Saying Goodbye To The Tim Tebow Era In Denver

By now you know that Tim Tebow is the newest member of the New York Jets, shipped their this afternoon for a 4th rounder, a 6th rounder, a hope and a prayer.  The last couple of days have been extremely difficult for me as a fan of the Broncos, so much so that I refused to write a piece about the actual trade…until now.  After way too much reading and reflection, I’ve finally been able to isolate just what it was about Tim Tebow that converted me, the most skeptical, number-driven sports fan that I know.  It was the most improbable of relationships, and like 99% of all improbable relationships, it’s now over.

I wish that I could claim that my conversion to Tim happened the second Josh McDaniels traded up to take him three rounds early back in 2010.  That’s not the case though.  I defended Kyle Orton to the death and even wondered whether Brady Quinn might be a sneakily awesome possibility at starter.  The real person I was rooting for was Andrew Luck though and that my beloved franchise would intentionally tank the season last year for the right to draft him.  Six games and 46 minutes into the season last year, all was going as planned.  Then this happened:

I was watching that game live and I confess that I was livid. How dare this Tebow guy come in and ruin the Broncos chance at the greatest QB prospect since Elway himself!  I was begging for the Broncos to quit when Tebow of course delivered on one of the most improbable comebacks in NFL history.  Rather than celebrate it, I mostly pouted to my fiancee about how the Broncos were ruining their future and had no shot at Luck anymore.  A drubbing the following week at the hands of the Lions confirmed my suspicions.

And then a funny thing happened.  The Broncos spent the week between Detroit and Oakland, their next opponent, conducting the biggest experiment in the history of the NFL—they actually tailored the offense to Tebow’s strengths.  You’re never going to believe this….but it worked.

Of all the improbable comebacks, miraculous fourth quarters, and game-winning drives, the not-even-close biggest miracle that Tim Tebow accomplished last year was getting an actual NFL franchise led by a respected NFL head coach to dare to think outside the box.  It is quite possible you will never see anything like it again.  This was number one I fell in love with Tebow.  That, and beating the living piss out of the Raiders.

You know what else happened over the next few weeks.  Tebow and the Broncos went on an improbable win streak where nearly all the games were decided by the QB on the final drive of the game.  America was swept with Tebowmania.  ESPN started devoting entire hour-long episodes to Tebow-related material only.  Skip Bayless ran to his defense.  Colin Cowherd blasted him.  The fans were kind of just left shaking our heads wondering what in the hell happened.

These past couple days I was sad. What frustrated me though was that I was unable to pinpoint exactly what I was so emotional about.  I will certainly not miss defending Tim Tebow every week.  During the season I resigned myself to telling friends that you just simply couldn’t understand how pleasurable it was to have Tebow as your quarterback.  It was all exhausting because, well, look at him when he’s on the field at any point not in the final two minutes of the football game.  I will not miss the missed receivers, the looping throws that sail out of bounds, or every NFL defender taunting him in order to get their face on SportsCenter.  It got old.

There was something about it all that I really, really, really enjoyed though.

I have no idea how I connected these events, but it happened yesterday as I left work.  The first event was somehow remembering a random column I read during the NFL season last year.  I don’t remember the writer nor do I remember the site.  I think it was theclassical.org, but to be honest I’m really not sure and a quick search through their archives yielded no results.  More to the point though, that column was the collection of thoughts of a Patriots fan and what that team has done to him as fan.  On the outside, it appears awesome to be a Patriots fan, or so it seems.  The writer then launched into a story describing how ugly he feels as a fan now.  Because of the 2007 Patriots and their success leading up to that year, he said he is now never satisfied by the Patriots exploits on the field.  He explains that no win is ever satisfying enough, no Tom Brady performance is ever perfect enough.  In fact it had gotten so bad he actually yearned for the days of their first Super Bowl back in 2002.

The reason was simple.  The Patriots weren’t expected to win that year.  In fact, they were expected to be blown out by one of the greatest offenses ever assembled in the St Louis Rams’ “greatest show on turf.”  Instead Bill Belichick orchestrated one of the greatest upsets of all time and America was introduced to Tom Brady.  He’d go on to have an argument as the best quarterback ever to play the game.  The writer argued that 2002 was the pinnacle of being a Patriots fan and that nothing would ever compare.

—-

It all actually makes a ton of sense when you think about it.  The best things in sports are those that are unexpected.  Nobody really cares who the Patriots beat in their next two Super Bowl victories.  They’ll always remember them beating the Rams though.  They’ll also always remember when they lost to the Giants, perhaps the greatest upset in NFL history. 

It’s why we remember the United States upsetting the Soviets in the semi-finals, but can’t remember who we went on to defeat in the gold-medal game.  It’s why Villanova defeating Georgetown is a must-have in any March Madness compilation. 

It’s why I’m going to really, really, really miss Tim Tebow as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

Think about what the Denver Broncos accomplished last year under Tebow.  They went 7-4 down the stretch in the regular season.  They won the majority of those games on their last possession of the game.  They backdoored their way into the playoffs.  They upset the heavily favored Steelers in the first round.  They won that game against the Steelers on the first play of overtime.  It is literally impossible to write a worse script for a movie.  While this was going on, nearly every team had players taunting the Broncos, nearly every outlet had outspoken critics mocking the Broncos, and almost everyone in this country had an opinion about what was going on.

Despite all of that, the Broncos won anyway.

—-

Before this past MLB postseason began, I recall a number of Cardinals fans remarking that this year’s squad was by far their favorite team of all-time.  This was at a time when it was still uncertain whether they would make the playoffs or not.  They didn’t yet know that the Braves would complete an all-time historic collapse and lose their Wild Card slot to a St. Louis team playing with way too much pride.  They had yet to come within a single strike of losing the World Series…twice.  And how can you not agree with that assessment?

I found myself multiple times this year calling Tim Tebow and the Broncos the most fun I’d had as a sports fan ever.  I often compared it with the memorable Colorado Rockies run to the World Series back in 2007.  That year the Rockies famously won 14 of their last 15 games and went 20-8 in September to clinch a one-game playoff where they then defeated the San Diego Padres in extra innings.  It was only appropriate that the win came in the bottom of 13th off future HOFer Trevor Hoffman when the Rockies trailed by two to start the inning.  They then breezed through the playoffs before eventually losing to the far superior Boston Red Sox.

Those two seasons are my all-time favorite as a sports fan.  Neither ended with a championship.  Both left me absolutely grateful for sports and the emotions they are capable of producing in me.

—-

Now Broncos fans are left with Peyton Manning and to be quite honest, it’s depressing.  As they all mentioned in the press conference yesterday, it’s Super Bowl or bust now.  There is no learning curve or witnessing of player growth.  There will be no moments where Peyton endears himself to the fans of Denver.  He’ll always be a Colt, forever synonymous with the blue horseshoe.  We expect to win eleven games next year and if we miss the playoffs all hell is going to break loose. 

There will be nothing satisfying about having Peyton as our quarterback.  I’m going to get angry about not beating opponents by enough points.  I’m going to get mad when we inevitably lose two rounds too soon in the playoffs next year.  I’m going to be livid if Peyton’s neck decides to give out earlier than planned.

Guys, sports are rough.

Share

Reaction To The Peyton Manning News

I’m too broke up to devote a full piece to this issue at this time.  I loved Tebow.  Here’s every reason this was the wrong move:

-Teams that “win” free agency never win games during the season (see: Eagles, Philadelphia)

-It’s never a good idea to tie a lot of money to an aging quarterback whose previous team was willing to let him walk out the door without a fight (see: McNabb, Donovan)

-Bill Belichick is going to sweep in here and trade for Tebow as the heir apparent to Tom Brady (write it down, it’s happening)

-Make no mistake, Peyton chose the Broncos because they offered three things: 1) they’ll sign his buddies Jeff Saturday and Dallas Clark 2) they’ll give him a lot of guaranteed money long-term 3) they’ll let him control the offense.  The last reason is the big key.

-Does anyone remember what happened to the Colts last year when Peyton got hurt and nobody had a clue what to do on offense?  Are the Broncos at all concerned of giving Manning that much power again only to see the neck become an issue again three weeks into this upcoming season?

-Peyton played in a dome his whole career.  Is anyone really confident he’ll suddenly be able to make the same throws outside during cold Denver winters when his injury specifically targeted his arm strength?

-This might sound crazy, but am I the only person who thinks the decision to go with Manning is riskier than going with Tebow?  Hear me out on this.  At best, Peyton gives Denver three strong years (he turns 36 here soon) and one, maybe two, solid runs at a Super Bowl.  He then heads into to the front office to join Elway after grooming an heir apparent.  At BEST.  At worst, Manning gets hurt, never plays a down this season, and the Broncos have to turn over their team to someone like Curtis Painter or presumed rookie draft pick Brandon Weeden.  All the while they’ve gambled their entire salary cap in the first three years of this deal to Peyton, traded away a revenue machine in Tebow, and ended up exactly where they were two years ago with no franchise QB and another attempt at rebuilding. 

With Tebow they’d be committing very little salary so in the worst case event with him (he proves unable to be able to learn a pro-style offense), they’re only out about a million bucks and you can draft another QB without having committed significant resources anywhere.  The upside with Tebow is way greater though.  In his best case event he proves to be a franchise icon, the kind of athlete seen maybe five times a decade in all of pro sports (think: Jeter, Brady, or Kobe), and he wins multiple Super Bowls while becoming the true reincarnation of Elway.  Denver forgoes that chance by getting Manning which is a damn shame.  However improbable the odds, I think an overwhelming majority of Broncos fans would be willing to take that risk with Tebow.

-Tebow never had a full offseason with a head coach.

-Tebow never had a full offseason where he got to work with the first team offense.

-Tebow never had a full offseason where he had the chance to learn the head coach’s desired offense.

-What I’m trying to say is that Tebow really hasn’t been given a fair chance yet in his young career.

I’m going to go put on my Tebow jersey and cry myself to sleep now.

Share

Super Bowls, Personal Computers, Tennis, And True Greatness

In the age of Twitter, it is almost unforgivable that I waited a week to finally address the issue of last week’s Super Bowl in a column.  I apologize up front for that.  Since the big game though I’ve been throwing a couple of ideas around that I’m going to try to make some sense of in this piece.  In my opinion, it was the most fascinating Super Bowl ever from a sports dork/debating/evaluation perspective.  The chief issues for this come about as a result of asking any one of the following questions: How were the legacies of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick affected by the outcome?  How does Eli Manning rate compared to the other elite quarterbacks in this league?  How can an athlete be considered the best ever at his profession but be so utterly out shined by a fellow athlete at that same task (also known as: the Federer/Nadal conundrum)?  Who is the better quarterback among the brothers Manning? Is it even worth the time and effort to try to debate all of this in the first place?

The idea for this essay was conceived as the result of reading a series of random pieces in the past couple of weeks.  So as to not come across as though I’m stealing their ideas, I’d like to credit those three pieces now and I’ll refer to them at the appropriate stages.  The first is Bomani Jones’ Super Bowl column which details the challenging dilemma of attempting to evaluate quarterbacks against one another.  The second is Malcolm Gladwell’s review of the Steve Jobs book in the wake of his untimely death which, among many things, contrasts Jobs to Bill Gates.  The last is Eric Freeman’s column on the aftermath of the classic Federer/Djokovic Australian Open final this year.  It is my suggestion that you read all three of those before proceeding.

The issue I want to examine is trying in some manner to describe greatness as it pertains to athletics.  More specifically, being the greatest.  To say it is a complex undertaking is a gross understatement and does no justice to the amount of thought various writers and thinkers have done tackling this subject.  I have no allusions about how difficult this is and how highly subjective the analysis will be.

*****

True confession: like many other sports dorks the Michael Lewis book Moneyball forever altered how I look at sports.  I don’t know how many other readers were led to explore the principles of advanced stats as they applied to other sports, but count me among those who took their bachelor’s in sports dorkdom from Moneyball and went to study for the full PhD by mining the darker corners of the internet for content.

One of my first questions was what organizations were utilizing the same philosophies in the other major sports?  I soon learned that the Houston Rockets pretty much pioneered it for the NBA.  I learned that European soccer clubs like Arsenal are investing in the use of advanced stats but that it’s increasingly difficult to come up with metrics in a sport like soccer that has infinitely more measurable events taking place in a game than say, baseball.  I then learned that Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots were way ahead of the curve for using it in the NFL and suddenly the dominance of that organization over the last decade  made sense.

And thus was born one of the more improbable man crushes in the history of sports.  Prior to this past season, I cannot tell you how much I loathed the city of Boston and, more specifically, Bill Belichick.  I found his press conferences insulting, I believed his success was fraudulent due to Spygate, and I thought the hoodie look was a disgrace to the game.  I felt a personal bitterness that resonated as a result of his Patriots so quickly grasping the dynasty title just a few seasons after my beloved John Elway retired with back-to-back Super Bowl wins.  I detested anyone who thought of Tom Brady as being in the same sentence with Elway.  The more you delve into the Belichick story though, the more it becomes clear that this man is not some short-tempered loser with the ego of a big program college football coach, but rather one of the greatest innovators and thinkers in the history of football. 

After some reading I learned the reasoning behind his press conference performances.  It wasn’t so much an arrogant display as it was a hilarious and ironic protest of the monotony of sports coverage. I eventually learned the story behind the hoodie, and instantly I saw a man with wit and charm rather than a bad taste in clothing.  Combine that with learning about his lifelong friendship with Ernie Adams–a man who can only be described as the football whisperer–and Bill Belichick might be the single most fascinating coach in the history of American professional sports.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about in any of those instances, please drop me a line in the comments and I’d be happy to elaborate.

What became increasingly clear though, in my mind, was that Bill Belichick was the greatest football coach ever.  When you combine the titles, the prolonged success, the innovation, the draft strategy, the players he’s coached, the embracing of advanced stats, the personality, the knowledge of the game, etc., I don’t think it’s even a contest.  Hands down Bill Belichick is the best football coach of all time.

Which is what makes it all the more confounding to me that Tom Coughlin (Tom Coughlin!) has his number when it comes to these Super Bowls.  No offense to any Giants fans or members of the Coughlin family, but at face value, Tom Coughlin might be the least interesting coach in the history of football.  For one, he’s really old.  Two, I can’t get past the way his cheeks turn all kinds of red when a) it gets cold and/or b) the Giants pull off one of their patented “what in the f— were they thinking there” plays.  And three, there’s nothing particularly innovative about the New York Giants roster except that they got extremely lucky with Victor Cruz and seem to have a penchant for collecting as many defensive linemen as possible.

And this brings me to my first comparison.  In that Malcolm Gladwell piece I mentioned, the author of the book talks about how Steve Jobs used to get infuriated with Bill Gates.  It is no secret at this point that Jobs thought of himself as the greatest innovator/inventor of our modern times and took great personal lengths to assure that anything associated with him and his company were “perfect” in his eyes.  While coming across on the surface as being completely arrogant, I don’t think anyone outside of the city of Seattle and the walls of the Microsoft office is going to disagree with his view.  Jobs was a genius.  People were attracted to that genius.  As a result Apple, to put it mildly, is a successful business.

Which is what makes it all the more fascinating that he would let Bill Gates get him so worked up.  As Gladwell recalled from the book:

In the nineteen-eighties, Jobs reacted the same way [as he did to the release of the Android phone in recent years] when Microsoft came out with Windows. It used the same graphical user interface—icons and mouse—as the Macintosh. Jobs was outraged and summoned Gates from Seattle to Apple’s Silicon Valley headquarters. “They met in Jobs’s conference room, where Gates found himself surrounded by ten Apple employees who were eager to watch their boss assail him,” Isaacson writes. “Jobs didn’t disappoint his troops. ‘You’re ripping us off!’ he shouted. ‘I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!’ ”

Gates looked back at Jobs calmly. Everyone knew where the windows and the icons came from. “Well, Steve,” Gates responded. “I think there’s more than one way of looking at it. I think it’s more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it.”

Jobs was someone who took other people’s ideas and changed them. But he did not like it when the same thing was done to him. In his mind, what he did was special. Jobs persuaded the head of Pepsi-Cola, John Sculley, to join Apple as C.E.O., in 1983, by asking him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?” When Jobs approached Isaacson to write his biography, Isaacson first thought (“half jokingly”) that Jobs had noticed that his two previous books were on Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, and that he “saw himself as the natural successor in that sequence.” The architecture of Apple software was always closed. Jobs did not want the iPhone and the iPod and the iPad to be opened up and fiddled with, because in his eyes they were perfect. The greatest tweaker of his generation did not care to be tweaked.

What the author is essentially saying is that Jobs found Gates’ success insulting even though they both seemingly committed the same act.  Neither of these men originally came up with the ideas that would revolutionize computers, but both saw the potential in Xerox’s original idea.  Doing a little more reasearch, one discovers that later on Jobs would vent to others about how Microsoft drove him crazy by intentionally omitting beauty and grace from the process of creating computers.  The way Windows could be used on thousands of different computers and laptop styles that were created only for the sake of being created seemed to offend Jobs’ very existance. He took great personal pride in the design of his products.

When I watch Bill Belichick lose to Tom Coughlin, I feel Steve Jobs’ pain described in that story.  How dare the Giants go ruin something as beautiful as the New England Patriots as designed by Bill Belichick!  They don’t understand the greatness that they are impeding upon!  Tom Coughlin should feel lucky to even share the field with the great Belichick!  And so forth.

To delve into the Belichick story is to become obssessed with a great man and a great coach.  I’m telling you, don’t do it unless you are prepared to fall absolutely head over heels in sports love with the man.  The way I feel about him is the way the legions of Apple fans feel about Jobs. 

And yet, how do I defend him as the greatest coach of all-time when Tom Coughlin has his number?

Ugh.

*****

One of the better developments in recent years in terms of journalism has been the trend towards what is known as “Long Form” journalism whereby the writer gets thousands of more words than she typically would to report her story.  It’s exactly what it sounds like.  It’s journalism, only longer.  I would argue it’s better as well.  It’s inspired a number of websites, among the more famous are Longreads.com and Bill Simmons’ new site Grantland.

It’s unfair to really attribute all of this form’s recent success to one person, but if you put a gun to my head I’d credit its  modern popularity to the late David Foster Wallace.  Wallace is considered perhaps the greatest novelist of modern times and what further endeared him to his fans was that he wrote several fantastic magazine pieces in addition to the great works of literature he published.  For some reason, Wallace made the conscious decision to make his magazine pieces far more readable than the complex issues of his books.  But while the magazine pieces might have been relatively more simple (especially when compared to a Wallace novel), they had a uniqueness about them that absolutely grabbed the reader and kept their attention throughout.  If you don’t believe me, read his take on travelling aboard a luxury cruisehis reporting from a regional lobster festival, or most importantly, his famous tribute to Roger Federer.

That last piece, I would argue, inspired a whole generation of sports dorks.  What Wallace accomplished in that piece redefined the expectations of what could be accomplished in sports writing.  I’ll make the claim that it’s partially responsible for the success of sites like Deadspin and Grantland, as well as writers like Bill Simmons, Tommy Craggs, and Will Leitch. 

Beyond the exceptional writing, the biggest miracle of the whole piece might be that it has actually turned tennis into a sort of cult sport for sports dorks.  You may not know it, but the who’s who of the sports blogosphere follows the tennis majors with religous intent, staying up all hours of the night to not miss the beautiful tennis that Wallace turned them on to so many years ago.

******

I bring all of that up because what’s peculiar about that unique group of writers/fans is that we (yes, I proudly include myself among these sports dorks) all universally agree that Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time.  To watch Federer play is to view firsthand the limitations of man’s body being challenged and redefined.  His brilliance and knowledge of the game is unparalleled within the sport and the beauty and grace with which he plays is likewise unrivaled.  I’m also willing to admit that we’re all likely biased because of Wallace’s writing on the topic and what can only be described as a sort of contempt for Nadal and the gall with which he challenged something as beautiful as Federer.

The challenge though, as Eric Freeman notes in his piece about this latest Australian Open, is that it is now seemingly impossible to define greatness, or more specifically, who is the “greatest.”  We all agree that Roger Federer is the best of all time, but how can he be the best when he couldn’t defeat his chief rival during his prime?  And in the most fascinating twist of all, how can Nadal possibly be the best of all time when his reign was so utterly interrupted by Novak Djokovic’s recent brilliance?  Djokovic certainly hasn’t sustained his success long enough to enter the greatest of all-time conversation yet, but the way with which he does away with Nadal is shocking to witness just as Nadal’s dominance over Federer came as such a surprise a couple years ago.  To make things even more interesting, Djokovic was of course mostly dominated by Federer last year.  So just to sum it up, Federer is definitely the best ever except for that he could never defeat Nadal during their primes, while Nadal could have been the best ever except that he can’t defeat Novak Djokovic who just so happens to lose to Federer.  Tennis, everybody!

And in that description you pretty much described the entire scenario facing the current slate of elite NFL quarterbacks.  Tom Brady was definitely the best of the bunch, but he can’t defeat Eli Manning.  Peyton Manning was definitely the better of the brothers, but for some reason he has less Super Bowl rings than baby bro and was completely dominated by Tom Brady during their respective primes.  Aaron Rodgers and/or Drew Brees might be playing the Djokovic role because they’re breaking all the passing records, but neither of them has sustained their current success long enough to unseat Brady as the best quarterback of this generation.  And thus you enter the confusing circle of trying to define greatness.

Tom Brady has the most rings of any active quarterback (3), but he also has the most Super Bowl losses (2).  Peyton Manning has the most MVPs of any player in NFL history (4), but he’s about to be cut by his team and has less Super Bowls than his little brother (1 to Eli’s 2). Aaron Rodgers seems like he’s going to rewrite all the records, except that his backup (Matt Flynn) stepped into his shoes and had the greatest statistical game ever by a Green Bay quarterback leaving many to wonder if his success is due to the system and/or the receivers rather than the QB.  Drew Brees just broke the record for passing yards in a season, but he plays in a dome at least half the year and passes the ball more times per game than any player in the history of football.  And round and round it goes.

How do you possibly define greatness?  I’d still argue that Tom Brady is the best of the bunch.  However my buddy and co-founder of the site Eddie would no doubt make a great case that Brady’s legacy is forever impacted (negatively) by his losses to Eli in these Super Bowls.  I’d wager to say he’d even be willing to argue that Eli is better than Peyton as well.  And how could you not at least hear him out?  Eli carried the Giants sad sack of a roster this year and single-handedly led them to the title with the worst rushing attack in the league.  He’s probably the best third down QB in the league now and the control he exhibits over drives is remarkable to watch.  But again, this was all in a year in which Aaron Rodgers nearly went 16-0 in the regular season and in which Drew Brees rewrote the passing records.  Do you define greatness by titles only?  By awards and records?  By wins?  By some super secret formula combining all of those?

Good luck defending any one of those guys.

*****

I’d like to come to a conclusion that somehow none of this actually matters, but that’s impossible.  This stuff does matter to sports fans.  It fills our thoughts and conversations and one day it will eventually define each of the athletes mentioned in this piece. As long as sports continue to be played professionally in this country, the debate over who is the greatest of all-time will continue. 

And it should.

The reason this debate has importance is that sports affect fans, both positively and negatively.  Being able to debate things like greatness validates that somehow all the time and effort we devote to sports was somehow worth it.  Even better if we experienced that greatness firsthand by being a fan of a particular athlete.  As an example, I’m sure most Patriots fans out there would argue that Brady is the greatest QB of all time, but they’d be hard pressed to convince any Broncos fan that he was better than Elway.  Just as any Broncos fan could never convince a 49ers fan that Elway was better than Montana.  Older Cowboys fans would argue for Staubach.  Younger Cowboys fans would point to Aikman.

And in that endless debate over what man is actually the greatest of all, I think the answer reveals itself.

The purpose of greatness is not to define or limit it to a single individual, but rather to continue to experience it for yourself.

Share

Good Morning Generation

Quick thoughts on the upcoming Peyton Manning decision:

Count me among the few who feel that the Colts have to keep him around the organization.  The only way I could actually go along with letting him leave this franchise would be if he really cannot physically play in the 2012.  If that’s the case I actually think you’ll see Peyton retire rather than slum it with some inferior team like Washington while he hopes to get healthy.  A player of his caliber is unlikely to let the sports world see him that weak and helpless.  He’d much rather take the high road and go out while he’s on top.

Under any other circumstances though, I think the Colts have got to keep him.  Beyond the whole organizational loyalty standpoint, my view is based more in the decision to hire former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano as the new head coach.  The goal moving forward is obviously to have Andrew Luck be the next great franchise quarterback and I totally get that.  With Pagano as head coach though, I think they’re setting Andrew Luck up for a difficult situation that they could completely avoid if Peyton is still in house next year.

Think about it.

Around the NFL there are a number of franchises and coaches who have become completely associated with being defensive-minded teams.  Teams like the Ravens and Jets come to mind in that regard.  What do those teams also have in common?  They tend to scapegoat their quarterbacks whenever things get tough.  Look no further than Mark Sanchez.

Do the Colts really want to set Luck up for a Sanchez situation whereby every time he loses in the next three years he gets blamed for the loss?  It’s obvious with this hire that they’re making a transition into being a team that has more of a focus on the defensive side of the ball.  Decisions like this often result in a ton of pride by said defense and a clear domination of the locker room by them as well. 

If the goal is to have Andrew Luck pan out as the next Peyton Manning, tell me how it makes any sense to send him into a situation where he’s always going to feel like he’s playing second fiddle to the guys on the other side of the ball?

The Rams may have forever ruined Sam Bradford because of a similar decision.  Sanchez will likely be unemployed after next year.  Joe Flacco…well, he’s Joe Flacco.  The only examples I can think of in NFL history where this ever worked out were for Ben Roethlisberger and Terry Bradshaw, which isn’t exactly a great success rate.  And even those two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks can’t escape the criticism.

It’s for this reason that if Peyton Manning has any chance whatsoever of playing this upcoming season, the Colts have to bring him back, $28 million signing bonus be damned.  They can’t run the risk of having Andrew Luck fail because he was placed in the worst possible situation.

The one constant in winning Super Bowls in this era of football is having a great quarterback.  Great defenses often come close to winning titles but are almost always undone by superior QBs.  As convenient as it is to have a great defense, you still take the great quarterback every time.  If Andrew Luck doesn’t work out because his own organization failed to take care of him properly, the Colts are headed down a dark and lonely road that most people refer to as being a Cleveland fan.

That’s why you keep Peyton around to keep some equilibrium between the offense and the defense in these transition years and then turn it over to Luck in two or three years a la the Packers with Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.

Generation Y, where a part of us dies every time Federer loses to Nadal.

Share

Actor Rob Lowe Reports Peyton Manning Might Retire Today

What a world we live in.  From Rob Lowe’s Twitter account:

First this one: “Hearing my fave, #18 Peyton Manning will not return to #NFL. Wow. #Colts”
 
And then this one: “@richeisen My people are saying Manning will retire today. What do you hear? #NFL
 
Say it ain’t so!
 
[Rob Lowe via Twitter]
Share