Scramble for the Ball: 2015 All-Keep Choppin' Wood Team

Scramble for the Ball: 2015 All-Keep Choppin' Wood Team
Scramble for the Ball: 2015 All-Keep Choppin' Wood Team
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Andrew Healy and Sterling Xie

Andrew: OK, we're going to do our All-Keep Choppin' Wood Team here -- and you can skip to that part below, where we list the players who went to particularly great lengths to help their teams lose -- but I'm still a little depressed after the Patriots' loss in Denver, and I want to declare myself eligible for All-KCW as a fan. I'm now 0-for-7 when making a substantial effort both monetarily and time-wise to get to a game. Many of these cover other sports, back when I cared tons about hockey and baseball. My poor investments of fan resources over the years:

1994 Devils vs. Rangers Game 6: I'm in high school and drive to the arena the day of the game in my 1982 Nissan Stanza hatchback. Looking for tickets, I get directed to a seedy guy who's driving around the parking lot in a loop to evade detection and has a stack of maybe 200 tickets. I give him $65, a shockingly high share of my net worth at the time. My Devils lead 2-0 late second period before Mark Messier gets a third-period hat trick to fulfill his pregame guarantee. This was made extra annoying by there being 60 percent Rangers fans at the Brendan Byrne Arena.

1996 Yankees vs. Orioles Game 1: I don't even like the Orioles, but friends and I slept out for tickets in the Bronx, maybe one of the last times it was actually possible to do that. Jeffrey Maier, Jeter, the team I hate the most.

1996 Yankees vs. Braves Game 6: The start of the dynasty by the team I hate the most.

2003 Nets vs. Spurs Game 5: Three days before my wedding, I drive from Boston with my buddy to see the Nets in a series where they're tied 2-2. Tim Duncan is guarded by a guy who drove me insane at the time, but then turns out to have been pretty heroic even if he was the master of the stat line filled up only with minutes. Jason Collins and the Nets lose the game and the series in six.

2011 Super Bowl: Covered this last week a bit. Last-minute trip to Indy, this time alone. Watched the Super Bowl fall off Wes Welker's fingertips.

2013 AFC Championship Game: Yecch.

2015 AFC Championship Game: Yecch.

Now, I've had successes when the investment was less as a share of my money and time (notably the Marlon McCree game, a pretty short drive from L.A. to San Deigo), but my team always loses whenever I make a huge effort to go.

I'm not asking for your sympathy. This is what they call a First World problem. I just think my resources could be better invested given the outcomes of these games.

Given that you're young enough to think Messier is an adjective, you must be asleep by now.

Sterling: I would give my All-KCW of losses, but as Patriots fans, no one really wants to hear it from us. True misery isn't three conference championship losses in five years. True misery is everything below this paragraph.

One of Scramble's two annual pre-Super Bowl traditions, the All-KCW team will field a lineup on both sides of the ball. We're looking for both on- and off-field problem children, with the KCW MVP ideally being a malcontent who causes headaches for fans and teammates alike. I think we can probably figure out the captain for this team right away.

Andrew: I hear you striking up a sarcastic symphony of tiny violins. All right, on to the 2015 All-KCW Team.


Sterling: To steal an old segment from Mike and Mike, Johnny Manziel has to be a Stone Cold Lead Pipe lock for this spot. Manziel was a bottom-10 quarterback by both passing DVOA and DYAR, and embarrassed himself enough to make the cast of Ballers blush. Considering he even reputedly got Josh Gordon suspended last year, I don't think the Manziel era could have gone much worse in Cleveland.

Andrew: Purely on the field, you could make a case for the DYAR cellar-dweller Nick Foles, but we have to go with the perfect storm of extreme douchebaggery with onfield suckitude.

Running Backs

Sterling: I really want to hand this out to every first-round fantasy running back not named Adrian Peterson. But while we can't blame those who fell to injury, Eddie Lacy and DeMarco Murray were massive disappointments who appeared to play with all the urgency and enthusiasm of an Initech employee filing TPS reports. Both were bottom-10 backs by both rushing DVOA and DYAR, and Murray's rumored chicanery in getting Chip Kelly fired doesn't make him any more endearing.

Wide Receivers

Andrew: I think the top choice at wide receiver is Andre Johnson. The former Texans receiver looked pretty uninterested in 2014. The hope that the trip to the Colts and competent quarterbacking would resuscitate Johnson's career was misplaced. Disgruntled players rarely become gruntled. Johnson was not the rare exception, and looked done even when Andrew Luck was healthy.

Sterling: Any issue with Roddy White for the other spot? The rapidly diminishing wideout complained multiple times about his role in the offense, and ended up with arguably the worst year of his career despite somehow starting all 16 games. Josh Norman garnered a lot of negative attention for his role in provoking Odell Beckham's hissyfit, but when he called White the Falcons' No. 5 receiver, I almost didn't mind him putting White down.

Andrew: No problem at all with White, but I think we've got to carve out a third spot at wide receiver. Randall Cobb was shockingly unable to do anything this year when asked to assume the No. 1 receiver role. In 2014, with Jordy Nelson healthy, Cobb ranked first in receiving DVOA. This year, without Nelson, Cobb fell to 60th. After getting No. 1 receiver dollars in the offseason, Cobb showed that he wasn't worth it. Davante Adams was worse, but Cobb was more disappointing given expectations.

Tight Ends

Andrew: After signing a big contract with the Jaguars in the offseason, Julius Thomas didn't do much. He dropped seven of his 80 targets for the worst drop rate of any tight end with at least 50 targets. His DYAR ranked third from the bottom this year. Below replacement-level play for a cool $24 million guaranteed. And Thomas isn't exactly Rob Gronkowski as a blocker.

Offensive Line

Andrew: At left tackle, we'll go with Jason Peters. On the field, he played poorly, contributing to an Eagles line that ranked 28th on runs to left end and 29th on runs over left tackle. He also may have quit at the end of the Week 16 game against Washington, choosing not to play over risking injury. Given that he battled injuries all year, however, I think we should be careful with the criticism there. I wish more players were more careful. Peters did make the Pro Bowl, but so did Brandon Meriweather twice. (More on him coming later.)

This could be recency bias talking, but I'm going with Marcus Cannon at right tackle. The Patriots' offensive line managed to finish 20th in adjusted sack rate this year even with a quarterback who sometimes gets rid of the ball so fast I'm not sure it touches his fingertips. On Sunday, Cannon seemed to me to be the worst offender on the single worst line performance of the season. Maybe that's a little harsh given that the task of playing tackle against Von Miller is too big an ask for Cannon, but he, not Stephen Gostkowski, seems like the biggest single goat.

Sterling: We need an interior for our Swiss Cheese unit, so we'll go with Dallas Thomas and Cameron Erving as our guards, with Drew Nowak as our center. I wonder if Ryan Tannehill's wife feels about Thomas the way Brent Grimes' wife feels about Tannehill, considering how much distress he's caused her husband as a starter the past two seasons. The first-rounder Erving, meanwhile, looked hopeless at right guard this season, and doesn't offer much assurance for the Browns if Alex Mack departs in free agency and forces him to kick inside to center. And it's not fair to blame Nowak entirely for Seattle's offensive line woes in the first half of the season, but considering how drastically the Seahawks' offense improved upon his release, there has to be at least a little cause-and-effect.

Andrew: I feel like we missed something by not having a Titan on this list for trying to get Marcus Mariota killed in his rookie season. So dishonorable mention to the entire Titans offensive line.

Defensive Front

Andrew: The MVP of this team in my book has to be Mario Williams. Nobody worked more diligently, primarily by not trying at all in many games, to drive the Bills' No. 2 defense from 2014 down to No. 24 this year. In five of his last eight games, Williams registered no sacks and no unassisted tackles. He announced to the press that he was unhappy with Rex Ryan's scheme and then showed it by no-showing. As my favorite remaining New York sports radio guy Joe Benigno would say, "What a disgrace."

Sterling: If Williams is one rush end, let's select Greg Hardy as his bookend. Hardy is on this team for the second consecutive season, and while he didn't get in legal trouble this time around, his chilling lack of remorse doesn't make him any less despicable than he was 12 months ago. The Cowboys' support for Hardy waned along with his production as the season went on, which bodes ominously for his future in Dallas or anywhere else.

It looks like we're playing a 4-3 with the edge defenders we've picked. Who ya got for the interior?

Andrew: Mario Williams will at least be happy to hear that he doesn't have to deal with the onerous demand of playing in a 3-4 scheme anymore. If we're looking for a couple of 4-3 defensive tackles, I'm going back to the Bills for one and taking Marcell Dareus at one spot. This one is not as clear-cut as Williams, but after getting paid just before the season in a no-upside contract for the Bills, Dareus posted just two sacks. His dropoff from 2014 (10 sacks) played the other biggest role in the Bills dropping from first to 31st in adjusted sack rate. Dareus's part in that incredible drop-off was pretty predictable, too. With his off-field history, not a guy to whom you want to be devoting huge long-term dollars. Now the Bills have that albatross of a contract wrapped around their necks for a while.

Sterling: Most of the knuckleheads on the defensive line this year seemed to play on the edge. It's either hilarious or depressing (or both) that the Giants played both Jason Pierre-Paul and personal foul magnet Damontre Moore at defensive end this year. Actually, that's probably just depressing. So for our other defensive tackle, I'll pick Cleveland's other first-rounder from this season, Danny Shelton. Shelton did nothing to help a front that finished 29th in adjusted line yards in 2014, as the Browns regressed to 30th in the category this year. This feels a little harsh -- he had less exposure than Erving, for example -- but Cleveland first-round picks should probably end up here on principle.

I can start the linebacking corps with one player on whome I think we can both agree. Balloting for real-life awards doesn't take the postseason into account, but Vontaze Burfict gets no such reprieve here. He's our Will linebacker, and this should go without explanation.

Andrew: Burfict did this to himself, but it's hard not to think of the "What if?" of Jeremy Hill not fumbling, leaving Tez to be the hero against the Steelers. But the football gods clearly want him on the All-KCW Team. Amazing he managed to commit fineable offenses three times in five weeks.

With another option not jumping immediately to mind, I'll go with Curtis Lofton at middle linebacker. Lofton's terrible pass coverage anti-helped the Raiders to rank 30th in DVOA on passes to running backs.

Sterling: I always wonder how on earth Lofton manages to finagle himself a three-down role every year, at least at the start of the season. Kiko Alonso sure looked like a true three-down linebacker during his rookie season, but in his Philadelphia debut, Alonso looked nothing like the rangy player who impressed everyone in Buffalo two years ago before tearing his ACL. When Jordan Hicks went down, the Eagles run defense collapsed, and Alonso generally appeared clueless about his run fits and tackling form. Signing Murray may have been Chip Kelly's biggest personnel failure of the past offseason, but trading LeSean McCoy for Alonso was a close second.

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Andrew: Miami corner Brent Grimes deserves a spot even if the Dolphins' front office made the mistake by going into the season so thin at corner. The Dolphins ranked dead last against No. 1 receivers in DVOA this year and Grimes ranked 78th (out of 83) cornerbacks with a 44 percent success rate this year, per charting data from Sports Info Solutions. The Dolphins put all their chips on Ndamukong Suh and gambled on an already on-the-downside Grimes being able to hold together the secondary. That gamble failed and things get even harder now with Suh's contract likely already needing a rework with his cap hit ballooning to $28 million this year.

Sterling: Considering the Saints put out literally the worst defense we've ever measured, New Orleans needs some nominees in this spot. Kenny Vaccaro and Brandon Browner played the most snaps in the Saints' secondary, and not coincidentally, were two of the most actively harmful starters in the league this year. Depressingly, the Saints wouldn't really save money by cutting Browner, who would leave $5.35 million in dead money on the cap. Vacarro is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal, and unless he reignites memories of his impressive rookie season, both will probably be goners by 2017.

Andrew: Yeah, Browner might be the ultimate lock for All-KCW with his record-breaking 24 penalties this season. That could even be an all-time record, but we only have individual penalty data back to 1999. Since we need another safety, I'll go with the Giants' Brandon Meriweather. On top of his history of gutless headhunting, Meriweather this year ranked fifth from the bottom in the league with 0.224 tackles broken per tackle made. He has always been terrible in coverage, too.

Special Teams

Sterling: Maybe you disagree with me, but I don't think Blair Walsh can have a spot here solely because of his season-ending shank. I think Jason Myers did much more to earn the kicker spot, missing the most extra points in a season since Tom Little in 1979. Myers wasn't the only one to struggle with the lengthened PAT -- looking at you, Dan Carpenter -- but considering we once started a column trying to figure out how the hell he was employed, Myers takes the cake.

Andrew: That part's easy. We can punt on punter since the All-KCW team turns it over on every possession. In fact, let's make Johnny Manziel our punt returner on this team so we don't have to waste a roster spot there.

Coaching Staff

Andrew: I am proud to have the league's shakiest strategic (now ex-)coach, Mike Pettine, leading the All-KCW Team. And for our defensive coordinator, we get the two-headed Robex Ryan monster. Rob is a no-brainer, having coached the Saints to a historic level of defensive ineptitude. Given that Rex started with last year's No. 2 defense, his performance this year amazingly might be even worse. And it's certainly much more shocking given all his success on defense in previous years. So for a truly disappointing performance, Rex gets demoted to co-defensive coordinator here.

Sterling: I'm sure Buffalo fans are very excited for the Robex monster. I thought about going a couple different ways for the OC on this staff. Scott Linehan and Pep Hamilton (before his firing) commandeered extremely disappointing offenses, but I'm absolving them a bit because of quarterback injuries. Kelly ran the show in Philly, so I'm not throwing Pat Shurmur under the bus either.

Tom Clements may have called plays for a team that finished a respectable 11th in offensive DVOA, but that's also the Green Bay Packers' lowest ranking since Aaron Rodgers' first season as a starter in 2008. The Packers reeked of unimaginative play calling all season, and while Green Bay's problems weren't entirely on him -- things didn't really change when Mike McCarthy seized play calling duties, after all -- Clements had the keys to the Bugatti but insisted on driving in the right lane.

2015 All Keep Choppin' Wood Team
Offense Defense ST/Coaching
Position Player Position Player Position Player/Coach
QB Johnny Manziel DE Mario Williams K Jason Myers
RB Eddie Lacy DE Greg Hardy HC Mike Pettine
RB DeMarco Murray DT Marcell Dareus OC Tom Clements
WR Randall Cobb DT Danny Shelton DC "Robex" Ryan
WR Andre Johnson LB Vontaze Burfict

WR Roddy White LB Curtis Lofton

TE Julius Thomas LB Kiko Alonso

LT Jason Peters CB Brent Grimes

LG Dallas Thomas CB Brandon Browner

C Drew Nowak S Brandon Meriweather

RG Cameron Erving S Kenny Vacarro

RT Marcus Cannon

FO Staff Playoffs Update

Sterling: Unless the Broncos blow out the Panthers in the way the Seahawks blew them out two years ago, I think I'm gonna be alright. Everything went my way in the NFC Championship Game. Even David Johnson had 18 fantasy points in defeat, while every Panthers player/unit I had scored in double-digits.

Andrew: Yes, an impressive debut performance. Your strategy made a ton of sense and it has paid off with an almost-certain win. We now have you at -1,200 in our prediction market. Little drama left now. Only Tom has a non-zero probability of knocking you off, which would require the Broncos to hold the Panthers to single-digits. Very well played, sir.

Scott Vince Andrew Aaron Sterling Tom
QB Carson Palmer Russell Wilson Tom Brady Alex Smith Cam Newton Ben Roethlisberger

28 40 45 35 52 31
RB Marshawn Lynch Jeremy Hill DeAngelo Williams Jonathan Stewart David Johnson C.J. Anderson

2 11 0 30 25 22
RB Ronnie Hillman Charcandrick West Steven Jackson Spencer Ware James White Eddie Lacy

4 15 7 12 8 18
WR Larry Fitzgerald Jeremy Maclin Julian Edelman Antonio Brown DeAndre Hopkins Demaryius Thomas

26 4 16 11 6 5
WR John Brown A.J. Green Michael Floyd Doug Baldwin Ted Ginn Jr. Randall Cobb

10 13 17 18 14 11
WR Emmanuel Sanders Jermaine Kearse Markus Wheaton Tyler Lockett DeSean Jackson Martavis Bryant

14 24 3 16 1 27
TE Heath Miller Tyler Eifert Jordan Reed Travis Kelce Greg Olsen Rob Gronkowski

0 5 18 14 24 40
K Chandler Catanzaro Cairo Santos Steven Hauschka Stephen Gostkowski Graham Gano Mason Crosby

9 22 12 17 20 18
D Seahawks Chiefs Cardinals Patriots Panthers Packers

6 15 -2 4 33 10
Total 99 147 116 179 183 182

Best of the Rest

Just like last week, Scramble writer emeritus Ian Dembsky (idembsky) remains in the lead with 122 points. Tragically, second-place Sid has 121 points, but can't catch the leader, since they both have only Brandon McManus and the Broncos defense remaining. However, the overwhelming favorite is bedforp, who still has seven of his original nine entrants remaining (the only eliminated ones were Giovani Bernard and Danny Amendola) and 115 points. In addition to both McManus and the Denver D, his entry has Devin Funchess, Corey Brown, Owen Daniels, Peyton Manning and Mike Tolbert. That group garnered him four receiving touchdowns, two passing touchdowns and a two-point conversion. With just eight points from those five players, he'll end up the winner. You can see the full results through the conference championships here.

Jim Tomsula Award

For a coach universally acknowledged to be unusually good at his craft, Bill Belichick has made a fairly shocking number of big mistakes that have contributed to Patriots' playoff losses. We have four different times in the last decade where Belichick made unambiguous errors that derailed Patriots teams with very realistic Super Bowl chances. Imagine the criticism Andy Reid would have gotten for these kinds of mistakes.

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1) 2006 AFC Championship Game: Belichick fails to call his timeouts as the Colts get close to scoring the go-ahead touchdown. The Patriots could have gotten the ball back with just about the right amount of time to have a realistic shot at the touchdown to win it. Instead, the Patriots ended up in a desperation scenario. They lose 38-34, with Rex Grossman waiting in the Super Bowl.

2) 2007 Super Bowl: Belichick goes for it on fourth-and-13 from the Giants' 31-yard line. A successful field goal attempt from second-year kicker Stephen Gostkowski would have put the Patriots up seven halfway through the third quarter. The Patriots also slowed the pace down rather than snapping quickly, helping to limit them to just nine offensive drives for the game. The Giants' pass rush contributed, but the Patriots' pace was poorly suited to a game where they were a heavy favorite.

3) 2010 AFC Divisional Game: Belichick sits Wes Welker for the first series for being legitimately funny with foot innuendos. Vince Lombardi might have fined him, but it seems unlikely he would have been so tone deaf as to deflate his team with a benching like that. And the Patriots played very flat. Belichick also called off the dogs, blitzing almost never against a quarterback who couldn't handle the blitz. Rex Ryan outcoached him by changing his blitz-happy strategy to adapt to the Patriots. Maybe Belichick's worst set of mistakes, as he entered the playoffs with a team that was far and away the best in the league, even moreso than 2007 given the late-season trends.

4) 2015 AFC Championship Game: Not deferring was strange, like the Welker benching. But the bigger mistake happened in Miami. Home field is worth so much that Brady needed to play. He also needed to throw more than five times in the first half. You can even argue that the injuries on one level made it more imperative that the Patriots grabbed home field. Their margin for error was smaller than last year, given the injury uncertainty. Shooting for home field was the risky play at the right time. If things had worked out, the Patriots might have squeezed through those first two games and then had two weeks to rest up for the Super Bowl.


55 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2016, 12:17pm

#1 by Tim R // Jan 27, 2016 - 2:32pm

Id suggest frank cignetti as oc. When your offense is so bad jeff fisher fires you midseason you're not doing well. Gregg Robinson at lt probably deserves some consideration too.

Points: 0

#2 by James-London // Jan 27, 2016 - 3:21pm

Jason Fox at LT and Jamar Taylor are suprising omissions. In bad units, these two sucked to a noteworthy degree.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

Points: 0

#3 by Theo // Jan 27, 2016 - 3:34pm

The Steelers cornerback Antwon Blake broke PFF records for yards allowed in coverage (1,074) and missed tackels (28) this year.

Points: 0

#4 by johonny // Jan 27, 2016 - 3:59pm

I imagine Bill Belichick has so many "big" second guessed moments because he's had so many big moments to have second guessed.

Points: 0

#5 by JCRodriguezB // Jan 27, 2016 - 4:02pm

I gave you Josh Scoobe...great deal of damage in a short period of the future draft pick...for any question or comment, please contact Snoop...

Points: 0

#38 by MilkmanDanimal // Jan 28, 2016 - 11:34am

Kyle Brindza. Was the Bucs' kicker for four games; was 6-8 on XPs, 6-12 on FGs. He and Scobee can meet at the 50 for the right to appear on this team, and presumably it pretty quickly descends into a slap-fight where each guy simply misses the other guy's face about half the time.

Points: 0

#7 by Thomas_beardown // Jan 27, 2016 - 4:28pm

I want to say there is a shocking lack of Bears on the defense keep chopping wood, but I guess no one expected anything from them.

Points: 0

#44 by Steve in WI // Jan 28, 2016 - 2:42pm

I'm not surprised at all, because in 2015 I can't think of any Bears defenders that were particularly dumb or undisciplined. They just lacked talent and therefore were bad.

Ratliff getting himself kicked off the team was the one off-the-field issue I can think of, but it got Goldman more playing time and that was not only good from a development standpoint, but he might have been better than him in 2015 too.

The only one who really irritated me was Shea McClellin and it wasn't so much anything he did but the fact that I've had to watch him for four years now.

Points: 0

#17 by andrew // Jan 27, 2016 - 10:02pm

I wanted to put Suh on the team, between his lack of production and freelancing, but he only really deserves mention for his ridiculous salary ($28 million cap space next year!), and that isn't his fault. So instead I propose putting now-fired Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey on as the general manager of the KCW team.

Points: 0

#35 by Noahrk // Jan 28, 2016 - 11:29am

As we all now know, Tannenbaum was depressingly calling the shots last year after his little coup d'etat. That's why the Dolphins followed a very fiscally responsible year in Hickey's only real year in charge in 2014 -which also featured a strong draft, by the way- with the Suh, et al shenanigans. Now that Aponte -the Dolphins cap guy for years and in my opinion the other capable person in the FO last year along with Hickey- leaving, that opens the door for Tannenbaum to restructure Suh and do all the other fun things that bad teams do without restraint.

The lesson is that even a broken clock gets the time right twice a day, but you can always get another clock when that happens.

Who, me?

Points: 0

#8 by Shattenjager // Jan 27, 2016 - 5:27pm

I've only ever been to one game for any of my sports teams:

In my memory (which I'm sure is exaggerating), every one of those fumbles was a Glyn Milburn punt return in the second half. He did fumble nine times that season even though he only touched the ball 164 times.

Points: 0

#23 by The Hypno-Toad // Jan 27, 2016 - 11:23pm

Man... I'm well known among my family and group of friends for the burning grudge I continue to hold against Glyn Milburn. The fumbles were atrocious, but what I've never been able to get over was his apparent allergy to running forward. That guy would have broken every rushing record if going side to side counted.

Points: 0

#54 by Shattenjager // Jan 30, 2016 - 11:33am

Possibly. It probably comes down to that game vs. this one:

However, I really don't think we should debate it. I fear what it would do to humanity for there to be in-depth discussion about Sean Salisbury's best game in the NFL.

Points: 0

#11 by Will Allen // Jan 27, 2016 - 5:35pm

Good grief, what are the rules about dead cap space? I see Suh's dead space in 2016 is $53,000,000!!!!! If Suh gets mad at his gardener, and stomps on his ankle when the guy is trimming the bougainvillea, and the gardener drops the trimmer, severs an artery, and dies, and Suh gets convicted of manslaughter, does that mean that the Dolphins would have to field a team with about 100 million? If so, I gotta root for something along those lines that doesn't entail the poor gardener croaking. Maybe Suh could lose his temper, and kill an elderly manatee which was flatulent near Suh's dock, and get jailed on a wildlife charge.

Points: 0

#13 by Thomas_beardown // Jan 27, 2016 - 5:55pm

That is the pre-June 1 dead space, as long as they wait until June 1 it's *only* 38 million.

That contract is weird, in 2017, it's nearly reasonable 15 million, and then there's most no guaranteed money after that. I think it's very unlikely Suh remains on the Dolphins with his current contract for 2018.

Points: 0

#16 by andrew // Jan 27, 2016 - 9:59pm

But as I mentioned its not Suh's fault the Dolphins agreed to such a deal. There is no way he could ever be worth what that deal promises, nor could they simply cut him.

We could play a game: assemble a 53 man roster for less than Suh's deal plus 52 league minimum undrafted rookie free agents.

Heck would be interesting to then simulate such a matchup...

Points: 0

#30 by Will Allen // Jan 28, 2016 - 2:08am

It would be entertaining as hell to some day see some NFL team so horribly mismanaged that they had to field a team with 50% of the cap, having so much dead money. To see viable NFL players say "Play for HOW MUCH?!!! Nah, bro, I think I'll just sit out, and see if somebody else calls, after a few more weeks of injuries."

Points: 0

#26 by Bobman // Jan 28, 2016 - 12:40am

Okay, so now we all now Will is a freakin' hater of flatulent manatees.

It's bad enough they have Andy Reid moustaches. Well, come to think of it, they're pretty much Andy Reid minus the red windbreaker. But now this... it's a hate crime, pure and simple. Just because they are fat, slow, unappealing, and can't manage the clock in the two minute drill--no, wait, I'm getting confused here. Who are we talking about again?

Points: 0

#12 by RickD // Jan 27, 2016 - 5:48pm

So, Belichick made "a mistake" by "not deferring"? That's not remotely justifiable in any serious way.

And his "other, bigger mistake" was not beating the Dolphins. Well, gee, that's good solid analysis you guys do here. Just win more games, coach! Coach 'em up better, and that's all you would have needed!

(rolling eyes)

And it's really weak to say the Pats lost to the Jets in 2010 because of a "coaching mistakes". Unless you are simply going to view everything as a function of "coaching" and therefore the entire discussion is tautological.

I expect more here.

Points: 0

#20 by mehllageman56 // Jan 27, 2016 - 11:02pm

The Pats lost to the Jets because they were outcoached, but I wouldn't claim Belichick was horrible in that game. Rex came out with a great secondary heavy game plan, and the Patriots young tight ends and receivers couldn't get on the same page with Brady. Also, Sanchez wasn't great against the blitz, but the key with him is his inability to read a defense. You fake blitz and leave guys back in coverage so he can throw a pick six; besides, it's not like the Pats had a good d that year, because they didn't. Geno is the guy you blitz, because he can't read a defense fast enough, and never gets the protection set up.

Points: 0

#21 by mehllageman56 // Jan 27, 2016 - 11:03pm

To piggyback on this thread a little, Wade Phillips should watch that game film, because the same strategy may come in handy against Carolina, since the Panthers leave in extra guys to block.

Points: 0

#46 by RickD // Jan 28, 2016 - 4:42pm

"Being outcoached" isn't the same as "making a big mistake," which is what they are accusing Belichick of doing. And they give him the "Jim Tomsula award"? That's just pathetic. Asinine, even. Risible. Absurd.

Points: 0

#32 by Bright Blue Shorts // Jan 28, 2016 - 4:03am

I thought Belichick's decision to receive rather than defer was a good one. I assume the intention was to go out and score first drive thereby putting Manning under pressure from the off. That the Pats then went 3&out, obviously you don't plan it that way.

But the Broncos went 3&out in under 2-mins at the beginning of the 2nd half so it didn't affect the Pats there and they got choice of ends for the endgame.

I doubt no other coach in the league would draw criticise for that coin toss decision, it's just that BB made it noticeable by going against his norm of deferring. To me, it showed he actually thinks about what he's doing and how to affect the opponent rather than going on automatic.

Points: 0

#39 by Noahrk // Jan 28, 2016 - 11:38am

I have to agree with you here. Funny how I was just thinking yesterday that Pats fans -just like fans of any other team, I guess, but that's what we are most exposed to in the staff nowadays- are very sensitive to other people's criticism of their team at some spots, but they will also put forth the wildest most exacting criticism thereof at others.

Who, me?

Points: 0

#45 by RickD // Jan 28, 2016 - 4:37pm

I still don't know exactly what the Patriots were trying to do that day, but it's an error of category to say that "using the wrong strategy" is a "coaching mistake". And then there's the problem that, in order to stay on their narrative of "blaming playoff losses on Belichick" they have to go to a prior game (three weeks earlier in this case) as opposed to the playoff game at hand.

I don't think they didn't care whether they won or not, but it was a lower priority than avoiding injuries. I think they went run-heavy in the first half because the run game had been an issue, and they couldn't just go into the playoffs ignoring that issue. The Dolphins' game was their last opportunity where they had the luxury of a little slack to try to fix things as opposed to simply needing to optimize their chances of winning the game at hand. And the running game really needed to be fixed. (And they didn't manage to fix it, and that was certainly a problem in Denver.)

Brady wasn't pulled until the game had been decided.

Points: 0

#14 by commissionerleaf // Jan 27, 2016 - 6:59pm

Normally I would be against that kind of criticism, since after all this is one of two football sites I read for a reason, but this particular article...

1. I understand Jason Peters wasn't awesome this year, but he is Jason Peters and I simply refuse to believe that he was the worst - much less the most hopeless - tackle in the league this year. May I suggest Mr. Schofield?

2. I understand Greg Hardy is unpopular, but he had six sacks in twelve games and less than 600 defensive snaps. There must have been two NFL defensive ends who were more KCW.

3. Vontaze Burfict obviously got fined a lot but he is one of the most important players on Cincinnati's very good defense, and Cincinnati might not have been a playoff team without him. He was a good linebacker this year, not even a bad linebacker, and it is asinine to suggest he was a KCW candidate.

KCW is at least supposed to be reasonably related to on field value, right?

Points: 0

#19 by mehllageman56 // Jan 27, 2016 - 10:55pm

Yeah, for a KCW team that front seven is kind of nasty. They'd be better off using the Jacksonville defense, or the Titans on the road (granted, they have Jurell Casey, but have him try to cover Brandon Marshall and it will keep chopping wood).

Points: 0

#24 by Grendel13G // Jan 27, 2016 - 11:24pm

RT Michael Schofield: The worst player Ben Muth has ever seen start multiple games. That All-KCW resume just writes itself.

Schofield also has the distinction of being the first player to ever make me watch a single guy on the offensive line in nervous terror on every snap.

Points: 0

#48 by Andrew Healy // Jan 28, 2016 - 7:35pm

Yup, maybe that would have been a better choice. Hard to get Cannon out of my mind and his incompetence mattered more. Pretty big when your terrible play costs your team a trip to the Super Bowl. And he was bad more generally.

Our team definitely trended more towards disappointments then the absolute worst players. Realize that's a little different. I understand the criticism on Dareus. Williams is the only obvious Bills choice.

Points: 0

#15 by Mike B. In Va // Jan 27, 2016 - 7:14pm

I agree on Not-So-Super Mario, but Dareus played well - his function in Rex's D was not to be the disruptive force he was in 2014. He had no off-field issues after the incredibly stupid racing incident, and by all accounts I've read was a model teammate who did the job he was given despite it not really being his forte.

Then again, I expect no less out of this column anymore. Let's see if you have the guts to revisit this next year.

Points: 0

#18 by andrew // Jan 27, 2016 - 10:54pm

As a Vikings fan, they are undefeated in every game of their I have managed to attend.

All of these were while lived in South Florida, each of these was a trip to Tampa Bay when they were both in the NFC Central, and they were also pre RayJay at the old Sombrero. (They did have a game in Miami once during the years I lived there, in 2006, but I was out of town at the time. (they also played there in 2014, but I had moved, and a handful of other times before 1991 ,but I lived overseas then).

It was my intent in the 1998 season to at least be as physically close to the stadium in Miami had they made it, but alas that did not happen.

I had a chance to attend this year in Atlanta where I now live but didn't make it, though the streak would have continued.

As near as I can tell they have never lost while I have been within 200 miles of a game they were playing in. Sadly that has only happened four times.

Points: 0

#40 by MilkmanDanimal // Jan 28, 2016 - 11:40am

I'm 3-3 on Bucs games; I saw them against the Rams in Tampa in 2010, where Cadillac Williams caught a TD pass to win with six seconds left. 2011 was against the Vikings in the Metrodome, Blount scored a TD with about 30 seconds left to win, and then in 2012 against the Vikings in the dome again, which was the Thursday night game which was pretty much Doug Martin's coming out party, and they steamrolled the Vikings. Sure, there was the first preseason game last year (Winston's first game) which utterly sucked, but that doesn't count. Based on pure math (admittedly really bad math), I am the Bucs' lucky charm and they should provide me tickets and transportation to every game.

Points: 0

#22 by Atul Thakker // Jan 27, 2016 - 11:19pm

I moved to Seattle and dropped $500 plus hotel and dinner to bring the wife to Vikings Seattle SNF.
Sean Alexander happened and near as I remember it was 28-3 at the half and it got worse.

Points: 0

#27 by Bobman // Jan 28, 2016 - 12:47am

I hereby nominate Ryan Grigson for GM because, well, Ryan Grigson! (Hah, won that argument.)

Exhibit B is Todd Heremanns at OG-pretty big FA contract for guy his age, health, and quality and he proved the other 31 teams right by getting benched in week 2, and later cut. Ouch. He sorta wins two KCW awards--one for himself and one for Grigson.

Points: 0

#28 by Sid // Jan 28, 2016 - 12:55am

Uh, guys, you had it right last week. I have Funchess, the leader does not.

Quote from last week:

"A Packers-heavy approach has idembsky in the lead after the divisional round with 106 points. In a week with tons of duds, he benefited from having the two highest scorers in Aaron Rodgers and Brandon McManus, who each put up 21 points. However, he only has McManus and the Broncos defense remaining, a pairing that most of the top scorers also have. Sid is currently in second place with 95 points, but in addition to McManus and the Denver defense, he still has Danny Amendola and Devin Funchess remaining. "

Points: 0

#33 by starzero // Jan 28, 2016 - 9:11am

every time i think i want to complain about Andrew Luck being wasted on my hometown team, i go talk to my colleague from Cleveland. plus, he understood my pain when the Colts traded for Trent Richardson.

speaking of wasting opportunities, i second Grigson for GM. way to protect your talent.

hail damage

Points: 0

#47 by Andrew Healy // Jan 28, 2016 - 7:29pm

A close race between Chipper and Grigson at GM. If we can factor in some previous year stuff, give me Grigson. For the last calendar year, I'm going Chip. Can't believe he gave up a second-round pick in the Bradford trade.

Points: 0

#52 by Bobman // Jan 29, 2016 - 2:41pm

Yes, in terms protecting valuable assets, I understand Grigson used to play catcher on his HS baseball team wearing nothing but a Dixie cup inside his jock. Hey, he never got hit then, so what are the odds of Luck getting hit behind an OL made from paper?!?!

I don't want to get into the much bigger argument of Luck holding on too long and sacrificing his body, and the OC's play-calling inconsistent with a terrible OL. In the end, there is one guy responsible for it all, directly or indirectly. Ryan Grigson: the Gilbert Gardiner* of GMs.

*Back in the days of, we used to joke that Gardiner had compromising photos/info on Irsay or Polian which is why they kept him on the team. He was just so obviously awful. When he was benched for Rob Morris late in the 2006 season (a few games before Bob Sanders returned), the D started to come around enough to win a SB, IIRC.

Points: 0

#36 by MilkmanDanimal // Jan 28, 2016 - 11:30am

I remain disappointed that the All-KCW team just hasn't been renamed "The Sabbies", in honor of Mr. "Human Missed Tackle Machine" Piscitelli.

Is this the first time since the inception of the All-KCW team no Tampa players have appeared? I mean, the secondary was terrible, but not Saints-level terrible. Only person I can think of as a possible nominee would be DE William Gholston, who started about half the games this season, yet still led the league in personal fouls (at least I heard that during the second to last game of the season vs. the Rams). By a quick check, he had three sacks, and six personal fouls, which I'm guessing is probably not the kind of ratio you want.

Points: 0

#50 by Mugsy // Jan 29, 2016 - 9:22am

I'll trade you Eddie Lacy for Steven Ridley.

Points: 0

#55 by Sid // Feb 08, 2016 - 12:17pm

I tried e-mailing you guys, but got no response.

Points: 0

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