Tag Archives: Joe Flacco

The NFL’s Quarterback Problem

So in old news,  NFL quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo signed a five-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers for $137.5 million, with about $74 million of that guaranteed.  In the quarterback “free agency” market, Garoppolo was the most attractive option (pun-intended) because of his age and ceiling.  The 49ers decided to tie up a big chunk of their money to the quarterback they believe is going to be the key to their success because that’s what you’re “supposed to do.”

Right?

Eh. Who knows really.  In the case of Garoppolo he went 5-0 in the five games he played.  He also threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions in those five games – but, for what it’s worth – the 49ers were convinced that was their guy to give this massive contract too.

For the record, I like Garoppolo and hold no ill-regard toward the 49ers organization. I really don’t care what they do, and if Garoppolo can get paid – props to him.  This isn’t even about Garoppolo, it’s about the quarterback position and how ridiculous the pay-grade is for that position.

Everyone will tell you until they are blue in the face – you need a quarterback in today’s league.  Sure. Who can argue that? The league has changed in ways that they want you to throw the ball more.  What has over-paying a quarterback really gotten anybody though?

Ask the Detroit Lions, who paid “their guy” Matthew Stafford a five year deal amounting up to about $27 million a year. That contract was given to him in August of 2017 and in July of 2017 Stafford’s record against winning teams was 5-46.  That’s not a typo – FIVE and FORTY-SIX.  Stafford has been the starting quarterback for the Lions since 2009 and they’ve had three playoff games with three playoff game losses.  Sure he puts up great garbage time stats for fantasy football geeks – but all in all, it hasn’t worked.

Ask the Seattle Seahawks, who were loving life when they found a diamond in the rough who they drafted in the third round of the 2012 draft.  Most teams don’t find their starting QB in the third round.  They did.  They rode it out – made him a star, he performed well and they even won a championship out of it.  After 2014 and a new contract the Seahawks realized they needed to trim corners.  They couldn’t keep offensive linemen, secondary players etc — and because of that the team has suffered.

Ask the Baltimore Ravens, who were the greatest victim of the “okie-doke” as Joe Flacco played the best stretch of games in his life when he was nearly perfect on the Ravens playoff / Super Bowl run in 2012.  Lucky for him he was in a contract year and the Ravens “HAD TO” keep their Super Bowl QB.  So they paid him $120 million over the next six years.  That $120 million has gotten them average to below average play from the QB position since then. (Side Note: It’s difficult to even watch Ravens games with him at quarterback).

There are a whole list of others – just look around the league.  Eli, Cutler, Romo, Cam, Luck, Matty Ice, Dalton – all aren’t terrible – some are actually the reason for any success that their team has had – BUT – was the money that was tied into that position really worth it for the teams mentioned?  Eli kept getting paid when he was passed his prime, Cam might’ve already peaked – as well as Matty Ice and Luck. . .

Folks, we just saw a back-up quarterback, who was nearly done with the game of football – win the Super Bowl.  And for all things considered – the injured starter, Carson Wentz, probably would’ve had the same results and he is in his second year of his rookie contract.

General managers have collectively shown that they do not care for long contracts with running backs. . . and often with wide-receivers and corner backs they tell the player “test the market and come back to us.”  With quarterbacks though, it’s always “What do you want?  Here it is.  Sign this.” (Unless you’re Kirk Cousins, of course)

Maybe I’m old fashioned but these games are always won in the trenches.  If you are not stocking up an above average offensive line, or an above average defensive line, then what are you – as a G.M. really doing?

Nick Foles showed in the Super Bowl, if you’re a competent quarterback who is comfortable with the system you’re in – you should be fine — especially if the pieces around the offense have bought into the system.  This is what you see every year from the Saints, Patriots, Kansas City and L.A. (Rams) – we also saw it for two of three years with Kirk Cousins in Washington.

The truth is, until a general manager and coach have the “you-know-whats” to tell a “star” quarterback “no” and that they believe in their system and finding a player who can run the system as effectively – these ridiculous contracts will never stop.  Fans will complain and you’ll get killed by the talking-heads on sports television but financially it’s a great move, if you really know you’re job.   Finding a starting quarterback is hard  – yes – but these quarterbacks have to realize how fortunate they are to find systems that are working for them.  Look at “great” wide receivers, corner backs, running backs – even line backers – who leave for a pay-day, find themselves in a system that doesn’t fit into their skill set and are released.  What usually happens to those players?  They look to find the system that got them that big money deal and try to prove they are still “great.”

Quarterbacks are special, but not special enough to hamper a team moving forward, financially.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Baltimore Ravens 2015 Preview

The Baltimore Ravens are a team built for a playoff run, but at times during the regular season, they appear stagnant.  They can come out flat in some games and tend to grind out wins against meek competition.  Regardless of how they make the playoffs though, they usually do and they’re a tough match up for anyone they go up against.  This season the Ravens have little margin for error though, with the Steelers and Bengals being in the same division.

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Quarterback Joe Flacco is well protected up front, the only weakness for the line though – comes from Flacco’s blind side in the form of left tackle, Eugene Monroe.  Monroe wasn’t 100% last season and was recovering from knee issues, but he should be at top health when the season starts.  Flacco has proven to be a durable quarterback through his career and is coming off of a season where he was fourteen yards short of throwing for 4000 yards.  There were too many times last season though where the Ravens had to settle for field goals instead of finishing a drive off.  Flacco has a few new targets this season that he needs to gel with quickly.   He is paired up with new offensive coordinator, former Bears head coach, Marc Trestman.  Trestman had a horrendous season in Chicago where his offense was supposed to be high powered and barely sparked during 2014.  He has been humbled and will most likely keep things as they were in Baltimore with a zone running scheme.

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The wide receivers on Baltimore are a question mark, but still there is room for optimism.  Veteran Steve Smith, is a trash talking wide out, that is hard to keep quiet.  Smith is probably the NFL’s toughest receiver (after Anquan Boldin of the 49ers) and is relentless.  At times Smith can disappear for long stretches and at 36 years of age, who knows how much of his motor will be going at 100% for four quarters each week.  Marlon Brown was a nice surprise last season, but considering he was basically unheard of if it wasn’t for a few nice weeks, one can assume he is average at best or has already peaked.  The Ravens drafted UFC wide receiver Brett Perriman, who showed off a 4.27 run at the forty-yard dash in this year’s rookie combine workouts.  He has all the makings of being a big time wide out if he doesn’t lose focus.  Great speed, good route runner and aggressive when the ball is in the air – but has a tendency to drop some passes.

Justin Forsett  stepped up as the starting running back for this organization when it was called upon him to do so.  Forsett finished with over 1200 rushing yards and knocked it off at nearly five and half yards a clip.  The problem going forward with Forsett is that, he is coming into his eighth season, in a career where he was predominantly a back up.  Not saying, he can’t be a late bloomer or that his time isn’t the present, but there has to be a reason why he’s been a back up for so long.  Rookie running back Javorius Allen fits the mold of a former Ravens back Bernard Pierce in sheer size.  Allen is a big back with some pass catching abilities that will work his way to either share, or take over the load at running back.

The defense of the Ravens is a consistent within the NFL.  This year should be no different.  A lot of that depends on how second year man Timmy Jernigan works on that defensive line.  He has shown to have a motor, but it takes a while for that motor to get revved up again.  It’s tough to leave him on the field for long – hopefully he’s worked on his endurance and stamina in the off-season.  Chris Canty is the veteran defensive end who will lead the way in the rotation of pass rushers, including the sophomore end Steven Means who apparently is getting high praise in the organization according to Aaron Wilson of Lindy’s Sports.

Last year the Ravens struck gold with their first-round pick C.J. Mosley out of Alabama.  He racked up 129 total tackles last season and proved to have a “veteran’s feel” when it came to chasing down ball carriers.  Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw are the veterans in this linebacker core that will help make Mosley’s transition to the pros even more comfortable than it already has been for him.  Dumervil is a versatile pass rusher who can line up with his hands in the dirt, or standing up-right.

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In 2011, the Ravens were said to be taking a gamble on corner back Jimmy Smith, who had an arrest and a few failed drug tests tied to his name at the time – but Smith has only improved on the field and is now part of a $48 million dollar deal over the next four years.   Smith injured his foot halfway through mid-season but will be back at full strength to start this season to lead this secondary.  Opposite of Smith is Lardarius Webb, who was playing injured most of last season, but he too will be ready to give it a go at 100% health.  The pressure is on the corner backs this season because the safeties behind them are more about hitting then covering.  Will Hill is decent in coverage, but it’s questionable if his head is ever in the game; and free agent Kendrick Lewis is more about knocking someone’s head off.

The Ravens offense will go through some growing pains this season, but they have a strong enough offensive line that they won’t put their defense in bad spots.   In true Ravens fashion, most of their games will be hard to watch but by the end of the regular season they’ll have something to play for.

Predicted Record: 9-7

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Jimmy Smith, Elvis Dumervil, C.J. Mosley, Kelechi Osemele

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio