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» Futures: My Expansion Franchise

You've just been awarded an NFL expansion team and must build your personnel department. How would you do it? Matt Waldman takes on the exercise.

20 Nov 2013

Scramble: New Awards

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Mike: So, Tom, Major League Baseball and Various People Who Are Paid to Write About Major League Baseball finished up their awards season last week.

Tom: Quick, who was NFL MVP last year? Was it Peyton Manning? Adrian Peterson? Somebody else?

Mike: Peterson. Oh, that was rhetorical. I see what you did there.

Tom: Maybe it's just a sign of my occasional lack of patience for people who don't think like me, but I don't really care about any football awards.

Mike: See, I like the exercise. It's fun to sit around and talk about the best of the best in a sport. Yes, it's a bit unhinged to give out those awards. Yes, it's even more unhinged to actually care who wins. Great fun was had by all, especially all the statheads in the corner fuming over why anyone cares about postseason awards when we have all these pretty numbers. But it's a neat exercise. And you can bet the players care, when runner-up to a postseason award can get you $100,000 off a contract escalator.

Tom: Sure, but it gets kind of boring to give the Peyton Manning Award for Excellence in the Field of Being Peyton Manning to Peyton Manning every year.

Mike: Who knows? Maybe someone else will be Peyton Manning next year!

Tom: I think Eli actually did get a couple votes in 2011. That whole "actually playing" bit and all that.

Mike: I think that was because some of our dimmer colleagues think they are actually twins. Back to baseball, I think the real issue is that the awards themselves are bad. Sure, you can grab whatever piece of equipment and slap on some semiprecious metal and call it a day, but that's just lazy.

Tom: Yeah, even the Brett Favre hologram trophy isn't an actual thing. Yet.

Mike: So myself and a couple commenters sat around the top-secret IRC compound and wondered; where is the Ruin Tomorrow (Jr.) Award for Ripping Off the Phillies and/or the Dodgers? Where is the British Constitution Award for Best Application of Unwritten Rule? Or even the Ty Cobb Award for Aggressive Drunkenness and Creative Profanity? These awards are far more interesting than the current slate, and the NFL awards are even worse. None of the awards are even named after anyone!

Tom: Sadly, college stole the Johnny Unitas Award from the NFL.

Mike: So Tom and I, as your Scramble writers (and certified awardsologists) decided that now, before it's too late, we would cook up some awards for the NFL to hand out this postseason, to truly capture the flavor of our new national pastime.

Da Ditka Award for Exceptional Facial Hair

Tom: I thought we retired that for Warren Moon and his mustache that never changed.

Mike: Well, last I checked, Warren Moon is not on an active NFL roster, so while it may have been redundant during his career, someone else can win!

Tom: Yes, but NFL players inconveniently wear helmets when they're on the field. Half the defensive linemen in the league may have fantabulous mustaches that are as unchanging as Moon's was, and we'd never know about them.

Mike: We do learn about the more fabulous ones, though, like Brett Keisel. There is also nothing in the Fake Awards Charter that requires the award go to a player. It can go to a coach, even! Like, a coach who has a goatee that makes him look like an aquatic mammal.

Tom: I admit, we do hear about beards. I couldn't have told you for sure Keisel actually has a mustache.

Mike: Are you kidding? The mustache portion is the most fabulous part!

Tom: No, I'm not kidding. I zone out on most of the non-action during games, at least visually, and they don't include helmet-less shots on the all-22 or condensed versions of games. Fine, we can give this to Andy Reid.

Mike: Really the only sensible choice. When your face-wig blends animal kingdoms, you know you have reached another level. All hail the King of Walrii!

Tom: I suppose now the next award you'll want to give out is the Mike Holmgren Walrus Look-Alike Award. Then we can give out the Best NFL Coach for a Baby Halloween Costume Trophy.

Mike: Come now, Tom. We have standards.

Tom: We do?

Mike: ... perhaps we should move on to the next award.

Least Distinguished Multi-Sport Professional

Mike: Are there any multi-sport players right now?

Tom: Your winner has to be Brandon Weeden, peaking out in high-A with an ERA over 6, followed by an NFL career that seems unlikely to see him as a starter again a season-and-a-half (roughly) after he was a first-round pick.

Mike: Oh yeah. Him.

Tom: Most of the other baseball-playing footballers I can think of either only played minor league ball in college as a summer thing or had more success. Drew Henson both played in AAA and started an NFL game. Quincy Carter only played baseball in college. Chad Hutchinson also made AAA and started in the NFL.

Mike: It's interesting that there are so many baseball players and football players. I suppose it might have something to do with MLB's professional minor league system.

Tom: It's easy to play both sports, especially growing up since football is a fall sport and baseball a spring/summer one.

Mike: True, although there are plenty of former collegiate or high school basketball players now playing in the NFL. Particularly among tight ends. Very few professional NBA players, however.

Tom: I suppose here I should mention Bud Grant, who played for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minneapolis Lakers.

Mike: The exception that makes the rule, yes. Weeden is the clear winner of this group, however, because of his failed promise in both leagues, and spectacular collapse in the harsh spotlight of the NFL.

Tom: We should note, though, that the failure of his NFL career is not so much his fault as that of Cleveland Browns management, who thought drafting a player who would turn 29 his first season in the league was a good idea. At least the Panthers only spent a third-round pick on Chris Weinke.

The Pam Poovey Award for Workplace Sensitivity

Mike: Neither of us have actually played professional football, so our experience is limited. I think there are a few workplace best practices that carry over between all industries, however.

Tom: As Baylor basketball could tell you, "don't murder your teammates" is probably one of those.

Mike: That is the first rule, yes. The second rule, I think, is that you don't insinuate that colleagues or subbordinates are using narcotics. Especially if you have no clue what his actual situation is.

Tom: "You must be on drugs to be acting so crazily" may have been one of the possible responses to a passenger request on the New York City cab driver's exam, as least per Can You Pass These Tests?, but it was not the right one. Let that be your guide.

Mike: There are special bonus points for leaking that information out of spite. I suppose that is only fair if you are not one of the Schianomen.

Tom: Yes, well. Let's just mention Richie Incognito and move right along.

Mike: Let's not half-ass it.

Tom: That's what the Patriots players said to Lisa Olson.

Mike: Somehow, that incident has been overshadowed. I think the person who most needs a talk with the mediation dolphin is Richie Incognito, who this season went from "jerk with amusing name" to "insane person with amusing name."

Tom: I wish I though that was true. I don't think he was any different than he's been before. The circumstances around him just changed. And he didn't have the filter to adjust his behavior accordingly.

Mike: Oh, I think you're absolutely correct, there. I think the greater issue is that Incognito was, like the apocryphal frog, unable to detect that the waters of crazy were hitting the boiling point. Everything just seemed normal! For a certain, insane definition of normal. But I'll let Jon Stewart handle that aspect of it. Just to break out the sad trombone, however, it's worth noting that Incognito has received a tremendous amount of support from players across the league. But not quite as much support as alleged murderer Aaron Hernandez!

Tom: At the risk of making this conversation much too serious, members of groups defend those perceived as fellow members of the group, especially against accusations by those outside the group.

Mike: Yawn. Next award.

The Kaibutsu

Mike: This award recognizes that some people simply do not understand the limits of a human being's endurance and, honestly, structural integrity. For those who aren't complete nerds, Kaibutsu is a term for pitchers at the semiannual Koshien Japanese youth baseball tournament that are considered so dominating that their coaches commit some good old-fashioned Japanese ritualistic maiming by driving them into the ground. The current example is 16-year-old Tomohiro Anraku, who threw 772 pitches in four games played over five days and possibly destroyed his arm in the process. Over here, we don't have quite that level of excess, but it's easy to find coaches willing to drive their workhorses into the ground

Tom: Doesn't this have to be Jack Youngblood?

Mike: Well, make your case.

Tom: I know he's not active, but his recent comments and noted playing with a broken leg fit the theme perfectly.

Mike: Youngblood is a great candidate, but I don't think anyone fits the bill this year quite like Robert Griffin. Like a true kaibutsu, his coach sent him out to the slaughter in the playoffs last year, risking at least some of his promising young quarterback's future for his team's temporary advantage. Like a failed kaibutsu, Griffin was ground into dust and crumpled because he was too injured to even plant his foot. Now this year, the Redskins are dealing with the aftermath of that absurd and useless exploitation, with an extra dose after Griffin rushed himself back to the field. Both he and his coach want him to be the monster. With a -10.2% DVOA, however, nobody is scared.

Tom: I feel like there's a whole ball of wax around Griffin, from the crazy stat that the Redskins used play-action on 40 percent of pass plays last year to the ACL recovery in college to the recent comments that seemed to imply a split with the Shanaclan. And as Vince noted in this week's Quick Reads, he has a sizable VOA to DVOA drop, so if you're not paying attention to that pesky "schedule strength" thing, you think he's okay.

Mike: And all he and the Shanahans are doing is running Griffin endlessly into more hits than any NFL quarterback can take, adding risk of reinjury and cascading injury to the mix.

Tom: As exciting as it was, I'm starting to think winning the NFC East last year was bad for the Redskins. Of course, that's the Rob Johnson Fool's Gold Award.

Mike: Sadly, we had to discontinue that one after we introduced the Tom Brady Actual Gold Award. It just got way too confusing.

Tom: Oh, I thought it just got sacked too many times.

Loser League Update

Quarterback: In the AFC East contest of rookie quarterbacks, there was a winner and there was a loser. The losing team was the New York Jets, and the losing quarterback was Geno Smith, who threw for just over 100 yards and turned the ball over four times for a week-worst -3.

Running Back: Of course, that the Bills won that game did not mean every part of their team fared well. C.J. Spiller was one of two backs this week to avoid the penalty yet not crack 10 yards yet who had 1 point thanks to 10 receiving yards. Andre Ellington was the other, while Bernard Pierce matched their Loser League score without the benefit of any receiving yards.

Wide Receiver: Joe Haden was one of our Madden selections this week for his work in holding A.J. Green to 0 points. Vincent Brown, Darius Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Andre Roberts each had 1 point.

Kicker: 0 was not quite the modal score for kickers this week as half a dozen had eight points and four others had 11, but a scoreless trio was still a rare sight. Kai Forbath got there the old-fashioned way, while Josh Scobee and Nick Folk each made two extra points and missed a field goal.

For a full list of Loser League scores, go to the results page.

Awards!

KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: Pro tip: Do not commit kick catch interference in the final two minutes of a tie game. Kassim Osgood's error gave the Saints 15 free yards and helped set up Garrett Hartley's game-winning field goal at the gun. Honorable mention to Luke Kuechly, who narrowly avoided what could have been his second crucial late-game penalty of the season that could have turned a Panthers win into a Panthers loss.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: Jim Schwartz's very curious decision was not so much that the Lions went for the conversion on fourth-and-5 from the Steelers 10 up four points in the final stanza of Sunday's eventual loss. Rather, it was trusting the punter to carry the ball through the line that puzzled your Scramble writers. Honorable mention to Jim Harbaugh for his two no-hope challenges, the first of which came on an 8-yard gain on first-and-10 in the first quarter.

Todd Haley Defense-Unadjusted Lock of the Week

Tom: You were right, as the Cardinals covered in Jacksonville, while the Bears and Ravens gave me the unenviable push.

Mike: You just can't avoid that push.

Tom: Lines are courtesy of Bovada and were accurate as of time of writing. All picks are made without reference to FO's Premium picks. And alas, the push is in play for every game this week thanks to no half-point lines.

Mike: I can't shake the feeling that Vikings +5 is a trap. Green Bay's offense (and therefore Green Bay) without Rodgers is cover-your-eyes awful. But so is Minnesota's secondary.

Tom: The run game and defense weren't enough for them against the Giants. I'm not quite ready to permanently damn them, especially against an offense as limited as Minnesota's.

Mike: Instead, I'm going to go out on a limb and go with one of this week's multi-score lines. Atlanta has no defense whatsoever and their offense is riddled with injuries. The Saints actually have a real defense.

I'll let that sink in for a bit.

Ready? OK. I don't think they're actually as complete a team as Seattle, but they are clearly a real contender, and the Falcons are in the middle of the collapse that will likely close their window. I think 10 points, even away, should be pretty easy for Drew Brees and company. New Orleans Saints -9 at Atlanta Falcons.

Tom: Two lines stand out to me this week. First, the Lions are favored by 10 at home against the Bucs. Obviously Tampa has certain massive trainwreck-related attributes, but they're coming off a solid win against that Falcons team. DVOA has these two teams in spitting distance of each other, separated by 3.9%. The other one is the Giants favored by 3 over the Cowboys. Yes, they're at home, but that line implies two equal teams. By DVOA, the Cowboys have been a much better team this year. That line should be reversed. Of course, the Cowboys are down Sean Lee and the Giants have been somewhat better of late. Weighted DVOA suggests maybe a line closer to equal. I've taken Tampa Bay before this year, but I'm too worried about that game actually ending up 38-10 to pick them. Dallas Cowboys +3 at New York Giants.

Scramble Mailbag

evenchunkiermonkey: I'm starting to think Lamar Miller might be droppable. 11 carries and 4 receptions between the last 2 weeks has me wishing I picked him for my 2nd half Loser League team.

Mike: As a fellow Miller owner, I commisserate with you. Miller has been riding the pine for a while on my squad, and I'm starting to consider trading him to someone shallow at RB and try to fish out a WR3 on spec. I think he'll bounce back, but I don't think it'll be worth the wait. See if anyone is willing to take a flier on upside in exchange for some limited value elsewhere.

Tom: It's certainly been a disappointing season for the Miami running back, to the point where you could drop him in favor of another lottery ticket who may or may not get catches or yards in any given week. Given that Miami is down two offensive linemen and may lose a third and their best with Mike Pouncey's injuries, I have no issues with dropping him.

You too can be our pen-pal! Send your questions to Scramble-at-Footballoutsiders.com!

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 20 Nov 2013

15 comments, Last at 22 Nov 2013, 3:33pm by Duke

Comments

1
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 3:54pm

Can I nominate Greg Roman for the Mike Martz award? Against the Saints he called for 22 personnel on 14 out of 22 first down plays for a 1.6 yard average.

Was he tipping the tendency? You decide. On those 14 plays they ran 11 times for 21 yards; they threw three times for one yard.

They also used 622 personnel on another first down, running the ball for a loss of six. Go Roman and his ever increasing numbers of blockers! It's bound to work eventually!

Just because the rest of the football world thinks receivers ate a good idea doesn't stop Greg.

(Numbers from PFf Jeff's twitter account)

3
by Perfundle :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 5:03pm

Still not enough blockers. Harbaugh needs to put in Boone, Davis, Goodwin, Iupati, Kilgore, Looney, Snyder, Celek, Davis and McDonald and run the wildcat with Miller. I mean, how can you stop 11 people weighing at least 250 pounds?

2
by RickD :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 4:30pm

I think RG3 deserves at least as much blame as his coaches do for the state of his knee. He insisted on continuing to play in the Seahawks game, even after re-injuring his knee, and spent the entire off-season making noise about how much he wanted to play, and that he "trusted" that Shanahan would "keep his word" in terms of getting him back into the lineup as quickly as possible. "Team Robert," as they are called in DC, put a lot of pressure on the team to play him before he was ready this season.

4
by So (not verified) :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 6:51pm

It was a playoff game, one that they are also winning. Yeah, he kinda wants to play. Or maybe instead we'd hear from the talking heads about how RGIII is "soft" like Cutler for not playing through an injury and "leading" his team.

5
by Perfundle :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 7:00pm

It was a playoff game where his injury directly led to their losing because he was ineffective; I don't think Cutler ever got slammed for getting hurt, trying to play through it, and eventually coming out when he couldn't play well enough. And unlike Cutler, Griffin's backup had shown he could play well in games.

11
by Anon1000 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 10:27pm

The Redskins were only down a TD with 6 minutes left before Griffin tore his ACL, caused by a botched snap and a freak slip in the mud patch near Griffin's feet. He felt he could play, and the Redskins rode the horse that helped get the team there in the first place. Everything else is after the fact.

Cousins playing well against in one game against an average Browns pass defense in the regular season isn't in the same class as playing against the Seahawks defense in a playoff game. As a matter of fact, he did come into the game, with the Redskins only down 10 with 5:30 remaining; and he went 2 for 6 and 27 yards before turnover on downs.

It's amazing how some people feel that Steve Young is somehow sitting on the bench in Washington. Matt Flynn dazzled in one game too (making Cousins's appearances seem bland by comparison), and he can't land a starting job.

12
by Perfundle :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 10:40pm

"The Redskins were only down a TD with 6 minutes left before Griffin tore his ACL, caused by a botched snap and a freak slip in the mud patch near Griffin's feet. He felt he could play, and the Redskins rode the horse that helped get the team there in the first place."

He felt he could still play after the tear? Well never mind then. I thought we were talking about him insisting on staying in after getting injured in the first quarter.

15
by Duke :: Fri, 11/22/2013 - 3:33pm

Specifically, there were several people saying that it didn't look like Cutler was really hurt and that he should have been out there playing.

6
by the K :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 7:19pm

Something I still haven't seen mentioned anywhere was Payton's half Colbert half Martz move, calling that timeout before kicking a FG instead of running the clock to the two minute warning. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why he did that, apparently his plan was to go for the win in regulation instead of settle for OT. Worked out well with the huge sack and the near grounding by Kaepernick but it could have really, really backfired.

7
by mcgloin fan 14 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 7:43pm

They actually talked about it during the game. A timeout meant a thirty second yimeout, whereas the two minute warning wouldve been a long commercial break. By calling timeout he was actually keeping his kicker from getting iced during the longer two minute break

8
by mcgloin fan 14 (not verified) :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 7:44pm

They actually talked about it during the game. A timeout meant a thirty second yimeout, whereas the two minute warning wouldve been a long commercial break. By calling timeout he was actually keeping his kicker from getting iced during the longer two minute break

9
by theslothook :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 7:56pm

Is Atlanta's window really closed? NO showed this year that a defensive turnaround is definitely possible in a year - though I doubt even an optimist would say that such a turnaround is possible for everyone. In reality, I could easily see atlanta's d progressing back to say, 17th or so. The offense will get white and jones back healthy and that should place them back in the top 10. Maybe if they hit on a draft pick or land a good solid free agent or two and I think atlanta can be right back in the mix. NFL turnarounds really aren't all that long, especially when you have a good quarterback.

13
by BJR :: Thu, 11/21/2013 - 8:08am

I was arguing pretty much the same thing w.r.t. the Steelers on another thread. The defense looks really bad right now, but an improvement to league average next season with a few tweaks would hardly be unprecedented. As long as they have a good QB they can be competitive in a weak division/conference.

What works against Atlanta is their division is definitely not weak.

14
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 11/21/2013 - 2:46pm

I argued a few weeks ago that in a way they are building for 2015-2016. They have the QB, and assuming he comes back healthy, a dominant WR that would still be in their primes then. They've tried to retool on defense, getting rid of a bunch of older players. They've drafted guys in that secondary that are rookies now. There are a bunch of holes in that roster, and they'll need a way to replace Gonzalez and get some sort of run game, but I don't think they are that far at all.

It's rare you see a team so consistent year-to-year, just go away this quickly. More likely, this will be a year like the Steelers had in 2003, when they went 6-10 in between going 13-3, 10-5-1, 15-1 and 11-5.

10
by CeeBee (not verified) :: Wed, 11/20/2013 - 8:53pm

I know Eli has sucked this year, but in 2011 the dude was pretty money and MVP talk wasn't all that crazy. Giants had the worst running attack in the league and a fairly crappy defense. Plus, it seemed Eli engineered a 4th quarter comeback every other week. He made Jake Ballard look good. Jake. Ballard.

I have no issues with Rodgers winning that year, but at least a legitimate argument could be made for Manning The Younger.