Wednesday, September 5, 2007

uninteresting journalism 101

here's fifty cents worth of free advice: if you meet cbssportsline's pete prisco, don't ask him any questions. don't talk to him at all. i don't care if you and him are the only two people stranded overnight in some airport in siberia and you have nothing to read. why? well based on this article, he has absolutely nothing relevant or engaging to say about football. and since that's a massively entertaining topic, one that he gets paid to "analyze," i'm willing to ride the slippery slope all the way to the assumption that he doesn't have anything relevant or engaging to say about anything else. seems a little extreme, doesn't it? well parse this piece of crap with me and see how you feel at the end.

On the spot: Ten players who had better deliver

at first, at least to me, this seems like a reasonable enough topic. in professional sports everyone faces a tremendous amount of pressure all the time. if you're not good at what you do, you won't be doing it for long, and i'm sure the prospect of getting a normal job in the non-sports world is enough incentive to make the average athlete a little bit nervous at times. however, i think its also fair to say that the amount of pressure varies from player to player and from year to year. so, pete prisco, take this topic and validate it. show me that you can formulate a whole column out of this nebulous concept. ball's in your court.

now, before you begin, keep in mind that there are two simple rules to follow in order to make sure you don't screw this up-

rule #1: don't choose players that are facing basically the exact same amount of pressure as other guys at their position around the league

rule #2: don't choose players on teams that won't rely heavily on them, and thus aren't facing much pressure relative to other guys at their position

can pete make it through the article without violating either of these two rules with each of his selections? follow along with me to find out!

If these players come through, their teams should be playoff contenders -- and some even more than that:

David Garrard, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Can Garrard, who appeared to play himself out of a job last year when given the chance, show enough improvement to make the passing game better? Jaguars coaches obviously think his ability to move out of the pocket is a big reason they needed to make the move. If he struggles, the Jaguars will be lucky to win seven games. If he's what Del Rio and the staff think he is, then they could be a playoff team. Has he shown enough to make believers of everyone? No way. But Del Rio is all that matters.

wow. such crisp and cutting analysis. if he struggles, they'll miss the playoffs. if he's great, they "could" be a playoff team. of course, this only describes garrard and the jags, not any other QB from any other team that was middle of the road is 2006. the 49ers' playoff chances have nothing to do with alex smith. the bengals and carson palmer are pretty much unrelated, other than the fact that one QBs for the other. and i honestly could see the packers sneaking in with the wild card even if brett favre throws the ball backwards through his own goalposts most of the time. prisco, you suck already. you screwed up rule #1.

Randy Moss, WR, New England Patriots

This was the biggest move of the offseason in a lot of people's minds. Tom Brady got his go-to guy. Moss missed all of the preseason, but he's expected to be ready for the opener. There are some who wonder if he still can get down the field. Others question whether he will mesh with the Patriots way. If the answer is yes on both counts, look for a huge year from Moss and the Patriots.

whoops! pete must've forgotten about rule #2. much as i hate tom brady, the patriots, patriots fans, the greater boston area, clam chowder, and the adjective "wicked", i have to admit brady and the pats have been damn good for the better part of a decade without too much star power at the WR spot. deion branch was pretty great; troy brown was decent at times; but really, this is a team that's gotten by just fine without a moss-type WR for a long time now. and here prisco wants us to believe that we should look for "a huge year" from the pats IF moss can still get downfield, AND he "meshes" with the rest of the team. i've got news for you, pete: they're going to be really good whether moss pulls in 100 catches or if they cut him after week three because he's a crybaby bitch. they also signed donte stallworth and wes welker, who are improvements over what they had last year. now, i admit that to a certain extent, there's personal pressure on moss to prove he's still a legit top-line WR. but there's almost no pressure on him in terms of his team needing him to perform well to have a shot at contending. moving on.

Willis McGahee, RB, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens traded two third-round picks and a seventh to get McGahee. They also gave him a new contract. But they think he can amp up a running attack that was 25th in the league last year; that's not the Ravens way. With their defense, they want to run it and control the clock. McGahee is the type of player who can do that. But a 3.9 per-carry average last year does raise some concern.

i'm going to go ahead and say that this is a violation of BOTH rules. so let's break down the situation here: buffalo sucked last year. mcgahee was subpar (but he did have 1250 yards in 2005). jamal lewis was even worse in baltimore (3.6 ypc); they still won 13 games. so basically, mcgahee needs to up his game a slight amount, allow ray lewis & co. to continue murdering opponents when they have the ball (murdering. see what i did there?) and the ravens will probably win the division again. there's rule #2. as for rule #1, well, any starting RB in the league is under pressure to produce. that's why they're considered the top 32ish guys in the world at doing what they do. look again at mcgahee's situation, and tell me- this puts him under more pressure than ronnie brown/ahman green/clinton portis... how?

Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers

The Chargers expected bigger things from Jackson last year, but it didn't happen. He showed flashes, but not enough. This year, he's their go-to receiver -- at least that's what they expect. He's big and can run and had an impressive preseason. If he can help stretch the field, the Chargers offense will be complete. He's in his third season, which is usually a bust-out year for a receiver. Is this his time? We'll see.

um... pete. rule #2. with ladanian tomlinson alone, the chargers' offense is pretty close to complete. factor in antonio gates and i'd say jackson faces much less pressure than almost any "go-to" WR anywhere in the league. if he blossoms, i'm sure they'd love it. if he repeats his 2006 numbers? guess what, i'm going to venture a guess that they're still one of the top offensive teams in the league.

Levi Brown, T, Arizona Cardinals

It's rare that you'll see a rookie on a list like this, but the Arizona Cardinals have a chance to be explosive on offense. New coach Ken Whisenhunt will be aggressive in his play-calling, and Matt Leinart is ready to have a big year at quarterback. If Brown can protect Leinart's blind side from the right tackle spot, the offense should be have success down the field. He's a mauler in the run game.

oh my goodness, what a predicament. i had no idea you could even ask a tackle to do such things. protect a QB's blind side? what? when the colts beat the bears in the super bowl last february, chicago LT john tait spent most of the game replacing torn up sections of the field because he felt bad for the grounds crew. maybe if he had spent more time blocking dwight freeney the bears would have come out on top. i wonder if lovie smith is reading this column? (long story short: rule #1)

Cedric Benson, RB, Chicago Bears

The Bears traded Thomas Jones to the Jets in large part because the coaches thought it was time to get Benson on the field. He hasn't always been liked by his teammates, but a 1,400-yard season will endear him to them in a big way. He's a power runner who will have success behind the Bears offensive line. But he has to have a huge season to justify shipping the popular Jones to the Jets.

much like garrard, benson has been given a starting job because the guy ahead of him on the depth chart is no longer with the team. guess what- he's now a starting running back in the NFL. guess what- anyone who is a starting running back in the NFL faces tremendous pressure to produce each and every game. now, like moss, i admit benson has an extra incentive to prove to people that he's a legitimate player since he was a 1st round pick and hasn't really produced much during his time in the league so far. but in terms of pressure to make an impact on his team? he's not much different than a stephen jackson, a lamont jordan, or a reggie bush. he just isn't.

Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans Saints

A year ago, Colston was the surprise rookie in the league, the Saints' leading receiver after being a seventh-round pick. There will be no surprising anybody this year. Colston is the No. 1 receiver, which means the added responsibility of being the wideout teams make a priority. How he handles that added burden will decide whether the Saints offense is again tops in the league.

rule #1. colston had 70 catches in 2007. the next highest total among saints WRs was 37 by joe horn. i'm pretty sure teams were keying in on him (colston) by the midpoint of the season, if not earlier. horn's departure is likely not going to do jack shit to affect the way teams guard colston. i love when anchors/commentators/writers talk about someone who had a surprising season the year before by saying "he's not going to sneak up on anybody this time around!" um, it's not like teams didn't notice how well he was playing part of the way through the previous year. they don't only re-evaluate opponents' talent in the offseason. ridiculous.

i'm not going to bother finishing up the article, i sound like a broken record. needless to say, the last 3 selections on the list (eli manning, shaun alexander, joey porter) are terrible choices as well for pretty much the exact same reasons these first seven were. starting QB (who cares about the new york factor), starting RB with a new contract (like edge james, travis henry, and larry effing johnson), and guy on a unit that's already excellent (like moss and jackson). screw you pete prisco. if he were to branch out and write about baseball, i'd expect him to put out an article about how jake peavy, brad penny, brandon webb, and jeff francis are "facing tremendous pressure" during their respective teams' playoff runs this month.


Chris W said...

i would say that benson has a considerable amount more pressure than other backs because

a.) the bears run the ball A LOT

b.) rex grossman is inconsistent and when he starts throwing bad, Ron Turner has the tendency to completely shut down the passing game

c.) he's taking over for a guy who put up a shit ton of yards last year, and expected to carry the ball 20-30 more times a game than he did last year

d.) he's been injured a lot

Brett said...

I know it's not a big part of the article but that 3rd year receiver thing is mostly a myth. I remember reading an article on tearing it apart at least two years ago.

larry b said...

thanks brett, i've always wondered about that.

c dub- responses:

a) most teams run the ball "a lot". this isn't college football. i don't know what the bears' exact breakdown of runs vs. passes was last year, but i want to see some proof that they're significantly run biased.

b) this is a fair point. conceded.

c) not a fair point. most every starting back is expected to get 20-30 carries a game and put up "a shit ton" of yards. i acknowledged that benson has the extra personal weight of having to prove to chicago that he was worth a first round pick. but his role with the team isn't affected by that.

d) also a fair point, but not worth much.

Chris W said...

a.) the bears run the ball more than most NFL teams

c.) benson has never carried the ball 30-40 times a game for any stretch of time.

I'd be shocked if his career high for single game carries was even 20

dan-bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan-bob said...

benson's high in carries in 2006 was 16

also, FWIW:

(can you post a link in these comments?)

larry b said...

yeah you can. use the "..." thingy.

open the damn door!

larry b said...

also, that link is sweet because it sort of kind of proves chris wrong. in theory.

Chris W said...

except it doesn't. The only other team in the NFC that doesn't have more pass plays than run plays is:

SF (GORE is a premier back)

I would guess the only team in the AFC that doesn't is KC...and who's their RB?