Happy Friday, friends. We’re now a couple days into the free agency and trading period, and the Broncos haven’t done too much yet, except sign their own draft picks, trade Jabar Gaffney, and haggle with the Dolphins about the price for Kyle Orton. I’ve observed some angst about the pace of things in our comment threads and on Twitter, and I wanted to address that today.
I think most of us would agree that Defensive Tackle is the primary need area for the Broncos, and the good news is that not very much has happened there yet. It seems that the market for that position group is waiting for a big deal to pave the way for others to come, but the only two major agreements among the “big defensive linemen” group were with Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen - both going to Washington - and neither was an outlandishly-priced contract for their production. It’s interesting with so many Eric Weddle Specials flying around, how none have hit this cohort.
To start out, I want to talk about “big defensive linemen” briefly, and what I mean by that. Simply, I mean that there are certain players who can play DT in an even front and DE in an odd front (especially one-gap versions) interchangeably. These tend to be guys who are in the 6-2 or 6-3, and 285-300 pound size range. Taller guys tend to specialize as DEs in 2-gap odd fronts, and stouter ones tend to strictly be Nose Tackles.
I’m the kind of guy who has a large social circle that’s comprised of a roughly equal number of men and women. It’s a function of being a fraternity man, and also of relentlessly attending various networking events in the Cleveland area. I like to attend every event that I’m invited to, if possible, and when I’m there, I maximize the social opportunity. All the people I know tend to overlap in various ways, because Cleveland isn’t a very big city when you filter it down to young professional types. There are probably less than 500 or so who fit a similar profile to me. (I’d define that roughly as unmarried, younger than 40, college-educated, active, extroverted, and possessing a white collar job with an income above the median, mainly in the downtown Cleveland area.)
I realize that not everybody socializes like I do, but try to picture this. You have two friends of roughly equal stature in your loyalty hierarchy, one man and one woman. (I can think of a few of you who’d accuse me of making a political statement if I made it two people of the same gender. Yawn…)
The man and the woman (let’s call them Tom and Mary) become involved, and eventually, you and your significant other hang out with them a lot. They become your go-to friends, and you even go on vacation together. It’s funny how these things work, but the chemistry is just there, and it’s a really value-adding relationship. This goes on for years, and everything is great.
I can’t believe these greedy, ungrateful players! They’re just willfully holding this thing up. The owners have given them a great proposal, and these guys say they need more time. Why can’t they read 500 pages in an hour? Is it because most of them can’t read? I’m not saying, I’m just saying… Have you ever read their twits on that Twitter thing? Umm… hello? English class… you should try it sometime. And some of them even use profanity. Don’t they know that their most important purpose in life is being role models to children? They should be talking about Jesus and tax breaks and preventing Muslims from opening mosques or gays from getting married. You know, positive stuff that promotes a stronger America, where everybody who deserves it can enjoy apple pie, and watch football, and those who don’t should just work harder, and maybe it happens for them next year.
Look, the owners have worked hard to create a product that people want to see, and these players should be happy just to get to attach themselves to the genius of these 32 American heroes and benefit from it. I don’t have a pension, and neither does anybody I know. Why should these guys get one? This is America, and we’ve all unanimously decided to accept a lower quality of life than our parents had. That’s democracy, and the majority rules. It’s the greatest country in the world, and these players don’t understand that. They should call me when they get serious about capitalism, democracy, and the Constitution. Let’s practice – We hold these truths to be self-evident, that employees should be happy to have jobs, and should thank the benevolent job creators for their generosity. Four score and seven years ago, the young NFL almost folded, but thanks to the white protestant tenacity of men like George Halas, Curly Lambeau, and Ronald Reagan, it grew and thrived, and now these guys that couldn’t get a job in my family’s snack bar want to make millions of dollars off of the sweat of those visionary entrepreneurs and their heirs. John Quincy Adams and our other Founding Fathers would roll over in their graves, because those people clearly don't know the Constitution.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I have fairly limited writing time today, so I am going to write something that is the length of a standard blog post. There has been some hand-wringing the last couple days about the CBA negotiations, despite the fact that nothing seems to be likely to hold up progress on a deal.
Doug shared a link in today’s Lard indicating that teams are already advising players to show up on Friday and Saturday, which is the surest sign yet that a deal is inevitable, and will happen very soon. Yet, for some reason, on Sirius XM NFL Radio, the topic of the last couple days has relentlessly been something like What If Vincent Jackson/Logan Mankins/Osi Umenyiora blow(s) up the deal for reasons of personal gain?
It’s making some people nervous, along with reports that the players are still trying to get more money from the owners, to wit, the $320 million of foregone benefits from 2010. Given that there are still so many owner fanboys (that article endlessly cracks me up, so I keep linking it) out there, many of whom have a skewed perception of how negotiations work, with the problem being exacerbated by NFL reporters who really are missing and misunderstanding a lot, I decided that I’d address this with a few thoughts.
Happy Tuesday, friends. I’m encouraged by the latest progress that’s been reported on the NFL’s labor negotiations, and I decided that I would re-engage on the topic today, for the first time in awhile. A particular reported topic in the impending deal has actually inspired me to break my recent silence.
It’s been reported in a lot of places that a salary cap will likely return, and also that the distance between the salary floor (which has always existed since 1993), and the salary cap will diminish. That’s interesting, and it’s a victory for the players, by virtue of guaranteeing that more money will be injected into the overall operating environment. In 2009, the salary cap was $128 million, and the floor was 87.6% of that number, or $112.1 million. If the 2011 cap number is about the same, which is likely, but the floor is 93%, that’s theoretically an extra $224 million that has to be spent league-wide on player salaries. (I say theoretically, because the reality is that many teams are way over the floor annually, and the increase doesn’t affect their spending.)
Even if that $224 million is more like $75 million, which is likely, we’re actually dealing with something there called a cap number. Many of you know what that means, but for those who don’t, a cap number is an artificial measure of salary expense within a given period, which is generally comprised of a base salary, a prorated portion of a signing bonus, and incentive payments which are earned, or deemed likely to be earned. That sounded complicated to read, I know, so an illustration is in order.
I have absolutely no sympathy for Ralph Wilson or Mike Brown as the rumors fly that they don’t appreciate the direction that the Brady vs. NFL settlement talks have been taking in putting together a new CBA. Neither man is a quality NFL owner or shows the slightest desire or ability to make his team a consistent winner.
Wilson, who is 92 years old, seems to be playing out the string of his life. He pays lip service to wanting to keep the Bills in Buffalo, but he clearly recognizes that the viability of western New York as an NFL home continues to diminish as its historically blue collar labor environment is marginalized, and the population resultingly diminishes. Buffalo is the worst market in the NFL, and when the team is sold upon Wilson’s death, I’m pretty sure the new owner will be looking to Toronto or Los Angeles.
As for Brown, he’s the son of Paul Brown, who founded the Bengals back when you didn’t have to really be all that wealthy to start an NFL team. Paul was a successful coach of the Browns for many years, and it sure helped to have Hall of Famers like Otto Graham, Marion Motley, Lou Groza, and Jim Brown. Upon founding the Bengals, the Brown magic never returned. Mike Brown is not the football man his father was, and he's also the cheapest owner in the NFL. He hires the assistant coaches - with the Head Coach having little to no say in the matter - and pays them the lowest salaries in the NFL for their peer groups. He also has always maintained the smallest scouting staff in the NFL, and the senior front office people are a bunch of Browns and Blackburns. They’re the only mom and pop team in the NFL, and that’s the biggest reason that they can never establish a consistent winning program.
Happy Friday, friends. My Tuesday article seemed to spur a lot of comments calling for Kyle Orton to remain (or re-emerge as, depending on how you look at it) the starting Quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2011. That wasn’t really what I was driving at, and I find it interesting that the discussion took that turn.
The fact is, I am convinced that Tim Tebow should be the starting QB for the Broncos in 2011. I don’t even think it’s a difficult decision, actually, and Tebow gives Denver the best chance to win in both the near- and long-term.
I’m a Florida Gators fan, owing mostly to my six years spent in Jacksonville, when I kind of fully caught college football fever. I’ve seen a lot of Gators football over the last decade, so I know these guys very well. That said, I’m never a homer just to be a homer, in terms of evaluating the pro potential of Florida players. For example, I never would have told you that Chris Leak, a good college QB who started for four years and won a national championship, had the size or arm to be an NFL QB. He didn’t, and as such, he’s not in the NFL.
I mention this because I’ve been publicly saying for years that Tim Tebow would be a championship QB in the NFL, and I’ve basically staked my reputation on it, to the extent that an analyst can ever be fairly judged holistically on one evaluation. I’m that certain that I’m right, and what Tebow showed on the field over the last three games of 2010 made me that much more sure.
I was recently asked by a couple of readers to discuss what went wrong with the offense of the 2010 Broncos. It's too long of a story to be adequately told in a reply comment, so I decided to make a full post out of it.
If you asked Captain Obvious this question, he'd give you a really surface-level description, and end it with some nonsense about what most in the NFL think, with it probably revolving around deficiencies he sees in Kyle Orton and Knowshon Moreno, since everything revolves around the QB and the RB. The real story is way over Jeff's head, of course, but here at IAOFM, we're dedicated to providing the best analysis you can find anywhere, even if that's not that hard to do.
Let's start with some offensive theory. Is it better to run or to pass? A lot of research indicates that passing is a more productive activity than running, and all of us at this website tend to believe in that research.
That doesn't mean that running the ball is a waste of time, not in the least. It may be second priority, but it's still a priority. Running the ball effectively makes it easier to throw the ball effectively, after all. It also makes it easier for an offense to stay on schedule.
Happy Wednesday, friends. It’s another nice day in Cleveland, and I hope that’s the case wherever you live too. I have to quickly address something, dating back to my last piece, and some of the nonsense that ensued in the comments section. I’ve said now for years that I’m in the saying what I think business, and not the arguing business. I let myself get dragged into some silly arguing on Monday, and I’ve reminded myself that that’s not what I want to be doing. There’s no value in it for me, or for anybody else. If you want to troll it up in my comments, you will not be engaged by me.
And now, back to regular football programming. It’s interesting to me how much Brandon Lloyd has been in the news lately, because I’ve been planning to write a piece about him for the better part of the week.
I don’t really get into the human side of players that much, as we have the outstanding Doc Bear keeping that covered as well as anybody on the internet, but with Lloyd, you almost have to consider his personality to get at how his career has gone, and why.
Happy Sunday, friends. Y'all remember White Boy Day, right? Of course you do; I think some of you are still mad at me about it. I have found it interesting how a middle-of-the-pack NFL RB - who tailed off late in the 2010 season due to overuse and led the league in fumbles while playing for a losing team - was voted the Madden coverboy. I have posited several times over the last few years that Hillis's wide popularity is largely due to the fact that he's very rare as a caucasian tailback. People get pissed at me for saying so, but I think all this stuff about "grit" and "blue collar" is code for "he looks like us, and we can relate to him."
I think that's fine, and that it doesn't in and of itself make anybody a racist. People of all ethnic groups tend to naturally identify with their own, and it's an instinct-driven defense mechanism. It's good that the world is consciously moving toward widespread racial tolerance, but it's a societal choice that we're making, and not something that happened naturally, in the sense of evolutionary biology.
So, I continue to believe that Hillis is massively popular because he's caucasian, and the majority of NFL fans are caucasian. I have tended to think that that popularity drove the voting victory for Hillis in appearing on the cover of Madden. It turns out that his race had little to do with his victory, at least in the final round of voting. I know some of you are thrilled, and feel vindicated by me telling you this. Last night, I learned how and why Hillis actually won, and I feel like I should share that information with you all, so that we all have the record straight.