Peter King is off this week dealing with the death of his brother. In the place of PK is MMQB crony, Greg Bedard, who is generally just about as annoying – if slightly less obtuse – as the grand nuggetologist himself, whether it’s hailing Bill Belichick for his statesman-like composure at the press conference after the Patriots released Aaron Hernandez, or talking shit about Norv Turner after the coach made reference to the time Bedard claimed Josh Gordon was a loafer who would never amount to anything. So, while not PK, I don’t anticipate this being much less painful than usual. Let’s see what you got, Bedard.
Thursday will mark the four-week mark from the draft, which is being hailed in league circles as one of the deepest in years. If there’s any team that holds the keys to the major drama that could unfold in the first round, it’s the St. Louis Rams. With the second and 13th overall pick, coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead knows the options are limitless, including numerous trade scenarios.
Yes, Snead and the Rams already have opened for business on the trade market.
Oh hey, that’s a nice simple lede and it features discussion of the Rams by someone without clear conflicts of interest. I’m 100 words in and I don’t feel like killing anyone yet. Best Monday ever!
In ’12, Andrew Luck was the no-doubt first overall pick. Only two other quarterbacks, Griffin and Ryan Tannehill (eighth to Miami), went in the top 20. Will any of the quarterbacks in this year’s class (Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles) be viewed as such must-haves that a team will move up swiftly to take one? Debatable.
So what is the point here? That this is somehow a lesser quarterback class if Manziel, Bridgewater and Bortles all go in the top 20 but no one trades up for them? Why does that matter?
Snead thinks that in this particular draft, you don’t need to be a thrower of the ball to get people interested, not with top positional talents like pass rushers Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack, receiver Sammy Watkins and tackles Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews available.
WHOA! Teams want to draft players that aren’t quarterbacks? In the first round? Can they even do that? CRAZY!
The Rams themselves have an interesting dilemma. After two consecutive 7-9 seasons, including last season when Bradford missed the final nine games (ACL), the Rams are knocking on the playoff door. A trade down from either draft spot might keep the team stocked in the draft for years to come, but how will that play if the Rams don’t post a winning season in Year 3 of Fisher and Snead?
Probably not well. Then again, if you’re not winning in the NFL, every single thing you do is second guessed. Though stockpiling picks is a great way for a GM to appear to be doing a great job even if the team isn’t winning shit.
“I think the way to get it right is you make the right decision for the organization, and I like to say you make the best decision long term because the short term is by definition short —it won’t last as long,” Snead said. “But because this draft is really good, it’s a good chance for us to take some shots with picks in this draft to improve the team. Not only tomorrow and opening day, but also four and five years down the road.”
So what you’re trying to tell me is you’re going punter every round, right?
“I don’t think I ever look at it as, ‘This is it,’” Snead said. “When we first got here there was a goal to build, develop and coach the football team to win consistently for the long term, but we wanted to do it as rapidly as possible. So as we sit here, as you measure things, we’ve probably moved the needle.
I’m no NFL front office type, but I imagine it’s great feeling when your GM sounds unsure that he’s made an impact three years into his job.
Before we got here they had 15 wins in five years, and we’ve had 14 in two. But, trust me, 14 wins in two years—7-9, third and fourth in the division—is not the goal.
Never has been and won’t be.
We want to start winning back-to-back or multiple games in a row more consistently. There’s no question this draft, where we are, can help us do that. This is a nice draft to have those picks.”
“We might even get to 8-8 this year!”
Peter King filed this before taking a few personal days, after interviewing Kevin Costner about the new NFL-centric movie “Draft Day,’’ which opens Friday.
Aw man, I thought I was getting a full week reprieve from Peter. Should’ve known better.
“Draft Day,” the movie starring Kevin Costner and Jennifer Garner, will get lots of attention this week because of the mania that surrounds the NFL draft. But don’t ask Costner, who plays fictional Cleveland Browns general manager Sonny Weaver Jr., how much he studied draft rooms or what happens during the three-day draft every spring at Radio City Music Hall. He didn’t attend last year’s draft, when some of the scenes were shot in New York, and he didn’t grill a bunch of GMs and front-office types to find out how exactly trades are made, though short-term real-life Browns GM Mike Lombardi was a resource.
Pffft. Some method actor. If they had cast Daniel Day-Lewis, he would’ve already built a Super Bowl champion for a franchise before production started. Also, with Lombardi as a consultant to Costner, I expect a thousand mentions of blue chippers in this movie.
The movie is not solely focused on the machinations of the draft, and whether the woebegone Browns—in fiction now, as well as fact—can turn it around. This flick, Costner says, is as much as much about his relationship with his salary-cap manager, Garner, as it is about making the deal of the century … the same as it was in his very famous theatrical flings with Susan Sarandon and Amy Madigan in past movies.
A Hollywood movie that focuses more on relatable human drama than the minutiae of a job? Breaking the mold with this one.
“ ‘Bull Durham’ wasn’t a movie about minor-league baseball,” Costner said the other day. “It was a movie about a girl and a guy. Same thing with ‘Field of Dreams.’ That was a love story. That’s what makes the great movies. ‘Field of Dreams’ wouldn’t have had a chance if it was all about baseball.”
“You want to make a great movie? Don’t put too much sports into it.”
Careful, Costner. You’re going to convince Peter to knock out a screenplay purportedly about football that is really 90 percent the protagonist yelling at a barista before having a meet-cute with a certain NFL commissioner.
Well then, maybe this isn’t the exact column for the Kevin Costner “Draft Day” preview, is it? I haven’t seen the movie yet, but in the trailer and the promotional material, there’s obviously a good bit of time spent in the Costner-Garner dynamic. And there’s some about a troubled general manager who knows his job is on the line and needs a very good draft day to ensure his future.
Your standard amount of Peter King preparation. “Tell me about this movie. I watched the trailer and looked at the poster. How much baseball is in it?”
Costner’s a big football fan too. Of the current quarterbacks, he loves Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, and of the future ones, he’ll take Johnny Manziel.
“OF COURSE A BIG SHOT ACTOR WOULD LOVE SOME GLOOOORY BOYS!”
All right, back to Bedard.
Today marks the first time the seven new head coaches can be in front of their new teams. Teams with new coaches get a two-week jump on the other teams during phase one of the offseason program, which was collectively bargained under the new CBA. Players are limited to weight training and on-field strength and conditioning. Coaches can conduct meetings and classroom instruction, but can’t be on the field or in the weight room with players.
Seems a little ridiculous that coaches, especially those trying to change a culture or install new playbooks with new coordinators, can’t meet with their team or even talk football before the offseason program begins.
Oh no, there’s only five more months until the season starts. I hope they can a gameplan in place for Week 1.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has a new offensive coordinator in Gary Kubiak, who can distribute but not discuss his new playbook with the players. Harbaugh vented about the situation at the league meetings.
“We don’t see these guys until April 21,” Harbaugh said. “They’re in the building working out. We can’t have a conversation with them other than ‘Hi, how are you doing?’
“The players in the building working, but we want them to work on other things too!”
“This is not the NCAA. This is not recruiting. These are our guys. We want what’s best for our players. That’s what’s good for the league. That’s what good for these young men. And that’s what they want. Young guys want a chance to compete in the National Football League for a job. They want to go see their position coach. They want to learn football. It’s their craft. And we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t do it?’ Why? Because of the collective bargaining agreement that makes no sense? Because somebody wanted to get their little win here versus their little win over there? Get together and do what’s best for these players.”
Rams general manager Les Snead told me Sunday that he was in total agreement with Harbaugh.
Of course he is. Football coaches and execs would prefer to work every second of the calendar year because they’re obsessives like that. It might be useful, however, to interview someone from, say, the NFLPA to find out why this rule might be in the best interests of the players.
“In what other profession do the best at what they do take 15 weeks off?” Snead said. “You think Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett or people trying to find the cure for cancer take 15 straight weeks off?
Great point. If Warren Buffett can withstand the physical toll of being a rich guy making business deals then surely football players don’t need to recuperate from concussions or ligament tears.
I’m not saying you bring these players in and grind them into meat, because at the end of the day that’s not helping you either.
“I’m just saying I’d like to be able to grind them if I so chose.”
Especially with the younger guys, the ones that just finished their rookie seasons, they don’t get a chance to progress, not saying physically because a lot of these guys are training, but mentally.
“Having a football coach not berating them all-day, every day really cuts into their subservience. Makes them almost uncontrollable!”
I think it hurts them, stunts their growth and I think it can be changed without on-field football work even being involved.
“Seriously, just let the coaches scream at them a little bit. It doesn’t have to be on a football field. It can be in a janitor’s closet. A multi-purpose meeting room. Even a computer lab. We can be flexible!”
I’ve seen those European soccer teams [Rams owner Stan Kroenke is the largest shareholder of Arsenal in the Premier League], and they probably spend more time than anybody training, but they do a nice job of making sure their guys are fresh and healthy.”
Because the recovery time in soccer and football is exactly the same, you see.
FACTOID OF THE WEEK THAT MAY ONLY INTEREST ME
Sean Taylor, the late Washington safety who was murdered in 2007, would have turned just 31 on April 1. It’s amazing to think that he’d still be in his prime. With free safeties in such great demand now thanks to the rise in spread offenses, it sort of boggles the mind to think of what Taylor would be worth on the open market now. Some might not remember, but Taylor, at 6-2 and 212 pounds with speed and instincts, was ascending to be the equal of Ed Reed, Taylor’s predecessor at the University of Miami.
The life and untimely death of Sean Taylor: apparently something only of interest to Greg Bedard.
MR. STARWOOD PREFERRED MEMBER TRAVEL NOTE OF THE WEEK
I trained it down to my alma mater, Rutgers, for a sports journalism talk a week ago. On the way back to Penn Station via NJ Transit, an older gentleman started cutting his fingernails just before the final stop. Seriously. And there were people seated around him. I decided to get off the train on the other end of the car because, in my mind, the odds of getting shrapnel off my noggin were viable. Who actually thinks, “You know what, my nails are pretty long and now, on public transportation, would be the perfect time to cut ’em?” Reminds me of the time when I was waiting for a plane in Kansas City and the man seated across the way took off his shoes and started doing his bills, like he was in his living room. Can we all just agree that we’re visitors in public spaces, with a common goal to leave as soon as possible without incident?
Oh Christ, you fucking spazz. “Some guy took his shoes off near me! I’ll never be clean again!” I do love that Bedard was so aghast that he went to the other end of the train to escape the horrors of a man clipping his fingernails. I bet he’d jump out of plane if another passenger picked his ear.
TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK
I think it’s ridiculous how some in the media overreact to stories reported by others, with the DeSean Jackson story being a prime example. To insinuate the Eagles smeared Jackson on the way out the door is just lazy. The story came out, he got released, there must be some connection. Why? From my experience as a beat writer, when you learn that a team is parting ways with a talented player like Jackson, you better be trying to find out why. When I was at the Boston Globe, I reported that the Patriots were likely going to release receiver Brandon Lloyd after a season in which he caught 74 passes because his erratic behavior had grown tiresome. Lloyd was later released and hasn’t played in the league again. By the Jackson rationale, the Patriots must leaked that information to me, right? I wish. My information didn’t come from the team. Jackson is not exactly a model player. He has a high salary. And he had curious connections to gang members. Those are not smear tactics; they’re called facts.
It might be a little presumptuous to say that the Eagles were behind the newspaper story about DeSean’s alleged gang ties, but to say that his release had nothing to do with the publishing of that story is pretty stupid. And the Patriots cutting ties with a 30-year-old Brandon Lloyd after one season is a little different than the Eagles dumping a 27-year-old DeSean Jackson even though they’ll still have a $6 million cap hit from him the following season.
I think credit should go to writers Eliot Shorr-Parks and A.J. Perez for fleshing out the Jackson situation. I will say that NJ.com invited some of the trouble by using the headline, “DeSean Jackson’s gang connections troubling to Eagles” and overdramatizing those connections. Was that part of the story? Yes. Was it a fact? Yes. Was it the main reason why Jackson was released? Heck no. Even the story said that. Jackson was released because he’s been a problem to the team internally, for a variety of reasons, for years. Former coach Andy Reid dealt with it; new coach Chip Kelly, after one season, decided he wasn’t going to do that. It’s his prerogative. People around the league knew about Jackson’s loose connections with gang members back home for years. It was new information to the public, but not anyone around the league.
So why wait to release him until IMMEDIATELY after the story is published? Even if what Bedard is claiming is entirely accurate, then the Eagles have spectacularly thoughtless timing.
I think everything truly important in the Jackson story was revealed when we heard crickets from his former teammates. To date, only LeSean McCoy has said anything—“He’ll definitely be missed,” to FoxSports.com—and that was fairly tepid support. If the Eagles had done Jackson wrong, you better believe his teammates would have been leaking like sieves to reporters. Yet, there has been nothing. The gang conversation is just bright colors and loud noises to distract from the bottom line.
Oh yeah, no one else on the Eagles has said a peep in support of DeSean.
— Brandon Graham (@brandongraham55) March 28, 2014
It must be an MMQB writer requirement to be beholden to the interests of NFL management.
I think Jackson has made out very well financially. He collected $17.5 million from the Eagles and reportedly will receive $16 million guaranteed from Washington. That’s $33.5 million total. Even the gang stuff being made public will probably do him some good by showing Jackson that he needs to check himself a bit.
Oh fuck you. “DeSean made some money and he’s gonna make more money so it doesn’t matter how teams treat him!”
I think someone is probably not too happy about the contract extensions given to the two Super Bowl coaches, Pete Carroll and John Fox, this week. That someone is 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who is left kind of standing off to the side without an extension. As someone who covers the league, I’m supposed to care about these developments, but I don’t.
Good, successful coaches receive extensions in due time. When they aren’t doing a good job, they get fired regardless of how many years they have remaining on their contract because NFL owners make so much money. So, yawn.
I agree it isn’t a huge deal, but I enjoy that Bedard is writing about it while giving himself credit for being above writing about it.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
d) Proud of the Fenway faithful for giving Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun the booing he deserved at Friday’s home opener.
BOOOOO YOU FACKIN CHEATAH! YOU’LL NEVAH BE THE P.E.D. USAH THAT BIG PAPI IS! BOOOOOOOO!
e) The Red Sox are hosting a “Student Toga Night” for Tuesday’s game against the Rangers. What could go wrong? The team said it wants to continue to develop the younger generation of fans. Why don’t they just put a Ferris wheel in the bullpen and get it over with already? I don’t know, maybe I’m officially old now, but I thought Fenway was just fine when most of the entertainment consisted of organ music. The charm of Fenway was, to me, that it was always about the actual game being played. More of that is stripped away every year.
Good. Strip all the fucking charm out of Fenway. Have Brony cosplay nights. Then bomb the fucking old shithole and salt the earth so no baseball grows in its place. Fuck the Red Sox and fuck you.
/concedes that a bunch of Red Sox fans in togas will most likely be a total shitshow
g) Coffeenerdness: As long as it has caffeine in it (and, yes, a healthy amount of milk and Splenda), I’m pretty much good with home brewing. If I’m feeling crazy, I go with a Turbo shot at Dunky’s. If that gets me shunned by The Skip, I’ll deal with it.
h) Beernerdness: The debut of Yuengling in New England was much heralded last month, but it was just okay for me; not enough depth of flavor, a bit watery. Prefer Coney Island and Brooklyn Lagers, or Leinenkugel Amber among similar beers. If you happen across it, definitely go for a Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Rail. A terrific pale ale. And I’m not just saying that because it’s crafted in South Deerfield, Mass., my first hometown.
Bedard’s dickhead smarm aside, I’m kind of sad that Yuengling is distributed in Boston now because Massholes used to have this adorable reverence for Yuengling because they couldn’t usually get it. Like, it’s pretty good for a cheap-ass beer but other than the fact that it comes from the oldest brewery in America, there isn’t anything special about it.
/gets flamed by Philly people
THE ADIEU HAIKU
Sorry, I don’t haiku.