Broncos 2016 Offense Prediction

As if being a Broncos fan (as most people I know are) wasn’t hard enough, John Elway trades for Mr. Butt Fumble himself.  Now Sanchez is a lot better than Peyton Manning was last year, but… well that’s really all I’ve got.  He’s a decent backup, but would not be a good starter for the Broncos.  Think Denver’s defense is good enough to win a Super Bowl without an offense?  Wait until you see Denver’s offense playing defense against all the turnovers.  Not pretty.

So I’ve come up with a new offensive scheme that I think Denver should consider.  Listen up John Elway, here’s the players that you’ll need:  Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow.  We’ve all seen teams running an offense from the shotgun with a running back on either side.  Now imagine if one of those running backs was named Tim Tebow, and he can throw the ball too.  Imagine if the other were Eddie Lacy!  Unfortunately, it appears Denver is going to hold onto the much better C.J. Anderson who will now be lining up on the other side of QB Johnny Manziel.

Essentially, ever play is a read or a triple option look.  In fact, we can even add in a fourth running option by having Emmanuel Sanders swing down from Wide Receiver for a potential end-around.  Now this, this is football.  Manziel could have 500 rushing yards, Tebow a 1000, and C.J. Anderson… 750.  Manziel and Tebow could split passing duties so that whenever a completion was needed Manziel could throw it instead of doing whatever it is that Tim Tebow does.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “This isn’t going to happen Charlie.  The NFL doesn’t work like some crazed college scheme drawn up by a drunk coach.  Tim Tebow and Manziel suck.”  And while you’d be right about everyone of these statements, the thing is, it would be a nightmare to gameplan.  Just writing about it makes it seem complex.  Sure, the offense might fumble it on botched handoffs 5 or 10 times a game, but it sure would be the most exciting thing I’ve ever seen.  After all, Denver needs a quarterback, and they’ll find one at #1 overall in the 2016 draft if only they would listen to me.

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Hand Size Matters, An Unscientific Method

After mostly ignoring the NFL combine a few things became clear this week.  Namely, that hand size matters a HUGE amount (Note: Perverts leave NOW).  With the start of free agency we were greeted with a video of Brock Osweiler keeping a fight from occurring.  The video was posted on TMZ, and if you watch closely you’ll see that hand size matters.  Brock Osweiler never actually drops his pizza even as he defuses a fight.  If you look at Brock Osweiler’s hand size at the combine, he measures in at 9 7/8″.  That’s pretty big.

In and unscientific method I quickly measured my hand size as the NFL does.  My hand measures in at 9 1/4″.  For control I measured my family members too.  My brother measures in at 8 1/4,” my Mom at 9,” and my step-dad at 9 1/4.”  I play piano, but my brother does not, leading to my hand span being larger as a result (See Brandon Allen and his Magic Hand Stretches).  To put this into perspective Rotoworld posted this great article which shows that everyone (except my brother) has bigger hands than Michael Vick (8.5″), even my mother.  Yet none of us even reach Favre or Russell Wilson’s 10+ inch hands.  And on a more hilarious note, my Mom has bigger hands than Tony Romo…. Jerry Jones you’d better start looking for a new quarterback.

So Osweiler’s hands aren’t the biggest of all-time, but they’re bigger than mine and that’s enough to be a decent NFL QB.  So with Osweiler joining the Texans I believe they’re in good hands.  Wow, that pun wasn’t even intentional.  It burns my eyes.  But mostly hurt my hands to type that.

Now everyone take a deep breath.  Because Osweiler isn’t going to bust like I’ve heard so many people say.  Is he worth less money than Jay Cutler?  Yes.  And that’s exactly the contract that he got.  Go get ’em Osweiler.  I hope you enjoyed my very unscientific methodology.

Initial Thoughts

The Texans inked Brock Osweiler to a big old deal.  While he could completely bomb, I don’t think he will.  How good will DeAndre Hopkins be next year?  First receiver off the board good.  He’s going to make Antonio Brown look a bum.  3000 yards?  400 TDs?  Anything is possible without Brian Hoyer and whoever else played QB for the Texans last year.  I’m excited.  Texans could make a deep playoff run with a quarterback.  And with the addition of Lamar Miller.  I like where the Texans are heading.  Let’s see how they do throughout the rest of the offseason before I draw too many conclusions (like I already have).

Now we move onto the most exciting team in free agency, the Bears.  While signing Trevathan, Tracy Porter, and Bobbie Massie won’t change the team as much as upgrading the defensive line.  Wow.  Kyle Long is moving back to right guard and the offensive line looks much better already.  Now Danny Trevathan is a great addition.  He’ll actually be able to read defenses, call plays, and make tackles.  This I approve of.  And well Tracy Porter isn’t bad, but he isn’t great.  Still he was a bright spot on last year’s terrible defense.

Which leads me to a team that I don’t quite understand what they’re doing, the Giants.  They needed all the players that they signed.  But the contracts they gave out to Jenkins and Vernon are outrageous.  They’re both players that will help the defense, but they’re not worthy of being top paid players at the positions, yet.  However, the addition of Damon Harrison will bolster this unit more than any of the other signings this offseason.  I like the direction, but I’m not sure I like the cost.

And finally, Matt Forte.  He’s always been one of my favorite players in the NFL, and that won’t have to stop because he didn’t sign with the Packers.  I like his prospects with the Jets this year.  Fitzmagic is one of my least favorite starters, but he does know how to dump the ball off.  And without Ivory or Powell returning Forte will be the beneficiary.

Mini Hits

Peyton Manning Retirement Grade – 11 out of 10 Favres

Manning dragged this out for too long.  I wrote multiple posts about him.  And well, that’s enough to get onto my list.  The one where you get 11 Favres.  And Peyton Manning you did go to 11… just not last season.  Please don’t unretire.  (Reported by everyone ever everywhere and I’m hoping one day I don’t hear about this ever again)

DeMarco Murray Traded to the Titans – No Grade

This could be a good fit.  This could also be a disaster.  Of course Murray was understandably unhappy in Philly with Chip Kelly running the show, but maybe a change of scenery to a place with a young, decent QB and more of an offensive line will help him out.  Until the details of this trade are known I will not be able to grade it. But it could easily be a win-win for both sides.  Except for Dallas.  Dallas lost this trade big time. (Trade reported by Adam Schefter here.)

Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell Traded to the Dolphins – ???

Good trade for the Eagles, bad trade for the Dolphins.  Why take on these two contracts when you could be developing players or maybe giving Tannehill something to work with?  I can’t give a grade to the Dolphins for this trade, but I like what Philly is doing.  Hopefully this allows the Eagles rebuild to go that much more smoothly, but after Chip Kelly drained the team of talent how on Earth is it possible that losing any starters will help them this season?  (Trade reported by Ian Rapoport here.)

Don’t Forget Free Agency Opens on Wednesday!  I’ll have nightly recaps and post my thoughts.  Not to mention I will post often on twitter.

 

“I Can’t Quit You Football”

Now I’ve already given Manning a retirement grade…. but he hasn’t retired.  He truly is pulling a Brett Favre.  Like being in a relationship that should have been over, Peyton Manning can’t give up football.  Here’s a conversation I overheard between Manning and football the other day.

PM: “Oh hey football, how are you doing?  Everything treating you well after the Super Bowl?”

Football: “I’m doing good Manning.  That Super Bowl was great.  So what do you want to do next year?  Set a new record for interceptions?”

PM: “Well, I think we should take a little break from each other…”

Football: “But you said that you loved me and that you would never leave me?”

PM: “Well, I guess I can do it for you.”

I mean I’d rather have Jay Cutler coached by Mike Martz over Peyton Manning coached by anyone next year.  But maybe Manning will even wait it out until an injury next season forces someone to sign him… He might be better than Nick Foles… but Case Keenum?  That’s the saddest statement that I have ever written about football.  Manning’s retirement grade is now being bumped up to 12 out of 10 Favres.  It could make it up to 15 or 20 before he stops playing.

The Other in Sports Media

Every once in a while I will strive to post something thoughtful and well-written. I often find myself thinking too much, and today is no exception. The wonderful piece “Think Big, Be Free, Have Sex… 10 Reasons to be an Existentialist,” in the Guardian by Sarah Bakewell got me thinking about the other in professional sports and who the “they” that gets outraged at every little arrest is. Or who is “they” that gets disappointed in a player’s bad behavior.  I had never heard of Heidegger’s concept of das Man that Bakewell describes as translated to “the they.”  This semantic observation was one which I had never considered before, but before we delve into what this means in professional sports we must first look more deeply at why this small semantic observation matters.

First, das Man appears to be a concept of “The Other,” something the fascist in Heidegger would have been well acquainted with.  What is “The Other?” Well, it’s best to show examples of it. To the Nazis the other would be Jews and Communists. To the Soviet Regime it would have been capitalists. To Homophobes it is gay people, and so on and so forth. Basically, if someone takes all of their fear, loathing, and insecurity and projects it onto an outside group. This is “the other.”

So, who is the that elusive “they” we talk about in sports and how does it relate to the “other?” Often it’s a definable group. But what if we say “Everyone is disappointed in Josh Gordon for smoking pot?” That statement is a falsity. I am actually disappointed in the NFL’s drug policy, not Josh Gordon. So how does Josh Gordon become the other for an unknowable group of people?

First off, there is a role which technology plays. It’s so easy to become outraged in speech, but not in action that people post their raw thoughts online much too often. But for anyone observing sports or society or anything really, raw thoughts are too raw to be palatable.  These thoughts get thrown into a big old mess on the internet and many media personalities think that what they are reading is the actual public opinion.  Public opinion is best understood through surveys, polls, etc., but hardly through a twitter search.  Why?  Well, if 10 people buy a product and are contented with it, but there is an 11th person who hates the product, then the 11th person will have the loudest voice.  The same applies for people who are so in love with something.  While there are issues that are divisive and seen almost exclusively through black and white (say Aaron Hernandez being a murderer, it’s not a good thing) it is very different than the standard issues at hand.  Why do moralists get to decide whether smoking pot was a correct or incorrect decision?  It appears that he didn’t hurt anyone doing it, so this is not the black and white issue that a murder would have brought about.

Now that we don’t know who “they” are when we make these statements, why does it matter?  Because it directly influences conversation about a topic, particularly in the media, where almost all of our information about sports is gleaned from.  Instead of going out and attending press conferences from your favorite team, we watch the sports report on TV or read the sports section of the newspaper (or more likely favorite blog).  When people begin to use the statements about das Man on television people listen because it sounds like public opinion even if it is not.  It helps to maintain the power and structure of sports leagues.  Would a competitor to the NFL be bad for its business?  Absolutely.  So we hear statements like “they are thinking about changing the rules for catching,” which seems innocent enough, but who are they?  A committee of billionaires?  Coaches? Referees?  You would have to dig quite deep to find that information.  And most people will not do it.  These vague generalizations eventually turn into the public opinion because it was thought to be the public opinion.  There are many examples of this, but the one I would most like to know is who are these people that keep asking stupid questions at the combine?  They’re obviously out of touch with the times and/or reality.  But instead of knowing it was the scout for this team or that team, it is a “they.”  And it is mostly likely to save face for all involved.  But is this kind of hiding worth not being honest?  That is a question everyone must answer for themselves.

As you can see there are many permutations that das Man takes in professional sports, and I believe that this article is just touching on the surface of some of these concepts.  Why does this even matter?  Because even in sports truth must be valued.  Misinformation and hidden details create false opinions and perceptions which may in reality be very simple.  These kinds of issues create a landscape in which we cannot trust the media, players, coaches, scouts, etc. to deliver any kind of reliable information.  This is sensible when it creates a competitive advantage from an organization’s standpoint, but it makes little sense at all when it is being disseminated by the media except in light that these media outlets have huge contracts with the league and also stand to lose in the event that unsavory topics and opinions are allowed to see the light of day.

In conclusion, we all must become more aware of the conception of das Man to prevent ourselves from misjudging people and putting imaginary groups or specific individuals into the realm of the other.  If we allow ourselves to be played for fools by these messages from others and from within ourselves, then we will not be able to reach the most thoughtful opinion that is closest to our own personal truths/beliefs that is possible.  When we begin to question these statements we begin to journey closer to the truth.  And how could that possibly be bad when sports help to employ so many people.  Irrefutably, it turns everyone who plays them (and perhaps watches them) into the person that they are today.  Maybe you wouldn’t have met a spouse without football?  Maybe it allowed you to become friends with someone you never would have had much else to talk to with?  Perhaps it allowed you to have an amazing experience at a game?  This is why sports matter, and this is why das Man matters.

 

 

A Beginner and Expert’s Guide to Fantasy Football

Every year I am confronted with the same exact choices.  Which quarterback do I target late in the draft?  Which running back am I going to be able to take in the first round.  Which defense has a good matchup next week?  Should I draft 1, 2, or 3 running backs in a row this year?  Is Brett Favre or Tim Tebow still in the draft options so I can draft them as my final skill player?  What about Emmitt Smith?  T.O.?  Questions that require deep thought.

And every year I run into the same exact problem.  I have no idea what is going to happen on any given Sunday.  No expert, coach, or anyone else knows.  If someone has an in on an injury report that is your biggest competitive advantage… which can still be game planned against.

The joy of fantasy football year after year is that every single week I get to be an absolute beginner.  I won a daily fantasy league…once…out of 17 weeks (with multiple lineups each week).  Honestly, my best strategy was start the best combination of players from both teams early enough in the season that they were still affordable that allowed for a little more skill than luck that week.

Auction style weekly drafts are a luxury no owner of a fantasy team has.  So you have to think about the entire season every week.  Do some of my players have good matchups in a weak division?  This answer had better be yes.  Otherwise your player is never going to have that game with 3 touchdowns or 200 yards.  Those kinds of performances can win you an entire game.  My championship was pulled off this year because the Cardinals D/ST mauled the Packers.  Who saw that coming?  I had lost so much hope I went to see Star Wars and emerged from the theater having enjoyed Star Wars, but more importantly a champion.

You’d think watching more and more games would make you an expert right?  Only if you’re still enjoying it.  My advice to everyone out there this week is simple:  If you’re not enjoying it, take a break.  I miss weeks of daily fantasy because it becomes too much about winning, and not enough about rubbing that hard fought win into your opponent’s face because you saw that random drive the Jaguars ran to win the end of a game.  So have fun!  This is a hobby, a game, not some life or death situation.  Never bet more than you have.  Invent a rating system for your players.  Like Favres.  Always rate everything out of Favres.  I rate QB arm strength based on Chad Pennington’s noodle arm too.  Nothing wrong with either QB (unless you dislike shaving, then Favre is your enemy).

While this may seem long and rambling.  It is.  Enjoy the offseason because soon instead of learning to play guitar or reading Moby Dick we’ll be watching Andrew Luck try and return to football after an injury riddled year (maybe he’s a good late round flier this year).  Or Todd Gurley try to become one of the best ever and leave a legacy.  Hell.  Maybe Peyton Manning will retire only to unretire for the next three seasons.  He could be my new rating system.  Only time will tell.

Joe Flacco Contract Grade – 7 out of 10 Favres

Joe Flacco’s extension as reported by Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun lowers his cap hit for next year from $28.55 million dollars to $22.55 million dollars with $40 million in new guaranteed money.  This is getting a 7 out of 10 Favres.  Not because it’s a bad move, it allows them to build more of a team around Flacco, but because of how exasperated Ozzie Newsome had to be with Joe Flacco by now.  Rather than being a retirement PR nightmare that kept Aaron Rodgers on the bench, Joe Flacco has been a contract nightmare along with his agent that has kept a super bowl run out of reach. It’s really, really hard to build a great team around an expensive player, unless that player is a future Hall of Famer.  And I don’t think Flacco will ever make it into the Hall of Fame.  The good news is he can go deep, and deserves to be paid more than Jay because of his Super Bowl win.

Sam Bradford Extension Grade

Conor Orr of NFL.com reports that Sam Bradford has signed a two-year extension worth $36 million dollars with $26 million guaranteed.

Sam Bradford Contract Grade – 11 out of 10 Albert Haynesworths

While not a bad deal financially for a quarterback that managed to stay mostly healthy for the first time in a long time can you feel the despair coming from Philadelphia?  It’s over 3000 pounds of Albert Haynesworth’s contracts coming down on you.  Ouch.  That sounds incredibly painful.  Bradford is getting the contract Jay Cutler should have gotten.  Kudos to Philly on getting the stopgap contract right.  However, he won’t take you to a Super Bowl.

Update: On second thought. Philly’s best chance to win is to trade for Jay and put Tebow at running back.

 

Tag Tuesday – Weighing the Consequences

As reported by Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com here, this year’s franchise tags are in.  Here’s a quick overview with some thoughts on the 10 tagged players of 2016.

Alshon Jeffery did not have a good year.  He was often injured, but played well when he was healthy.  However, he had back to back 1000 yard years prior to this season.  It seemed the lose of Brandon Marshall did not effect the Jeffery as much as expected.  Hopefully Chicago is able to work out a long term deal soon.  If not, Kevin White had better prove to be the greatest wide receiver in Bears history.

Josh Norman‘s tag was pretty predictable.  He developed into a great corner this year, and the secondary is a key to success when your divisional rivals quarterbacks are Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston.  If Carolina can work out a long term deal with him than all the better.  Ron Rivera was an ’85 Bear after all, so I can’t hate on this decision.  But…

Justin Tucker seems to be a futile franchise tag use.  He’s a good kicker, but is he franchise tag material?  As you can see here on Spotrac, unless the Ravens wanted to sign their Long Snapper Morgan Cox to the franchise tag they really didn’t have anyone worthy of the tag.  You could make an argument for Courtney Upshaw, but it seemed to be too high of a price for him.

Muhammad Wilkerson being tagged only destroys one more of my fantasies about whom the Bears should sign during free agency this year.  Good job Jets.  You got a great defensive lineman…now can you trade him?  Maybe for David Fales?  Sounds fair right?

Buffalo is doing the right thing resigning their line and tagging Cordy Glenn. Who knows what the Dolphins are thinking tagging Olivier Vernon, if he doesn’t sign elsewhere he’ll be a good player for Adam Gase’s new team.  Von Miller is Von Miller.  Simply put Miller is one the best pass rushers I’ve ever seen play the sport.  Trumaine Johnson doesn’t make much sense, but then again the Rams have to face the vicious 49ers passing game twice a year… Good for Eric Berry, while it seems like a great storyline (and it is), his presence will help any team mature, and a hard hitting safety is one of the most fun players in football to watch.  And we’ll see about Kirk Cousins while everyone has him pegged to be a great player, I’m not sold.  We’ll see.  I’m more interested to see where RG3 lands honestly.

And that’s it for the franchise tag!  Stay tuned free agency starts next week!