Making Sense of the Packers Selection of Jordan Love

We should just start to remember about the NFL Draft is this: in the days and weeks leading up, there is always talk of teams possibly making trades in the first five picks yearly. This year we heard the possibility of the Lions trading out of #3, the Falcons, Patriots, and Cowboys moving into that spot. We heard chatter of the Giants moving out of #4. We heard the Niners were trying to make a splash to get in the top 3 and back out of the top 3, etc.

And the Draft occurred….nothing mind-boggling early on. But then as we should remember still, the back end of the first round is where the must-see TV is on draft night.

This year, the winner of the shocking move: the Green Bay Packers trading up to select quarterback Jordan Love.

Of course, the first reaction many had was “deja vu” as Green Bay 15 years before selected Aaron Rodgers as the quarterback of the future while many viewed Brett Favre as the firmly solidified franchise guy. However, for 3 seasons, Rodgers sat the bench while Favre played for the Packers.

But the times are a little different with a rookie cap. Love will not be given a nice contract for four years just to be the backup for Aaron Rodgers. One year, yes. But let’s face it, despite the long-term contract Rodgers has signed, he is likely going to be moved before the 2021 season somewhere (heck, maybe even before 2020 if the Patriots are salivating for him).

Many were stunned by the move and my initial reaction was that too, but I also remembered last year there were rumors swirling around that the Packers were high on Drew Lock. So I’m surprised, but not (if that makes sense).

Did the Packers do well on the logistics of the pick? I will reference my fellow writer in Sports Awakening with unpopular opinion takes: yes. The Packers made a good selection.

“Are you insane????? Rodgers is one of the best ever and still a top 10, perhaps top 5 QB!” I would actually say he is the 5th best QB currently in the NFL (Mahomes, Jackson, Wilson, and Watson I’d only rank higher). He doesn’t turn the ball over, still accurate, and knows when to run and when not to run and he was better at it this year. The numbers aren’t as gaudy was it was from 2008-2016 but still throws for 4,000 yards like it’s nothing.

HOWEVER…

Rodgers in the past few years, whether justified or not, has been ridiculed for his “lack of leadership” on the Packers, quarreling with head coaches (notably Mike McCarthy), some say blaming his receivers not named Devante Adams for not performing well, tongue-in-cheek comments that come off as arrogant and snotty, etc. Even this year the body language towards Matt LaFleur (yelling about offensive plays he didn’t like on the field) just seemed like he isn’t happy with how things on offense is run in Title Town.

So, let’s look at what I feel are some of the reasons the Packers are developing that blueprint from moving on to one of the best ever.

The relationship with Lafleur and Rodgers may not have been much different than what Rodgers had with McCarthy.

THE BALANCE OF THE OFFENSE: Green Bay made the playoffs for the first time in 3 years and went 13-3. Largely because there has been a running game that improved tremendously thanks to Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. With the running game improved and eating time off clocks and timely passing, Green Bay’s defense also showed growth as they weren’t gassed out from having to be on the field all the time (save the NFC Championship game). “But the NFL is a passing league and it has been that way for some time!” Check out the teams who were there in the playoffs last year: Ravens, Titans, Seahawks, 49ers, Bills,Vikings and Texans were top 10 in rushing. Packers, Eagles, and Saints were top half of the league in rushing as well. Compare that to the likes of the Falcons, Chargers, Buccaneers, and to a lesser extent the Patriots last year (near the top in passing and made an attempt to run the ball but were terrible at it) and you see that the league is evolving again. And then also look at 2018 for Green Bay as they were one of the most elite passing squads there was. A 6-9-1 squad that was dead last in running the ball (in attempts) and a continued maligned defense that had more holes in it than a cheesehead. The offense had to go through Rodgers, and honestly that may have been the key reason why the Packers struggled, not necessarily because of McCarthy. And I think Rodgers wants that offense to go through him where he can dictate how the offense works (i.e. passing). And it is another presumed power struggle with Rodgers and a head coach, that this time Rodgers won’t win on.

LAFLEUR’S SYSTEM: As mentioned above, LaFleur is focused on more balance of offense in Green Bay, maybe more of a run-style squad than anything else. And LaFleur is probably wanting a quarterback he could mold to fit his system. Love seems to be that guy perfect in his system. “But Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall of Famer! LaFleur has to build the offense around him!” Not how it works. Rodgers is one of the most complete quarterbacks ever, both having the ability to pass and run when needed (probably ran too much at times). And Rodgers is 36…he isn’t inclined to run around like he used to and hasn’t been used to. And whether you like him or not, one thing I think everyone agrees is that he is a stubborn bull. It is what makes him great, but also at times a lightning rod for controversy. Telling a passing QB that they need to change the style of being more run oriented isn’t something that will be done easy. Think of Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson in the late 90’s in Miami. That did NOT work out too well.

“But who is Matt LaFleur to say that Rodgers needs to change the way things are done in Green Bay?” That’s probably the same attitude Rodgers has right now. Remember, it’s a team game. Quarterbacks, even ones who have been stellar for their careers, can also be a liability down the stretch of their careers for their teams in some manner (Marino, Roethlisberger, Cam, Aikman, McNabb, Rivers, Vick) and do more damage than good for the team. And quite honestly, Green Bay playing shootout in the passing game from 2011-2018 netted them playoff exits if a team was able to contain the Packers passing attack (49ers, Falcons, etc.)

“But LaFleur isn’t Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay!” Yes, you’re right. In LaFleur’s first season Green Bay won 13 games and guided the Packers to an NFC Championship appearance. It took 3 seasons for Shanahan to get to the playoffs. McVay got to the playoffs his first year and he was bounced by Atlanta in the Wild Card game before getting to the Super Bowl in his second season where he laid a massive egg (nearly a goose egg at that too). Let’s see where seasons 2 and 3 happen.

In regards to LaFleur, he needs his own quarterback to work his system. If you look around, the teams with newer coaches around want that young quarterback to build off of (McVay-Goff, Shanahan-Jimmy G, Kingsbury-Murray, and to a lesser extent Pederson-Wentz). I’m not saying Rodgers wouldn’t or refuses to work LaFleur’s way but telling a guy who has been around long enough and doing it the way he knows best and feels like he can be at his best it is a hard adjustment. And for someone who is proud like Rodgers is, it is almost impossible.

WHAT’S NEXT? It will be very interesting on how things are handled by Rodgers, LaFleur, and the Packers. Rodgers is one that pretty much once that chip is on his shoulder it stays on. Does he come out and vent? Does he make an underhand potshot? Does he have people “close to him” say things on how he feels (look at the Brett Favre comments)? Does he say “all the right things?” Rodgers could force Green Bay to push a trade this summer and I can see that happening (which probably has him going to New England). Either way he will be in a new uniform by 2021. As for LaFleur, it will be interesting on how he handles things with this situation. He has been grilled for the draft of not getting any wide receivers which many believe was desperately needed outside of Adams. Does he say “enough is enough” if he considers Rodgers a problem and start Love? Does he play Love for a series here & there in the regular season and have Rodgers get angrier? Or does he let Rodgers with a little more control of the offense?

I think it may be best if Green Bay moves Rodgers before the 2021 season. All parties should just let it play out and see while Love learns from the sidelines on how the offense is run. And in the next off-season the Packers could have more takers to move Rodgers out with some sort of value coming in besides one or two teams now.

But to me, I think the Packers did right in drafting Love. They’ll be a better team for it, maybe not next year but down the road.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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John Beilein Out as Head Coach of Cavaliers; College Coaches Who Didn’t Pan Out in the Pros

So, this isn’t necessarily a discussion of the Cleveland Cavaliers parting ways with head coach John Beilein but more of a discussion of how college coaches have not panned out in the professional level.

Now to start with Beilein, I was actually stunned in the first place he would leave Michigan to begin with. The guy is 67 years old and honestly I didn’t pen him as being one of those coaches later on that would try the NBA. Beilein when he arrived at Michigan turned the Wolverines program from being a mediocre Big Ten squad to being near atop of the conference and making fans reminisce a bit of the old days of the Fab Five. When the Cavaliers came calling and he listened it was stunning because it just didn’t seem like it would be a fit especially in today’s NBA. And the feeling came to fruition as Cleveland is 14-40 in 2019-2020 while Beilein looked like he was in way over his head with the Cavaliers. So we can chalk up another head coach who did not pan out in the pros. And it made me think of other head coaches in basketball and football who were great on the college level but could not translate into success at the pros. So for every Jimmy Johnson and Larry Brown, there are about 5 Bobby Petrinos and 5 Rick Pitinos. But I will go with the notable ones of modern times (which eliminates Lou Holtz in his one year with the New York Jets in 1976).

Tarkanian’s arguments with ownership compiled with a slow start by the Spurs pretty much ended his run nearly before it started.

JERRY TARKANIAN (UNLV TO THE SAN ANTONIO SPURS): Tark the Shark is a controversial figure in college with methods that would infuriate the NCAA and became a lightning rod for controversy pretty much allowing players at UNLV to succumb under improper benefits or bringing in guys with checkered pasts. However, nobody will ever deny Tark the Shark was a great college basketball coach. However, after a year off of college basketball, the San Antonio Spurs hired Tarkanian to run the team led by David Robinson. After quarreling with owner Red McCombs about how he wanted to run the team, and a slow start for San Antonio, the Spurs fired Tarkanian after a 9-11 start. Tarkanian went back to college and coached at his alma mater at Fresno State, but probation for the Bulldogs would follow him after he retired.

For a moment it seemed Calipari was going to make the transition form college to the pros before it collapsed on him in 1999.

JOHN CALIPARI (UMASS TO THE NEW JERSEY NETS): Today John Calipari (albeit controversially) is known as one of college basketball’s elite coaches. And many feel his methods of bringing guys into programs are questionable. With that said, he has been an amazing head coach for nearly 30 years now. However, Calipari left UMass to try his chances in the NBA by coaching the New Jersey Nets. After a “meh” first year in 1996-1997 where New Jersey went 26-56, the Nets made a move in the draft getting Keith Van Horn compiling him next to Jayson Williams on the frontcourt to be a formidable tandem. New Jersey made the playoffs under Calipari in 1998 before being swept by the Bulls but the next season was a disaster. Calipari lost starting point guard Sam Cassell and New Jersey floundered to 3-17 before Calipari got the ax. After spending one season in Philadelphia as an assistant to Larry Brown, Calipari went to Memphis and then Kentucky building powerhouses wherever he went.

Pitino’s quick trigger moves in Boston going for his Kentucky players prevented the Celtics from moving forward; Pitino only gave rookie Chauncey Billups a half-season before trading him elsewhere.

RICK PITINO (KENTUCKY TO BOSTON CELTICS): Now it isn’t lost on me that Pitino had success when he was with the Knicks in the late 80’s winning a division title with them in 1989 before he went back to college. When Pitino went back to Kentucky, he built a powerhouse squad that was always a threat to win a national championship, getting to the Final Four three times in five years, including a National Championship in 1996. Rumors always persisted late that Pitino was ready to make the jump back into the NBA with the Boston Celtics not just being the head coach but president of basketball operations. Boston in the mid-90’s was an epic disaster of a basketball franchise, a far cry from the glory years of Bird-Parish-McHale. The hope was that Pitino would take over and that the Celtics would draft first overall to get Tim Duncan, which would set up another great Boston dynasty. Instead, nope. Boston got the 3rd pick, used it on Chauncey Billups (and later traded mid-season of his rookie year), drafted Kentucky player Ron Mercer and traded for another Kentucky standout in Walter McCarty. However, it didn’t work as Boston failed to get into the playoffs in each of PItino’s 4 seasons and Celtics fans were more disgusted with him than his predecessor ML Carr. Pitino left Boston midway in the 2000-2001 season and returned back to college basketball with Louisville where we all know how that ended up.

The note Bobby Petrino left the Falcons players when he abruptly split for Arkansas in 2007-and the response by Lawyer Milloy after.

BOBBY PETRINO (LOUISVILLE TO THE ATLANTA FALCONS): Bobby Petrino has been blasted by everyone with a pulse for the past 15 years. And for good reason as this was how it started. Petrino signed a 10 year contract extension with Louisville after the 2006 season. Six months later he left Louisville to coach the Atlanta Falcons. Now Petrino was thinking he would have ended up with superstar quarterback Mike Vick, but Vick was imprisoned and wasn’t around. So Petrino went from having Mike Vick to a tandem of Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich in Atlanta. Petrino’s tenure as coach was a disaster as it seemed he had no control over the Falcons players. The players didn’t seem like they wanted him there and near the end of the season when the Falcons were 3-10 Petrino left for Arkansas. What was so disgusting about it was Petrino promised owner Arthur Blank he would stay in Atlanta to coach and then 24 hours later accepted a job with Arkansas while leaving a 4-sentence laminated letter to the Falcons players. Petrino had some success at Arkansas (including a Sugar Bowl appearance), but karma has a funny way of working things out as Petrino was fired for not fully disclosing the truth of a motorcycle accident where he and a female assistant coordinator were involved (and he was having an affair with). Of course, some people will never learn.

Saban’s fortunes may have been different had he convinced Miami to get Drew Brees, but it didn’t seem Dolphins players embraced Saban’s no-nonsense mentality.

NICK SABAN (LSU TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS): Many possibly thought Saban would have joined the ranks of Jimmy Johnson of finding great success in college AND the NFL. However, one reason why Saban even today is still vilified by some was his issues of upping and leaving programs. He left a sour taste in Michigan State’s fans mouths when he left the Spartans for LSU in 1999. After building a powerhouse program at LSU, Saban left for the Dolphins after the 2004 season. Saban started off well in 2005, getting Miami to a 9-7 record after being 4-12 in 2004. And hope was abound in Miami and Saban wanted Drew Brees to take over at quarterback. Saban wanted Brees but Miami’s medical staff was skeptical Drew’s shoulder would ever be the same. So Brees opted to go with the Saints for more guaranteed money and Miami traded a second round pick for Minnesota’s Daunte Culpepper. It was something that I think bothered Saban in Miami and probably put a major strain on that relationship. Then 4 games into the 2007 season Culpepper was injured, the Dolphins struggled on offense, and Brees becomes a New Orleans hero. Miami goes 6-10 but in the final month of the season, Saban was plagued constantly with questions of him leaving the Dolphins to coach at Alabama, who had an opening. After a month of denial, Saban left the Dolphins for Alabama, thus also giving him a label of a guy who couldn’t stick around with one team for a lengthy period of time. However it seemed like in his two seasons, Saban was really a college style head coach that at points Dolphins players didn’t seem to embrace too much with. But things have changed at least on Saban’s end where he is still at Alabama and probably for the remainder of his coaching career and has probably become the greatest coach of his era in college football. Maybe it was his possible interesting relationship with the Dolphins braintrust that really doomed him from the NFL.

Spurrier believed he would run roughshod in the NFL like he did at Florida. Instead teams ran roughshod over him.

STEVE SPURRIER (FLORIDA TO WASHINGTON REDSKINS): Steve Spurrier was that head coach everybody wanted to beat. He talked the talk when he was with the Gators but more importantly he walked the walk. His fun n gun offense propelled Florida as the team to beat in the SEC for pretty much a decade. His comments towards rivals Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee made him a lightning rod of hate for fan bases of those programs while running the scores up on teams. After thinking he did all he could do with the Gators including a national championship, Spurrier thought he could take his coaching style to the NFL as the free spending Redskins gave him the keys to the car and restore them back to prominence. However, Spurrier’s style in the NFL of fun n gun was a disaster as teams blitzed the snot out of the Skins, who were pretty much a pass only squad primarily composing of Florida players at QB and WR (and most of them were second string caliber guys). And prior to the 2002 season, Spurrier tried to do his thing of talking a lot towards Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants but instead had a heavy taste of his own medicine of teams trying to run the score up on him. It wore thin after the second year as Spurrier was shown the door in Washington after being 11-21. He went back to college in South Carolina, pretty much humbled.

Kelly’s philosophy on offense and then pretty much running the Eagles team like a college team with constant roster turnover showed he wasn’t cut for the NFL despite early successes.

CHIP KELLY (OREGON TO THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AND THEN SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS): “Those who do not learn from history…” Kelly, who nearly perfected the spread and the quick-strike style offenses at Oregon left the Ducks to join the exciting Eagles teams of the mid 2010’s. With Mike Vick at quarterback, many hoped the Eagles offense would be stout. They were actually pretty stout…with Nick Foles at quarterback. The Eagles had their man with Foles after Vick went down and won the NFC East but losing to New Orleans in the Wild Card round. Despite a great start in 2014 at being 9-3, the Eagles fell apart down the stretch going 10-6, largely with injuries to Foles and having to rely on Mark Sanchez down the stretch, really doomed Philadelphia and failed to make the playoffs. The next season, Kelly moved what many were viewing their MVP in LeSean McCoy to Buffalo, which really ended up being his own downfall. Kelly then started shipping all the stars that helped them win a division title and finish 10-6 the next season such as McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Foles, and others. Kelly’s offense was a mess which put strain on the defense by November where they were getting blown out by teams who were not in any form of playoff contention (Buccaneers, Lions) and he was shown the door for the mess he had made. Kelly joined the Niners in 2016 when they were pretty much in shambles and the only storyline had been Colin Kaepernick and the National Anthem. The team continued the trend of Kelly’s Eagles team in 2015 where they were just getting ran out of the building in games and finished dead last in defense. Needless to say he didn’t come back in 2017. Kelly had early success, but his ego like so many others really kept him from being a true success story in NFL but given his mentality of trying to run an NFL team like a college program, he proved he was not a fit for the pros. At all.

Many feel like Switzer was given a Super Bowl championship thanks to Jimmy Johnson’s roster and the following years of the Cowboys fall.

BARRY SWITZER (OKLAHOMA TO DALLAS COWBOYS): Okay, this one IS pushing it. Unlike everyone else on here, Switzer was given the keys to the top of the line Porsche in Dallas with the likes of Aikman/Smith/Irvin in their primes. We all know the story with Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones bickering which caused Jimmy to be ousted in Dallas. So Jerry hired Switzer, pretty much a “yes man” to him. Switzer garnered a lot of success at Oklahoma in his time there but also had been ridiculed for lack of controlling his players which netted some NCAA issues. And yes, Switzer helped the Cowboys to two 12-4 seasons including one with a Super Bowl attached to it. However, many viewed it as the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys that won it and not his. Is that assessment fair? Perhaps not, but many felt like that Dallas team in 1995 was a far cry from the ones in 1992 and 1993 when they flat-out dominated the NFL landscape. In 1996, with Dallas starting to reach infamy with off-the field issues with Michael Irvin and Kevin Williams, the pure arrogance of the likes of Deion Sanders, the Cowboys dynasty fell after a loss to the Panthers in the divisional round. The next year, the bottom fell out as Dallas fell to 6-10 as Switzer just flat-out lost control of the players and really, the franchise has never been fully the same. Again, was it Switzer’s doing? Perhaps not, but many feel like the minute that Switzer joined and just kept the status quo and let the “boys be boys and make sure my boss is happy” really ended Dallas’s dynasty which honestly could have been something similar to the New England Patriots as we have come to see.

In the end, coaches who tend to dominate the landscape in college will have egos and rightfully so. You can’t have an inflated ego if you aren’t a successful coach. But it also comes a time that the things coaches do that isn’t working on the next level, is that you have to change your methods and styles. College coaches think their styles will work in the pros but once they don’t they seem more driven to make sure it does and they continue to spiral down and the end result is a disaster for them and the franchise they were brought in to lead. And we will see more Beileins come and go, we will see more Spurriers come and go, but it will be somebody who will have to check their ego at the door in order for those teams to be successful with them under their watch.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Obstructed Takes on the Astros Cheating Scandal

Obviously the biggest scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball since really the Black Sox Scandal 100 years ago happened this off-season (yes, I am putting this scandal over the PED usage that plagued baseball from 2000-2014) as the Houston Astros were shown they have to used electronic devices to steal signs from pitchers starting from 2017 and at least first parts of 2018 (my take is they also did it last year too). Manager AJ Hinch lost his job from it. Red Sox manager (then-Astros coach) Alex Cora was fired from his job over it. And Carlos Beltran, who was pretty much singled out in the report, was fired from his managerial job with the Mets before he even began. But one massive controversy was the Astros players were all spared from suspension. The apologies from Astros players who were on the team were underwhelming at best, the responses of other players to those apologies have really made things more vicious, and Carlos Correa’s response just spiked things up while Rob Manfred has threatened pitchers all across baseball not to plunk the Astros hitters with major suspensions. So, plenty to divulge in it and just some “Obstructed Takes” to happen here.

MANFRED’S IMMUNITY FOR THE ASTROS PLAYERS: The ONLY way to get the Astros players to talk about the scheme was to say “we will not fine or suspend you; just come clean.” I know it isn’t what people want to hear but would anyone talk if they know if they would get in trouble for telling them what happens? Manfred could have suspended players if they told, but then how many players would have come forward willingly and spoke? Secondly, if Manfred suspended players based on a hunch (if he hadn’t gotten the information), the Players Association would have had a massive field day against Manfred and rightfully so. The only way this probably could have been changed is if somebody else investigated and then suspensions could have happened. But…you already have two players (Beltran, Brian McCann) that have already retired.

THE PLAYERS APOLOGIES: Oiy. It really comes with Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve. Bregman looked like Fred McGriff from a Tom Emansky commercial (if you remember those commercials) where he was reading a statement, not necessarily apologizing. Altuve albeit sounding more “personable” than Bregman with his apology, it isn’t going to heal wounds. Time may heal wounds but look: had this wasn’t called out, is there ANY reason to not believe Houston would have continued doing it? Look, I’m not going to call any Astros players on those teams liars BUT I am having a hard time believing their apologies and right now the only thing I believe is that they are sorry they got caught.

JIM CRANE: While I think Manfred is in a no-win situation with whatever he does, he messed up in a lot of ways. First one is not holding owner Jim Crane accountable. Crane “apologized” for breaking the rules but defiantly said nothing more. He had to have known especially if his GM Jeff Lunhow knew as well. Manfred who has been labeled by a puppet from the fans for a long time now could have took some sort of consequence on Crane whether he could suspend him from making any business decisions or so forth.

CARLOS CORREA: The guy who decided to wear the black hat after this happened was Correa. His retaliation towards Cody Bellinger was reminiscent of 1980’s heel wrestlers and heel managers such as Bobby the Brain Heenan. “We won it fair and square!” and the accusations of Altuve wearing a buzzer on his jersey knowing what was coming (which I will get to in a moment) against Aroldis Chapman and him running around the bases holding his jersey “because he was getting a tattoo there and his wife didn’t want him to get his jersey pulled off” is the stuff of heel talk. The LAST THING Houston needed to have was Correa spout off, whether it was justified or not (not justified). But the comments he made was silly and it really added more speculation that Altuve was wearing something with an electronic device to give him an advantage. Some advice for Carlos Correa: “shut up from here on out.”

Did he or didn’t he?

JOSE ALTUVE AND THE “DEVICE.” Until Correa spouted off about Altuve’s excuse of not having his jersey pulled, I was skeptical of the whole device argument. People showed perhaps a small bump on his shoulder when he was playing, but I can’t really notice much of a difference. I’m not saying he did wear one and I’m not saying he didn’t. I’m just saying it does make me wonder. Thanks Correa.

Bryant’s response is parallel to what the rest of MLB players have said

PLAYERS REACTIONS: Obviously all across baseball it is negative. Duh. I don’t fault any player commenting about it. Look, sign-stealing has been commonplace in baseball for years, but always towards if there is a runner on second giving out signs. I’m not condoning that either, but it is more sensible. And instead we have this “elaborate” scheme by the Astros using electronics to see (and of course I use elaborate in quotations because they had to bang on a garbage can) what was coming. But pitchers jobs were lost or forever changed by this. I guess with the PED scandal that rocked baseball, at least the issue was that pitchers who were getting shelled were probably also taking PED’s as much as the hitters.

MANFRED’S “THREAT” OF PITCHERS PLUNKING THE ASTROS HITTERS: Again, it is probably not what people want to hear. From one case, yes, I do not wish any physical ill to any Astros player. But now, Manfred has put himself in a BAD position that if let’s say Michael Fulmer of the Tigers plunks Correa on the hand during a close game (hypothetical because how often do the Tigers play close games lately?), Fulmer is suspended on the spot? Pitchers already have issues of trying to work in on the hitters without having to worry of getting thrown out if a pitch hits a guy, but now the pitchers will have to second guess every time they throw in on a Houston hitter and if it hits them or misses the spot over the plate where somebody goes yard. Well now it is “if you hit Correa, Altuve, Bregman, etc, you are getting suspended” so yeah, Manfred has pretty much gave a free ticket for the Astros hitters though it was not his idea. But much like Correa, Manfred should have just shut up.

PLAYERS AND TEAMS WILL FIND A WAY FOR RETRIBUTION ON THE ASTROS: Let’s face it: teams will hit those guys. They may have a way of doing it without someone big, let’s say Corey Kluber, getting suspended. A game could be a blowout and the team’s worst reliever come in and plunk one of those guys and he ends up getting suspended. Also of note: remember where Correa, Altuve, and Bregman play on the field, especially Correa and Altuve when they have to turn a double play. Again, I don’t wish physical ill on the players, but it was something I was thinking about. Somebody will be coming in hard on Correa and/or Altuve in breaking up a double play.

THE LEGACIES OF THE ASTROS PLAYERS: Forever tainted for this. It is that simple. While Houston fans will cherish their championship especially after the hurricane leveled the town late in the 2017 season and have gone on the defensive, the rest of the baseball world will forever go the Houston Asterisks for it. And the level of cheating whether or not it “harmed” the Astros more than it “helped” still gave them that unfair advantage as they won a few games that way. Does Carlos Beltran ever get a MLB job again? Jose Altuve who was known as a guy everybody loved is now considered a major cheater. Alex Bregman was on the cusp of superstardom and now people will look at him as a cheater. Correa for his comments have made him look like a naive joke. And the rest of the players will have that cloud over them for a long time.

ROB MANFRED: While the situation Manfred is in is unprecedented, he has not done well after the start of this. I understand the logic behind his “immunity” to Astros players so I’m not coming down on him for that. However, what is overlooked to me was the fact that the Oakland Athletics reported it to Manfred and Major League Baseball and Manfred did not do ANYTHING then. It was only when Mike Fiers came out in the Athletic saying “hey, this is what the Astros are doing.” It goes to show how much of a “reactive” guy he is. And the logic that is presented that “the only players that will be suspended will be the ones who target the Astros” To add on top of it, the report was not thorough as he just cracked the ice on it. But it sets a feel that Houston still got an unfair edge. Coupled in the facts of the other issues happening with him in baseball (decline of attendance around baseball, computerized strike zones, the three pitcher minimum nonsense, the Tampa/Montreal Rays nonsense, the proposed contraction/folding of 42 Minor League teams, and oh yeah, a very possible work stoppage), he has really been a vilified commissioner, worse than what Gary Bettman is for the NHL, worse than Roger Goodell in the NFL, etc. Fans believe he hates the game of baseball and is “out to get” baseball. Now, I’ve been torn on the idea whether or not MLB should go in the way of the NCAA where they vacate trophies for national championship teams (04 USC in football, 2013 Louisville basketball), but I can see both arguments to it. But to me the Court of Public Opinion has already vacated the Astros 2017 title. So really for me, maybe immunity for the players wasn’t the best of ideas after all of this because what it has done is spiral outward into a giant mess where every decision Manfred has made has been the wrong one to this point, which really sums up his tenure as the commissioner. But what really got fans and players incensed was Manfred’s “piece of metal” comment regarding the World Series trophy. That piece of metal drives players to win games and it is also the reason the Astros cheated. I don’t know if he meant for it to come out that way, but Manfred made one of the dumbest statements he could ever say (and that says something given all his dumb statements in the past). He has looked worse and worse in all of this.

FANS ARE THE ULTIMATE LOSERS: I’ll start with the Astros fans. They are on the defensive with this (albeit a Houston fan started a website to show how the Astros used their scheme), and fans all around are saying that Houston fans are terrible to support this mess. If you’re a Giants fan attacking Houston, well, remember who you had in the lineup from 1993-2007 and how you got defensive with him. If you’re a Boston fan and cheer for the Patriots, enough said. Fans of home teams don’t like it when other fans yell out “You didn’t deserve that championship or your player didn’t deserve that record!” So for people to call out Houston fans out for getting defensive is pretty silly. But they are also feeling the sting a bit, whether they want to admit it or not. The rest of the fans however, you may not cheer for the team itself but fans were really starting to pull with the likes of Bregman and Altuve and those fans who are kids wanting to be one of those guys are now a bit hurt. If you’re a Cleveland fan, a Dodgers fan, or a Yankees fan, it feels like you were cheated out of something. Fans who enjoyed seeing the Astros get that trophy whether they may or may not have cheered them on, probably feel upset because of it. And given how baseball’s state is under Manfred, it is just another bruise to the bruised body of MLB.

In the end, there have been no winners in this. Houston Astros players can say “yeah, we worked hard to get this” all they want but they know darn well the minute they leave Southern Texas and play games in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and even up the road in Dallas, it will be constant barrage of you cheated and your title means nothing. Players may say they “shrug it off” but let’s say the minute they go to Detroit where Justin Verlander ruled Comerica Park, do you think Verlander will go shrug it off when Tigers fans who cheered for him for years say his ring wasn’t “legit?” I wonder how Brian McCann feels with all the talk in Atlanta about the Astros scandal and if McCann has already heard his world championship ring is a fraud.

However you cut it up, the ultimate take is: baseball lost.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Looking at the NFL Quarterback Carousel

In most years the NFL’s off-season is a flurry of roster moves though quarterback has always been somewhat of a stability for a large fraction of the teams. This year? It could be an insane amount of moves all around the league. Quarterbacks could be released, traded, free agents who sign with other teams, and so forth. When I was thinking of the amount of quarterbacks possibly on the move, I can’t remember a time where so many teams may have a quarterback change whether because of players aging, players not performing as expected, or both. How I will do it is look at the teams and the quarterback who led them in 2019 and then see where will the quarterback end up while what that team will do for its replacement.

Brady struggled down the stretch in New England which may have ended his Patriots career

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: TOM BRADY: It seemed like a joke if you were to say the Patriots and Tom Brady were to part ways. It also seemed like a joke that Tom Brady would not really be at this point a top ten quarterback in the NFL. But guess what? It’s quite possible that both are real now. Before you go “he’s still a top quarterback,” let me say this: look at Brady’s second half of the season numbers in 2019 when the Patriots went 4-4 (losing to Kansas City, Baltimore, Houston, and Miami). Brady’s completion rate dropped nearly 10% while the rating dropped about 10 points as well (to which Sam Darnold had a better rating than Brady in the second half). Compile that with what is quite possibly Brady’s worst playoff performance in recent memory (missing open targets, throwing it at short spots) and you do wonder if Father Time finally caught up to Brady. And I think Bill Belichick is thinking the same thing as it sounds like that relationship isn’t what it once was (seems like Brady was more and more defensive about his play as the season went on). And we know Belichick isn’t a guy who plays the sentimental card. If you have it, you have it. If you don’t, you don’t. People believe Brady stays in New England. I’m in the minority right now that Brady doesn’t stay. He wants to play for a long time still but the Patriots aren’t a team who will rely on a guy if they are completely done. The question is what will the Patriots do to replace him? 2020: Brady signs with the Chargers. Patriots sign Andy Dalton and draft Jacob Eason

Fitzpatrick should be a good mentor for any rookie QB the Dolphins draft.

MIAMI DOLPHINS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: RYAN FITZPATRICK & JOSH ROSEN: Rosen to this point of his NFL tenure has either shown he can’t do it or placed in bad situations (Arizona prior). It’s why Ryan Fitzpatrick, the true version of a journeyman QB took over. And Miami had some success with Fitzpatrick there. However, we all know the Dolphins aren’t going to make him any franchise guy. That said, he’s a calming veteran presence in the locker room and is a guy to have around. Rosen on the other hand doesn’t seem to be the guy and needs another place to move, but right now he seems destined to be a backup for good. What the Dolphins will do will draft Tua Tagovailoa at #5 (or if they trade up) and have Fitzpatrick start out 2020. 2020: Dolphins keep Fitzpatrick and draft Tua Tagovailoa; Rosen is traded to the Lions.

No longer a frnachise quarterback, DAlton’s time in Cincinnati is at an end

CINCINNATI BENGALS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: Andy Dalton: This seems pretty much cut and dry. Dalton’s days in Cincinnati are over. He obviously didn’t get the love and respect but he served his time well with the Bengals. Cincinnati has the #1 overall pick and it looks like they are bringing Ohio native and Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow back home. Only question is who will be the veteran presence to help Burrow? Oddly I think it may be Joe Flacco. He’s not going to be a franchise guy anymore and would suffice if Burrow starts midway through the 2020 season. Good idea honestly. 2020: Bengals draft Joe Burrow, sign Joe Flacco; Andy Dalton signs with the Patriots.

Brissett doesn’t get enough credit for being solid, but really needed TY Hilton late in the season

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: JACOBY BRISSETT: Outside of the Patriots & Brady, this is going to be another team to keep its eyes on. Brissett signed a 2 year extension prior to the 2019 season after Andrew Luck retired. The results for Brissett were not bad but unimpressive. However what people forget was TY Hilton missed 6 games which really stung Indianapolis a lot. Talk of Brady coming here I think is just all talk. The Colts have something going for them and giving Brady a huge deal would probably set Indy back. What I do see possibly happening is the Colts make a move of getting Nick Foles (remember his connection with Frank Reich in Philadelphia) just to add quarterback depth. It is possible Indianapolis uses a quarterback for a first round pick this year, but I am not sold on that idea yet. 2020: Colts keep Brissett and trade for Nick Foles

Foles and Minshew weren’t the answers in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: NICK FOLES AND GARDNER MINSHEW: Speaking of Foles, he struggled or was injured. But also it had a feel that Jacksonville has been somewhat of a mess of a franchise with certain things happening. Minshew has enjoyed a cult following when the Jaguars have won games but he isn’t any answer either. This is where Philip Rivers makes his coast to coast move from Southern California. But for now it is a stopgap for the Jaguars and I don’t necessarily see them drafting a franchise quarterback this year. Next year perhaps. 2020: Jaguars trade Nick Foles to Colts, and sign Philip Rivers

Tannehill’s play may have kept him safe in Tennessee for now

TENNESSEE TITANS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: MARCUS MARIOTA AND RYAN TANNEHILL: A massive debate about Mariota (whether he didn’t have it anymore or the Titans failed him) him kind of went by the wayside after he was benched and Ryan Tannehill took over. The Titans made an improbable run to the AFC Championship (thanks mostly to Derrick Henry) with Tannehill thus really eliminating any value Mariota has or return to Tennessee. So the Titans will keep Tannehill, but it has that vibe of a stopgap until they can find their franchise guy. It may be this year with Jake Fromm. As for Mariota, starting Week 1 probably won’t happen for any team unless there is an injury. But he has always seemed to be a humble cat. I think he goes closer back to his home and learns from Brady in Los Angeles as a backup. 2020: Titans keep Tannehill, draft Jake Fromm; Marcus Mariota signs with Chargers

So let it begin

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: PHILIP RIVERS: If the Chargers had fans in the Los Angeles area, they would very intrigued on what will happen. So the actual real Chargers fans will be intrigued. We know Rivers is gone. Brady from all likelihoods probably wants to head back to the West Coast and still thinks he can play, Adding on the fact the Chargers are having massive difficulty getting anybody to buy tickets for them in the new football stadium makes this a bit where they HAVE to get Brady. But in case he struggles or gets injured (it increases when you get older), they will also need to have a quarterback in the waiting so it may be Marcus Mariota. I don’t see the Chargers for now drafting any quarterback in the first rounds until at least next year. And I DON’T buy them saying Tyrod Taylor is the guy. It’s one thing to say it from the coach, but the owner needs butts in the stands. 2020: Chargers sign Tom Brady and Marcus Mariota; Philip Rivers signs with Jaguars

Gruden has been fine with having Carr, but would prefer an upgrade

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: DEREK CARR: I don’t see a massive move from the Raiders, but I do see the Raiders give Derek Carr some competition at quarterback, so I think that Vegas may make a splash and bring in Taysom Hill. For some reason I think Jon Gruden’s eyes light up when Hill is out on the field and Hill is a guy who is just itching to show he is a franchise guy. He probably won’t get that in New Orleans unless Brees retires but that won’t be soon. 2020: Raiders keep Carr, sign Taysom Hill

Much ado about nothing: Prescott will stay in Dallas

DALLAS COWBOYS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: DAK PRESCOTT: It’s probably a no-brainer here that Dak stays. I mean it seems like it’s far for an agreement, but when is said & done Jerry Jones will pony up the money for Prescott. 2020: Cowboys sign Dak Prescott.

Haskins may have not gotten a air share in Washington to this point

WASHINGTON REDSKINS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: CASE KEENUM AND DWAYNE HASKINS: Sounds like Haskins is becoming more of Rosen 2.0 in DC with the Redskins already looking at a potential quarterback. Honestly, if the Redskins are to find a quarterback this year, do you really make a push to get Cam Newton? The former MVP has been showing injury woes since 2015. A part of me thinks that Washington will either trade for or sign Newton (assuming he is released by Carolina) because the Redskins. But while I think Rivera and Newton worked fine in Carolina, I don’t know if it works here. But, I think Washington will try it. But Haskins does stay I think. 2020: Redskins get Cam Newton, keep Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum signs with Carolina.

Trubisky is a game manager than he is a passer, which makes Bears fans wonder if he is the guy

CHICAGO BEARS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: MITCHELL TRUBISKY: No quarterback fell from grace faster and harder than Mitchell Trubisky in 2019. He was arguably one of the most polarizing figures in the league and has become a butt of jokes in relation to the Bears drafting him over Mahomes and Watson. Trubisky isn’t a high end passer and won’t ever be confused with the likes of even Matt Ryan or Matthew Stafford. He’s a strong game manager that could really benefit in a setting where it’s a run oriented with short passes involved like he had in 2018. However, I think the Bears will give Trubisky one last chance to get Chicago in the playoffs before they say bye bye. 2020: Bears keep Trubisky.

The “experts” and “analysts” logic of the Lions trading Stafford is flawed at best.

DETROIT LIONS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: MATTHEW STAFFORD, JEFF DRISKELL, AND DAVID BLOUGH: I was nearly considering not to put this up. BUT…..all these “analysts” and “experts” I hear saying that the Lions should move Stafford are not following the Lions at all. GM Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia are on the hottest of seats possible as the ownership has said “win or else.” So Stafford, who was having a career year until his injury, will stay in Detroit. Do you really think they will rely on a rookie QB here? And is not like the Lions have a lack of talent as there is plenty on BOTH sides of the ball (and were in nearly every game even after Stafford got injured but Blough and Driskell are 3rd stringers at best). It’s just they haven’t gotten a lot out of players getting the big bucks (notably on the defensive line). But the only QB move is Detroit getting a backup if Stafford gets injured again, which makes me think Josh Rosen is their best bet. 2020: Lions keep Stafford and trade for Josh Rosen.

Cam’s days in Carolina look like they are numbered

CAROLINA PANTHERS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: CAM NEWTON AND KYLE ALLEN: Like the Lions, the Panthers had their starting quarterback fall by the wayside early in 2019. Early on it thought Kyle Allen would make nobody miss Cam but he was not the answer. However Cam’s struggles after 2015 and his durability issues have no longer made him the cornerstone of the Panthers who are kind of a mess right now with talent issues all over (minus Christian McCaffrey of course). It is time for the Panthers to move on from Cam. Now it will be down to the Panthers and Raiders for the two backups of the Saints in Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater. Both would fit ideal to Joe Brady’s offense and are familiar with Brady in his Saints days. I think the Panthers will go with Bridgewater who is slightly more polished with passing than they would Hill which I think either one fits well in Carolina but Teddy is more of a guarantee. 2020: Panthers release Cam Newton and he signs with the Redskins; sign Teddy Bridgewater

Hill’s excitement has made Saints fans think if a change is needed in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: DREW BREES AND TEDDY BRIDGEWATER: Brees was hurt early on and Bridgewater didn’t miss a beat with the Saints offense. Brees came back and looked very good until really the playoff game against Minnesota to which Saints fans are kinda wondering if it’s time to move on. Now this doesn’t seem like it will be much of an intrigue, but both Bridgewater and Taysom Hill want to call plays as a starter which does complicate things in New Orleans a bit. Brees to the Saints is pretty likely but New Orleans really has to make a press to keep either Hill or Bridgewater if Brees is hurt again or he finally goes downhill with his play. This is actually one to watch especially if they do keep one of them long-term and perhaps let Brees go to Indianapolis? Nah. The Saints have more of a sentimental feel with Brees and won’t just let him walk. And they will trade up to get his heir apparent: Justin Herbert. 2020: Saints keep Drew Brees, Bridgewater signs with Panthers, Hill signs with Raiders; Saints draft Justin Herbert.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: 2019 QUARTERBACK: JAMEIS WINSTON: This is one where many are wondering about and moreso than a lot of places. Winston’s attitude (both on and off the field) has made him one of the most polarizing quarterbacks in a LONG time. It seems like Bruce Arians wants him but the front office isn’t as keen to it. Now to his credit Winston has taken steps (LASIK surgery), but he will have to learn at some point of making better decisions with the football. However, I think Arians would vouch for him and the Bucs keep Winston around. 2020: Bucs sign Jameis Winston

Let’s see how the carousel spins!

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Why the Tigers NEED to Sign Yasiel Puig

With the MLB off-season rapidly ending and Spring Training on the horizon, the Hot Stove is starting to wind down. Most of the available players have signed or have been traded. And the season is starting to look set in stone.

The only major question is now, where will Yasiel Puig end up?

The market for Puig has gone pretty much blank at this point with corner outfielders at a low demand. The two major corner outfielders on the market have been signed (Marcel Ozuna-Braves, Nick Castellanos-Reds) and that has really been it. Which has left Yasiel Puig looking around with nothing of interest from teams.

Hard to imagine that 6 years ago people were placing Puig on the same level with the likes of Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, etc. as being a centerpiece of a franchise. The raw talent he had then was amazing and was an exciting player. However, due to issues with behavior early on, and what I believe was somewhat of a way of not handling it well by the Dodgers organization, was that Puig’s stardom start to wane as he has been labeled as a headcase. A headcase to teammates, Don Mattingly, etc. His days in Los Angeles were numbered.

The Reds took Puig in what really felt like a money dump move by the Dodgers and Puig’s numbers were so-so. Puig hit 22 HR but had a .250 average and an OPS of .777. However his behavior was from all accounts fine in Cincinnati (until his final game there when he took part in that big brawl with rival Pittsburgh). The trade to Cleveland was that of a mixed bag as well in the sense of his hitting (.297 Avg, .800 OPS and a 109 OPS+, but only 2 HR in his time with the Tribe). So it hasn’t been like Puig has fallen off or his hitting skills have dropped but more of he has not busted out like everybody imagined he would 6 years ago at this time. Is Puig still capable of having a big year? Well, yeah.

Enter the Detroit Tigers.

The last three seasons in the Motor City for baseball has been incredibly miserable. The Tigers are in a massive rebuild, after the mega contracts in the Dave Dombrowski era really handcuffed the franchise from moving forward. After the 2020 season, Jordan Zimmermann’s contract is off the books which will give the Tigers some help with their payroll to spend (hopefully). The rebuild has been slow, even for teams are in a rebuilding phase. People blame GM Al Avila for the slow pace and the trade blunders (i.e. JD Martinez, Justin Wilson, etc.) and then the “stopgap solutions” of Gordon Beckham, Josh Harrison, Tyson Ross, etc. and so far in this off-season has been more of the same (though the signings of CJ Cron and Jonathan Schoop are nice given how they averaged 24 HR last year whereas the team leader in home runs was Brandon Dixon with an impressive 15 round-trippers). And the last two years Avila has made it clear about where the state of the Tigers are: rebuild.

But it is time to move forward.

The 2017-2019 Tigers are very comparable to the 2001-2003 Tigers where it was just godawful in every sense of the word including a season where they couldn’t eclipse 50 wins (last year and in 2003). Then-owner, the late Mike Ilitch said enough and opened up the checkbook to get out of the nightmarish doldrums and got star catcher Ivan Rodriguez. Yes, it didn’t turn the Tigers fortunes around right away, but it signaled things were on the up for Detroit. Three years later the Tigers were in the World Series.

I am not saying Puig is going to be Pudge 2.0 for Detroit. But signing him will also help out in a lot of ways. First off let’s say he signs.

He is in a ballpark that in summers the ball really flies out of the park, normally to the left field side. Puig has that power he could do that and be on pace for his career best by the break (I’m going to chalk up he pressed too much in Cleveland which hurt his HR tallies).

It also may rejuvenate Miguel Cabrera. When Miggy was having fun, he was the best hitter in baseball. Now Cabrera’s best days are long gone (I’m using my Ernie Harwell impression) but he could have a small renaissance at the plate but it is probably hard for him to know in April the Tigers are really out of it. Who knows, maybe Puig gives him a small jolt with his numbers, which he is standing on the cusp of 500 HR (477) and 3,000 hits (2,815).

He plays well yet the Tigers are probably eliminated from contention by the deadline. He could be moved, just as well as Cron and Schoop could be and at least land a prospect.

Lastly, the city of Detroit NEEDS something. We know the city stories of Detroit and being down for so many years, whether it is economic issues, crime, etc. But even through those times one of their four sports teams would rally the city to have the fans get behind. In the 80’s the Bless You Boys Tigers fans rallied behind with a World Championship in 84 and an amazing battle for the AL East title in 87 with Toronto while at the end of the 80’s saw the Bad Boys Pistons reign atop the NBA while the city had to endure the Lions and the Dead Wings. The 90’s saw the birth of Hockeytown and a start of nearly 2 decades of dominance by the Red Wings while the Lions were competitive with Barry Sanders while the Tigers were awful and the Pistons sputtered, re-started and sputtered again. 2000’s showed the Pistons were serious contenders as were the Wings while the Tigers recuperated in the last half and then the Lions…..eep. Now we fast-forward to today: the Lions are a joke…again or still, pending on how you look at it. The Red Wings returned to the Dead Wings as they are near the pace of having the worst season in recent memory. The Pistons are a hot mess. And the Tigers are taking their sweet old time for this rebuild to happen which at current point, they still look like a 100-loss team on paper in 2020.

Getting Puig won’t cure all ills for the Tigers and probably end up being a team still hovering around 95 losses with him. That is very evident, but I’m also tired of hearing Al Avila pretty much say “we are not going to compete this year” during Spring Training and then see Detroit get slaughtered 11-1 nightly. I know better times are ahead with the stockpiled arms of top prospects like Casey Mize, Matt Manning, an out-of-nowhere monster in Tarik Skubal, and Joey Wentz (acquired in the Shane Greene trade-and a guy I was really excited to see the Tigers get), but they are still September away from being with Detroit at the earliest.

But at least if they sign Puig the Tigers can show they have a pulse once again before the the young guns arrive. Albeit a small one.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Why the Patriots Need to Keep (and Move On From) Tom Brady

For the first time in a decade, the AFC Divisional Playoff is void of the team from Foxboro. The New England Patriots incredible run ended with a lackluster performance against the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card round.

Aside from the rest of America celebrating outside the New England region, there was one key storyline afterwards: “Is that the final game for Tom Brady, at least in New England?”

It is hard to fathom but Brady, who was probably the best quarterback in the NFL in probably TWO eras, may end up looking around for a job come March.

If the Patriots are dumb enough to allow him to do so.

Nobody will doubt Brady’s greatness and the greatest quarterback ever moniker. We can say a lot about Brady with Deflategate and whatnot but the guy has performed at a level for almost 20 years in the NFL.

That said, Father Time has *finally* caught up with Tom Brady. We should have been somewhat forewarned even in last year’s Super Bowl when Brady only mustered 13 points despite the win over the Rams for his sixth ring. The accuracy was off and made questionable passes. Still, we overlooked it in part because the Rams had a stout defense and well, he is Tom Brady.

For the first half of the 2019 season, Brady looked similar to his old self, completing 65% of his passes, 13 TD, 4 INT and a QBR of a 95. Not the MVP numbers but he was doing his thing. Adding on top of things, New England was 8-0 and rolling especially on defense to the point many were penning the Pats going 16-0 en route to their 7th Super Bowl ring. I pointed out once New England’s schedule was pertty weak until that point (Jets twice, Redskins, Browns, and a weak Dolphins team in disarray), but people shrugged it off saying “well, it’s still the Patriots. They will beat the better teams when needed”

Then the second half arrived. New England had to go through foes of Baltimore, Kansas City, Houston, etc. And New England went 4-4 including a home loss to the same Dolphins team who they beat 43-0. And Brady in the second half? 57% completion pct, 11 TD, 4 INT and QBR of 80. In a run of five games (against the Cowboys, Bengals, Eagles, Chiefs and Texans) he barely completed 50% of his passes and had a QBR of 75. In that same time period Sam Darnold put up better numbers and had a 96 QBR. And if you really want to get technical, Darnold in the second half of the season outperformed Brady.

What was more alarming about Brady was the missing of open receivers and zeroing in too much perhaps on his favorite targets Julian Edelman & James White. Furthering problems was the Patriots run game disappeared as Sony Michel had a sophomore slump making New England VERY one dimensional. The playoff game against the Titans showed how much Brady was no longer the guy we deemed to be the GOAT but more of a game manager at best when he is on. However, he wasn’t on. Short screen passes, quick passes, and other key passes were missed. This wasn’t the Brady we knew that could make plays on a dime when absolutely needed. Yes, Brady’s impact on the game is non-existent.

WITH ALL OF THAT SAID…the Patriots need to keep Brady for 2020 if Brady is still inclined to play. The numbers may have been misleading to an extent with the halves, but Brady still threw for 4,000 yards and was not a turnover prone machine even when he was off. And New England needs to find their next quarterback in the draft. Jacob Eason? Jake Fromm? Those two seem to have similar styles to Brady when Brady was at a higher level. But Brady, for as much as he wants to play until he is 50, needs to understand he is finally on the decline of his career and maybe the adjustment from being “elite” to a “mentor” will be tough for him.

Brady may have one solid season left in him, but that is about the highest fans or even Brady can expect. The transition for New England to get another QB has arrived. Letting Brady go would be a bad idea as we know what happens with teams missing that stability at quarterback (Cleveland?) but at the same time, the Patriots need to look towards the future and find their future franchise guy. If they let Brady go and draft a rookie, fine but New England isn’t one to throw a rookie into the mix Week 1. Brady needs to stay and remain the starter. But for only one more year. The decline is finally real for Brady and the Patriots can’t afford to keep him, but can’t let him go right away either.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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NFL Playoff Power Rankings

Sorry, I had procrastinated during the break. Well, to say “just wanted to relax” is an understatement.

So when the Playoff teams were decided after Week 17, it made me think: who will walk home with the Super Bowl Trophy? (sorry, Booger McFarland moment).

Honestly, it is a hard answer. Heck, it’s hard to even think of which two teams will get to the Super Bowl. In the past we have pretty much banked on New England and the NFC team of the year (sixth straight year a different team will represent the NFC unless it is Seattle). A lot of teams are great, but those same teams have holes. Even the Patriots are nothing but a lock. If anything, their mountain to climb is that more of Olympus Mons than Mt. Everest at this point. So let’s rank them and why they will win and why they won’t win.

(1) BALTIMORE RAVENS (14-2): Why they will win? The Ravens very balanced all throughout. They can run the ball like no other and the defense is beyond dangerous all over. And that Lamar Jackson dude is pretty good as he kows how to finish off drives. That’s a winning recipe for a third Lombardi Trophy near the Baltimore Harbor. Why they won’t win? IF IF IF Baltimore is down late and/or down big at any point Jackson will have to be relied on his arm and that isn’t a good thing. The lone two losses Jackson looked human in and albeit early was ridiculed for being a “meh” passer. I’m not sure if the Ravens will be put in that position, but if they do, that is when I’d be really worried with Baltimore.

(2) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (13-3): Why they will win? The Saints may be the most complete team in these playoffs. I thought after last year Father Time caught up with Drew Brees. Wrong. Had it not been for the injury he would have put up well over 4,000 yards passing (again) and 30+ TD’s. Compile that with Alvin Kamara (who is healthy now) and Michael Thomas and all the gimmick plays they have using Taysom Hill, teams will have nightmares to figure out how to stop them. And the defense while not dominant like Baltimore or Buffalo, is solid but with a deadly pass rush. Why they won’t win? Of all the teams on here, the Saints are the hardest one to figure out why. Yes, people will argue going out of the comfortable elements of the dome to the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field in the Divisional round is going to be too much but this team is built to win anywhere honestly. The ONLY thing I’d worry are the unexpected plays as we have seen those plays be demons to the Saints the last few years in the postseason when the games are close.

(3) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-4): Why they will win? Kansas City has improved tenfold on defense, notably against the pass. You can thank Tyrann Mathieu for that as he has become their saving grace. Oh yeah, and they have that Mahomes guy at QB to pair up with Hill and Kelce and also their X Factor in Mecole Hardeman. Why they won’t win? The running game on both sides of the ball. The Chiefs struggled badly on that which will definitely be a problem if they have a rematch against Baltimore in the AFC Championship. Of course, like the Saints, the Chiefs have their playoff demons to contend with, just more.

(4) SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (13-3): Why they will win? They can run the ball well with the guys they have. They play some strong defense especially against the pass and Jimmy Garoppolo makes passes when he absolutely needs to. Compiling it on, they have homefield throughout the NFC. Why they won’t win? Down the stretch proved some concerns notably if teams hang around with San Francisco. Pretty much their final five games came down to the last play and they went 3-2. Good had one of those losses were not to a 7-9 Falcons team at home. But the 49ers need to close games out or else they could end up like the 2016 Falcons if you get my drift.

(5) HOUSTON TEXANS (10-6): Why they will win? Watson, Hyde, Hopkins. Houston when clicking has the best tandem in the NFL. Why they won’t win? A bit of where 3 years ago game is that the Texans got in on the account of their offense would have been a laugh as their defense was the one that got them in. But the poor play on defense gives the Texans those games where they implode on very bad teams (Denver). They are that Jekyll-and-Hyde team that can go far if they can get out of the first round but can they? The defense will decide.

(6) GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3): Why they will win? Compared to years in the past the Packers have been more of a balanced team. They have one of their best rushing attacks in recent memory with Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams. Defense is solid against the pass. And the Packers *could* host two games in Lambeau where they went 7-1. Why they won’t win? Dare say it, but it is Aaron Rodgers. While the Packers have gone more to the ways of a balanced approach and “taken pressure” off Rodgers in the run game, he hasn’t looked sharp at all especially the last few weeks. It also seems like he is not having any fun out there and just unhappy with how the offense is being built differently. Of course he is saying nothing about it because, well, the Packers are winning. The other issue Green Bay has? Aside from beating Minnesota twice, Green Bay has had to win squeakers against the Redskins, Bears, and Lions down the stretch. I don’t know even with having a possible matchup against New Orleans at Lambeau if that will play into Green Bay’s favor.

(7) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4): Why they will win? The defense has been the reason why the Patriots have won another division title and won a few games with it. And do you really doubt Brady and Belichick? Why they won’t win? Hard to imagine just 3 years ago that Rodgers and Brady would now be considered more liabilities than keys to winning the game. But right now Brady is just looking “average” but unlike Rodgers, Brady’s issue may be Father Time. Does he have enough for one more Super Bowl run? Also compiling on it is the three other division champs in the AFC, the Patriots have lost to and have been pretty much outplayed on both sides. They just are not being the same dominant Patriots we have come to know.

(8) PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (9-7): Why they will win? Laugh all you want, but the Eagles are coming in hot in the playoffs. Yes, beating the NFC East teams the final four weeks doesn’t say much, but they got momentum heading in and that is a major problem. Carson Wentz has been ridiculed all year but he really hasn’t done anything wrong down the stretch. They key thing to take in is, the Eagles are actually getting healthier at the right time, especially on defense. Why they won’t win? Just what kind of offense are we going to see in the playoffs from the Eagles? At times the offense looks solid and then at times they are a giant mess. The consistency will end up biting Philadelphia if it continues.

(9) BUFFALO BILLS (10-6): Why they will win? They fight to no end and every time you think they are down, they keep fighting. That’ super scary for the powers of the AFC. They won’t stop fighting. And their defense is sick. They can run the ball very well and another scary thing is they play stronger on the road. Compiled that with Josh Allen getting more and more comfortable at quarterback an having a target of John Brown, and you has a possible sleeper in the AFC. Why they won’t win? As much improved as Allen has been, he’s not ready for that next level yet. And while it is very possible Buffalo could upset the Texans, a date in Baltimore would expose Allen’s remaining inconsistencies. And you need a consistent quarterback in the playoffs.

(10) MINNESOTA VIKINGS (10-6): Why they will win? The run game. Dalvin Cook is their offensive cog. If he goes, so do the Vikings. And Kirk Cousins for all the grief he gets, has pretty much played mistake-free football. Why they won’t win? The Vikings defense isn’t the one who could dominate on that side like they used to. The defense is just missing something or they are just not scheming well against opposing offenses. And that is a problem for Minnesota. Also, despite Cousins ability to not make mistakes, he isn’t a guy that you can rely on late in the fourth quarter for that game-winning drive. That isn’t is thing and that is a problem for Minnesota moving forward.

(11) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5): Why they will win? Russell Wilson. We give love to Lamar Jackson for everything this year, but Wilson is starting to be taken for granted on everything he’s done in Seattle. Never doubt this guy at all. If not for Jackson, Wilson is probably the MVP in the NFL. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf have been a great receiving duo this year, averaging around 1000 yards each. Why they won’t win? Injuries have destroyed Seattle’s chances tremendously. Chris Carson was rolling until he got injured and the offense isn’t the same. The Seahawks brought back Marshawn Lynch but what is he capable of as his final year weren’t anything to write home about. And the defense is a far cry from the Legion of Boom days, finishing near the bottom of the NFL in a lot of key defensive categories. It will be a long road to the Super Bowl with Seattle.

(12) TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7): Why they will win? Derrick Henry. If the Titans ground game dominates and they can because Henry is a true beast of epic proportions, then Tennessee could make a fun run. Compiling on is that Ryan Tannehill has been what the Titans offense needed from a passing perspective as Marcus Mariota just lost all confidence behind center. It will also create for some doom for teams like the Patriots early on. AJ Brown is becoming a force in the passing game too. Why they won’t win? Do we really trust Ryan Tannehill to hold a Lombardi Trophy? I mean if Nick Foles can, it is possible. That said, the concern of the Titans isn’t Tannehill but the defense which can be problematic (notably against the pass, which will turn out to be a problem given the quarterback they will see in the AFC). And it just feels like the team doesn’t have enough depth as the 11 other playoff teams in front of them. But as they say…on any given Sunday…

LAST SECOND PREDICTIONS:

WILD CARD (AFC): Patriots over Titans (overtime), Texans over Bills

WILD CARD (NFC): Saints over Vikings, Eagles over Seahawks

DIVISIONAL (AFC): Ravens over Texans, Chiefs over Patriots

DIVISIONAL (NFC): 49ers over Eagles, Saints over Packers

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Ravens over Chiefs

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP: Saints over 49ers

SUPER BOWL XLIV: Ravens over Saints

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Why Should the Falcons Move on From Dan Quinn

For the second straight season, the Atlanta Falcons have failed to live to expectations and in a bit of a recurring situation. Despite the record not looking abysmal such as the Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, and Detroit Lions (which the former two are in massive rebuild modes), Atlanta has been pretty much out by the start of November. The December run has made the team look “not horrible” and will have a shot at another 7-9 season.

Had this been 20-25 years ago in Atlanta, fans would have gone “okay, there is some hope that the team could compete next year.” But those days are LONG gone. It is unacceptable.

For the last twelve years Atlanta has seen one of the best quarterbacks in this era in Matt Ryan play nearly every snap (why he gets ridiculed in this town on a consistent basis is beyond me). For the last 9 years Atlanta may have seen the most dominant receiver of this generation in Julio Jones. Pieces have come and gone in that time period that have made an impact (early on: Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez and now it’s Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and Alex Mack) so it isn’t a two-man band in the ATL. Early on, Atlanta’s offense could score at will with anyone, but the defense kept on imploding.

Enter Dan Quinn to coach after Mike Smith couldn’t cut it anymore. We know the story: Quinn was the defensive coordinator for Seattle’s legendary Legion of Boom defense. The hope was he would turn the defense around.

He did…for a brief moment in time.

Quinn’s fingerprints of the defense in 2016 loomed large especially at the right time where the Falcons streaked to the Super Bowl by easily handling Seattle and Green Bay in January with the young defensive stars of Vic Beasley, Jarrett, Jones, Keanu Neal thus bringing in the “Brotherhood” on defense.

The next year, the defense held their own (wasn’t as strong) but the offense sputtered a bit). The Falcons still ended up making the playoffs dominating the Rams and then losing on the last play to the Eagles.

Then 2018 happened. The defense was ravaged by injuries to Jones and Neal and the Falcons defense could not match the re-born offense and the team finished 7-9. What was the talk during training camp? “Okay, we were dinged up, but a healthy defense will put us back in playoff contention in 2019. Quinn is taking over like he did in 2016 and the defense is flying all over the place!”

And….no. Aside from Keanu Neal being hurt again, the defense was healthy. Desmond Trufant is regressing like Ray Buchanan did late in his Falcons career, Beasley was AWOL for the first half of the year and the ONLY constant seemed to be Grady Jarrett. They were giving up points and yards like crazy and making quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Jacoby Brissett look like Pro Bowlers. The Falcons were 1-7 heading into the bye week.

So…Quinn switched things up internally on his coaching staff as he was more hands off. Since then, Atlanta has gone 5-2 including road wins against quite possibly the two best NFC teams in New Orleans and San Francisco. Instead of the fan base feeling very excited, it’s “oh great, here we go again of coming up too little too late.” And now the “debate” is has Quinn did enough to keep his job after Week 17? Most fans have said no. However, Arthur Blank, Falcons owner, is known for a level head and isn’t a reactionary owner (hence why he kept Quinn after the 1-7 start) and many “experts” feel like the second half run for Quinn may keep his job. To me, this is a VERY. BAD. IDEA.

While I actually like Dan Quinn, he isn’t a Super Bowl championship caliber coach (despite the 2016 run), it just seems like something is missing with him. I’m not sure what it is, but I think it is time to move on. Here are a few things why.

(1) JEFF FISHER 2.0. The local sports radio station I listen to, they made a comment I think was spot on: “Dan Quinn is ‘just ok’ as a head coach. He’s like that doctor in the AT&T commercial.” And aside from 2016 & 2017, Quinn has been an 8-8 or 7-9 coach. He reminds me a lot of Jeff Fisher with the Titans and Rams. Fisher seemingly had 8-8 or 7-9 seasons constantly save for those years of Steve McNair and Eddie George in Tennessee in 1999-2000 (also getting to a Super Bowl and losing in heartbreak fashion). The argument can be made however, that Fisher had less talent than what Quinn has in Atlanta now. Right now seeing Atlanta be 12-4 or 11-5 under Quinn seems to be less of a reality anyway.

(2) SLOW TO REACT AND ADAPT: Quinn’s inability to react earlier before the Falcons went 1-7 is a telltale sign that he isn’t a championship coach. It seems like it was “hey, now that the season is over, let’s analyze what went wrong and fix it for the second half.” Great coaches are quick at adapting and reacting and Quinn did it way too late for the 2019 season. Had Dan Quinn made these changes let’s say after the Titans drilled Atlanta early on, we may be talking about the Falcons first round opponent instead.

(3) PLAYERS COACH: It’s not necessarily a BAD thing to be a players coach and it seems like the players are rallying behind Quinn. However, save maybe Pete Carroll in Seattle, most of the Super Bowl champions (Ravens, Giants, Patriots, Eagles), don’t have a coach that is considered that. Quinn may be a tough guy to the players behind closed doors, but he doesn’t have that feel and has that “loyal to a fault” thing going. I think that hurts a team if things aren’t going well. Also Falcons fans point out he seems more of that guy “who will say the right things” not to tick off anyone whether it’s his players or the media.

(4) DISHEARTENED FAN BASE: Anyone who knows the Atlanta sports base is that when the teams aren’t winning, the fans aren’t showing (i.e. bandwagon). It’s an unjust label as EVERY CITY has that same issue, but when Mercedes Benz Stadium, which is the newest NFL stadium with the bells and whistles currently, is sitting half-empty in December for the second straight year (like it was last year when the 4-9 Falcons played a pathetic Arizona Cardinals team-which I was actually at that game) has that issue then, it doesn’t look good for anyone. But the thing is, what gives any Falcons fan hope that 2020 is going to be very different under Dan Quinn? Fans are starting to say “well, I’m done going to the games and won’t renew for the season.” It may not be a main factor, but when fans stop coming out and tickets start to go to visiting teams (which we’ve seen in Atlanta time after time with fan bases packing it in) it eliminates any homefield advantage. And next year the Falcons host the Bears, Raiders, and the hated Saints who get their fans packing the place.

I think the argument for Dan Quinn to keep his job is that he is a likable guy. He doesn’t offend anyone with his comments. Players love him. Ownership loves him. I like him and I don’t WANT him to lose his job, but he isn’t the guy that will put Ryan, Jones, and Company over the top. He’s had 5 seasons to show for it and while he was VERY close one year, it may be the closest the Falcons will ever get under Quinn.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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Has Kirby Smart Peaked at Georgia?

Rewind the clocks to four years ago in 2015. Georgia fired Mark Richt after an “unimpressive” 9-3 season with the Bulldogs. The argument was that Richt would never get Georgia over that hump for a national championship. The next coaching hire was going to be the coach that would end Georgia’s drought of a national title.

Enter Kirby Smart. Smart had been Nick Saban’s right hand man for a long time with Alabama and even before that. Many viewed the relationship as one of Smart being the next Nick Saban. And that’s what the Bulldogs fans hoped. They rolled out the red carpet similar to what Alabama had done for Saban, Ohio State done for Urban Meyer, and Michigan had done for Jim Harbaugh. They anointed Smart as the chosen one. Adding on, the hopes of Jacob Eason really got Bulldogs fans excited about the future and by year 3-4 a National Championship was expected to hit Georgia’s trophy case.

Fast forward to today. Playoff Selection Day. We know Georgia isn’t going to be one of the four teams picked after an embarrassing, humiliating loss to LSU in the SEC Championship last night. Their second straight SEC title loss after their blown lead to Alabama last year. Adding on, the comparisons to Smart and his predecessor Mark Richt are very parallel and only one playoff appearance to show forth. And instead of being Saban 2.0, Georgia fans are more inclined to say he’s Mark Richt 2.0.

Fair assessment perhaps?

So let’s begin.

Kirby Smart in his time at Alabama was a stout recruiter and year in & year out helped the Tide dominate the recruiting ranks. He took that stout recruiting to Georgia where honestly the cupboard was a bit barren when he arrived (compared to prior years) and even beat Alabama in the recruiting war after the 2017 season. Even when he hasn’t beaten Alabama in that category he has been right behind the Tide. The talent and the recruits have been there.

On the field after the 2016 season where Smart was “testing the waters” of what he had, he installed his way of thinking and so forth and it paid off. Georgia has dominated the SEC East from 2017. Granted it isn’t like the SEC West where they have to see LSU and Alabama yearly (they do see Auburn yearly though) and the East is pretty much a disaster outside of a Florida team who isn’t the one Urban Meyer had.

However, Georgia under Smart, is eerily similar to Georgia under Richt. The philosophy may be different (as Richt’s mentality was a “win is a win” while Smart was “we need to be perfect in every aspect”), but the results have been the same.

So what is happening with Kirby Smart in Athens that is making fans worry it’s more of the same?

(1) SMART IS A STUBBORN BULL: Like Nick Saban at Alabama where he can be very stubborn with the media, Smart has that attitude as well. However, when it comes to the field, Smart believes his semi-obsolete offense (nothing that of a RPO like LSU runs or a spread like Alabama runs) is still good enough to win a national championship with. Saban at least knew he had to adapt after 2013 and did when he hired Lane Kiffin to be the offensive coordinator. People laughed at it, but Alabama won three straight SEC titles and a national championship with Kiffin as the coordinator. Which brings me up to the part where I think that grew tension between Saban and Smart was that the “new era offenses” really puts more strain on even the best defenses around given the quick strikes and fast drives which means a defense that is out there for longer periods of time. Smart wants to keep the defenses fresh and play that typical offense where the quarterback lines up under the center and hands the ball off or hit play action. Teams can figure that out, send a blitz package and even the best offensive lines in the nation can’t handle that. But nope, Kirby still believes the offense style of play he has can win a national championship.

(2) SMART IS SHOWING WHAT KIND OF LEADER (OR LACK THEREOF) HE IS: This will be a hot topic of debate on this assessment. If you look at Saban, Meyer when he was at Ohio State, Dabo, Pete Carroll at USC, and to an extent Orgeron, they will step up and go “yep, this loss is on me, not my players.” Not Smart. It is “well, we did everything right but the players didn’t execute” or “my receivers have to play better.” I get it and it’s probably some honesty there but he has to remember that while he was in a system at Alabama where it felt like a professional football program there, the players are still kids ranging from 18-21. Yesterday’s post-game presser many felt like he threw all his players under the bus and whined about injuries taking its toll. Even healthy, Georgia probably doesn’t beat LSU but what team by Championship Week is healthy?

(3) KIRBY’S NEED TO PUT HIS PRINTS ON THE OFFENSE: This comes back to what I mentioned about his stubbornness. Kirby is a defensive player and therefore a defensive minded coach. Fine and dandy. So Saban was a defensive back and a defensive minded coach. But the difference that is being seen with Saban and Smart is that on offense, both have a different way: Saban tells his coordinators, “hey, run the ball, but mix it up a bit; let’s not be that predictable.” Smart seems to have the vibe of saying “hey, run the ball, run the ball, run the ball, and run the ball.” I think the tone was set early in the season for Georgia that they would be a run first team which may have gotten the receivers and Jake Fromm out of rhythm. And when teams picked up on the patterns, it was a struggle the rest of the way. Sure, it’s one thing to thump the likes of Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky using the run game only. But the minute you start playing a style that the offense isn’t as accustomed to, it normally means bad news. Georgia did try to pass the ball a lot and “try” some options and sweeps against LSU, and it failed miserably. Yes, you can blame James Coley for the offensive woes and rightfully so, but you can also point at Chaney last year for having an offense that was “predictable” as well. Mixing it up evidently meant having “Wild Bulldog” plays and jet sweeps as opposed to maybe doing more bunch sets and 4 receiver sets. And again, this may be more on the coordinator than Smart, but I think Smart’s mentality is “we are not going to be like these other teams where we score at will; we need to eat some time.” You can do that at the right times, but even LSU pulled the ball control on Georgia to start the second half and wear them out. So it really negates what Kirby’s mentality on that. So if he does try to hire Mike Bobo back at Georgia to run the offense, he NEEDS to let Bobo do his thing like he did before when Georgia had a tough as nails offense and having a backfield of Gurley, Chubb, and Michel.

(4) RECRUITING: Yes, Kirby is an A+ recruiter. And the class he’s getting next year is another top class (though currently on 247sports its 6th, which would be Kirby’s lowest class he’s had). Once again, there is a handful of 5-star guys Georgia will have, but none of them a quarterback nor a WR (there is a 4-star guy) but a few receivers have already de-committed and probably what they have seen the last few years really has hurt. As for quarterbacks, well, Alabama took the top dual threat quarterback in the nation in Bryce Young, who loved the development of what Alabama did for Tua (no jokes about the hip bit please). But you saw that Jacob Eason left for Washington because Fromm was Smart’s guy. You saw Justin Fields transfer to Ohio State because Fromm was Smart’s guy but pretty much whenever Fields got in the attitude Smart had to Fields was “well, the game is over, hand the ball.” That isn’t going to bode well for any top quarterback to display what they were made to do as we’ve seen with Fields at Ohio State. But we are going to see quarterbacks in the Playoff this year that were 4-or-5 star guys that will light it up and one of them will hoist the national championship. Maybe Kirby’s belief is that he needs an AJ McCarron, who can manage a game and not be fully reliant on his arm 24-7. It’s great but I don’t know if even AJ McCarron’s skill set would have gotten Alabama to a national title in 2015 or 2017. It’s possible but….

(5) RAH RAH: Yeah, I’ve said this on Smart a few times being super-animated on the sidelines such as yesterday when he jumped up with a Georgia defender after they thought they recovered a fumble. So far, it has worked somewhat at Georgia. “Well Dabo does it at Clemson,” some may say, but he isn’t going screaming and running around. He will get animated at times but nothing over the top. If you look at the other guys that will be in the Playoff, they are not over the top with their rah-rah stuff. Given how things have been turning out (such as not taking blame for losses and his preparations, yelling and running around on the sidelines screaming at refs and assistant head coaches), at some point you wonder when the players begin to tune out off that nonsense, especially ones who he criticizes in post-game press conferences. I’m not saying Kirby is Jon Voight from Varsity Blues where he gets so stubborn everybody stops playing for him, but it’s like “oh here he goes again” bit. If the Bulldogs are losing and Kirby is losing his mind on the sidelines it doesn’t bode well for anybody over there because if you are supposed to be the leader and you do that, what does it say to those players and assistants who turn to you?

In order for Georgia to win their first Championship since 1980 under Kirby Smart, Kirby Smart needs to change a lot. Yes, he’s getting great results since 2017 with Georgia. A playoff berth, a national championship appearance, and three straight SEC Championship appearances, one SEC title. He also has a Rose Bowl win and a Sugar Bowl appearance and a likely New Year’s Six appearance pending. But Mark Richt’s run early on was similar (2 SEC championship games, one SEC title and a Sugar Bowl appearance). But we are also seeing trends in the not-so-good direction such as losing to teams below them (South Carolina this year), getting smashed by stronger teams. The thing though is that Kirby’s issues can all be fixed, but his pride and ego is going to get in the way of that. He needs to adapt to today’s game. I get he wants a championship through his defense, but in today’s game, you need a balance. But at some point he needs to learn he has to change his ways with how he conducts himself and also through his in-game philosophy. If not, it will be more of the same for a very long time in Athens.

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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The Obstructed NCAA Top 5-Week 11

What a week. Sadly. What a week.

Yes, I’m an Alabama fan so no, you won’t see any pictures of the game. Yes, I am bitter. That said, LSU deserved to win that game without question. And it exposed Alabama’s defense badly (which had been a concern of mine all season). So obviously, the question is who is #1, Ohio State or LSU?

If that wasn’t all, Minnesota is making their candidacy for the Playoff with a HUGE win against Penn State. Now if they can find a way to win next week in Iowa and then see Wisconsin at home and take care of business there, possibly the Playoff for them could happen if they can do the unthinkable against Ohio State. So who knows?

As for other teams, can Baylor try to crash the rankings as well? A lot of close calls are happening for the Bears but Oklahoma will be its ultimate challenge. A few byes happened as well, but with Alabama losing it was a big week for certain teams that are in the top ten. Let’s have a look.

TOP 5 WINNERS

Minnesota may be the sleeper story in the College Football World

(1) MINNESOTA: The Golden Gophers needed a monumental win for its program especially under PJ Fleck. They got it with the Penn State win that really felt like Minnesota was in control of that game the whole way. Now are they ahead of schedule in the “Row the Boat” Era under Fleck? Perhaps, but if they can take care of their business the rest of the way which will include two likely ranked teams (Iowa, Wisconsin) and then a likely date with Ohio State, the Gophers will be in the Playoff without question as that resume will look very shiny. Of course they will have to win out all of them.

(2) LSU: Why I put LSU at second isn’t of spite or anything like that, but it pretty much solidifies them as at least a top 2 team in the nation and barring a massive implosion, a Playoff. Even if the Tigers lose one, I don’t see them falling out of the top 4. Minnesota will be the one making a big jump in the polls while LSU will either stay put or move up one. But Joe Burrow solidified his Heisman Trophy with his performance especially in the second half of that game. And mad props to Ed Orgeron for keeping his team poised for that game, something that had been lacking for LSU in their tilts with Alabama in recent memory.

(3) OREGON & UTAH: Both teams had byes but the one thing that was desperately needed was an Alabama loss. To add on, the Tide see Auburn in three weeks in Jordan Hare which if Alabama loses that one (and I’d say it’s VERY likely) it will propel the PAC-12 champ to the Playoff. All these two teams need to do is win out.

(4) CLEMSON: It wasn’t like they would lose to NC State but they needed a monster win to show they were still the team. We can say all we want about the Tigers cotton soft schedule but they have done what they needed to do. And the two teams ahead of them fell. So Clemson is at #3.

(5) GEORGIA: Well, they are now in position if they can win out they will be back in despite seeing South Carolina keep losing (I do wonder if that factors into any of the committee’s minds about THAT loss especially if the Gamecocks continue to collapse). They are probably sitting at the #4 spot but Auburn is in the horizon. A loss will end Georgia’s playoff hopes and continue the national championship drought for 40 years.

TOP 5 LOSERS

(1) ALABAMA: The LAST thing Alabama needed was to lose to the team they needed to beat for the resume boost. People have wondered what game Alabama has won was the most important and it was LSU. And the Tide looked bad against the Tigers, especially on defense. So Saban & Co have to figure out what is needed to get the Tide rolling (no pun intended) again. But right now, this was the win they needed on that resume. It’s possible chaos happens, but I don’t see Alabama even at one loss gets in the Playoff without a Conference Championship this year.

(2) PENN STATE: The Nittany Lions were away from Happy Valley and it showed. They really got beat by a Golden Gophers team who really controlled the game from beginning to end. Not what they needed with Ohio State looming. And it also builds the question if James Franklin will ever get them over that hump.

(3) IOWA: Just not enough to take down Wisconsin. Really not how you need to go into the game against Minnesota even if it is at home.

(4) MICHIGAN STATE: And this year’s Super Bowl Atlanta Falcons award winner goes to….Sparty! Blowing a 28-3 at home to Illinois is inexcusable on any level. Yes, Illinois is better as the season has progressed but Mark Dantonio is really finding himself on the hot seat for this one. It shouldn’t have happened at all on how this game happened. But Michigan State’s glory run from 2010-2017 is done and there isn’t any revival coming up soon.

(5) WAKE FOREST: Probably not too surprising they lost to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, but the Deacons are aiming for a New Year’s Six bowl game. And you still have Clemson on the horizon. Not good chances for that game now.

TOP 5 QUESTIONS

(1) IF ALABAMA WINS OUT CAN THEY STILL GET IN THE PLAYOFF? No, but again, chaos has to happen. Oregon & Utah will have to find a way to lose a second game before they get to each other in the PAC-12 Championship. What also needs to have happen is Georgia loses to Auburn next week but still manages to beat LSU in the SEC Championship. And then somewhere Oklahoma takes an L and Baylor gets an L too. It’s possible, just not probable.

Norvell is a hot commodity for teams needing a coach. As soon as I typed in the name Mike Norvell on Google it said Arkansas next to his name.

(2) MIKE NORVELL COULD HAVE SOME INTRIGUING JOB OFFERS. WOULD HE TAKE IT AND LEAVE MEMPHIS? If the money is there, yes. Going to Arkansas seems like a logical fit for Norvell as he knows the area well and could take a lot of players in the Arkansas/Western Tennessee area. Or….he could go to Michigan State if the Spartans do send Dantonio on his way. He is probably the top candidate for any job right now. Or South Carolina says enough with Will Muschamp. So keep an eye on this one.

(3) DOES CLEMSON FANS HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE SLIGHTED ABOUT BEING RANKED #5 IN THE FIRST COMMITTEE SELECTION? No! The Tigers had a soft schedule. But also, it’s the first dang week of the polls. Who cares! It’s going to be in 4 weeks that matters. So if you’re a Clemson fan, relax!

(4) DID THE COMMITTEE GET IT RIGHT FOR OHIO STATE OVER LSU? Yes. While LSU’s resume is very impressive the one massive concern for the Tigers is that defense has lapses badly. Ohio State hasn’t had those lapses and are a stout bunch with or without Chase Young on the field. If I had to choose between Ohio State or LSU in a game, I’d err towards the Buckeyes.

(5) IS BAYLOR GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET IN THE PLAYOFF AT 13-0? That’s a hard one. The resume is lagging, but if they beat Oklahoma en route then it’s possible. However, it means two wins against Oklahoma who would have 3 losses and the rest somewhat fell apart on them the rest of the way. They also need some major chaos to erupt somewhere. And Baylor fans are probably prepping for 2014 all over again where they felt like they got jipped.

MY PLAYOFF COMMITTEE SELECTION PREDICTION:

(1) LSU

(2) OHIO STATE

(3) CLEMSON

(4) GEORGIA

NEXT TWO IN: OREGON, UTAH

-Fan in the Obstructed Seat

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