Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, I didn't realise until a moment ago that this is the 100th post in the history of Sedition in Red Sox Nation. I was hoping that some interesting would emerge from spring training in Fort Myers, but no such luck. I don't want to be the guy who writes about split squad games until people want to track him down and beat him with a bag full of oranges because of the citrus metaphors in the column.

Thankfully, there have been a few moves of note in the NFL free agency period. I'm not sure how the Joey Porter signing will work for the Dolphins. Based on his past performance, the amount of money involved and his age, this will either be a huge coup or a catastrophic mistake.

Personally, I think it's not going to work. I don't like the idea of switching Jason Taylor from defensive end in the 4-3 to OLB in the new 3-4 scheme. Then there is the performance history of linebackers who have left the Steelers. For every Mike Vrabel there is a Kevin Greene, Chad Brown, Greg Lloyd or Jason Gildon who did not live up to their past performance when they signed the big free agent contract.

Then there is Rich McKay, Atlanta Falcons GM and the man who frantically searches the main streets and back roads of Tampa for the mojo he left behind when he came over from the Bucs. I think it was his signing of Joe Horn that made the Bears panic and deal Thomas Jones. Pairing Ron Mexico with a 35 year old wide receiver makes the Falcons the prohibitive favorites in the NFC next season.

If I were smarter, I wouldn't do this. Joe Horn is overrated. He has done excellent things, as the face of the Saints in their year in exile and in the triumphant return this season. Unfortunately, the NFL is a business where an aging, but media savvy player is a luxury few teams can afford at the rate of $3.3 million per year. I don't think this was as personal a matter as Horn has claimed. It seems like a wise business decision to cut him.

Looking at his career statistics, Joe Horn is a particularly expensive commodity at $3.3 million. He played only 10 games last season, and caught 37 passes. In 2005, Horn caught 49 passes over 13 games. On average, he's caught about 50 passes and 5 TDs a season over his 11 year career. That really isn't #1 receiver production, in spite of his pay. Horn's best season as a pro came back in 2004 (94 catches, 11 TDs), but he's coming back from a serious groin injury and he's 35.

When it comes to pro athletes advancing in years, I tend to think along the same lines as Marsellus Wallace (the Ving Rhames character from Pulp Fiction). Athletes do not age like wine, in the sense that they improve with age. Athletes age like wine in the sense that they grow bitter and turn into vinegar. At age 35, a wide receiver is more like champale than Dom Perignon. Yeah, Jerry Rice played into his 40s, but if you're honest with yourself, you'll admit that he was just a shadow of his former self.

In spite of all of this, and the fact that Ron Mexico seems to continually regress rather than progress personally and professionally, we are expected to take the Falcons seriously as contenders? At the risk of using the editorial we, let me just say...we are not amused. Horn may solidify a shaky receiving corps, provided that he's healthy enough to stay on the field and contribute, or he may not. But the Falcons still cannot protect the passer very well, and their defense has holes galore. So I will short the Falcons until they prove me wrong.

For those of you who are new to this blog, you might not know it, but I spent much of the last season navigating the trials and tribulations of the Bears bandwagon as though I were the Ringo Kid from the John Ford classic Stagecoach. During that process, I became emotionally invested in the team. Even though this offseason has been a nightmare so far, I am not ready to give up on the Bears for next season.

I have tried not to let the Thomas Jones trade bother me too terribly. Make no mistake about it, I am sorry to see him go. I like him as a running back, and he's a proven commodity. But the team put a lot of money and a high draft pick into the development of Cedric Benson, and that was never going to come to fruition with Thomas Jones on the team.

One of my problems is that I am a football fan with a very long memory. I can remember the 1999 NFL draft. The Arizona Cardinals drafted a running back from Virginia with the 7th pick of the 1st round. He didn't develop into the player they had hoped he would, so the team traded him to Tampa Bay for Marquise Walker. Even though providing the link in this paragraph kills what little drama was building, I'll pretend it's still a surprising revelation. That running back was the same Thomas Jones.

That paragraph points to two possible interpretations. First, the Cardinals and the Bucs regret letting Jones go, so will the Bears. That is the line this blogger takes. The other, the Cardinals made a mistake choosing an older back of a younger one (they signed Emmet Smith before they dealt Jones) who had shown promise but not produced to the desired extent. That's the way feel about this situation.

Running backs in the NFL burn out at a younger age than other athletes, except for boxers (maybe). Most running backs hit 30 and fall off a cliff. Thomas Jones might be one of the rare exceptions, but then again he might not. It makes more sense to go with the younger back with fewer miles on him than it does to give Jones a long term extension. With no long term deal, Jones would be leaving town as soon as his deal ends. It makes sense to get what you can for him before he's gone.

And then there's the fact that I know several of the other owners in my fantasy league read this blog. And they know I know this. And I know they know I know this. So there's a chance that I could be talking Benson up so that they fall all over themselves to draft him early, thus allowing me to swoop in and draft some other player they should be looking at.


The Kobra Kommander said...

Let the battle of wits begin!

"So there's a chance that I could be talking Benson up so that they fall all over themselves to draft him early, thus allowing me to swoop in and draft some other player they should be looking at."

Or that might be what you want them to think, because then you could draft Cedric Benson while they collude to try to block you from drafting other running backs.

Just so you know, it probably doesn't matter which one it is; I've spent the last several years building up a resistance to Cedric Benson.

Besides... you know that somehow the Greek Sneak will figue out a way to get whatever player it is that you want anyway.

-The Kobra Kommander

thecincinattikid said...

I factored the Greek Sneak out of my planning, since I assumed the commissioner would man up and give him his walking papers.