After missing a week due to vacation, we're back with another edition of ST&NO. As we're in a pretty slow season for football news, be glad I am not a paid reporter, or I might make up some trade rumors or something. Ready.... BEGIN.
1. Condolences to the family of Lou Saban, whom most accounts credit with being the first legitimate Head Coach of the Broncos (he was the 5th HC in Broncos history, following Frank Filchock, Jack Faulkner, Mac Speedie, and Ray Malavasi.) Saban brought some credibility to the team, having had a long career coaching in the college ranks, the AFL and NFL. The way his career played out was pretty much unprecedented, as he bounced back and forth several times between the professional and collegiate ranks, and even coached the Buffalo Bills twice, which is pretty much unheard of in the modern era.
The Broncos didn't win big under Trader Lou, but they took their first steps toward respectability, with Floyd Little playing a big part in that, obviously. I'll leave the more comprehensive you-google-izing to people who had been born when Lou was the Head Coach, or alternately to our resident historian Zappa, who wasn't, but really knows his Broncos history. Broncosmontana got this on the front page yesterday. For my part, I appreciate the infusion of legitimacy and credibility he brought to the Rockies.
2. An MSM item in Sunday's Horse Tracks irritated me, so I have decided to analyze some "analysis." What follows will be a classic Ted Bartlett Media-Criticism Special, so buckle your chin straps.
As most of the MHR community knows, I live in a suburb of Cleveland, which is a second-tier city, with a 38th-tier local media. The alleged all-sports heavyweight around here is a guy named Terry Pluto, who used to write for the Akron Beacon Journal, and is now at Cleveland's Plain Dealer. Ostensibly, all 3 million people care what he thinks about everything sports-related (for good measure, he writes about religion, too.) He's sort of like a too-staid-for-TV Woody Paige.
As I mentioned, this is a slow season for football writing, and Browns fans are well-known for not really caring much this time of year. Between (usually) the last game of the regular season, and the first day of the draft, no football-related activity may as well be happening. That isn't for lack of trying by the PD and its brethren, though.
That's how this turd gets added to the punch bowl. The alleged all-sports heavyweight is using a completely unsubstantiated internet rumor as rationale to justify his conclusion that Brady Quinn is the better player than Derek Anderson.
Pluto could do some video analysis, which would clearly show that Quinn is much more decisive in his execution, and much more polished and consistent in his mechanics than Anderson, and that he almost always goes to the right place with the ball, in the right timing of the particular play. On a five-step drop, the ball is coming out at the top of the fifth step, Quinn's back (right) foot will be in the exact location it's supposed to be, and the ball is going to the most available location, vis-a-vis the defensive scheme employed. Such is the effect of the NFL-level coaching Quinn got from Charlie Weis at Notre Dame. Both Quinn and Anderson could stand to be be more accurate throwers, but all things being equal, Quinn will get sacked much less, and he will turn the ball over a good deal less. (That is an example of MHR-style analysis, which I take pride in, particularly because I consider myself to be more analyst than writer.)
Pluto, another one of these MSM "bloggers," goes on to cite a Nationalfootballpost article, which he doesn't link to, and he says there is no author listed (although Wes Bunting is clearly named as the author.) Bunting's article is definitely worth a read, and makes a case that there is a correlation between collegiate completion percentage, and NFL success for QBs. I think that it is fairly obvious that there would probably be such a correlation, but Bunting does a nice job in making the case. Pluto then goes on to bolster his case by inexplicably comparing Anderson's college stats to those of Quinn, when there is NFL film on both of them, especially Anderson. Who gives a damn what either of them did in college? Collegiate statistical analysis is only germane to the evaluation of players who haven't yet played in the NFL. Once you have, you are what your film says you are. Is anybody home, McFly?
Really, Pluto is pandering to the majority of the Browns fan base, which tends to favor Quinn by about a 2-to-1 margin. It's sort of like when Woody Paige advocates for the Broncos to reach in the draft for some scrappy overachiever from Colorado or Colorado State. It's a guaranteed fan favorite for the writer.
He's also trying to make some hay off the McJayGate imbroglio, which MHR effectively killed, by leaving it where it belongs, on Bus Cook's doorstep. (Suddenly, the "source close to Jay Cutler" is pretty silent, huh?) Well, Pluto didn't get that memo, so he got on the bandwagon. That's why I am irritated, as you probably figured out. Terrible analysis is common, and mostly forgivable. Perpetuating a story which is almost certainly false, and iscertainly destructive to the Broncos is another thing.
So, to recap, we're imagining that Josh McDaniels had an interest in Brady Quinn, even though the rumor is totally unsubstantiated. Then, we know for a fact that he checked out Quinn, even though the rumor is unsubstantiated. Then, Anderson's low college-completion percentage is the reason he's the loser. Then comes the intellectual coup de grace. If a mere mortal like Pluto can find the college stats of Anderson and Quinn, that means that the Browns (along with anybody who has graduated 2nd grade) can too, and they should use them in making their decision. Brilliant work.
(You have to laugh at people who use intellectual constructs which amount to "If I can do it, anybody can." You're making yourself the absolute bottom of the human population, which, to be fair, may be an honest self-assessment. I just don't think I'd call attention to that fact, if it were, though.)
Interestingly, the Plain Dealer is one of the financially healthier major-ish newspapers. It definitely can't be drivel like this which is making that the case. This is a case of having the final answer right, but getting there by idiotic means. Knibb High football DOES in fact rule, but it has little to do with The Puppy Who Lost His Way. This is why the math professor makes you show the work. Mr. Pluto, I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.
Tim (Beatrice, Nebraska): I read a previous article you wrote about the meeting that took place between Jay Cutler and inexperienced Head Coach Josh McDaniel's. It was a very baffling article to read. You had one source that you said knew what had gone on in the meeting. You had another source who said he had not didn't actually know what happened in the meeting but he heard it only made these unfortunate matters worse. How exactly does a writer get two different stories on a meeting that could only have gone one way or the other? Also, if this second source really had no actual account of the meeting, isn't it your responsibility to fact check the article you write and not use any information that is questionable? Does ESPN use conflicting sources just to make a story seem more interesting or are they held accountable for the things they write?
I'd like to buy my man Tim a cold beer, next time I am in the Greater Beatrice Metropolitan Area. He seems like an MHR community member, or at least like somebody who should be one. Pork Chop had no answer for the question, and I am frankly shocked that ESPN allowed it to be published, and beyond that, that it remains in the transcript two days later. Tim, this Bud's for you.
4. My ordered 1st-round priority list, which is subject to change:
a. B.J. Raji - You need a strong NT to be any good at playing a 30 front, and they're hard to find.
b. Brian Orakpo - The best pass rusher in the draft.
c. Sean Smith - The best CB prospect, even if most people aren't hip to it yet. I am personally certain of this, so write it down, and call me on it later, if I am wrong. You don't find 6'3", 215-pound, fast, fluid guys who are strong and have great ball skills too often.
d. Tyson Jackson - #12 may be too high, but he'll be a very good five-technique DE, for a lot of years. If I could get Ty Warren-level production for the 12th pick, I'd probably take it, if the 3 preceding guys are gone.
e. Aaron Maybin - The second-best pass rusher in the draft.
f. Brian Cushing - I like the way he pursues and explodes into tackles, and his positional versatility is intriguing.
g. Robert Ayers - Inexperienced, but very gifted as a pass-rusher. Kind of Freeney-like, when you watch him.
h. Malcolm Jenkins - I am considering him as a FS, NOT as a slow CB. He can't consistently play man-to-man against starting WRs at the NFL level, but he'd make a good matchup safety.
i. Alphonso Smith - A big-time playmaker at CB. This guy is going to be among the League INT leaders every year. I'm a big fan. but #12 is too high. Better around #20 or so.
j. Rey Maualuga - I agree with Mike Lombardi that he'll only play 40% of the defensive snaps. He'll never play 3rd down and more than 3, and he'll always come off the field in 3-WR sets, too. I'd take him 29th or so, if I were picking down there, but he's out of the question at #12.
Knowshon? No way. Intelligent cases have been made for him on here, but the defense has to be the priority, without question.
5. The NCAA really screwed up by using football stadiums for the Tournament regionals. There must have been 50,000 empty seats at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, for the West Regional, and nearly that many at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the Midwest Regional. How embarrassing. Couldn't they go out and round up people on the street, or at malls, or something to sit in the empty seats for free? I hope they beg people to fill Ford Field for the Final Four, although Michigan State being there will certainly help the ticket sales. I was at a small-time bar on the west side of Cleveland last night, with maybe 75-100 people in attendance, and the ESPN radio affiliate was giving away Final Four tickets, so they must not be that hard to come by.
6. Big up my home state University of Connecticut Huskies, men and women. I expect that both will win National Championships next week, which would be the second time that's ever happened for the same school in the same year. Incidentally, the first time this was achieved was also by UConn, in 2004.
I'm back on the every-Monday schedule now, until I am not for some reason, so look for more ST&NO, next Monday, and every Monday. Thanks for your contributions to the discussion, as always.