Braun PED Case – Enough Already?

All the talk lately is how Ryan Braun refused to talk to MLB about the PED case.

This is not a defense of Braun. He likely cheated and deserves the suspension.

This is a question of what the hell is the point of all this. The league’s view of PEDs needs to change. We aren’t looking at a generation of fans that is still hurt by Pete Rose or even the strike. The current and future fan base, the young families that stadiums desperately try to cater to, grew up with McGuire & Sosa making the most exciting baseball in decades. They grew up with Clemens being the best pitcher ever right in front of their eyes. They saw Bonds… Well, let’s leave him out since nobody likes him.

Point is, the current generation of fans has only known steroids. Not just baseball, but football, cycling, basketball(evem though there are no stories), golf (those long drives, think about it), etc. It’s made sports so entertaining for those fans.

And isn’t that the point?

Sports is not a sacred institution. Teams move, rules change, hall of fame players get cut, traded, or quit. Thinhs change all the time and we don’t care as long as the product on the screen stays enjoyable.

It’s time to move on from this outdated view of the rules. I know Selig is a dinosaur and won’t change his mind, but everyone else needs to stop siding with him. Sports already is better because of drugs, has been for decades. Let’s start accepting it and move on.

Milwaukee Bucks Passing on 2013-14 Season

The Bucks are seemingly going all in on the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, and most likely everyone will lose.  Since the end of the 2012-13 season, they’ve done the following:

  1. Dropped their interim coach
  2. Let Monta Ellis walk (note – this is good, but the points and random moments of entertainment [1 entertaining moment for every 5 head-smacking moments])
  3. Drafted a guy who won’t be ready to play in the NBA until 2021
  4. Let Mike Dunleavy Jr walk
  5. Said they want to make Brandon Jennings the face of the franchise
  6. Traded JJ Reddick for 3 stadium dogs and a weeknight parking pass

One can only imagine how many half-hearted 3’s Jennings is going to be tossing up with 18 seconds left on the shot clock this season.  It’s only a matter of time before Ersan gets traded for Otis Thorpe’s expiring contract… because, if they kept him on the team, they might risk scoring 70 points now and again.

It’s pretty obvious they are just throwing this season in hopes of striking gold in the next draft, but it’s a bad move.  Here’s why…

History: According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Kohl-era Bucks have terrible luck with the draft.  Sure they’ve had atrocious GMs, but even a moron can get a #1 overall pick right.  The Bucks though, despite all their mediocrity, have won the lottery in years when there’s no top-tier players available.  Nobody was saying Chris Paul should go #1 back in ’05, and Bogut is solid but hardly a franchise cornerstone.  The time before that, when they got Glenn Robinson, could’ve gone better if they picked Kidd… but they likely never would’ve had anyone around him.

The Owner: Herb Kohl is a bad owner.  He interferes, he hires people he can boss around, and he is working to stick the people of Milwaukee with the tax bill for a new stadium that won’t even go to vote (he’s said in interviews that he’d likely go that route, no public vote).  Bad owners generally don’t land once in a generation talent.

For the fans: One season with a playoff series win since the 89-90 season.  That’s the entire lifetime of most of their fans.  This team has bottomed out plenty of times before in the Kohl era with nothing to show for it.  Now they want to do it again, at the same time they’re asking for the taxpayers to pay for a second stadium in town in less than 15 years for another perpetual loser.  They’ve already done buy-one-get-one season tickets numerous times in the past… are they going to leave out the “buy-one” part this year?

No, the Bucks shouldn’t go another year of fighting for a 7 or 8 seed only to get swept by Miami and company.  But it’s far too late in the game to try and sell everyone on another tank-job.  Probably the only thing that could begin to rebuild trust among the fans would be to get Kohl 100% out of the ownership role and turn over basketball control to someone who has proven they know how to build a team.  That’s not likely to happen while they’re still in Milwaukee.

Rodgers & Matthews Contracts – Hurting the Team?

By the time you read this, it’s entirely possible Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews will have new contracts.  It’s widely assumed they’ll average $25m and $13m a year respectively.  That’s $38 million – just to avoid math mixups.  Plenty of folks are in a panic about those numbers.  They feel each player should take less to help the team.

For the sake of comparison, let’s see how other potential playoff teams are paying their top two players and how it compares to what Green Bay is about to do.

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan – $12m (1 season)

Roddy White – $7.7m (2 seasons)

Total – $19.7m

Difference – ($18.3m)

Notes: Ryan is in the last yearof his contract.  He may not sign for more than Rodgers, but quite possibly for more than Flacco.  Julio Jones will be up in 2 years.  That $18 million in extra cap room is all but gone after this year.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco – $20.1m (6 seasons)

Haloti Nata – $14.5m (3 seasons)

Total – $34.6m

Difference – ($3.4m)

Notes: Baltimore also has Suggs at $12.7m for the next two years.  They also have to re-sign Michael Oher.

 

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo – $19m (7 seasons)

DeMarcus Ware – $16m (3 seasons)

Anthony Spencer – $10.6m (1 season)

Doug Free – $10.2m (4 seasons)

Brandon Carr – $11m (4 seasons)

Jay Ratliff – $8.2m (5 seasons)

Miles Austin – $8.5m (4 seasons)

Jason Witten – $7.4m (5 seasons)

Total – $35m (top 2)

Difference – ($3m)

Notes – The Cowboys are going to have a fire sale after the 2013 season.  They also have Dez Bryant up after 2014.

 

Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning – $19.5m (4 seasons)

Champ Bailey – $10.8m (2 seasons)

Total – $30.3m

Difference – ($7.7m)

Notes – Ryan Clady and Von Miller will each be signing big contracts in the next 1-2 years..

 

Houston Texans

Matt Shaub – $15.3m (4 seasons)

Andre Johnson – $13.2m (4 seasons)

Total – $28.5m

Notes – Is Rodgers worth $10m/year more than Schaub?  Yes.  Also, this will change whenever they make JJ Watt the highest paid defensive player in NFL history.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Jared Allen – $17m (1 season)

Adrian Peterson – $14.9m (5 seasons)

Total – $31.9m

Difference – ($7.1m)

Notes – Not sure what they’ll do with Allen, but that’s a lot of money when you don’t have a QB

 

New England Patriots

Tom Brady – $14.1m (5 seasons)

Vince Wilfork – $11.1m (2 seasons)

Total – $25.2m

Difference – ($9.8m)

Notes – Also have Mankins at $9.6 for 4 years, Mayo at $8.7 for 5 years, Gronk getting PAID in 1-2 years

 

New York Giants

Eli Manning – $20.3m (3 seasons)

Chris Snee – $10.1m (2 seasons)

Total – $30.4m

Difference – ($7.6m)

Notes – Rolle gets $9.2m/year, Cruz is going to get huge money

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger – $16.3m (3 seasons)

LaMarr Woodley – $12.2m (4 seasons)

Total – $28.5m

Difference – ($9.5m)

Notes: Looks good until you add in Ike Taylor ($10m – 2 seasons), Polamalu ($10.5m – 2 seasons), Lawrence Timmons ($10.5m – 4 seasons).

 

San Francisco 49ers

Vernon Davis – $7.7m (3 seasons)

Carlos Rogers – $8.2m (3 seasons)

Total – $15.9m

Difference – $22.1m

Notes – This is where hitting the jackpot with a rookie or 2nd year QB really can pay off.  The 49ers will get hurt in the next couple seasons when Aldon Smith, Michael Crabtree, and Donte Whitner all get new deals along with Patrick Willis getting into the big money part of his deal.  They have very few players signed beyond 2014.

 

 

Detroit Lions

Matthew Stafford – $19.1m (3 seasons)

Ndamukon Suh – $15m (3 seasons)

Calvin Johnson – $17.5 (5 seasons)

Total – $51.6m (3 players)

Notes – The Lions are a terrible team, and that’s why I put them in here.  Some people may point to them as an example of why it’s bad to give such a large portion of your salary cap (in their case, about 42%) to 2-3 players.  However, the careful observer should note that it’s less a burden if you’re giving all that money to the RIGHT players.

In the end, the Packers giving big money to Rodgers/Matthews doesn’t look that out of whack compared to other teams.  In the cases where teams are benefiting from signing their stars to long deals 2 or so seasons ago, the difference is about 1 veteran starter worth of cap room.

The Packers do have a lot of contracts coming up in the next couple seasons, but if they move fast they can potentially get some bargains (ie – if they want to keep Newhouse, they probably can do so real cheap.  They may get a reasonable deal signing Shields before he has a chance to play 2-3 straight good seasons).  Raji is the big question mark, but if they decide not to keep him around that will leave a fair amount of cap room for other signings.

 

NFL Week 17 Pink Slips – Sorting Out the Mess

It’s Black Monday in the NFL and jobs are opening up left and right.  Here is the rundown of who is out, as of this post… only covering head coaches & GMs.  Completely random order.

Philly: Reid is gone, which everyone knew was going to happen back several weeks ago.  He won a ton of games, but not the big one.  Suffered lately as he’s gone away from dominant line players and put all his chips into the skill positions.  Word is the Eagles want to bring in an experienced head coach to turn around the existing roster.  Sounds like a bad move, as they are making the assumption that they currently have a winning roster.

Cleveland: Holmgren is on his way out and it looks like it’s just in time.  Seems his entire model failed as the coach & GM are out.  The Browns competed all year, but had one of the worst QBs in the game and a general lack of talent on offense.

Chicago: Lovie is probably in the category of overqualified coordinators.  They excel at every aspect of coaching their respective side of the ball, but can’t handle being a head coach (or aren’t ready).  There are plenty of them out there, Dom Capers, Josh McDaniels, Wade Philips, etc.  Good chance you’ll see Lovie at the helm of a top 5 defense in the next few years.  That should earn him another head coaching job, and that opportunity may prove whether he wasn’t ready or isn’t qualified.  No idea where the Bears will go, but I’d put my money on it being an offensive minded coach.

Arizona: With a 65 year old Kurt Warner at QB, this team was one of the best in the league.  With the cast of high school caliber QBs they’ve had since, they’ve been horrible.  Can you blame the coach for this?  Tough to say, but somebody has to take the fall and it’s probably fair that the GM is gone as well.

KC: Pioli still has his job, today.  Crennel, probably the worst coach in the NFL, is gone.  Surprise?  Nah.  People who know how things really work in New England are still laughing that Scott Pioli is employed, but I would guess that won’t be for long.  If he survives to the start of the 2013 season, that may be his last chance.  I hope, for the fans sake, that he is gone before that time.  Chiefs fans won’t be able to take another unqualified Patriots cast-off being named head coach.  “And the next coach of the Kansas Chiefs is, Charlie Weis.”  Ouch.

San Diego: It’s about time!  Not necessarily for Norv (although, if you were fed up with Marty, how do you think of Norv as a suitable replacement?), but for AJ Smith.  This guy continued to put out a worse and worse roster each year.  It almost seemed as though the Chargers never had draft picks, because you rarely heard about young players developing into stars (at least in the past 4+ seasons).  Yet, they weren’t exactly making a splash via trades or free agency.  Complete patchwork team.  Whoever comes in, will have to tear the whole thing apart and will have a very tough decision to make with Rivers (he could be part of a trade that would really accelerate rebuilding, assuming there’s a desirable QB in the next 2 drafts).

Buffalo: Is this really a surprise?  Not sure what to make of the situation, as I don’t think Gailey is a logical choice for a head coach in any era.  However, I’m not sure what else anyone expected.  Buffalo needs to seriously build via draft, not waste time with record free agent contracts, hopefully contend in 3-4 years.

Carolina: They’ve been mediocre at best.  Despite all the fantasy hype of Cam Newton, Carolina just always feels like a team going nowhere.  Like, they’ll always be a 4 to 6 win team, that might sniff .500 now and again.  And they are in a division where Atlanta & New Orleans should at least be tough for several years to come.  Tampa is no Kansas City, either.

New York Jets: There have been several great articles about what went wrong with the Jets.  But, they are another lesson that you can’t win by trying to game the salary cap.  The next GM needs to stockpile draft picks.  What’s curious is they have made no move on Rex Ryan.  This means either A) The new GM will have the task of firing him. or B) They will have to find a GM that wants to work with Ryan.  Rex may very well be a capable head coach, but if they are going to handcuff the new GM before they even interview, that’s a bad sign.  Hopefully it’s option A (or at least the new person will have the choice).

Who is next?

There may very well be more firings… Oakland has been dumping coordinators/assistants and there’s plenty of talk they may be looking for a new head coach.  Detroit has to be at least considering their options.  You never know if Jerry will change his mind about Jason Garrett.  And there’s the Jacksonville job.

All this could mean up to 11 head coach openings, maybe more (there could be a surprise or two out there).  The pool of desirable candidates includes, Chip Kelly, Bill O’Brien, Bruce Ariens and then all the old guys that are on TV.  That means plenty of teams will be taking risks, like on coordinators from the various playoff teams.  And more than likely 7 or 8 of these teams will be in the same position 1-3 seasons from now.

Jermichael Finley, still a moron

“I’d say about fourth,” Finley said. “I don’t really want to put a number on it, but I’d say four if I had to. I’m pretty disappointed in it. I’m pretty disappointed in the numbers side of it, but I ain’t had the opportunities either.

“Everybody knows what I can do, but it’s just out of my hands. It’s awfully hard to explain. It really is. I’m just in that organization and that scheme where I’m out of it right now.”

That’s everyone’s favorite knucklehead, Jermichael Finley, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Anyone who watches Packers’ games knows how much of an idiot this guy is.  The only thing that’s out of Finley’s hands is the ball, on 40% of the passes that come his way.

Mason Crosby = Bad NFL Kicker

Crosby’s name has come up a lot this year, people say he’s in a funk.  I say, he’s just as bad as he’s always been.  Last year he was pretty solid and that was an anomaly.  Part of the problem is the indoor/outdoor split.  Indoors he’s lights out.  Outdoors (where the Packers play…) he is awful.

His overall average of 75% outdoors puts him in the bottom 5 in the league in any season for kickers (overall, not just outdoors).

This data is from espn.com.  I had to manually create this table since they don’t give splits over a career (feature request please).

Mason Crosby Career Splits

Roger Goodell & the NFL Failed

How are you supposed to take this game seriously?  This is the kind of foolishness that ruined the NBA in a very short amount of time.  We’ve had a pretty contentious lockout, a farce of a player safety campaign, the smear campaign against the Saints and now a game thrown by inexperienced officials.  The Packers have lost a game because of this nonsense.  What if they miss the playoffs because of this?  If you’re a Packers fan, how can you seriously give the NFL your ticket money, apparel money, and ad impressions? Hopefully fans will start doing something else with their time on Sundays.

The NFL Has the Packers Figured Out

We saw this with the ’07 Patriots toward the end of the year (especially in the Super Bowl) and it looks like we’re seeing it with the Packers this year.  Sure, it’s halfway through their 3rd game as I’m typing this and they’ve played two very good defenses (Seattle/San Fran), but the game plans are very obvious.  Rush 3-4 guys, drop everyone else in pass coverage.  The Packers’ offensive line is so bad, that you don’t even need elite pass rushers to get sacks.  Rodgers can keep trying 1-4 yard passes, but he’ll get sacked and people will drop passes, and points won’t get scored.

There will be opponents that are determined to play their own schemes (ie – blitzing a lot) and they’ll lose as a result.  But the smart teams will follow the Seattle blueprint and will largely find success.

Green Bay Packers Offseason Wish List

Assuming we actually have a semi-normal offseason, the Packers are quite a fortunate team in that they have few key free agents, are in healthy shape cap-wise, and are going to get a ton of injured players back.  However, there’s still work to do.  Here’s my wish list broken down by activities.

Team Free Agents

There are people to sign, and we certainly cannot or will not sign all of them.  Here’s my list of guys to sign, ordered by priority.  Of course, we have no idea what the restricted free agency, franchise, transition tender situation will be.  They’ve already taken care of a few free agents (notably Tramon Williams, AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishop).  Here’s thoughts on the remaining.

Must Sign

– Cullen Jenkins (DE) – Dominant end, won’t get Peppers money, essential for our line.

Would be great to have back.

-       Darryn Colledge (OG) – He’s been a shaky player in the past, but we don’t have an immediate replacement.

-       Jason Spitz (OL) – Versatile player, always looks like a starter in camp but in the end is a solid backup for a reasonable price.

-       Mason Crosby (K) – I’ve been very critical of his accuracy, and his kickoffs seemed to suffer last year on top of it.  I’d rather have someone new, but don’t want to cut him without a legit plan.

As long as they don’t want starter money…

-       Atari Bigby (S) – Can’t stay on the field, but can make plays when he does.

-       Allen Babre (OL) – I’d like to see him be a full-time backup at guard, he’s a pretty big & nasty guy and has potential to be the left side version of Sitton.

-       John Kuhn (FB) – Proven he can do a lot.  He has no future as a tailback, too many short yardage runs where he just ran into the back of people.  But a solid guy to have in the backfield.

-       Charlie Peprah (S) – Our safeties have proven they can and will get hurt, need depth.

Only if we don’t have any other plan

-       James Jones (WR) – Too many drops of sure touchdowns, too many games where he can’t get open (against nickel backs or safeties no less).  Jennings, Driver, Nelson are the top 3 wideouts and we need to find some fresh blood to take over for Jones.

-       Korey Hall (FB) – three fullbacks?  Good on special teams…

-       Brandon Jackson (RB) – Was hopefully going to be the year where he just got it, put on extra weight, etc.  I like him in pass protection, but not much else.

The Draft

The Packers consistently take 9-10 players in every draft and we can only assume they’ll do something similar this year.  I really don’t want to get into predicting which players they’ll take, as they’ll end up taking the best available.  However, here’s my list of priorities for positions.

  1. Offensive Tackle – We’ve got someone who is currently acceptable on the right side and might project to move left.  We need another one.
  2. Defensive Line – End or tackle, we just need depth.
  3. Outside Linebacker – The carousel due to injury showed us that we don’t have anyone on the roster worth putting opposite Clay Matthews.
  4. Corner Back – Probably a distant 4th given the potential of Shields.  If you can find a guy that projects to be a nickel back in 2-3 years, that’d be great.
  5. Middle Linebacker – I’m debating moving this higher.  Seems Barnett is a starters as of today, but he’s missed 19 games in 3 years and he’s going to get $6m if he plays this year.
  6. Wide Receiver – I don’t know that Jones will be back and Driver had a big production drop off last year.  We don’t really have a prototypical slot receiver on the roster.
  7. Running back – Grant should be back and starting, Starks shows promise, but assuming Jackson is gone we don’t have a 3rd down back.  That’s not something you usually find in the draft, but it is a definite need.

Favre consecutive start streak ends at one

Wonder if there will be a commemorative football this time?