Chris Wesseling has had it up to HERE with the faulty football logic he’s seen flying fast and furious lately. Below, he thoroughly — if a bit crankily — debunks some of the more galling popular fallacies that have taken root.
If you’re wondering why the Patriots and Bengals are clutching their promising young backup signal-callers like strings of priceless pigskin pearls, the NFL’s burgeoning quarterback boom must have escaped your notice.
Take the 2016 NFC East as your paradigm of asset allocation.
While the Redskins failed to see the lay of the land in their short-sighted undercutting of Kirk Cousins’ value, the division-rival Eagles stockpiled quarterbacks like desperate squirrels scratching up acorns for an unforgiving winter.
After re-signing injury-prone tease Sam Bradford at nearly $20 million annually over two years, Eagles general manager Howie Roseman made Chase Daniel the highest-paid backup in football. Just getting warmed up, Roseman saved his coup de grace for Carson Wentz, sending a windfall of early-round draft picks to Cleveland for the opportunity to gamble on the North Dakota State star at No. 2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Roseman wasn’t operating in a vacuum.
All four of those organizations acted in response to the NFL’s overarching, inviolate reality that the value of a legitimate young franchise quarterback is beyond calculable.
As NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport recently explained to the “Ross Tucker Football Podcast”, any trade discussions for a potential quarterback solution start with a first-round pick.
How has the quarterback market shifted in the last calendar year?
Brock Osweiler hit the lottery in Houston after seven career starts, including a late-season benching that saved Denver’s season. Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco leapfrogged Aaron Rodgers with extensions near $25 million per year. Andrew Luck became the highest-paid quarterback in football months after turning in a disastrous season, the worst of his career to date.
At the turn of the century, it wasn’t unusual for a desperate organization to catch lightning in a bottle with a peripatetic castoff such as Kurt Warner, Rich Gannon, Jeff Garcia or Doug Flutie. While the avenues to journeyman success have disappeared over the past 15 years, today’s Holy Grail can be found via the mid-round godsend such as Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott.
That poses a perplexing problem for quarterback-needy operations: Is it possible to prepare for blind luck?
The Seahawks made Matt Flynn the 2012 version of Osweiler and counted their lucky stars when franchises with a Wilson fetish — such as the Eagles, Jets and Redskins — waited a round too long to pull the trigger.
“I probably should have overpaid here,” owner Jerry Jones said of his thwarted Lynch trade talks. “I was still mad about it. Actually thought we had it done.”
Even before offensive masterminds such as Bill Walsh and Don Coryell revolutionized the passing game in the 1970s and early ’80s, legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi understood that football was the perfect team game except for one conspicuous problem — the quarterback was too important.
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The NFL has undergone a subsequent passing revolution over the past decade, forcing the field general’s role to evolve in response to the modern game’s increased demands.
Absent a surefire answer at football’s glaringly imbalanced position, Jones bemoaned the lost opportunity to overpay for a potential solution.
When you have no quarterback, you have no chance. Spin that quagmire forward across multiple seasons and track the jobs lost, fans sloughed off and relevance faded. There is no more life-draining force in professional sports than irrelevance.
Aim higher, Bears
The Bears have been trying to unload Jay Cutler since John Fox and Ryan Pace arrived on the scene to clean up the mess created when the alleged franchise quarterback was sentenced to close out the 2014 season as Jimmy Clausen’s caddy.
Much of the football cognoscenti tired of Cutler’s act long before then. On the field, he combines an irritating penchant for taking too many sacks with a disturbing knack for back-breaking turnovers. Off the field, he whined his way out of Denver, earned a deserved reputation as a coach-killing tease and left a trail of dispirited teammates behind.
If the Bears are finally ready to sever ties with Cutler, they have the benefit of all our doubts.
Pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or draft a potential franchise savior with the No. 3 overall pick.
But overpaying for Mike Glennon? What are you accomplishing by replacing a talented underachiever like Cutler with a high-end backup whose 18 NFL starts prompted the Buccaneers to bench him for Josh McCown before ultimately casting him aside in favor of Jameis Winston?
My esteemed colleague Gregg Rosenthal will tell you that Glennon generated some quality game film in his first two seasons.
That’s true. But here’s a dirty little secret: Given 18 starts, every quarterback in the league will generate some quality game film. The key to success is consistently moving an offense into scoring position, not producing occasional flashes of potential.
By that measure, Glennon has pulled off a convincing Zach Mettenberger impersonation. The 2013 Buccaneers finished 31st in Football Outsiders’ successful drive percentage, while the 2014 Bucs were dead last.
If the Bears‘ plan is to tread water with a Band-Aid quarterback while an early-round pick incubates for a year, why not stick with Brian Hoyer or Matt Barkley — two passers steeped in coordinator Dowell Loggains’ offense? Glennon has managed a pair of 300-yard performances in his four-year career. Hoyer posted four such games in his first four 2016 starts under Loggains. With Cameron Meredith as his go-to receiver in an injury-decimated offense, Matt Barkley pulled off the feat three times in his first six NFL starts.
Hoyer and Barkley may be no sane coach’s idea of a temporary starter, but they have demonstrated the ability to move the sticks with subpar surrounding talent.
There’s a negative correlation between winning free agency and winning NFL games. This is how losing franchises stay in the basement.
â Andy Behrens (@andybehrens)
March 3, 2017
Todd Bowles needs a 4-year-old in his life
Joking with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, Keim put it in stark terms.
“It’s no secret that I have to tell the media we have to identify our next franchise quarterback,” Keim said. “Everyone in America knows that. My 4-year-old reminds me all the time.”
Can Jets coach Todd Bowles borrow Keim’s 4-year-old to inject a dose of reality at Florham Park?
As the core of Gang Green’s 2015 playoff flirtation falls by the wayside, Bowles is steadfastly refusing to concede what the average toddler can glean: his team is in full-blown deconstruction mode.
“No, we’re always trying to win,” Bowles said with a straight face Thursday, just before the Jets released No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall. “Whether we kept them or we let them go, we’re always trying to win. We don’t do anything in the mindset [of rebuilding]. You rebuild as far as people and names, but you don’t rebuild in terms of trying to win or not win. We’re trying to win all the time.”
â Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling)
March 3, 2017
We get it. You are a hyper-competitive head coach with eight years of playing experience at the highest level of football. Your job is on the line every waking moment, particularly through this grueling process — still ongoing — of jettisoning the majority of your star power and experience.
But can’t you show a modicum of respect for your fanbase? Treat them like adults. If you’re going to put your hardcore faithful through the abject misery of a lost season, can’t you at least resist the temptation to compound the disillusionment by refusing to admit the imminent growing pains?
Extending this dog-and-pony show throughout the offseason is a terrible idea, reminiscent of similar ploys in Oakland and Los Angeles.
Former Raiders coach Dennis Allen spent the entire 2014 offseason hyping an obviously washed-up Matt Schaub as a franchise savior on par with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers, capable of leading a long-dormant organization to the promised land.
Schaub ended up throwing a grand total of 10 passes during a miserable 3-13 campaign that saw an overmatched Allen dismissed before October.
Last year’s Rams similarly attempted to pull the wool over their fanbase’s eyes with an offseason propaganda campaign based around third-string talent Case Keenum. Taking the disingenuous stance that quarterback play does not make or break NFL teams, coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead repeatedly pointed to Keenum’s microscopic four-game sample size down the stretch in 2015 as evidence of a legitimate field general.
Fisher was ultimately exposed as a huckster, peddling a prayer that would never be answered.
They have a homespun Southern aphorism for this fraudulent approach: Don’t pee on my back and tell me it’s raining.
Note to Bowles: You can acknowledge P.T. Barnum’s truism that “there’s a sucker born every minute” without exploiting your platform.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
The impossible QB market; Bears shouldn’t chase Mike Glennon – NFL.com