Tag Archives: Aaron Rodgers

Matt Ryan and the Quarterback Conundrum

“You need a great franchise quarterback to win a championship” might be the most popular fallacy in professional sports. It is paraded by media pundits, analysts, broadcasters and fans alike. The position is likely the most worshipped in the arena of athletics and not by a close margin either. Quarterbacks are automatically leaders of their team regardless of overall performance or character and all victories and defeats are brought to their doorstep. In exchange for this undeserved attention, franchises throw bank vaults at them, which is not sound financial strategy. Franchises are hamstrung by disastrous quarterback contracts regularly, a problem that they themselves are responsible for manifesting. We saw a new one occur this summer.

The Falcons signed 33-year-old Matt Ryan to a five-year deal with an annual average value (AAV) of $30 million, including $100 million guaranteed. A reminder that the current salary cap number for teams is 177. Starting in his age 35 season, Ryan will have a cap hit above $30 million for the final four seasons of the deal, meaning Ryan will take up a penny under 17% of the team’s finances.

To give that type of money to a player that isn’t even the most valuable athlete on his own offense is financially irresponsible. Matt Ryan is the Andy Dalton of the NFC but with more talent. Dalton will never win an MVP award or have the ceiling that Ryan has, but it’s also true that Ryan, like Dalton, has made a career of chucking the football to a top-five receiver. Colin Cowherd did a segment on this last year. Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton had virtually the same season in 2017, the season after Matt Ryan led an air strike on NFL defenses. Look at the stats comparison if you remove Ryan’s MVP season:

In nine seasons (minus MVP), Ryan averages 7.29 yards per attempt, 64% completion, 24.7 touchdowns,13.2 interceptions and a passer rating of 90.5.

In seven seasons, Dalton averages 7.21 yards per attempt, 62.8% completion, 23.9 touchdowns, 13.3 interceptions and a passer rating of 88.7.

Eerily similar numbers, eh?ill

I’m a Matt Ryan fan myself and follow Atlanta but this is a contract that will hamstring the franchise from reaching another chance at a championship. Investing that much into one player simply isn’t smart business.

If we take a look at 2017 cap hits, we’ll find that 13 of the top 20 highest cap hits belonged to quarterbacks. Of those 13, take a guess how many made the playoffs. 13 is nearly half the league and we’re probably talking about the best guys at their position. If quarterback is truly the most valued position, it’s probably high. At least seven, right?

Four. The answer is four.

  1. Joe Flacco tops the list at $24.5 million and threw for barely 3,000 yards, only 18 TDs to 13 INTs, and had a yards per attempt average of 5.72 (32nd).
  2. Carson Palmer. Arizona paid 37-year-old Carson Palmer $17.5 million ($24 million cap hit) to play six and a half games and produce old man numbers during them. *Vomits off stage
  3. Kirk Cousins performs at an above-average level (over 4,000 yards, 27/13 TD/INT) on yet another franchise tag ($23.9) and the Redskins go nowhere.
  4. Matt Ryan ($23.75) makes the playoffs with a rich Atlanta roster before they implode on their final play of the divisional round against the Eagles. If you’re just now reading, Ryan is rewarded with the richest contract in NFL history.
  5. Aaron Rodgers ($20.3) predictably breaks after getting slammed to the turf repeatedly with no offensive line help. Packers have no team past Rodgers and detonate.
  6. Ryan Tannehill ($20.3) considers himself a doctor and decides not to get surgery on a knee injury following the 2016 season. He promptly tears it before the 2017 preseason. Rest in peace, Miami. Hopefully you can find a better quarterba-Jay Cutler?!
  7. Cam Newton ($20.16) continues his trend of attending the playoffs every other year. He ends the regular season with a completion percentage of 59.1 and 22 touchdowns with 16 interceptions. Not exactly super, though he did run for 754 on a 5.4 clip.
  8. Poor Eli. ($19.7) Young Eli’s receiving core is murdered and Eli is left throwing the ball for the remainder of the year to chicklets Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. Left tackle Ereck Flowers impersonates a chew toy and his coach becomes a dark hole sucking all kinds of garbage into the orifice on his face. 3-13.
  9. The Colts front office is still dealing with the repercussions of not protecting their franchise quarterback who took them from winless to 11-5 in his rookie year. Cheer up, Indy. Maybe Andrew Luck ($19.4) will throw a football again this decade. *chatter off-screen. Wait, he threw a football?! He played in a preseason game?! Indy, you might be back in business!
  10. Drew Brees ($19) throws for a little over 4,300 yards, his fewest in over a decade, and only 23 touchdowns, his fewest since 2003. Sean Payton finally figures out that putting a defense on the field might be a formula for success. And look! They found running backs, too! What an insane carriage of ideas. Too bad about the Minneapolis Miracle, huh?
  11. Big Ben ($18.2) spends the first half of the season looking like he just came out of a nursing home, completing a smidge over 61% and throwing 10 touchdowns to nine picks in his first eight games. Ben gets his act together for the second half, the Steelers go 13-3 and then go full Steelers and blow a playoff game to Jacksonville in which they give up 45 points to Blake freaking Bortles. Ben, to his credit, threw for 469 yards and five tuddies in that game.
  12. Rivers ($18) finishes second in the league in passing (4,515 yards) and throws 28 touchdowns to 10 picks. However, the Chargers can’t find anyone who can kick a field goal at the beginning of the season, losing them two games in the final seconds. They also started 0-4 to miss out on a playoff spot. It’s 2018 and Philip Rivers has twice as many kids as he does playoff wins in his 14-year career.
  13. Sam Bradford? Oh, Jesus, seriously? Yup, the china doll of the NFL had an $18 million cap hit. Say what you will about Bradford, he gets paid an enormous amount of money to spend time on injured reserve every year. Don’t worry, the Cardinals didn’t learn a damn thing from Palmer. They gave Bradford $20 million to spend a year on their IR.

If you look further, you’ll find only six of the top 20 highest cap hits for quarterbacks made the playoffs. Those other seven names?

  1. Alex Smith ($16.9) has a career year only for Kansas City to go full Kansas City in the playoffs and blow an 18-point lead in yet another home playoff game.
  2. The first year of Matt Stafford’s megadeal only brings a $16.5 cap hit, but with Detroit still not knowing what a running back is, the Lions predictably miss the playoffs again. Cheer up, Detroit. This season Stafford’s cap hit jumps to $26.5.
  3. After an MVP-caliber season, Derek Carr ($15.7) returns from injury to play average football, throwing for just under 3,500 and a touchdown-interception split of 22/13. Next season, his cap hit jumps to $25.
  4. The Cincinnati front office learns you need an offensive line to play football. Andy Dalton ($15.7) gets sandwiched all season and the Bengals look to be worse than Cleveland this upcoming campaign. The Bengals could cut Dalton and start McCarron, oh wait.
  5. Russell Wilson ($14.6) is a one-man offense behind an offensive line that’s still garbage and a defense that is losing cohesiveness. Our franchise quarterback looks far less important when his defense can’t stop DeShaun Watson from turning them into a fajita. Seattle will spend the offseason dismantling the Legion of Boom. At least they drafted a lineman…in the fifth.
  6. Mike Glennon (man, this one didn’t age well, huh?) takes his $14 million cap hit behind and sits it on the bench behind novice Mitchell Trubisky. Money well spent!
  7. Tom Brady ($14.0) does Tom Brady things, wins MVP, takes team to Super Bowl. Give that man all the money.

If you look at production, you could argue most quarterbacks weren’t even the best player on their own team this past season. The list of signal callers who were is rather short:

Rivers, Smith (this one is debatable given Hunt led league in rushing), Brady, Stafford, Wilson, Wentz, Cousins. Only three (Smith, Brady, Wentz) made the playoffs.

A team built around a quarterback is not a guaranteed victory for front offices, even if that quarterback delivers in effectiveness. Rivers has been an above average quarterback nearly his entire career and has only four playoff wins to show for it. Teams seem to forget that building around said quarterback is vital and if you devote too much of your deposit box to them, it’s difficult to do that.

Other teams simply don’t build for some reason. The idea Aaron Rodgers has made only one Super Bowl is inexcusable. Maybe if Green Bay could’ve looked at a stat sheet years ago and realized defensive coordinator Dom Capers was disastrous in big games and the running game was dwindling, they could have changed that. Instead, Cheeseheads are left watching Green Bay get ousted too early in the playoffs or seeing how incompetent their coaching staff/team really is when Rodgers is taken out of the picture. Green Bay is an example of what goes wrong when you get a franchise quarterback and then don’t do anything of substance after that. A team this fully reliant on one player is doomed for failure (See Indy, and God bless Detroit if Stafford ever misses a season.)

At this point, Green Bay and Detroit are carbon copies of each other. Green Bay has seen its death grip on the NFC North slip away to a more complete roster in Minnesota. Rodgers will get an extension and stay in Green Bay (called it) and then Matt and Aaron will try to throw their teams to victory single-handedly for the remainder of their careers while Minnesota finally discovers the formula to playoff success and makes an appearance in a Super Bowl. Giving Kirk Cousins a fully-guaranteed contract is risky but a necessary signing if the Vikings want to get over the hump. Also, the team isn’t putting its entire body weight on Cousins’ shoulders and has shown it can win with a backup quarterback and runner on the field for a majority of a campaign. Imagine the level of lethality this team can reach with a healthy Cousins and Dalvin Cook. Also, Cousins contract is only three years, so if the signing doesn’t go as planned, Minnesota can move on to another option without putting their piggy bank in a vice grip.

Football is a team sport, not a quarterback one. Complete teams win championships, not quarterbacks. That is not to say a team can’t win a championship with a great quarterback. Great quarterbacks have been winning titles for a while but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a plethora of examples where they did it by themselves. The great John Elway couldn’t win one without Terrell Davis’ help. Dan Marino went on a historic passing tear in his sophomore season, won MVP and took his team to a Super Bowl before getting pounced on by the 49ers dyansty. He never got to another one.

It’s actually far easier to find a team who carried a quarterback to a Super Bowl: 2015 Broncos, 2006 Steelers, 2003 Bucs and let’s not forget about Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Ravens.

Teams predicated on quarterback success often falter in big moments because it’s difficult for one man to do it all. Look at the Colts with Andrew Luck. Drafted first overall by a winless team, he took Indy to 11-5 and a wild-card game. The next season, he advanced them to the divisional round and the year after that to the AFC Championship game, one of the most impressive starts to a career in quite a while. He was given a massive extension, which he had earned and which was the right move for the franchise. Problem is, during all these playoff runs, Indy management had done little to build the team around Luck. In 2013, they drafted defensive end Bjoern Warner, a bust. In general, the entire class was a robust failure. In 2015, they reached for receiver Philip Dorsett, a receiver that didn’t play out his rookie deal with Indy he was so unwanted. Their second choice, cornerback D’Joun Smith, played a total of five game for the Colts. At one point, general manager Ryan Grigson blamed Andrew Luck’s extension for his inability to put together a competent defense.

This claim was complete nonsense. These were their defensive rankings, beginning during Luck’s rookie year:

Yards/Pass/Rush/PPG

2012 26th 21st 29th 21st

2013 20th 13th 26th 9th

2014 11th 12th 17th 16th

2015 26th 24th 25th 25th

2016 30th 27th 25th 22nd

 

You’ll notice the year they were passable, in 2014, is the year they made it to the AFC Championship game, once again, on the shoulder of one Andrew Luck. Without Luck, we’ve seen what the Colts are: garbage. Quarterbacks hide a team’s flaws. They don’t cure them.

Drew Brees has had a similar problem with the Saints. A player of his caliber should have made it to more than one Super Bowl by now.

Look at those defensive rankings!

Yards/Pass/Rush/PPG

’06 11th 3rd 23rd 13th<—-Nice start!

’07 26th 30th 13th 25th<–Straight to garbage, huh?

’08 23rd 23rd 17th 26th<–Not trying anymore?

’09 25th 26th 21st 20th<–We have Brees! What is defense?

’10 4th 4th 16th 7th<——Got to be a Super Bowl here, right? No? It was the ’09 season?

’11 24th 30th 12th 13th<–Nice PPG! Lose to a better defense in the 49ers.

’12 32nd 31st 32nd 31st<-Here’s where it gets a lot of fun.

’13 4th 2nd 19th 4th<—–Good defensive year lost due to running into Legion of Boom.

’14 31st 25th 29th 28th<–Back to not trying again, I see.

’15 31st 31st 31st 32nd<–Sean Payton is a great coach!

’16 27th 32nd 14th 31st<-Why run on this team when we can throw them into oblivion?

’17 17th 15th 16th 10th<-Minneapolis Miracle time!

Imagine what the Saints’ reputation would be if Drew Brees didn’t throw for 4,500 nearly every year during his time in New Orleans. Remove Brees from Louisiana and Payton doesn’t have a job in three years, maybe less, and Saints fans’ only respite is watching who they pick with their top-five slot in the draft. People aren’t kidding when they call Brees the heart of New Orleans. If he wasn’t there, New Orleans would be a corpse.

 

Sadly, Rodgers, Luck and Brees have seen their careers mostly wasted to this point. Rodgers and Brees are likely going to visit Canton and yet they both have only one Lombardi. Luck still has time to change his fortunes if he can ever get his shoulder to operate again. I’m rooting for it, even if the Colts franchise clearly doesn’t deserve him.

Stafford also belongs on this list. Not a Hall of Fame talent, but a gunslinger who has deserved better. Detroit wasted the prime years of Stafford to Calvin, including taking one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game into a winless season and so much turmoil that Megatron would rather not play football than continue to play in Motor City. The last time the Lions were tenth or better in rushing, Barry Sanders was playing football. Let’s see how the Lions have done since then.

’98 10th<—–Man, that Barry dude is so good. Hope he never retires. *Immediately retires

’99 28th<—–It will take us some time to recover from the loss of Barry.

’00 20th<—–See, improvement! We’re gonna be fine.

’01 28th<—–Oh, God. 2-14. Hope this doesn’t happen again any time soon.

’02 29th<—–We’re gonna be fine. Joey Harrington is the future!

’03 32nd<—-Man, we’ve spent four of five years in the bottom five in rushing. Starting to miss Barry, now. Receiver Charles Rogers at number two will help us though!

’04 19th<—–Roy Williams looks like an elite receiver. Kevin Jones is the savior of Detroit!

’05 26th<—–It’s just a sophomore slump for Kevin. He’ll be fine.

’06 32nd<—-Oh geez, we need some help. How about Brian Calhoun! *tears ACL, ends career

’07 31st<—–Look, we’ve gone from 3-13 to 7-9. We’re on the verge of greatness!

’08 30th<—–Oh, God. A winless season. Where did it go wrong? We better get Calvin some help. He looks pissed.

’09 24th<—–Matt Stafford is a generational talent. Stafford to Calvin is gonna be one of the greatest connections in pro football history.

’10 23rd<—–Suh is a tank and Jahvid Best is a phenom. The days of not having a running game are finally behind us.

’11 29th<—–We made the playoffs for the first time since Barry! We got Mikel Leshoure! We are bound for great-(demolished by New Orleans).

’12 23rd<—–10-6 to 4-12 was quite a fall but Ryan Broyles is the best receiver college football has ever seen. We’ll finally have another option for Matt!

’13 17th<—–Reggie Bush is gonna become the GOAT for us. This is the team to break the streak!

’14 28th<—–We haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. We’re finally gonna (Cowboys crush Motor City dreams 24-20).

’15 32nd<—-Last in rushing again? Geez, starting to think this might be the problem. Oh, no. We made Calvin quit, too?

’16 30th<—-We got Nebraska star Ameer Abdullah! The streak will finally… *placed on season-ending IR.

’17 32nd<— *flips table, exits stage left

12 times in the bottom five in the last 20 seasons and seven times in the bottom three in the last 15. Gross mismanagement, plain and simple.

 

Build around your team. There’s more to the game then quarterbacks.

Teams with quarterbacks on their rookie deals are the easiest to manage because they don’t have the money invested in their signal caller. Look at the Eagles. Wentz had a cap hit of a little over $6 million in 2017 and was my MVP for the season. In addition to the incredible value they got from his performance, they allocated their savings in the trenches and now have a top-five offensive and defensive line.

Dak Prescott’s entire rookie deal will cost the Cowboys less than $3 million, savings they’ve invested in Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick. Extensions for these three stalwarts wouldn’t have been possible if Dak had Jimmy Garoppolo’s 2018 cap hit of $37 million.

And let’s say, for sake of argument, that Dak ends up being average over the course of his deal. (In 2017, Dak threw for 3,324 and a 88.6 rating (16th), regressing from a rookie year that made him a candidate for offensive player of the year.) It still would be a win for the organization because they now have three regular All-Pro players locked on their roster.

Deshaun Watson has a cap hit of $6 million and if he performs like he did during his unfortunately short rookie year, the team will have a serious shot at a playoff run by the end of his rookie contract.

This is how you build a football team. You want to be the 49ers and go mad spending on an unproven commodity? Be my guest. You’re gonna have a hard time building a roster. Yes, that quarterback might bring you out of the swamps of depression but one player will have a hard time pulling you out of the quicksands of mediocrity. You want $30 million quarterbacks? Go for it. Just know history and the numbers aren’t on your side.

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Time to Take The Bell Down

Image result for leveon bell poster free useI’m done.

We all should be.

There’s only so much nonsense you can take before the phrase “I’ve had it up to here” should be utilized.

Le’Veon Bell has reached that point.

On the off-chance you’re still living under a rock in 2018, Le’Veon Bell is a professional football player, specifically, a running back, in the National Football League who plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s very accomplished, carries superior talent and has become possibly the best in the world at what he does and so has asked to be paid as such. So far so good.

I, as well as most, completely sympathize with someone’s efforts being rewarded. We want to see our work and time appreciated and for us to be compensated as such. That is perfectly reasonable.

If you haven’t followed Bell’s saga because you’ve been under that rock, here’s a synopsis:

  • Bell is drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, the second back taken off the board.
  • Bell suffers a mid-foot sprain in his second preseason game, missing the first three weeks of the season. Despite that, Bell breaks legend Franco Harris’ rookie franchise record for yards from scrimmage (1,259).
  • Bell has a stellar 2014, finishing second in rushing yards and scrimmage yards behind DeMarco Murray, leads all backs in receiving and earns his first Pro-Bowl nod. Bell hyperextends his knee in the final contest of the regular season, missing the playoffs.
  • Bell is arrested with then-teammate LeGarrette Blount on DUI and marijuana possession charges. He’s suspended two games.
  • Bell’s 2015 season ends after suffering a torn MCL.
  • Bell sleeps through an alarm and misses a third drug test, which ends in another suspension, this time for three games.
  • Bell suffers a groin injury late in divisional round, leaving him mostly inactive for the Steelers’ championship loss against New England.
  • In 2017, Bell is named to his third Pro Bowl and amasses nearly 2,000 scrimmage yards.
  • Days before the team’s playoff match with Jacksonville, Bell says he would consider retiring if the Steelers placed the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive campaign. The previous offseason, Bell turned down a five-year contract that would have paid him an annual average value, or AAV, of 12. It included 30 million for his first two seasons and 42 for his first three, an unprecedented evaluation for a running back. Even Adrian Peterson’s extension back in 2011, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, had an AAV of 9.6. Bell turned down 12.

There are a couple of things you should take note of in the above section:

  1. Le’Veon Bell is good at running back.
  2. Le’Veon Bell has disciplinary issues.
  3. Le’Veon Bell has an injury history.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at some headlines:

“LE’VEON BELL REPORTEDLY WANTS $17 MILLION A YEAR”

“LE’VEON BELL WANTS TO BE PAID AS TOP RB AND NO 2 WR”

“LE’VEON BELL WANTS $17 MILLION A YEAR FROM STEELERS LIKE ANTONIO BROWN”

 

I wish I could say I laughed when I saw these. I really do.

I didn’t.

You see, reader from under the rock, Le’Veon Bell has an ego.

That’s fine. He’s Le’Veon Bell. He’s really good at running back.

However, I’m talking about Le’Veon Bell’s ego. Le’Veon Bell’s ego is huge. Le’Veon Bell has been surrounded by people who tell him he’s God’s gift to the world.

This is also fine. Parents tell this to their children every day before they send them off to school, usually to try to give them a much-needed boost of confidence but ostensibly because they have no idea how to parent. They figure if they make them confident, everything will fall into place.

Bell is a product of what happens when this parenting technique goes horribly wrong. Le’Veon believes himself to be so talented that he rationalizes he should be paid as two different people, both a top running back and a two-spot receiver, but also believes he’s worth as much as the league’s best pass catcher, Antonio Brown. Now, reader under a rock, feel free to google Antonio Brown on YouTube to get to know the guy a little bit. I actually talked about him in my One Team, One Jersey series, where I talk about each football team and decided what jersey I would want from that team. (Insert shameless plug here).

Despite the fact that one more slip-up in the drug department could warrant a long-term suspension and Bell’s struggle to play a full 16-game spread, both of which are rather large red flags, Bell thinks he’s worth $17 million a year.

 

Rather than mock Bell for another couple paragraphs, I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s what any sportswriter or fan should do. Let’s take a look at the evidence and give the guy a fair trial, shall we?

Let’s take a look at salary cap figures, just to get an idea of how good Le’Veon thinks he is.

Prior to this offseason, the largest cap hit for any running back in the league was LeSean McCoy at 8.95. Even after all of the signings this spring, Jerick McKinnon’s 2018 cap hit is 10.5 after signing a four-year, $30 million deal to become the starting tailback of San Francisco. His AAV? 7.5. A reminder that Bell is asking for 17.

The highest AAV for a running back is 8.25. That number belongs to Devonta Freeman, who in August signed a five-year extension for $41.25.

A reminder: Bell wants an AAV of 17.

In 2018, only two backs will have an AAV of 8 or more: Freeman and standout LeSean McCoy. Add McKinnon and you get the only three who are making more than 7 per. Le’Veon Bell will play on the franchise tag and will make $14.5, meaning he’s making more than double the pay of almost every running back in professional football. If he had signed that extension, that five-year, $60 million offer, Bell would be making more than double what every running back in the league is making with the exception of the three above plus Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott and Lamar Miller. (Fournette and Elliott are still on their rookie deals.)

For context, learner under the rock, the running back market has not increased over the last few seasons. It is cemented in stone at this point that only the very best running backs see close to no depreciation once they hit 30. Backs touch the ball more than any player other than a quarterback and take a lot of punishment because of it. Due to that, most backs are out of the league once they near or surpass 30 years of age. Only the gridiron gods can keep their game together and even then, sometimes those generational talents begin to fade away.

This is why Bell wants paid so much. He knows what we all do: his career will end before most other athletes from his draft class because of the position he plays.

With that said, Bell wants double the next guy. His latest evaluation of $17 million AAV means he believes he’s worth double any back in the NFL. It takes an extraordinary amount of arrogance to make that claim, but it’s only arrogance if it’s not true. So let’s find out if it is.

 

In five seasons, Bell has amassed 5,336 yards rushing and 2,660 yards receiving for a net total of 7,996. He’s accomplished this in 62 games for a per game average of 128.96 yards, a statistic that Bell has paraded around a number of times to prove his worth. That 128.96 is one of the best numbers in NFL history, currently at the top of the list, though many, including me, doubt that number’s sustainability. Hall of Fame players have seen similar numbers in their early years before seeing their numbers teeter off on the back-end. The great Jim Brown is right behind Bell at 125.5 and not only did he play in a less organized era when football was still very rudimentary, Brown retired at 29. We never got to see his play diminish. Even Barry Sanders, who retired at 30, posted 118.9 in his career, an incredible achievement that hasn’t come close to being duplicated. The closest are Terrell Davis and Adrian Peterson, who posted 113.9 and 112 respectively.

It is hard for any analyst to look at the players on this list, all of the greats, and believe the argument that Bell is greater than all of them.

Let’s pretend for a moment he is. Let’s compare him to some of the other younger talents in the NFL.

Taking a look at a player’s first few years, the same as Bell’s career length at this juncture, should give us an idea of how comparable or incomparable he is.

 

Le’Veon Bell 62 games, 62 started 5,336/2,660/7,996/128.96/128.96 (rushing/receiving/total/yards per game/yards per game started)

Devonta Freeman 61 games, 43 started 3,248/1,582/4,830/79.18/112.33

LeSean McCoy 74 games, 60 started 5,473/2,127/7,600/102.73/126.66

Frank Gore 73 games, 60 started 5,561/1,841/7,402/101.40/123.37

 

Adrian Peterson 73 games, 66 started 6,752/1,170/7,922/108.52/120.03

LaDainian Tomlinson 79 games, 79 started 7,361/2,292/9,653/122.19/122.19

Edgerrin James 65 games, 65 started 6,172/2,019/8,191/126.02/126.02

 

If we look at three comparable players from his current era, we see Bell’s numbers are comparable to even someone like Frank Gore, who during his early years played in the garbage fire that was San Francisco. While Bell’s receiving numbers are higher than any player’s on this list, there have been players who have done more on the ground in recent years and some by a wide margin. An additional five to ten yards simply doesn’t make you worth double the next guy. It’s just basic economics.

I also compiled a list of three Hall of Famers (James should get in sooner rather than later) and you’ll see his numbers are comparable.

“Wait, how can even Devonta Freeman, who hasn’t done anything crazy special in his career, still be putting up numbers in the same ballpark as LT? And how did Frank Gore average a little under five yards less in his first five years than Le’Veon Bell?”

Honestly, it’s because the difference between a very good and great running back often aren’t chasms apart. While the game has evolved away from the run game, the best backs in the league can still get it done. Look no further than LeSean McCoy, who has made a great career into a possible Canton trip. Look no further than Edgerrin James, who put up Bell-level production while Peyton Manning was performing surgery on NFL defenses. Look no further than Frank Gore, who played with a new offensive coordinator literally every season and still put up Pro-Bowl level numbers.

Le’Veon Bell has been gifted a top-five offensive line, Hall of Fame quarterback and the best receiver in football.

Frank Gore played with Antonio Bryant and pre-resurrection Alex Smith.

Hell, if we take out Gore’s rookie year, when he started only one game and show just his second through fifth seasons, when he started every game he played in, his stat line looks like this:

Frank Gore 59 games, 59 started 4,953/1,700/6,653/112.76/112.76

112 yards per game behind the San Francisco 49ers line of the mid 2000’s is incredible value. A player of Bell’s talent is almost expected to mimic those numbers behind a great offensive line.

For transparency’s sake, what if we needle some of these stats down to make a more accurate sample size.

LeSean McCoy 58 games, 56 started 4856/1819/6,675/115.09/119.20

At 115 yards per game, McCoy was at a per game average slightly behind Barry Sanders, yet was only paid $8 million in AAV. Why is that? Let’s take a closer look.

 

McCoy, in 2017, put up 1,586 yards from scrimmage. That means McCoy was paid $4,886.51 per yard by cap hit. Not a bad pay-day.

Todd Gurley won Offensive Player of the Year last season, accruing 2,093 yards. Still on his rookie deal, that means Gurley was paid…$808.24 per yard?

This, lad under the rock, is called the salary cap.

You see, to make the playing field fair, the suits instituted a salary cap, meaning there was a limit put in place to what a team could spend on its players. This led to a more competitive board and to new philosophies regarding team building. One of those philosophies is not spending a bazillion dollars on one player.

When it became apparent how difficult it was to find an excellent passer, teams assigned higher value to that position, the same way that teams starting pouring money into the left tackle spot after Lawrence Taylor killed Joe Theismann. (You probably don’t get that reference. Sorry. Here’s a link.)

So when teams started to find their running backs slowing down and coupled that with the evolution of pass-happy offenses, executives, and therefore the market, determined the running back position was less valuable.

In the 2016 season, Aaron Rodgers piled a total of 4,797 yards during a year in which he was paid $12.6 million, which means $2,626.64 per yard. By cap hit? $4065.04. For those who struggle with math, $4,065 is less than $4,886. Don’t worry. Bell’s number figures to be a lot higher than that.

 

A base salary of $17 million in 2018 would put him sixth in the NFL in AAV behind Kirk Cousins’ new deal, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, DeMarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah. (It’s worth noting that Lawrence and Ansah are also playing on the franchise tag this upcoming season.)

Not only that, if Bell made $17 million in cash in 2018, that would put him one spot outside the top 25 highest-paid players in the NFL, a majority of which came from this most recent offseason. (If you don’t know, human under the rock, the offseason is when teams pay exorbitant prices to get players to join their team). McKinnon’s new signing will earn him $12 in 2018, good for 62nd in the league in total net earnings. To get to the next back, you have to scroll for half of your lifespan all the way down to 246, where LeSean McCoy’s $6.325 sits.

Which means, using our math skills, that Bell is looking to make nearly triple what LeSean McCoy is making despite averaging about ten more yards a game on a far better offensive unit.

I guess you have to ask yourself: Is ten more yards worth an additional $11 million?

No. No, it’s not.

Is it worth the additional $9 million in AAV Bell is looking for?

No. No, it’s not.

At 1,946 scrimmage yards last year at the figure Bell wants, he would have been paid $8,735.87 a yard by cap hit. Why would anyone pay nearly $9,000 a yard when they can get the same production for less than $5?

Yes, third-down yards carry more value. Yes, fourth-quarter yards carry more value. Sadly, I don’t have the resources to look at those numbers. Given the numbers at our disposal, is it possible Bell is worth that much more than the next guy?

No. No, it is not.

This isn’t rocket science, my new friend. It’s basic math.

It’s now come to my attention that you probably don’t understand that expression. My apologies. Will have to get to that later.

To make matters worse, Bell has picked up a shovel and started digging his own grave with social media, accusing fans and the media of painting him as a villain. It was one of the most tone-deaf uses of social media yet displayed in 2018. No one was bashing Bell’s performance. They were tortured by his unabated greed. As one media member commented, “Look down, Le’Veon. You’re the one holding the paintbrush.”

Le’Veon has not only made his tenure with the Steelers continuing beyond this season as improbable as a lottery winner, he’s also tarnished his reputation and image by decrying those who believe his numbers to be inaccurate, even if they are, factually, inaccurate. General annoyance with his antics has turned into the type of frustration a parent has when they’re forced to watch their child ignore their advice and run their head into a wall. I’m completely done with Le’Veon and so is much of this city. Annoyance has transformed to rage and now dissolved into complete apathy. I don’t care about Bell and I can’t wait when he’s off this roster.

I hope you’ve enjoyed escaping from under the rock, my new friend. The only one that’s still under there now is Le’Veon.

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 6

Top 5

  1. RB Jay Ajayi 25 carries for 204 yards, 2 TD vs. PIT

Second Dolphin to run for 200 yards and 2 TDs in a game

2. WR Odell Beckham Jr. 8 receptions for a career-high 222 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. BAL

3. QB Tom Brady 29/35 for 376 yards, 3 TDs, 140.0 passer rating vs. CIN

4. RB LeSean McCoy 19 carries for 140 yards, 3 TDs vs. SF

5. QB Matt Ryan 27/42 for 335 yards, 3 TDs, INT, Fmb, 102.8 passer rating vs. SEA

Worst of the Worst

5. Seven teams with double-digit penalties this week.

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 31/42 for 294 yards, TD, INT, Fmb, 90.8 passer rating vs. DAL

3. Blatant pass interference call missed in ATL vs. SEA

2. Steelers implode again

  1. Carolina drops another, now four straight

Steelers Recap

The Steelers game was another implosion, demonstrating the debacle we saw in Philly was not a one-time occurrence. There are real problems with this team and now with Ben gone for at least two weeks, the future for the Steelers is hazy at best.

Game of the Week: Vikings at Eagles

Two powerhouse defenses is sure to be a fun watch and Philly could very well pull the upset. I’m taking Minnesota but the Eagles have the tools to surprise.

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 3

Top 5

  1. QB Trevor Siemian 28/35 for 312 yards, 4 TDs, 132.1 passer rating vs. CIN

First quarterback to throw for 300 yards and 4 TDs without an interception in his first road start.

2. Vikings record eight sacks, pick Cam three times in road win against Carolina.

3. WR Marvin Jones 6 receptions for 205 yards, 2 TDs vs. GB

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 15/24 for 205, 4 TDs, 129.3 passer rating vs. DET

5. RB LeSean McCoy 17 carries for 110 yards, 2 TDs vs. ARI

Worst of the Worst

5. Cody Parkey misses three field goals, including potential gamewinner for Cleveland.

4. San Diego chokes away a lead again.

3. QB Carson Palmer 26/50 for 287 yards, 4 INTs, 36.0 passer rating vs. BUF

2. Steelers suffer worst loss since ’89.

  1. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 20/44 for 188 yards, 6 INTs, 18.2 passer rating vs. KC

Steelers Recap

I don’t want to talk about it. I really don’t. It was one of the worst Steelers games I’ve seen. The offense was lost and the defense confused and battered. I couldn’t even watch the whole game. The idea that an offense as talented as the Steelers couldn’t score even one touchdown against Philly is disturbing. I’m not in panic mode but if they suffer a second loss like that, it speaks to a larger problem that needs to be addressed.

Game of the Week: Panthers @ Falcons

Not a lot of games jump up from the schedule but this one does. Matty Ice is dropping some bombs. Carolina is on their heels, but will it play out that way? I got Atlanta in an upset.

 

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Tim Sports Report for 2015 NFL Week 3

Super late, but Week 4 is coming up.

Top 5

  1. QB Aaron Rodgers 24/35 for 333 yards, 5 TDs, 138.5 passer rating vs. KC

2. WR A.J. Green 10 receptions for 227 yards, 2 TDs vs. BAL

3. RB Devonta Freeman 30 carries for 141 yards, 3 TDs vs. DAL

4. WR Steve Smith 13 receptions for 186 yards, 2 TDs vs. CIN

5. WR Julio Jones 12 receptions for 164 yards, 2 TDs vs. DAL

Worst of the Worst

5. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 35/58 for 283 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 62.6 passer rating vs. PHI

4. Skip Bayless’ Dallas bias. I follow him on Twitter just to see what obnoxious thing he says next, but it feels like I’m following a Cowboys cheerleader.

3. Dallas allows 22 unanswered points vs. ATL

2. TEN allows 21 unanswered points in 4th quarter, blows game vs. IND

  1. QB Colin Kaepernick 9/19 for 67 yards, 4 INTs (including two pick-6’s), 16.7 passer rating vs. ARI

Steelers Recap

The loss of Ben is all that needs to be said here. The Steelers struggled to score against the Rams, even with the return of Le’Veon Bell. That made this game far more of a tug-of-war than it should have been, but the defense kept us in the game. They haven’t been playing great offensive squads, granted, but they’ve been holding their own.

Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Bengals

Two top-ten teams square off. I’ll take the surprising Bengals at home.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 15

Top 5

1. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. 12 receptions for 143 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb vs. WAS

2. WR Dez Bryant 6 receptions for 114 yards, 3 TDs vs. PHI

3. RB Jeremy Hill 25 carries for 148 yards, 2 TDs vs. CLE

4. RB DeMarco Murray 31 carries for 81 yards, 2 TDs vs. PHI

5. QB Drew Brees 29/36 for 375 yards, 3 TDs, 137.8 QBR vs. CHI

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Tom Savage fumbles on handoff to Foster on first NFL play

2. Eagles fail to catch opening kickoff, Cowboys recover

3. QB Johnny Manziel 10/18 for 80 yards, 2 INTs, 27.3 QBR vs. CIN

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 17/42 for 185 yards, 2 INTs, 34.3 QBR vs. BUF

5. QB Colin Kaepernick 11/19 for 141 yards, 6 sacks, 81.2 QBR vs. SEA

Steelers Recap

Honestly, I don’t have much to say here. I didn’t watch a whole lot of the game but the Steelers got the win off another fine performance from Ben, who’s second in the league in passing yards. They’ve got Kansas City at home today and if they win, they clinch a playoff spot and keep in mind the AFC North is still up for grabs. Let’s go Steelers!

Game of the Week: Broncos @ Bengals

The only other game I was considering choosing her was Colts @ Cowboys, but I’m going with the Monday Night game because the last few weeks these teams have struggled. The Broncos have struggled because Peyton Manning hasn’t been himself recently. I should know. He tanked in the playoffs and my team lost because of it. The Bengals have struggled all year, as the Bengals defense that was one of the best in the league last year has disappeared after the departing of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who went to coach the Vikings. The Bengals defense hasn’t been the same since then. While the Broncos have clinched the AFC West, it’s crucial they put up a solid performance against a solid team to give themselves some confidence going into the final week of the regular season. The same goes for the Bengals, who are on the verge of losing control of the AFC North with the Steelers and Ravens close behind. I’m taking the Broncos because Cincinnati’s defense has just fallen so far this year.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 10

Top 5

1. RB Marshawn Lynch 21 carries for 140 yards, 4 TDs vs. NYG

2. QB Aaron Rodgers 18/27 for 315 yards, 6 TDs, 145.8 QBR vs. CHI

3. FS Jaiquawn Jarrett 10 tackles, 7 solo, sack, 2 INTs vs. PIT

4. WR Jordan Matthews 7 receptions for 138 yards, 2 TDs vs. CAR

5. RB Justin Forsett 20 carries for 112 yards, 2 TDs vs. TEN

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Andy Dalton 10/33 for 86 yards, 3 INTs, 2.0 QBR (lowest I’ve ever seen) vs. CLE

2. QB Cam Newton 25/40 for 306 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 9 sacks, Fmb, 71.5 QBR vs. PHI

3. Bears crushed vs. Packers 55-14.

Became first team in NFL history to allow 50 or more points in two consecutive games. Have lost five of last six.

4. Jets get 3rd and 46 after two personal conduct penalties and Vick sack

5. Steelers commit four turnovers in upset loss vs. NYJ

Steelers Recap

Had the Steelers beat the Buccaneers and the Jets, they would be 8-2, tops in the AFC. Instead, they’re 6-4.

Antonio Brown had a bad game, fumbling the ball twice. Ben had two interceptions and the running game wasn’t there, only gaining 36 yards. It was just a bad game overall against the Jets last week, but it’s important they get back on track against the Titans this week before their bye next week. Let’s get it together Steelers.

Game of the Week: Lions @ Cardinals

Drew Stanton’s going to feel the added pressure of being Arizona’s starting quarterback for the remainder of the season after Carson Palmer suffered a season-ending knee injury. It’s a tough test for Stanton, facing the Lions d-line. I took the Lions because I figured it was about time for the Cards to lose, but the Cards won last night and sit at 9-1, the best record in the NFL. Seems safe to assume Bruce Arians is looking at coach of the year.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 4

Top 5

1. QB Aaron Rodgers 22/28 for 302 yards, 4 TDs, 151.2 QBR vs. CHI

Neither team punted, only 2nd time it happened. Rodgers gets to 25,000 yards with fewest pass attempts and fourth-fewest games played.

2. RB Jamaal Charles 18 carries for 92 yards, TD, 3 receptions for 16 yards, 2 TDs vs. NE

3. WR Antonio Brown 7 receptions for 131 yards, 2 TDs vs. TB

NFL record 20th consecutive game with 5+ receptions

4. RB DeMarco Murray 24 carries for 149 yards, 2 TDs vs. NO

Joins Emmitt Smith as only Dallas RBs to eclipse 100 yards in first four games

5. WR Steve Smith 7 receptions for 139 yards, 2 TDs vs. CAR

Worst of the Worst

1. Steelers lose to Bucs in final seconds

2. QB Kirk Cousins 19/33 for 257, TD, 4 INTs, Fmb, 53.0 QBR vs. NYG

3. Patriots held to 290 total yards, allow 443, 207 on ground vs. KC

One of Belichick’s worst losses as coach

4. Saints destroyed 38-17 on Sunday Night Football vs. DAL

Allowed 1584 total yards through four games (third-worst) and allowing 27.5 ppg

5. QB Geno Smith 17/33 for 209 yards, TD, INT, Fmb, 68.9 QBR vs. DET

Steelers Recap

The Steelers had 13 penalties for 125 yards in their shocking loss to Tampa Bay. The Steelers top-ten offense (8th in passing, 5th in rushing) could not beat one of the worst teams in the league (last in passing, 24th in rushing, 29th against the pass, 17th against the rush). They had multiple opportunities to close the game out, most notably when Antonio Brown dropped a perfectly thrown flea flicker from Roethlisberger. Had Brown caught that, it was probably six points for the Steelers considering the lead he had on the defender and the game was put out of reach. That dropped pass was the momentum-changer and also describes the Steelers of the last two years accurately. It describes missed opportunities. This team’s discipline remains a huge blight on the team. Stupid football is exactly that: stupid. Stop it, Tomlin.

Despite losing to Tampa Bay at home, the Steelers schedule is still favorable to a playoff appearance, but it is crucial the Steelers win their next two games against Jacksonville and Cleveland. Following those two games, the Steelers play against Houston, Indianapolis and Baltimore at home. Pittsburgh and Baltimore usually split the season series home-and-home and the Steelers should be able to beat Houston, giving them two W’s out of three. They also face the struggling Jets and Titans in back-to-back weeks. It’s crucial the Steelers do their winning now because following their week 12 bye, their schedule gets a lot tougher (New Orleans, Cincinnati twice, Atlanta and Kansas City). If it weren’t for the Steelers’ weak schedule, I’m not sure a playoff appearance would be on the horizon but with this schedule, missing the playoffs would be almost inexcusable. Get back to winning and take it to the Jaguars.

Game of the Week: Bengals @ Patriots

The Sunday night match-up takes my game of the week once again, this time with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals traveling to the always-tough Foxborough. Beating the Patriots at home is always a challenge, but man, did they look terrible on Monday. I didn’t get to watch any of the game but the box score and recaps alone show the lack of communication that Brady has with his offensive line and receivers. A defense that has plenty of high-caliber players also got scorched by a team whose number-one receiver is Dwayne Bowe. That’s pretty terrible. Also acknowledging that the Chiefs whole offense is based on Jamaal Charles, you would think the Patriots defense could have done better than 41 points. With that said, the Patriots usually lose at least one game they were favored to win every year. Last year, it was the overtime loss to the Geno Smith-led Jets. The year before that it was the loss to the Kevin Kolb-led Cardinals in Foxborough. With all that said, the Patriots haven’t lost in Foxborough since their January 2012 playoff game against the Ravens. Even with the Patriots mediocre stat line (30th passing, 23rd rushing, 1st against the pass, 23rd against the rush), ain’t nobody going to have an easy time in Foxborough. It won’t be easy, but the Bengals are the more complete team and therefore, should break the Patriots win streak at home.

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Tim Sports Report for 2013 NFL Week 2

Top 5

1. QB Aaron Rodgers 34/42 for 480 yards, 4 TDs, 146.0 QBR vs. WSH

2. QB Philip Rivers 36/47 for 419 yards, 3 TDs, 124.3 QBR vs. PHI

3. RB Marshawn Lynch 28 carries for 98 yards, 2 TDs, 3 receptions for 39 yards, TD vs. SF

4. WR DeSean Jackson 9 receptions for 193 yards, TD vs. SD

5. DE Mario Williams 6 tackles, 5 solo, 4.5 sacks vs. Car

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Colin Kaepernick 13/28 for 127 yards, 3 INTs, fumble, 20.1 QBR, 9 carries for 87 yards vs. SEA

2. QB Josh Freeman 9/22 for 125 yards, TD, INT, fumble, 56.1 QBR vs. NO

3. 49ers 0/2 in red zone, 5 turnovers, 12 penalties for 121 yards

4. QB Russell Wilson 8/19 for 142 yards, TD, INT, 63.9 QBR vs. SF

5. QB Tom Brady 19/39 for 185 yards, TD, 71.0 QBR vs. NYJ

Steelers Recap

The Steelers looked slightly better in their loss against the Bengals but only slightly. They were 3/12 on third down and failed to reach 100 yards for the eighth straight game, tied for the longest streak in franchise history. They ran the ball only 16 times in the game, 10 of those to Felix Jones for 37 yards. In order for this team to get better and win some games, they have got run the ball more than 16 times a game. If you don’t make the defense respect your running game then they will continue to blitz on crucial downs and Ben will continue to get sacked. Tomlin must decide who the starting runningback is going to be and stick with him. They can not continue to cycle runningbacks and just hope one of them clicks. They need to figure it out. The runningback game plan is in total disarray and it needs to get fixed. The defense must get takeaways. The Redskins defense last year ranked 28th in ypg and 22nd in ppg, but they had a +17 in turnover differential, good for third-best in the league. The Steelers defense needs to try to get turnovers if they want to give their team any chance at winning. Against the Chicago Bears this week, the Steelers will face the 2nd-best turnover differential team in the league last year. I don’t see the Steelers changing their fortunes in this game. I’ll take the Bears.

Game of the Week: Chiefs @ Eagles

These were two of the worst teams in the league last year, but this year they’re totally different teams. I took the Eagles in this one because I was impressed with what Chip Kelly has done in Philly, but the Chiefs pulled it out last night 26-16.

 

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2013-2014 NFL Preview: NFC North

All the numbers that come after players’ names represent how they were rated on ESPN’s Free Agent Tracker

NFC NORTH

GREEN BAY PACKERS

GET: none

LOSE: WR Greg Jennings (83), S Charles Woodson (79), RB Cedric Benson (72), RB Ryan Grant (70), LB Erik Walden (70), TE Tom Crabtree (66)

RE-SIGNS: LB Brad Jones (69)

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Datone Jones, UCLA     2nd round: RB Eddie Lacy, Alabama     4th round: OT David Bukhtiari, Colorado     G J.C. Tretter, Cornell     RB Johnathan Franklin, UCLA     5th round: CB Micah Hyde, Iowa     DT Josh Boyd, Mississippi State     6th round: OLB Nathan Palmer, Illinois State     7th round: WR Charles Johnson, Grand Valley State     WR Kevin Dorsey, Maryland     OLB Samuel Barrington, USF

SUMMARY: The Packers had one of the quietest offseasons in the league, as they were one of only two teams not to sign anyone during free agency. However, they did lose some people. They  lost two of their starting runningbacks in RB Cedric Benson and RB Ryan Grant, and also lost some veteran leadership in WR Greg Jennings and S Charles Woodson. They did well in the draft, selecting two talented stars in RB Eddie Lacy and RB Johnathan Franklin. They also selected DE Datone Jones in the first round and he is projected to start opposite DE B.J. Raji. The Packers still have an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers, but Green Bay must do a better job with protection this year. Last year, the Packers allowed 51 sacks, second-most in the league. Things are already not looking so hot for the offensive line, as starting LT Bryan Bulaga tore his ACL and will be out for the year. 4th round pick OT David Bukhtiari has been tasked with taking his place, but if Bukhtiari can’t handle it, Rodgers will be getting hit from behind once again. The running game must get better for this team after finishing 20th in rushing last year. The most run production they had last year was against the New Orleans Saints. Departed RB Benson ran for 84 yards in the game. The last time the Packers had a 100-yard rusher was when RB James Starks ran for 123 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in the January 9, 2010 wild card match-up. In case you forgot, it’s 2013. Whoever is the starting runningback this year must step up to the plate. Few teams can succeed with a one-dimensional offense and even fewer can win a championship with such an offense. If the running game makes great strides at improvement, the defense performs, and Rodgers stays healthy, this team will not only win the NFC North despite a tough schedule, but become a serious playoff threat.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 10-6

Week 1: @ SF   Week 2: vs. WSH   Week 3: @ CIN   Week 4: BYE   Week 5: vs. DET   Week 6: @ BAL   Week 7: vs. CLE   Week 8: @ MIN   Week 9: vs. CHI   Week 10: vs. PHI   Week 11: @ NYG   Week 12: vs. MIN   Week 13: @ DET   Week 14: vs. ATL   Week 15: @ DAL   Week 16: vs. PIT   Week 17: @ CHI

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

GET: WR Greg Jennings (83), QB Matt Cassel (69), CB Jacob Lacey (69)

LOSE: CB Antoine Winfield (77), LB Jasper Brinkley (75), WR Michael Jenkins (69), WR Percy Harvin (trade)

RE-SIGNS: OT Phil Loadholt (79), LB Erin Henderson (75), WR Jerome Simpson (74), S Jamarca Sanford (71)

DRAFT: 1st round: DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida     CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State     WR Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee     4th round: OLB Gerald Hodges, Penn State     5th round: PT Jeff Locke, UCLA     6th round: G Jeff Baca, UCLA     7th round: ILB Michael Mauti, Penn State     G Travis Bond, North Carolina     DT Everett Dawkins, Florida State

SUMMARY: RB Adrian Peterson’s MVP season led the Vikings to a playoff appearance despite a 31st overall finish in passing and 24th overall finish in pass defense. The Vikings did great in the draft, selecting either offensive lineman to protect AP in the future or defense. The signing of WR Greg Jennings is a big help to QB Christian Ponder. Hopefully he will be able to show improvement and take advantage of a better receiving core.  The secondary is a little weaker after the loss of CB Antoine Winfield, but the strength of the front seven of this team should help counter that. The Vikings had 44 sacks last year, good for fifth-most in the league. If they perform like they did last year, they will definitely be in the hunt for a wild card spot.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7

Week 1: @ DET   Week 2: @ CHI   Week 3: vs. CLE   Week 4: vs. PIT   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: vs. CAR   Week 7: @ NYG   Week 8: vs. GB   Week 9: @ DAL   Week 10: vs. WSH   Week 11: @ SEA   Week 12: @ GB   Week 13: vs. CHI   Week 14: @ BAL   Week 15: vs. PHI   Week 16: @ CIN   Week 17: vs. DET

CHICAGO BEARS

GET: LB D.J. Williams (80), OT Jermon Bushrod (76), LB James Anderson (75), TE Martellus Bennett (74), OL Eben Britton (69), DT Sedrick Ellis (retired)

LOSE: LB Nick Roach (74), C Chris Spencer (74), G Lance Louis (72), DL Israel Idonije (70), TE Kellen Davis (68), TE Matt Spaeth (68), LB Geno Hayes (68), CB D.J. Moore (67), OL Gabe Carimi (trade), LB Brian Urlacher (retired)

RE-SIGNS: DT Henry Melton (79)

DRAFT: 1st round: G Kyle Long, Oregon     2nd round: ILB Jonathan Bostic, Florida     4th round: OLB Khaseem Greene, Rutgers     5th round: OT Jordan Mills, Louisiana Tech     6th round: DE Cornelius Washington, Georgia     7th round: WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State

SUMMARY: After starting 7-1, the Bears finished 3-5 in their last eight games, missing the playoffs despite a 10-6 record. The face of the franchise, LB Brian Urlacher, retired, and in a surprise move, the Bears fired coach Lovie Smith. Smith was 81-63 in his nine years in Chicago and led the Bears to 3 playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Those stats don’t look that good on paper, but the defense was stellar under Smith. Last year, the Bears finished 8th against the pass and against the rush, led the league in takeaways, and finished third in points allowed. The Bears struggle on the offensive side of the ball though. While RB Matt Forte was able to lead the Bears with a 10th best rushing attack, QB Jay Cutler’s struggles continued, as the Bears finished 29th in passing. To try and fix that, the Bears picked up TE Martellus Bennett in free agency, but aside from that, have done nothing to solve the problem. They lost a lot of players during the offseason but did well filling the holes. LB D.J. Williams should be a suitable replacement for Urlacher and OT Jermon Bushrod and 1st round pick G Kyle Long should help out in pass protection and on the rush. This is also a big year for Cutler because a lot of potential franchise quarterbacks will be coming to the draft next year. Cutler has failed to perform and this might be his last chance to do so. I think once again the offense will be on the shoulders of WR Brandon Marshall and Forte and it will struggle once again. Only the strong defense will allow this team to contend for third place with the Detroit Lions.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 7-9

Week 1: vs. CIN   Week 2: vs. MIN   Week 3: @ PIT   Week 4: @ DET   Week 5: vs. NO   Week 6: vs. NYG   Week 7: @ WSH   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: @ GB   Week 10: vs. DET   Week 11: VS. BAL   Week 12: @STL   Week 13: @ MIN   Week 14: vs. DAL   Week 15: @ CLE   Week 16: @ PHI   Week 17: vs. GB

DETROIT LIONS

GET: RB Reggie Bush (77), S Glover Quin (76), DE Israel Idonije (70), DE Jason Jones (64), S Chris Hope (61), QB Thaddeus Lewis

LOSE: DE Cliff Avril (84), DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (77), LB Justin Durant (77), OT Gosder Cherilus (76), G Stephen Peterman (72), CB Drayton Florence (69), CB Jacob Lacey (69), RB Jahvid Best

RE-SIGNS: CB Chris Houston (77), S Louis Delmas (75), LB DeAndre Levy (75), S Amari Speivey (71)

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Ezekiel Ansah, BYU     2nd round: CB Darius Slay, Mississippi State     3rd round: G Larry Warford, Kentucky     4th round: DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina     5th round: PT Sam Martin, Appalachian State     6th round: WR Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech     RB Theo Riddick, Notre Dame     7th round: TE Michael Williams, Alabama     ILB Brandon Hepburn, Florida A&M

Summary: Last year, I picked this team to take one of the NFC wild card spots. I was clearly mistaken. This team has a lot of promise despite their lack of a running game but that should change this year with the signing of RB Reggie Bush. QB Matthew Stafford led the Lions passing attack to a second place finish while the running game crawled to a 23rd place finish. The defense was 14th against the pass and 16th against the rush, but they finished 27th in points allowed. They also had the 3rd-worst turnover differential at -16, only ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs. The Lions got 17 takeaways and had 33 giveaways. The Lions have got to improve those numbers if they want to have a chance at winning this division, which in my opinion is the second-hardest division in the league behind the NFC South. The loss of both of their starting DE’s, especially Cliff Avril, will hurt, but hopefully 1st round pick DE Ezekiel Ansah will prove to be an explosive force and help lessen the blow. The linebacking core is slightly weaker after the loss of LB Justin Durant, who I thought had a lot of potential. Receiving depth is a concern but if the running game can get going and the Lions can be even half as productive as they were last year in passing, this team has a chance to overtake the Bears for third.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 6-10

Week 1: vs. MIN   Week 2: @ ARI   Week 3: @ WSH   Week 4: vs. CHI   Week 5: @ GB   Week 6: @ CLE   Week 7: vs. CIN   Week 8: vs. DAL   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @ CHI   Week 11: @ PIT   Week 12: vs. TB   Week 13: vs. GB   Week 14: @ PHI   Week 15: vs. BAL   Week 16: vs. NYG   Week 17: @ MIN

 

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Cinema Parrot Disco

Musings on Mainly Movies from a Table 9 Mutant

wordsofwistim

For those searching for wistim regarding life, sports, movies and more