To start this thread off I have listed below the WRs of relevance for the teams in the beloved "Black and Blue" NFC North. I have put them in order of relevance to their team for 2008 according to my opinion. I know this may be controversial so feel free to rip apart my take but be sure to give reasoning and not just be a jerk.
Da Team: Mark Bradley. The single most important factor on the corps. If he can stay healthy, play consistetly like he's capable of and like the flashes we've seen he will be our #1 WR. Hey that sounds like someone else on this team.
Marty Booker. Good signing by the team. Safe signing. Great team guy who wants to be here, has big hands and can mentor the young guys. Hey lets hope he can still play at a high level too.
Devin Hester. I'm really only putting him here because of his athletic ability. If he can play WR like he does KR or PR, look out. He needs more development and with experience and reps will come more consistency.
Earl Bennett. Nobody knows what this guy will turn out to be but he should be a factor in the offense. They compare him to Hines Ward and if he's half the player Hines is I'll be satisfied. I want to see this guy in preseason....badly.
Rashied Davis. I dont know how much playing time he'll get this year with the drafting of Bennett and increased workload for Hester but he's got talent. He finds lanes and gets open. He's a good solid backup.
Brandon Lloyd: Who the hell knows. If he plays to his capability he could be a good safety net but it wouldn't shock me if he's cut. Then again it wouldn't shock me if he turns out to be our #2 or #3 WR either.
The rest. This includes Monk, Hass and the bevy of other guys trying out. Who knows.
Berrian. I look forward to him dropping balls for someone else. He's a speedster and the Queens #1 threat but that doesnt worry me. Fans in MN are way too excited about this guy.
Sidney Rice. Up and coming, good speed, should be a bonafide #1 or #2 in this league soon.
Bobby Wade. Another former Bear living the low life in MN. Safe backup, has flashes.
Aundrae Allison. Young up and comer. Dont know much about him except that he's a backup WR in MN, not a great place to advance your career with Tjack at the helm.
Robert Ferguson. What is with these former NFC north players flocking to MN.
The Fudge Pack.
Donald Driver. Good player, probably the best WR in the NFC north. Tough call between him and Roy Williams. Makes all the plays a #1 WR should. Pro bowl caliber.
Greg Jennings. This will be his second or third year in the league and he's a stud. He's pretty much a lock to be a pro bowler at some point. He could be #1 in GB very soon.
James Jones. Seen him torch teams a few times, looks pretty good. Just another solid WR in the Pack organizatinon.
Ruvell Martin. Third or fourth guy. Doesnt scare any teams but puts up decent numbers when he gets to play. Trust me I know. He had a couple of good fantasy weeks when Driver was hurt.
Your Motor City Kitties.
Roy Williams. A staple NFC North WR. Good player. Annoys me with his 1st down signals but he makes plays and thats what counts. Also talks a lot. I'm not a big fan of this guy but he's consistent.
Calvin Johnson. Didn't show what he's capable of last year but he will this year. If he emerges like he's supposed to he's going to be a #1 calibler WR and perennial pro bowler. I need to see it yet.
Mike Furrey. Probably the best #3 or slot WR in the NFL. And I mean that. He's the best safety net in football. This guy racks up catches but with the dismissal of Martz who knows what this teams passing game will look like in 2008. Supposedly they are going to run more, pass less.
Shaun McDonald. Been with the team a few years. Good fill in guy. Capable of having a #1 type game.
Upon review of talent of the players alone my ranking of the Teams is this: #1 Pack, #2 Detroit, #3 Bears, #4 Vikings. As far as stats go the Bears could be higher, even as high as #1 if Rodgers doesnt work out in GB, and we certainly cant expect him to put up the same numbers for his WRs as Favre did. The Lions could fall too. With Martz's pass happy offense out they could see significantly decreased numbers as well in the WR dept. The Vikes thought that they had moved up to #1 or #2 in this category with the signing of Berrian but I'm not buying it. They need a QB to throw the ball first. Things could align and the Bears could look like #1 team.
Take it away.....
I just finished reading The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis (author of Hardball). The book examined the evolution of the Left Tackle position, and how through the years it has evolved to be the second highest paid position on the offense after quarterback. The book for the most part follows Michael Oher, the Ole Miss LT that is returning for his senior season and is considered a top flight draft pick for the '09 draft, his rise from the ghetto of Memphis to live with a rich white family. It's an incredible story of how his obvious LT size saved him from a life of violence with guns for a life of controlled violence in pads and a helmet. That's my plug for the book, go check it out, pass the time in the summer months while we wait on training camp to start.
Reading the Blind Side right now made me think just how important our investment is in Chris Williams. A lot of bloggers on here have been concerned with the lack of drafting/signing a G to step in and start this year. After reading this book, I'm less concerned about that and more interested in the quick maturation of our prized LT. It's not a sexy position traditionally to talk about, but it seems to me that although CW won't tote the ball, take a 7-step drop, or catch a square in, our new left tackle is a sexy pick. He's highly paid (or rather will be) and arguably the second most important player on the field when we have the ball. His ability to slow the best pass rushers in the league will directly affect the amount of time that Rex/Kyle has to throw.
The pseudo-experts will have you believe that LT is a safe pick...that's only because it's hard to remember LT busts but easy to remember QB/RB busts. My contention is that the early success of Chris Williams will be the biggest driver in the success of our offense. Bigger than the Rex/Kyle battle. Bigger than the Devin Hester experiment. Bigger than Forte beating out Ced.
So my real career shall be taking my away from Da Site for the next couple weeks but I'm leaving you in the more than capable hands of Pissed Off, JB and Phil from SATX.
If you have something you think the folks would find interesting or a column you're dying to write, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll take a look at it and most likely throw it up on here.
Note: I'm scheduled to interview Roberto Garza this week so I should return with the highlights from that conversation.
It's impossible to analyze running backs without considering run-blocking, so we'll combine them. Okay I've combined them.
Adrian Peterson is arguably the most gifted running back in the game and he's anchored by a fear-inducing left side of the offensive line.
Ryan Grant looked like a bona fide All-Pro down the stretch and the Packers have maintained one of the most consistent lines in the game for years, keeping their former quarterback healthy all these years.
So now we get to the Lions. Both will be starting a rookie at the tackle position (Williams, Cherilus). Both will be starting a mid-range player at the other tackle (Tait, Backus). Neither has a stud guard. We have a stud center.
As for the actual runners...well...ugh. Here's what the Lions offer.
...so let's just say we're 3 1/2
There is no more boring time to be a football fan than the gaping crevice of time between the NFL Draft and the start of training camp. So we're forced to read about Bensonboat and CryinBrian (picked to finish first and second in this weekend's Preakness). When the comments below hit triple digits, I start to worry I'm not doing my job. So let's argue about where we rank in division at each position on the field, starting with...
Aaron Rodgers has never started a professional football game.
Jon Kitna basically stinks.
Tarvaris Jackson won't be starting for the Vikings by mid-season.
The Chicago Bears might not win a championship with Rex Grossman he has had more post-season success than the the other three combined. Hell, Kyle Orton has a better winning percentage, too. I can't see a single logical argument against putting the Bears at the top of this list.
Brad Biggs - who continues to tirelessly cover the Chicago Bears with or without news - writes today that Kyle Orton looks good in a tuxedo. Don't believe me? "But quarterback Kyle Orton looked particularly good in his tuxedo. If anyone is in top shape, it’s Orton as he prepares to embark on a competition for the starting job with Rex Grossman." Speaking as someone who has found himself on the front page of the Chicago Tribune discussing my man-crush on Tom Waddle, I think Brad is swimming in some murky waters here but it did make me think.
Who do I want to win the quarterback "battle" this summer? Do I want Rex to impress in camp and charge into the regular season with some momentum? Do I want KO to surprise us all and mature into the starter we've seen glimpses of over the past few years? The truth is that I don't know yet. How about you?
Brad Biggs reports today that Robbie Gould may not be happy playing the lame duck season of his four-year contract but he's AT Halas Hall and participating in the off-season program. Good chance to reward a good guy here, Jerry, and pay the best kicker this team has had since Kevin Butler. As good as this defense can be in 2008, the special teams is what keeps us in every ballgame. That's three guys: Hester, Maynard and Gould.
For any football fan, the news that Hard Knocks is returning to HBO with the Dallas Cowboys is good stuff. You need characters to make that show work and America's Team does not lack for characters.
Do you still like this song? I do.
Roger Clemens popped a country singer and Ronaldo solicited a couple Brazilian prostitutes who happened to have penises. Hugh Grant cheated on Elizabeth Hurley with Divine Brown - who looked like Joe Louis in a wig. Tom Brady impregnated one model and (since that adds pounds) found himself another model. Brian Urlacher had a wife and a couple kids but decided to jump on Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley's sloppy second and make him a third baby. I can just hear Pissed Off questioning his monitor, "What in God's name is he getting at?"
What did Cedric Benson do? He had beer on a boat. What did Brian Urlacher do? He had sex without a condom. Full disclosure, kids. If the Sun-Times and Tribune ran a column about me every time I filled one of those two columns, the paper would cost $5.25 a day and weigh eight pounds.
So no more - at least not here. I won't write about players' personal lives. I won't link to major articles about players' personal lives. I don't care anymore. If you guys want to discuss things in the comments section, go right ahead. But this site will not longer be party(boat) to the "conservative" mainstream media's desire to villainize rich athletes for enjoying themselves. After all, won't Brian Urlacher's out-of-wedlock child live a hundred times better life than a majority of other children.
Craig Steltz earning a starting job beside Mike Brown. Fair game. Craig Steltz getting a tug job from while Mike Brown films? Don't care. Okay, maybe I care. But I'm not writing about it.
More Breaking News: Adam Archuleta stinks. The Bears are preparing a fax to make the release official. A fax? Really? Who the hell still has a fax machine? Answer: we do.
Sometimes dudes just have a bad week. Cedric Benson just had a bad week. As a matter of fact, Cedric Benson hasn't had a good week since we traded Thomas Jones to the New York Jets for two seats on the State Island Ferry.
There are two parts to the story. First Matt Forte became the darling of the Chicago Bears rookie camp by showcasing his tremendous speed and ball-catching ability, metaphorically pepper spraying Benson's role in the starting lineup. Benson sensed his job was in jeopardy and did what any committed athlete would do: rented a boat and got liquored up. Then Benson got actually pepper sprayed by Texas police. Steve Rosenbloom said it best, calling it "a move that seems a little over the top. Police apparently didn't know that the quickest way to get Benson to the ground is simply first contact."
So the Cedric Benson who cried after being drafted fourth...the Cedric Benson who has the heart of the cowardly lion at the beginning of the movie...the Cedric Benson who runs into the line of scrimmage like he's protecting himself from a swarm of bees...is finally through in Chicago. Whether they release him or not, it doesn't matter. Chicago Bears fans can excuse a lot of things in the name of desire to win football games. Just ask Tank Johnson. But Cedric doesn't even have that. He's done. Adios. Bye bye.
For it turns out that Benson wasn't only two numbers below Walter Payton's 34. He was also missing two other important commodities: his nuts.
John Clayton. Mark Schlereth. Todd McShay. Peter King. Each one has taken the opportunity over the past few days to question the Chicago Bears organizational decision not to take a quarterback over the seven rounds of this draft. Nobody - and I do mean NOBODY - preaches more consistently than I do the necessity of a great signal caller to win multiple championships in the NFL. No team not coached by Joe Gibbs or Bill Parcells has even BEEN to two Super Bowls in five years without a Hall-of-Fame QB (though you can argue that if Simms stays healthy in '90, he goes to the Hall).
But everyone join me in a collective chorus of....RELAX. Matt Ryan played a brilliant fourth quarter against Virginia Tech and disappeared down the stretch. Joe Flacco is an immobile quarterback who played at Delaware. Chad Henne couldn't stay on the field at Michigan. Brian Brohm lost Bobby Petrino and subsequently fell two rounds in the draft. None of these players in going to make an impact in 2008 and most likely not in 2009 either.
Here's what I'll say about Rex Grossman: he's started a total of 32 games. That's two full seasons in five years. That's a full season (plus a game) less than Eli Manning. And in that period of time, he has looked infinitely better than Manning ever did (and worse as well). For those Favre lovers out there, here's a fact. In Favre's second full season he throw 19 touchdowns and 24 interceptions and there was serious debate as to whether he'd ever start again.
SIDE NOTE: The revisionist historian Schlereth likes to say the Bears won in 2006 despite Rex Grossman and its just not true. They don't beat Seattle without his beautiful overtime toss over the middle and he was fantastic against the Saints. He had a bad Super Bowl - not a bad postseason.
I come here not to praise Grossman but to bury the notion that somehow the Chicago Bears would be a better football team if they were to take a quarterback last weekend. I'm frankly thrilled my ballclub has adopted the approach of "win now or fuck it." This isn't a build-for-the-future league anymore because the minute your young players get any good they ask for the entirety of your salary cap. This is a fill-your-holes-and-take-a-shot league and the Bears have done that.
Now we take a shot. And if we come up short in 2008, it won't be because we didn't draft Chad Henne. I say give Mr. Grossman a third season, it worked out just fine for the New York Giants.