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» Scramble Over/Unders: The Souths

Mike and Tom's tour of the league gets musical! Listen to the strangely up-tempo Blinded by the Luck, the haunting melancholy of The Schiano Man, and the endless march of the Saints.

12 Oct 2011

Walkthrough: Heaven and Hell

by Mike Tanier

Denver, Tuesday afternoon...

JOHN FOX: Good afternoon, media members. It is time for me to announce who our starting quarterback will be for our next game.

REPORTER (to himself): Oh, I hope it is Tim Tebow! Then again, if it is Kyle Orton, I will write another article comparing Andrew Luck to John Elway.

FOX: I have given this a lot of thought, and I am proud to announce that my new starter is...

REPORTER (to himself): Oh, he said "new" starter! It’s Tebow! I know it! Or maybe Brady Quinn. That would throw people off the track.

FOX: Jake Delhomme.

REPORTER: What?

JAKE: Hey, it is great to be here. As you all know, I have worked with Coach Fox for years and, whoops! Screeeeeeeeeeeeee!

REPORTER: Jake, did you just fumble the entire podium?

JAKE: Yes. And that’s on me. I take full accountability for my mistakes. Oh my, I seem to have forgotten to wear pants this morning.

REPORTER: Coach, we know how loyal you and Delhomme are to one another, but isn’t this a little ridiculous? At some point, don’t we have to take a long look at Tebow and see what we have, instead of putting obstacles in his way?

FOX: Jake Delhomme is not an obstacle! He is a quarterback I am comfortable with. And this has nothing to do with the fact that his great-grandfather pulled my grandfather out of a foxhole in the Ardennes during a mustard gas attack in 1917. Anyway, we only have to pay him $21 million over three years, because he is still getting paid by the Panthers and Browns!

JAKE: I am just so happy to be here in Miami!

REPORTER: Denver! This is Denver! Didn’t you see the damn mountains? Mountains! Who ever heard of a mountain in Miami?

JAKE: Mountains are like free safeties. I kinda tune them out.

REPORTER: Oh, how can things get any worse?

In Philadelphia...

ANDY REID: Mmmm, let’s start with the catastrophes. I am proud to announce that we have hired a defensive consultant.

REPORTER: Thank heavens. I wonder if it is Chuck Cecil? He was a good coach in Tennessee. Or Jeremiah Trotter? That would be more of a public relations move, but anyone would be better than who we have now.

ANDY REID: This new coach has won championships. And he also has a long history with the city of Philadelphia.

REPORTER: Who could that be? Dick Vermeil? That would be awesome! Or Bill Cowher? He did play for the Eagles, so you could stretch things to say he had a "history" here.

REID: Ladies and gentlemen, Terry Francona.

REPORTER: What?

FRANCONA: Hey, it is great to be back in Philly, and I cannot wait to set the Eagles' starting lineup and defensive bullpen.

REPORTER: What are you talking about? Terry, do you know anything about NFL defense?

FRANCONA: Does Juan Castillo?

REPORTER: Good point.

REID: Mmmm, Castillo will be given the Dana Bible Memorial Headset, the one that lets him play Call of Duty during games.

FRANCONA: You know, I had my arms wrapped around Joe Buck during an American League playoff broadcast the other day, and I could not help nuzzling him and saying, "Gee, it would be great to give football fans the kind of experience I just gave Red Sox fans."

REPORTER: How can things get any worse?

In Cleveland...

Peyton Hillis: Good afternoon, folks. I know you have some questions about me missing a game with strep throat on the advice of my agent. I am happy to inform you that I will now get all of my health advice from a personal medical consultant.

REPORTER: That is great news. I wonder who it is? Maybe Doctor James Andrews?

HILLIS: This person has been dedicated to providing medical advice in a public forum for many years.

REPORTER: A national expert? C. Everett Koop? Dr. Phil?

HILLIS: Ladies and gentlemen, my new health guru, Jenny McCarthy.

REPORTER: What?

JENNY: Hi everybody! Chicken pox vaccines make baby Jesus run backwards!

HILLIS: Under Dr. McCarthy’s guidance I ... cough! ... know that I will not miss time ... cough!

REPORTER: Peyton, do you have whooping cough?

JENNY: He will be fine. He just needs, like, some multivitamins and stuff. And some cold cream for those bumps on his face that are totally not measles.

HILLIS: I am feeling a little feverish. Can you stick another leech on my neck?

REPORTER: How can things get any worse?

In New York, or wherever the NBA labor negotiations are held...

DAVID STERN: I know we cancelled the first two weeks of the season, and no one cares at all because there is football, college football, baseball playoffs, the start of the NHL season, and new episodes of Modern Family to focus on. We are, however, serious about bringing you all the excitement and drama of early-season NBA action, no matter what it takes.

REPORTER: Finally, it sounds like there might be some progress. I don’t want to wind up like Albert Breer, melting slowly on a city sidewalk while waiting for an agent to text me.

STERN: We have hired a special outside negotiator to cut through the rhetoric and get things done!

REPORTER: Hooray! Maybe it is DeMaurice Smith. I will be able to cover games and feed my family!

STERN: Ladies and gentleman, a Ranting Al Pacino.

REPORTER: What?

PACINO: Hoo-hah! Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in. Hoo-hah!

REPORTER: Mr. Ranting Pacino, I know you were a great actor once, but how do you plan to help the NBA when all you can do now is pose and scream?

PACINO: I plan to take a flamethrower to this place! Now I would like some John Daniels!

JON DANIELS: Hi, I would just like to say that it has been great to work with Nolan Ryan to rebuild the Rangers organization.

PACINO: Not you! A glass of whiskey! Hoo-hah! That is how I order whiskey! Hoo-hah! Now say hello to my little friend!

JON DANIELS: Err, is that my cue?

PACINO: You don’t have a cue, little man! The horror, the horror.

REPORTER: That’s Brando! You can’t even keep your rants straight! Can it get any worse?

In Heaven...

STEVE JOBS: They sound lost without us down there, Al.

AL DAVIS: Just putt, baby.

Excellence

Al Davis is watching under us.

When eulogizing an individual like Davis, it feels disrespectful to not make a wisecrack about his "evil mastermind" persona. That persona is part of his life’s work. To take too high a high road is to defang him, and Davis spent four decades convincing us that he actually had fangs. Heaven may want him, but hell is definitely afraid that he will take over. Davis liked that we thought of him that way.

The devious Davis is the one we will remember, not the out-of-touch character of recent years, who probably was not as out-of-touch as jokers like me made him out to be. The Raiders of recent years have been mismanaged, and their football philosophies have been backward-thinking, but they shared those problems with many, many other teams whose owners/executives did not have the benefit of being genuine pioneers. Davis was a better executive than Matt Millen, better than anyone who has floated through the Rams organization besides Dick Vermeil. He had been the best football executive in the Bay Area since the Yorks took over. He was no worse than the guys who ran the Cardinals, Bengals, and Browns at various times in the last decade. His scouting department may have atrophied until all that was left was a "best available speedster" reflex, but at least there was a recognizable philosophy at work. Better an outdated idea than no idea, or a jumble of ideas.

The Raiders were the last NFL team that had the personality of a small, regional business. There was a time when all of the NFL and AFL teams were essentially midsized community businesses, like big car dealerships or local banks. They still counted on the local Kiwanis club to buy season tickets and still reached out to the community in some meaningful way, not one annual charity event or an August "Fan Appreciation Night." They took on the quirks of both their cities and their owners, so the George Halas Bears had a personality that was different from the Dan Reeves Los Angeles Rams. Now, the Bears’ personality, when it is distinct from other teams at all, is just leftover Halas personality. The teams have been, for many years, just 31 slight variations on the same corporate structure, and then the Raiders.

That old-fashioned, do-it-yourself mentality weakened the Raiders on the field over the last decade, but again, at least they were weaklings with charm. When the Rams are bad, they are a bad fast food hamburger, while the Raiders are a strange, overcooked burger with unusual toppings at a small-town diner, something that is at least is recognizable as food that was assembled by a human. The Raiders had all the strengths and weaknesses of a privately-owned concern, like an independent record store downtown. The record store may close on Tuesdays, just because. They may not stock Coldplay, because the guy who runs it thinks only wankers like Coldplay, but there is a whole wall of untouched Jimmy Rodgers LPs. Record Store Guy can’t compete with Amazon, or Best Buy, or iTunes. And frankly, we don’t go to Record Store Guy’s shop anymore. But we want to root for him, and we want him to succeed, in some way that does not require us to buy his merchandise.

And that is the Al Davis paradox: we simultaneously liked to make fun of him, found it easy to write columns about his whacked-out decisions, and wished we lived in a world where guys like him could still build a team or rule a league, completely upon the singularity of their cleverness and will. He sounds like a hell of a person to have to work for, but at least you were certain you were working for a person.

There have been greater football minds in NFL history, some of them active in the league today, but Davis was more than a football mind. There are not many ground-floor entrepreneurs in the major sports anymore. Vince McMahon is the only one who leaps to mind, though pro wrestling is not really a sport. There could never be a league full of Al Davises, because franchises would bounce all over the place, owners would sue one another, and no one on earth would be crazy enough to take the commissioner job. But if there had not been a few Davis types in the past, like Al Spalding or Eddie Gottlieb, we might not have professional sports in the way we now recognize and enjoy them. Halas, Bert Bell, Bill Veeck, Walter A. Brown: these guys made rules and bent laws, supplied something to consumers who did not know how much they demanded it, and built leagues and empires out of daring ideas.

Davis was one of the last of the founding fathers, but he was also the voice of dissent. Football’s Machiavelli, Thomas Paine, and George Carlin in a white track suit. The last of the seat-of-the-pants sports executives. A true maverick, not someone who uses the word as a slogan. It was his football, baby, and nothing was going to take it away from him.

My guess is that he made it to heaven before the devil knew he was dead. He was, after all, obsessed with speed.

Baldwin

I would like to apologize to Doug Baldwin.

I wrote an article about rookie wide receivers last week, and I left Baldwin out of it, even though he was among the rookie leaders in receptions and yards. I was pressed for time and space, and I was trying to tie the article in with the Packers-Falcons game, so I decided to highlight Randall Cobb instead of Doug Baldwin. I do not watch much Seahawks football, because they reside in my SEP field. I had the impression that Baldwin was just a receiver of necessity in their rickety little offense, and that he would disappear when Sidney Rice returned.

After watching the Giants game, I realize that Baldwin is very good. He is quick, has a knack for exploiting zone coverage, and can hold onto the football after making a catch in traffic. His touchdown against the Giants was an easy play -– he was wide open because two Giants defenders bit on a fake screen pass -– but his other catches in that game were far more impressive. He runs up the seam from the slot in a hurry. He can make things happen after a screen pass. Baldwin is small, does not appear to have great deep speed, and doesn’t have the elite shiftiness of a Percy Harvin, but he is bright beyond his years. He is a young Derrick Mason, which the league needs, because the old Derrick Mason is all worn out and needs replacing.

Sorry, Doug. I promise not to exclude you next time.

As for you, Mike Tice, I mean everything I ever said about you.

Stuck for Luck

As the Eagles were publicly humiliating themselves on Sunday, my bartender turned to the regulars in the back of the tavern and declared: "That’s okay, guys, we’ll get the first round pick and draft Andrew Luck next year."

A follower on Twitter asked me if the Rams would or should select Andrew Luck if they end up with the first overall pick.

In Indianapolis, of course, "Suck for Luck" is a grass-roots movement.

Colts fans get a pass on this one: coveting Luck makes sense for them. Even if Peyton Manning comes back fit as a fiddle next year, he will be a 36-year-old fiddle with the kind of neck condition that doesn’t get better with age.

But Eagles fans coveting Luck? Michael Vick is signed for eighty years. He is one of the few players on the roster not making completely idiotic decisions right now, the pick-six by Nick Barnett not withstanding (many of his other interceptions have been tipped balls). Watch footage of the Eagles’ offensive line, and you will see that any other quarterback in the league would have died twice in the first five games.

As for the Rams, Sam Bradford is off to a very poor start. His receivers are Brandon Gibson and Mike Sims-Walker. He is trying to master a new offense. The entire team is in disaster mode. The Rams have about a dozen needs more pressing than bailing on the guy who was everyone’s quarterback of the future three months ago.

Rams fans should be pumped up about getting a top receiver like Justin Blackmon or Alshon Jeffrey. The guys at Walter Football suggest that the Rams should target USC tackle Matt Kalil, and even coined the phrase "Fall Flat for Matt." Eagles fans should be dreaming of linebackers, but since everyone knows that the Eagles won’t draft any linebackers unless the current regime is overthrown, we could also get psyched about falling flat for Matt.

Of course, Luck is a quarterback, and he is the highest profile prospect in the nation, so it is fun to speculate about him. Fans in Seattle and Miami can dream of a future with Luck. Fans in St. Louis and Philadelphia should dream of a future with Bradford or Vick. The problem is that a great offensive tackle is not exactly a sugarplum dancing in your head when your team just lost and the future looks grim. The guys at the bar probably won’t rally around the excitement of a new left tackle arriving next April.

But a wide receiver or running back? They are almost as much fun to speculate about as quarterbacks. So if you are a fan in a city with a non-emergency at quarterback, and you want to paint a picture of a rosier future, don’t use Luck. Get All Pumped for Alshon or Bent for Trent Richardson.

And if you are in Denver, wait a few weeks before making your decision.

The Tebow Show

I don’t think Tim Tebow is going to be a good quarterback. I am certain he is not a good quarterback now. Tim Tebow should be the Broncos starter for the rest of the season.

I watched the whole Tebow show on Monday morning -– all ten passes and six runs from Sunday’s loss to the Chargers -– looking for something to diagram. I settled on the end-of-game Hail Mary. It encapsulated the Tebow experience nicely. He had no idea where to go with the football. His scramble was about three times as dramatic as it needed to be: the little ballet-spin move he made with no defender within two yards was particularly precious. His eventual throw was off target, though it was hard to be certain who his target really was. That said, it was a lot of fun, and it nearly worked.

Figure 1: Like a Record, Baby

(As shown, the play did reveal that Knowshon Moreno can give an exceptional effort when pass blocking. At one point, Moreno goes to the ground and cuts Shaun Phillips, gets up, sees Tebow scrambling back in his direction, and chips another lineman. The play was really a Moreno highlight reel).

Tebow’s other passes were variations on this theme. He never threw the ball on time. He backpedalled after his first read, scanned the field in confusion, then heaved the ball in the general direction of a receiver. Brandon Lloyd can catch anything in his general direction, so he hauled in one pass. Moreno took a screen 27 yards. Most passes were too high or too low, and all were too late.

The runs were better, of course, particularly the designed runs. John Fox and Mike McCoy seem reluctant to call them. Fox and McCoy do not even like the shotgun much: Tebow was often under center, and he bobbled several snaps. Putting aside the fact that Tebow has had two seasons to master the center snap, most teams now have a large enough shotgun package that they should not have to force their quarterback to play under center, particularly when trailing in the second half. There appears to be some institutional stubbornness at work: Tebow does not fit McCoy’s system, but McCoy did not do much to make him fit in the Broncos game, at least in the first few series.

It was encouraging to learn on Tuesday that Tebow will finally get a crack at starting. I hope he gets a long crack: four games at least, a whole season preferably. I don’t think he will be good. I believe he will look something like an unprepared Vince Young on his best days. If he fails, he must fail incontrovertibly so the Broncos can get on with things. If his running and his intangibles make him a viable quarterback, then McCoy must get busy molding the offense to him.

Fox should have taken care of all of this in August. Tebow should have started the preseason games. Fox knew he had one of the most famous athletes in America, a symbol of the excesses of the previous regime, languishing on his bench. He knew Tebow would be a headache for Orton and a potential public relations nightmare. Fox chose to go the "no one in the locker room hears the fans cheering or cares" route, which was silly. This is not a case of the fans liking the backup better because that is what fans of bad teams do. This is fans choosing a cultural figure over a journeyman non-entity, and the only way Fox could prove he was making the right decision is by proving himself right. Either A) Orton had to be be really good in McCoy’s system, or B) Tebow had to be bad in any system.

Plan A has failed. I am not rooting for Plan B to fail -– Tebow is great copy and fun to watch -– I am just eager to see the Broncos get on with things. Come April, I want to either be writing about the Broncos’ future with Tebow or penciling rookie quarterbacks into their mock drafts. Broncos fans probably feel the same way, because two years of speculation is more than enough.

So if Tebow goes 8-for-24 next week, with more rushing yards than passing yards, I will still support Fox’s decision to start him. Come mid-November, maybe we can talk about Orton again, Or Brady Quinn. On second thought, lets stick with Orton. Until then, stick with Tebow.

And Finally

Lance Louis? Seriously? Lance Louis?

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 12 Oct 2011

79 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2011, 11:44am by jabrch

Comments

1
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 1:14pm

I didn't understand the Rams decision to draft Bradford over Suh. It didn't seem to me that Bradford was anything close to Luck, in terms of the chance to be a historically great qb, or the odds against him being merely mediocre or worse. In contrast, I though the odds against Suh being a guy without at least a half-dozen Pro Bowls to be about 5-1, and I thought he had at least a 50-50 chance that he would have at least that many All Pro selections. I understand the centrality of qb play, but a great defensive linemen is a pretty damned valuable asset as well.

4
by Qwijybo (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 1:42pm

People said this about Glenn Dorsey as well. Same with Robert Gallery.

5
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:01pm

Anybody who thought Glenn Dorsey dominated college linemen in the way Suh did simply doesn't know anything about line play. Same with Gallery.

64
by t.d. :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 11:43am

Dorsey didn't even pass the eyeball test. As a casual observer of college football, I saw plenty of LSU games and didn't really notice Dorsey except in passing as announcers raved about how he was going to be the top pick in the draft (he dropped before draft day). Nobody could miss Suh watching Nebraska, and he did things no tackle should be able to do. People are overreacting to Bradford's struggles this year. He hasn't been great, but he wasn't that great last year either, he just was adequate against an awful schedule. You could tell they would struggle looking at their brutal first half schedule, and they have. He's still got a decent chance to develop into a franchise quarterback, especially if they can surround him with non-replacement level backs and receivers. Suh has been a transformational type player, however, and the Rams probably did blow the pick.

76
by prs130 (not verified) :: Sat, 10/15/2011 - 10:15pm

I watch very little college football, but I'm three for three on "that guy will definitely make it in the NFL" picks: Suh, B.J. Raji, and Calvin Johnson. I don't have the confidence to ever say that about a QB.

6
by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:01pm

I thought the same thing when Steve Emtman (frankly, the closest comparison I can come up with for Suh) came out and went first overall.

7
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:10pm

Yeah, Emtman was the last guy I remembered being so dominant. I can't remember if he had any imdication of knee trouble in college, or whether that blow-out came out of the blue. What made the Bradford selection even more puzzling to me was the injury history in college, which even if the doctors convince you that it isn't indicative of a greater chance of injury later on, really cuts down on the sample size with which to evaluate a guy's play in college, at the position that may be most difficult to project to the NFL.

22
by BJR :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 4:05pm

I'm aware you aren't attempting to trash the guy, only comparing him to Suh, but lets not forget Bradford was OROTY last year when he played some impressive games leading a weak supporting cast. He's off to a rough start this time, but the Rams have played a tough schedule thus far, he's learning a new scheme, and that weak supporting cast has been further depleted by injury. He's still a potential future star.

Remember also that the Rams' head coach is a D-Line guru, who helped coach a team to a Super Bowl largely on the back of superb play on the defensive front. Even then they saw fit to take the QB, presumably knowing that the chance of finding a franchise QB was probably worth more than even the most dominant DT.

31
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 5:49pm

You're right; I'm certainly not writing off Bradford. I just can't remember seeing a college guy at any position dominate his major college competition so thoroughly that I thought that he was a pretty decent chance for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and practically zero chance of being a bust, as I did Suh. I mean, I was pretty certain the Peyton Manning would not be a bust, but I sure never had a strong inclination to think he was going to be an All-timer. Suh looked like a grizzly bear swatting aside coyotes.

37
by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:10pm

His speed was the only question mark for me, but I felt the same way about Larry Fitzgerald. He was incredibly dominant in college. Now he did it in the Big East, but he was un-coverable in my opinion.

40
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:56pm

The common thread between those two players, beyond the obvious physical superiority, was the degree of commitment they showed while in college. When you watch Suh play, you can tell he really, really, really (really!) likes the violence, which, in a defensive tackle, is a very, very, very (very!) good thing. Fitzgerald's pedigree and work habits set him apart. Compare that to top of the first round guys (Jamarcus!) who looked like they were slouching through what was demanded when in college.

50
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 1:07am

Fitzgerald dominated a Big East that still had VT, BC, and Miami. He wasn't playing against the watered-down later Big East.

52
by dmstorm22 :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 4:08am

You're right. Miami was still dominant (11-2), but BC and VT were both 8-5 (4-3 and 3-4 in Big East play). I would take the 2008-09 Big 12 over it. Either way, they were dominant in college, and in both cases that has really translated to the pros straight away.

2
by The Voice (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 1:30pm

He will have fewer balls caught than not. He will have more rushing TDs than throwing TDs. He will have more INTs than throwing TDs.

With him at the helm the Broncos will win more games than they lose, and give all writers spasms of joy at the prospect of telling their readers how great he is and how bad he is, depending on what will sell more copy...

16
by dbostedo :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:09pm

"He will have fewer balls caught than not. He will have more rushing TDs than throwing TDs. He will have more INTs than throwing TDs.

With him at the helm the Broncos will win more games than they lose..."

So are you assuming that their defense will drastically improve? Or that it's going to be one whopper of a rushing TD total?

41
by tunesmith :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 7:08pm

Some simple math implies that it's impossible for the above statements to be true while having more total touchdowns than interceptions.

Also, Tebow tends to have longer pass attempts, so a lower completion percentage isn't necessarily horrible.

51
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 1:15am

No it's not.

Steve Grogan basically had that season in 1976. 48% completions, 18 TDs, 20 INTs, 12 rushing TDs. Pats went 11-3.

Bradshaw had a similar season as well. Bobby Douglass basically had that Tanier season in 1973, although the Bears went 3-9 in his starts.

73
by hubcap (not verified) :: Sat, 10/15/2011 - 4:23pm

Re: Grogan & Tebow
That's interesting. Trent Dilfer has said that he thinks Tebow would have been a fine NFL QB in the 1980s, when most offenses asked the QB to hand off, throw off of play action, and go deep a half-dozen times a game. All things that Tebow has proven that he can just fine.

Problem is (sez Dilfer) that today being a QB is mostly about quick timing routes, and it's all repetition and precision and location, things that Tebow has never proven that he can do and shows no signs of being able to do.

His prediction was that Tebow does well for the next 4-5 games (and people will go nuts), but then as teams get more film on him they'll shut down what he does well, and he won't have much to fall back on, and he'll look much worse. IMO a shockingly reasonable prediction. From Trent Dilfer of all people!

3
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 1:39pm

Great article, again. I particularly liked the record store bit, I was once in an independent record shop in Stockport, a badly planned dump of a town in the post-industrial heartland of North West England, when a middle aged man walked up to the counter with both versions of a Robbie Williams* double A-side and asked which was better. The shop owner looked at him like he was holding a plate of well aged vomit and replied with all the contempt he could muster, "they're both shit."

And Raiderjoe seems to have disappeared at the same time as Al Davis left us. This leaves us with three possibilities. One, that Al Davis was Raiderjoe. I'm pretty sure this would be very, very difficult to prove, in part because his people probably wouldn't want him to be associated with the misspelled lord of the Sierra Nevadas. It's a pretty outlandinsh proposal anyway. Two, the person who has been pretending to be Raiderjoe, deploying his badly typed persona has decided to sign out in order to create the impression that he was Al. If this is true then you have to admire his commitment to the cause, retiring his beloved character to create a legend. (Though it could well be Tanier, I do remember him hosting a web chat with Raiderjoe as a guest blogger and Mike could probably pull it off). Three, Raiderjoe is feeling a little glum after losing the visionary leader of his franchise and simply hasn't been around.

*You in the USA might have been fortunate enough to have missed Robbie Williams. I'll explain that he was 'the funny one' in a 90s boy-band and has sold an inexplicable number of records in the UK.

9
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:40pm

I am 100% certain RaiderJoe was a writer for the site, and probably had plans to hang it up when Al Davis either 1) died, 2) gave up GM duties, or 3) sold the team. Sadly, the first one happened.

(I always thought it was Tanier because of his ridiculous encyclopedia knowledge of the game; however, all of them probably have access to resources that can get them that knowledge, so it could really be anybody.)

10
by gtliles82 :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:42pm

A RaiderJoe-like poster began writing pro-Bronco comments this week on one of the threads. I think whoever it is has switched personas.

25
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 4:52pm

Well, if RaiderJoe does exist and if he's still alive after the "mother of all benders", he should start posting again as soon as the "Arron Curry traded to Raiders" story comes up on Extra Points.

11
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:42pm

"Millennium" charted in the US. Not very high, but it certainly got more than its fair share of airplay.

13
by Intropy :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:54pm

I recall "It's Only Us" getting plenty of play as well.

17
by dbostedo :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:10pm

Don't forget "Angels" which was subsequently covered (and ruined) by Tony Romo's ex.

19
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:38pm

You can't ruin that song, that would be like spilling diesel on an oil slick. It's the love song of choice for people who have absolutely no romance in their soul

28
by andrew :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 5:13pm

My theory is RaiderJoe was actually Mark Davis, Al's son, who will now be running the team and probably had to stop doing stuff like posting to FO.

36
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:08pm

You left out what I would consider the most likely possibility: Raiderjoe is both a reader and a character created by the reader (Anybody else remember when he showed up "sober" and could suddenly type correctly?). The reader knows how high expectations will be for the character's first arrival following Al Davis's death and doesn't know how to live up to it (or feels that an absence following Davis's death is the best way to live up to it).

42
by JetFanInMD (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 7:25pm

RaiderJeaux has/had a presence on other football related websites as well. I would be surprised if it/he was one of the FO writers.

45
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 8:48pm

Has he disappeared?

8
by JMM* (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:12pm

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: What a filthy job.
Igor: Could be worse.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: How?
Igor: Could be raining.
[it starts to pour]

It can always be worse!

12
by Intropy :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 2:49pm

Wait, wait, woah. Hold on a minute. There's an NBA strike?

20
by Blotzphoto :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:40pm

Lockout actually... in that the players wish to fulfill their contracts and the owners would rather not...

14
by TimK :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:06pm

Thanks for "Mountains are like free safeties. I kinda tune them out."

Enjoyed the whole column, as always it seems, but that set me smiling for the rest of it after a long day.

23
by Yamajamawee (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 4:50pm

Loved the Dr. Jenny bit and the Douglas Adams ("SEP field") reference. Too funny.

15
by Drunkmonkey :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:07pm

OK, so I didn't get to watch the game on Monday, but I did a news search of Louis and didn't really find anything by quickly scanning the results that would make me think he did something catastrophic. I know who he is, and that he's not the answer to any question that Chicago should ever ask in regards to anything related to football. But whats with the last line?

24
by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 4:51pm

I think he is questioning their use of Louis as a tackle instead of a guard. I found http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGsFH-mtsPA, and he does not seem particularly aware of his duties. He is just speaking in double-talk and platitudes.

18
by Joseph :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:27pm

Although Tebow is definitely not an elite QB, nor an above-average QB, I think he could be a "good QB" if his OC would build the system to fit his particular skills. I personally think that Tebow is a stockier Vick 1.0, and the Falcons were a reasonably good team while Vick was there. With John Fox as his coach, I don't see ANY OC getting to do that.
(My personal opinion on the Broncos--Elway didn't pick Tebow, and doesn't like him as a FOOTBALL PLAYER. Getting stubborn John Fox as the coach means that Tebow doesn't get a good chance to become successful, allowing the Broncos to get rid of him next offseason for nothing/next to nothing. "We gave him the chance for the last 11 games, and we decided to go another direction.")

21
by Blotzphoto :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 3:44pm

I'll agree with that sentiment provisionally. Bad franchises have a history of trying to fit square pegs into round holes at the qb position.

61
by dryheat :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 10:28am

Also drafting a 3-4 year QB project in the first round. Bad franchises do that too.

26
by Marko :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 4:55pm

"Lance Louis? Seriously? Lance Louis?"

Actually, Louis has done an OK job for the Bears. The bigger problem by far has been Frank Omiyale at RT (who is only playing because Gabe Carimi is still injured). After the game the other night, my dad said his name should be changed to Frank Omigod.

27
by Mike Tanier :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 5:00pm

Just to clarify yet again, I am not RaiderJoe. He is in fact a reader, not a construct created from our imaginations.

And I hope he resurfaces soon. I mean, this week's Walkthrough has both Raiders AND Broncos...

30
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 5:42pm

That makes it sound like raiderjoe exists only in Russell Crowe's mind.

32
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 5:57pm

Maybe his band "30 Odd Foot of Gurnt" had a gig?

34
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:01pm

Why did you just outright deny it?! Boo! It should have remained a mystery!

63
by Manigfyr (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 11:05am

I seem to remember RaiderJoe commenting recently that due to an unfortunate billing incident he would be without internet for a month or so. I think he'd had to post even that from a cell phone.

67
by dbostedo :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 8:51pm

He commented on the Al Davis XP recently.

29
by Fargo :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 5:37pm

This is my favourite Walkthrough in ages, and not that I haven't been enjoying them recently. I was particularly looking forward to the Tanier eulogy of Al Davis, and it didn't disappoint. Excellent job, Mike.

33
by Kevin from Philly :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:00pm

Who is Jon Daniels and is he really short enough that Al Pacino would call him "little"?

35
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:02pm

I was going to ask exactly the same thing.

46
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 9:59pm

Jon daniels gm texas Rangers.

Wrote last week havd beeb having probs with verizon. Probably wrote it last walkthrough thinh or week 5 nfl matchups thing. Then Al Davis die amd dign't even want fo go online anyway.

Am not son of Al Davis. Also am not M. Tanier. Also do.not post on other sitess. Guy couple postd above must have got confusedd by othrr people who use Raiderjoe name. Only one true guy. Others imposters

47
by Shattenjager :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 10:12pm

I should have known that. I looked him up and can't tell how tall he is, though. It seems I can only find pictures of him standing next to tall people (Chris Young, Nolan Ryan).

Glad to see you're still around.

48
by nat :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 10:16pm

Welcome back, RJ. You had us worried.

My condolences for the loss of Al Davis. He's a big part of history - not just Raiders history but the history of the game.

Could this be Oakland's year? The rough part of their schedule is done (according to DVOA) and they're over .500. Could be. Maybe. Stranger things have happened.

49
by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 10:36pm

Yes tema sefinitehy can win super bowl . Good qb, exxcellent head coach, nest RB in leagje, exciting up and cominger Wr (D. Moore)), good lines both sides, j. Moss brionco trash Raider treasure, good tight end, good kickdr, great punter, linebacling corpse good amd get better when trafe for A. Curry. Everyyhing in line foe Super Bowl trip. Other best afc tema is new enland Pates. Raiders played thdm week 4. Greta practice rum. Raiders going to take knowledge of game and use it for playoff meeting becausse good chancw Raiders going to play vs Pates in plauofd game

58
by Insancipitory :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 7:21am

Yeah? What do you think the Raiders will offer up for Curry?

And the answer is 2 7th round picks. Wow, Bosworth can rest a little easier I guess.

68
by Independent George :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 1:35am

Bosworth was actually a quality NFL starter before injuries ended his career. No, he didn't live up to the hype (hell, Lawrence Taylor's career doesn't live up to that level of hype), but he wasn't a bad player, either.

60
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 10:11am

RJ, very glad to see you're alive.

38
by QQ (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:25pm

"As for the Rams, Sam Bradford is off to a very poor start. His receivers are Brandon Gibson and Mike Sims-Walker. He is trying to master a new offense. The entire team is in disaster mode. The Rams have about a dozen needs more pressing than bailing on the guy who was everyone’s quarterback of the future three months ago."

I think both this Statement and Philosophy are Wrong. Bradford's rookie year was pretty overhyped considering he basically racked up a decent completion percentage while throwing 2 yard passes and rarely scoring points. Bradford also never produced any transcendent moments where you thought "WOW I have never seen THAT play or quality of throw before." I readily admit the Rams receivers are abysmal but still an skeptical of Bradford.

As far as the Philosophy of not taking Luck because they have Bradford, that should only be true if you think their Upside's are either equal or Really, Really close. Personally I doubt this and think that Bradord's Highest Ceiling is a better Pennington. Even if Bradford is a future Pro Bowl QB (Highest Ceiling), swapping a Pro Bowl Player for a Hall of Famer (Highest Ceiling) is a huge upgrade. For what it's Worth, Luc's Cap Number is also Much more Cap friendly due to the New Rookie Wage Scale

39
by Will Allen :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 6:43pm

Agreed, If you are of the mind that Luck is the best qb prospect since Elway, as I've heard some say, then you take him, period, and hope Bradford plays well enough before you can't not start Luck any longer, so as to maximize Bradford's trade value. Eli Manning is a nice player, but you'd be crazy to pass on Peyton Manning because Eli was on your roster already.

53
by David :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 4:34am

This isn't happening in a vacuum - you're giving up the chance for another player in order to take Luck, and whatever you're getting in trade for Bradford, it's not going to be more than a third-rounder.

You'd be crazy to give up Peppers and Eli to get Peyton...

54
by QQ (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 5:06am

David I think you are completely wrong:

1. Peyton's Career is more Valuable than Eli's + Peppers' Careers Combined

2. STL would get Way more than simply a 3rd for Bradford. Heck look at what Phi received for Kolb and Bradford is considered to be the far superior prospect/player

59
by Will Allen :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 8:53am

Yeah, I doubt that there is a single GM in the league who would not give up Peppers and Eli's career to have Peyton's on their roster. I think qb play is sometimes overemphasized, but not first ballot Hall of Fame qb play, with the way the rules are enforced now. Season after season of double digit wins, despite significant roster deficiencies elsewhere, really says it all.

69
by David :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 4:38am

Fair point on Bradford's trade value - if you can trade out for something similar to Kolb's trade, then yeah, pick up Luck

62
by dryheat :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 10:34am

Until the Offensive Line can protect him better than a tissue paper chastity belt, there's no sense in trying to figure out what Bradford can and cannot do. He aspires to have Jay Cutler's protection.

78
by armchair journe... :: Mon, 10/17/2011 - 12:45pm

I have to figure out how to work "tissue paper chastity belt" into casual conversation.

_______________________________
armchair journeyman quarterback

43
by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 7:39pm

Why did you have to go and be so nice to Doug Baldwin? Now I feel sorta bad for using MikeTainer as a login for all those pornography sites.

44
by wr (not verified) :: Wed, 10/12/2011 - 7:40pm

[nitpick]The Western Front front line in WWI was nowhere near the Ardennes in 1917[/nitpick]

Other than that, great article. I particlulary loved the Delhomme part.

55
by nflalternative.com :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 7:15am

foxlies Since you mentioned lance louis and al davis ...watching martz coached bears reminds me of Al.NFL really is not for long or at least not for that long.... when you buy your own legend you drink your own kool aid.Shula in miami lucked into marino but don coached 10 years past prime and achieved little after. by the way I type glacially so unless i can figure out mac speech dictate[unlikely] Ill continue to be non poster but MT you are one funny mf and your esoteric humor is much appreciated

56
by nflalternative.com :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 7:16am

foxlies

57
by nflalternative.com :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 7:16am

foxlies

65
by Mood_Indigo (not verified) :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 7:08pm

Tanier

You mean to say that you never watched Andrew Luck all those TD passes to Doug Baldwin over the last two seasons at Stanford?!

70
by Mike Tanier :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 9:47am

Not with any scrutiny. I do not flat-out scout Stanford games. The world will not really need my opinion on Andrew Luck this offseason. I was really focusing on South Carolina this season, which gives you an idea of what a good luck charm I must be.

72
by Mood_Indigo (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 5:42pm

In that case, feel free to focus on the Card's mortal enemy, the other USC, who they play in a couple of weeks!

By the way, Mike, I really enjoy your writing, especially your weekly match-ups which I follow on NYT and comment on regularly as my other handle, Ajit, a Niners fan.

66
by jebmak :: Thu, 10/13/2011 - 7:30pm

Since you said Miami, I'm guessing that that had to be a Baseketball reference.

71
by 21 Cards (not verified) :: Fri, 10/14/2011 - 11:40am

Hard to say what Bradford's trade value would be. Thing with Kolb is he was kind of like the girl you date a couple of weeks before she goes on a six month humanitarian trip to Africa. You never really see her warts and the league never really got to see Kolb's. Bradford will be a known quantity and since that quantity won't be "superstar" his value might be more muted than if he had been more unknown.

74
by Spanky (not verified) :: Sat, 10/15/2011 - 4:27pm

someone needs to call this dude out for pretty much his entire existence. on the field, i cant think of a more overrated player. scattershot accuracy, overrated mobility, and a generally unimpressive passer despite his arm. on top of that, he wouldn't play for the team which drafted him. the reason i bring it up is that i think it has something to do with the organizations handling of tebow. its clear from his first actions as a pro-eligible player that elway has a massive ego. and i believe that hes cowering in the light of tebows star. hes afraid to hand the reigns over to someone who just might (not necessarily will) become a bigger star in denver than he was, whether the productions and Ws match the hype. doesnt tebow share similarities with elway? strong QB with dicey accuracy, physical specimen, reputed winner? must be tough for a guy like elway to be a part of the braintrust that ushers in his new model. and i think thats why denvers resisted the idea of playing tebow, to date.

75
by t.d. :: Sat, 10/15/2011 - 6:13pm

got to be honest, his arm doesn't look that great to me. he's "bodybuilder" strong, but I see more floaters than Newtonesque bombs

77
by InTheBoilerRoom :: Sun, 10/16/2011 - 12:26pm

I propose that in lieu of Newtonesque, all things relating to Cam Newton shall henceforth be deemed Newtonian.

79
by jabrch :: Tue, 10/18/2011 - 11:44am

Al Davis still running Raiders from the grave....how else do you explain 2 1sts for a 31 year old QB who's skills were already declining when he last played?