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A heart condition discovered at the combine has put the Michigan lineman's career in limbo, but Hurst had the best film of any defensive tackle in this year's draft class.

14 Jan 2010

Scramble for the Ball: Our Biscuits

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

One of These Things Is Like Bill Simmons ...

Tom: So, my all-Indianapolis/New Orleans fantasy strategy means I'm still alive and kicking in our staff fantasy league, unlike Mr. Verhei and his cadre of Rodgers, Maroney, Jackson, Driver, Ochocinco, Finley, Crosby and Green Bay Defense.

Mike: I'm not doing much better. My strategy was essentially to trust in my ability to assess the teams and matchups and choose my team accordingly. Yeah ... that didn't work out so well. I got pretty good performances from my players, but they were all in losing efforts.

Tom: It was a good weekend for Vince, especially with Ray Rice added in, at least. I did lose Cincinnati's defense off my team, so I have a wonderful -3 points. Full credit to The Sanchize for not playing as awful as I expected him to, or as he often did during the non-(almost completely) random portion of the season.

Mike: I'm not going to give Sanchez too much credit. He didn't really do anything on Saturday.

Tom: 12-for-15, no sacks, fumbles or picks.

Mike: A decent DYAR, also, but lots and lots of yards after the catch inflating a dinky, dunky performance.

Tom: I didn't say he was good, merely not awful.

Mike: My point is that he was in a gameplan where he was, as much as I loathe the term, "managing the game," in the non-pejorative sense. He didn't do poorly or well. He mostly did nothing.

Tom: He completed more than Joe Flacco's four passes!

Mike: Frighteningly true.

Tom: Offhand, the fewest completions for a winning quarterback in a playoff game since the merger is Bob Griese's three in the 1974 AFC Championship Game. He was six-for-seven in the Super Bowl that year. I've previously referred to these two games as "Jeff Fisher's idea of what football should look like."


Tom: Seeing those stats really makes me wonder how Bob Griese made the Hall of Fame.

Mike: Because the NFL Hall of Fame isn't about stats. Except when it is.

(Mike favors Emmitt Smith with a flat stare.)

Yes, I actually brought up a picture of Emmitt Smith on my monitor so I could do that.

Tom: Fouts is probably a better example of that, since he was the first Super Bowl era quarterback elected to the Hall of Fame without even making a Super Bowl, I believe.

Mike: Probably true, but Smith just irks me since he is statistically ahead of players I believe to be far better than him.

Tom: I've achieved a level of calm re: Emmitt, accepting that he'll make the Hall of Fame this year regardless of how good I think he was. Which was very good, just maybe not at that exalted level.

Mike: Nobody can seriously argue that he wasn't very good. It's all, of course, a mater of ratedness.

Tom: Anyway, Vince did get his week of glory, putting up 98 points, 1 point more than he scored in the entire playoffs last year.

Mike: Nice. The most surprising thing to me was the total meltdown of Green Bay's defense. Just ... wow.

Tom: I mentioned this in Audibles, but it seemed like the deep middle of the field was open all game.

Mike: And the mid-middle. And short-middle. Really, anything middle-related.

Tom: Sean is looking formidable. He's lost only Gostkowski, and racked up 20 each from Breaston and Fitzhulu. You and Vince, as we have mentioned, are kind of screwed.

Mike: Extremely screwed. Strategic hazard, I guess.

Tom: You did end up with the same record as the Boston Sports Guy!

Mike: My soul, it hurts when you say that.

Tom: You should have cross-checked your picks and changed your mind. Contraindicators may give you valuable information, you know.

Mike: It's true, but I will take my epic fail with my head held high. And root for the top seeds to win against those who hath spited me.

Tom: As readers of Seventh Day Adventure well know, sometimes the best bet was simply to go ahead and bet against Rob Edelstein's lock. For the record, Rob ended up 2-15 this year on his "lock of the week." That's an 88 percent success rate.

Mike: Poor Rob.

Tom: I don't mean to pick on Rob -- he seems like a nice guy, and his picks are just for fun -- but that's incredible. To quote NHL 2002: "Well, then, don't eat it!"

Mike: I don't know enough about college ball to comment on the vagaries of picking, but it seems to me that the spreads are so insane that it's a fool's game.

Tom: College ball is insane, generally speaking, but normally redeemed by the fact that with six games on TV at once, there's normally at least one decent or otherwise interesting one. That's why the new bowl season is about as disappointing as most of this wild card weekend. One game on at a time, and most single games aren't that interesting to non-partisans.

Mike: That would be nice, having more football.

Tom: I must say, I've become a much bigger NFL fan since getting Sunday Ticket.

Mike: I'd join Gregg Easterbrook's complaints about Sunday Ticket, but I don't have cable either, so I'm not getting it in any case. I'm actually really glad I don't get Red Zone. It seems like a horribly inorganic way to watch a game, like watching a baseball game that was all fastballs and home runs.

Tom: I had it going on my laptop while watching the real game on TV. It's sort of information overload, watching a game, a tab open to keep track of stats, gamecast on Red Zone, chatting about the game, plus the Audibles e-mail thread.

Mike: Yeah, I get a bit overloaded with the same, minus Red Zone. Part of the problem is that there are so few games, so you can't really just take a game off to relax and just watch. We have dealt with this issue before, however. In a nutshell: Picks are crazy, one should really just flip coins.

Tom: That's your gambling manifesto.

Mike: One of the great ironies of this column is my intense hatred of gambling.

Tom: And we seem to have survived, somehow, without making a single wrestling reference.

Mike: The times, they are a-changin'.

FO Playoff Wild Card Results

Aaron Peyton Manning -- LaDainian Tomlinson -- Marion Barber 0 Miles Austin 14 Julian Edelman 16 Percy Harvin -- Antonio Gates -- Nate Kaeding -- IND -- 30
Dave Brett Favre -- Adrian Peterson -- Reggie Bush -- Randy Moss 4 Greg Jennings 19 Robert Meachem -- Jason Witten 2 Jay Feely 6 NE 0 31
Vince Aaron Rodgers 40 Ray Rice 27 Laurence Maroney 0 DeSean Jackson 7 Donald Driver 4 Chad Ochocinco 2 Jermichael Finley 15 Mason Crosby 8 GB -5 98
Mike Tom Brady 7 Ryan Grant 7 Cedric Benson 23 Sidney Rice -- Jeremy Maclin 20 Derrick Mason 0 Brent Celek 5 Ryan Longwell -- NO -- 62
Sean Philip Rivers -- Thomas Jones 9 Beanie Wells 9 Vincent Jackson -- Larry Fitzgerald 20 Steve Breaston 20 Dallas Clark -- Stephen Gostkowski 2 NYJ 5 65
Tom Drew Brees -- Joseph Addai -- Pierre Thomas -- Reggie Wayne -- Marques Colson -- Austin Collie -- Jeremy Shockey -- Garrett Hartley -- CIN -3 -3

Best of the Rest

Well, you may have found Vince's 98 points impressive. And it is, unless you're dryheat, who not only put up 101 points despite having an inactive Anquan Boldin but also has all of his players remaining. It helps when you pick up Kurt Warner (38), Early Doucet (19), and Dustin Keller (15). Going heavy on a team that put up 51 points was a good move, as even the defense was a good play despite giving up 45 points. Five sacks, three turnovers, and a defensive score will do that for you (11). Second among the remainder teams was Dan with 88 points; no Warner, but going all in with Dallas netted him good scores from Romo, Felix Jones, Suisham, and DAL D. Brendan Scolari was narrowly behind at 85 points with an almost identical team (Dan has Cotchery, Brendan Crayton). There were seven more teams with between 62 and 72 points, so don't get too confident in your teams, gentlemen.

My Biscuits Bring All the Noir Heroine-Types to the Yard

Tom: We have covered a variety of different commercials in Scramble this year. The Car Commercial. The "Ripping Off Good Pop Culture To Make Crap" Commercial. The "Stupid Randomness" Commercial. One thing we haven't hit is the Local Star Commercial. Peyton Manning in a national Mastercard commercial comes with a certain level of script-writing and management. If it's somebody boring, it'll just be mediocre. If it's Peyton Manning, Genius Athlete Endorser of Our Era, it'll probably be great. We may find Howie Long creepy, but the commercial is merely odd, not actively bad. Athletes, however, don't only do national commercials. Sometimes, if you’re, say, a mediocre quarterback who leads your team to a Super Bowl, you'll get a local commercial to strut your stuff to your adoring fans. Entrez Jake Delhomme.


(Editor's Note: DUN DUN DUUUUUN.)

Mike: ...right.

Tom: I love the symbolism of this commercial. The lady in red walking down the dark alley at night, the flashing neon sign advertising "biskitz biskitz biskitz." Just in case you didn't know you were getting an ersatz product.

Mike: My main question is how something store-bought can be "made from scratch." I suppose in the sense that they were made from the component ingredients of biscuits. Are they arguing that Weird Street Vendor's biscuits are made from inorganic material or something?

Tom: Maybe the claim is that Weird Street Vendor makes biscuits and ships them frozen to the store, where they're reheated, while Bojangles makes their biscuits in-store. But if that's the claim, why not come out and make that claim? I will admit, however, that I don't believe I've ever eaten at Bojangles, so they may indeed have some incredibly good biscuits.

Mike: True, but still, we have all sorts of stupid food labels. "From scratch" is one of the worst, since it, like "organic" has a weird moral connotation.

Tom: That's because you're a horrible damnYankee and not a fine Southron genlemin like Jake Delhomme.

Mike: It's true, he -- wait, is Delhomme even from the South?

Tom: He's a Cajun, from Louisiana.

Mike: Well crap. I can't really compete with that. I'm sure he learned the fine art of biscuit-making from an elder biscuit vigilante, or Colonel Sanders, that fine Southern gent -- wait...

Really, though, it's all in the cape. They should add capes to the normal NFL uniform. Make it an extension of the hair rule.

Tom: Did you not see The Incredibles? No capes! Actually, maybe that's the way to do capes. He looks like he's just wearing his Panthers uniform with a cape randomly billowing behind him. It's his equivalent to the legendary "your own personal movie soundtrack that follows you around!"

Mike: Truly, Jake Delhomme is living the dream. Except for that whole being put on IR in disgrace thing.

Tom: Remember, it's not Jake's fault John Fox signed him to a crazy extension. If I were in his shoes, I would have signed the same deal.

Mike: Of course.

Tom: Nor is it strictly Delhomme's fault Fox kept trotting him out there after it was reasonably clear Delhomme was not a good option.

Mike: I'm really wondering what happened to him. Maybe too many biscuits? Or too tired after a night of stalking the town, protecting women from inferior baked goods?

Tom: He's 34, and NFL quarterbacks tend to decline as they age. Guys like Warren Moon or Don Lorenzo are serious, serious exceptions to the general trend of NFL quarterbacks. Almost no quarterbacks are good after the age 36 or so, and that includes elite, Hall of Fame-caliber players. Delhomme had a shorter distance to fall, so maybe we shouldn't be surprised that he declined slightly early.

Mike: Wait, is this actual football analysis in our commercial segment? DARK ARTS.

Tom: Well, in that case, back to nonsense! I don't really get the Lady in Red’s objection to the biskitz. This guy comes up to her on the street and offers her free food. She turns him down because it's not the right type of free food. Now, I will do this, but I'm weird. Most people are very accepting of free food.

Mike: Maybe she just watched Raiders of the Lost Ark?

Tom: This commercial is advertising the quality of the food, but seems to be downplaying the basic commercial transaction that is at the root of how Bojangles can continue to provide tasty (?), made-from-scratch biscuits to its customers.

Mike: Have we come to this? Looking gift biscuits in the mouth?

Tom: Fine, you can take your bad free food. Or have you never had incredibly dry and hard biscuits?

Mike: Oh, I've had all sorts of biscuits, so yes. Still, food has to be pretty bad to be not worth the low, low price of free.

Tom: Like the biscuits in this commercial. Weird Street Vendor may be providing very good biscuits but the sole relevant criterion seems to be "made from scratch," not "delicious."

Mike: As I said, it's a moral term, and this commercial is a morality play. She's being seduced by the guy's ... er ... biscuits. But they are inferior! Unlike Jake Delhomme's biscuits, which are delightfully scratched.

Tom: Maybe this woman has some serious vision problems. She declares Delhomme hit Weird Street Vendor "in the biscuits," when the thrown football clearly hit him in the face.

Mike: Maybe the South has adopted some sort of Restatement of Slang, with consolidations, allowing for fewer slang words for anatomy/baked goods and thereby allowing everyone to live normal, productive lives while talking at three words per minute.

Tom: I'll have you know that I'm a native "Southerner," if you're willing to put Texas in that category.

Mike: Not especially willing to, no.

Tom: Fair enough.

Mike: Dammit, now I'm hungry.

Tom: Well, in that case I guess it's time to end this column so you can go to bed. Or have you never used that strategy?

Mike: No? I'm not even sure what that strategy is.

Tom: Wait, you’ve never gotten tired late at night and decided to go to bed instead of (a) staying up and being hungry or (b) eating food when you shouldn’t? I'm surprised. I thought everybody did that in college. I guess you're just easily seduced by the thought of dry, hard, tasteless biscuits so long as they're warm and made from scratch.

Mike: ...yes?

Tom: In that case, curse you, Jake Delhomme, for tempting us with made-from-scratch biscuits we can't have!

Mike: It's true, tomorrow I'm going to have to make biscuits. And then throw them at passers-by. I think I have gotten Jake's message mixed up, here.


KEEP CHOPPING WOOD: The tone for the Ravens-Patriots playoff game was set early, on the first play from scrimmage, when Ray Rice romped 83 yards for a touchdown. Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather failed to attack the hole decisively and failed to lay a hand on Rice or catch up with him after his cut. Against that kind of run support, you can see how a team could succeed with a quarterback who could only complete four passes.

MIKE MARTZ AWARD: Challenges are rare and valuable things and should be husbanded wisely and kept until needed. Unless, of course, you're Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who blew his first challenge less than a minute into the game on an almost-certain loser after the benefit of a commercial timeout in which to view television and video board (presumably) re-airings of the play, then blew his second challenge on a useful but non-vital 15-yard completion on third-and-9 with less than a minute to play in the first quarter. This second challenge would be reasonable, except that it left him without a challenge for the final three quarters. 15-yard gains down to the 41-yard line aren't that valuable.

COLBERT AWARD: When NFL teams fall behind in elimination games, more boldness than usual is required. While Packers coach Mike McCarthy eschewed the boldest moves -- such as going for 2 while down 45-44 and going for it instead of taking the field goal down 24-7 with :04 to play in the first half -- he did boldly call for an onside kick down 31-17, and then went for it on fourth-and-1 when the drive after the successful onside looked like it might not produce a first down. Ahman Green converted and the drive produced a score that cut the deficit to 7 points. A fourth-down conversion on a subsequent drive cut the deficit to 7 again, and McCarthy tried to win the game in one blow on the first play of overtime, an effort that nearly succeeded. That is how NFL coaches should be coaching in elimination games when their team goes down early.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 14 Jan 2010

49 comments, Last at 15 Jan 2010, 5:10pm by MatMan


by Ryan D. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:05pm

I wish you guys had a Bojangles further north than their one location in Reading, PA. Their Cajun filet biscuits are great.

by Made up name (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:27pm

I prefer this Delhomme ad for Bojangles. Exploding footballs, chicken and biscuits, Steve Smith riding shotgun in a General Lee, it has everything a commercial could want.


by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:14am

So . . . biscuits. Um, as far as you guys are concerned, what exactly are biscuits? Because I'm think what I'd call a biscuit you'd call a cookie (though certainly there are also things which we would both call cookies, and neither of us would call biscuits). I certainly wouldn't eat anything I would call a biscuit with chicken. That would be wierd. Chocolate chilies and pineapple on pizza are A-OK, but I draw the line at chicken biscuits. Though my friend did make a duck cake the other day. Someone had filled an old honey jar with duck fat and written "not" above the word "honey". She thought it was a whimsical joke of some kind. Not good.

by MatMan :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 1:06pm

American biscuits aren't sweet. Think of them as tiny loaves of bread, with density and flakiness varying greatly from one region to another. I guess the closest you have would be a scone. We eat them with either savory or sweet topping.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 2:18pm

Righto. When I frame-by-framed the video in an attempt to get a better look at the biscuit my first thought was indeed that it looked kind of like a scone.

by MatMan :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 5:10pm

"When I frame-by-framed the video in an attempt to get a better look at the biscuit..."

This is the kind of thorougness I'll need from contributors at my new website, BISCUITOUTSIDERS.COM.

by R O (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:08pm

My question is this: Are Dehlomme and Palmer two peas in the same pod?

Palmer may not have had surgery, but his season did end last year with elbow problems as did Delhomme's. Are their arms just shot?

Palmer may have been protecting his arm all year and then just threw the dice and blew it out when he knew they HAD to score points against the Chargers.

Have you guys seen enough film to make a guess about this?

by langsty :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:45am

Delhomme's problem isn't that his arm's shot, he's just finished mentally. He can't step up into the pocket, he struggles to hold onto the ball, he panics when pressured and he's terrified to throw into zones. He's just... done.

by R O (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:11pm

Er, I guess Jake's was two years ago. But I think the elbow problem weakened his arm significantly.

A football is significantly heavier than a baseball. I just wonder if QB's just aren't going to have the same success coming back from arm problems as pitchers.

by John G (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:15pm

Despite your hatred of gambling, I want to use this time to thank Football Outsiders; I won a "Yahoo pick 'em" league, in large part, thanks to the statistics and game charting provided by you guys. For example, the week 14 Cleveland win over Pittsburgh. I knew the Browns special teams was good, and the Steelers' special teams was bad, but I didn't realize how extreme they were without FO's data.

by Eddo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:20pm

"Tom: Seeing those stats really makes me wonder how Bob Griese made the Hall of Fame."

A commenter in one thread had Griese listed in his top ten quarterbacks of all time, in favor Staubach, Elway, Starr, Favre, and Fouts, among others.

by andrew :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:03pm

Bob Greise was so much more than a mediocre passer, he could hand off like no one's business, he was quite mobile, and he could even kick extra points and short field goals if needed (not that he was ever called upon to do this in the pros, but he did in college).

In fairness they only threw 13 times in two games (and they attempted to a couple more, there was at least 1 sack in the superbowl) because they didn't need to pass more.

by Eddo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:07pm

I never said he was a mediocre passer, just that he's not one of the top ten quarterbacks of all time. And being great at handoffs and chip-shot field goals doesn't really apply to his skills as one.

by Temo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:24pm

You lost teh funny.

by Eddo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:31pm

Oh, I get it! I get jokes!

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 10:37am

Say, Eddo, do you like fish sticks?

Do you like to put fish sticks in your mouth?

What are you, a gay fish?

by Eddo :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:29am

Well played.

by BadgerDave :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:24pm

"Five sacks, three turnovers, and a defensive score will do that for you (11)."

This made me think of a question, has there ever been a game where a team lost but if both rosters were matched against each other, the outcome would have been reversed?

by Eddo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:08pm

I'm not sure what you're asking. Aren't "both rosters [] matched against each other" in all games?

by seven year lion (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 6:50pm

I'm assuming you mean fantasy-wise. That is, Team A beats Team B on the field, but a line-up comprised entirely of Team B's players would have beaten a line-up of Team A's players in a fantasy match-up. I don't have any specific examples, but I'm sure it has. Any close game where a pass heavy team loses to a run heavy team would have a pretty good shot since passing yards and TDs count for both the QB and receiver (even if the per-yard or per-TD value is often less for the QB).

by John (not verified) :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 9:29am

I would bet it happens all the time. I'm not a FF player, but as best as I can tell, the scoring is incredibly arbitrary and only tangentially related to the outcome of the game.

by Walshmobile (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:35pm

As a Cajun, shouldn't Jake Delhomme be promoting Popeye's? Maybe his poor play is fast food fried chicken karmic justice.

by Joe T. :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:27am

Bojangles is "Cajun-inspired" as well, they just don't play it up as much as Popeyes.

by Scott C :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:38pm

"That is how NFL coaches should be coaching in elimination games when their team goes down early."

Doesn't matter if it is an elimination game or not -- for both elimination games and boring old regular season games, the objective is to win!

by Temo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:47pm

Your thoughts on E. Smith are as confusing as they are vague.

by The Powers That Be :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:14pm

I found their thoughts very clear: they think Emmitt doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame.

by dryheat :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:36pm

I think more that he's a HoFer, but he doesn't belong in the discussion of the GOAT. I'd certainly take, at a minimum, Brown, Payton, and Sanders in some order ahead of Emmitt...and possibly Simpson, Dorsett, Faulk, and Dickerson.

And that's spending about 10 seconds thinking about it.

Edited: No, it looks like your interpretation is correct.

by Temo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:40pm

I don't know who was correct, because the whole piece was written very vaguely.

As for your list, I think you need to knock Simpson up a rank, and Sanders down.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 3:50pm

I wrote this on my own site when I did a very brief run-through of the 25, but my view is that Emmitt Smith would have been a very good running back on any team, but ended up on an exceptional team which enabled him to accomplish things that made him a sure-fire Hall of Famer that he wouldn't have been able to accomplish on a lesser team. Compare, say, Curtis Martin, who is in my mind a borderline Hall of Famer.

by Temo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 4:20pm

If that's so, then do you see Erik Williams, Mark Tuinei or Nate Newton making the HoF (assuming Larry Allen is a lock)?

For as dominant a team as that early 90's team was, you need some sure-fire Hall of Famers, right? I think most people agree that Irvin qualifies. Same for Larry Allen, though he didn't start until '94 or '95.

I've heard plenty of bitching about Troy Aikman, based on his mediocre passing stats during that time. Or are we going to say that the team was built on defense or something?

If so, of the defensive guys on that team, who qualifies? Deion came by for the '95 season, but that was towards the tail end. Leon Lett? Darren Woodson? Charles Haley?

Of the '90-'94 Cowboys, I believe only Aikman, Irvin, Smith, and Haley are going in. I hope like hell that Woodson will go in, but my hopes aren't very high.

I'm just wondering that if you view Smith as a very good RB on an exceptional team, who the exceptional players were that made that team exceptional-- unless you're going to take the cheap way out and claim that it was a team of all almost-great players. And that's a serious question too, because everyone has a different answer.

by Mike Kurtz :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 4:32pm

The main problem with your assumption is that a great team must by necessity have some number of Hall of Famers on the roster, which I don't think is necessarily true, because football teams have so many moving parts that a team that was merely great (not Hall of Fame) great at every or most every position would just dominate opponents based on mismatches.

I'm not sure if I think Smith should be in the Hall or not. He's probably the most marginal case I can think of. I'm inclined to say no, but I'm not sure that I can separate my disdain for Smith's fandom and hype from my appraisal of his skill.

by dryheat :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 9:08am

I would agree with this. Of this decade's Patriot teams, which I think qualify as "great", I would only vote for Brady and Belichick for the Hall. After that we get into the borderlines of Harrison and Dillon, the latter of which you would classify as a Bengal anyway. Then again, I didn't think Tippett would get in. However, I'm always surprised to hear some Patriot fans talk of Seymour, Law, Vinatieri, McGinest, etc. as probable HoFers. I'd be shocked if any of them make it.

All of which is a long way of agreeing that a great team doesn't need to have X number of HoFers. In fact, the Hall is cluttered with 70s-era Steelers and Cowboys who probably don't belong.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:06am

I'm pretty much with you on this. Brady and Belichick are locks. Moss is a lock, but didn't play on any of the Superbowl winning teams. Seymour I think has a decent case and time left to add to it - he's the next most credible candidate. Law is probably the third best corner of his approximate generation, after Bailey and Woodson, so I wouldn't totally rule him out, but I wouldn't put him in if it was up to me. McGinest doesn't belong, and if Vinatieri goes Peter King better know I'm coming for him, and his children, and his children's children.

Pretty much everyone agrees that Swann was a mistake, right? I also think Bradshaw doesn't belong, and I'm far from sold on Harris and Stallworth. Noll, Lambert, Ham, Greene, Blount and Webster - would that really be such an unreasonable representation for those teams?

As for Smith, my opinion is Hall of Fame yes, in the greatest of all time discussion no. Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all time, OJ Simpson had the highest peak of any running back of all time, and if I could use a time machine to pick any running back at any point in their career to play one game for me this weekend under today's rules it would be 2000 Marshall Faulk.

by dryheat :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:37am

I'm OK with Bradshaw. Swann and Stallworth tend to grind my gears a bit...and I thought Stallworth was excellent. But there were better WRs on lesser teams at the time. Were either one of them better than, oh let's see, Harold Carmichael, Stanley Morgan, Roy Green, Cris Collinsworth, Drew Hill?

by Eddo :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:32am

I'm with you on just about all your analysis, Mr Shush. Jim Brown is probably the greatest running back of all time, Sanders the most dangerous, Payton the most versatile. Simpson had an incredible peak, but I think he's just a shade below those three. Faulk should be in the discussion more, as I'm particularly partial to running backs who contribute in the passing game.

I think I'm with you on which one as the best to start a game today, though don't rule out someone like Payton, who caught passes and was a tremendous pass blocker. With his throwing ability and intelligence, he'd probably make a damn good wildcat QB/RB as well.

by dryheat :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:42am

That's a fun game. Put me down for one order of Eric Dickerson's rookie season.

by Temo :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 5:09pm

Myself, I'm inclined to agree that Smith as a player was great but not automatically HoF, but deserves to be enshrined for his contribution to NFL history (as the most prolific runner).

Anyway, to be more general about this, you seem to be implying that a team can be one of the all-time greatest teams yet not have many significant individual contributions (which is what is being measured by HoF induction).

Then doesn't that cheapen the Hall of Fame itself then, as this team was presumably assembled from a great group of individuals, rather than a group of great individuals? What's the point of enshrining the world's greatest football players if we're also saying that in order to achieve the sport's greatest goal (to be a great team and win championships), you really don't need very many of them (Broncos fans will chime in here).

And then there are many other oddities that arise with your reasoning. For example, let us presume that the Greatest Offensive Lineman Ever to Live had 4 terrible line-mates. Because he's unable to protect a QB by himself and open running lanes by himself, his team struggles and he's never recognized for his individual brilliance. In theory, you would want this man in the Hall of Fame, but in practice it will never happen.

In football, this happens over and over and over again-- most glaringly in the offensive line, but elsewhere as well. Even for QBs, there are cases like Archie Manning, who many contend was an all-time talent stuck on a shitty team. But we would never enshrine Archie because the production just isn't there.

Similarly, it seems absurd to then turn around and try to distribute Smith's great production amongst a group of individuals and say that (perhaps) individually, none of them are worth enshrinement. In this case, I would argue that it's OK to elevate the "Very Very Good" lineman amongst a team with 4 "Very Good" linemen, because you're never going to identify those "Great" lineman that are stuck on teams with 4 "Meh" lineman.

Anyway, I personally hate the Hall of Fame in football, because it attempts to give out individual accolades in a sport where everything you do is contingent upon the actions of many other individuals. Until we figure out a way to tease out the effect of the individuals, we will forever be stuck in a morass of incompetence as far as enshrinement is concerned.

by R O (not verified) :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 9:43am

I DEFINITELY think their offensive linemen should be in the HOF. That was one of the best lines of all time IMO.

by Tom Gower :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:39am

Which one, though? I don't see a good case for anybody other than Larry Allen.

by Staubach12 :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 3:20am

But you could say that about a lot of great players (Pro Football Reference has a great post about Vinny Testaverde being one of the most talented quarterbacks ever but he just had the poor luck of being on crappy teams until he was past his prime).

By the way, Smith only spent five years on a great team. His teams in 1990-1991 and 1997-2004 were generally below average (2 winning seasons, one 8-8 season, and 7 losing seasons). Nevertheless, Smith was a pro-bowler in '90, '91, '98, and '99.

Even during the Superbowl years, Smith was the best player on the team. Take 1993 as an illustration of Smith's value. Smith missed the majority of four games that year (2 entire games missed because of a holdout, and 2 games in which smith left before halftime because of an injury), the cowboys lost all four of those games (including losses to the 4-12 Redskins, the 6-10 Falcons, the 9-7 Dolphins, and the 13-3 Bills). The Cowboys won all 12 games that Smith played in, and most of those were absolutely dominating wins. Without Smith, Dallas was a mediocre team at best. In fact, the Cowboys lost all nine games that Smith missed during his tenure as a Cowboy.

Contrast Emmit's value to that of the other members of the team. When Aikman was missed a game in the 1990s, the Cowboys were 11-5.

Honestly, I don’t see how you can not consider Emmitt to be a HOF talent. Was a prolific runner—though he was a consistent runner, not an exciting boom-or-bust runner like Sanders. The guy had more yards after contact with a defender than any back in history. He was ridiculously durable—an important trait for running backs.

He was also the best RB in pass protection I have ever seen. The guy could handle most pass-rushing specialists one-on-one, and he was a huge part of Aikman’s success. In my opinion, Smith was the best complete running back of all time, since most of the other prolific backs were liabilities in pass protection. How’s that for greatness that has nothing to do with stats?

by R O (not verified) :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 9:46am

Testaverde contributed heavily to MAKING his teams crappy early in his career.

by commissionerleaf :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 2:53pm

Something is definitely wrong with Carson Palmer. His mechanics are shot, he isn't pronating his arm properly at the end of throws, and he seems tentative and is inaccurate. All big issues for a guy who looked like the heir to Peyton Manning in 2005.

Certainly his decline has something to do with the collapse (and, this year, modest improvement from its low) of the Bengals offensive line, and the decline of his receiving corps from Chad Johnson/TJ Housh/Chris Henry to Chad Johnson's decaying corpse/Lavaranues Coles/Andre Caldwell. But he looks awful, and isn't even giving his reduced receiving options a chance right now. Which is a shame, because if Cincinnati had a decent QB right now they'd be a contender.

by KR (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 4:19pm

As a Panthers fan, I have often joked with my friends that one reason for Jake's decline has been due to the fact that his speech, never terribly coherent anyway, has devolved entirely into some abomination we call "Cajun Bojanglese," which makes calling audibles difficult. "Biscuits & Gravy on 2! Chicken, chicken, mac & cheese!"

Only Steve Smith, having also starred in several Bojangles commercials, can understand him, which explains why he is the only good receiver we have had in years.

by Phil Osopher :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 11:18am

This is my new view of all Panther's huddles from now on. Delhommie in there or not.

by Mike Kurtz :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 4:19pm

I meant to include this in the article proper in lieu of lols this week, but in a rush forgot to put it in:

Unrelated to the restaurant chain, I would like to bring some attention to Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, one of the great entertainers of American culture who, due to personal problems, slights during his career and the natural progression of performing arts, will most likely soon be entirely forgotten. This is my favorite routine (of those available on the internet, of course) of his, and I challenge anyone to watch him dance and not start grinning like a fool.

by John (not verified) :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 9:35am

Bill & Lena Horne star in one of my all-time favorite movies, "Stormy Weather," which ends in one of the most amazing tap displays you'll ever see. Highly recommended, available via Netflix. Lots of cameo (and not so cameo) appearances by big names of the day.

And as a Hoosier, I desperately wish for a local Bojangles. It's like Hardees breakfast, but better, and all day long. Mmmmmm.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 10:50am

I confess it doesn't really do it for me. I mean, it's impressive and all, but what's the point? Probably that just means I'm the tapdancing equivalent of someone who could watch the 2005 Edbaston Ashes test and not see the point of cricket.

by George (not verified) :: Thu, 01/14/2010 - 4:34pm

Here in the Carolinas our football team might be home for the playoffs because our QB morphed into Ryan Leaf on New Years Day 2009, but at least we have delicious Bojangles to comfort us. Also Biscuitville, for those of us lucky enough to live in central NC. I don't care what Jake says, Biscuitville is the shizzle.

by panthersnbraves :: Fri, 01/15/2010 - 2:32pm

I will concede that Biscuitville's party (mini) biscuits are excellent.