downgrade Rodgers’s scrambling too much, here, but I want to point out that it may appear better than it is because of the pass protection. Relating this to Mariota, if Mariota played on the Packers, it’s conceivable that he could/would be able to extend plays like Rodgers.

    Re: Wentz

    I think it’s important to remember that his pass-catchers weren’t very good–that is, they seemed to struggle to get open, and, if I recall, they dropped balls quite a bit. The importance for having WRs/TEs that can consistently get open seems obvious, but I feel like this is an underrated component when analyzing a QB. If almost every throw requires threading the needle, that can really hurt the QB’s game overall, even for good QBs. Again, sounds obvious, but I don’t get the sense people acknowledge this–and the situation with Wentz might be an example of that.
    I’m not worried that Wentz slipped a bit near the end. I think the problem had to do with supporting cast more than him.

    Re: Prescott

    While Wentz faced a lot of tight windows, I think Prescott was in the opposite situation. I feel like he had a lot of wide-open targets to hit. I think this allows QBs to build a lot of confidence, and allows them to complete the more difficult throws when they occur. This is one of the question marks I have with Dak: if WRs/TEs are having more difficulty getting open, will this not have a big negative impact on his accuracy?

    (Having written all of this, I think I would put Wentz ahead of Prescott, in terms of how confident I am about their futures.)

    Re: Winston

    I agree about head-scratching throws that are comparable to Eli. But I think with a good supporting cast, I think he could look like one of the best QBs. Think of someone like Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, two years ago, Matt Ryan.

  267. Reid

    My question is for next season you had to bet on three teams to win the Super Bowl not named the Patriots. Who you got?

    I don’t have a good sense of this, but just to play along:

    Packers
    Steelers
    Vikings

    One question I have: will there be any really dominant defenses this year? I have no idea.

  268. don

    I’m not sure about Mariota being good extending plays even in Green Bay. Rodgers looks smooth when playing, Mariota doesn’t have that smoothness. In fact there are times Mariota looks stiff and dare I say unathletic out there, which is one of his short-comings. I would even say in terms of movement Mariota looks more like Brady than he does Rodgers.

    I agree that Dak on another team, with less time, will have an impact on his accuracy. He already is just slightly above average in that department.

  269. don

    I was sort of thinking Vikings too, but did they fix their o-line problems? They didn’t seem to improve in terms of skilled positions either.

    I really like the Giants. They have one of the better defenses, especially if Collins plays like he did last year. They don’t have a running game, but their improvements to their offense (drafting a great pass-catching TE and getting Brandon Marshall) should cover up the deficiency.

    I think I’ll take the Cowboys over both the Steelers and Packers, but I sort of like Seattle’s chances too. I’m torn since I have only one slot left. Both the Cowboys and Seattle have many unanswered questions, but I just think their style of play is more conducive to winning it all. The Steelers look crazy good on offense though, but Big Ben hasn’t been “superstarish” the last couple years. I’ll pick Seattle just because they seem to have little fewer questions than the Cowboys who lost just about their entire secondary.

    For the team that didn’t make the playoffs last year, I would go Cardinals. They should be a little healthier next year and if they can keep Palmer upright, they might be very good.

  270. Reid

    I know what you mean by about Mariota looking stiff. I think this is mainly a function of playing in a shotgun oriented offense. If he can improve his footwork, I could see him really moving well in the pocket. He moves well rolling out out of the pocket and throwing on the move. For a guy who didn’t play under center, he move way better than I thought, so I assume he can improve. (Not sure the Titans have good QB coaching, though.)

    I have questions about the Vikings OL as well, but I was choosing them for my team that didn’t make the playoffs last year. Of those teams, I sort of like them. The Cardinals also have questions on their OL, too, in my view. I might give the edge to the Vikings because the Vikings defense could be dominant, whereas I tend not to think the Cardinals defense would be dominant.

    With the Cowboys, I have questions about their defense. Also, it’s hard to know how loses on the OL will affect their offense.
    With the Seahawks, I just have questions about their OL. I’m guessing their defense will be good, but not dominant–just like last year. So it comes down to their OL. I have a feeling their OL won’t be that different from last year–and if that’s the case, their chances have really diminished.

  271. Reid

    More injuries (some season-ending) that I’m hearing. So sick.

  272. Mitchell

    Three teams (not named the Patriots) who could win the Super Bowl:

    Pittsburgh: The Jeckyl-and-Hyde team of the AFC. I don’t think there’s any question that the offense is good enough to carry them deep into the playoffs, and the Steelers are good enough to beat anyone on any given day. The issue is that they’re equally capable of losing to anyone on any given day. What the heck? Still, a year ago, I wondered if I was unreasonably infatuated with Antonio Brown, and I think that was proven not to be true. It’s as if any time the Steelers need a catch, they can get one from him. I don’t understand how he keeps doing it. Better than anyone in the NFL, Brown seems to sneak into spots where defenders can’t get in the way. You can blame part of my fondness for him on the number of times I saw the Steelers play last season (a lot).

    If I didn’t have the one-team-not-in-the-playoffs-last-season restriction, I would name the Chiefs and Cowboys next, but they were both in the playoffs, so I have to pick the more likely. I don’t think it’s fair to make the choice based on which team would have to get past the Patriots (it seems a better question simply to imagine the Patriots not in the league) so I’m going with the Chiefs, whom I grudgingly began to like in the second half of the season even though I still hate their offensive game. If you call me a bozo for liking them more than Dallas, I certainly wouldn’t argue against it. Although they are very different teams, they seem to be at the same could-be-on-the-verge-of-winning-it-all level.

    My non-playoff team from last year is the Buccaneers, and I think I would choose them even without all the off-season additions. I know I think more highly of Jameis Winston than either of you, and that may be the teacher in me. I see a student who has no reason not to succeed, playing in a horrible division. I think my second choice is Carolina for similar reasons.

    Dominating defense candidate (Reid’s question): Houston. I think they have a front seven to put them in league with Seattle and maybe even Denver, assuming people stay healthy, but then we have to just assume that whenever we play this game.

  273. Reid

    While it’s hard to know who will be contenders, I’m more confident about some team that I think don’t stand much of a chance. The Chiefs would be one of them. I would change this opinion if a) their defense is dominant; b) they have great running game. If not, I think they’re chances are low of getting in.

    The Buccaneers are a not bad pick for non-playoff team last year. I have no idea about the quality of their defense, so I hesitated. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they have one of the better offenses in the league.

    I agree about Houston being a potentially dominant defense. Denver could also be dominant, too. I would also look to the Vikings and Seattle (the latter if their DL improves).

  274. Reid

    Thoughts on Why Kaepernick Not Picked Up Yet

    I’ve seen some brief comments about to explain this, mostly from a race angle. Off the top of my head, I’d say the problem can be described this way: Kaepernick’s ability not worth the potential controversy/negative publicity he would bring to the team–and I would put more emphasis on the former; specifically, that his ability is seen as rather low. Could he play QB, especially a backup? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. But the reason question is, is that ability worth whatever negativity that he might bring. The answer seems like a no.

    And it makes sense to me (and let’s put aside the race question for a moment). I think the situation is similar to Tim Tebow and even Ray Rice. The abilities of both weren’t worth whatever headaches they would bring to an organization. What headaches would Tebow bring? Besides the media distraction, as we’ve seen in Denver, you might get a rapid fan base asking to make him the starter. That can be a huge problem for the team. I suspect both Rice and Tebow could play, and they would be cheap, but whatever baggage they bring doesn’t make them worth it.

    Now, there could be a racial element to the Kaepernick situation. I would be surprised if it wasn’t a factor at all. But ultimately, I tend to think it’s far from the main one. There’s such a shortage of good QBs, even good backups, that I have a hard time seeing how teams wouldn’t put up with the baggage if they felt his talent was worth it. What’s happening strongly suggests the league has a low opinion of Kaepernick’s ability.

  275. don

    I really like the Carolina pick. I completely forgot about them after the miserable season last year. I really like Cam and what he brings to the table. I see no reason why their offense cannot return to the form of two years ago. They may have missed some pieces in the secondary, specifically Norman last year, but that’s something they can fix/overcome. In fact I would lean Carolina just a tad over the Cards for my non-playoff team.

    I sort of lean with Reid on the Chiefs. I don’t feel as strongly as Reid does about the lack of talent that is Alex Smith, but they definitely are missing something when you watch them play especially in the playoffs. And I cannot think of anything they did to improve dramatically.

  276. don

    I think the Kaepernick thing is blown out of proportion. At some point last year, after the storm died down, nobody gave a hoot about him – good or bad. The only reason it’s being a story is nobody wanted to pick him up. If someone gave him a shot early on (ie: before the draft), there might be some backlash (maybe in the preseason), but that would probably be it. Now it’s at the point because he’s on the news daily, it will be a big deal if someone picks him up (ie: basically the story got some legs again). Reid is right about whether Kaepernick is worth it at this point, I just don’t think it would be this bad if something was done with earlier on.

  277. Reid

    Don,

    Re: Carolina

    They’re built on the front seven, and I don’t get the feeling it will be that strong (or at least not as strong as it was in the past). Some players I never really heard of would have to emerge.

    Also, I understand Carolina is trying to get Cam to play from the pocket. I’m not sure if that’s going to work out so well.

    Basically, there are too many unknowns for me to comment. A part of me thinks they’re more likely to have a season like last year than to return to be real contenders.

    Re: Kaepernick

    I’m not sure what you mean by “blown out of proportion.” You mean, you think those accusing the league of blackballing Kaepernick because of his protests are going overboard?

    What do you mean by “something was done early on?”

  278. Mitchell

    Kaepernick’s jersey is still a top-ten seller in the NFL. There may be blow-back by some, but there will be enormous support from others. And I’m trying to find fault with Reid’s position that it’s really about Kaepernick’s ability, but he’s probably right. It might be worth whatever if he were a second-tier starter.

    What annoys me about the Kaep situation is that Harbaugh and Newsome both want him. It’s the ownership, the same ownership that stuck by Ray Rice for as long as he could, that’s likely keeping Kaepernick off the Ravens. How many times have you seen the head coach and GM want a guy for this talent but not get him because of the ownership?

    I think it’s worth reminding people that Kaepernick never committed a crime. Vick and Rice did things that were despicable. Kaepernick never has. There’s just something wrong with this.

  279. don

    I would say “blown out of proportion” in the sense that nobody cared about Kaepernick at the end of last year. Basically a media-frenzy has emerged based on the fact that Kaep was never picked up prior to the draft. You heard a little bit about Kaep early in the off-season, but I would think Romo was a bigger story. The longer Kaep stayed unemployed the bigger the story got (ie: blown out of proportion).

    In terms of “something was done early on”, meaning if Kaep was picked up as soon as he was available, this would pretty much be a non-story and there wouldn’t be much “potential controversy or negative publicity” by the team that picked him up.

    As Mitchell alluded to the fans didn’t have the disdain for Kaep like they did for Rice. No one wanted to back Rice, whereas a good portion of the population was backing Kaep. The story of Kaep loss legs pretty fast last year at least that’s how I felt. I don’t think I even knew if he was standing or not for the National Anthem towards the end of the season. I assume he wasn’t but I couldn’t tell you either way.

  280. Reid

    Don,

    OK, I think I know what you mean. To me, I can understand why the media didn’t make a big deal of this earlier–namely, they assumed a team would eventually pick him up. The story is bigger now because no team has picked him up so close to the start of the season. And I think it got bigger still with Flacco’s injury.

    Mitchell,

    I don’t think this has to do with the whether Kaep did something right or wrong. Again, look at Tebow. He’s a great guy by all accounts. But he would undoubtedly cause a media circus to whichever team he went to, and even potentially a QB controversy (which seems insane given how badly he’s played). Distractions are huge and can ruin a team’s chances of winning the Super Bowl. Teams will take on a player who can be a distraction, but their talent has to be worth it. It’s not unbelievable to me that teams don’t think Kaepernick’s talent isn’t worth it.

  281. Mitchell

    Yeah, I was agreeing with you on that.

  282. Reid

    I guess, you’re annoyed about this, and I’m not that annoyed. To be clear, I don’t really have a problem with Kaep’s protests. If he were being blackballed because of that, I’d have a problem with that, and if this was mostly about race, I’d have a problem with that, too. But since I believe this is mostly about the fact that Kaepernick’s not good enough to warrant distractions/blowback, I’m not that annoyed I guess.

  283. Mitchell

    I’m only annoyed because I think it’s too easy to claim possible “distraction” when we don’t really know what the distraction would be and how it would affect a team. I totally agree about the level of his game and weighing whether or not it’s worth whatever comes with the player. That’s a sound football decision. However, is it really possible that all 32 teams (okay, I know it’s more like seven or eight teams who have to make backup QB decisions, not all 32) feel exactly the same way about his ability vs. his baggage?

    In fact, it’s not. Harbaugh and Newsome are on record saying they want him on their team. That’s a football decision. Steve Bisciotti overriding their wishes (for whatever reason) takes the issue out of the locker room and off the field. It is, at least in this case, no longer a football decision, because has Bisciotti ever overridden his head coach and GM for football decisions? I highly doubt it. Your argument is strictly a football argument, and I respect that even if in this case I suspect there’s more to it than that. Bisciotti’s isn’t about winning or losing, and I have a problem with that.

  284. Reid

    Don,

    You might like this:

  285. Reid

    Mitchell,

    For Biscotti, I expect some other factors might be profits and also maybe even principle. Would it be totally shocking if some owners were offended by what Kaepernick did? I don’t think so. Now, if Kaepernick was truly a great QB, most owners would probably push that to the side, and just live with it. But Kaepernick’s not on that level. Think of it this way, too: What if the Ravens take Kaep, and Kaep plays like he did in the past two years? It wouldn’t surprise me, and I think that’s a more likely scenario than not. That would be hard to swallow. With Harbaugh and Ozzie, I think part of it is desperation. How else can they get (and at a low cost)? RGIII is out there, but I think I’d rather take my chances with Kaep. Even if they think the chances are greater that Kaep will perform poorly, they don’t know for sure. At this point, why not take a chance? It makes sense, but I can understand if an owner wouldn’t think this was worth it.

  286. Reid

    Approach to analyzing the game: pre and post snap

    Cripes! Get Back to Fundamentals

    This was interesting, except I didn’t understand all the terminology (e.g., “to or away from the field”).

  287. Mitchell

    I know it might sound like a reach, but I suspect the profits and principle reasons are race-related, even if Bisciotti himself is not a racist, and if that’s the case, there comes a time when you should stand up against that. Sure, it’s not my money we’re talking about, but if Kaepernick makes the team better, as Harbaugh and Newsome seem to think, and if a better team means more wins, the fans will come back, and to heck with principle or profit as reasons.

    In fact, I would go even further and say, whether you agree with Kaepernick or not, if you own a team and need a backup QB, you SHOULD sign him because what he did — taking a stand on a very real, very concerning social issue — is admirable and nobody should be vilified for it, (again) whether you agree with him on the specifics or not.

  288. Reid

    My sense is that if everyone were truly confident that Kaepernick would make the team significantly better, they would have taken him already. Would Kaepernick make the team better versus another option that they have? I suspect the answer is very uncertain for all of them. If this weren’t the case, then I think they would deal with the baggage.

  289. Reid

    If you asked if Priest Holmes belonged in the HoF, I’d say no.
    But the following tweet gave me pause:

    Maybe I’m not remembering how great Holmes really was? I didn’t read the article, so I’m not sure what numbers we’re talking about. If they’re including receptions, then I can see why Holmes’s numbers would be better. But that brings up a key ppint: one of the main justifications for letting TD in, despite a relatively short career was the nature of the way he played and the offense he played in. While he’s not really in the same as Earl Campbell and Marshawn Lynch, TD’s situation is simliar in my opinion. Running backs that had a physical style and were so central to their offense–if they played great for only a short period, one could argue to overlook the shortness of their career. (To be honest, TD is a borderline player for me. Question: Who would you rather have–TD or Curtis Martain? What about TD or Jerome Bettis? Here, I’m including the length of their careers as well. That’s a tough call to me, but I might lean toward Martin.)

  290. don

    All the running backs being compared to Terrell Davis never was the main factor that their teams won Super Bowls. TD was the MVP in his first Super Bowl and should have been the MVP in the second. I also heard TD has great stats in his playoff games even the ones Denver lost. Campbell carried his team like TD did, but not all the way to the championship.

    I agree it was a short span of greatness, but Eli was crowned a HOFer after his second Super Bowl victory. Now Eli has the numbers to back up his HOF career, but a lot of what he has done since his second Super Bowl tainted his bid for the HOF, imo.

  291. Reid

    Yeah, TD was the main factor–similar to the way AP and Sweetness was the key figure in the offense. In that short stretch, he was carrying his team like only a few others did, in my view. I think the fact that Elway was the QB takes away from TD. But Elway was a shell of himself by that point in my opinion. He almost cost them the first Super Bowl (but Favre’s turnovers helped out). TD had about a 100 yards rushing in the first half, and he had to sit out some due to migraines, if I recall. He’s still borderline to me, but I guess I’m OK with him getting in.

    Eli is not borderline in my opinion. I wouldn’t vote for him. I think too much weight is placed on Super Bowl victories. Wins/losses, in general, should be a secondary or tertiary way to evaluate a QB, in opinion; or at least you have to account for other factors (e.g., quality of supporting cast and opponents, etc.).

  292. don

    Wow on the Eli comment. As you know I’m not a fan, but he has career numbers that are in the Curtis Martin range (or definitely will be when his career is over) plus two big-time Super Bowl victories. He’s pretty much a lock at this point.

  293. Reid

    Is my position on Eli that surprising? I feel like I’ve been pretty consistent about this. Also, you know I’m not a big numbers guy. With Martin (and Bettis, to some degree), the issue is that they’ve never been dominant or exception, just good-to-very-good. If there is something exceptional, it’s that they’ve been this way over a long period of time, for a position that doesn’t have a long shelf life. I feel like the same doesn’t really apply to Eli–depending on how you define good-very-good I guess. Besides that 2010 season, I’ve never thought Eli was a great QB. I’d take Rivers over him any day. Ditto Romo.

  294. Mitchell

    You might take Rivers or Romo over Eli, but would you put them in the Hall of Fame ahead of him?

  295. Reid

    I’m not sure, but off the top of my head, I’d say probably not. But if I think Rivers and Romo are better than Eli and the first two don’t get in, then Eli probably shouldn’t either. (I guess if his numbers were stellar, that could change my mind.)

  296. don

    Eli will more than likely finish in the top five in the major categories of yards, completions and touchdowns, which I felt is similar to a Curtis Martin in terms of career numbers.

    I feel like Rivers will have a good chance to get in despite not really having much playoff success. I doubt Romo will. But Eli should definitely be in based on numbers and playoff success.

  297. Reid

    I think Cowherd is missing the real question with regard to Rodgers winning a second Super Bowl–namely, is he the GOAT? If he doesn’t win a second Super Bowl, I’d guess this would knock him out of contention as the GOAT. So to me, that’s what’s at stake, not whether he gets into the HoF or not.

    (By the way, as I alluded to earlier, over time, I think less and less of wins, including Super Bowl wins, as a way to assess a QB. How a QB performs in a Super Bowl (playoffs, big moments)–that’s much more important to me.)

  298. Reid

    Eli will more than likely finish in the top five in the major categories of yards, completions and touchdowns,…

    Well, if that’s the case, then I think it would be hard to not put him in.

  299. Mitchell

    I agree that Romo and Rivers are better QBs than Eli, but the Hall of Fame is about a career, and which of the three has had the best career? Eli would get in before either Rivers or Romo, at least if all their careers ended right now.

  300. Reid

    I think I’m viewing the HoF question through the same prism I use to evaluate QBs–and that’s probably something I shouldn’t do. But as an example of this, when you mention career, I’m thinking specifically what they accomplished in that career–i.e., passing yards, TDs, etc. But these stats are tied up in the supporting cast of the QB and the level of competition they faced. Hence, when I evaluate QBs, I try to take these things into account. When one decides whether a players should get into the HoF, I guess you shouldn’t really account for these things. If Eli is top five in all those statistical categories, it seems hard not to put him in the HoF.

  301. Reid

    Cool article from The Ringer collecting insights about football from Bill Belichick. I agree with the writer, Danny Kelly, that Belichick can give some really good information during press conferences.

    On another note, regarding Kaepernick. I heard that Kaepernick didn’t interview well with Carroll and John Lynch in the offseason–specifically, he was too focused on social issues for their tastes. If this accurately describes Kaepernick, then teams being hesitant to take him makes a lot more sense. Kaepernick has a chance to be good, but if he’s not 100% focused on football, those chances are slim to none in my view. (Even with 100% focus, I think the chances aren’t that great–unless he was never really focused in the past.)

  302. don

    I love Cutler going to Miami and joining Gase again. The only thing I wonder is if Romo was ever on the table. I understand Cutler’s learning curve will be less because he already played under Gase, but Romo is the better QB.

  303. Reid

    “Love” is too strong for me, and what stands out more is the fact that Tannehill got hurt. I’m not implying it’s his fault–I’m disgusted by the injuries. But, yeah, getting Cutler gives them a chance. Odds are, Cutler is going to be Cutler–meaning, he’s going to turn the ball over and do foolish things. But he did well under Gase, so there’s a part of me that wonders if he can turn things around.

    I thought of Romo, too, but then I thought maybe he’s made some sort of deal with Jones–i.e., he’d only come back if Prescott got hurt. If he was willing to come back for the Dolphins, I’d figured he’d play for the Texans or some other team.

  304. don

    I’m pretty confident Romo was released by Dallas, so he’s free to do whatever he wanted to do. Maybe Romo and Jones had a “handshake” agreement, but by the rules, Romo can play anywhere.

    I would take Cutler over 60% of the starting QBs (I’m guessing without really counting.). Under Gase, it might be closer to 70%.

  305. Reid

    Maybe Romo and Jones had a “handshake” agreement,…

    That’s what I had in mind (and I think I heard this suggestion from you).

    Would I choose Cutler over 60% of the other QBs? I’m not sure–I’d have to see the other QBs. The bottom line is that I don’t believe Cutler is the type of QB that can take you to the Super Bowl. Specifically, I don’t trust him to protect the football.

  306. Mitchell

    specifically, he was too focused on social issues for their tastes. If this accurately describes Kaepernick, then teams being hesitant to take him makes a lot more sense. Kaepernick has a chance to be good, but if he’s not 100% focused on football, those chances are slim to none in my view. (Even with 100% focus, I think the chances aren’t that great–unless he was never really focused in the past.)

    I sat on my response to this because I don’t want it to sound like a hair-trigger reaction, but this does set me off.

    I’m going to assume you mean a kind of figurative “100%,” because nobody can be 100% focused on football. Almost all of the greatest players have families and will tell you some silly version of “family first.”

    I’m sure there are many players whose first priority is football, and maybe some ratio of priority vs. ability is in effect, where the less able you are, the higher a priority you have to put on football, but that’s just impossible to tell.

    I suspect the real issue is what a player prioritizes. Perhaps a man focused first on family and then football is less likely to be hampered on the field than a player who puts social issues first and then football, but how in the world can anyone tell? When Tommie Smith and John Carlos stood on the medals stand with their fists in the air, were they betraying a dangerously high priority on social issues?

    I don’t think this is fair. If Kaepernick spent all his media time talking about God, and instead of kneeling in protest for the national anthem before games, closed his eyes and prayed, would we even be talking about this, and would Kaepernick have a job? And would people say that if he thought more about football and less about God, he would be a better player? Don’t be so quick to answer. I’d be willing to put money down that he would be a Seahawk if this were the Kaepernick we knew.

  307. Mitchell

    Oh, and I think it’s worth adding to the conversation Dan LeBatard’s observation yesterday, that people think Kaepernick maybe doesn’t care enough about football, but look who the Dolphins signed! That’s been the knock on Cutler, with circumstancial evidence on the field, for years! Has Kaepernick ever, in all our years of seeing him play, given anyone a reason to believe he doesn’t care about football?

    I never liked the “care enough” position anyway; I honestly don’t care about how much Cutler “cares” about football. But I do think it’s amazing that people are saying this is a better choice than Kaepernick because Kaepernick doesn’t care enough about football.

    I do think, with five weeks to go before the end of the season, Cutler is the best choice, though. I admit that. Cutler already knowing the new offense tilts what I think is almost a toss-up in his favor.

  308. Reid

    I suspect the real issue is what a player prioritizes.

    Honestly, I’d be surprised about this. To me, the issue involves the level of commitment, focus Kaepernick has on football–specifically, being a QB. Next, I think the baggage/distractions he brings is another reason for not taking him. If Mike Vick struggled in his comeback, instead of performing really well, his career would have been over. Like Kaepernick, Vick has tremendous talent, but, at that point, he had baggage and a reputation for not putting enough time into playing the position (I believe this was recently corroborated). Had he performed poorly or just OK, I suspect no other team would take him, too.

    Now, let’s suppose Vick wasn’t arrested for dog fighting. Let’s say he was coming off an injury, and the Eagles took a chance and Vick didn’t play well (not because of the injury). That is, Vick has a reputation for not caring enough, but he doesn’t have any baggage that would be a distraction or cause a financial penalty toward the organization. In that situation, maybe his career wouldn’t be over. Maybe a team would take a chance on him as a backup. But once you add the baggage (of the dog figthing), then taking Vick doesn’t seem worth it. I think the situation is similar with Kaep.

    As for Cutler, he doesn’t have this baggage. Additionally, I don’t anyone would say that Cutler can’t play from the pocket, doesn’t have pocket skills. My sense is that Cutler’s main problem is that he’s reckless. He’s a good QB if he could take care of the ball.

    I’ve heard some say that Cutler doesn’t care enough. But the one person I heard this from recently (Colin Cowherd) based on this Cutler’s facial expression and body language. I don’t put much stock in an assessment based on those things. You could say the same about Joe Flacco, for example. Now, if players and coaches say that Cutler doesn’t put in the time or effort to prepare, that’s another matter entirely–and that would be a huge problem to me.

  309. Reid

    My opinion of Andy Benoit has been going down, but this sounds right to me:

    And these comments:

  310. don

    I don’t want to speak for Mitchell, but it seems like a wild leap from kneeling during the National Anthem and saying a few things publically to “too focused on social issues…”. That’s why whenever I hear the media say stuff like “Kaep’s commitment to being a QB may not be worth taking a flier on him”, I always assumed that they know Kaep is spending huge amounts of time “on social issues”, or is really committed time-wise to these issues outside of football. Only with those assumptions, do I buy he may not be committed to becoming the best QB he can be. If not I’m guessing the media could also say that Tebow was too committed to God, which means he’s not committed to becoming a better QB.

  311. Reid

    Don,

    My most recent reaction is based on what I heard (from someone who supposedly has inside sources) about Kaep’s recent bad interviews with with Pete Carroll and John Lynch. The person clarified that “bad” meant that Kaepernick seemed really (too?) focused on social issues. Even if Carroll and Lynch felt this way, they could still be wrong, but would you agree that the level of commitment a QB has to football is a legitimate question for coaches and an organization to have? It is to me. If I’m a coach, GM, or owner, and I interview a QB, and I get the sense the QB isn’t as committed to football as I think they should be, then that’s a legitimate reason not to take that player.

    I’m even less likely to take that player if they have baggage that will hurt the team, and they really haven’t been performing well.

  312. don

    I’m guessing the interviews matter a lot, but it cannot be worth more than how the guy is spending his time and what kind of work ethic he has (both of which you have to assume teams have a good idea of). I’m not completely disregarding the bad interviews, but the bottom line for me it’s hard to buy he’s not committed to football just based on what we (the general public) see (ie: kneeling and being vocal on social media and interviews), which is why in my mind I make those other assumptions (right or wrong).

  313. Reid

    If the interviews weren’t that bad, then I’m not sure what’s holding the Niners and Seahawks back. The Seahawks backup QBs haven’t been looking good in pre-season (Austin Davis and Tyrone Boykin, and the latter might have off field legal issues as well). The could really use a good backup. With Kaepernick’s running threat would matchup nicely with the Seahawk offense. Seattle is a politically liberal town, so I think the fanbase would have less of a problem with his social stance. The only other reason would be blacklisting by the owners. Is that more believable than Kaep not being entirely focused, having baggage and just not being that good? I’d be more shocked if the owners were blacklisting him.

  314. don

    It could be my assumption is right and he is spending inordinate amount of time with his social issues.

  315. Reid

    You mean, the teams know how much time he’s spending on these other issues versus football? If so, that would make sense.

  316. Reid

    Prediction: This Isn’t Going to Help

    I say this because it won’t eliminate controversial calls, and I suspect it won’t reduce them significantly. If this is the case, when these controversial calls occur, I thinks fans, coaches, and even players will get frustrated.

    My feeling is based on the hypothesis that many fans have fundamental misunderstanding about officiating games. Specifically, there are some calls that are inherently subjective and ambiguous–and nothing will change this (not without hurting the enjoyment of the game). Better technology, the ability to challenge any call, changing the rules, or paying officials full-time–none of this will change this. There will be calls that are ambiguous (and some calls that will be wrong).

    The way a more satisfying, less frustrating experience of watching football lies in accepting this.

  317. Mitchell

    I think more people should talk about what you’re getting at. Not just for those NFL calls that drive us mad, but for life in general. I frequently think about all the stuff I get away with, and when I try to compare it to the stuff that either I don’t get away with or that others get away with to my disadvantage, I think I come out way ahead. In fact, I think we all can say the same thing.

    “Life’s not fair,” I would sometimes hear my students say, and I would respond, “And thank God, because if it were, if we all got what we fairly deserved, imagine how truly crappy our lives would be.”

    When I’ve had students who were athletes, if they were griping about some kind of unfairness being done to them, I would point out sometimes that it was a judgment call that could have gone either way. “You know a call like that can go either way, and sometimes those calls go your way and sometimes they don’t.” Strangely, while I am often down on youth sports for many reasons, one lesson young people do seem to learn is that one. Just pointing out that judgment calls can go either way, and sometimes you’re the beneficiary and sometimes you’re the benefactor, calmed a lot of angry people down. Losing builds character.

  318. Reid

    “Life’s not fair,” I would sometimes hear my students say, and I would respond, “And thank God, because if it were, if we all got what we fairly deserved, imagine how truly crappy our lives would be.”

    Good point, and well said.

    “You know a call like that can go either way,…

    I get the sense that many fans no longer believe this–or at least they seem to act as if they no longer believe this. I get the sense that these fans think that if the league writes clearer rules or pays officials full-time, etc., you can eliminate calls that go either way.

  319. Mitchell

    Ezekiel Elliott suspended six games, one and a half times what Tom Brady got for inflating footballs. I guess that sounds about right. Although Elliott will surely appeal the decision, and that could reduce the penalty to four or five games.

    The Patriots went 3-1 in Brady’s absence. Can the Cowboys do as well without their RB?

  320. Reid

    I haven’t been following the the Elliot story. Is this about domestic violence?

    I think the Cowboys can do OK in that short stretch. That is, I think this won’t doom their season. They have capable RBs. The question is, how will Prescott perform in his second year? Also, not having Elliot might cloud this evaluation a bit.

  321. don

    Yes Elliot is punished for a domestic violence incident that happen prior to him being a NFL player. That’s the part that seems wrong. How far back can the NFL punish a player? If a player did something in high school could he still be punished once he got into the NFL? It seems so random. But really after all the stupid things Elliot has been a part of recently, I think this punishment could be good for him.

  322. Mitchell

    They did that to what’s-his-name, too. That Ohio State QB/WR? He declared for the draft when he knew he was going to receive either NCAA or school suspensions, then the NFL punished him in the NCAA’s (or Ohio State’s) stead. What the heck?

  323. Mitchell

    Maurice Clarett is who I’m thinking of, and I got the details wrong, but it’s the same idea.

    Oh wait, no. I’m getting him confused with someone else. Terrelle Pryor?

  324. don

    Yeah Clarett was kicked off Ohio St and he was the running back. It could be Pryor, but the details are a little vague in my mind.

  325. don

    No I think you were thinking of Clarett.

  326. Reid

    Wait, how far back did this incident go? I can sort of see if the incident occurred after Elliot’s last season at OSU–i.e., between college and the NFL, but before that? I don’t think that would happen, or it would be wrong. Frank Clark also had an incident, but I don’t think it was in his last year. He wasn’t suspended by the league.

  327. Mitchell

    That sounds right. Before the draft. Before he was an employee of the Dallas Cowboys.

  328. Reid

    I’m not sure if he’s a starter or first off the bench, but still. Ravens lost another player (at least one more), but I can’t remember the name.

    I also heard of two other players who tore their ACLs and are out for the season–DE from Denver and the other an OLB, but I can’t remember the team. So sickening.

  329. Reid

    I wrote about my incessant refrain about how everything points back to the Seahawk OL. Here’s another example of a situation where that occurs:

    Me in response: “Yep, but it all goes back to the OL. Wilson can be the MVP, but he’s not going to be if the OL hasn’t improved much from last year. He might even get hurt again.”

  330. Mitchell

    I’ve never been a fan of Marshawn Lynch, and his becoming a Raider has had no impact on my thoughts of him or the team, but he’s creeping up my favorite active Raiders chart after I learned this weekend that he sits out of the national anthem and plans to keep doing it. He’s already a Raider.

    And Michael Bennett is already my third-favorite active player in the NFL for reasons illustrated nicely this past weekend.

  331. Reid

    What is it that makes Bennett such a favorite for you?

    On another note, I watched some of the preseason games. Here are some general impressions:

    Tom Savage’s pocket presence looked good, although this is only based on three or four plays. He seemed totally calm and unaffected by collapsing pocket, even when he experienced contact.

    Trubisky seemed kinda small; seemed to have good quick feet. His arm strength didn’t stand out. He kinda reminded me of someone like Chase Daniel; seems like a west coast offense QB. But this was based on very limited number of snaps.

    Broncos, even with Mike McCoy, look like they’re running the same offense as last year.

    My bad feeling about the Seahawk OL hasn’t changed, and I feel more confident that the OL won’t be much different from last year. They may look good one week, against a mediocre defense, but then look really bad against the better defenses. I’m 80% sure of that. And the OL didn’t look terrible yesterday, from what I saw.

  332. Reid

    I agree with this:

    To me, Jones hurting the team by taking risks on players who may not get on the field (for whatever reason) is not the only issue. The other issue is about the message this sends to players–a message that promotes certain values in the culture of the organization. The message is that Jones and the Cowboys have a relatively high tolerance for off field problems–if you’re good. To be clear, all teams have some degree of tolerance of these players, but teams have to manage this tolerance, not only because it may lead to acquiring players who may not get on the field, but because there’s a danger that some players will feel they’re bigger than the team; that some players may not take off field issues as seriously as they should. In my view, Jones and the Cowboys haven’t handled this well.

  333. mitchell

    I admire thoughtful people who have interesting things to say and say them. And I admire people who challenge the establishment. And I admire people who aren’t afraid to be themselves.

  334. Reid

    I was thinking it was those things, more than his performance on the field, but I didn’t want to assume that.

  335. Reid

    Scot McCloughan, former Redskins GM and a talent evaluator with a good reputation, is now on twitter.

    Q: Is Kaepernick good enough to be a starting QB this year?

    Q: Who would you take first between Le’Veon Bell, Ezekiel Elliot, or David Johnson?

    He also thinks Julio Jones is the best WR.

    His twitter feed is pretty interesting.

  336. don

    I was wondering what is the NFL’s “end game” in this Elliot suspension. The two most common thoughts are one, they are really trying to crack down on off-the-field “problems” and two, they are trying to prevent bad press. In terms of number one, they don’t seem to be cracking down on everyone. Gareon Conley (Raider’s pick) and Jourdan Lewis (Cowboy’s pick) were both accused of “stuff” prior to this year’s draft, but both don’t seem to be in the “hot” seat. Well it doesn’t seem like it anyway. In terms of number two, bad press, this story seem to have died last year when Elliot wasn’t charged. It would have gone away if wasn’t for this suspension. It’s almost like the NFL resurrected it.

    The more logical approach would be for the NFL to just suspend or punish those that are either prosecuted (all the cases mentioned above was dropped or failed to reach prosecution) or there is some kind of video evidence (ie: Rice) or some kind of strong backlash by fans (ie: Hardy – who seem to pay off his accuser). Of course this isn’t the best approach in terms of cracking down on off-the-field issues, but it seems to me the best approach for the NFL to “save face” and being in the “best light”. The NFL better be right on this one because the past few incidents (deflatgate and Brady’s suspension, Rice suspension, etc) haven’t turned up great for the NFL.

  337. Reid

    It’s almost like the NFL resurrected it.

    I kinda get this sense as well. My assumption is that the NF, through researching the incident, has really strong reasons for suspending Elliot, while other players like Conley, Lewis, don’t. If this isn’t the case, then the suspension doesn’t make sense–it’s not fair.

    e NFL better be right on this one because the past few incidents (deflatgate and Brady’s suspension, Rice suspension, etc) haven’t turned up great for the NFL.

    Goodell hasn’t taken a more aggressive, some may say heavy-handed approach, to enforcing standards of player conduct, specifically off field behavior. In theory, I support this. If you really care don’t want players involved in domestic violence or drug use, etc., then there should be strong consequences when players cross the line.

    But here’s the problem–and this is where while I’m supportive of Goodell’s approach in theory, I’m more ambivalent and leaning towards opposing his approach–you have to have a clear sense of where that line is. Additionally–and this might be the biggest issue for me–once you take strong measures on an issue, what inevitably will happen is that not acting, or acting mildly, on certain issues can also create problems. For example, I believe Josh Gordon got a more severe punishment than Ray Rice, and the league announced the punishments about the same time. This created the impression that the league thinks drug use is a more serious problem than domestic violence, something I’d guess the league does not believe nor intend to convey. And there may have been good reasons for these decisions, but those reasons aren’t seen by the public, which creates bad optics for the league. This is the type of problem that can occur. The league acting more aggressively in enforcement of off field conduct is like opening Pandora’s Box. In theory in makes sense. In practice, it may not be a good idea.

  338. Reid

    This sucks. When is Luck expected to play? If Luck’s career is messed up due to injuries or if his confidence if messed up, I’m blaming the Colts organization.

    By the way, anyone know if there’s a website that tracks injuries, and puts it in an easy-to-read format? I’d also be interested in seeing how many players are out for the season before the first regular season starts, and what these numbers look like over the past decades.

  339. Mitchell

    At least a bone defect isn’t an injury. Right?

  340. Reid

    I’m not sure. Did playing exacerbate the defect? No idea about the answer. By the way, I must confess that a lot of my frustration is selfish–it just diminishes the game when so many teams have key players that won’t be on the field.

  341. Reid

    This Super Bowl isn’t available on game pass. It’s pretty cool watching Montana. But what stands out is the pass protection. There were a lot of quick passing/check down type of plays, but still. Also, even when there is pressure, the O-linemen are generally in front of the pass-rushers until the last minute. The pocket collapses in an orderly fashion, too. There were rarely blown assignments. If only Wilson had that type of pass pro. 🙁

  342. Reid

    In non-injury news, I didn’t read the article, but if true, ugh:

  343. Reid

    Dang it! The OL was actually functional tonight–more than that. And now this. I’m sick.

  344. Reid

    Jared Goff actually looked good. The entire Ram offense looked decent, too. Then again, this was against the Raiders, but still. I expect the Ram defense to be really good with Wade Phillips at the helm, too. Man, Rams could be sneaky good this year.

  345. don

    Man, I must be jonesing for football, because I watch parts of a few games this weekend:

    Raiders, Rams:
    Goff looked pretty good and the Raiders defense doesn’t look all that good. I’m not sure which one deserved most of the credit/blame. The Raiders offense, though, looked really good. I think if this one game (series actually) is any indication of what the Raiders run game will be with Lynch, the Raiders will be really good. The Rams is not a cupcake defense either.

    Panthers, Titans:
    The Titans offense without Corey Davis (their first round WR), D Murray, and Decker still looked pretty darn good. They may be a top five offense this year depending on Mariota. Their defense looks a little better, but Carolina looks pretty bad right now so it’s hard to say. McCaffrey though, is a surprise running between the tackles.

    Cowboys, Colts:
    Dallas’ third string QB Cooper Rush is amazing. He has definitely been outplaying Kellen Moore this preseason thus far. Dallas may have to waste a roster spot on him, or drop Moore, which I guessing they wouldn’t do. Dallas starting line looked good in this one, where they didn’t against the Rams. That being said though the Colts defense is terrible. They were useless against the Dallas’ starters.

  346. don

    Wrote my post before reading Reid’s, but yes Goff looked pretty good back there.

  347. Reid

    If this proves true, Giants have no chance of winning the Super Bowl:

  348. Reid

    The following is interesting:

    Except for Kasen (who has made incredible catches, and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make the team), I don’t know any of these other WRs. My takeaway: you can’t really put much stock in the pre-season. My guess is that these WRs are going against the #2s, 3s, or 4s, and that’s what’s making their numbers look good. Now, if these guys are going against #1s, especially good ones, then I might change my tune. Or if they’re making really good catches (like Kasen), then I might also revise my thinking.

  349. Mitchell

    I haven’t heard of any of those guys except Benjamin, who I’m beginning to think isn’t really a true #1.

  350. Reid

    Oh shoot, I overlooked Benjamin–of course, I’ve heard of him. I disagree with you about Benjamin. I think he is a true #1. I think he’s a little underrated, or flys under the radar a bit. For one-on-one jump ball type of situations, I think he’s among the best at doing this. I’d love for the Seahawks to have someone like him.

  351. Mitchell

    I agree with the one-on-one jump ball situations but I wonder if he’s not a better #2. Without Ted Ginn this year I suspect he’ll have even more trouble making plays, although I think a lot depends on how versatile McCaffrey is.

  352. Reid

    No, I tend to think he’s a legit #1. I’m not sure about his route-running, but on deep passes, jump ball situations, and catches in traffic, he’s up there.

  353. don

    Dede Westbrook has been getting a lot of buzz, but he had an unbelievable last preseason which helps. I heard the rumor is the Jags are shopping Hurns, so maybe Westbrook is that good.

  354. Reid

    Never heard of him. Then again, I’m not following the NFL as closely as I used to.

  355. Reid

    ESPN has come out with their annual NFL QB tier rankings. The rankings are based on the comments of fifty NFL insiders, coaches, executives, scouts, etc. I haven’t read it, as it’s behind a paywall, but Russell Wilson is ranked as 10th best. I would say that the insiders know more than me, but 10th? That seems really low.

    Again, even though I acknowledge that they know more than me, I can’t help think about the way people have trouble separating the quality of a QB from other factors like his supporting cast and the type of offense he plays in. Additionally, I think we are susceptible to the narratives that form around a player. The narrative around Wilson has been that he’s been successful largely due to Marshawn Lynch and a great defense. I agree that those things should be factored in when it comes to winning games, but it has less impact on what Wilson does on the field.

    I have no idea how they ranked Wilson as the 10th best QB.

  356. Reid

    I never thought highly of Blake Bortles, but it’s kinda sad to see him now. My sense is that he’s lost his confidence. He needs someone to help him get straight mentally. Even if that happens, I’m not sure how good he can be, but I think he could be a decent starter.

  357. Mitchell

    This is a stupid question, but I found it mildly amusing when it was posed on the Dan Le Batard Show.

    If you combined the rosters of the Browns, Jets, and Jaguars and made one team, how good would it be? Who would be the key starters?

    After left tackle, it’s not even clear, is it? I find this really amusing. Would the starting QB of the Jacksonville BrownJets be Brock Osweiler? Would Matt Forte be the starting RB? Are there any receivers?

  358. don

    Re Bortles:
    Bortles is done and I was surprised Coughlin didn’t do more to get a QB to replace him this off-season. That was a huge mistake by their front office, especially when you see that Mahomes is playing well during the preseason. It’s not that Mahomes will guarantee take the Jags to the next level, but he offers that team hope, something they don’t seem to have a lot of right now. I still think they should have gone after Romo this past off-season. With Romo, I would say they are a playoff team if he stays upright.

    Re Browns, Jets, Jags:
    They would still be QB problems if those three teams combined, which is sort of sad. But based on individual rosters, they would have a hell of a defense. Their front seven would consist of guys like Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Myles Garrett, Malik Jackson, Calais Campbell, Sheldon Day, etc. I’m guessing Crowell or Fournette would be their starting RB over Forte, and their number one WR would definitely be Allen Robinson.

  359. Reid

    Don,

    The Jags should have gone after a QB only if they were sure they wanted to move on from Bortles. It’s understandable to me that they weren’t sure. Specifically, they didn’t know if Bortles could regain his confidence or get right mentally. If confidence is indeed Bortles’s main problem, then going after a QB in the off season wouldn’t help, in fact, it would probably do the opposite.

    Re: Browns, Jets, Jags

    Yeah, that defense would be unbelievable. The Browns still have Joe Haden, right? And then you add Jalen Ramsay to the mix. There are some other DBs that would be good, too, but I can’t remember their names now. They would be a playoff team and maybe even a Super Bowl contender, despite not having a great QB.

  360. don

    Even in Bortles’ best year he was an interception machine, he never won many games despite having a descent offense around him, and in fantasy circles known as the garbage man because he would rack up stats when the game was essentially over. Not to mention (well I just did) pundits saying his accuracy was awful even when he was putting up decent numbers. Then last year Bortles was awful. Why hitch your wagon to this mess? I understand the concept of thinking Fournette was added to help Bortles ala Zeke and Dak. But if the Jags finish this season with less than five wins with a decent defense (and it’s possible they will be good) it’s going to be on the front office.

  361. don

    Oh I forgot to mention not all of Bortles’ problems are confidence related. I heard part of the problem this year is that coaches were trying to change his mechanics. That adds to the confidence problem, but that speaks to the fact that Jaguar coaches think he’s not doing something right.

  362. Mitchell

    In the New York BrownJags hypothetical, they were going to allow the team to keep all its players, so it would have a 150+ active roster. If the defense would be as good as you guys say, that would almost make them a lock to win the AFC South, right? How would they do in the AFC East? It was never settled which conference they’d play in.

  363. Reid

    Why hitch your wagon to this mess?

    1. Because throwing a lot of interceptions is not uncommon among young QBs, and that is something that can change over time;

    2. Accuracy is also something that can be improved upon.

    3. Finding good QBs is extremely difficult. You don’t want to make the mistake of prematurely giving up on a QB. Would it be totally surprising if Bortles goes to another QB and becomes a QB like Eli Manning or Andy Dalton? (I think he should go to another team at this point. I heard someone mention Arizona with Arians. That might be a good move for both teams.)

    I’m assuming the FO and coaching staff hadn’t gotten to the point where they believed Bortles wouldn’t improve in terms of points 1 and 2. If that’s true, the decision to not pursue another QB makes sense in my opinion.

    That adds to the confidence problem,…

    Or it could have caused it. Something similar might have happened with Tim Tebow as well. Once you get the QB thinking about their throwing, especially in a negative sense–i.e., that they’re throwing motion is wrong–there’s a big risk that you’ll mess up their confidence. I don’t know, I get the sense that pitchers tinker with this all the time, so maybe I’m wrong. But I know I tinkered with my shooting form in basketball several times, and in retrospect, I tend to think this wasn’t a good idea. In general, I would say it’s better to err on the side of doing too little rather than doing too much.

  364. Reid

    Mitchell,

    How would they do in the AFC East? It was never settled which conference they’d play in.

    Off the top of my head, it woudln’t totally surprise me if they did well in the NFC East, or any division, really. Having a roster of 150 would be a huge advantage, especially if you’re drawing from three NFL rosters.

    I think if you took the three worst NFL teams and created one team, allowing for a much larger roster, that NFL team would be very competitive, as in being a playoff team at least.

  365. Reid

    Cowherd uses the degree to which a QB can carry a team as a way to separate QBs into four tiers. A few years ago I might have be OK with this approach, but now I don’t really care for it. QBs are so dependent on those around them. Additionally, the extent to which a QB can appear to carry a team depends heavily on the offense. Good QBs in spread offenses will create a stronger impression that they’re carrying a team than a QB in a run-first offense.

    Having said that, I actually don’t disagree with the way he’s ranked the QBs. I would switch out Russ for Luck, though, and I might put Roethlisberger or Rivers in the first tier. (But this isn’t based on the ability to carry a team.)

    I also don’t think Brady qualifies as someone who can carry a team. If he had the same success with the same supporting cast, but a different HC, then I’d go along with this. Rodgers comes close, although, really, I think Wilson might be ahead of him in terms of his ability to carry a team.

    There’s really only one QB that I can think of where I’d used that designation, and that’s John Elway.

  366. don

    I guess our differences lie in one thing, I would have been surprised if Bortles was any good this year, and you and the Jags’ front office would have been surprised if he was as bad as last year. Because if the front office thought there was at least a 50% chance he wouldn’t be any good, they cannot be worried about his psyche and they should have drafted or gone after a QB. It hurts their team too much to not have that “hope” with all the young talent they have.

    I guess there is another scenario, the Jags’ front office doesn’t think their talent is all that ready and that a QB cannot make that much of a difference. Maybe the Jags are looking at four of five years from now. Then not getting a QB could make sense.

    In terms of causing Bortles’ confidence problem, I heard they tried to change his throwing motion this year, so that wouldn’t really explain why he was bad all of last year.

  367. don

    I wasn’t thinking they would keep a roster of 159 players. I just assumed they would keep the best 53. Yes having all 159 would make a huge difference. There would be much more continuity as they would never have to pick up new players due to injury.

    That being said I wouldn’t put them as a lock in the AFC South with a roster of the top 53. They really will have no proven QB. I don’t think the Baltimore Ravens with Dilfer was ever a lock to win anything just because Dilfer was at the helm. I wouldn’t bet against a defense like they would have, but I wouldn’t say they would be a Golden State Warrior lock to win the AFC South.

  368. Reid

    … and you and the Jags’ front office would have been surprised if he was as bad as last year

    No, I wouldn’t go that far. My position is that there was still hope for Bortles to get out of his funk, fix his flaws, etc. If there’s hope, and the problem is confidence, you don’t bring another QB. If there’s 50% chance he won’t be any good, but 50% chance he’ll be a franchise QB–and you think confidence is the issue–you would either draft a QB or bring in a good free agent? I don’t think there’s a clear cut right or wrong answer, but I can see why the Jaguars FO wouldn’t bring in another QB.

    I guess there is another scenario, the Jags’ front office doesn’t think their talent is all that ready and that a QB cannot make that much of a difference.

    That’a one possibility, I guess. But here’s another that came to mind: if the defense and running game (and special Teams) are really good, then you don’t need great QB play. You just need a QB who won’t turn the ball over.

    In terms of causing Bortles’ confidence problem, I heard they tried to change his throwing motion this year, so that wouldn’t really explain why he was bad all of last year.

    OK

  369. Reid

    I don’t think the Baltimore Ravens with Dilfer was ever a lock to win anything just because Dilfer was at the helm. I wouldn’t bet against a defense like they would have, but I wouldn’t say they would be a Golden State Warrior lock to win the AFC South.

    I basically agree. But I would say that a team with that type of a defense and the equivalent of a Jamal Lewis rushing attack would be playoff team and maybe even in a Super Bowl contender. (Think of Denver’s 2015 team.)

  370. don

    Oh yeah the three team combination would be a Super Bowl contender, I’m just not sure if they would be a lock in anyone’s mind. For example what if Denver’s defense was as good as their Super Bowl team this year, would anyone say they would be a lock to win anything with Lynch or Siemian? And the three team’s QB is worse than either of those two.

    Dolphins, Eagles:
    Cutler looked good, but that’s not surprising at all. I think the Dolphins’ offense will be better off with Cutler in some ways because of his ability and wiliness to push the ball down the field. But that will surely lead to more turnovers as well I’m guessing. Tannehill is not really a big turnover guy sort of in the vein of Alex Smith. Ajayi has amazing balance. He often gets hit and is able to stay up-right and keep moving forward. He had a couple plays where the guy wrapped him up, but there was no guarantee he went down so he kept going but they brought the play back. He’s like a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch.

    Wentz was okay. He did seem to get rattled on a couple plays and that wasn’t really something I saw last year, and other than the bomb to Torry Smith, he only completed slants. I thought Cutler looked better in this one. I do think Wentz looks good a lot of times though. He seem to have a quick throwing motion (but a little long would be my guess), and pretty good movement in and out of the pocket.

    Panthers, Jags:
    The Jags looked horrible on offense. They may be a terrible team. I didn’t see Bortles play though, and based on stats he did pretty well. The Panthers were running well. I think that speaks well of their chances and not so well about the Jags.

  371. Reid

    Don,

    But is any team a “lock” to go to the Super Bowl? I don’t think that’s the case, or at least I don’t feel comfortable saying this. And I don’t just mean in a literal sense. I can’t even say that in a figurative sense.

    He’s like a poor man’s Marshawn Lynch.

    What? Really? I haven’t really watched a lot of Ajayi, but still that comparison is a surprise.

    With Cutler, I think the key is the ratio of short and long passes. If he’s throwing a lot of short passes, I think he could be quite productive, and it wouldn’t be too surprising if he could keep his turnovers down. (Whether he could do this in the playoffs is another question.)

    I really hope the Dolphins are good, because if they’re not, the Patriots will likely have another cakewalk into the playoffs.

    Re: Wentz

    One thing I like about him: his mobility and ability to make something happen when a play breaks down. He seems really poised for a young QB as well. It wouldn’t surprise if he’s turns out to be the best QB among the QBs that have been in the league three years or less.

  372. Reid

    Edelman is out for the year with a torn ACL. I think a Bears’ starting WR (Meredith) has a serious injury as well.

    With Edelman, he just planted his foot wrong. It makes me wonder how many of these ACL tears occur in this non-contact situation. If there are a lot of them, more than in the past, then several possible causes come to mind:

    1. The turf or shoes of the players;
    2. Overtraining by the players or a different types of training that may be weakening the ACL;
    3. Not enought training–e.g., the new CBO has a reduced the number and intensity of preseason training.

    Basically, I’m trying to think of whatever is different from the past.

  373. Mitchell

    Are there actually more injuries like this nowadays, or does it just seem that way?

  374. Reid

    Mitchell,

    I don’t really know the answer, but what do you think, especially comparing now to the 70s or 80s? Do you remember this many season-ending injuries in the preseason, particularly ACL tears? From what I remember, ACL injuries back then were career-ending or potentially career-ending. So if they happened with the same frequency as they do now, I would think a lot of careers of good players would have ended prematurely. I could be wrong, though. I haven’t seen any numbers on this.

  375. Mitchell

    Our flow of information is sooooo much greater now there’s no way I can make a fair assessment of whether or not there are more. A player on a team like Jacksonville could have gone out with a career-ending ACL tear in the 70s and we’d never hear about it.

  376. Reid

    To some degree you could be right, but some of these players are crucial starters to their team. Maybe we wouldn’t know about these injuries in the off season, but once regular season games started you don’t think we’d become aware of the injuries to important players? I think it would have been more noticeable if these injuries were career-ending as well.

  377. Mitchell

    I don’t know. We used to have three games on Sundays and one on Mondays. The likelihood that an also-ran like Jacksonville would even be mentioned seems slim most of the time. But I do agree that it seems like there are more such injuries.

  378. Reid

    Maybe we wouldn’t know if the starting LG of the Tampa Bay Bucs was out for the entire season, but if Lee Roy Selmon tore his ACL, I think there’s a decent chance we would have known about this.

  379. don

    Mariota:
    He didn’t have a great game against Chicago, but I still really like what I saw overall. He seemed much more aware within the pocket, and avoided rushers a good portion of the time. He made some great passes (although he missed quite a lot, too), and he threw with good balance. I didn’t think Mariota would look this good after seeing him as a rookie. He took a good step forward last year as well, but so far (and I know it’s only preseason), he has looked even better. I think he could be a top five QB this season if he can stay healthy.

    Bears, Titans:
    The Bears and especially Glennon looked good in this one. I’m afraid that Titans front seven and defense as a whole may not be great again this year, but Lebeau was probably dialing it back and hopefully they will be better, especially against the run, in the regular season. On offense, the Titans tried way too many misdirection plays that didn’t work, and it really hurt the offense’s production.

    Cowboys, Raiders:
    The Cowboys lost Hitchens, who according to the Cowboy insiders, was probably the second or third best defensive player in camp thus far this year. Dak looked pretty good again. Zeke looked good for the few plays he played as well. Carr was hot and cold, but I get that sense from him in general. Although I would say more hot than cold. Dallas’ front seven, especially their front four did okay against a very good offensive line. Oh and Cooper Rush didn’t disappoint again. I hope Dallas has the courage/fortitude to axe Kellen Moore, if indeed that is the right thing to do.

  380. Mitchell

    How did Crabtree and Cooper look? Did they hang onto the freaking ball?

    I actually watched the first half of the 49ers and Vikings. I saw some good stuff, mostly by the Niners. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they push toward .500, but then I always did kind of like Hoyer.

  381. Reid

    (although he missed quite a lot, too)

    That’s what stood out for me—and it’s the main reason I have a more negative impression of his development and performance. He did make good throws, but the inaccurate ones stood out more for me. He threw the ball way too high, way too often in my opinion.

    His feel in the pocket doesn’t seem noticeably different to me, which is not a criticism because I thought his feel for the pocket was pretty good. If there’s a problem in the pocket, I think it involves his footwork. My sense is that QBs that play in spread offenses just don’t develop really great footwork–they stand almost flat-footed when they throw. Actually, they can bounce around, but they’re not using their drop back and hitch steps as a timing device, and I think that can end up hurting their accuracy. (I think this applies to Derek Carr as well.)

    I agree with your other comments about the Bears and Titans. Titans defense didn’t look good, but, as you mention, LeBeau might have been dialing it back. With DCs like him, you can’t really judge their defense in the preseason because they rely so much on disguises and complex blitzing. (Put the Ryan brothers, Bowles–basically 3-4 DCs–in this group.) Having said that, I tend to think they’re not going to be very good, because my impression is that LeBeau is way past his prime.

    Re: Cowboys-Raiders

    My overall impression is that the Cowboys look like the same team as last year. Translation: the defense is solid, but their success rides on the offense controlling the clock, in addition to scoring enough to win.

    Raiders look about the same, too, which means their defense will be pretty bad. This disappoints me not only because I hate watching bad defense, but I was also hoping the Raiders would be more run-oriented.

  382. Reid

    Coop looked good. I didn’t notice any drops by Crab. If anything, what stood out was Carr’s inaccuracy at times.

  383. don

    Mitchell,

    I didn’t watch the entire game, but I’m guessing I saw the parts of the game in which Crab and Coop were playing. I don’t recall either of them having any drops though. They both got overthrown once each if I recall correctly.

  384. don

    Reid,

    So you would be completely surprised if Mariota was a top five QB this year? Not top five stats-wise, since he’s playing on a run-first offense, but top five in terms of being in the running for the MVP. I can see it being Rodgers, Wilson, Brady, Carr and Mariota.

  385. Reid

    Not completely surprised. If the Titans win their division, go deep into the playoffs–it wouldn’t surprise me if he were a candidate for MVP.

    I also wouldn’t be completely surprised if I feel like he is within or very close to the top 5 QBs in the league. I tend to think that won’t happen, though.

    The more I watch him, the more I feel like he should just play in a spread-based offense–like Mike McCoy’s or Adam Gase’s. He seems great at throwing darts in the middle of the field.

  386. Mitchell

    I wouldn’t rule out a DL winning MVP this season. Someone in a Texans uni.

  387. Mitchell

    Actually, how far they go into the playoffs is irrelevant, right? Don’t they vote for MVP after the regular season but before the playoffs?

  388. don

    In contrast although the Bucs have the better team (well more pundits talk about them like they do), I would be sort of surprised if Winston is a top five QB in terms of MVP running.

    Man, Savage didn’t look good the little I saw of him this weekend. I really liked Glennon from the Bears over him for sure. This would make it hard for Mr. Watt to be MVP. The Titans could win that division by three games.

  389. Reid

    Mitchell,

    If a D-linemen or LB has the type of season Watt had a few years ago, I think that’s possible.

    Actually, how far they go into the playoffs is irrelevant, right? Don’t they vote for MVP after the regular season but before the playoffs?

    I’m not sure when they vote, but I think you’re right.

    Don,

    I would be sort of surprised if Winston is a top five QB in terms of MVP running.

    I wouldn’t really be surprised here. Would you be surprised if Winston put up big numbers? I wouldn’t, and I think that plays a big part in whether a QB gets the MVP or not.

    The Titans could win that division by three games.

    I kinda be surprised by this. I guess if the defense of the Jags and Texans are no more than good, then I could see this happening.

  390. Reid

    Seahawks-Chiefs

    Going to vent about the Seahawks. I know you guys probably don’t care, and I would prefer talking about this with other Seahawk fans, but what I’m about to say will be a too much of a downer that I don’t want to be that guy.

    1. Saw comments and video on twitter about Wilson’s performance before I watched the game. I think this jacked up my expectations. He was still good for the most part, but some of his throws (accuracy or decision-making) didn’t look good. Again, maybe these stood out because I had high expectations.

    Every QB has throws they struggle with. I’m getting the sense that Wilson’s is that jump ball on the fade route in the end zone. He had three throws in the past two games that weren’t good. It’s like he’s trying to put too much touch on the ball, and it ends up being short. I feel like he to not only throw it highly, but with a little more speed.

    2. OL actually played well–when the defense rushes four without any stunts, twists, etc. They’ve shown that they can do that. The big question is if they can handle trickier pass rushes or even more complex schemes on running plays. (The run-blocking has been solid so far.) I’m really not optimistic about that. They struggled with the trickier stuff last year as well.

    3. DL doesn’t look that great in my view. I think they can get pushed around in the run game. They can generate some pressure in the passing game, but they don’t look dominant. What this means is that the offense has to be good at eating up the clock. I say this because without a dominant DL, opposing offenses will extend drives, keeping the defense on the field for a long time, and may also score TDs. If the offense doesn’t extend drives themselves, this can create a death spiral for the defense and the team overall.

    I don’t think the OL will be good or consistent enough to do this right now. Hope I’m wrong.

    4. Russell Wilson is supposedly playing at a lighter weight and is in great shape. But he looks slow to me. Either he’s still not 100% or age is getting to him. Kinda sad to see.

  391. Mitchell

    I’m with Steve Young and Mike Wilbon on this the end-zone fade. Only the Patriots should be doing it, or someone with a Gronk-like receiver. The Seahawks don’t have that guy.

  392. Reid

    Jimmy Graham?

  393. don

    I’ll only comment on the last thing about Wilson looking slow. I’ve seen many things in this preseason to know that guys are not going to play at 100% intensity. I saw Beasley jump out-of-bounds while Dallas running back was coming up behind him. The RB was sort of going down already, but if this was a real game and he did that, he wouldn’t play much longer. He didn’t even try to block anyone. I’ve seen veterans not even try to jump into a pile trying to get a fumble. This might not mean consciously they not playing hard, but somehow they know this is a “scrimmage”.

  394. Reid

    You mean, Wilson just was holding back a bit? I hope you’re right, but somehow I don’t think so. There were three occasions where he looked slow: one was to avoid an edge-rusher and the other two involved turning the corner to get to a first down. I don’t think there’s any reason he wouldn’t try his hardest to turn the corner to beat out the guy chasing him. Also, I never got the sense that Wilson looked slow in other preseasons. (He did look slower in last year’s preseason, but he looked chunkier, too. People have said that he weighs less now, but he doesn’t really look thinner, although, even at his lightest, he looked rather husky.)

  395. Reid

    The following speaks partly to why I like these three QBs so much:

    Obviously, I think they perform well given the pressure. I don’t think this applies to 2013, either. With Rivers, among all the really good QBs, I think he might arguably have the weakest supporting cast–and yet, he still performs at a fairly high level. (I think his INTs kinda went up last year, though.)

    I can say something similar about Wilson, especially if you look at his OL.

    With Luck, I think the pressure involves the nature of his offense. That is, they favor long-developing routes. But Luck is pretty great at executing those. (It’s also contributed to him getting banged up in my opinion.)

  396. Reid

    With tweets like this…

    …it’s hard not to feel like the Jets are just giving up their season.

    Some Seattle fans are hoping for a chance at getting Sheldon Richardson. I’m not sure how much of an interior pass-rusher he is, but if he is decent and a really good run-stopper, getting him could turn Seahawks into serious Super Bowl contender, even if the OL doesn’t significantly improve from last year.

  397. don

    Would you be for trading for Richardson for a third and sixth round pick next year, and maybe a fifth the following year? How much is Seattle willing to pay is the question.

  398. mitchell

    The Jets said over the weekend I think that all five OL positions are still up for grabs. That’s insane.

  399. don

    Haha, it’s a garage sale over there.

  400. Reid

    More like fire sale. It is crazy.

    Don,

    I don’t know how good Richardson is, but let’s say he meets the requirements, 3rd and 6th seem reasonable to me. But the contract also has to be fit in with their cap plans (not just for this year), and Richardson has to be a good fit for the team (not disruptive, etc.).

  401. Reid

    Thoughts on Matt Stafford

    I’m sure we’ve talked about this before, but with Stafford’s recent contract, what are your thoughts on Stafford? Is he worth it? How good do you think he is?

    To me, I think he’s in the range of Carson Palmer, Eli, Matt Ryan range. The questions I have involve his ball security and ability to make plays–both in the big games. I’m just not sure.

    I’d feel more confident about his ability to take a team all the way, if he played on a defensive-oriented, run-first team, though.

    One other thing. Of the good QBs, he also hasn’t had great weapons around him (although his OL is solid, in my opinion). Earlier in his career, he had better weapons, but not now.

    Derek Carr

    I get the feeling that some people are jumping the gun on Carr. I like him, and I tend to think he has a bright future. But I think it’s far from certain that he’s going to become an elite QB–like a Brady, Rodgers or even Rivers, Roethlisberger, Wilson. At worst, I’d be surprised if he’s not in the Eli, Ryan, Stafford, Flacco, range, but I get the sense some people feel he’s sure to go beyond that. I also disagree with those who think he’s already past those guys.

  402. Mitchell

    Here’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Sebastian Janikowski was drafted in 2000 in the first round with the 17th pick. I think we’d agree that Janikowski has never been the best kicker in the NFL, and at times may not have been in the top 10. He could drill a 55-yarder but miss a 40-yarder, perhaps not what one thinks of when using a first round pick to get him.

    But now he’s been in the league 17 seasons. He’s worn the Raiders uniform longer than anyone in history, and he’s enormously popular with Raiders fans. In retrospect, did the Raiders make the right move?

  403. Reid

    Off the top of my head, I’d say the Raiders didn’t make the right move. Yeah, he’s played for a long time, but could they have gotten someone who is better (more reliable), and maybe less expensive? I think the chances are good that’s the case. Maybe if he was one of the all time great kickers, you could make a case, but he’s not. I’d rather have someone like Jason Elam, to be honest.

  404. Reid

    Welp–apparently Scot McLoughan, former Redskins GM and wonder scout disagrees with me about Seabass:

  405. Mitchell

    But having a reliable, popular kicker for 17 years means that for 17 years the Raiders haven’t had to think about a kicker, drafting other positions for all those years. When you think about the revolving door that the position can be for a lot of teams, this isn’t a small deal. How many other players in the first round of that draft gave their teams 17 years of true NFL starter play? I agree that Elam was a better kicker, but at some point the Broncos had to find someone to replace him.

    The point of the draft is to get NFL players. The Raiders got one who’s been in the league 17 years. Longevity after some moment has to become a factor in evaluating his value at that draft position.

  406. don

    Contracts cannot be viewed in a vacuum. If all the QBs were getting a contract today, Stafford would barely crack the top ten, would be my guess. Funny you mentioned Carr as well, because I think he and Stafford are pretty comparable. I think both are short of elite because of their turnovers. I don’t see either in the bottom of the league in turnovers, but they are far from elite in that category. I would take Stafford (and Carr) over Palmer (who really hasn’t done much his whole career except two years ago) and Eli (who seems like a bonehead at times). I would probably take both over Flacco as well. I would put him in the Matt Ryan’s tier. I would sort of place Rivers and Roethlisberger (much to Reid’s dismay) in that tier as well. I think these QBs are slightly below Rodgers, Brady, Wilson, and Brees.

    If I had to play one season with the guys mentioned in the Carr post (ie: Ryan, Eli, Stafford, Flacco), I think I would take Carr over all of them, not by much, though.

    I disagree with Reid on Janikowski. Not so much that the Raiders could have picked someone else, but the longevity (and maybe popularity) has to count a lot. Elam may have been better in a few years, but not enough so to make up for the 17 years that Janikowski has been playing.

    On a completely side note, Dallas has lost one of the most snaps from last year based on players leaving. Guys like Church, Carr (Brandon that is), Wilcox (2nd string safety), Crawford (DL), Mo Claiborne, Leary and Free. Yet as it stands right now, they are not projected to start one rookie this year. It could mean they picked up good guys in free agency (which they really didn’t), or the rookies are just not as good as last year’s second stringers. Not a great sign for the Cowboy fans.

  407. don

    Yeah I agree with Mitchell in the longevity issue with Janikowski. There was a time Dallas was picking up guys off the street to kick for them, and it wasn’t pretty. They should hope Dan Bailey can kick for 17 years.

  408. Reid

    Mitchell,

    When you think about the revolving door that the position can be for a lot of teams, this isn’t a small deal

    Is it really a revolving door? I don’t really get that sense. Also, is there really a big dropoff in the terms of the replacement? With someone like Seabass, he’s not always reliable, too–and that’s really what you want, especially in pressure situations. I feel like there’s a ton of good kickers, more than ever before. Also, if you’re keeping a kicker for that long, I’m assuming you’ll be paying more for them, versus getting rookies.

    I don’t get why popularity factors in all that much.

  409. Reid

    Don,

    Funny you mentioned Carr as well, because I think he and Stafford are pretty comparable.

    I agree, but there’s a big difference in my opinion: namely, Carr is still young, and he could get better or even worse. I think I have a better sense of who Stafford is. I will say this: surround Stafford with a good supporting cast (like something similar to the Steelers), and I think he could put up big numbers.

    But ultimately, for me, it comes down to making a few key plays and protecting the ball in a big moments. Can create and perform when a play breaks down (what Bill Walsh refers to as spontaneous genius)? This last point separates the great from the good. I think Roethisberger has that, which is why I think he belongs in the first tier. (Same with Romo.) Rivers might be underrated in this regard, but mostly I have in the first tier because the guy can play in a crowded pocket and still make incredible throws. That counts a lot to me. (For similar reasons, I have Luck high up there.)

    With Brees, I just think age is getting to him, and I think it will cost his team. Same with Brady.

  410. Don

    There were editorials saying anything short of keeping the 6 game suspension for Elliot will look bad for the NFL. I agree.

  411. Reid

    No, idea what’s going on with that now. But yeah, if the punishment is reduced, especially by a lot, then that would make it seem like Goodell doesn’t know what he’s doing. A smaller, reduced penalty may not look so bad, though.

  412. don

    Steve Delvecchio wrote, “… the NFL has a policy where players found guilty of domestic violence are automatically suspended for a minimum of six games.” What message is the NFL sending if they reduce that six game suspension? Again, I’m not sure why the NFL choose to revive this issue on Elliot in the first place, but now that it’s done, they have no choice but to stand pat.

  413. don

    Reid sort of got his wish with Richardson being traded to the Seahawks.

  414. Mitchell

    Oh crap. I need to look up the details.

  415. Reid

    I had a feeling a significant deal was going down as the Seahawks FO shifted monies to Doug Baldwin’s contract, freeing up capspace for this year. From what I understand the move basically guaranteed more money to Baldwin, creating less flexibility for the team. If Baldwin’s future performance dips or if he gets hurt, the Seahawks will be stuck with having to pay him a greater percentage of his contract. From what I understand the Seahawks, under Schneider, have never done this.

    It’s a risky move, but it makes sense to me–if Richardson is truly that good of a DT–i.e., he’s a disruptive run-stopper and inside pass-rushing threat. This is a probably the most important missing pieces right now (besides an O-lineman like Joe Thomas or TJ Lang).

    Everything rides on the OL or DL. If I had my druthers, I’d improve the OL, for a variety of reasons, but the next best move is to improve the DL–and the key area was the interior. If Richardson turns the team into a great run defense, that by itself would be close to worth it to me. And by great run defense, I’m talking about the type where the DL gets create push, penetration, making it almost impossible to run against. What that will do will create long yardage 2nd and 3rd downs, making the offenses more predictable. If the front seven can shut down the running games–that is, the secondary need not be heavily involved in stopping the run–that mitigates the effectiveness of the play action pass.

    A power run-first offense has been the Seahawks weakness in my view. If Richardson is the type of player I’m hoping, he could go a long way to changing that.

    Still, this doesn’t solve the problem of the defense being on the field a lot–and that’s linked to the offense’s ability to extend drives and eat up the clock. That depends on the OL. A positive take on the Richardson addition is that the defense now creates more three-and-outs or turnovers, giving the offense more possessions, and that helps them hit on a few longer drives.

    The other factor is Richardson’s attitude, whether he fits with the team culture. If his attitude is a good fit, and he has the impact I describe, then I really, really like this move. I sort of like the move even if it doesn’t work out, because the logic is sound.

  416. Reid

    On a related note, has any team created the impression that they’re almost tanking before the start of the season? I’m not sure if this is a fair characterization of the Jets (and the Bills), but I do get that vibe. It’s kinda lame if you ask me. It makes sense, but it’s not a good look. It just feels like they’re giving up on the season–wanting to get the first pick.

    Also: it’s annoying that this creates an easier road for the Patriots.

  417. Mitchell

    The argument could be made that the Browns are tanking, although as we discussed before, it feels like a different kind of tanking.

    I don’t think the Niners are tanking, but they definitely have that rebuilding vibe. I’ve always like Hoyer, but he’s not a Super Bowl quarterback; he’s a good enough quarterback. One get the feeling that winning is only a secondary concern with the Niners this season.

    The argument could be made that the excellence of the Patriots is what’s giving the Jets and Bill permission to tank, at least as much as it seems their tanking makes it the playoffs easier to get to for them.

  418. Reid

    It’s the fire sale vibe–the trading of good players–that makes this feel like tanking. I think this is main problem I have with this.

    I don’t have a problem with what the Niners are doing, with regard to going with Hoyer. What it feels like to me is an attempt to build up the defense and any other aspect of the team and then bring in a QB via the draft. I like this formula and I don’t think of this as tanking at all.

    The argument could be made that the excellence of the Patriots is what’s giving the Jets and Bill permission to tank,…

    You honestly find this argument persuasive?

  419. don

    Actually Mitchell is not the first time I heard that about the Patriots being a big part of the reason now is a good time for the division rivals to tank. I heard it by pundits and their argument is sound. If a team is going to tank, now is as good a time as any, with the Patriots being so strong.

    Pundits are saying the Niners’ defense may be pretty good. Solomon Thomas and the Alabama LB was doing pretty good this preseason and camp. They also have Buckner as well. They might be building something similar to what they had under Harbaugh.

  420. Reid

    From SI, comments from four NFL executives and one coach on not taking Kaepernick. Here’s the coach’s comments:

    “No. 1, he was perfect for San Francisco. They were willing to build around him, which he needs. He’s not a pocket passer. So if you bring him in as a backup, and you’re not Seattle or Carolina, and you don’t have those things built in, it’s like you’re running a different offense with your 1s and your 2s. Mike Shanahan had a great theory on this—he wanted to draft Russell Wilson [in 2012], because if something happened to Robert [Griffin], the transition would be clean and easy. So Kaepernick almost has to be in a place where they’ll build a system for him, and teams don’t do that for backups. That’s why his name never even came up here.”

    Why not Carolina, Seattle, or KC?

    Now, it’s not as if there aren’t schematic fits. Carolina and Seattle were the two that the coach above mentioned, and Kansas City is another one. The issues? The Panthers value Derek Anderson as a resource to Cam Newton. The Seahawks dealt with a lot of noise this offseason and didn’t need more. And the Chiefs have Alex Smith, and the history between him and Kaepernick makes even the thought a non-starter.

    Not sure about the reason for Carolina, but I buy the reason for the Seahawks. As you guys know, I still think that if there the team struggles a bit (or even if the offense struggles), I think there’s a good chance Sherman blows up again. A back-up like Kapernick is not worth the risk in my opinion.

  421. Reid

    I assume this means, they’re keeping your guy, Don.

    In other news, another player lost for the season:

  422. Reid

    Trades, waiving of player going on now with new rules are wild and crazy. Pretty fun. Denver waived TJ Ward. Kinda sounded like he’s slipped a bit. Hope he doesn’t go to an NFC West team (e.g., reuniting with Wade Phillips with the Rams) or an AFC West team (like Chargers). Also wouldn’t want him to go to Pats.

  423. Reid

    Sucks if this is accurate. I almost feel like the Colts should “tank” just like the Jets. I feel like the former GM Grigson did such a terrible job that they really need to start from scratch and collect some draft picks.* Also, I almost feel like Luck would be better off not playing. The Colts need to be really careful with him. I feel like they’ve come close to ruining him.

    (* On a side note:

    )

  424. Mitchell

    This was a fun read. Thirteen ESPN people who have votes in the NFL MVP poll vote for their predicted recipients of six awards.

  425. Mitchell

    NFL Moneyball is Hurting the Browns, Jets, Bills, and Competitive Balance, by Mike Tanier of Bleacher Report. A very good read. I agree with a lot of his criticisms (I’m on the record as being opposed to tanking in the NFL), but I disagree with his time table. He says if you cut down for a rebuilding year, use those draft picks and rebuild, but then start competing the next year. He’s offering only a one-year Moneyball rebuilding window, but I think the Browns have the better idea, going for that third or fourth year. Look at how Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, and Khalil Mack blossomed in their third year. Now imagine four years after the Browns have a good draft where they have a ton of second- and third-round picks. This is what I think the Browns are going for, and it could be amazing.

  426. Reid

    I read the Tanier article. I have a different understanding of what Tanier means regarding a one-year window. Here’s the salient quote:

    The NFL is built to make quick turnarounds possible. One rebuilding year of cap purging and draft binging? Fine. After that, you better start competing, because the process of competing is what develops talent, not waiting for a magical draft haul.

    What does he mean by “start competing?” I think this is the key. To me, this doesn’t mean that the team will be really good after one year–really good as in make the playoffs. I take this to mean that the team will improve significantly, that they’ll take significant steps away from being utterly terrible. For example, instead of 2-14, your team ends up in the .500 range. If this is what he means, I agree with this.

    I don’t think he’s saying that a team has to become a playoff team in one year. I believe Bill Parcells believed that you needed about three years to convert a bad team into a playoff team, and you should plan accordingly. That is, you shouldn’t try cut corners or do something rash to become a good team in a shorter time frame. I think Tanier would agree with this.

    I think the main problem with the teams he mentions–or at least a real danger–is that those teams will send the message to their coaches, players, and fans that winning doesn’t really matter. In fact, losing (in the short term) is actually better. This is a really dangerous message to send in my view. It’s the sort of the thing that can be hard to expunge from an organization.

    By the way, I also thought of the Raiders when reading this. Reggie McKenzie did not do what the Jets, Browns, and Bills are doing. Early in his tenure, he brought in veterans–you could argue he overpaid for them. (Justin Tuck, Maurice Jones-Drew, a pass-rusher from the Steelers, whose name escapes me now.) The explanation was that he wanted to bringing in veterans who knew how to win, but he also signed them to short-term contracts that wouldn’t hurt the future cap. Raiders ended up losing a few years, and that translated to the good picks. To me, this was the right way. He didn’t really go crazy on trying to hoard picks. By the wayy, part of the reason McKenzie overpaid for these veterans was that good free agents didn’t want to come to Oakland. I believe McKenzie tried to get some of these players, like Ndamukong Suh, for example. tried to bring in high-priced free agents that could be foundational players, but no one wanted to come to Oakland. In other words, McKenzie was trying to win now. He wasn’t giving up on the season ahead of him.

    Edit

    I forgot to mention where I might disagree with Tanier. I think what he’s talking about is a potential danger for the Jets, Bills, and Browns. That is, it’s not clear that all three are doing what he says. For example, getting rid of Richardson for a 2nd round pick makes sense not only for getting the pick, but for football reasons. Not only was he a problem in terms of attitude, but I feel like the Jets have two other talented players at a similar position (Wilkerson and Williams). So it makes sense to get another player. Having said that, overall, the Jets do seem to be sending out a vibe that they’re giving up on this season, and that’s something I’d be worried about.

    With the Browns, they seemed to make good draft picks, so they seem like they have something nice to build on this season. Getting rid of Haden, Osweiler, and Erving don’t strike me as tanking, too. We’ll see.

  427. Reid

    For Don,

  428. Reid

    Just listened to the most recent podcast with Michael Lombardi. I like his podcasts, but I must admit I do wonder about some of his opinions. For example, in a previous podcast where he rated DBs, either blue or red chip players, Sherman not only didn’t make the blue chip list, Lombardi didn’t mention him on the red chip list. Also, Brent Grimes made the blue chip list. I didn’t really watch Grimes last year, and I never watched him closely, so maybe he’s right. Still, it does give me pause about his judgment.

    He said some other things in the recent podcast that I’m not sure I agree with, either. For example, he seems to think that Sheldon Richardson will be fine in Seattle, despite his bad reputation. Lombardi’s description of Richardson worries me. He mentioned if you talk to any teammate or coach of Richardson’s, they all basically say he’s really difficult to be around. But Lombardi feels like this won’t be a problem because of Seattle’s culture and the players in the locker room.

    If I were confident that things were smoothed out with Sherman–that Sherm won’t be a problem–I might be more confident about this. But I’m not. If Sherm is crossing the line, and coaches aren’t responding accordingly, I think that will have a bad effect on Richardson–if he, indeed, is a problem player.

  429. don

    I know Sherm can and probably will be a problem. But isn’t Sherm still popular and liked among his teammates? I think it’s different when a player is a prima donna and teammates don’t care for him, versus if coaches and the front office have a problem with a guy.

  430. Reid

    I don’t know if Sherm is well-liked, but I would assume that versus assuming they don’t like him. I also think he’s well respected among players and coaches. I’m curious to hear why you think that matters, though. To me, this is about understanding that certain lines, between coaches and players, can’t be crossed; and Sherm crossed lines, but he doesn’t seem to think he did. You don’t think that’s a big problem, if it’s true? If so, how does the way his teammates feel about Sherm change this?

  431. don

    What Sherm did is a big problem, but how his teammates view that problem is more of a key than how coaches view that problem, imo. If the teammates think Sherm was wrong and thinks he’s a diva then there’s a part of them that wants to see Sherm fail. Not over losing of course, but there will be less support among his teammates. But if the teammates still love Sherm and think, “eh it’s just Sherm being Sherm”, they will fight for him and with him. Bottom line, I think there’s a big difference between a player “losing” his bosses/coaches versus him losing his coworkers/teammates with the latter being much worst.

  432. Reid

    I would be very surprised if the vast majority of players didn’t think what Sherm did was wrong. And if that’s the case, Carroll and the organization is in big trouble in my opinion. I would say that the majority of players really don’t have the appropriate level of respect for the coach’s authority, and if that’s the case, then the organization won’t be functional.

    You seem to be thinking this about the way players respond to Sherm, but I’m seeing this as the way the players respect and perceive the coach. Think of a workplace. If one employee disrespects the boss, crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed–and doesn’t express any kind of remorse for this–and nothing really happens to that employee, if this happens more than once, you don’t think there’s a real danger that the other employees will begin to lose respect for the boss? that other employees may also behave inappropriately?

  433. Mitchell

    Would you?

  434. Reid

    Would I start to lose respect for the boss? Yes, there’s a real good chance of losing respect for my boss.

    Would I start behaving inappropriately? I’ll put it this way: my behavior and performance can begin to slip, when it otherwise would not.

  435. Mitchell

    Are you sure? Because we’re not talking about a deficiency on the part of the boss, necessarily. We’re talking about a coworker grumbling about the boss. You’d lose respect based on whether or not the boss kept the employee around? I find this hard to believe.

  436. Reid

    I think we’re absolutely talking about a deficiency on the part of the boss. The employee is crossing a line–basically, challenging and disrespecting the boss. A boss can overlook this sort of thing to some degree, but if he lets this go too often, it’s a deficiency on the bosses part. Look at this way: if you see someone allow themselves to be disrespected, won’t your respect for them diminish as well? (I’m talking about a situation where the person actually has the power to do something.)

    By the way, I would see the person doing the disrespecting in a negative light as well.

  437. Mitchell

    I think a professional like you and his professional colleagues would see the disrespector negatively, and perhaps apply some pressure to lay off. When a leader is competent, there’s seldom any need to squash people down when they “cross a line.” My experience has been that the rank-and-file responds to the leader, not the disrespector. Sure, one style of management is to end the bad behavior, but another is to continue to work with everyone and bring out the best in them. If you keep doing that, you will not lose the respect of the team.

    I don’t know what’s going on with the coaches and Sherman. But I know enough about him that trying to squash him down into some idea of meekness or obedience is useless. Give him room to be himself and if you’re good at your job, he’ll come around.

    I don’t really want to get into a management philosophy debate about this, but I do think you’re making assumptions that don’t need to be true. If this is the team whose members love each other as you have on occasion claimed, Sherman’s outbursts can be overcome or tolerated without his teammates losing respect for the coaches. They’re pros. They know when they’re being coached well.

    That team supported the heck out of Lynch when he disrespected any supposed authority at all. They laughed when he grabbed his crotch as he flew over the goal line. They smiled when he repeatedly said “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” I think they can handle a little bit of discontentment on the part of one teammate.

  438. Reid

    Sure, one style of management is to end the bad behavior, but another is to continue to work with everyone and bring out the best in them. If you keep doing that, you will not lose the respect of the team.

    You won’t lose the respect if you allow a subordinate(s) to repeatedly disrespect you? Is there a point where you would begin to lose respect for that person?

    But I know enough about him that trying to squash him down into some idea of meekness or obedience is useless. Give him room to be himself and if you’re good at your job, he’ll come around.

    I’m not advocating squashing Sherm into “some idea of meekness and obedience.” This characterization suggests you’re looking at this in black and white terms. Carroll has given a lot of flexibility for his players to be themselves, including Sherman. I’ve never had a problem with Sherm in the past, but there are lines that can’t and shouldn’t be crossed. Do you agree that? If so, if a player crosses that line, and doesn’t admit he did anything wrong–and suppose he continues to cross this line–you think it’s OK to ignore this?

    That team supported the heck out of Lynch when he disrespected any supposed authority at all. They laughed when he grabbed his crotch as he flew over the goal line. They smiled when he repeatedly said “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” I think they can handle a little bit of discontentment on the part of one teammate.

    This isn’t about discontent or a player being obnoxious or difficult. I think Lynch was all of those things. I suspect Michael Bennett and Sherman can be like this as well. I don’t think a coach has to crack down hard on these individuals, eliminating all the behavior and actions that make that person difficult to deal with. Carroll is famous for tolerating and effectively dealing with those type of players, and I’m supportive of this approach.

    Where we seem to differ is that I think there are lines that can’t be crossed–lines that can’t be crossed too often. Publicly yelling at your coaches–the OC being even more egregious in my view–and then not apologizing for this, not thinking you did anything wrong–that’s crossing a line for me. I’m not 100% sure if this accurately describes the situation, but if it’s right, you don’t think this is a line that can’t be crossed? If an employee, at a public gathering, screams at his supervisor, questioning the supervisor’s judgment, and then later refuses to apologize because he thinks he’s entitled to speak this way, a line has been crossed has it not? If the employee continues to do this, and the supervisor does nothing, won’t that be a problem?

  439. Mitchell

    I think I’ve spent too much of my career in a field where being disrespected is part of the job. When our classmates disrespected our 12th grade poli-sci teacher, my fondness for the teacher grew and my respect for them shrunk. So I think we’re either built differently or I just see that kind of behavior as part of the challenge of managing. Yes, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed, but they primarily have to do with whether or not the person is invested in the work that’s being done (which Sherman clearly is) or maintaining a safe environment for everyone to be him- or herself. But those lines are drawn far ahead of time so that when you cross them, you’re effectively resigning.

    Anyway, I suspect that if the team succeeds, Sherman will just stop. He’s frustrated by losing, as all good competitors are.

  440. Reid

    When our classmates disrespected our 12th grade poli-sci teacher, my fondness for the teacher grew and my respect for them shrunk.

    I’m not sure what forms of disrespect you’re thinking of, but not all forms of disrespect constitute crossing a line. But go back to the specific example I gave–where an employee, in public setting, screams at screams at his supervisor, questioning the supervisor’s judgment, and then later refuses to apologize because he thinks he’s entitled to speak this way. Let’s say the employee is entirely committed to the work–this isn’t crossing the line?

    And, if the employee doesn’t think that he did anything wrong, that he’s entitled to treating his supervisor this–and the supervisor does nothing, allowing this to occur in the future–not only will this be problematic for the organization, but I find it hard to believe that the respect for that individual, as a supervisor, won’t be diminished. (I guess there are exceptions–if the supervisor was like Jesus, then I might feel differently about this.)

    Is there no situation where you would lose respect for an individual because they allow others to disrespect them?

    Anyway, I suspect that if the team succeeds, Sherman will just stop. He’s frustrated by losing, as all good competitors are.

    Now, this I agree with–if they have success, this shouldn’t be an issue.

    But the last line, as a rationale for his behavior, is bogus to me. You can be a great competitor and not cross lines. Being a competitor doesn’t give you permission to cross those lines. (One of the things that bugged me is that, at some point, Sherm seemed to imply this, saying something like he has such high standards and that he’s a competitor. This implies that the DC, OC, and Coach Carroll don’t have the same high standards. And even if this were true, it’s wrong to reflect this in your public actions.)

    Edit

    Note: To be clear, when I talk about losing respect, I’m talking about losing respect for the individual as a professional, not necessarily as a person. I could also like this person, personally. Liking the person, being friends with them, even, that’s not necessarily connected to my respect for them as a professional.)

  441. Mitchell

    Jesus is the most admirable person I can think of, so my answer is no to “Is there no situation where you would lose respect for an individual because they allow others to disrespect them?” It’s also no to “an employee, in public setting, screams at screams at his supervisor, questioning the supervisor’s judgment, and then later refuses to apologize because he thinks he’s entitled to speak this way. Let’s say the employee is entirely committed to the work–this isn’t crossing the line?”

    If I’m okay with one person doing it, I’ll communicate to everyone else that I’m okay with them doing it, too. Let’s have it out. And then let’s get to work. My experience (limited though it may be) has been that this is a way to gain the respect of the people you manage, including the complainer.

  442. Mitchell

    …and the forms of disrespect I’m talking about in my poli-sci example were never listening to the teacher, not taking her class seriously, wrestling in the back row, and lying down on the floor in the aisles while she’s trying to teach. We were terrible to her.

  443. Reid

    Jesus is the most admirable person I can think of, so my answer is no to “Is there no situation where you would lose respect for an individual because they allow others to disrespect them?”

    I don’t get the logic you’re using, here. I get that you could still respect Jesus–and maybe respect him more–because people treat him disrespectfully. But why would that apply to someone who is not Jesus or very similar to him?

    It’s also no to “an employee, in public setting, screams at screams at his supervisor, questioning the supervisor’s judgment, and then later refuses to apologize because he thinks he’s entitled to speak this way. Let’s say the employee is entirely committed to the work–this isn’t crossing the line?

    OK, as a general rule, I strongly disagree with this. Does this mean that you don’t think there are ways of talking to a superviors and situations that are inappropriate and wrong?

  444. Reid

    Did AP have serious ball security issues? Was he really that bad at catching and blocking? I have no idea if this is true. But my initial reaction is that I totally disagree with Cowherd on this. AP was one of the best RBs I’ve seen, and he played on a bad offense for most of his career. In a way, he reminds me of Sweetness, except he never had a Jim McMahon. Tiki or Curtis Martin (whom I like)? It’s not close for me. I’d say AP is a better back. If they switched teams, I think there’s a good chance AP would have won one or more Super Bowls, while those other two would have had just OK careers.

  445. Reid

    Hopefully not serious, but this is still irritating.

  446. Mitchell

    Yes. As I said, if a person behaves in a way that makes it not a safe place for himself, herself, or others, that’s over the line. There are things you can say that threaten the safety of others.

  447. Reid

    Yes. As I said, if a person behaves in a way that makes it not a safe place for himself, herself, or others, that’s over the line. There are things you can say that threaten the safety of others.

    But an employee can basically say anything to his/her boss, anytime, in any situations without crossing the line? (I still have a hard time believing you think what Sherm did is OK, including not apologizing or not thinking it was wrong.)

  448. Mitchell

    I didn’t say that. I said that if a person says something that makes the workplace unsafe for himself, herself, or others, it’s over the line.

    And yeah. We have different ideas about what’s okay and what’s not okay. I think what Sherman did was tactless and unwise, but I wouldn’t consider it over the line if I were his coach.

  449. Reid

    I didn’t say that. I said that if a person says something that makes the workplace unsafe for himself, herself, or others, it’s over the line.

    Sorry, I meant to ask this: the employee can basically say anything to his/her boss, anytime, in any situations–as long as it doesn’t make the workplace unsafe for him/herself or others— without crossing the line?

    In my opinion, this standard is totally unworkable. I can’t imagine any well-functioning workplace, family, organization, where individuals with less authority interact with people higher authority applying the standard above.

  450. Mitchell

    It’s certainly not good, but it can be worked out. As I’ve said, I spent most of my career doing work where this is just part of the job. It seldom continued, but it was certainly recurring. I don’t mean to make this all about me, but since my experience is all I have, I kind of have to. When you are competent at your job and when you treat others with respect, you usually get respect back. When you don’t, you talk about it and work things out. I don’t understand why it has to doom a working or familial relationship to failure when someone disrespects you publicly. I can certainly see how it might, but there are few things that can’t be worked out.

  451. Reid

    It’s certainly not good, but it can be worked out.

    Wait, what’s not good? You mean this:

    the employee can basically say anything to his/her boss, anytime, in any situations–as long as it doesn’t make the workplace unsafe for him/herself or others— without crossing the line

    ?

    If so, I thought you were saying this is OK. I’m confused.

    As to whether this can be worked out or not–that’s a separate question–and it depends on what you mean. If a person crosses a line he shouldn’t, that’s not the end of the world.

    I don’t understand why it has to doom a working or familial relationship to failure when someone disrespects you publicly.

    It’s important that we’re talking about an unequal relationship, in terms of authority–e.g., employer-employee, teacher-student, parent-child–not one that is basically equal–e.g., coworker-coworker, classmate-classmate, etc.

    When an employee disrespects the employer, in a way that crosses the line, and the employer let’s go, when they shouldn’t–that can lead to a dysfunctional and unhealthy situation in my opinion.

    Actually, to be clear, I was specifically referring to the idea that employees can say or do whatever they want, in any situation and time, to their employer–as long it doesn’t create an unsafe situation for others. To me, if this the attitude of employees and management, I do think that organization is doomed.

  452. mitchell

    Wait, in your view, there’s only “okay” and “over the line?” Can’t it be undesirable behavior but not over the line? This must be why we’re not communicating. I think of “over the line” as intolerable. When you manage people, of course you’re going to have to deal with undesirable behavior, but that doesn’t put it over the line. Over the line means you just can’t have it, no?

    Of course I wouldn’t want my students to say whatever they want to me, whenever they want. But I have to manage them, which means I have to teach them to work out our differences like people who care about and respect each other. When it happens, I approach it as a problem that two people need to solve, and so far we always have.

  453. Reid

    Can’t it be undesirable behavior but not over the line?

    Yes, but I thought you were saying that it’s acceptable, OK, if an employee says or does anything to an employer–unless it creates an unsafe situation. But it sounds like you’re not saying that. It sounds like you agree that some behavior is inappropriate and wrong even if they don’t create an unsafe situation. Yes?

    I think of “over the line” as intolerable. When you manage people, of course you’re going to have to deal with undesirable behavior, but that doesn’t put it over the line. Over the line means you just can’t have it, no?

    Yes, but I have a feeling we’re defining intolerable differently. It sounds like you mean “intolerable” in a more literal or extreme sense–e.g., physical assault. To me, crossing the line is intolerable in the sense that it is clearly inappropriate and wrong. If an employee does this, he should apologize. For example, an employee criticizing his employer, in a publicly humiliating and embarrassing way crosses the line to me. The employee should apologize. If he doesn’t, if he thinks there’s nothing wrong with what he did, then that’s a significant problem in my opinion. I would say it is intolerable in the sense that it is clearly wrong and inappropriate–and the employer needs to clearly convey that this is wrong and unacceptable behavior…Well, I should say that there comes a point where the employer has to enforce that line, and if the employer fails to do this, then he is in danger of losing respect of his employees. If this is a pattern, then I don’t think many of the employees would respect the employer, professionally, and I would guess the organization doesn’t function very well.

    Of course I wouldn’t want my students to say whatever they want to me, whenever they want.

    OK, good to know. It almost sounded like you didn’t feel this way.

    But I have to manage them, which means I have to teach them to work out our differences like people who care about and respect each other. When it happens, I approach it as a problem that two people need to solve, and so far we always have.

    Sure, but communicating rules and expectations are part of management, right? And isn’t the enforcement of rules, meting out appropriate consequences when lines are crossed included in this?
    I’m not saying you simply mete out harsh punishment when rules are broken. There are stages to the process. Patience and tolerance are appropriate. But I do think there comes a time when serious consequences have to occur. Carroll was super tolerant and patient with Percy Harvin. When Harvin refused to go into the game (at the end of a close contest with the Cowboys), I think that was the last straw, and the consequence was being traded. Was that too harsh? Was it the right time for the right reason? I’m not sure. Given that there were other incidents prior to this, I thought this was appropriate.

    Patience and tolerance of problematic behavior from a player is OK as long as it doesn’t significantly undermine the authority of the coach and the respect of the players for that coach, and the values and culture of the organization. Too much patience and tolerating problematic does have the danger of doing all of this, in my opinion.

  454. Mitchell

    Ugh. I don’t have the energy for this tonight, but I’ll try to get to it tomorrow. I’ll just say here that I hate rules and try not to have any except for myself. It’s not a good way to have relationships with people, and I think managing people is about having relationships.

  455. Reid

    Relationships have rules, though–maybe not formal or explicit, but there are expectations and standards with regard to relationships. Is it possible to have a good relationship with this sort of thing? (It doesn’t seem that way to me.)

  456. Mitchell

    I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree once again to disagree, because even looking back at what I wrote last night, I think I didn’t communicate well. Because I _do_ think those undesirable behaviors are okay. I think of them as opportunities to work on something important, so when I clarified that I think they’re undesirable, I somehow communicated that I don’t think they’re tolerable, which isn’t the case.

    I think we can agree that there are different management philosophies, and one doesn’t necessarily work to the exclusion of the rest. I acknowledge that you don’t think mine would work, if in fact you believe mine even exists (which I can’t seem to convince you of), and I can live with that. But I think you’re coming strong with a belief that what Sherman did is just universally unacceptable, and I don’t see it that way.

    As much as I dislike the Seahawks, I find myself kind of rooting for them now, on this first day of the season, because of Michael Bennett. Man, I wish Seattle had had some testicles and signed Kaepernick too.

  457. Reid

    Because I _do_ think those undesirable behaviors are okay.

    But on some level, if the behavior is undesirable, it’s not OK, right? To me, a behavior that is OK is neutral or even desirable. The person in authority won’t be trying to change that behavior. Why would they? But a boss, coach, or parent would try to change undesirable behaviors of those they are responsible for, especially behaviors that are really undesirable, inappropriate, wrong, etc.

    If Sherman believes he’s entitled to publicly criticize the coaches in the way that he did–that he doesn’t believe an apology is warranted–do you think that’s something Carroll and the organization should address, as in try to change, or do you think they can ignore it, because the behavior is essentially OK?

    My position is that Carroll and the organization need to address it. Do we agree on that?

    Also, my guess is that they really haven’t addressed the issue adequately if Sherman still feels like he did nothing wrong. And I would predict that this problem will blow up in the future.

    As much as I dislike the Seahawks, I find myself kind of rooting for them now, on this first day of the season, because of Michael Bennett.

    For what it’s worth, I think you should like the Seahawks and Carroll because his style of management is very close to the style you seem to favor (and it’s an approach that I really like as well).

  458. Mitchell

    I think it depends on what you mean by “address” it. When a student disrespects me, it’s not the behavior that bothers me but what’s underneath it. If it’s simply a matter of the student not respecting me, that almost always takes care of itself over time. If I know the student respects me but he publicly disses me anyway, there’s something else going on and I’m interested in addressing that.

    I learned a long time ago that an undesirable behavior is seldom about its most immediate, apparent issue. So if by address you mean work things out so that these expressions find a better way out, then yeah. I’m not as interested in policing the behavior, at least not without a conversation first about why it exists.

    It’s undesirable for a child to pee on your carpet. But at a certain age, it’s okay. And if we are all works in progress, I’m more interested in growth. Mutual growth if that’s what’s called for.

    I like Carroll but if what you’ve communicated about him is true, I’m not down with him too much. I don’t like rules, and you’ve said he’s pretty firm about a few rules that are very poorly defined.

  459. Reid

    I think it depends on what you mean by “address” it.

    I think this ultimately means changing the undesirable behavior. There are many ways to do this, but if Sherman continues to feel entitled to publicly criticize the coaches in the way that he did, for example, then I don’t think the coaches/organization have adequately addressed the issue.

    And if it continues, I think this can really undermine the authority and effectiveness of the coaches, and poison the culture of the organization. I’m guessing you don’t agree with this?

    And if we are all works in progress, I’m more interested in growth. Mutual growth if that’s what’s called for.

    Sure, I think where we differ is that I think there’s a point where the person in authority has to mete out more severe punishment. That if you keep trying to work with the person to improve, giving them chance after chance, the person will stop taking what you say seriously. There’s also a danger that other people under your responsibility will also stop taking you seriously as well. The expectations and rules you’ve set up will begin to mean very little.

    My sense is that you think that some significant negative consequence is never needed to enforce expectations and rules–that developing a good relationship eliminates the need for that. If that’s accurate, this is an area where we disagree. I think developing good relationship, genuinely caring for those you are responsible can really reduce the need for punitive measures. But I don’t think you can eliminate that from the toolkit (or only use it for unsafe behavior).

    I like Carroll but if what you’ve communicated about him is true, I’m not down with him too much. I don’t like rules, and you’ve said he’s pretty firm about a few rules that are very poorly defined.

    Don’t rely on my description. The way you describe your ideas about managing a class is very close to how Carroll coaches his players.

You can add images to your comment by clicking here.