Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cutler/Broncos drama

Boy I can't wait until the draft, then training camp, and the regular season. The itch for football needs to be scratched and scratched soon. Maybe the start of the baseball regular season will alleviate that itch, but only time will tell.

Today Matt Cassel was traded, along with Mike Vrabel to Kansas City for a second round pick. But a bigger story was the fact that Jay Cutler was supposedly dangled out there in an attempt by Josh McDaniels to land Matt Cassel. Cassel, who is now a Chief, worked with McDaniels last season when Tom Brady went down with a season ending knee injury. Conflicting reports, and sidebars have been going around on this all day. One minute you hear, that Denver has been dangling him in trade talks, and then the next minute you hear that Denver was approached. There is no way of any of us knowing, without inside information which side of the equation is true. I'm going to go with the Denver has been dangling him side of the story, since you don't normally hear the name of a young franchise QB in trade talks EVER. To me, that says that the Broncos had to at least be leading on that he could be available. Now to my thoughts:

-I think the notion that Cassel is better than Cutler, or is worth trading or potentially eternally pissing off Cutler is absolutely ridiculous. I mean, when I heard this and read the unfolding drama that then came after this I couldn't help but say several times, 'All this for a bum quarterback?'. Seriously this is Matt Cassel, we are talking about. The guy who looked lost for the majority of last season, the guy who besides AFC West teams, compiled an absolutely mediocre 13 TDs to 10 INTs, the guy who was essentially playing on a record setting offense, with possibly the biggest changing threat in the NFL, the guy who looked absolutely putrid against any halfway decent defense he played against all year. Yeah, that guy. Whenever I read a trade rumor involving any current or ex Patriot, I feel like I am in the twilight zone.

- I find it funny how a brand new coach comes in, fresh off riding the coattails of Bill Belichick (See: Weis, Charlie, and Crennel, Romeo) and his first important order of business is trying to move Jay Cutler, the Broncos franchise player, and a 24 year old top 10 quarterback. And assuming that the Broncos are the ones that have initiated the talks, it says a lot about the classic Patriot arrogance (Believe me I am a Notre Dame fan, and Charlie Weis for someone who has accomplished jack as a head coach just OOZES arrogance). It's one thing if Jay Cutler was someone like Matt Schaub, but he isn't, he's a young, super talented, productive QB who also happens to be a fan favorite. So McDaniels is willing to piss off Cutler (if the potential trade fell through like it did), and have the entire city of Denver lined up against him and calling for his head at every opportunity for......... Matt 'I have no pocket presence, and can't throw anything deep for the life of me' Cassel? Interesting.

- So, once again assuming that Denver management is behind this, isn't this quite the confidence in a coach who comes from a Coaching Tree that has not ONE TIME, produced an even respectable head coach? So, let's say the Broncos go ahead and trade Jay Cutler, then what happens if McDanels and Cassel both flop, which given history is actually very likely? Not only do you need a new head coach, now you have to start over at the QB position, because you gave free reign to a coach who has proven absolutely nothing. I'm sure that would go over well. I guess McDaniels wanted someone who has no sense of what a pocket is, but can throw the 5 yard come back route like a champ!!

-Apparently, Bill Belichick is the only reason Jay Cutler is still in a Broncos uniform as he supposedly rejected a trade that would have netted him the #12 overall pick instead of the second round pick he did get. Perhaps, he was trying to stick it to McDaniels or help out Pioli. Which one remains to be seen, but if not for the Patriot ties we are probably talking about the Buccaneers acquisition of Cutler, while only giving up a 3rd round pick. Perhaps he had a gentleman's agreement with Piolo and just went through with it. Who knows?

- After reading Cutler's initial comments, which were taken somewhat out of context, I thought he was being a bit of a drama queen but after reading the whole transcript of the interview with Chris Mortensen I thought he was just being his usual candid self. Sometimes, his candid nature, and him taking things too hard can be his downfall. Watching him as much as he has, when something goes wrong, he tends to take it hard and try even harder to avenge the wrongdoing often times by forcing a throw. I do think that Cutler is the reason this is even a story given his comments and how he apparently feels spurned but I can't fault him for his honesty. He was just being honest with the way he felt, and not your usual PC athlete. 'You have to respect the other team, they are a good team, regardless of who the team is'. My favorite in this regard is Bill Belichick after a game with the Jets in 2005, 'Brooks Bollinger is a threat at the QB position, as he can throw the ball and run the ball, you have to gameplan for him and worry about him because he is dangerous. Really, Bill!

- To the readers, I want you to put your thinking caps on for a second. Can you name ONE player who New England traded or released who actually went on to be good for another team? And by good, I mean good, not passable, average, intangibles and magic laden, flat out good. Ty Law? Lawyer Milloy? Deion Branch? David Givens? Willie McGinest? What makes anyone think this will be any different?

- What is so special about Matt Cassel? Asides from AFC West opponents, all of which were mediocre, he compiled 13 TDs to 10 INTs as I stated earlier. His pocket presence is brutally bad. His accuracy on anything even remotely considered deep is pitiful. Randy Moss playing with a decent QB, puts up 15+ TDs this season. Seriously, the guy performed admirably on what was previously a record setting offense. He has mediocre stamped all over him. For the record I think Tyler Thigpen is a better quarterback than Cassel, and barring a trade, I feel bad for the young man. He proved he can ball last year in horrific playing conditions (ie horrific head coach, no offensive line, no defense) and kept that team in games, and now he loses his job to an overrated, system quarterback. Maybe Pioli (and McDaniels for that matter) wanted someone who can execute the checkdown. Lord knows Cassel performs it more and better than anyone else.

-If Cutler proves to actually be on the trading block, half the NFL should be giving calls to Denver, including the New York Jets. As of right now I have no faith in the Jets, but if they manage to pull a miracle and get Cutler for a non Hershcel Walker type of package, my faith will be somewhat restored.

It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The first day of Free Agency

Boy has it been a busy day, whew. I don't think I've ever hit the refresh button so many times in my life. 'Bart Scott signed', 'No he didn't', 'He's giving the Ravens a chance to match', 'It's official', 'No it's not'.

Let me start by saying that the 'I must beat other journalists to the punch' type of attitude is very frustrating. Now I understand that it is just them doing their jobs, and it is something that can't be avoided, but reading 10 different things in 10 minutes isn't exactly rosy.

Now on to the signings/transactions

Albert Haynesworth, Skins- Big Al becomes the first non QB in NFL history to see a contract in excess of 100 million dollars. I've changed my mind several times on this signing, as it's a tough one in which to form a solid opinion. Haynesworth has been a great DT for the last 4 years, and an utterly dominant one over the course of the last 2 seasons. But he hasn't played a full season since 2002, and his 2 best years came in contract years. On the flip side, he has been arguably the best DT in football for the last 2 seasons, he provides versatility as he can play both tackle and end, and is flat out nasty against the run. Albert is an excellent player, but after getting his payday will he care enough to continue being the excellent player he has been? 100 million is a lot to give for anyone (there is only one player worth that and his name is Peyton Manning), but the Redskins haven't had a good defensive line since when? The Ice Age? A defensive line rotation featuring Anthony Montgomery, Cornelius Griffin, and Albery Haynesworth sounds nice. We'll see how it works out.

DeAngelo Hall, Washington Redskins- I don't understand how this guy continues to get major paydays, regardless of the Redskins consistently dancing like Beyonce around the salary cap. Well at least Washington didn't give up anything besides the loot for him. The presence of Albert Haynesworth could help him immensely. With Shawn Springs all but out the door, they might as well give Hall a chance to show his worth. The money amount is ridiculous, but Jay-Z might as well be the official spokesman for the Washington Redskins, as their motto should be 'Money Ain't a Thang'.

Bart Scott, New York Jets- As a Jets fan, I'm not pleased that they gave a guy who has done very little since 2006, as much money as they did. Looking at it from an outsider's point of view, Rex Ryan is the new coach, Scott was his former player and the Jets had a gaping hole at ILB, so it makes sense from that standpoint. I've never really viewed Scott as anything more than average, save for his 2006 season, but if anyone knows what he is or isn't capable of it's Rex Ryan. Hopefully Rex knows what he is doing.

Jonathan Vilma, New Orleans Saints- Nice young linebacker, but one who has a knee problem. The biggest problem with the Saints is the defense, so you might as well keep one of the few even remotely bright spots on that defense in hopes that you could build around him. I think he's a better player than Bart Scott and he got signed to a more reasonable contract. This was a no-brainer for the Saints.

Kellen Winslow, traded to the Buccaneers for undisclosed draft picks- I'll keep it short and sweet on this one. Winslow must have REALLY become a malcontent behind the scenes for Cleveland to just move someone as talented as he is for undisclosed draft picks. Though, I'll dust one off for the Jets fans that might read this, 'Winslow isn't a Mangini guy'. Boy did I ABHOR that expression. Good grief.

Lito Sheppard, traded to the Jets for conditional picks- I've long said that Lito is one of the more overrated players in the entire NFL. The little, and well over hyped, success he did have was a product of the scheme more than anything else, and even with that he got burnt a ton in Philadelphia. The compensation can go as high a second, but I'd be floored if Philadelphia sees that. At least here, he'll be covering #2s for the most part, which should help him. I just can't get excited with Mr. Burnt Like Toast lining up opposite Revis come opening day. As I said earlier, hopefully Rex knows what he is doing. By the way, this move isn't official yet.

-Ray Lewis' ego must have taken a big hit today. Bart Scott's phone ringing off the hook since yesterday, and Lewis' ex coordinator, choosing Scott over him? Ouch, I wonder if Ray still thinks he is a 10 million a year player, or is he going to go back to Baltimore and take less. I'm very interested to see how that plays out.

- A zillion contradictory reports coming out about Brian Dawkins to the Broncos. If that happens, it honestly makes me sad, though I am the furthest thing from a fan of the Eagles. He gave his heart and soul for 14 years there, and never got the ring he was chasing. For it to end basically over the difference between one and two years would be heartbreaking, but it's business. We'll see what happens.

There are still a lot of names out there to be had. It has definitely been a good start to the FA period though.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The A-Rod saga

Well, this has dominated the news recently, and my thoughts on the situation are:

- I'm disappointed that the Yankees have to deal with this walking, talking, breathing reality TV show for the next 9 years. Maybe Hank Steinbrenner regrets not listening to Cashman now, when Cash wanted to cut ties with Rodriguez. On one side of the coin I realize that he is a top 3 player in the game, but on the other side of the coin I realize that he is drama, and nothing but drama. That can't be good for a clubhouse in the longterm.

-Alex Rodriguez is wrong, and there is no denying that but the other 103 names need to be released just in the light of fairness. Alex should not be the only one forced to take the walk of shame. It wouldn't be fair. I don't expect the 103 names to be released though, and that would just be convenient.

- Alex claims he didn't know what he was taking over the course of the three years. How dumb does he think the general public is? He is sitting there telling America that he, the ultimate perfectionist, doesn't know what he was taking? Ok, and I am really Barack Obama.

- I thought the interview, where he confessed, was alright. I think Gammons could have been a bit harder on him, and he didn't follow up and a lot of crucial spots in the interview. For example, Gammons asked Rodriguez what made him resort to steroids and Rodriguez said that the pressure of living up to the contract that he signed was a big part of it. I thought Gammons should have came back with a 'What about the pressure to get that contract to begin with?' question. I think he was a bit soft on him.

-If Rodriguez thought that people didn't like him before, he has seen nothing yet. It is going to be a circus in Yankee away games. Can you imagine when A-Rod steps into the batter's box in Fenway for the first time in the 2009 season? Boy it is going to be madness, plain and simple.

- I, for one, do not believe that he only took steroids from 2001-2003. I don't know, or have any thoughts on the possible duration of his steroid usage, but his explanation alone led me to that belief. 'I was under pressure to live up to the contract'. Oh really? What about the pressure to get that contract? What about the pressure of playing next to the most popular athlete in New York? Is it possible that he only took steroids for 3 seasons? Perhaps, but that explanation was like swiss cheese.

- The home run record will probably never be "clean" again. It hit me like a ton of bricks on Saturday when the report came about. Is it possible that a squeaky clean player will come along and break the record? Sure, but it isn't likely and it's very disappointing.

- Hopefully, now that he "came clean" (I use that term VERY loosely), the Yankees can move on and they can play baseball without the barrage of steroid questions before and after every game. I am not concerned with integrity and all of that stuff. My favorite baseball team is the New York Yankees and I want success for them. Hopefully this black cloud doesn't ruin this season. I do believe that Rodriguez will have a huge season for the Yankees.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Now that the offseason has thoughts on the state of the new York Jets

- I am fine with the hire of Rex Ryan. As I stated in a recent blog entry, I'm trying to be even keeled with anything Jets related these days as more times than not it ends in disappointment. The only thing that concerns me with Ryan is the recent history of Baltimore defensive coordinators becoming head coaches (Marvin Lewis, Nike Nolan). That scares me. Other than that, I just hope to see a team willing to get physical for once.

-I hope Brett Favre moves on. I already disliked this guy enough before he got here, then he got here, and threw picks like they were going out of style. I still give him props for running Chad Pennington out of town. I don't care how viciously the media rode the Pennington bandwagon. He will never take you anywhere in the postseason and severely limits the offense you can run. You did your good deed for the Jets Brett, now retire. You are finished.

- I think the Jets need to figure out their WR situation. Coles is declining and probably will ask for a new contract like he does every season. Cotchery is good, but he isn't a #1 WR. The Jets also don't have a redzone threat/potential future redzone threat anywhere on the roster asides from Dustin Keller who had a nice rookie season. If I was Mike Tannebaum I would watch the Braylon Edwards situation closely. I know he had a problem with the dropsies this past season, but he still has one of the better skillsets in the NFL at the WR position and is one year removed from a monster season. Braylon would certainly make life easier on whoever happens to be the starting quarterback for the Jets in the 2009 season. Hopefully David Clowney can emerge to provide a deep threat the Jets haven't had since Santana Moss was traded.

- With the #17 pick in the draft, I would love to see the Jets do any of the following:

-Trade the pick for Braylon Edwards
-Draft MLB Rey Mauluaga from USC
- Draft WR Darius Heyward Bey
-Draft CB Malcolm Jenkins
-Draft CB Vontae Davis

I would be happy with any of the above options. I like Mauluaga a lot, and think he will have a bright future in the NFL. Jenkins and Davis would fill a pressing need at #2 CB, as I don't think I could watch Dwight Lowery get toasted all season for a second year straight. Heyward Bey has unlimited potential and could potentially be the #1 WR the Jets need in time.

- I don't believe the Jets cap situation is as bad as many of the journalists and talking heads make it seem. I read the other day (I forget from who, or I would cite it) from someone that the Jets have the worst cap situation in the history of the NFL. I think that is WAY off base and exaggerated. The Jets can cut a few guys, and restructure a few others and be under the cap far enough to make a big splash this offseason.

- On the possibility of Ray Lewis to the Jets, the more I hear, the more I think it is possible. As far as how I feel about it, I think it's good and bad. I think it's good from the standpoint, that Ray is probably the best leader in the NFL. He also knows the head coach and the system. The best thing about the signing is the accountability that Lewis demands from the other players in the huddle. I wouldn't want to be the one caught slacking on a play, then having to confront Lewis. I think his leadership alone would get the best out of everyone on the defensive unit. The downside is that Lewis, in my opinion, has been declining for awhile now. The leadership is good and all, but no one is going to listen to a mediocre LB. Lewis is still good, for now, but how long will that last?

-Please, for my sanity sake, give Leon Washington the damn ball more often. You would think in an offense lacking playmakers, they would give the one proven playmaker the ball often enough to make an impact. That would make sense, right? The Jets just defy logic. I am not saying that Washington is an every down back or that he should be used as one, but I'm saying he should get the ball in as many ways as possible. He was near the tops of the league in plays covering more than 4o yards. Get the ball in his hands more often, period.

- I would like to see Kellen Clemens get one last shot behind an actual legitimate NFL offensive line. I still hold out hope for him, though I think his 'throwing stance' is a bit of a concern. For those of you who watch baseball, think Jim Edmonds in the batter's box. That's what Kellen Clemens looks like when throwing the ball. That concerns me with him. I do think he has an NFL arm though, and he is tough. I hope he turns out to be something. If not, then probably another long search for a franchise QB.

Go Jets. Make the 2009 season a successful one.