Sunday, February 22, 2015

Latest version of NFL minute

There has been recently a great deal of coverage of the free agent travels of quarterback Josh McCown. Now part of this is because he was cut and so can visit and sign with teams while others can’t during a slow news cycle. But the other reality is he is arguably the best free agent QB available this off-season.

I am going to let that sink in.

First of all do you know Josh McCown? I am betting some of you do not, so let me give you a little review.

Josh McCown is a 35-year-old quarterback who has played on 6 teams in a twelve year career. He has been a starter for two of those teams and has 17 career wins (or 1.4 wins a year). To be fair he has mainly been a backup and has actually won just over a third of his starts – so that is something. Right?
He has a career 58% completion percentage and a 76% rating. His best season ever was for the Hartford Colonials of the short-lived United Football League. In 2011 he was out of football before the chronically QB poor Chicago Bears brought him in as backup. The same thing happened in 2012. To repeat the arguably best free agent QB was OUT OF THE LEAGUE just three seasons ago. Both times he vaguely stayed in the game by being an assistant high school football coach. In 2013 he actually played for the Bears when Jay Cutler got hurt and played well – going 3-2 and throwing for more TDs than INTs for the second time in his career. He parlayed that into a $5 million contract with the Buccaneers where he returned for form, winning just one of his eleven starts. He did get the Bucs the #1 pick in the draft and a chance to take Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston and hope they surprise me by becoming solid starters. He had another year on his deal with Tampa Bay, but they had seen enough.

Does this sound to be a QB you would want your team to bring in? That he might be the best QB out there tells you about how bad this year’s QB class is. Here are the best of the other guys out there (in no particular order):

Shaun Hill – who has proven he is a very good backup, but a marginal starter.

Whatever is left of Michael Vick’s speed.

Mark Sanchez – he of the 130 turnovers in 71 career games

Someone will probably give Minnesota’s first round bust Christian Ponder a second chance.

Ditto the Titan’s Jake Locker – who I thought would be good, but has mainly been hurt.

Colt McCoy – he had a marginal rebirth in DC last year before getting hurt (twice). Winning in Dallas on Monday night will raise your profile – even if it is your only win since 2011.

Ryan Mallet – an unknown big arm guy with two starts coming off an season ending injury. Was a kicked out of Michigan, but studied under Tom Brady in New England.

I could see a desperate coach playing Case Keenum late in a lost season.

But here is the thing – McCown was a relativley hot candidate last year too. This speaks to the broader truth – there just aren’t 32 men on this planet who can play quarterback well. So when teams have on they hold on for dear life – this is why when you see some team paying a margin guy (Jay Cutler, Mathew Stafford, Tony Romo, Andy Dalton) huge money. The reality is scarcity is only going to make QB salaries rise more. Which will be deadly for teams paying ok QB’s great QB money because they won’t be able to spend that money to surround the him with weapons.

I will close on this issue by saying the teams that have brought McCown in have mainly been looking at him as a backup. There are NO definite starters available.

I wish to expand upon something I said earlier – that the Packers in Seattle lost when they went conservative. I was NOT referencing settling for three early in the game. They were on course to win having done that. I meant Morgan Burnett sliding after making an interception with 5 minutes to go when there was no one around him (which one of Fox’s dipshit announcers said was wise at the time – I am guess Troy Aikman but I honestly don’t recall). But more importantly that they didn’t attack Richard Sherman when he was clearly playing with one arm – that shows they were playing scared.

Finally I want to give the NFL Network a little credit. As far as I have been able to discern they are covering the concussion lawsuit against their owner in a credible enough way I can’t accuse them of sandbagging.


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