Friday, November 25, 2005

Turkey Delight
By Ben Valentine

When it comes to football holidays, Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s and the Super Bowl are unquestionably the biggest days of the year. Granted, Thanksgiving ranks third in my opinion of the three, but one can hardly complain about getting two NFL games while being able to stuff one’s face. Plus, it’s football, on Thursday! This has less of an effect on me now that I’ve graduated from school, but back in the day, it was one of the highlights of Thanksgiving. I’d get to see an NFL game without having to worry about homework and classes the next day.

Enough reminiscing for now however. On to today’s game observations.

-My first one is simple; as much as Joey Harrington has become the scapegoat in Detroit, today’s game should clearly show who deserves the blame. General Manager Matt Millen should be fired immediately. Heck he should have been fired yesterday, last week or after taking a third wide receiver with a top ten pick in three years. It has become trendy to blame Harrington for the Lions woes, but today he was unjustly yanked from that game. His receivers were down right awful, dropping everything thrown in their direction. The running game was non existent. And the protection was putrid. It’s little wonder Harrington struggles with that core group around him.

Jeff Garcia isn’t the answer either. He managed to get them one win against one of the worst teams on their schedule in a game where he didn’t light up the boards. It’s almost like the Kelly Holcomb/ JP Losman situation in Buffalo. Losman may not be the answer but Holcomb has had enough chances to show he’s not an NFL QB. Garcia isn’t going to win you much of anything anymore people. Look, I’m not saying Harrington is a good QB, but the Lions have lots of problems. If the line stinks, the receivers can’t catch and defense can’t tackle, then the blame should be rested at the feet of the man who put that team together. Millen has done an awful job in Detroit, yet seems to be the guy who gets the least amount of criticism behind Harrington and Steve Mariucci. I’d fire Millen before I dumped either of those two. I mean think about it again, Charles Rodgers, Roy Williams, Mike Williams… three wide receivers with three top ten picks. You do only start two wide outs in the NFL, Matt. By the way, your team finished so poorly it acquired top ten picks four years in a row. Don’t you think you have another need, somewhere… anywhere on your team?

But don’t worry Detroit. Once Harrington is gone this off season, all your problems will go away. After all, it’s his fault Warrick Dunn looked like LaDanian Tomlinson today. If only Harrington had been a better QB, Alge Crumpler wouldn’t have looked like Antonio Gates. And Michael Vick… well he’s still no Drew Brees.

-I still don’t buy the Falcons, but today was a nice win for them. Watching Crumpler reel in those passes today made me long for the Jets to have a tight end that could make plays in the passing game. As for Vick, the guy, when he’s on, is fun to watch. He really does look like he is unstoppable at times when he gets outside the pocket.

-As a fan of the Big East Conference, I was pleased to see former UConn QB Dan Orlovsky get into today’s game. He got to have the ball dropped on him too. Maybe the Lions should give him a look. He can’t be any worse than Garcia or Harrington, right?

-You can call him improved, you can say he’s matured, you can call him a game manager, but I still call the Denver Broncos starting QB Jake “the fake”. There may not be a more overrated player in the NFL this season. Some people are actually talking about him as an MVP candidate… yeah okay. First of all, his INT streak, which thank god was snapped today so we don’t have to hear about it anymore, was a joke. You know who he was behind on that list? NFL greats like Steve DeBerg, Neil O’Donnell and Aaron Brooks. Aaron FREAKIN Brooks! Is Aaron Brooks a good QB?

Do you what that stat proves? Nothing because it shows that top notch QBs throw picks. There was no Peyton Manning, Brett Farve, Joe Montana or John Elway there. You want to know why? Because when you have a streak like that, you’re not throwing the football. Jake Plummer is averaging 29 attempts a game. That’s 23rd among QBs who have started at least 5 games this year. Last year he averaged 32.6 attempts per game. Denver realized, finally, that if they want to win, they can’t let Plummer beat them. And with their run game, it was the right decision. I’m not sure if I buy them, but taking the ball out of Plummer’s hands makes me believe in them just a little more.

- Just ahead of Plummer on that list, interestingly enough, is Drew Bledsoe at 29.1 pass attempts per game. After watching his performance today, is there any guess as to why the Cowboys don’t throw it more often? The “young man’s” Vinny Testaverde is a turnover/sack waiting to happen. And he’s also the reason why it’s very hard to take Dallas seriously as a Super Bowl contender. Their defense is quite talented, but unlike Denver, that run game just isn’t good enough to carry the offense when Bledsoe is being Bledsoe. Julius Jones and Marion Barber III are an okay tandem, but I don’t believe they can get it done against the NFC’s top teams. Dallas is a lot like the Giants; a decent team that should make the playoffs but will lose the moment they hit the road. I don’t see them in either Carolina’s or Seattle’s class right now. Honestly, I’m not sure if they’re better than the Bears.

-It isn’t an observation from today’s game, but it’s something I forgot to mention last week when I was wrapping up the Jets. During the game last week, CBS color man/analyst Randy Cross, whom I’m not a big fan of, suggested the Jets should consider taking Texas QB Vince Young if he were to come out this year in the NFL draft. This would be a colossal mistake. He has “BUST” written all over him. He’s like Michael Vick, except with less of an arm. The guy has trouble with college defenses. Forget about the pro ones. If he has any hope of being a good NFL QB, he’ll need two years sitting on a pro bench learning the league.

In addition it doesn’t make sense for the Jets plans for next year. One has to figure they will try to re-tool and compete for a playoff spot since they feel injuries derailed them this season. They will want a player who makes an immediate impact; i.e. Reggie Bush or another running back/ wide receiver, offensive lineman. Quarterbacks in the NFL very rarely are useful their first year in the league, which is why most people believe if given the choice, the Jets would take Bush over Matt Leinart and Leinart is far more ready for the pro game than Young. Why on earth would the Jets draft a project when they want to win next year? Randy Cross, think before you speak. I know the Jets need a QB, but at least suggest one that makes some sense, not one which is just a trendy name right now.


Blogger Bryan Koch said...

Bem, you've missed the most disturbing statistic in regard to the DDD (Detroit Drafting Debacle): Their three leading receivers, in terms of receptions, are Scottie Vines, Marcus Pollard, and Shawn Bryson.


The Jets aren't drafting Vince Young. End of story. I'd be absolutely shocked if they were to draft a QB.

Oh, and is "Wild Turkey" really the best headline ESPN could manage? Come on, I know it's a holiday, but the reserve headline-writers need to do better than this.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Sports Litter said...

hey Koch, why would it be a shock for the Jets to draft a qb? They need one desperately. But Vince Young won't be going pro next year, so you can cross him off the list.

This was a nice article

1:12 PM  
Blogger Bryan Koch said...

Well, what I meant to assert with that statement (which was regrettably ambiguous, in retrospect) was that I'd be shocked if they were to draft a QB in the first round. The need is more definitive at running back, due to the Pennington unknown. Also, I believe that they can handle the QB position by either:

a) Swinging a trade for Drew Brees (which I've personally endorsed here, although my colleagues don't think it to be realistic)

b) Hoping that Pennington can return, and using Fiedler PLUS a relatively cheap free agent or something like a third-round draft pick.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Ben Valentine said...

So, what do you know? Rumors are flying around Detroit Maruicci is about to get canned. Seriously is Matt Millen the new Teflon Don? How many coaches can one GM fire while having teams that do nothing but finish in the bottom of the league every year? I don't know how Detroit's ownership can justify keeping him around. This is one time I think I can honestly without question say I could do a better job at running a team.

I wouldn't be shocked if Young came out. If he were to finish second or third in the Heisman balloting and had a great National Championship Game, then why would he stay? He'd probably be a top ten pick, regardless of his actual ability. I feel he's boatloads more talented than Alex Smith is, and he went to a "big" time program. The problem with Young is that he's too raw and a team that drafts him early won't develop him the right way. They'll do what the Niners have done to Smith and probably trash his confidence and stem his learning curve. Thus, he'll end up being a bust.

The Jets won't draft a QB with their first pick. After that all bets are off. It's hard to project who will be there, but if there's an enticing QB in the second round, I think the Jets would draft him. (Chris Leak?) As I've said since Pennington and Fiedler went down, I'd love for them to trade for Mike McMahon, but naturally, that's another wait and see deal at this point.

6:47 PM  
Blogger The Armchair Quarterback said...

Ben, I agree Millen has to start taking the hit on his poor personnel decisions. It's like he has credit account and instead of money it's stupidity points. He's determined to rack it up before he's booted back to the broadcast booth.

5:34 PM  

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