Tag Archives: Matthew Stafford

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

Detroit Lions 2015 Preview

It seemed like yesterday that the Detroit Lions were supposed to be turning the fortunes of their franchise around and giving the Motor City a contender.  Now it seems like they are  learning how to gradually get expectations back down to reality.  The hire of Jim Caldwell was received with mostly positive feedback, but that’s because he was replacing Jim Schwartz.  That’s the equivalent of moving from tap water to bottled water.  Not saying Caldwell didn’t keep his players in line better than Schwartz did, but he doesn’t exactly sell you on being the head coach to turn a team’s fortune’s around.

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The Lions lost N’damukong Suh and Nick Fairley in the off-season.  They expected Suh to sign for the big bucks elsewhere (and he did, with Miami) but they also thought they have a more-than-good-chance at re-signing Fairley.  The Lions have proven veteran Haloti Ngata now, but he can’t fill the void left by Suh, let alone Suh and Fairley. Something has to be said about Ngata no longer being on the Ravens as well.  Teams like the Ravens, Steelers and Patriots, do their homework and never get emotional with their players.  If they feel like they can part with somebody – there has to be a reason behind it.  Steven Tulloch returns this season at linebacker and will play alongside the equally aggressive DeAndre Levy.  Levy and Tulloch will be relied on a lot in blitz packaging now more than ever with the losses to their line.

This defense’s one true pass rusher and star is defensive end Ziggy Ansah.  Ansah is 6’5″ and two hundred and seventy eight pounds of pure athlete.  His quickness and strength at the line are amongst the best in the league but this could be a season which frustrates the young star, who will see double teams every week and on almost every down.

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The secondary was celebrated last year, especially safety James Ihedigbo who lead the NFL with seven interceptions.  Once again, because of the strength lost at that defensive line, expect teams to not be scared and to even run deeper routes against a team that for years never gave the quarterback time to do so.

Even on the offensive side, the “trenches” are a place for concern.  It wasn’t good last year and that is one area in football that you don’t just flip and become great at in one off-season.  The guard position may be their only dependable spots and that comes in the form of mostly unknown Larry Warford and rookie Laken Tomlinson out of Duke.

The running game is always just a weird situation in Detroit and this year they have the incumbent starter in Joique Bell but behind him are rookie Ameer Abdullah and Theo Reddick who showed some flashes last year.  Abdullah gets a lot of fan fare for running for over 1600 yards in his final season at Nebraska but the truth is, his smallish frame has had over 750 carries in the last three years, while having suspect hands and being a risk in pass protection.  He tore the lid off of defenses like Florida Atlantic, Illinois and Rutgers but looked human, or even average against the likes of Michigan State, Wisconsin and USC.

Calvin Johnson is getting as much hype before a season as he usually does, but he is still regarded as a top three wide-out in every conversation.  Johnson had some durability issues last year but thanks to the acquisition of Golden Tate, the offense always had a game breaker at the wide receiver position last season.  It was good to see Tate go off like he did, not only for himself but also because it forced Matthew Stafford to rely on somebody else other than Johnson.

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Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been given weapons around him every season, but it’s something about him and not what’s around him that turns people off from this Detroit offense.  His accuracy is suspect and his decision making makes some of the NFL’s most classic gunslingers scratch their collective heads.  One of the pieces they brought along with Tate last year was rookie tight end Eric Ebron, but for the lack of productivity he provided it could’ve been Zac Efron out there and nobody would’ve noticed.  Ebron struggled with blocking assignments, route running and getting on the same page with Stafford, which isn’t exactly easy to do anyway.  Ebron is in a fortunate position in this offenses passing game and needs to step up quickly or the team will look to Ryan Broyles or newly acquired free agent receiver Lance Moore to become the third wheel in this passing game.

Predicted Record: 6-10

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Ziggy Ansah, Calvin Johnson

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio