Whew. Lots of stuff today…because, after all, real football has returned. At least, in the form of OTAs.
I’d like to give you a bunch of links with little commentary to start with, because there’s something in particular I’d like to get off my chest. These articles pretty much explain themselves.
Next, the media assesses the action. Chase Daniel is looking good. Drew Brees, oddly enough, was missing. The Saints are experimenting with the defensive line. And they may cut back on all the blitzing. That’s because they’re learning the ways of Spags. (I wonder if he hates that nickname.)
In national news, DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFLPA, accused the NFL of being a cartel.
“A cartel is a formal agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization where there is a small number of sellers and usually involve homogeneous products. Cartel members may agree on such matters as price fixing, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these. The aim of such collusion (also called the cartel agreement) is to increase individual members’ profits by reducing competition.” [Wikipedia]
Sorry, DeMaurice, that’s a real stretch. I mean, to call the NFL a formal organization of competing teams all selling the same product and setting prices…I can’t see it.
Andrew Juge has an interview with former Saints fullback Mike Carney, one of the real good guys.
And Wang has a thoughtful, balanced assessment of the state of sports journalism in New Orleans—specifically, the crew over at Nola.com, and in particular Jeff Duncan and James Varney. But frankly, there’s something about it I just don’t get:
“Personally, I don’t buy into the notion that they’re lazy or otherwise unprofessional, and I agree with Varney that those assertions are out of line.”
“I’ve got a hunch that they’re not all that interested in separating the wheat from the chaff and heeding the legitimate feedback…”
In other words: they’ve been lazy and unprofessional.
Your trouble, Wang, is that you’re so damn polite and considerate. You need to learn to just cut loose every once in awhile.
And finally, in the opinion of John Czarnecki of Fox Sports, Drew Brees is blowing it. He’s totally overestimated his value to the New Orleans Saints, and he’d better get his ass in gear quick and sign a realistic contract, one that places him in the second tier, below Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Aaron Rodgers.
Okay, I understand Czarnecki is full of shit. He probably found himself up against a deadline, figured he needed to pull some extra page views, and settled on an easy target. But just in case anyone is tempted to undervalue Brees because of Czarnecki’s say-so, here’s why he’s full of shit.
First, check this out:
“Brees is great for the Saints, and vice versa. But I’m not convinced he would be great in every NFL offense. And there’s the rub. Size and strength do matter in the NFL, and Brees is barely 6 feet tall. Manning is 6-5, Brady 6-4. Brees hates hearing that, but those are important measurements in every NFL personnel department. Brees might say he has outplayed his height, but it’s the sole reason he was a second-round pick.”
Is that the system, John? The “short quarterback offense”? Are you trying to claim here that Payton’s system requires a petite signal caller? No? Then how in hell does Brees’ height have anything to do with it? Other than the fact that, yes, he outperformed taller quarterbacks?
Then there’s this:
“Yes, Brees would be valuable to teams without a quality quarterback, but they all would have to adjust their offense to what has been successful in New Orleans and do it the Sean Payton way.”
Whoa, hold on there, chief. There’s this guy, and his name is Peyton Manning…oh, right, you know about him, you’ve mentioned him already. He’s one of the all-time greats, right? And now he plays for Denver—which has adjusted their offense to what had been successful in Indianapolis, so they can do it the Peyton Manning way. So why isn’t Manning a “system quarterback”? Because he’s tall?
Then there’s the comparison with Dan Marino:
To me, Brees is a product of the Saints’ remarkable offensive system, one designed by Payton to utilize his quick-strike strengths, his ability to roll out and his mind to remember every detail of the offense. Yes, he shattered Dan Marino’s single-season passing record with 5,476 yards in 2011, but I can’t honestly say that Brees is a better quarterback than Marino, whose physical skills and quick release put him on a different level. Brees could beat Marino in a foot race, but that’s about it.
I got some hot news for you, John: my sofa could beat Marino in a foot race. Marino—one of my all-time favorite quarterbacks, mind you—had one outstanding physical skill, and one only: his arm. Brees beats him in everything else. Most quarterbacks beat him in everything else. Joey Harrington, David Carr, and even Byron Leftwich were more athletic than Marino. Look what happened to them. And do you know why they didn’t work out, John? Because, in football terms, they were idiots. They couldn’t master a playbook, couldn’t read defenses, couldn’t make instantaneous correct decisions, which is just as important as being able to drop a football into a bucket at forty yards—which Brees can also do.
What’s more, Brees didn’t just break Marino’s yardage record. He’s the only quarterback who’s thrown for over 5,000 yards twice. And yeah, they throw a lot in Payton’s offense, but you don’t get to 5,000 yards without being wicked efficient. Guess who set the NFL record for completion percentage in 2009? Guess who broke his own record last season?
And guess who is only a few short games away from breaking Johnny U’s record for consecutive games with a touchdown, the record the NFL Network rated the #1 record that would never be broken? That’s right: Drew Brees, system quarterback extraordinaire.
But the best quarterback, for my money, was a skinny guy with no outstanding arm strength, who had to rely on his mind, his ability to roll out, and his coach’s brilliant offensive game plans. His name was Joe Montana. You might remember him. Joe Montana, system quarterback extraordinaire.
You’re an idiot, Czarnecki. And Benson, you’re an idiot too, if you don’t get Brees signed. Because here’s the real bottom line: it doesn’t matter how well, or poorly, Brees might play for any other team. He’s not going to be playing for any other team: he’s going to be playing for the New Orleans Fucking Saints, for the rest of his career if we’re lucky. So we don’t have to worry about any other system but our own. And in that system, on that team, he is priceless.