The Pick Your Cornerstone QB Debate… I Want to Live in Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood

January 17, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Optimist Prime.

Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, or Mark Sanchez?

In the TV hit game show Million Dollar Money Drop, if those are my four options, I’m putting the whole $1M on Aaron Rodgers.

It’s that simple. If I am running a professional football team with just one game left to win, and those are my four options, Aaron Rodgers is the guy I want under center, and for good reason. In the three seasons since taking over Green Bay’s drivers’ seat after what’s-his-name left, Rodgers has become one of the brightest young stars in the NFL.

In just a quick comparison between Rodgers and the guy he took over for (I think his name was Brett something… Favre, that’s it!) through their first three seasons as starters for the Packers:

  • Rodgers started 47 games, Favre started 47 games
  • Rodgers passed for 12,394 yards, Favre passed for 10,412 yards
  • Rodgers passed for 86 TDs, Favre passed for 70 TDs
  • Rodgers passed for 31 interceptions, Favre passed for 51 interceptions
  • Rodgers led the Pack to a combined record of 27-20, Favre’s record was 26-19

That’s right. Rodgers has already started off his career better than the greatest quarterback statistically to ever play the game. But the fact that he is already off to a better career than Favre at this point is only part of the reason why I would choose Rodgers as the field general leading my team into battle.

The REAL reason why Rodgers is the ONLY man I would want taking snaps for my team is not how he performs in the regular season, but how he performs in the post-season.

In three playoff appearances so far Rodgers has passed for 969 yards (323 yards per game average) with 10 touchdowns and only one interception. Oh yeah, he also has two rushing scores to add to that total.

It doesn’t matter who is on the field with him, Aaron Rodgers will find a way to get the ball into the end zone.

This season Rodgers has had to find ways to win without his Pro Bowl running back, Ryan Grant, and his favorite target, Tight End Jermichael Finley. Still, he managed to win games. Now he is leading the Packers into the NFC Championship Game as the hottest quarterback still playing.

Aaron Rodgers has already outgunned Michael Vick and Matt Ryan, two of the so-called top quarterbacks in the NFC. With those two out of the picture, and Tom Brady having fallen to the New York Jets, there is no quarterback left standing that can match Rodgers’ performance on the field.

Rodgers may not have the resume of Ben Roethlisberger, or the supporting cast of superstars like Mark Sanchez has in LaDanian Tomlinson and S’Antonio Holmes, but if I need one guy to win one game for me, Aaron Rodgers is that guy!

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The 2010 Michael Vick for MVP Debate Verdict

November 30, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

the micha

How ironic that I am writing about one of the best quarterbacks in football as I watch a Monday Night Football matchup that features two of the worst quarterbacks in football.

The Cardinals and 49ers this season have been a revolving door at the quarterback position, as guys like Matt Leinart, David Carr, Alex Smith, Max Hall, Troy Smith, and Derek Anderson have all at one time or another been tagged as the “starter” for these two franchises. Although it is unlikely that we will hear the names Derek Anderson or Troy Smith brought up in MVP conversations anytime soon, when this season kicked off they probably would have been considered HEAVY favorites over a guy like Michael Vick.

But here we are, week 12 is now in the books, and Michael Vick is performing as one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

There is no denying the impact he has had on the field for the Philadelphia Eagles this season. His performance has almost assuredly earned him many accolades already – team MVP, Pro Bowl, and as Loyal Homer suggested, Comeback Player of the Year. But league MVP?

Babe Ruthless, despite an obvious dislike for Michael Vick the man, feels that his successes on the field simply cannot be ignored when discussing the players who are worthy of being named the most valuable. Considering some direct comparisons between Vick and his counterpart, Kevin Kolb, it is nearly impossible to deny just how valuable Vick has been to his team.

Both quarterbacks got an opportunity to face the Washington Redskins this season. For his part, Kolb was 22 of 35 for 201 yards, one TD and one pick, while Vick, just six weeks later, went 20 of 28 for 333 yards, four TDs, no INTs, and added another two rushing TDs just for good measure.

Clearly, Vick is a difference-maker on the field.

But the Washington Redskins’ defense is not the barometer by which MVPs are measured, and even as well as Vick has played in each of his appearances this season, Loyal Homer does not want MVP voters to forget that Vick has essentially been a part-time quarterback.

To Loyal Homer’s point, it is hard to overlook the fact that Vick has finished less than 60 percent of the Eagles’ games so far this season. Vick has been outstanding, but guys like Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Arian Foster have been equally outstanding (although maybe not as flashy), and have sustained it over a longer period of time than has Vick.

Philip Rivers, for example, is on pace not only for a career best in passing yards for a season, but realistically could put up an all-time NFL best total for the category, having already thrown for 3,362 yards in only 11 games this season. Vick, meanwhile, comes in more than 1,000 yards fewer than that total at 1,941. There are also four quarterbacks in the NFL currently tied for the league lead with 23 TD passes (Rivers, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees). Vick has just slightly more than half of that total with 13.

I’m not one to put a lot of stock in statistics, normally, but differences like that are very difficult to disregard when we are discussing the top performers of an entire season, and so I am awarding this verdict to Loyal Homer.

I just do not feel that Vick deserves consideration for the MVP award in 2010. His value to the Eagles may be immense, but he simply did not have to sustain his performance over a long enough time to truly be compared with Rivers, Brady, etc.

In baseball this season Kansas City Royals pitcher Bruce Chen posted a batting average of 1.000. In fact, Chen has been carried that 1.000 since 2006. He only had one at bat in 2010, and has a total of only three at bats in the last four years, but over that time his average has been perfect. Does that make him better than Josh Hamilton, who sustained a .359 average over more than 500 at bats?

I do not in any way mean to diminish Vick’s performance, but who is to say that he would have remained at the top of the QB ratings leaderboard (or any statistical leaderboard) if he played the additional games against the Redskins, 49ers, Falcons, and Titans? Who is to say that Vick would not have failed epically between weeks four and seven? We will never know.

When recognizing the league’s most valuable player, there can be no room for speculation. The winner has to have been DEFINITIVELY the best over the entire season, and Michael Vick simply cannot state a definitive case.

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The 2010 Michael Vick for MVP Debate

November 28, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer.

Since taking over for an injured Kevin Kolb during week one of the season, Michael Vick has stormed back into the spotlight as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks. Entering into yesterday’s matchup against the Chicago Bears, he carried the league’s best quarterback rating at 108.7, and still had not thrown for a single interception all season.

Despite throwing his first interception of the season in a loss against the Bears yesterday, his individual performance over the course of the game remained on par with the rest of his season.

There is little doubt that Vick will be named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl squad at the end of the season and, assuming he remains healthy, is very likely to lead the Eagles into the post-season as one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

But, does he deserve consideration for the league’s MVP award?

While it is true that Vick has been exceptional when on the field, it is important to note that he has not been on the field all that long. He was not the season’s starter for the Eagles, and after leaving the game early in week four with an injury, he did not return to the field until five weeks later.

So, the question for today’s debate is: To this point in the season, does Michael Vick’s performance earn him consideration for the NFL MVP award?

At this point in the season, I think it is safe to assume that the Philadelphia Eagles may have been a good team WITHOUT Michael Vick at starting quarterback, but WITH him they are one of the best teams in the NFL. And, as Babe Ruthless will argue, his presence makes such an impact on the field that he absolutely MUST be considered for the award, regardless of the fact that he missed a couple games due to an injury.

Meanwhile, Loyal Homer will argue that Vick’s performance, albeit outstanding, must be taken in context. Even if he finishes the season healthy he STILL would have missed a full 25 percent of his team’s games this season when players like Philip Rivers, Arian Foster, and Tom Brady have been equally vital to their teams’ success, and they will have played the ENTIRE season to this point.

Can you be the league’s most valuable player when you did not even play the entire season? We are about to find out.

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The Best Game of THIS Weekend Debate… Pats Jetting to 2-0?”

September 17, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek.

The battle of the border is back in a big way. There has never been any love lost between the New England Patriots and New York Jets, but here lately the rivalry has intensified. Over the past several season, from Spygate to Tom Brady’s public profession of “hate” for Gang Green, it seems the Patriots and Jets are doing their best Red Sox-Yankees routine. So when the Pats make their first trip to the New Meadowlands Stadium, likely with hopes of extending a run of road dominance over a plucky Jets team, it’s immediately a top contender for game of the week.

Teams with Something to Prove

Before the season started there were several questions swirling around Foxboro that figured to undermine the Patriots effectiveness this season. Like, could the Patriots function despite the distraction of the looming contract situations of Tom Brady and Randy Moss? Would the young Patriots defense make the necessary growth to be serious playoff contenders? And, would Wes Welker be able to contribute before season’s end? Well, with week one in the books it appears those answers are yes, yes, and yes. Now a lethal Patriots team, which has won eight out of nine road games against the Jets, looks to march into the Empire State and prove they are the team to beat in the AFC East.

The Jets, however, have different plans. New York started the season with a tough loss on Monday Night Football to the Baltimore Ravens. It was a game in which sophomore quarterback Mark Sanchez completed just ten passes for 74 yards and zero touchdowns, and the Jets ground game appeared equally pedestrian. But everyone knows that Gang Green’s claim to fame has been solid defense, and with the return of shutdown corner Darrelle Revis from a holdout hiatus, New York looks ready to mix it up with Tom Brady and company. This Sunday may mark the first home win in the team’s new stadium, potentially ushering in the beginning of a new era in the New England-New York rivalry.

Marquee Matchup: Moss versus Revis

One of the most interesting storylines leading into this game is the matchup of elite wide receiver Randy Moss and shutdown corner Revis. During last week’s matchup against the Bengals, Moss was quiet, posting a respectable, but not mind-blowing, five catches for 59 yards and no TDs. While one unexplosive week from Moss is not necessarily cause for alarm, it should be viewed in the greater context – the aging of the Patriots. At 3, Moss is not getting any younger, and a slight reduction in productivity at his age is not unimaginable. Add to that the fact that Moss is unhappily entering the final year of his current contract with no deal from the Patriotss in sight, and this could be the first signs of a potential problem for Patriots’ passing game. This Sunday’s game will give Moss a chance to prove he’s still got it by taking on one of the greatest defenders in the game.

Moss will certainly be motivated for the showdown. What remains to be seen, however, is whether he will get the opportunity to showcase his skills against A) Darrelle Revis, one of the league’s best defensive backs or B) Darrelle Revis, unprepared cornerback suffering from holdout hangover. Now that Revis is back from his 36 day holdout, he appears to be ailing from some hamstring tightness that has limited him in practice. In the week two clash between the Patriots and Jets last season, Revis limited Moss to just four catches for 24 yards, and statements by Rex Ryan have indicated that if Revis is ready on game day he will get his chance at a repeat performance and be asked to cover Moss all day. Revis even added fuel to the fire by dubbing Moss a “slouch” for his underachieving performance last season. This has certainly hyped up the showdown and figures to add drama to an already great rivalry.

War of Words

Even more hype has been added to the Patriots-Jets rivalry as of late because of public statements made by members of both teams. It all started when Tom Brady was asked if he watched the HBO series “Hard Knocks,” a series that followed the Jets throughout training camp. His answer, “I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show” didn’t sit well with many of the Meadowlands faithful. Jets head coach Rex Ryan even retorted, “Hell, he knows we hate the Patriots so what’s the difference… join the club.”

There’s a lot at stake for each team. The Jets look to shake a rough start and prove they are Super Bowl bound, while the Patriots look to put upstart rivals back in their place. It figures to be a very physical football game with plenty of aggression on both sides of the ball. In other words, it’s the type of game that reminds guys why they like football in the first place.

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The All Time Greatest Colts Quarterback Debate… The Greatest QB Who Ever Lived

August 10, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback that ever lived, and that’s a fact. Well, maybe it’s not a fact, but it’s an opinion based on fact. An opinion I can seriously not overstate. You might ask, “Just how good is Peyton Manning?” I’ll tell you. But brace yourself because the answers may be shocking.

Peyton Manning’s football prowess is so blindingly brilliant that doctors recommend watching him play through a pin hole in a sheet of paper. Mathematicians have declared his passes the only perfect arches that occur in nature. Physicists have even speculated that if he throws a football hard enough in the exact opposite direction of the earth’s rotation he can actually turn back time, like at the end of the Superman movie. In my not so humble opinion, Peyton Manning is the greatest football player in the history of mankind.

Throughout his career he has drawn comparisons to other great quarterbacks, especially Johnny Unitas. Both he and Johnny U have been hugely successful, record setting quarterbacks for the Colts. The comparison comes naturally. Each man is an icon in their own right. But in comparing legacies, Manning stands alone.

Unitas will forever be remembered as a revolutionary of the game. His innovative approach to the passing game paved the way for the stars of today, but he simply cannot measure up to Peyton Manning. In terms of franchise records, there is no doubt that Manning is superior. He owns practically every Colt’s franchise passing record – including passing yards, passing touchdowns, attempts, completions, and completion percentage – an impressive feat considering how high Unitas set the bar. Even more impressive still is the fact that Manning has succeeded in today’s faster, more intense version of professional football. Modern athletes are bigger, faster, and stronger than they were in Unitas’ day. So while Manning would have absolutely owned the 1950s and 1960s, the same cannot necessarily be said of Unitas in the late 20th and early 21st Century.

When it comes to league-wide accolades the two are neck and neck, but Manning still has the edge in a close one. Both quarterbacks have been selected to an impressive ten Pro Bowls. They both have one Super Bowl victory a piece to their credit, but Manning also has the honor of being the Super Bowl MVP. Admittedly, Unitas has a couple of NFL World Championships to his credit, but that’s not 100 percent comparable to the Super Bowl since the AFL and NFL were not yet combined and competing against each other for an undisputed title yet. Unitas did beat out Manning in terms of All-Pro selections with six to Manning’s five, but Manning trumped Unitas in the more prestigious category of AP NFL MVP awards. Manning stands alone with a record four league MVP awards compared to Unitas’ three. While Unitas hangs with Manning almost tit-for-tat in awards, Manning usually seems to win in the bigger, flashier categories.

But the most compelling argument comes in comparing their best years, where Peyton Manning seemingly dwarfs Johnny Unitas. In 1959 Johnny Unitas set a career high scoring 32 touchdowns and compiling 2,899 passing yards. Four years later, in 1963, he established another career benchmark throwing for 3,481 yards and 20 touchdowns. Even combining Unitas’ career high marks together, as if they were accomplished in the same season, his statistics become pedestrian feats when compared to what Peyton Manning does on a routine basis. On three separate occasions – 2000, 2004, and 2009 – Manning eclipsed both single-season highs for Unitas the 32 TDs and the 3,481 yards. There has never been a season in Manning’s career when he threw for fewer yards than Unitas’ best season.

Peyton Manning’s best season came in 2004 when he threw for 4,557 yards and scored a then NFL record 49 TDs. This aerial barrage was a campaign for the ages. Manning’s TD record has only been surpassed by Tom Brady, who scored only one more TD than Manning (50) during the 2007 season. But even Touchdown Tom doesn’t stand up to Manning in the long run. Aside from Brady’s record breaking 2007, he has never eclipsed the 30 TD threshold… something Manning has done five times in his still relatively short career. While this debate isn’t about Brady, it speaks volumes that Manning’s numbers are consistently better than the current NFL record holder.

So when it comes to statistics, just about the only number that Unitas has that is greater than Manning is the one on his Jersey, where Manning wears 18 but Unitas donned 19). But, if you look at it in golf terms, not surprisingly Manning wins again.

In the intro to this debate Bleacher Fan asked who we would choose to lead our team. Undoubtedly it’s Manning. The guy has not only broken Unitas’ franchise record, he has set NFL milestones. He puts up stat lines that would be career years for most quarterbacks, past and present, nearly every season. He also does it with charisma. Peyton Manning is surely the greatest Colt’s quarterback of all time.

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The Extending the NFL Season Debate… Too Much of A Good Thing Is A Bad Thing

June 24, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

There seems to be a growing sentiment to not only cut back on the NFL preseason schedule, but to expand the regular season schedule to 18 games. Last August we had a debate revolving around the validity of even having a preseason at all. I argued that it was necessary while Bleacher Fan argued that it was totally unnecessary. Now, we’re discussing expanding the current 16 game schedule to 18 games. Let me go on record again – this is a bad idea.

Obviously, injuries come into play here. As it stands now, NFL locker rooms can often be mistaken for MASH units during Week 17. If players aren’t seriously hurt with serious injuries like torn ACLs, then they are hobbling around with nagging injuries like sprained ankles and sore shoulders. By Week 19, those ankles could end up broken and those shoulders could end up separated. Tom Brady and Ray Lewis have separately addressed the issue, citing injuries to the players. I hesitate using Ray Lewis, of all people, to make a point. But, along with Brady, represents players who have had injuries over the course of their respective careers. In this particular instance his opinion carries a lot of weight with me. Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, whose opinion should carry weight with a lot of people, is opposed to expanding the regular season. He says, “In the preseason you’re involved with experimentation as a player, but in the regular season, that’s two more games in which you are hitting as hard as you can hit.”

According to the current proposal, two extra regular season games would replace two of the preseason games. That leaves two preseason games to get ready for an “extended” regular season. That essentially leaves less time for coaches to evaluate talent on the team. Coaching staffs have enough trouble trimming rosters from the players that start training camp to the roster limit of 53 players. It’s going to be that much more difficult to accurately choose the best players with two less games of evaluation of talent.

I am also am not convinced that an expanded regular season would put that much additional revenue in the pockets of owners. Obviously there would be some increase in revenue, but you can also expect the players to demand a higher salary if they have to put their body through two extra regular season games. As far as I am concerned, you might expect the training staff of each team to ask for a raise as they will be working that much harder. Also, Bleacher Fan said, as a Cleveland Browns season ticket holder, he was expected to buy tickets to the two home preseason games, along with the eight game regular season game. The preseason games are at full price. Therefore, the majority, if not all of the tickets for preseason games, are sold anyway. Where‘s the financial windfall there?

Expanding the regular season seems like a sexy idea. But, you know how you are very much enjoying that double scoop of chocolate ice cream? When you get done, the craving is not finished and you want more!!! Feed that craving!! Well, you end up getting that extra scoop. Unfortunately, after finishing that extra scoop, you feel miserable. You feel bloated! Why did you get that extra scoop of ice cream? It scars your wonderful thoughts of the first two scoops.

There’s no need to overdo it, and possibly damage something that is so good right now. As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And the NFL certainly ain’t broke.

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The Best 2009 NFL Wild Card Game Debate – Can Pats Win Without Welker?

January 6, 2010

Read the arguments from Sports Geek and Babe Ruthless about which NFL Wild Card game they believe is the best of this postseason.

It is the first round of the NFL playoffs. If you are a fan of one of the teams in the playoffs, you love this time of year. But even if you are a fan of the NFL without a team in the playoffs (like the four of us writers at TSD), then you still love this time of year because it is January football! I especially love January NFL games on Saturday! It fills the big void in my Saturday viewing schedule that had previously been occupied by college football. Rest assured, I will be watching some NFL football at some point Saturday. However, the game I am focusing on takes place on Sunday as the Baltimore Ravens take on the New England Patriots.

These two teams played each other back in Week four, but you can just throw that out the window with yesterday’s garbage because it should provide little to no blueprint for this game. For one thing, that game was played in September while this game will obviously be played in the much colder month of January. I am not sure what the game-time temperature was during that game, but you can bet it was significantly warmer than the high of 24 (expected as of Wednesday morning) for kickoff on Sunday. That is actually warm compared to what it is in some parts of the country today. You always hear the players say they get used to the cold weather once the game gets started. Who knows if that is 100 percent accurate!

As I am sure you all know by now, the Patriots lost wide receiver Wes Welker last week after he tore his ACL and MCL. Losing a guy with 123 catches (despite missing two earlier games) is a damaging loss for the Patriots. He is often the go-to guy for Tom Brady, and is able to open some things up for Randy Moss. But, as they say, the show must go on. While you cannot replace a guy like Welker, rookie Julian Edelman will sure try. Edelman is not some bum the Patriots front office picked up off the street Sunday. He had 37 catches this season, including ten last week.

The Ravens were able to secure a playoff bid after winning ugly in Oakland last week. This is a different team than the one from Week four. At that point, quarterback Joe Flacco was on fire, having thrown for over 800 yards in his first three games. But since then, he has cooled off and the 2009 version of Baltimore’s team has become more of the traditional Ravens team, with a strong defense and a strong running game.

Who knew running back Ray Rice was this good outside of the fine people at Rutgers? You may remember Rice from his playing days at Rutgers just a few years ago, but I would bet you did not think he’d turn into a versatile, Pro Bowl running back. He had nearly 2,000 yards from scrimmage (1,339 rushing and 702 receiving). He is the focal point of the Ravens offense, something few would have predicted back in August.

The Ravens have a real shot at the Pats this week. This is setting up to be the type of games the Ravens prefer – a tough, hardnosed, physical game in cold conditions. But, it’s still New England, and the team still has that aura about them, to some degree. I am definitely looking forward to seeing if Baltimore can pull off a mild upset in what I believe is the best Wild Card game of this weekend.

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