Posted on: August 17, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by Eye on Football staff
Well, we're a week into the preseason and that means we know everything about everyone. Or nothing at all. Whatever, we got our first glimpses of the NFL's newest rookie quarterbacks and that leads us to the question: What rookie quarterback will help his team the most?
Will Brinson: Go ahead and cue up about 15 "Panthers homer" comments in the next few paragraphs, but I don't care: Cam Newton. The guy's a freak-a-deak athlete with a firehose attached to his right shoulder and he's going to get a chance to produce. Unfortunately, that firehose thing can also be bad if Newton can't control his accuracy. And it's possible that Jimmy Clausen -- who looked better than terrible after he threw a pick six on his second passing attempt -- could be the safer option for Carolina. But Newton gets the fanbase amped and he's already shown exponential growth since we last saw him throwing passes. Putting him in the proverbial fire's the way to go and he'll be a difference maker for Carolina in both the stands and the field.
Josh Katzowitz: Will, I couldn't agree with you more. I don't know if Newton will help his team that much more on the field than Clausen would have -- I'm willing to bet heavily on the odds that there are going to be games when Newton is ABSOLUTELY terrible and people are going to be saying, "Yeah, buddy, the NFL is a little different than the limited offense you ran at Auburn, eh?" (these people, of course, will be Canadians who care way too much about SEC football) -- but as far as starpower is concerned, Newton is the one. I don't care if he privately looks at himself as an entertainer and an icon. He's got that huge smile and he's got that charisma, and eventually, the stink of whatever NCAA rules his dad might have violated will wash away.
That said, I don't think he's going to contend for any rookie of the year honors, because as the season goes along, defenses are going to begin to figure out Newton. Actually, I think the real answer to your question about which rookie will help his team the most will end up being Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, assuming he stays healthy behind that poor offensive line. Alex Smith will continue to be Alex Smith, and midway through the season, Jim Harbaugh will call upon Kaepernick to replace Smith and win a few games for the 49ers. And I think he'll do it, especially in the NFC West, hastening Smith's departure (which, when you think about it, might be the single biggest reason how Kaepernick impacts the team). Newton will help his franchise the most, but Kaepernick will help his team the most.
Ryan Wilson: We talked about it (at length, I might add) and Newton was impressive. I know, it's just one preseason game, but the guy's come a long way since February, the Auburn scandal, and the silly comments about being an entertainer and an icon.
And let's be honest, he's energized fans that had every reason to lose all hope and commit their energies to supporting NASCAR full time. That can't be understated. Winning is obviously the goal, but Panthers fans will find reasons for optimism if the Panthers can win five or six games. So in terms of therapeutic value for a downtrodden fan base, Newton is this season's most valuable QB.
But if we're talking about a QB who has a chance to play and help his team win enough games to battle for a playoff spot, I'm going with Christian Ponder. Partly because Myron Rolle thinks he's a genius, but also because Donovan McNabb has become a punchline in recent years. How long until he's yanked in favor of Ponder? Four weeks? Remember: this is the guy who not only lost his job to Rex Grossman last season, he was eventually demoted to third string behind John Beck, he of four career starts, all losses, all coming in 2007.
Brinson: Well, we're one full turn around the table and the only person we haven't talked about is the only guy who's virtually guaranteed to start Week 1: Andy Dalton.
So, um, yeaaaaaaah.
What does that say about the Bengals? (And why do I have the feeling Josh will try to defend them?) I guess it says either that "We don't respect Andy Dalton," "We forgot about Andy Dalton," or "Even if Andy Dalton was Peyton Manning, he wouldn't be saving the Bengals from certain doom in 2011."
Perhaps it's all three?
Wilson: I didn't mention Andy Dalton for the same reason I don't think about paying my mortgage every day: if I ignore it, it don't exist. It's a coping mechanism. In Dalton's case, it means I'm not constantly reminded of what the 2011 season inevitably holds for him: pain, misery, disappointment -- all words that have become synonymous with the Bengals in recent years.
(Just look what the madness did to even-keeled Carson Palmer -- it drove him right into retirement in what should be the prime of his career. Think about that for a minute. Things were so god-awful in Cincinnati that Palmer would rather sit around the house doing crosswords than get caught up in tiger-striped maelstrom for another season.)
While we shouldn't put too much stock in first-ever preseason performances, Dalton's got his introduction to big-boy football from, fittingly, Ndamukong Suh. And I feel that was just a preview of things to come in 2011 (for both Dalton and Suh). So, yeah, it's pretty easy to be down on Dalton, more because he's a victim of circumstance. Which is why I don't want to think about it.
Brinson: Thanks for the reminder on the mortgage payment, jerk. Speaking of which, if there's one thing that the Panthers, 49ers, Titans, Vikings, Jaguars and Bengals have in common it's that they mortgaged their future on the talents of the 2011 NFL Draft class. With that in mind, let's wrap up this puppy up by making a list -- how do you gents rank the rookies in terms of impact on the 2011 season? Here's mine. Don't copy it.
1. Cam Newton
2. Blaine Gabbert
3. Andy Dalton
4. Christian Ponder
5. Jake Locker
6. Colin Kaepernick
7. Ryan Mallet
8. Terrelle Pryor
Wilson: No matter the list -- or the topic -- one thing is assured: Brinson will put Cam Newton at the top of it. Panthers fan solidarity and whatnot.
Back on Earth...
1. Christian Ponder (He'll be starting before the end of Sept.)
2. Colin Kaepernick (See above)
3. Blaine Gabbert (He'll be starting before Halloween)
4. Cam Newton (The next Jimmy Clausen? JOKE. Clearly, he's the next Chris Weinke.)
5. Andy Dalton (Must've been a serial killer in a previous life to get stuck with this fate.)
6. Jake Locker (Should only play if Hasselbeck gets injured.)
7. Ryan Mallett (Bill Belichick is a genius. That is all.)
8. Terrelle Pryor (But he's a first-round pick!)
Katzowitz: Just in case, Will needs a reminder: Here's my takedown of Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis in that ridiculous news conference they called to announce that Lewis would return for another season, and here's what I wrote about the Bengals' lack of a practice bubble. I lived in Cincinnati for six years, but believe me when I say that I think the Bengals are an incompetent mess (though, personally, I think Mike Brown is a nice man).
My list (the correct one):
1. Colin Kaepernick (If Mike Singletary thought about replacing Alex Smith with David Carr (!) last season, Jim Harbaugh shouldn't have a problem replacing Smith with Kaepernick)
2. Christian Ponder (Because he's better than Rex Grossman, and since Grossman is better than Donovan McNabb ...)
3. Cam Newton (How disturbing would it be if Clausen actually won the starting job?)
4. Andy Dalton (He still has Cedric Benson to lean on)
5. Blaine Gabbert (I'm not sure he can beat out David Garrard, and I'm not sure Garrard will be bad enough this year to warrant starting Gabbert)
6. Jake Locker (Locker will get tons of help from Hasselbeck)
7. Ryan Mallett (He won't even beat out Brian Hoyer to be Brady's backup)
8. Terrelle Pryor (I don't know, maybe, he could be an effective NFL TE?)
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Tags: Alex Smith, Andy Dalton, Bill Belichick, Blaine Gabbert, Brian Hoyer, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Chris Weinke, Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, David Car, David Garrard, Donovan McNabb, Jake Locker, Jim Harbaugh, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Brown, Ndamukong Suh, NFL Roundtable, Peyton Manning, Rex Grossman, Ryan Mallett, Terrelle Pryor
Posted on: August 3, 2011 12:40 pm
Posted by Eye on Football Staff
Throughout the 2011 season we'll assemble our crew to discuss important NFL issues, Roundtable style. Though there are more pressing concerns for Philly right now, and though we've discussed this topic on the podcast, we want to know: Are the Eagles the NFL's version of the Miami Heat?
Will Brinson: The Philadelphia Eagles -- or, at least, Vince Young -- believe they're building the NFL's version of the Miami Heat. Obviously, this involves acquiring one of the top-five players at three-fifths of the starting positions on the roster? Oh wait, they didn't do that? Yeah, I don't think the analogy really works either.
That being said, I'm open to the idea that the Eagles are going out and turning themselves into villains while picking up all the biggest names in free agency. Or at least that they're putting a target squarely on their backs as we prepare for the 2011 season to start.
Josh Katzowitz: I find it awesome that it was Vince Young -- I mean, VINCE YOUNG!!! -- was the one who made the comparison. As if he's the key cog of that Dream Team that everybody in the league was trying to secure. I actually think Young gets a bad rap because of his attitude, because I think he's got talent and, most importantly, he's a proven winner. But in this case, he's the guy who's going to be holding the clipboard for Mike Vick. If this were the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, Young would be Christian Laettner. No, he'd be Christian Laettner's valet. Anyway, I don't see the Eagles as the villains. Unlike the Heat, this wasn't some kind of conspiracy. It's not like Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins decided to join forces because they're such good friends. It's not like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie somehow orchestrated the Kevin Kolb trade. And no matter what you think about Nnamdi Asomugha's intentions, he didn't ask for a one-hour national TV special to announce his decision. To me, the Eagles -- and Vince Young -- aren't the bad guys. They're just the guys who have pushed all their chips into the middle of the table and are trying to take down the pot with the best hand. Which, if the Eagles want to win a Super Bowl, is exactly what they needed to do.
Ryan Wilson: We talked about this on the Eye on Football podcast, but the Eagles can't be the NFL's version of the Miami Heat because if we're going down that road, the Jets have already done it. In the three offseasons Rex Ryan has been in New York he's yet to meet a player with more baggage than talent that he wouldn't acquire if he thought it meant more wins. The Eagles have Nnamdi and, well, that's about it for big-name talent. Rodgers-Cromartie is a nice player, but the Cardinals traded him for a reason. Vince Young, as Josh points out (and to tie this back in to the Cards) is who we thought he was. The Jets, meanwhile, have had LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie mosey through the organization since Rex's arrival. And whether you agree with the personnel philosophy, it's hard to argue with the results; the Jets have appeared in AFC Championship games twice in two years, and the 2011 team looks to be the best of the bunch. Plus, as Josh notes, it's hard to hate the Eagles because they haven't won anything. In fact, I half-expect them to falter under the weight of all the preseason expectations, and then all that will be left is to find a way to blame it on Donovan McNabb.
Katzowitz: Well, I think you can still not win a thing and yet be hated. Look at the Heat, for instance. I think the reason the Heat were hated so much is because it was clear LeBron James felt like he couldn't win the title on his own, so he was willing to join forces with his buddies (and take a back-seat role!) to try to buy his way to a ring. There's a big difference between that megalomaniac (and egotistical) approach and improving your team with what looks like pretty smart (though costly) acquisitions. Even with a convicted felon starting at QB, the Eagles aren't hateable. They're just a team trying to win a Super Bowl. Just not in the manner that James and company tried to employ.
Brinson: You can totally lose and be hated -- it's just easier to hate teams and people who win all the time, especially if the folks involved are especially hateable. That's what strikes me as odd about this Eagles team: there isn't anyone you can really hate. I mean, you can dislike VY, but can you really hate him? He's a 28-year-old quarterback who's already fighting his way along the comeback trail, having dealt with mental issues and repeated benchings for Kerry Collins. (That's not hate-worthy material; more like mocking sympathy or something.)
And is Nnamdi the equivalent of signing LeBron James? Um, no, and for several reasons. One, he's not even the best player in the NFL, even if he is the best at his position. And two, he's like a really nice, soft-spoken guy who takes kids to the Met when he's visiting New York City. That's the total opposite of generating money for the Boys & Girls Club by doing a one-hour ESPN special with Jim Gray.
Vick, I guess, is worthy of folks' scorn, but only if you're really, really adamant that anyone who ever harmed a dog deserves never to be given the liberties associated with the Constitution despite having served the required amount of jail time.
Or if you're a PETA member.
Wilson: Here's the deal, at least in my mind: no, the Heat-Eagles comparison doesn't really work. And even though Philly is imminently likable (even lovable when you see Andy Reid on the sidelines) by fans outside the NFC East (and cat lovers), that will all change if they start winning consistently. Part of that is our fault -- if the Eagles jump out to a 10-0 start the media will be all over it, and fans won't have any choice but to hate them. That's how these things work. The Pats, Colts and Steelers are the most obvious examples, sort of the NFL equivalent of the Yankees and Red Sox. The Eagles are a long way from that level of hatred, but a nice winning streak and wall-to-wall media saturation can change that in a hurry. So in honor of T.O., former Philly wide receiver who really had a knack for getting people to loathe him, I will get my popcorn ready. Just in case.
Brinson: I'd agree with you except the just signed Ronnie Brown and, obviously, that put them over the top. Except not at all, but that's the narrative we'll be hearing the rest of the week I presume.
Vick will be a great litmus test for the symptoms that come with over-exposure to winning. There's absolutely no doubt that the Eagles will be shoved down the public's throat in 2011 -- I count a whopping five (!) national television appearances, and that doesn't include another five (!) that are all but guaranteed to be the CBS or FOX national games of the week.
People didn't hate getting too much of Vick last year because it was an out-of-nowhere comeback story for the ages that polarized the opinion of everyone watching -- either you didn't believe he deserved a second chance or you were thrilled to see redemption on a national stage. Plus it didn't hurt that he was single-handedly marching millions of people to fantasy football titles.
This season will be vastly different because there are expectations -- in both real and fantasy football -- and that always changes the way we perceive athletes. Fans of other teams who rooted for Vick's story won't be doing so this year and if he struggles at all, it won't be nearly as sweet.
Plus, NFL is all-in on the Eagles, so we will be seeing a lot of them even when there's not football being played -- they're the premiere team when it comes to updates, peak-ins, discussions and (duh) roundtables. So in that sense maybe they are the Miami Heat, who somehow warranted their own section on many a sports website during the 2010 season.
Which means we've somehow come full circle on this analogy. At least until Mike Kafka's under center in Week 5.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.