Tuesday, June 9, 2009

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Sunday, June 7, 2009


Everyone, please settle down.

We see this story almost every year.

A great example of this is Chris Leak. Here was a guy who did everything he was supposed to do in high school and was highly recruited by everyone, but I wondered then, “What’s the big deal? He’s 6’0 tall. The NFL will never give him a chance. No matter how ‘good’ he is.” As it turned out, he won a national title with Florida, but that was after being a pretty big disappointment under Ron Zook and he really won that title because of Florida’s offense under Urban Meyer, and their suffocating defense and overall team speed. Oh, and Tebow did a lot of damage as a true freshman that year. Heaps has similar hype as Jimmy Clausen (incomplete, although a disappointment thus far) and Chris Leak (won a title, but will not be remembered for that).

Clausen was the golden boy of all golden boys. He was heralded as the messiah. He had tremendous success in high school and even before then he was being tutored by Steve Clarkston. People were making ridiculous claims like Clausen could start for several college programs as a 13-year-old kid, a claim even Clarkston called ridiculous. But that didn’t stop the fawning. Clausen was a boy wonder. He would immediately lead whatever team he joined and become a surefire No. 1 draft pick in the NFL. I’m not sure what the rush is. Why is it necessary to hype a kid when he hasn’t done anything yet? There are scores of kids who were alpha dogs in high school who end up flaming out in college or guys that were superhuman in college who turn out to be nothings in the NFL. It’s a weird phenomenon. Aren’t there enough guys who are actually doing something right now in their leagues that warrant the hype? I understand that an unknown quantity is sometimes more appealing than the known, but that’s mostly because you’ve had a chance to see what you’ve got and pick apart the flaws. With the unknown, all you’ve heard about is how great this kid is, and since you haven’t had a chance to see the kid perform yourself, you take their word for it.

He must be great. Scout.com says so!

Rivals.com has him ranked No. 1 in the Country!

Settle down, please. He’s only a name. You know nothing about him. Unless you have followed a kid’s career to the point of watching all of his games, then there is no way you have any idea if he’s good or not. You only know what other people tell you. It’s ridiculous to get overly excited or overly bummed regarding a recruit. Recruiting matters, but leave that to the guys who actually do the recruiting. We have no idea how much they want a kid or not because, for one, they aren’t allowed to talk about it.

Clausen hasn’t done a thing at Notre Dame that puts him anywhere near the hype that he was generating. I remember reading about him and wondering why he was so hyped up, because he looked undersized. I suppose in college a guy can be successful despite his size, but isn’t this just about getting to the NFL? That’s how I evaluate these guys, and by “evaluate” I mean, watch them through a somewhat educated layperson’s lens. The NFL is not kind to small QBs, it never has been and I doubt it ever will be. Drew Brees is an exception, and a notable one, because he’s been overwhelmingly successful. However, there are so few guys that size who actually get a chance to play or even make a roster. The NFL looks at production in college, but when it comes to QBs, they really, really, really focus on potential. If a QB is considered too small, then these guys have got their minds made up no matter how insane the QB’s stats were in college. Look no further than Graham Harrell. No QB was anywhere near him from a production standpoint over his career, but he went undrafted and probably won’t make any team. That’s the NFL. It’s cruel. But no matter how polished a guy is, if he doesn’t have the physical makeup, it’s usually time to head up to Canada.

I’m very confused as to why these recruiting services continually list these undersized QBs as the top QBs in the country. Is it because they put up great stats? And what about these other QBs who actually have, or project to have, NFL size? Where are they in these rankings? If they are low, why are they so low? Are they always late bloomers? I’m confused by the whole thing.

I know that UW fans are likely crushed by the whole Heaps-going-to-BYU thing, but honestly how much of that is tied to his actual ability? I’m assuming he’s a great high school player, based on what scouting services and Hugh Millen tell me. They ought to know since they’ve seen this guy play and I’ve only seen him play one game (last year’s state title game). He looked very good to me, but like so many others before him, he also looked small. I would have been happy if he signed with UW, but only because of what it means for the whole UW program from a stature perspective, not from an actual production perspective. It seems to me that if people are disappointed that Heaps is not going to play at UW, it’s because he’s a local guy, he’s been hyped up nationally, and UW didn’t get him. I’m bummed about it too, but for perception reasons only.

Even if he is such a highly ranked QB, I’m actually a little relieved that he’s not going to UW. I’m sure he’s as “great” of a kid as everyone says he is, but it sure seems that he (and more likely his family) lacks any true humility. How else do you explain his family hiring a PR firm to handle his announcement? How else do you explain sending a press release announcing that he’ll make his decision the next day? How else do you explain flying to Provo, Utah to make the announcement? And another thing, I’m baffled as to why a player “announcing” where he’s going to school is an event in the first place. Aside from attention (for the player, player’s family, and the school) is there any other reason to do it? I don’t hate the players for doing it, but that doesn’t mean I like it. It’s uncomfortable. Essentially the whole system is in place so that the kid can be lauded and applauded. How strange and empty is that? So I’m relieved he’s not going to UW because he may be talented and poised, he may be a little too poised for my liking. He seems a bit entitled to me and kids like that don’t necessarily turn out to be the best fighters when faced with adversity.

Another reason that I’m relieved that he’s not going to UW is that he may have maxed out already. He’s been coached for so long, does he really have that much more to improve on? Perhaps the reason we’ve seen these scouting services hype players like Heaps is because he is technically better than his peers because he’s had the benefit of great coaching. From what I’ve read, Heaps has been driving to a special QB coach in Oregon for years now, almost every weekend. Obviously he’s going to have a much better understanding of throwing mechanics and reading defenses than some kid who has bad coaching, is less affluent than Heaps’s family, and has less involved parents than Heaps. So, for all we know, Heaps, while very skilled and talented, may have reached his peak. He may not get any better because he’s so prepped now. This other kid may have more talent than Heaps, may have more size than Heaps, and may deal with adversity better because he’s been put in more challenging situations than Heaps, but just hasn’t had the opportunity yet. That opportunity may present itself in college or even later in the NFL.

I only know what I’ve read about Heaps, so I have no insights into his true character. For all I know, he may turn out to be Joe Montana. But I do know that when a kid is given everything he wants so early in life, the end result is not always pretty, in sports or elsewhere.

Take a look at this list of names and you’d do well to calm down about not getting the highest ranked QB:

2002 Rivals.com 5 star QBs
Ben Olson (BYU, then UCLA)
Trent Edwards (Stanford)
Vince Young (Texas)
Marcus Vick (Virginia Tech)
Andy Goodenough (ASU)
James Banks (Tennessee)

2003 Rivals.com 5 star QBs
Kyle Wright (Miami)
(notables: Chris Leak, 4 stars; Jamarcus Russell, 4 stars; Brady Quinn, 4 stars; Matt Ryan 3 stars)

2004 Rivals.com 5-star QBs
Rhett Bomar (Oklahoma)
Anthony Morelli (Penn St)
Chad Henne (Michigan)
Xavier Lee (Florida St)
Matt Tuiasosopo (Washington – chose baseball)
Robert Johnson (Texas Tech)

2005 Rivals.com 5-star QBs
Mark Sanchez (USC)
Ryan Perrilloux (LSU)

2006 Rivals.com 5-star QBs
Matthew Stafford (Georgia)
Mitch Mustain (USC)
Tim Tebow (Florida)
Brent Schaeffer (Ole Miss)

2007 Rivals.com 5-star QBs
Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame)
Ryan Mallett (Michigan)
Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
Cameron Newton (Florida)

2008 Rivals.com 5-star QBs
Blaine Gabbert (Missouri)
Dayne Crist (Notre Dame)
Terrelle Pryor (Ohio St)

2009 Rivals.com 5-star QBs
Matt Barkley (USC)
Garrett Gilbert (Texas)
Russell Shephard (LSU)

2010 Rivals 5-star QBs
None (Jake Heaps is a 4-star QB)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I got sucked in.

I thought that the Cleveland team that ran through the regular season and through the first two rounds of the playoffs was legit. Since I didn’t watch Cleveland closely during the year or even during those first two rounds, I didn’t realize that “LeBron at the top of the key, forcing shots” was a play. It’s pretty clear that LeBron is a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1-10 as a one-on-one (or one-on-three) player. But he’s a 10 when the ball and his teammates are moving. He’s fabulous off of the ball because he’s quick and smart and can get open for easy shots, either on the floor or in the air for ridiculous alley-oops. He’s superhuman at finding other guys open for easy shots. But he’s bad or merely mortal when he freezes at the top of the key while his teammates space the floor and stare at him. It doesn’t work. It didn’t work all series against Orlando and will never work long term. It’s terrible. It’s also aesthetically awful. I love basketball and I absolutely hate seeing this “we don’t trust anyone to do anything except LeBron play” being run. It’s ugly, it’s awful, it’s selfish, and it’s probably the number one reason why non-NBA fans say that they hate the NBA. If that’s all the NBA was, I’d hate it too, but it’s not.

I simply don’t understand why the Cavs would purposefully eliminate their best asset and make LeBron into a one-man team when he’s best at creating. The only good thing that can happen is he makes that awful step-back 22 footer. If he does actually drive to the hole out of this set, maybe he’ll get fouled or maybe he’ll get a layin, but those take effort (which explains why he rarely does it late in games). Also, how easy is that to defend? The other players can simply box out or help on LeBron. It’s much easier to guard someone if they’re just standing and watching, but it’s not easy to guard someone who is moving without the ball expecting a pass if they’re open. I hope they realize that they are wasting LeBron’s true gifts and knock it off next year. Also, since he’s a smart player, he must realize this too. Hopefully he realizes that it doesn’t work and waves the play off when it comes in and just does his thing. What is Mike Brown going to do? Bench him?

All that being said, his teammates were absolutely terrible in this series. I’ve ranted too much about this already. I picked Cleveland to win simply because of LeBron. This is a 30-win team without him.

Contrast that to Orlando, where Jameer Nelson, arguably Orlando’s best player during the year, gets hurt and Orlando is in the finals. If Hedo Turkoglu goes down, then Pietrus would step in and they wouldn’t miss a beat, same for Rashard Lewis. If Howard goes down, then Gortat would step in, no worries. I should have known better. Even though LeBron was wonderful this series, he needed role players to step up. Jordan, for as awesome and dominant as he was, always had someone on his team hit big shots in big moments. LeBron did not have that this series and it’s a shame. Also, as for next year, how do they get over the hump with these four guys taking up space and not doing much of anything to help the team win?
  • Zydrunas Ilgauskas – signed through next year, making over $10M (he grabs a stray rebound here and there and hits the occasional 20-foot shot, but is virtually no threat and no force defensively, he’s essentially worthless out there for the low, low price of $10M!)
  • Anderson Varejao – signed through next year (player option for this year), making around $6M (I hate him, but I guess he’s not that expensive)
  • Sasha Pavlovic – signed through next year, making around $5M (he was used in a strange way this series, and wasn’t effective)
  • Ben Wallace – signed through next year, making over $14M (I’ve heard rumblings that he will retire. If he does so, when he’s owed over $14M next year, then I’d be more surprised at that than if my dog, Sully, started talking to me about the weather and that he likes cheese more than sausages).

That’s $35M set aside for next year for guys who give Cleveland no shot at winning. As much as I hate Varejao as a player, he does bring some things (rebounding and annoyance) that may lead to wins, but he’s a zero offensively and that’s where the Cavs had their biggest issues… aside from being completely unable to contend three-point shooting, which is interesting for such a “good” defensive team. Maybe they’re just good until they play a team that can actually shoot and isn’t the least bit afraid to do so.

Now L.A. has role players who have stepped up in the past, in fact recently, so I can certainly see them winning this series. From an athletic standpoint, it seems like the two teams match up well. Odom should be able to defend Lewis better than anyone Cleveland threw at him (with the exception of LeBron for very limited minutes), of course, Gasol starts and will get run ragged by Lewis until Phil makes a change to Odom. Ariza should be able to guard Turkoglu. Kobe will probably match up with Lee/Pietrus. Fisher will attempt to guard Alston (or Nelson, if he plays), who is quicker, but not that dangerous. Bynum/Gasol will match up with Howard/Gortat.

I like Orlando’s chances and I actually trust them a bit more than I trust L.A. because they are super talented and can really shoot the rock, and they are also playing fearlessly. But I can’t shake the matchup problems. Cleveland was either too small (West and Williams) or too slow (Z and Varejao) to contend with Orlando. L.A. does not have that problem.

I originally thought that Orlando was going to win in six, but now I’ve changed course, simply because I looked a little closer. LA wins in six.

On LeBron’s Exit
Here’s what I’ve heard:

  • he should have been gracious in defeat
  • he should have walked over to Dwight Howard and wished him well in the next series
  • he should have addressed the media and answered questions about the series and about his future in Cleveland and the state of the franchise around him
  • when he spoke a couple of days after the series ended, we wanted him to say that he was remorseful for not doing what we wanted him to do in the first place
  • I’ve heard that even the greats walked over and said good luck and that it’s just part of the game

Look, I’m a fan of good sportsmanship too. I would have liked him to respect the game and his opponents. I don’t know exactly what that means, but an overt handshake and a look saying “you beat me this time, but you won’t next time” or something like that would have been fine. But here’s the thing: I do not like contrived graciousness. I don’t like contrived anything for that matter, but if LeBron was so upset that he lost and couldn’t deal with the situation, why be phony? He acted how he acted. He owes nothing to anyone. I don’t understand how “saying the right things” means that he’s a better person when, in effect, he would have been lying to us. His non-verbal gesture said more than any verbal statement could have. He let us know exactly how he feels.

He’s pissed.

He’s pissed he lost.

He’s pissed his teammates pissed down their legs.

He’s pissed that he has a coach who can think of no better gameplan than “LeBron, you bail us out.”

He’s pissed that he’s missed another opportunity to mark his greatness by winning a title.

He’s pissed that he played as well as he could play and came up short.

He’s pissed.

I like that certainty.

I dislike being lied to.

He would have had to suppress his true feelings if he went through some b.s. press conference lauding the Orlando Magic. He would have had to lie to our faces if he said that his team is not to blame for the losses. He would have danced around the subject of 2010 even though he probably knows what he’s going to do (nice touch wearing the Yankee cap when he finally did talk though). I respect what he did. LeBron is no dummy. He knows exactly what his actions meant. He didn’t have to call Danny Ferry and idiot for putting that squad out on the floor with him.

It doesn’t matter to me whether he stays in Cleveland or goes elsewhere, but I do want him to be put in a situation where he has the right complementary players and the right coach who knows how to deal with championship caliber teams. It doesn’t look like Mike Brown has it. Sadly, the one guy that does is in L.A. where he’ll likely nab his 10th ring.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I've Figured Out Shaq and Kobe

When I’m watching these playoff games on DVR, I often fast forward through all of the pre-game, commercials, some free throws, and halftime commentary. But I always stop to watch the LeBron/Kobe puppet commercials—by the way, why didn’t they get Kobe and LeBron to do the voices? Or did they and they just don’t sound like themselves at all? And I love the slow-mo “Where Amazing Happens” commercials. Since they are showing those in slow-mo, I was able to notice something that I hadn’t seen before during the Kobe-to-Shaq alley oop over Portland. It is an iconic play, obviously, or it wouldn’t be a part of this ad campaign. But it’s iconic not only for the play itself, but also for what seems to be a microcosm of Kobe and Shaq’s relationship, of which there are 7 elements:

  1. Both were otherworldly talented
  2. Both played big in big games and big moments
  3. Both needed each other to make big plays and win
  4. Both benefited greatly from having the other on the floor
  5. Shaq needs to be the center of attention
  6. Kobe wanted Shaq to love him and appreciate his greatness
  7. Shaq never gave Kobe his love and appreciation sincerely

Anyone who even passively watched these two play together would agree with numbers 1-4 without too much argument. I had my thoughts about numbers 5-7, but after watching this 30-second clip, I feel like I have my proof. After Shaq dunked, watch what happens as he runs back up the floor. He makes the O face with the huge googley eyes. He screams and points to the crowd. His crowd. He never takes his eyes off his adoring masses. You will see Kobe extend his hand for a high five, even pathetically slapping Shaq’s wrist as Shaq races past him—ignoring him completely. Shaq is too busy reveling in his greatness to extend his hand to the teammate who tossed him a perfect pass which enabled him to make the play that everyone adored him for. This one play, this one sequence, sums up their entire relationship. Great play, by two great players, who never could last long-term because they both need to be loved at the expense of all others.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Weak Draft

I’ve been reading how weak this draft is relative to others, which I thought was interesting because it seems like there are some really quality players who are draft eligible this year. I decided to take a look at the first rounds of the past 9 drafts (2007-1999… I didn’t look at 2008 because it’s too soon, although 2007 probably is also) to put in perspective just how “weak” this current draft class is relative to the last 9 years.
  • 1999: 8 All-Stars out of 29 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: Elton Brand, Baron Davis, Shawn Marion, Ron Artest)
  • 2000: 1 All-Star out of 29 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: None)
  • 2001: 3 All-Stars out of 28 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: Pau Gasol, Tony Parker)
  • 2002: 3 All-Stars out of 28 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire)
  • 2003: 6 All-Stars out of 29 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade)
  • 2004: 3 All-Stars out of 29 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: Dwight Howard)
  • 2005: 3 All-Stars out of 30 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: Deron Williams, Chris Paul)
  • 2006: 1 All-Star out of 30 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: Brandon Roy)
  • 2007: 0 All-Stars out of 30 picks (All-NBA players from this draft: None)

Now let’s take a look at some of the names routinely mentioned as first round picks and see where this perceived “weakness” emanates.

  1. Blake Griffin – considered by many (not me) as the no-brainer, best player in the draft.
  2. Ricky Rubio – widely thought to be a fantastic NBA point guard despite slight build and shaky shooting. He’d also be a top 5 pick in any draft the past 10 years.
  3. Hasheem Thabeet – mock drafts have had him ranked high for years. While I believe that he has several shortcomings, would he have ever been considered anything other than a top 10 pick in the last 10 years? Before you answer, take a look at some of these names, all of whom were indeed top 10 picks in the last 10 years: Danillo Gallinari, ’08; Joe Alexander, ’08; Yi Jianlian, ’07; Brandan Wright, ’07; Adam Morrison, ’06; Shelden Williams, ’06; Patrick O’Bryant, ’06; Mohammed Saer Sene, ’06; Martell Webster, ’05; Channing Frye, ’05; Ike Diogu, ’05; Shuan Livingston, ’04; Rafael Araujo, ’04; Luke Jackson, ’04; Darko Milicic, ’03; Mike Sweetney, ’03; Jay Williams, ’02; Mike Dunleavy, ’02; Nikoloz Tskitishvili, ’02; Dajuan Wagner, ’02; Kwame Brown, ’01; Eddy Curry, ’01; Eddie Griffin, ’01; DeSagana Diop, ’01; Rodney White, ’01; Stromile Swift, ’00; Darius Miles, ’00; Marcus Fizer, ’00; DeMarr Johnson, ’00; Chris Mihm, ’00; Jonathan Bender, ’99. That’s what I thought. The answer is no.
  4. Jrue Holiday – Here is where I’ve seen the rumblings that the draft begins to get weak. Holiday is an intriguing player who has high value because he can play PG and good defense. I don’t understand the weak commentary.
  5. Jordan Hill – I like his toughness and size, he has a ceiling to be a Nene-type of player, but he could also bust.
  6. James Harden – I dislike his game. I see him as a definite bust candidate.
  7. Brandon Jennings – I have no idea and neither does anyone else.
  8. Stephen Curry – I love this guy, but he has huge bust potential because he’s so frail and not quick. He definitely could be a better Mike Bibby though.
  9. Tyreke Evans – Not a fan, but he’s got moxie. I don’t see him busting.
  10. Jonny Flynn – nice player who will definitely get a chance because of his speed and strength at his position
  11. DeJuan Blair – he’ll do really well because there are so many finesse big guys in the league and he can push them around.
  12. DeMar DeRozan – one of my favorites in the draft. He’s got something going on.
  13. Jeff Teague – If Wake Forest didn’t get trounced early in the tournament, I might have an opinion on him, but I don’t.
  14. Earl Clark – I don’t like him and see huge bust possibilities. He’s physically extraordinarily talented, but if there are effort concerns about him in college, why wouldn’t he have them once he’s paid? Haven’t we seen this story before? Also, I’m not convinced that he knows what he’s doing on the floor.
  15. James Johnson – see Jeff Teague
  16. Gerald Henderson – role player at best. I don't see it in him.
  17. Eric Maynor – I like him a lot. I see a lot of Andre Miller in him without the ‘tude.
  18. B.J. Mullens – I’ve got four words for you: B. U. S. T. Come on, there’s no chance he plays meaningful minutes ever, right?
  19. Ty Lawson – I like Ty, for the same reasons I like Flynn, only Lawson has a better shot (I’d call it a jumper, but it’s really a set shot)
  20. Tyler Hansbrough – most people think that he’ll fail, so he can’t really bust, can he? I do like his chances more than most, though.
  21. Chase Budinger – he’s been touted as a lottery pick ever since his freshman year. He’ll be fine because of his athleticism and range.
  22. Terrence Williams – I’ve always liked him, but I don’t see him ever developing a reliable jumper. If he shot so poorly from 3pt range in college, how is that going to improve in the NBA when the line is much further back? I think I’ve said before that he just needs to establish a consistent release point, but I don’t know if he’ll ever do that.
  23. Austin Daye – I’ve stated my case against Daye for a long time and I’m very tired of reading how he is one of the most “skilled” guys in the draft. I don’t really get that. I will say that he has a nice looking jumper and can block jump shots, but can he pass? Can he rebound? Can he move? He hasn’t shown any ability whatsoever in college that he can do that. For being so “skilled” he’s painfully slow and has terrible feet. I don’t get him at all.
  24. Nick Calathes – no idea.
  25. Gani Lawal – no idea
  26. DaJuan Summers – no idea
  27. Sam Young – tough player who can play a role, but not much more.
  28. Darren Collison – was formerly thought to be a top 10 pick. I see a lot of Darrell Armstrong in him but with longer arms. That’s not too bad.
  29. Toney Douglas – love him. He’ll be one of the better players in this draft.
  30. Patrick Mills – tough guy who will play some decent minutes for a good team and a lot of minutes for a team that needs a point guard (and many other things)

It looks like there are around 17 guys that I like in this draft and around 6 that look like they have All-Star ability. Does that make it weak? Sure, I suppose so, but it doesn’t make it any weaker than any of the 9 previous years. Even the 2003 draft, widely believed to be one of the all-time best produced only 15 players worth talking about, of course, included in that list of 15 are four super-duper stars: LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and four good players: David West, Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, and Josh Howard, but that year was an aberration. More commonly, the drafts feature players who have similar ability and potential as this year’s class.

The point is, this draft is no weaker than any other year and I’m tired of reading that statement as if it were fact.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

J.R. Smith etc.

I’m with Jeff Van Gundy on this one; I didn’t know that J.R. Smith had this kind of court vision. The guy looked like a great point guard last night and he doesn’t even play the point. Finding an open teammate now and again is one thing, but he kept slipping great pass after great pass by people leading directly to dunks or layins. Now that he’s shown this part of his arsenal, is there any that he can’t do? I even saw him get pissed when there was a breakdown defensively leaving Jordan Farmar with a wide open three (which he missed). I’m baffled by this whole thing. It has become abundantly clear that Smith needed a guy like Chauncey Billups to take the knuckles out of his head. His game is completely different than it has been in years past because he’s now added defense and passing, you know, almost like a complete basketball player.

Is it possible that we’re seeing a superstar in the making? He’s 23 (turns 24 on Sept. 9). He bound by nothing physically because he’s got terrific size for a 1 or a 2 at 6’6 220. He has a beautiful jumpshot with unlimited range. He has good court awareness and a knack for finding open players (which has been apparent in this series). He’s explosive as hell, possessing a preposterous, but believable when you see him jump, 44-inch vert. (I really wish that he would have flushed right on Kobe’s head last night, even if it was a foul). He’s quick and fast. He’s strong. He’s got it all.

So, adding Chauncey Billups to his life has probably added several million dollars to his name because if he continues on this path of becoming a complete guard he will be a wildly valuable asset. Ever since he’s been in the NBA he’s either been first, second, or third team all knucklehead squad. He shot with no conscience and had no idea how to be a team player. Some switch must have been flipped because he doesn’t resemble, at all, the player that he used to be. He looked like the second coming of Larry Hughes. For those of you out there who have never seen Larry Hughes play, believe me, that’s not a compliment.

I’d like to see him become an even better defensive player and there is absolutely no reason why he can’t be because he’s so quick and strong. I’m excited about watching this dude explode. With his size and skills, I could easily see him averaging 25 points 6 assists 4 rebounds 2 steals through the prime of his career.

Oh, and he comes very cheap (relative to production) with a contract that will pay him about $5.5M through 2010-2011.

If Kenyon Martin really has a broken ring finger on his left hand and isn’t even taping it, then he truly is crazy. Right handed players who are shot blockers often block shots with their opposite hand. I have no idea how he’s doing this without writhing in pain. Broken fingers hurt!

Speaking of blocked shots… the Birdman is on a tear. Shannon Brown has got to know better than to throw up that weak mess.

I, like many others, was disappointed in Melo, but I’ll give him a pass if he had a stomach virus and was yakking. Along those lines, shouldn’t he be quarantined? The stomach flu is so incredibly contagious so shouldn’t we expect someone else to start heaving any second? On both teams? When I was in college, we had some crazy strain of stomach flu run through nearly our entire campus, causing people to expel out of the front and the rear. We dubbed it “The Beast.” It was like the movie Outbreak, except with better acting. Also, instead of some exotic monkey who spread the virus, we presumed that it was a friend of ours who was, and still is, shaped like a perfect square, who exposed everyone on campus. He probably picked up the strain at an exotic porn shop. The point is, as soon as one person got it, nearly everyone got it. I’ve got to think that Melo left some the virus all over the locker room and on the court. Someone else is going to come down with it, trust me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t harangue the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the exception of LeBron, whom I love, I hate their team right now. None of them can do anything. I don’t like Big Z, at all. I’d rather see Joe Smith out there. At least he can bend over and pick up a ball and he’s also shooting the ball really well. As opposed to Z who has been hitting some jumpers, but who doesn’t seem the least bit confident. Smith needs more minutes at the expense of Big Z and a guy I’ve already killed—the much despised Varejao. However, I’ve only railed against his personality rather than his ability, of which he has none, aside from being tall. But here’s the deal, he’s an awful player, who occasionally chases down rebounds, fouls people, and annoys the living hell out of the opposition, referees, fans, and probably his teammates. I loved watching him get beat so badly down the court by his man (Odom) who subsequently flushed it on the other end because he runs like he’s dragging 20 lbs of sand tied to each foot.

Additionally, and I’m not stating anything new here, Mo Williams and Delonte West have been atrocious, and that’s putting it mildly. I don’t see how Cleveland wins this series after watching three games. Orlando looks like the far better team, even without Dwight Howard. If they had Marcin Gortat playing instead of Howard, they’d still be in the same position. Dwight is good, but he’s not the difference maker (Gortat is much, much, much better than I realized, but still not “just as athletic” as Dwight Howard as Reggie Miller would have you believe). Rashard Lewis is playing like he’s getting paid insane money (oh wait, he is). Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus are fantastic role players and scorers. I was so wrong about this Cleveland team to the point of embarrassment. LeBron is doing this on his own (his block and alley oop the other night were breathtaking… he was above the square) and it’s really too bad. It’s not as if he’s not passing the ball, he’s doing that with regularity, but his team just keeps missing. Which reminds me, shouldn’t Wally Szerbiak get some run? If there is anything that the guy can do, it’s shoot, and no one else has been able to do it. He needs to play.

I’m fine with LeBron not driving to the hole every single time down the court (although that would be effective, it’s just not possible, he’s be completely spent after 2 quarters of doing that and playing defense). I just ask that when he settles for a jumper that he do so decisively. These jab-step-launching a 20%-chance-of-making-it jumper from 20 feet are not getting it done. It’s times like that when I have to concede to non-NBA fans the following: “Yes, that was a bad shot and makes for bad basketball viewing.”

If they don’t turn it around tonight, it’s curtains and I’m officially bummed about it because I’d like to see him win this year.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cavs - Magic Game 2

If you don’t like the NBA, fine. But if you love basketball and you aren’t watching what’s happening, then I don’t know how to relate to you.

Here’s a breakdown for you. With one second left on the clock, the best player in the NBA hit a fadeaway three at the buzzer for the win. Does that sound exciting enough for you? Thus far, every conference finals game has come down to the last shot or last possession. It’s not like these teams are bad and it’s a battle of attrition. We’re seeing really talented teams playing at peak levels. I’m sucked in completely. I love what I’m seeing. If anyone tells you that the NBA is boring, then they’re simply not watching the games. It’s that simple.

I was way off on this series though. I thought for sure that Cleveland was going to roll Orlando, especially the way that they were playing. However, it has become abundantly clear that Orlando is a gutsy team that can simply shoot the lights out and plays pretty decent defense. I love Rashard Lewis, as I’ve said before. Hedo is pretty much the same player. Both have a sense for the dramatic. Courtney Lee is going to outstanding, if he’s not already. I don’t care much for Skip. I think Howard is a beast, but he’s limited. They are a fun team to watch. If this series doesn’t go seven games I’m going to be surprised.

As for Cleveland, they played well in stretches and it’s nice to see Pavlovic get some run. He’s a talented player but don’t understand how a European shooter shoots only 40something percent from the free throw line. Is that even genetically possible? For awhile there, I was seriously thinking that Mo Williams was on the take. He looked like garbage for long stretches. I mean, he’s a shooter, and how many open threes does LeBron need to get him before he catches fire? I don’t know if I’m in the proper mindset to talk about this but I cannot believe how much I hate Anderson Varejao and I like this Cavs team (ok, I like LeBron, but still). I hate Varejao for the same reason I hated John Stockton. He’s a whiny little B. How can he, in good conscience, grab a guy’s arm and pull him down to pretend like he’s been pushed? That’s straight out of the Stockton handbook. Also, he thinks he’s fouled EVERY SINGLE TIME HE DOES ANYTHING and continually whines to the refs. I hate him. I don’t think he’s the same as Joakim Noah because Noah doesn’t complain like Varejao does. I just can’t stand how much he cries, it drives me crazy. I’ll root for an outright villain before I root for an cheating little sissy like Varejao.

Now that that’s off of my chest I look forward to watching the rest of the series. A few non sequiturs:
  • That’s an incredible sport coat, shirt, and tie combo by Mike Brown. Dude looks sharp.
  • Is the voice that chants “DE-FENSE” a computer? The same voice announces who scores or who was fouled etc. It’s brutal. He needs to knock it off.
  • TNT’s floating camera, which gives me the feeling that I’m hanging by a noose in the rafters, is not appreciated
  • SVG looks either like a cop or an old Vietnam vet buddy who is still running heroin out of the country. Or both.

Denver v. LA

I am so pleased that I’m actually watching these NBA playoffs. These conference finals games are especially delectable, since each game has literally come down to the last possession.

The LA v. Denver game last night started out horribly because it looked like Denver’s players had spent their day off playing beach volleyball, lying in the sun, and blowing into Corona bottles—all while George Karl was trying to coax them back into their hotel rooms. Speaking of Karl, his face was so red and shiny last night that I couldn’t stop picturing him standing in the middle of the street, wearing a Tony Soprano robe, staring directly at the sun for 11 hours. You could have sautéed onions on his dome he was so hot. Also, I feared that his face was going to melt off from the heat (a la Raiders of the Lost Ark) when Denver allowed that inbounds play that went for a Pau Gasol dunk. That was absolutely amazing

Nevertheless, since LA looked terrible to begin game one (and won) and Denver looked terrible to begin game two (and won) I guess that means that starting out playing horribly is an advantage in this series.

I have one last thing about Karl’s appearance (or as I like to call it my “layup line”), his face is small. Really small. But his head is huge. It’s like his facial features are meant for a person with about 1/3 the size of his head. It’s not sweet to have a big head small face. But I guess that’s better than the alternative because you could have eyes on the top of your head, and that can’t look good.

Not sure if you knew this or not, but the TV cameras love Jack Nicholson. Hey, I love Colonel Jessup as well, but my goodness does he look terrible. They showed him sitting there and I couldn’t help but notice how extraordinarily flabby his belly is. It literally hangs down. Look, if you’re fat, it’s ok, but at least have the decency to put out a distended belly, not some horrible skin flap looking thing. I know that you’re old, Jack, but clean it up.

Now, about the game itself. I will continue to profess my love for Melo’s game, except his pouty, not getting back on defense b.s. that he must eradicate immediately. As such, my love is conditional. I’m hard to get. I enjoy watching Pau Gasol in the post, especially when he’s made up his mind that he’s going to score. He’s got great moves and is shockingly quick and aggressive when he wants to be. But then he gets semi-bullied by Kenyon Marin and he shuts down. It’s abundantly clear that you just need to push him around and hack him a little and he hates it. I do like him though, he shoots a great percentage and gets quality and garbage points.

I did not enjoy the officiating, as per usual, especially the 10 second delay blocking call that Dick Bavetta called on Nene (I think) and Kobe doing a full on two-handed shove in Dahnaty Jones’s back, causing him to fall on his face, right in front of Bavetta. Brutal.

A few other things about appearances, I’m doing left handed layups now, Andrew Bynum has the face of 14-year old, right down to the peach fuzz. It looks pretty clear to me that he’s never shaved before. Also, he’s huge. I don’t think he’s the second coming of Shaq or anything, but he’s a very quality big guy that shouldn’t be overpaid but probably will be.

I’ve said before how much I like Chauncey Billups. His game, demeanor, and everything are great. But he is kind of a weird-looking guy. I’ve said for years that he kind of looks like a long-lost Murphy brother, but a more accurate description is this. If, on that evolution scale (fish swimming, then getting on the beach and with its flippers turning into feet, then into an alligator and so on…) Eddie Murphy is the end of the evolution, then Chauncey is like 4-5 spots from him, with Eddie’s brother, Charlie Murphy right before Eddie. He just looks like a less evolved Murphy brother. But hey, I love the guy more than I love Eddie Murphy these days.

One final thing. I just read Bill Simmons’s mailbag this afternoon and saw this:

Editor's note: On Tuesday, ESPN.com examines the question of whether LeBron
James could play in the NFL. We talked to Bill Parcells, scouts, LeBron's high
school coaches and will have video of LeBron playing high school football.

Let it be known that I posted my take on this yesterday. If ESPN is the “Worldwide Leader” what does that make me?


I smell Cleveland by 15 tonight…

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Conference Finals and Gridiron LeBron

Since I’m pulling for a Denver v. Cleveland final it makes perfect sense that both teams would go on to lose their opening games.

But here is what I saw ...

I saw a determined, strong as a bull, Carmelo Anthony. He’s an absolute beast to handle in the post and there isn’t enough praise to heap on his wildly improved three-point range.

A pretty bad game out of Chauncey Billups (and certainly out of J.R. Smith), right down to missing free throws (including two-in-a-row) which was almost jarring to see. He, like Anthony Carter, failed to close out on LA threes and it ended up costing them the game. I don’t see a need to double anyone but Kobe occasionally because Denver’s big guys (Nene, Martin, Birdman) can manhandle LA’s big guys (Gasol, Odom, Bynum) straight up. Of course Gasol and Odom are going to win some battles, but don’t give Fisher, Farmar, and Ariza consistent wide-open threes, because those are the only shots that they can make. I saw too many occasions where Chauncey or some other guard could have at least given a token close-out, but didn’t. They can’t do that again. Those threes got LA back into the game, but if Denver doesn’t shoot terribly from the line, they win that game going away. I’m still confident that they will take this series. I don’t see LA getting that lucky again – of course, I don’t see Kenyon Martin shooting the ball as well as he did the other night either… but I do believe that Melo will continue to indefensible.

I’m surprised that Orlando was able to take that game from Cleveland, but only in the result. These two teams look very even to me, and here I thought that Orlando would be lucky to win one game. I have a soft spot in my heart for Rashard because of the whole Seattle thing, and he really looks fantastic. I love watching him take the ball strong to the hoop, which is enabled by his fantastic jumper. He’s a tough cover at 6’10 and as agile as he is. His defense is bad and always has been, but that’s not where his value is. Dwight Howard is a physical marvel, but I stand by my proclamations that his post game is garbage. I did see a decent-looking running hook shot out of him (with touch) that surprised me, but I only saw it once. He’s mostly a dunking machine, which is working well for him to the tune of 30 points last night… Mikaele Pietrius looks great, by the way. He looks nothing like any Euro player that I’ve ever seen, of course, he’s not white, but still. His mentality is completely different than most Euro players. He’s aggressive and strong and athletic. I like his game and he looks like he could, at the very least, make LeBron work on offensive (and some on defense). He should be playing 35 minutes a game.

Now, to Cleveland… that fourth quarter was disgusting offensive basketball. The four corners, let LeBron hold the ball at the top of the key for 22 seconds jab stepping, and launching a terrible fadeaway 23 foot jumper just isn’t working for me. He was screaming-teakettle hot for awhile, hitting every midrange jumper he tossed up. He also nearly catapulted himself to the ceiling after that backdoor dunk. One other thing, that helpside swat of Howard’s shot was so incredible because you could see it coming as LeBron crept away from his man when it was clear what Howard’s intentions were. I love watching him play… except when they run the four corners offense. Then it’s horrible to watch. LeBron is the best player in the game not just because he can score, but because he creates so much trouble for the other team. Limiting him to that stupid offense hurts their team. His teammates need to be in constant motion to that he can hit them as they get separation from their man. LeBron’s gifts are showcased when he gets easy buckets for himself or his teammates, not when he’s forcing nochance fadeaway jumpers. Those types of shots lead to losses because their deflating and no one else is involved. It’s just a bad scene.

Speaking of LeBron, given that he is 6’8 and anywhere between 260 and 275, couldn’t he play (and excel) just about anywhere on the field in the NFL except offensive line, defensive tackle, tailback, or fullback? Here is how I see it:

Quarterback: He has tremendous court vision and I see no reason why this wouldn’t translate to the NFL. Is there any part of you that thinks that he can’t throw a football 70 yards in the air? He has great anticipation, a key component for a QB’s accuracy. He is commonly mentioned as one of, if not the fastest guys in the NBA. He has great size. He is a great leader. I have no doubt that he’d be a Pro Bowl QB. I say this without pause even though I’ve never seen him throw a football. You see, I know how to spot talent. That’s my gift.
NFL Comparison: Ben Roethlisberger + Michael Vick

Wide Receiver: The position he played as a high school all-state player in Ohio. He has huge hands, unparalleled leaping ability, great size and strength, explosive speed and quickness. He’s a runaway semi-truck when he screams through the lane in hoops, I see him doing the same thing when careening through the secondary. Because he’s so tall, I’m sure that corners would attempt to get up under his pads and jam him, but because he’s so athletic and strong, he’d brush them off and fly by them. Those commercials depicting him playing for the Browns are not far off. He could also be the first player to dunk a football on the crossbar from the plane of the goal line. But would that be a safety if he crossed the goaline but never set foot in the end zone and the ball sailed out of bounds after he dunked? Technically he broke the plane, which would mean it’s a TD and he maintained possession as he was double pumping. Maybe I’ll ask the NFL what they think. For the record, I rule that a TD just for sheer awesomeness. Of course, LeBron would have to long jump 30 feet (or 7 ¾ inches past the WORLD RECORD) in football pads just to get to the back of the end zone, not to mention needing to get above the crossbar to do so. Look, I put nothing past him, not even setting a world record in the middle of an NFL game.
NFL Comparison: Larry Fitzgerald + Andre Johnson + Terrell Owens + Tony Gonzalez (in other words, the best WR in the NFL)
(As an aside, look at the photo of him and Pacman... notice anything weird about it? LeBron has a cell phone clipped to his pants... I'm saddened by this. He went from being quite possibly the coolest cat in the world to possibly 2nd or 3rd place... disappointing).

Tight End: For the same reasons that he’d be a great wide receiver, he’d be a great tight end, but would be clearly wasted here. He certainly has the size and strength to do it, but he’d be called on to block too much, which he could do, but it makes much more sense to send him downfield, constantly.
NFL Comparison: Antonio Gates + Tony Gonzalez + Shannon Sharpe

Defensive End: He would be an absolute terror getting after the QB, with his size and physicality. Because he is so fast, he’d have terrifying closing speed as well. Teams would have to game plan around him for sure. Because I don’t know how he tackles in the open field, this is the best place for him because he can just hone in and kill people without having to adjust too much. If you can’t picture LeBron putting a swim moving Jason Smith, dipping his shoulder, exploding into Marc Bulger, and subsequently wearing Bulger’s spine as a boa, then you have no eye for the inevitable.
NFL Comparison: Mario Williams + Julius Peppers

Linebacker: He may struggle here in space and because of his size, offensive linemen may be able to get great leverage on him and shove him around. That being said, since he guards point guards from time to time, I see no reason why he couldn’t handle fleet-footed WRs as well. He has fantastic body control so he’d be able to stay with shifty dudes with no problem. I also like the idea of him leaping over linemen to sack the QB. That reminds me of a story of my friend Josh who, for a time, played QB for his high school freshman team. He was lined up under center playing against North Thurston and took the snap only to be grabbed by his shoulders and yanked to the ground after each subsequent snap. The linebacker was lined up directly in front of the center and kept reaching across and throwing him to the ground. The linebacker’s name? Mike Sellers, who happens to carry the nickname “Big Mike.” Look, if you play in the NFL and the guys around you deem it appropriate to toss “Big” into your nickname, then you are one big S.O.B. At the time, Sellers was a freshman and was probably already 6’4 200+ lbs. As it is, he’s 6’4 285 starting at fullback for the Washington Redskins. I saw Sellers once at a club when we were both seniors in high school. I was 5’11 150 at the time. He was 6’4 245. He did not look like a normal human being, starting with the size of his head, which looked like an oscillating fan crossed with a pumpkin.
NFL Comparison: A much taller Shane Merriman (he’s best suited as a 3-4 OLB).

Defensive Back: He would be the largest DB in captivity, which would be so weird to see. He has such speed and range so it makes sense to put him at FS and just let him completely control the field. QBs would be terrified to throw it anywhere near him because the normal rules wouldn’t apply. QBs would never be able to put touch on a ball because he’d go up and get it everytime. Their only hope would be to throw on a line underneath or go for the deep, deep ball and hopefully overthrow him. I see him being less successful as a CB because while he’s able to stop and start on a dime and cover smaller guys, physically he just won’t be able to keep that up because the other dudes are just closer to the ground. I do like the imagine I have in my mind of him jumping about six feet in the air and picking off passes with one hand.
NFL Comparison: A ridiculously tall Ed Reed

Special Teams: He would be the best FG blocker of all time, again, just like the commercial. He’d be just like Finch in Wildcats, except he’s not a morbidly obese extortionist.

So there you have it. I guess I’ll need to him in EA Sports NCAA Football and let you know which position makes the most sense for him and report back. If you’re wondering, and I know you are, my preferences are, in order: FG Blocker, WR, FS, QB, DE, OLB, TE.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let Ron Mexico Play

Grant Hill sounds exactly like Tony Dungy. I mean exactly like him. I was listening to the radio this morning and Hill was on the Mike & Mike show, but before I realized who it was I just assumed that it was Dungy, probably on the show to talk about visiting Michael Vick in prison. But it was Hill and he didn’t have anything interesting to say. That’s no knock on Hill, it’s just that he’s one of those boring/nice guys who doesn’t add much to a broadcast because he’s not especially insightful, he’s definitely not funny, but he’s a nice enough, well-spoken (channeling the Chris Rock Colin Powell bit) guy, who is good looking, so he get opportunities. You know, exactly like Tiki Barber.

Regarding Vick, I’ve been reading about his imminent release from prison and the possibility that he’ll have to kneel before Zod before he’s reinstated. I’ve also read that if Goodell does reinstate him, that he may make him sit out some games to punish him for what he’s done. I guess because a 23-month prison sentence wasn’t punishment enough. Why does the NFL feel the need to tack on its own extra special suspension? Because he lied to almighty Goodell? Does the suspension have any meaning to Vick? Does Goodell think that this extra suspension will make Vick more remorseful for what he’s done? If Goodell doesn’t want “bad” guys in his league, then he simply should use Vick as a warning to all of the current and prospective players in the NFL and deny him reinstatement. F with me and you don’t play in this league. Plain and simple. This half-assed possible suspension serves no purpose, unless, of course, that Goodell is using the suspension as a passive-aggressive way of denying Vick reentry. He could impose a suspension that is so onerous (eight games, for instance) that would turn off nearly every team in the league because they’d have to sign Vick knowing that he couldn’t play for half of the season. That might essentially end Vick’s chances this year. Plus, if he does come back as a QB, then it would be even more difficult for him to assimilate because, as we’ve been told many times, NFL playbooks are difficult to learn.

That being said, this may not matter to some teams because I doubt very seriously that any team looking at him views him as a fulltime solution at QB. Because of the NFL’s copycat nature, Vick, through a strange twist of fate, may be coming back into the league at the right time. Because of the University of Arkansas’s success running the “Wildcat” with Darren McFadden, and the subsequent success that Miami had with the formation last year, suddenly teams are looking for a guy who can possibly run this scheme a few times per game. To wit, Miami nabbed West Virginia’s Pat White in the second round solely for this purpose. White is essentially Michael Vick. They’re about the same size, both are extremely elusive, and both are left-handed. Of course, White does not have nearly the arm strength that Vick has (or had, we don’t know if he still has it) but he’s far more accurate, and while White is fast, he’s not the Madden-99-speed fast that Vick is (or was). Actually, the guy that Pat White resembles the most is Seattle’s Seneca Wallace. For those of us Seattle fans who want to see more of Wallace, perhaps this the year because Holmgren has departed and the new regime is probably a little less conservative than he was offensively (on a consistent basis, I’m not talking about flanking him out wide for one play in one playoff game). It would be hard for them to be as conservative and impossible to be more conservative. Wallace may actually get some burn this year in certain packages and not just because Hasselbeck is hurt, but because it’s part of the game plan. But I digress…

Back to Vick, he’ll be 29-years-old next month, and I haven’t seen any footage of him running or throwing a football, but suffice to say, he’s going to be rusty. I doubt that he’s anywhere near tip-top shape, I’m guessing that a near superhero-level elite athlete like Vick can rebound with aplomb.

As an aside, with the advent of the Wildcat and Vick’s likely position running such an offense, it’s a good thing that he never had any problems with cats or else his comeback could go awry. Although I suppose that it’s possible that the authorities haven’t unearthed “Bad Pusseeezzz Kat Fightazzz,” the underground mountain lion fighting ring that Vick is financing.

Taking a look at current NFL rosters after the draft and free agency, here are each team’s QB situations.

AFC East:
New England: QB1 Tom Brady, QB2 Kevin O'Connell, QB3 Matt Gutierrez
New York Jets: QB1 Kellen Clemens, QB2 Mark Sanchez (R), QB3 Erik Ainge
Miami: QB1 Chad Pennington, QB2 Chad Henne, QB3 Pat White (R)
Buffalo: QB1 Trent Edwards, QB2 Ryan Fitzpatrick

AFC South:
Indianapolis: QB1 Peyton Manning, QB2 Jim Sorgi, QB3 Curtis Painter (R)
Jacksonville: QB1 David Garrard, QB2 Cleo Lemon, QB3 Todd Bouman
Tennessee: QB1 Kerry Collins, QB2 Vince Young, QB3 Patrick Ramsey
Houston: QB1 Matt Schaub, QB2 Dan Orlovsky

AFC North:
Pittsburgh: QB1 Ben Roethlisberger, QB2 Dennis Dixon, QB3 Charlie Batch
Baltimore: QB1 Joe Flacco, QB2 Troy Smith, QB3 John Beck
Cleveland: QB1 Brady Quinn, QB2 Derek Anderson, QB3 Brett Ratliff
Cincinnati: QB1 Carson Palmer, QB2 J.T. O'Sullivan, QB3 Jordan Palmer

AFC West:
Denver: QB1 Kyle Orton, QB2 Chris Simms, QB3 Tom Brandstater (R)
San Diego: QB1 Philip Rivers, QB2 Billy Volek, QB3 Charlie Whitehurst
Kansas City: QB1 Matt Cassel, QB2 Brodie Croyle, QB3 Tyler Thigpen
Oakland: QB1 JaMarcus Russell, QB2 Jeff Garcia, QB3 Andrew Walter

NFC East:
New York Giants: QB1 Eli Manning, QB2 David Carr, QB3 Rhett Bomar (R), QB4 Andre Woodson
Philadelphia: QB1 Donovan McNabb, QB2 Kevin Kolb, QB3 A.J. Feeley
Dallas: QB1 Tony Romo, QB2 Jon Kitna, QB3 Stephen McGee (R)
Washington: QB1 Jason Campbell, QB2 Todd Collins, QB3 Colt Brennan

NFC South:
Tampa Bay: QB1 Byron Leftwich, QB2 Luke McCown, QB3 Josh Freeman (R), Josh Johnson
Carolina: QB1 Jake Delhomme, QB2 Josh McCown, QB3 Matt Moore
Atlanta: QB1 Matt Ryan, QB2 Chris Redman, QB3 D.J. Shockley
New Orleans: QB1 Drew Brees, QB2 Mark Brunell (what?), QB3 Joey Harrington

NFC North:
Green Bay: QB1 Aaron Rodgers, QB2 Matt Flynn, QB3 Brian Brohm
Minnesota: QB1 Tarvaris Jackson, QB2 Sage Rosenfels, QB3 John David Booty
Chicago: QB1 Jay Cutler, QB2 Caleb Hanie, QB3 Brett Basanez
Detroit: QB1 Daunte Culpepper, QB2 Matthew Stafford (R), QB3 Drew Stanton

NFC West:
Arizona: QB1 Kurt Warner, QB2 Matt Leinart, QB3 Brian St. Pierre
Seattle: QB1 Matt Hasselbeck, QB2 Seneca Wallace, QB3 Mike Teel (R)
San Francisco: QB1 Shaun Hill, QB2 Damon Huard, QB3 Alex Smith
St. Louis: QB1 Marc Bulger, QB2 Kyle Boller, QB3 Brock Berlin

Any team with a young QB as a starter or as a starter of the future is likely out because the attention that Vick will receive will detract from the young QB’s development. Even if it’s best for young QBs to fly under the radar, I’ve got to think that the distractions from a media perspective will cause the young QB to harbor some resentment. So for that reason, the following teams are out: New York Jets (Sanchez and Clemons), Miami (Henne and White), Houston (Schaub, while he’s not exactly young, he hasn’t started much, plus he was Vick’s backup and I’m sure he’s telling the front office to stay the hell away), Baltimore (Flacco and Smith, kind of), Buffalo (Edwards), Cleveland (Quinn), Oakland (Russell), Washington (Campbell), Tampa Bay (Freeman and Johnson), Atlanta (Ryan and other reasons), Green Bay (Rodgers, Brohm, and Flynn), Chicago (Cutler – he would melt down), and Detroit (Stafford).
Similarly, any team that has an established core of three QBs that suit their needs or who don’t gamble on “character risks” (either they never have or have sworn off of them) will be eliminated. So the following teams are out: Indianapolis (they’ve got as solid 1 and 2 in the league and a pretty decent rookie in Painter at 3), Tennessee (after dealing with Vince Young, would they want to pick up Vick? I could see if they dumped VY, but not if they kept him), Cincinnati (come on, they can’t do it, right?), Kansas City (they’ve got a solid 1-3), New York Giants (Plaxed out), Philadelphia (McNabb still has it; despite Kolb’s meltdown, they still like him; Feeley is capable especially at no. 3), Dallas (Jerry Jones has to draw the line somewhere, doesn’t he?), Minnesota (while their QB situation is far from solid, they’re still holding the line for the stubbled one), and Seattle (for two reasons: 1. Ruskell is a slave to character, 2. Mora would never coach him again).

Some teams already have a player like Vick in the mix without the baggage, so they’d likely be out as well (I already mentioned Miami for different reasons): Pittsburgh (Dixon)
That leaves the following teams in play: New England, Jacksonville, Denver, San Diego, Carolina, New Orleans, Arizona, San Francisco, and St. Louis.

So let’s take a closer look at these remaining teams:

New England. Brady is coming off of his serious knee injury and we’re all expecting him to be fine, especially given that they let Cassel walk for a second rounder. But no one has seen Kevin O'Connell or Matt Gutierrez play any meaningful minutes. Vick would be surrounded by a team chockfull of veterans and would have no pressure to perform except in limited circumstances (or in case Brady goes down again). He would best be used in a package situation because New England’s offense requires an accurate passer and Vick has never been that.
Jacksonville. David Garrard is a good player who had a down year in ’08, but their backups are not inspiring. I’d be surprised if Cleo Lemon and Todd Bouman could beat Vick in a pie-eating contest much less for the number 2 job in Jacksonville. They’ve got a good running game and a revamped offensive line and a fairly basic offense. Vick could excel here as a package guy and as a backup.

Denver. No one knows what the hell is going on there. Kyle Orton is a nice QB, who can throw it around a little bit and might very well thrive under McDaniel’s guidance. Chris Simms is always going to be a guy who people are going to be disappointed in because he really looks like he should be better. The whole spleen thing really screwed him up and he hasn’t gotten any real action for a long time. No one knows if he’s any good or not, but if he was, it would make sense that he’d see the field given the lack of quality QB play in the league overall the last few years. I am unfamiliar with third-stringer Tom Brandstater. Vick would do well here in packages, but since the offense would be similar to what McDaniels ran in New England, it’s not well-suited to Vick’s strengths. Also, unless Vick could also play defense, I’m pretty sure everyone in Denver would be pissed. If he did join the team, he could wear No. 7 because no one of any note wore that number here, right?
San Diego. Billy Volek and Charlie Whitehurst at 2 and 3. Come on. Volek had some crazy games in Tennessee a few years ago, but he’s not that good and I’m sure that Clemson fans could tell you a thing or two about Whitehurst. Vick is clearly superior to both of those guys and you know how much he loves throwing to tight ends and even though Antonio Gates is getting old, he can still bring it. Plus they’ve got a great running game. San Diego looks very promising for Vick as a Wildcat QB and backup, even if Tomlinson might get upset about getting TD passes taken away from him.

Carolina. Jake Delhomme was as bad as he possibly could have been against Arizona in the playoffs last year. Josh McCown may be an able backup, but doesn’t seem to have much more ability than that. Matt Moore could grow into something given time, but he’s not going to threaten any number 2 guy out there right now, much less any starter. They have an absolutely fabulous running game featuring DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart aka “Double Trouble” formerly known as “Smash and Dash.” With the addition of Vick, I’d suggest that they change the moniker to “Boom Bash Dash” which, aside from sounding incredibly cool, actually fits their running styles and would be harrowing for D-coordinators to stop if all three were on the field at the same time. In case you’re wondering: Vick is “Boom” (as in “boom” he’s gone), “Bash” is Stewart (because of his bruising running style—and underrated speed), and “Dash” is Williams (because of his speed both in the hole and breakaway). Yes, I’m a loser.
New Orleans. I love Drew Brees and so does the City of New Orleans and his coach. Vick’s role here would be solely for Wildcat package purposes and to cause D-coordinators to dampen their khakis when he and Reggie Bush are on the field. They could run the legitimate veer option and gain 10 yards a pop. Believe it. The backup QB situation is pathetic here. I loved Mark Brunell—19 years ago at UW, now? Please. As for Joey Harrington. I’m not even going to waste my time. Let’s just say Vick has a good chance of making this team.

Arizona. Just as in New Orleans, Vick would go here as a Wildcat specialist. Warner is entrenched (obviously) and to the extent that Arizona still has faith in Leinart, it would be weird if he was pushed out in favor of Vick. I’m wholly unfamiliar with Brian St. Pierre. I doubt that Arizona would make this move. I don’t have much else to say here except that I look forward to them having a letdown year and Anquan Boldin playing for someone else (please).
San Francisco. Let’s be honest with each other here. San Francisco’s QB situation might be the worst in the league. I’ve been hearing about this as a team on the rise, but how could that be with these as your top three guys: Shaun Hill, Damon Huard, and Alex Smith? Get the hell out of here. There’s no chance. Huard has had his chances and has hung on in the league far longer than anyone could have anticipated and good for him for doing so, but get real. Alex Smith has been on death watch for years now (even though he did renegotiate his deal to stick around, everyone always says that he’s a really bright guy…). Vick could absolutely give this team some life, so much so that he could literally compete for the starting job.

St. Louis. Ok, St. Louis might be in a worse QB situation than San Francisco. That’s not entirely fair because Marc Bulger is still a nice player, but he’s suffered some injuries and there is no chance that either Kyle Boller or Brock Berlin will be successful. Boller has had numerous chances to make his way and has failed miserably. Berlin was awesome. In high school. Not since. Vick might be a good backup guy here and since they already have a guy who killed someone on their team, they could make room for a dog murderer.
Of the teams that I’ve decided could take a look at him for various reasons, I like Carolina, Jacksonville, and San Diego as my top three destinations for him. All three are in smallish markets, so the national spotlight would not shine too brightly on him or the team, he would be able to make a difference on winning teams by playing in spot situations, and he fits the personnel of the teams.

As a dog owner, I view Vick as a despicable human being and I wish (as he does, I’m sure) that he had the good sense to not commit those terrible acts (dude, a rape stand?), and I hope that he never has a chance to play again, or if he is, that he has to run from a pack of rabid dogs in order to gain reinstatement. As a football fan and a guy who is entertained simply by watching an incredible athlete run as fast as he can, I want Vick back in the game—or to watch a video of Vick running from said dogs, either one.
My Zimbio
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