If Rex Ryan Is Fired The Broncos Should Swoop In

Cincinnati Bengals v  New York JetsThe conventional wisdom is that Rex Ryan will be fired as head coach of the New York Jets after today’s season finale. Heck, it has already been reported that Ryan has started to clean out his office in anticipation of being canned.

Conventional wisdom part II from the sports media talking heads is that Rex should take a job in TV, learn about offense and or wait for another head coaching job to come his way. The thinking being that the league already knows he can coach defense so taking another defensive coordinator position won’t advance his credentials.

I disagree. Assuming the Denver Broncos do not win a Superbowl this year, I think Denver is a great fit for Rex Ryan as a defensive coordinator/ assistant head coach. Denver added some nice pieces to their defense this year and it showed. No disrespect meant to current Broncos d-coordinator Jack del Rio but as a defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan is arguably the best, oftentimes mentioned in the same sentence as Bill Belichik.

Speaking of the Patriots, another reason for the Broncos to bring in Rex is for his relative success coaching against New England and Tom Brady. The Pats figure to continue to be an obstacle for Denver, and Rex’s Jets defense have proven to give New England a tough time.  With Denver’s personal and Peyton Manning running the offense Rex’s defense could be even more effective.

Face it Broncos’ fans, Manning isn’t getting any younger and his arm is not getting any stronger. Defense and the running game may have to pick up more of the slack in 2015. From Rex’s perspective this works if the Broncos pay him like or close to a head coach, and give him the title of assistant head coach.

Assuming health and other moves Broncos GM John Elway makes to improve the team, Denver will be right there competing for a Superbowl next year. Ryan and his defense will get plenty of attention. If Denver wins the Superbowl (or the defense does it’s part), teams will be calling on Rex to be their head coach. As for Rex learning more about offense, of Manning, Rex once said:  “He’s the best offensive coordinator in the league.  He just happens to be playing quarterback”.  Having a year to have a front row seat watching Peyton Manning operate won’t hurt… Likewise, I’ m sure Manning would enjoy learning a thing or two from Rex about defenses and how they approach defending him.

Rex does have a personality for TV but like his father, he may be a football lifer.  Being out of the game may not suit him.  Being a prominent coordinator on a winning team, may be more desirable to him than TV or jumping back into head coaching for a losing team or a moribund franchise like the Oakland Raiders.

Could be a win/win short-term marriage for Ryan and the Broncos.

Peyton Manning And Tom Brady Prove The Impossible

ManningBradyTwo all-time great quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, square off against one another today. Whenever they do, the inevitable question of who is the best comes up.

The pro Manning crowd points to:

  • All of the records Manning has broken.
  • All of the records he is projected to break.
  • Manning’s five regular season MVP awards.

The pro Brady crowd counters with:

  • The three Superbowl wins.
  • That Brady never had the offensive weapons that Manning had.
  • In the one year Brady had Randy Moss still in his prime, Brady put up incredible numbers and won one of his two regular season MVP awards.

But then the pro manning crowd would counter that Brady had the benefit of playing for arguably the best coach of all-time in Bill Belichick (and never had to play against him). And Brady played on teams with much better defenses.  They could also argue that defense and the field goal kicking of Adam Vinatieri played huge roles in the Superbowl wins.

Finally the Brady peeps would counter, Brady is clearly the better cold weather quarterback and better clutch player…

The thing about all of these points are; they are kind of true. But to say which one is better still comes down to a guess or an opinion. Empirically speaking, from a scientific perspective, the only way to definitively say who is better would have been to have cloned both players, all of their teammates, coaches, and stadiums they played in, and have the duplicates play with the same assets, liabilities, and conditions, at the same time, and see who performed better.

About the closest we may get to that is in a J.J. Abrams TV show. Barring that, have fun with this topic but don’t take it too seriously. Same goes with other QB comparisons. For those that bang the table and swear Joe Montana was the best ever, they’re saying that definitively if Peyton Manning or Tom Brady were QBing those 49er teams they would not have won those Superbowls. I’m not comfortable with that. Who knows, maybe they each would have won 4, 3, or 5? Remember, Montana had as many or more offensive weapons as Manning, had arguably the greatest offensive coach off all-time in Bill Walsh, father of the west coast offense, and played on teams with much better defenses than Manning and arguably as good or better than Brady’s.

Back to Manning V. Brady. So it is true that Manning has had more offensive weapons, but he always needed them, especially in Indianapolis. His defenses were not as good and some of his great teams also lacked the clutch kicking that Brady had in Vinatieri (until Vinatieri later signed with Indie). Mike Vanderjagt missed a huge 46 yard kick in the playoffs against Pittsburgh that Vinatieri doesn’t.  Conversely, in the infamous “tuck rule” playoff game Vinatieri made a 45 yard field goal in a blizzard.  Does that make Brady better than Manning?

So Manning had to score more and had to take more chances which inevitably leads to more mistakes because he could not trust his defense to make the stop or have his field goal kicker make the clutch kick like Brady could.

And for all of the talk we here about how much better the Patriots are when they have the injury prone tight end Rob Gronkowski in the lineup… The same could be said about the Indianapolis defense in the Manning days about Safety Bob Sanders, and how much better they were when the oft-injured player was on the field.  Better defense = would have meant more offensive possessions for Manning = less pressure to score on every possession.
None of that means I am decided in Manning over Brady. Brady is the consummate team player. Never complains and has been given less weapons than any “great” quarterback I have ever seen. Back in the day, those 80’s & 90’s 49er teams were hiring “capologists” to circumvent the cap. They would keep all of their great players and add others. It seems like the Patriots let go a key player or two every season and don’t always spend to the cap.  If the Patriots had the 49ers mentality of keeping and acquiring talent might Brady’s teams have won 5 Superbowls?  Inconceivably 6 or 7? This could have meant more regular season and SB MVPs for Brady and perhaps even another run at a perfect season.

Defense has been the priority for the Patriots and aside from the Moss year in 2007 when the Patriots went undefeated in the regular season, you can argue Brady has had the least weapons of any of the great quarterbacks, but has still put up impressive numbers of his own, and oh by the way 2 Superbowl MVPs and 3 wins overall.

I do think if Manning played for either Bill Walsh’s 49ers or Bill Belichik’s Patriots, those teams would have at least won the same amount of Superbowls. Conversely, if Brady played for Manning’s team’s I think his stats would closely resemble Manning’s.

So who would I pick? Well their stories aren’t done being written yet. Will Manning become the first QB to lead two different teams to SB wins? Will Brady get a fourth ring?

Don’t know. Not sure I care… I’d be doing back flips if I started a franchise and either was my starting QB in their prime. But not to cop-out on the question, if you put a gun to my head, if Manning wins a second Superbowl I would lean in his direction, if he doesn’t, depending on how it goes down, I would lean towards Brady.

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Want some stats (some serious, some fun) for the comparison?  Click here

History On The Side of Patriots With The Signing of Tim Tebow

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CBS Sports writer Pete Prisco tweets that: ” signing Tebow, (Tim) is Patriot arrogance at work”.  Not that the Patriots are incapable of arrogance, but in this case the label doesn’t apply.

History, in more ways than one, is what the Patriots have going for them with the apparent imminent signing of Tim Tebow.  First, let’s rewind the tape of the cacophony of criticism leveled at Tebow the quarterback.  Even amongst some of his most ardent detractors, such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, who said Tebow can’t throw, he’ll never be a quarterback in this league (NFL), etc, etc, many still agreed that he is:

  • An incredibly hard worker.
  • Very likable.
  • Great locker room guy.
  • A good football player, just not a quarterback.

That last one is kind of important.  You know, being a good football player.  While the haters enjoyed Tebow not getting any free agent offers after being released by the NY Jets, even they would admit it was due, in part, to rumors that he was insisting on being signed as a quarterback only.  That if Tebow agreed to play another position he could draw more interest.

Well guess what “sources” are saying about Tebow in New England?  That, in addition to being a third string QB, he will see some time at tight end, possibly fullback and special teams .

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New England Patriot head coach Bill Belichik & Urban Meyer

Now, to Patriot history in particular.  Tebow played for Urban Meyer at Florida.   A Bill Belichik guy.  Patriot offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted him out of college when he was the coach of the Denver Broncos.  Right or wrong, those types of connections mean something within the fraternity of sports.  Taking a chance on a player when guys you know and trust vouch for them, that “outsiders” might not be high on, is not new.  Tebow is not the first or last player to benefit from this.

It’s neither Tebow’s, nor the Patriots’ fault that the media chooses to cover the signing of a versatile third string quarterback to the extent that it is.  And the move should not be judged on that basis.

Unlike Tebow’s other two stops, there will be no quarterback controversy here.  Even the most fervent Tebow fans will never confuse Kyle Orton and Mark Sanchez with the Golden Boy, Tom Brady.  That alone will reduce the much feared and talked about “circus” affect that Tebow brings.  Belichik’s experience in dealing with the potential for circus type distractions will take care of much of the rest.  This isn’t arrogance.  It is history.

As pointed out by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, signing him now is no lock that he makes the roster.  Although I think he will.  Aside from how Tebow can possibly help on game day, there is also that new flavor of the month offense that teams are employing called the read option… Something Tebow can help them prepare for in practice.

When you consider that:

  • There is no QB controversy.
  • That Tebow brings a versatile skill set not typical of a third string QB.
  • That he’s not costing them much.
  • That he is a great locker room guy.
  • That the Patriots are perhaps the most stable organization in football, capable of weathering a potential distraction of the move working or not.

The potential upside outweighs the potential down.  And that, is what we call a good move.

What Carson Palmer Proves About Tim Tebow

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So the Oakland Raiders acquired Matt Flynn from the Seattle Seahawks to be their new starting quarterback.  Thus the Carson Palmer era ends in Oakland after a mere 25 games and his trade to the Arizona Cardinals.

And just to refresh everyone, when the Raiders traded for Palmer he was retired.  They gave up a first round draft pick and a conditional 2nd round pick that could have been another first round pick had Oakland made the playoffs.  And just for good measure they renegotiated Palmer’s contract and paid him 12.5 million for 2012 season

What does this have to do with Tim Tebow?  Well,  all of this Palmer activity was going on in the middle of the Tebow S—t storm.  When the 25th pick of the first round was being treated with more reverence then the arc of the covenant in the movie Raiders of The Lost Arc.

Look, I’m on record as saying Tebow was a reach as the 25th pick of the first round of his draft.  But the hysteria and hate thrown his way as a result of that pick, and the criticism leveled at the Denver Broncos for selecting him, was way over the top.  I have never heard the degree of scrutiny and value placed on a 25th pick before or since.

But then came the Raiders, giving up one and potentially two number one picks for Palmer, a retired quarterback, who never quite played the same post his playoff injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I thought this was a horrible move for the Raiders.  At best they looked to be a first round playoff loser.  Ultimately they did not make the playoffs.  And now that the Raiders are parting ways with Palmer, as Darth Vader said to Luke Skywalker in Return of The Jedi, their failure is complete.

However, the Raiders were never ripped for making the Palmer move in the first place anywhere close to what Denver was.  Now that the move is a bust they’re still not getting ripped.  Oh by the way, the first round pick the Raiders traded for Palmer turned out to be # 17!

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Steven A. Smith, Chris Carter, and moderator Jay Crawford debate with Skip Bayless

ESPN talking head Skip Bayless received a lot of criticism for his dramatic defense of Tebow.  It was seen as exploitive and for ratings and attention.  I disagree with Skip frequently and certainly didn’t agree with everything he had to say about Tebow, but you can make a case that his defense was triggered OR perpetuated by the disproportionate amount of hate and criticism leveled at Tebow and Denver.

You can argue it is a chicken or the egg debate.  Did Tebow supporters ignite the haters or vice versa.  Maybe in retrospect it was a little of both, with neither side willing to let it go.

Interestingly, with the success of RG III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, perhaps former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels had the right idea with Tebow, but didn’t survive long enough as coach to put it to the test.  What we have seen of Tebow suggests he does not have the skill set of those other players to pull it off.

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However, with a draft history littered with over reaches and busts, what the Palmer/ Tebow comparison suggests to me is that Tebow’s religion and race played a role in the Tebow mania, hysteria, controversy or whatever you want to call it.

It would be unfair of me to pin it all on that so I won’t.  First, some opinions were grounded in sports analysis.  Others overstated it for ratings.  Further, draft analysts like to be right.  I’ll paraphrase former NFL quarterback and Tebow supporter Doug Flutie, he said as much when he stated on ESPN’s First Take:  “If you make a safe mistake or pick who they think is right, you’re okay”.  In other words, make an unsafe mistake by going against their almighty draft board picks, and to borrow a word from Tebow’s religion, they crucify you.

Calm down kids.  Remember it’s just a game.

How The Patriots Are Wrong On Wes Welker

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The New England Patriots are the Teflon organization of the NFL.  They seemingly can do no wrong.  With the exception of Spygate, in which it can be argued they got off light, everything they do gets described as being part of the mystique of “The Patriot Way”.

In the past, if the Patriots pass on a free agent “troublemaker” like a Terrell Owens… that’s The Patriot Way.  If they sign and rehab a “troublemaker” like Randy Moss and it works out, that’s The Patriot Way.  If it doesn’t work out and they cut him (Albert Hanesworth & Chad Johnson) that’s The Patriot Way…

Bill Belichick is such a genius that even when things don’t work out, there is still a plan that we Neanderthals just don’t understand.  Never mind that the Patriots’ best “plan” is to play in the crappy AFC East with their ticket is all but stamped to go to the playoffs every year.

welker1Prior to the 2012 season Wes Welker wanted a three-year contract for 22 million.   He earned 9.5 mill for 2012 after receiving the franchise tag.  If you add the two-year 12 million the Denver Broncos just gave him to that, it equals 21.5 million for three seasons.  A difference of 500 thousand.

Considering that even the high and mighty Patriots couldn’t look you in the eyes and say Welker didn’t outperform his last contract, that is a more than fair evaluation.  Is anybody going to say Welker, who had 118 catches last season and led the league in receptions three of the last six seasons isn’t worth that?

If for no other reason than your star quarterback, Tom Brady, who just renegotiated his contract with you to, you know, keep players like Welker, the Patriots should have improved on their last 2 year 10 million offer.  Brady and Welker have great chemistry on and off the field that is worth keeping together, especially given the injury history of star tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

Instead, the Patriots gave a longer contract for similar dollars to Danny Amendola .  Another injury prone player.  But he has Welker potential?  I didn’t know the Patriots were in the potential business?   I thought they play to win Superbowls every year.  Especially when the dollars are that close.  Are you kidding me?

And what about the Patriot fans?  Fans can mostly understand letting a player go if the finances are out of whack or the player is making unreasonable demands.  But two years and 12 million?  Really?

One day the NY Yankees dynasty of the nineties will celebrate lifers and players who retired in their uniform, and bleeding their colors.  Players like Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill and many more… The Patriots?  Where have you gone Adam Vineteri, Richard Seymour, Lawyer Malloy, Wes Welker and more…  Disloyalty under the guise of running a business is also “The Patriot Way”.

I know I’m not nearly as smart as Belichick or Patriot owner Robert Kraft, but you guys out thought yourselves on this one.  You could have had a future hall of famer, fan favorite and still highly productive player and you don’t.  Because of The Patriot Way.

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Robert Kraft has a reputation for being a great guy.  He might be, but there is no getting around the fact that he looks to exploit many of his players for as much and as long as he can.  And when it is time to offer them fair value?  Not over-payment, but fair value, he discards them without much regard to the loyalty and effort of the player, or the attachment of the fan to the player.  Given the contract that Welker signed, and the speed with which they signed his replacement, I find Kraft’s comments about wanting Welker to be a Patriot for life disingenuous.

I guess if you’re a Patriot fan you root for Tom Brady and a bunch of clothes…

The Super Bowl In The Northeast? It’s A No-Brainer

***The blog below was originally posted on 2/13/13 on: http://sportsnuthub.com/   The site is no longer up so I am re-posting on my personal blog.

metlifestadiumJust as instant replay was long overdue by the time the NFL adopted it, so too is it overdue to play the super bowl in the big bad northeast and other cold climates.  Still a year away, the sports world is abuzz with the 2014 big game being scheduled at MetLife stadium in New Jersey.

I’m excited about it.  And so should fans of cold weather teams who don’t play in domes.  Why?  Because for the first time since the SB’s inception these fans can dream about the possibility of their team playing at home in the big game.

The two main reasons being offered as to why the super bowl should not be held in cold weather include:

  • You don’t want the game decided by bad weather and the elements.
  • The super bowl is not just a game it is an event and the weather could wreak havoc for travelers and the events leading up to the game.
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Lambeau Field’s nickname “The Frozen Tundra” was spawned by the Ice Bowl between the Packers & the Cowboys, played on December 31, 1967. Source: http://tinyurl.com/bkjgwj6

If the first reason were true then football should never be played in cold weather, and all cold weather cities should be required to have a dome stadium.  Not going to happen, nor should it.  Football’s history is rich in cold weather tradition.  Does the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field ring any bells?

 

 

In essence, changing the rules or standards of play for the final game is ridiculous and unfair.  If it is okay for the 1981 San Diego Chargers to lose a conference championship game in –59 degrees with wind-chill, its okay for the super bowl to possibly be played with some snowflakes and cold.

Oftentimes, teams will build their franchise around: their stadium, the climate, or team strengths.  As a fan of northeast football growing up the saying was: passing is fine in September but to win in December and January you have to be able to run the ball.  By denying the cold locations its fair turn in the SB, you’re manipulating the game’s outcome.

Imagine if this year’s MVP, Adrian Peterson, and comeback player of the year, Peyton Manning, were to square off in next year’s super bowl.  If the game is in Miami, clear advantage to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.  Since the game is in New Jersey with cold and windy conditions?  That tips the scale to Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings.

Till now, the passing teams have always had the unearned advantage in the super bowl and that is not fair.  Now the door is open for each team to have a lottery ticket with regards to the surface, and the conditions, playing to their advantage in the year they make it to the SB.

Another question I have is when did this collision sport, football, become so pristine?

Baseball doesn’t put the World Series in a dome so wind blowing in or out of the stadium doesn’t cause or rob home runs– thus having an effect on the game’s outcome.

Tennis, “a gentleman’s game”, determines two of its four major championships, Wimbledon and The French Open, on clay and grass.  Two surfaces that can give uneven bounces and can be inconsistent.  But tennis doesn’t switch to a hard court for the finals to get a truer bounce and prevent a bad bounce from determining anything.

As for the SB being an “event” not suited for cold weather, I have two words for you:  Winter Olympics.  Somehow people manage to go where the games are and rough the elements.

I suppose we could hold the Winter Olympics in June or in California but then it wouldn’t be the Winter Olympics!  What it boils down to is football a warm or cold weather sport?

The truth is, it is a great game in both and there is no reason to ignore the cold weather dome-less cities.  It will bring a new exciting buildup to the game, and lord knows the talking heads need some new angles to talk about.

Besides, with this year’s power outage in New Orleans, the possibility of earthquakes in California, (see the 1989 world series) and the fact that more storms hit Florida than any other state, there are no guarantees no matter where you play the game.  To avoid the cold out of fear is UN-NFL like, and UN-American.

An actual trivial third reason I heard ESPN’s Colin Cowherd talking about on the radio is:  what about the halftime show and the notion you can’t do it in cold weather.  The halftime show?  Really??  Too Cowherd’s credit, he nailed the response here when he commented that the show doesn’t have to be at the stadium.  Cut to Radio City, cut to the planet Mars, just don’t let halftime show considerations get in the way of what is right.

Final thought on the 2014 super bowl being played in the home of the New York Football Giants: to quote, Bart Scott,  “Can’t Wait”.

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About the Author:

Jeff Schubert

Formally the host/executive producer of the live web show Filmnut, http://thestream.tv/filmnut, Jeff Schubert now turns his research and writing abilities to sports. In the last couple of years, Schubert started a sports blog on Yahoo and WordPress.  Schubert grew up in New York City where he became a fan of the empire (N.Y Yankees) at an early age. The New York Football Giants would soon become his favorite team lead by his favorite athlete, Phil Simms. His favorite sports are Pro football, baseball, basketball, and tennis. As a blogger, Schubert is no homer. Nor does he just stick to writing about players and teams. Like many other fan of sports, the arrogance the blowhards on TV and radio display gets on his nerves. They think they know more then they really do and they need to be held accountable… And then God said let there be a blogosphere!