Tag Archives: Russell Wilson

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

Stop Babying Quarterbacks

While watching Russell Wilson on Monday Night Football a few things occurred to me. . . The first of many things is that the NFL and it’s fans love / hate quarterbacks.  The position of quarterback is easily the most overly glorified and overpaid in probably all of sports.  Do you need a quarterback to win in the NFL?  Duh.  I’m not saying the position isn’t important – just overly glorified and overpaid.  Keep up with me here. . .

Whoever started giving quarterbacks credit for “wins” deserves to be shot.  Starting quarterbacks are not  the equivalent to starting pitchers in baseball.  There is not a win-loss column tied in with their stat sheet.  Another notion that needs to be faded away is how quarterbacks fare when playing “head to head.”  It’s ridiculous.  When football pundits bring up records of Tom Brady versus Peyton Manning, it’s the most absurd concept because the only time they are on the field together is when they shake hands at the end of the game. . . Peyton Manning versus Ray Lewis is a better head to head match up; or even Tom Brady verses Rex Ryan is a headline more worthwhile.

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The second thing that came to my mind was how quarterbacks are “sheltered” and protected when they are struggling.  Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck have come under some criticism this season (fairly and unfairly).  In the case of Tannehill, who was just inked to a contract extension before the season started for six years and $95 million – has looked flat out bad.   In the midst of his struggles, those running to his defense have said – he has no weapons, it’s bad coaching and it’s a bad offensive line.  Oh really?  So he’s having the same  problems Carolina’s Cam Newton is having and he seems to be just fine.  Maybe its just a point of ability.  Cam, has been making due with very little for his whole career it seems and he just makes it work.  Tannehill has the same issues as Cam but looks bad handling it.  That’s not saying Tannehill can’t be a starting quarterback in the league – he just may be in a class with many starting quarterbacks, who needs a better cast around him.  The same can be said for Andrew Luck.  Since Luck has arrived in Indianapolis he has carried this franchise.  With the Colts off to a slow start, the pundits started tossing shots at Andrew Luck and his interception rate this year.  Slow down.  Luck has to throw the ball at a much higher rate than the Russell Wilson’s and  Ryan Tannehill’s in the league, and he – much like Tannehill and Newton – doesn’t have much to work with.   So why does one excuse work for one and not the other?  Furthermore, why doesn’t that elevate the perception of one like Cam Newton?

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The third issue that came to my mind had me focused right back on the Monday Night Football game between the Seahawks and the Lions.   While Jon Gruden and 80% of social media were drooling over every little thing Russell Wilson did on the field – nobody was seeing the big picture.   Russell Wilson was playing against a bad Detroit Lions defense and the Seahawks offense seemed to be relying  on broken plays, in order to move the ball downfield.  When Russell Wilson was ducking, dodging and chucking – sure it was getting the job done, against a terrible Lions team – but for how long will that realistically take you?  Lately,  Wilson seems to do enough to get his team into field goal range, while his defense handles the opposition.  If that formula sounds familiar,  there’s good reason why.  It was the same formula that Tim Tebow and the Broncos had a few years back that wasn’t embraced by the media and social media alike.  It’s the same. damn. thing.

The NFL quarterback is the equivalent of a spoiled kid who is called an under-achiever.  If he doesn’t achieve anything, it’s not his fault and when he does, he is carried on the shoulders of those who support him.  Let your eyes be the judge, it’s really not difficult.  Or just keep pacifying the reality that the era of “quarterback nurturing” has gotten out of control.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 

 

Beating Vegas: Entry Three

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: Looks like your boy “The Heartthrob” underestimated the speed and athleticism of Michigan, as Jim Harbaugh made me feel downright foolish for believing BYU would cover the spread. . .  The Jets entered the game against the Eagles with Chris Ivory and Eric Decker on the bench – this is a team that cannot afford to lose what they have on offense, at any cost.  The pick of Ohio University was an easy one at +10.  It looks like Vegas caught wind of my pick and by kickoff the spread dropped to +7. . .

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Louisville (+4.5) at N.C. State

Louisville enters this game with a 1-3 record including a season opening loss at the now disappointing Auburn Tigers as well as back to back three point losses at home.  Coach Bobby Petrino is one of the best in college football, but this may be a “down” year for Louisville in terms of talent.   The N.C. State Wolfpack can be a “sneaky” team in the ACC Conference this year and Louisville is their first real test of the season.   While Louisville is 1-3, they have actually played real competition this year while N.C. State has been facing some lowly opponents.  While this rhetoric usually means something favoring the team facing better competition, the truth is, N.C. State is slated for a 9 or 10 win season and this game against Louisville brings them half way there.   Running backs Matthew Dayes and Shadrach Thorton are both averaging at least six yards a carry while quarterback Jacoby Brisset’s completion percentage is  a decimal point below eighty.  Louisville is a shade below mediocre defensively which is perfect for a team like N.C. State who doesn’t get greedy on offense, but more or less takes what opposing defenses are giving them.  Expect the final score to be somewhere along the lines of 27-20 or 23-17. . .

The Pick:  N.C. State -4.5

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Texas Longhorns (+15) at TCU Horned Frogs

Although the line is at fifteen, the number we are concerned about for all entertainment purposes is the over/under which is set at 71.   The Big 12 is the spot for high flying offenses and terrible defenses.  Remember, once upon a time, coach Gary Patterson, coached TCU and they were one of the best defensive teams in the nation?  This was a team putting out NFL talent from the defensive side of the ball but once this team moved to the Big 12, he converted to the Church of Offense.  TCU gives up 28 points per game and Texas gives up 35 per contest.  While TCU was expected to be able to rack up points against anybody this year, Texas’ offense has been surprisingly effective the last two weeks.  They lost by one point (at home) to a pretty potent Cal offense and last week put up 27 against an Oklahoma State team many thought would put them away early.   TCU may actually cover this spread and win with a final score of 55-27 when it’s all said and done.

The Pick:  The “over” at 71

Army (+24) at Penn State

With all due respect to our military forces, the Black Knights of Army are just a pitiful football team.  Any team that loses to Fordham and then UConn in back to back weeks, should ask to leave Division I football.  . . Not that Penn State has looked fantastic in their 3-1 start this season but this is the kind of game that Penn State should have wrapped up by the end of the first half.   Expect Penn State to open it up early with the running attack of Akeel Lynch and  Saquon Barkley  – which will open things up for Hackenberg.  Christian Hackenberg has been mostly disappointing since last season, but take into consideration what is around him.  If UConn’s quarterback Bryant Shirreffs was able to throw for 270 yards on 19 of 25 passing, Hackenberg should easily be able to use this game to inflate his stat for the season.  Army doesn’t have the speed or size to contend with Penn State, who is actually one of the tougher teams Army will face this year.   In true Penn State fashion, they’ll make you worry but they should have complete control of this game and win 38-7.

The Pick: Penn State -24

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Detroit Lions (+10) at Seattle Seahawks

Here’s a situation where you don’t want to over-think things.  Seattle is at home against a Detroit Lions team that is sloppy on offense and has taken a step down, defensively.   If Russell Wilson is able to display talents that are above adequate, then this should be an easy victory for Seattle.  Seattle has the secondary to take care of Calvin Johnson because they have the physical presence of Kam Chancellor back in the swing of things and Matthew Stafford’s offensive line will have no answer for the blitz packages that Seattle has to offer.  Throw in the crowd noise, under the Monday Night Football lights in Seattle and the fact that the Lions ground game has not taken off – this one could be over quickly.   Bottom line – Seattle will win the battle in the trenches and because of that will the field position battle, making things easier for their vanilla offense to take shots against this Detroit defense.

The Pick: Seattle -10

If You Must:  Take the Green Bay Packers -8.5 points going into San Fran.  The 49ers fan base has already had it, Colin Kapernick looks lost and the Packers are making it all look easy on the offensive side of the ball.

NFL Football Tease of the Week:  (three gamer) Green Bay Packers +1.5, Arizona Cardinals +3 and Seattle Seahawks PK.

Good Luck and Wager Wisely.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Seattle Seahawks 2015 Preview

Why didn’t they give the ball to Marshawn Lynch?

That’s a question that will be asked throughout history like:

“What was first, the chicken or the egg?”

“What’s the meaning of life?”

“Who shot J.R.?”

Coach Pete Carroll said:  “It’s much easier for me to move forward than most people,” and Seahawks fans hope that’s the truth.  They also hope that quarterback Russell Wilson is the truth as the Seahawks and Wilson have inked a four year extension worth over $87 Million.  Every quarterback is grossly over-paid and here at NGSC we have already gone over why it’s a bad idea to give in to Wilson’s demands.  Regardless of our economic stances, Wilson is under center and this team wouldn’t want it any other way. . . for now. His options at wide receiver are still nothing that blows you away, but they get the job done. Doug Baldwin is a tough receiver that doesn’t mind doing the dirty work or going over the middle and Jermaine Kearse pretty much fits that same mold.  Everyone is expecting Chris Matthews to capitalize on his “out of nowhere” Super Bowl performance, but that’s doubtful.  The best wide receiver on the team may be the rookie out of Kansas State – Tyler Lockett.  At five foot ten inches tall and a buck-eighty in weight, he isn’t the biggest threat, but he has great hands, good speed and loves big moments – which is what the Seahawks are all about.

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The Seahawks went out and traded for tight end Jimmy Graham as Wilson’s go-to-target but the gamble here is one to watch.  In order to obtain Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks traded away offensive lineman Max Unger to the Saints.  Keep in mind they also lost guard James Carpenter to free agency and then there’s the fact that Jimmy Graham isn’t the best blocking tight end in the world.  All of a sudden one of the league’s most offensively aggressive teams, seems to have lost some of that aggression.   Luckily, they have the most aggressive player in the league running the ball: Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch seems to be a malcontent but he generally keeps it to himself and it doesn’t apparently bother anybody.  Lynch might be a little more vocal this year because of the previously mentioned “softening” of his line up front though.  Lynch has been trucking over people for years and there is no reason to assume he’ll drop off anytime soon, but something’s got to give eventually.   After the Super Bowl loss and the acquisition of Jimmy Graham, it’s obvious this team is leaning in the direction of putting the ball in Wilson’s hands over Lynch’s.

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The funny thing about Seattle is, even if Lynch AND Wilson weren’t on this team, this defense would keep them in and win them games on its own.   Cliff Avril’s signing went with not much fan fare in 2013, but it was one of the best “gets” for this Seattle defense.  Avril brought an athleticism to a defensive line that – didn’t even need it – along with Michael Bennett and Brandon Mebane they make life easier for one of the elite line backing corps in the league.

When a former first round pick, Bruce Irvin is the weakest part of your linebacker group, things can’t be bad.  K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner have great vision and lateral movement – they can cover most tight-ends and collapse on the running game quickly.

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The “Legion of Boom” may have lost Byron Maxwell, but if nickel corner Jeremy Lane comes back quickly from injury he may slide into that number two corner spot held, for the time being, by Cary Williams.  If Richard Sherman isn’t the best corner in the game – he’s definitely the most confident – and with good reason.  Sherman’s size and athleticism makes it hard for opposing quarterback’s to look his way – although Sherman’s one fault is that he does NOT cover opposing team’s best wide outs every week.  He simply stays on his side of the field.  The safeties are the heart and soul of this defense and their hasn’t been a more talented / feared pair in quite some time – of course we’re talking about Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.  Earl Thomas is literally everywhere while Kam Chancellor is where receivers don’t want to end up.

Seattle has a tough road schedule including games at Green Bay, Dallas and Baltimore; and playing in the NFC West guarantees that every division contest will be a long and grueling one.  Even with that, Seattle has what it takes to win the division and still make a run at the conference.

Predicted Record: 9-7

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Is Wilson Worth the Dough?

The average football fan has been duped.  Duped by social media, commercial America and the NFL itself that the position of quarterback, is the do all and end all of everything important in the game of football.   Is the position important?  Of course it is.  It’s just as important as an left tackle,  defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback etc . . .   It’s been well documented how the NFL has modified it’s rules to help protect the quarterback while elevating the potential of a quarterback’s ability.

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The Seahawks drafted quarterback Russell Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft and have made a successful starting quarterback out of him.  The Seahawks have constructed a roster the way many NFL teams only wish they could – by landing “gems” in the later rounds of the NFL draft.   The only problem when doing that is, eventually – all those gems that were drafted come to the end of their rookie contracts and look to a big pay day when the time comes.

The quarterback market in the NFL is almost as lucrative as the Gold Rush of 1849.   The narrative of “you need a quarterback to win in this league” is an overstated and overused one, which has some truth to it, but folks have gotten out of control with it.  Look at the quarterbacks who have gotten huge contracts after winning a Super Bowl – Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Tom Brady and Russell Willson. Tom Brady – is on another level and not part of this discussion and Eli, for all the praise he gets, happened to be an average quarterback on a talented roster, so he was fortunate to get back to and win a second Super Bowl. . .

Joe Flacco, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have all had their own versions of “success” but they all have not returned to the big game although they are paid as if they get there every year.   It’s common sense but it must be said – if you decide to pay a quarterback $20-$25 million a year – then as a general manager you have to find ways to cut corners with your roster.

This is why the Seahawks and Russell Wilson conundrum is an interesting one.

The Seahawks tote around one of the most talented rosters in the NFL, albeit mostly on the defensive side, but still – finding a hole in this roster is nearly impossible.  Russell Wilson has been a direct beneficiary of this roster.  Being the game manager he is, having a running back like Marshawn Lynch in his back pocket is one of the greatest resources any offense could ask for.  Sure, the receivers on the Seahawks aren’t of Pro Bowl caliber, but what they are are blue-collared wideouts, who run routes well, block for the running game and aren’t afraid to put their bodies on the line for the sake of something like a three yard slant route.  This defense is solid all around and they make up for three and outs, and bad field position like clockwork.

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Is Russell Wilson terrible?  No.  He’s average.  His stats go hand in hand with Alex Smith’s but the perception of the two is vastly different.  Alex Smith was able to coax the Chiefs into a four year and nearly $70 million contract.  That’s with minimal success over his career and no commercial appeal what-so-ever.  Russell Wilson is on tv all the time and has been on a winning team since his entry to the league.  At the end of it all, Russell Wilson wants $20 million a year (he enters this season in the final year of his rookie contract, with an expected salary of $1.5 million).  Russell Wilson plays just as well as a guy who many were calling a “bust” a few years ago – and he wants $20 million a year.

Of course if you’re Russell Wilson, you should try to get paid as much as you can, while you can.  Especially considering how mediocrity at the quarterback position is consistently overpaid : Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and now, Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins.  The Tannehill contract showed the lunacy which ensues during quarterback contract talks.  Miami Dolphins fans were actually happy with the fact that they overpaid for a player who’s ceiling of potential won’t get them into the playoffs.

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Giving Russell Wilson the contract which is expected, will without a doubt start the decline of the Seattle Seahawks organization.

When will there ever be a general manager and coach combination that stands up for how good they are and tell a quarterback : “You know what, we’re good.   We appreciate your time in this organization, but we know how to put a team together.”

You see, it’s not just Russell Wilson – it’s every quarterback.  There are probably three quarterbacks in the NFL who are maybe worth $20 million a year because they have the ability to make everyone around them better.   Those kind of quarterbacks are rare.  Quarterbacks who throw for 20 touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 3400 yards in a season are quite abundant and need a team around them to have success.

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

Is Andrew Luck the Most “Important” QB in the NFL?

There are many fine lines in the english language.   In the NFL, nearly every word gets twisted and bent to mean two different things. For some it’s a compliment to be called a “game manager,” meanwhile to others, it’s a slap in the face.  The word “elite” is thrown around so much that the word has lost it’s meaning. . . and “being a leader” has been tied in to one’s body language, demeanor, work ethic and even “command of the huddle.”   In the NFL, no position is more talked about, celebrated and scrutinized than that of quarterback.  Some have the silly belief that you need a top flight or elite quarterback in order to succeed – dismissing all other positions of equal importance on the football field.  Not saying that the quarterback position is futile or that it doesn’t help to have a top notch quarterback on a football team to  pave a way to success, but most times the conversation gets out of control.

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Ever since Andrew Luck was drafted out of Stanford and handed the reigns of the Indianapolis Colts franchise, he has been touted as “the next big thing.”  He very well may be and in today’s NFL world where many believe the quarterback is the do all end all to a team’s success, Luck is under a huge microscope, with every snap and read of his being examined by so-called “experts.”

So many people want to talk analytics to defend their position but to make the statement of Andrew Luck being the most important quarterback in the NFL, all it takes is common sense.

Andrew Luck has earned the right to be mentioned with the future hall of famers and “elite” class of today’s quarterbacks, which includes: Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  When it comes to those who are his peers : Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan fill out the “comparison tree.”

There is no denying what the first four do for their teams.  They have all made their name in the history books, one way or another and contain all the traits needed to be “elite.”  Let’s not forget though  in the case of Brady and Rodgers – their teams carried the weight when these two went down in previous seasons.  In 2008, the Patriots lost Brady to injury in the first quarter against the Chiefs in their season opener.  What happened the rest of the season was back up quarterback Matt Cassell came in and threw for over 3600 yards and 21 touchdowns and led the Patriots to a 10-6 record.  The Pats missed out on the division crown, but a 10 win season generally keeps folks employed and happy.  In 2013, Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in a week nine hit against Chicago, which sidelined him until the final week of the season.  Coach Mike McCarthy used a “musical chairs carousel” of quarterbacks that were able to check down to wideouts and keep the chains moving in Rodgers’ absence.  Thanks to a strong running game and conservative play calling, McCarthy was able to keep the Packers alive for a do or die division winning game in week 17, which they won.  In other words, these teams made due without their stud QBs.

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One can make the argument that last season, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees held their teams back rather than help them get better.  Both quarterbacks were playing as if father time caught up with them as they both seemed to lack their recognizable arm talents and their instincts seemed a bit off.   Nobody is knocking what “getting older” can do to one’s abilities, but it’s more of the fact that Peyton Manning was struggling late last season – everyone saw it, but it was the running game that helped keep the Broncos alive all year.  Things didn’t turn out so well for Brees though, as he could not help get his team out of self dug holes to win an atrocious NFC South division.

This isn’t being written to bash these men.  It’s to prove an obvious point.   The point being, if Andrew Luck quarterbacked New Orleans or Denver, those teams would’ve been better off and if Chuck Pagano had to coach a full or even half a season without Luck – the Colts seasons is as good as done.

Andrew Luck stood in the pocket for the Indianapolis Colts last year and was the only reason why the Colts racked up 11 wins this year.  Yes, the only   reason.  The running game was non-existent all season and the defense was a struggle to watch week-to-week.  The Colts offense became pretty predictable late in games, and every game was won and lost on Luck’s arm.  Colts head coach, Chuck Pagano seemed out-coached for the most part on a weekly basis, and the team seemed to do it’s best when Luck was handed over play calling responsibilities on drives.   Luck had a version of Reggie Wayne that was out-dated and moldy, while he was breaking in a youngster like Donte Moncrief.  Sure, TY Hilton is an explosive player and has become somewhat of a break out star, but he doesn’t have the ideal size to be a true number one option.

Luck doesn’t have a running game and defense to depend on like Russell Wilson does in Seattle;  he doesn’t have a Julio Jones and Roddy White combination like Matt Ryan in Atlanta and although Luck is the better pure passer and has better weapons than Cam Newton – Newton usually finds himself in close games because of Ron Rivera’s tough nosed defenses.

The word important is not to be confused or tied into the word best.  Although the NFL pundits love to spin double meanings on words.  This isn’t to say that Luck could be, will be or in some circles is considered to be “the best” quarterback in the league but the fact here is that he is definitely the most important quarterback in the league.   Without him, the Colts are easily a two win team who will be looking to draft a quarterback in the off-season.  Andrew Luck on the Seattle Seahawks could probably go undefeated.  And given the scenario where Luck is the quarterback for Green Bay, Denver or New England those teams either get better or worse case scenario, still win their respectable divisions with double digits in the win column.

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Considering how the Indianapolis Colts were only able to supply a legend like Peyton Manning two Super Bowl appearance (one victory) – one must wonder if they’ll leave Luck in that same kind of scenario.  Remember, in his hay-day – Manning was the most important quarterback in the league, without him they literally turned into a two win team.  The Colts have to help Luck out with better players around him.  He has already proven his worth to the franchise with what they’ve given him.  Now imagine if the team drafted well and put the right pieces in place.

Don’t blow this one Indy.  You’ve got the most important quarterback in the NFL.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

GeeSteelio Sports Hour (Feb. 5th)

G.W. Gras talks all about the aftermath of the Super Bowl and why the Seahawks play-calling did what it did at the end of that game.   Special Guest Rosalyn R. Ross of LadySingsTheSports.Com and TheSportsFansJournal.com joins to give her take on the SuperBowl and also to discuss how the NBA’s love of the “Big 3” should come to an end!

How To Play the Super Bowl Prop Bets

The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sports day of the year.  It is an unofficial American Holiday, a gathering of friends and family and also for all things considered, the end of “betting season” for many.  Whether it’s a blessing or not is the gambler’s issue – but the Super Bowl is the last time for many to cash in, feel the rush or hand their money over to their bookee one last time.  Vegas is aware of this and that is why “prop bets” were created.

Coin Toss:

All of the coin toss props are 50/50 and it’s a quick way to lose or make your money right at the start of the Super Bowl.  Heads or tails, which team will call heads or tails, will the team who wins the coin toss win the game, etc, etc.  If you have to get your early fix and bet on the coin toss, ride with history.  In the Super Bowl, Seattle is 2-0 in winning the coin toss while New England has only won the coin toss twice in seven trips to the big game.

Will There Be Three Unanswered Scores by Any Team:

This one is interesting because the line on YES is -200 and NO is +160.  Without giving away a Super Bowl prediction just yet, this game will be close.  The -1 line on the game itself (favoring Seattle) is proof enough that Vegas does not see any one of these teams running away with the game.  “NO” is the bet on this one.  Easily.

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Will Richard Sherman Record A Interception:

This prop bet is tailor made for those who know the name of Richard Sherman but do not know the game of football.  In 16 regular season games Sherman had 4 interceptions but in the playoffs he has 2 interceptions in two games.  Both of those picks weren’t necessarily great plays by Sherman, but really a bad throw by Cam Newton and an uncharacteristically bad throw/read by Aaron Rodgers.  Sherman will be dealing with a Patriots offense that has had two weeks to prepare and game plan for him – oh, and Tom Brady is one of the leagues most annoyingly accurate perfectionist when it comes to in game execution.  The YES on this bet is at +195 while the NO is at         -250.  The  easy money is on the bigger bet, risk 250 for every hundred and laugh at the losers who will bet on Sherman because of his soup and headphone commercials.

Total Tackles + Assists by Kam Chancellor:

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The over/under for this prop is set at 6.5 (over -155/under +105).  Kam Chancellor is an absolute animal.  The Patriots are no doubt going to try to soften up and find a crease within the tough D Line of the Seahawks and there is no doubt that Kam Chancellor will be called upon to navigate that line of scrimmage more than a few times. Aside from the running game, expect Kam to be dealing with Rob Gronkowski in the middle of the field.  Gronk is Brady’s favorite target and Chancellor is the kind of monster, competitively that wants to be the one to lay him out one on one.  The Pats use the middle of the field with their tight ends and (a-hem) eligible lineman so Kam will get many opportunities to get that tackle number way above 6.  Take the gamble and risk 155 units to win your easy 100.

Which Song Will Katy Perry Begin The Halftime Show With: 

Of course we have to talk some Katy Perry.  The odds for this one go like this: Firework 3/2; Roar 3/2; This is How We Do 5/1; Dark Horse 12/1; E.T. 12/1; Wide Awake 12/1; and Waking Up In Vegas 20/1.   Automatically eliminate Waking Up In Vegas because most people have forgotten about that song.  ET was  a hit but even then we’re talking some years back – The Songstress Perry is all about keeping things fresher.  Firework will no doubt be performed but that seems more like a closing song – TV-wise – this song was the highlight of her 2010 performance for Victoria Secrets.  Dark Horse may be too slow to kick off something as exciting as a halftime show should be which leaves three more: Wide Awake, This Is How We Do and Roar.   Wide Awake might be a song that would be on the edge of not even being heard, so that leaves Roar and This is How We Do.  Most would put money down on both but go for the longer shot and the safer start up song in “This Is How We Do.”  It still has some relevancy so it’s a safe bet.

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The Game Itself

No, this isn’t a “prop” bet but it’s the most important bet of the day.  As of now, Vegas has the Seattle Seahawks as a one point favorite over the New England Patriots.   The talk has been the Seahawks defense versus the Patriots offense – but folks should flip that around.  For all the fan fare that Russell Wilson gets, this Seahawks offense is a run first and run dominant offense, they are far from a juggernaut (although Marshawn Lynch represents the Marvel Comic villain of the same name at times).   Bill Belichik is one of the greatest coaches of all time and his integrity has been called into question because of “Deflate Gate.”  The Hood has had two weeks to get that defensive mind of his wrapped around this run heavy offense.  This WILL-NOT be a repeat of last year and the Seahawks are not set to repeat either.  Take the Patriots here at +1 and enjoy your Super Bowl viewing party.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

The Issue With Russell Wilson

When discussing quarterbacks in the NFL, there are two things people need to STOP doing.

1 – Stop issuing “wins” and “losses” to quarterbacks.  This includes Super Bowl wins, playoff wins, come from behind wins – all of them.   Offensive linemen never get credit for keeping their quarterbacks untouched in final drives, wide receivers are the ones making the catches the quarterbacks throw out there and running backs, more times than not, pick up blitzing corners and handle a lot of the dirty work in the trenches.   The quarterback did not win the game, the team did.  As cliche as that might sound it’s the truth.

2- Stop using the word “elite” when discussing quarterbacks.   This all goes back to the infamous Michael Kay radio interview with Eli Manning – and ever since then – the words “elite” have been tossed around like cuss words in a high school locker room.   The word “elite” has even gone hand in hand when trying to put Super Bowl winning quarterbacks into the “elite” class.  Joe Flacco.  Eli Manning.  Stop it.

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Wins, playoff success and the word “elite” have all come into play with the Seahawks third year starter, Russell Wilson.  Wilson, is a likable fixture in an NFL where the loud-mouthed, off-season troubled issues of many have cast a dark cloud over the sport.  Wilson is an intelligent, quiet, well mannered kid, who says all the right things when the camera is on him.  He has been in the playoffs all three seasons, including a Super Bowl win and another trip to the big game this year.   Even then – the praise has gotten out of hand.

The reason why the word “elite” now holds no meaning is because it meant something and now means virtually nothing.  That class of quarterback should only be the guys who throw for 35-40 touchdowns, 4500-5000 yards and have a touchdown interception ration of at least 4:1.   Without those guys at that position, their team accomplishes nothing.    In his three seasons, Wilson has played a total of 48 games – in those 48 he has only thrown for 3 or more touchdowns six times in a game (never achieving that mark once this year.)  In the same span of games he has only thrown for over 300 yards four times in a game.  These are not the consistent numbers seen with the word “elite.”

“But he wins games,” is what those with no argument say.

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Russell Wilson is the direct benefactor of being on one of the most talented squads in the NFL.   There is no question that no other team has been built better than Seattle’s in the last 4 years.   Wilson has benefited from a good offensive line and one of the most unstoppable forces at running back – Marshawn Lynch.  If there was ever an “elite running back” conversation – Lynch would be in the top three, without a doubt.  Not many other teams hand off to their running back on third and six situations – with confidence, none-the-less.  Defenses are forced to pack line-backers and/or safeties up on the line of scrimmage in order to stop this running game – leaving Russell Wilson many easy opportunities in the play-action game.

There is nothing wrong with Russell’s game, this is not an indictment on how well/bad he can play the game – but the credit that he is given is over-board.  Statistically  Russell Wilson’s numbers go neck in neck with the likes of Alex Smith (who many label a “game manager”), Derek Carr (rookie QB for the Raiders. . . yes the Oakland-Mess-Of-A-Franchise Raiders), Brian Hoyer (who played two less games and for Cleveland) and Andy Dalton (who gets crucified weekly for not being worth the money he’s signed to).   That’s the “elite” class Wilson’s numbers have him with.

“But his rushing yards, too. . .,” is the last thing those with no argument say.

This season he ran for over 800  yards, terrific.  Amazing.  Once again – let’s not give credit to the fact that half of those yards come off of play-action bootleg plays because defenses are concerned with stopping Marshawn Lynch and let’s also not mention that this receiving core does one thing extremely well – block on the outside.

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The argument of Russell Wilson being ‘great’ is just over-blown.   Wilson is the piece that’s needed at the quarterback position for this team.  That’s all that needs to be said.  He is neither great, nor terrible.  Truthfully, we won’t ever really know how good Russell Wilson is until he is served up the hefty contract which everyone knows is coming his way.  The Seahawks reportedly want to offer Wilson a “record breaking contract” which will leave not much money to throw around.  The Seahawks are very cap savvy but for how long will Wilson remain as the NFL’s most storied game-manager without the league’s best defense backing him up and an absolute beast named Marshawn Lynch to lean on offensively.

Maybe, some folks just have the bar set low, when it comes to being “elite.”

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio