Tips for betting on the new NFL season

By Benjamin Collins

The new NFL season doesn’t begin until September of this year, but already the odds and futures betting for the new season have started, which reflects the popularity of betting on the NFL amongst fans of both the sport and gambling. However, although it can be hard to resist getting in on the action early, by putting down bets on the winners of the AFC, NFC and Super Bowl well in advance, it is worth at least considering whether that is the smartest way of betting on the NFL.

After all, should you hold off until the season has started you will get the opportunity to see whether pre-season favourites like the New England Patriots (3/1 for the AFC and 8/1 for the Super Bowl), and the San Francisco 49ers (9/2 for the NFC and 8/1 for the Super Bowl) actually produce the form to justify these odds. If they do their odds will remain at the same level, while if they don’t, you can avoid losing out like all those who bet on last season’s pre-season favourites the Denver Broncos. If you are unwilling to wait until the actual season starts, it can at least be advisable to wait until after the draft at the end of April – as this will give you a better idea of how strong the teams will be going into the new season.

The evidence suggests that the Patriots will still be looking strong after the draft, as they have money to spend on strengthening, but the Broncos were clear pre-season favourites last time round. Waiting before betting can pay dividends, and there are plenty of other options – such as the $5 Million Touchdown NFL slots game available at an online casino site – to keep you amused while you are waiting. From the reel icons shaped like football players, whistles and cheerleaders, to the bonus game involving passing a ball to score a touchdown – this game has everything for NFL fans. It should also appeal to betting fans in general, thanks to the huge maximum cash jackpot that can potentially be won by playing it.


Top-10 Best Contracts in the NFL

Top-10 best contracts in the NFL

1. QB Russell Wilson (Seattle): 3 years, 1.987 million remaining

You could make a case for Colin Kaepernick, Andrew Luck, and Robert Griffin here, but Luck and Griffin are making 3 times as much money as Wilson and Wilson has still two more years left on his deal before he becomes eligible for a monster extension, while Kaepernick will probably get one next off-season.

2. QB Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco): 2 years, 1.713 million remaining

Kaepernick will probably get a monster extension next off-season, but for now the 49ers can enjoy having him signed for less than a million dollars for 2013. He’s not necessarily a better player than Luck and Griffin, but if you take salaries into account, I think Kaepernick has to be the choice.

3. QB Andrew Luck (Indianapolis): 3 years, 7.198 million remaining

Griffin won Rookie of the Year over Luck and rightfully so and he’s also a little bit cheaper than Luck, but long term, I think it’d rather have Luck than Griffin solely because of Griffin’s knees. Griffin’s chances of a career ending injury sometime in the next 5 years are infinitely greater than Luck’s, unfortunately.

4. QB Robert Griffin (Washington): 3 years, 6.928 million remaining

However, Griffin still checks in at #4 and I would argue, totally healthy, he’s the best player of the 4 mentioned thus far. The Redskins built their entire offense around him and mortgaged their entire future for him by giving up 3 1st rounders and he delivered, at least before he got hurt, dragging his team into the playoffs and having 8 combined interceptions and fumbles to Luck’s 27. He also didn’t have nearly the supporting cast Wilson and Kaepernick had.

5. DE JJ Watt (Houston): 2 years, 3.304 million remaining

Watt can’t be in the top-4 because he’s not a quarterback and, at the end of the day, you’d rather have a ridiculously cheap, ridiculously young, ridiculously talented quarterback than anyone at any other position. However, Watt forced himself into the top-5 by submitting arguably the best single season a defensive lineman has ever had last year and doing so at the age of 23. Watt almost broke Michael Strahan’s single season sack record and did so from an interior position and set the NFL single season record for most combined sacks and swats. He was also ProFootballFocus’ highest rated player in their 5 year history.

6. QB Tom Brady (New England): 5 years, 57 million remaining

Sure he’s making a lot more than the 5 guys named above him, but anytime you can get a proven Super Bowl quarterback for the deal Brady just gave the Patriots, you have to be pretty happy about that. Plus, while the 5 guys listed above will all get massive extensions in the next 2-3 years, Brady will be signed this cheaply for the rest of his career. Yeah, he’s older, but he’s arguably more valuable right now than any of the 5 mentioned above and in 2-3 years he’ll still be cheaper than all of them. For that reason, you could actually make a case for him at #1.

7. QB Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay): 2 years, 19.75 million remaining

I’m not saying Brady is a better player than Rodgers (it’s a debate) or that he’s younger (not a debate) and or that currently makes less per season (also not a debate). However, while Brady is locked in at his current salary for the remainder of his career, Rodgers will likely become the highest paid player in NFL history sometime in the next 2 off-seasons as his current bargain of a contract reaches its end.

8. OLB Von Miller (Denver): 2 years, 5.523 million remaining

None of these remaining three players are franchise quarterbacks or JJ Watt, but they’re still ridiculous bargains. Miller was the only other player to receive a defensive player of the year vote this season other than Watt and 9 times out of 10, he would have won it. Like Watt, he still has one more ridiculously cheap year before he’s eligible for a massive extension.

9. OLB Aldon Smith (San Francisco): 2 years, 4.019 million remaining

Miller gets the nod over Smith because, while he’s more expensive, he’s also far less one-dimensional. Smith can get to the quarterback, but doesn’t play the run or cover like Miller and his lack of pass rush production after Justin Smith got hurt late last season is concerning. Still, he’s a fantastic bargain for at least one more year before he’s eligible for a massive extension.

10. DT Geno Atkins (Cincinnati): 1 year, 575K remaining

Atkins, like Miller, would have been the defensive player of the year 9 times out of 10. Atkins’ 2012 was the highest rated season for a defensive lineman not named Watt in ProFootballFocus’ history. Unfortunately, he is eligible for a massive extension this off-season and the Bengals may end up having to pay him a lot more than 575K this season. Because of his position, however, they could let him play out his contract and franchise him fairly inexpensively next off-season. This is the best defensive tackle in the game.

Apologies to:

QB Cam Newton (Carolina): 2 years, 5.755 million remaining

He would have been in the top-10 a year ago, but performances by Wilson, Kaepernick, Luck, and Griffin in 2012 all push him out as he had just a little bit of a sophomore slump in 2012.

OLB Clay Matthews (Green Bay): 1 year, 3.730 million remaining

Like Newton, he would have been in the top-10 last year, but with just one year remaining on his rookie deal, he’ll either get a massive extension this off-season or a massive contract next off-season on the open market or be franchised at a high price. The Packers want to make sure it’s the first one and that he doesn’t hit the open market, but that’s what separates him from the guys in the top-10, with the exception of Geno Atkins. All of those guys will be incredibly cheap for at least one more year.

CB Richard Sherman (Seattle): 2 years, 1.200 million remaining

He might not be the best cornerback in the league (he might be though), but when you consider that he’s under contract for just 550K in 2013 and 650K in 2014, while Darrelle Revis is owed 6 million in 2013 in the final year of his deal and that the Jets may trade him to avoid having to pay him a megadeal, Sherman is easily the best value among the NFL’s cornerbacks. You could easily make a case for him to be in the top-10.

RB Alfred Morris (Washington): 3 years, 1.710 million remaining

Morris is another guy you could make a case for in the top-10. If not for Griffin, Luck, and Wilson, Morris could have easily been rookie of the year this year and he’s signed ridiculously cheaply for at least 2 more years just like the aforementioned trio. However, you can’t ignore his position and the incredibly short shelf life running backs tend to have.


Should the Jets trade Darrelle Revis?

The reasons for not trading Darrelle Revis are obvious. When healthy, this guy is not only the Jets’ best player, but probably the best defensive back in the entire NFL and maybe even the best overall defensive player in the NFL. Including this year, when he played just 1 ½ games thanks to injury, Revis has allowed 153 completions on 371 attempts (41.2%) for 1946 yards (5.2 YPA), 8 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, while deflecting 62 passes, and committing 13 penalties over the past 5 seasons. That’s a QB rating allowed of 45.3.

No one else even comes close to that and he does it despite shadowing the opponent’s #1 wide receiver on every snap, something that most #1 cornerbacks don’t do anymore. He’s also just 28 in July and should have at least 3 more years playing at this level left in him. He’s coming off a torn ACL and the Jets would clearly be selling him low by trading him now, which is not normally an advisable move.

I say “normally” because there are reasons why moving him now would be smart. Without him last year, the Jets ranked 22nd in opponent’s scoring, but that’s more on the offense than the defense. According to DVOA, they were the 30th ranked offense in the NFL and 9th ranked defense and they were just 8th in the NFL in opponent’s yardage. That 9th ranked defensive DVOA is not on the same level as it was in the past 3 years, as they ranked 1st, 5th, and 2nd in defensive DVOA in 2009, 2010, and 2011 respectively, but it’s hardly bad.

It’s not that they didn’t miss Revis. It’s impossible to not miss a player of his talent. However, Antonio Cromartie stepped into that Revis role well, mostly shadowing opponent’s #1 receivers and allowing a 69.7 QB rating against and 46.0% completion. Defense wasn’t the issue for them last year. It was the offense. Because of the offense’s ineptitude and the “salary cap hell” they are in (more on that later), they probably won’t be competitive next year regardless of whether or not they trade Revis, which is important to note because not trading Revis would essentially be the same as renting him for a year.

Unless they sign him to an extension this off-season, Revis will be a free agent next off-season. They can’t franchise him, per his contract. And it’s highly unlikely they will be able to re-sign him this off-season, which goes back to that “salary cap hell”. That’s not my term. That’s how it was described by a league source, as they Jets are expected to enter the off-season around 19.4 million over the cap. That’s why they had so much trouble finding someone to fill their GM job.

They’ll have to cut several big salary players just to get under the cap and they have 10 starters from 2012 who are already not under contract. They’ll probably cut Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, and maybe David Harris, which would leave them with 9 starters under contract heading into the off-season (and one of those is Mark Sanchez). They probably won’t be able to re-sign key contributors LaRon Landry, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, and Dustin Keller already. How are they going to be able to give Revis the kind of extension he’s looking for, roughly 16 million per year? And if their cap situation is this bad now, it’s really going to put them at a disadvantage trying to re-sign Revis next off-season. This type of thing doesn’t fix itself in one year and Revis may want to play for a contender anyway.

Whatever happens, it’s tough to see Revis in a Jets jersey in 2014. It would be smart for the Jets to trade him while they can still get something for him, considering they are in no position to contend for a playoff spot in 2013 either way. Despite the torn ACL that cost him most of last season, he’ll still command a huge price on the trade market.

It’s not often that a player of Revis’ caliber is available through trade. It takes a special set of circumstances, but I think these circumstances qualify. This is the defensive equivalent of Peyton Manning being available last off-season or the modern equivalent of Reggie White being available in 1993. The Jets should be able to land at least a first rounder for him and if they can get a 1st rounder, preferably one in the top-15 picks, as well as a later pick, I say pull the trigger. That would give them a pair of top-15 picks to build around for the future, hopefully in a more cap responsible manner.

At least 10 teams have been rumored destinations for Revis and it wouldn’t surprise me if even more than 10 teams seriously consider it and call up new Jets GM John Idzik to feel the waters. Among those teams, I think that three are the most likely destinations. The Buccaneers make the most sense to me. They need cornerback help more than maybe anyone else in the NFL. Aqib Talib is gone and Eric Wright could follow him, after a 4 game suspension give the Buccaneers the right to void without penalty the rest of what was a ridiculous contract to begin with. He’s not worth the 30.75 million over 4 years left on his contract.

In their absence down the stretch, they tried several young cornerbacks, but ended up ranking 29th against the pass. They will probably bring in at least 1 cornerback, maybe two, in the first 3 rounds of the draft and cornerbacks are the favorites to go to them at 13th overall. However, even coming off a torn ACL, Revis is far more of a sure thing than any draft prospect could ever be and the Buccaneers have among the most salary cap in the NFL and would be able to sign him long term pretty easily.

The Bengals are another team with a lot of cap space, most in the NFL in fact. They have a few big free agents to re-sign, like Andre Smith and Michael Johnson, but even after that, they’ll definitely be able to sign Revis long term. They also have a pair of 2nd round picks so losing their first rounder and a later pick wouldn’t be that big of a deal for them. Adding Revis to a talented defense that already has Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Leon Hall, and Reggie Nelson would be enough to push them into top-5 status, at the very least, after being a top-10 defense in each of the past two years, and would make them Super Bowl contenders, however average the offense may be. Revis would play next alongside Leon Hall, with 2012 1st round pick Dre Kirkpatrick either moving to the slot or to safety.

The Colts are the third team. They also have plenty of cap space and after doing such a great job in 2012 despite having replacement level talents at almost every position, adding an elite player like Revis is exactly what they need. They are the third team, however, because they don’t have a 2nd round pick, after trading it for Vontae Davis. They may be hesitant to trade away their 1st rounder and a later pick for Revis for that reason, although they do like making splash moves and it would definitely make them a better football team both short term and long term. Other teams mentioned include New England, San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Denver, and Atlanta, but for different reasons, none of those are as feasible as the three aforementioned teams.


Defensive Scheme Changes: Falcons, Saints, Browns, Eagles, Cowboys

4-3 to 3-4

Atlanta Falcons

This one isn’t confirmed, but Falcons’ defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is a 3-4 guy. He did a great job in his first season with the Falcons, coaching them to a top-5 scoring defense, despite having to run a 4-3, because he wisely realized they didn’t have the personnel for an immediate switch to a 3-4. Still, you have to figure he’s going to want to go to a 3-4 eventually and going into his 2nd year with the team, there are rumors, though nothing confirmed, that he may be taking them to a 3-4 base this season. They already ran a lot of 3-3 looks last year, as they frequently used sub packages.

If there were to go to a 3 man line full time in 2013, it would resemble the one from their 3-3 front. Jonathan Babineaux would be a 3-4 defensive end and Peria Jerry, Corey Peters, or Vance Walker could play the other 3-4 end spot, though Peters was terrible last year and Walker is a free agent. Either way, they do need a true nose tackle, something this roster lacks. There’s a reason they ranked 29th against the run in 2013. If he’s even re-signed, Walker is their biggest tackle on the roster at about 305, which isn’t going to cut it.

Going to the linebacking corps, defensive ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann would move to the 3-4 outside linebacker spot. Whether or not they will fit the new position remains to be seen, but either way, they need help at the position. Abraham turns 35 in May, while Biermann is a marginal and inconsistent starter, and their depth is suspect at best. Outside linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and Stephen Nicholas would move inside to middle linebacker, though Nicholas should just be a base package run stuffer and someone else should come in for him in sub packages. Akeem Dent is a candidate, but it also may be someone not currently on their roster.

New Orleans Saints

After ranking among the worst in the NFL in every single defensive category, including 31st in opponent’s scoring, the Saints have rightfully fired defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. They apparently want to do anything they can to change things up as they are reportedly interested in hiring a defensive coordinator with a 3-4 background to run that scheme in New Orleans. As would have been the case if they had stayed in a 4-3, they still need more talent upfront.

Cameron Jordan might benefit the most from the scheme change, as the collegiate 3-4 end had been struggling as a 4-3 end in the NFL. Opposite him, however, they have nothing and someone like Sheldon Richardson will be an option at 15th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. At nose tackle, expect Brodrick Bunkley and Akiem Hicks to hold down the fort. Both could also play end as well, I suppose, but that will still be a need.

Like 3-4 defensive end, rush linebacker is now a huge need. Will Smith will almost definitely be cut. Not only is he overpaid and not very good anymore, but he’s a terrible fit for a 3-4. That leaves the Saints with nickel rushers Martez Wilson and Junior Galette at the position. They’ll bring someone else in. Someone like Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah will also be an option at 15th overall. Expect them to take a 3-4 defensive end and outside linebacker, in either order, with their first 2 picks of the 2013 NFL Draft. Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne, meanwhile, are obvious fits at middle linebacker and should be able to have bounce back years in the new scheme. Jonathan Vilma probably would have been cut either way, but this pretty much seals the deal.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns made the opposite transition a few years ago, switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 after the 2010 season, with Pat Shurmur coming in. That should help ease the transition. However, they do have a bunch of new front 7 players. Jabaal Sheard is their best pass rusher and I don’t think he’ll have much of an issue moving from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker. They’ll need a complement for him, opposite him, but they would have needed another pass rusher regardless. Expect them to target rush linebackers at #6 overall.

The reason they need another pass rush is because Juqua Parker is a 35 year old free agent this off-season. He split snaps opposite Sheard last year with Frostee Rucker and frankly they weren’t very good either. Rucker, however, may be a better fit as a 3-4 end. Between him, Billy Winn, John Hughes, Phil Taylor, and Ahytba Rubin, they should be set on the defensive line. That’s five guys who can play significant snaps, including two, Rubin and Taylor, who have the size to play on the nose.

At inside linebacker, D’Qwell Jackson will remain, as he did the last time they used a 3-4. Either Craig Robertson, Kaluka Maiava, or James-Michael Johnson will play next to him. Chris Gocong is another candidate, provided he isn’t cut, owed 4.45 million in 2013, coming off an Achilles tear that ended his 2012 season. Rush linebacker is really their only need area up front, even for depth purposes. They look pretty set at all other positions, but rush linebacker is probably the most important one.

Philadelphia Eagles

Like the Saints, the Eagles have not formally hired a defensive coordinator, but new Head Coach Chip Kelly is a believer in the 3-4 scheme and they are expected to hire a 3-4 defensive coordinator, likely San Francisco defensive backs coach Ed Donatell. They will need to wait until after the Super Bowl to do so, but that’s probably the reason why they have yet to hire anyone.

The scheme change might be best for Fletcher Cox and Cullen Jenkins, who will both move both from defensive tackle to defensive end. Both are natural fits for the position and Jenkins has some experience playing there from his days in Green Bay. Mike Patterson, Cedric Thornton, and Derek Landri will provide solid depth, though the latter is a free agent this off-season. Antonio Dixon has to be thrilled about the position change as well. He’s a talented player in the right scheme, but he was lost in Philadelphia’s wide nine last year, which is why he was cut and not brought back until Jim Washburn was fired and the Eagles scrapped the wide nine. He looks like a natural fit at 3-4 nose tackle, but they’ll have to bring in competition.

The biggest risk is changing schemes for them is that their edge rushers might not fit. Brandon Graham was one of the most efficient pass rushers in the NFL last year and dominated once given a chance to start down the stretch last year. Trent Cole, meanwhile, is coming off a down year, but in the 6 years prior, he was one of the most consistently excellent defensive ends in the NFL. It might not be a good idea to mess with success. One thing the Eagles do have, however, is plenty of depth at rush linebacker. Vinny Curry was a 2nd round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and Phillip Hunt and Darryl Tapp have played well in limited action, though the latter is a free agent this off-season.

Their expected middle linebackers are DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. Ryans stays in his 2012 spot in the middle, while Kendricks moves from the outside. Those two probably had different reactions to finding out they’d be changing schemes. Ryans was nowhere near his normal self in Houston in a 3-4 in 2011, which is why he got traded to the Eagles. Kendricks, meanwhile, struggled as a rookie, but perhaps a change to a 3-4 will get him turned around. He played in a 3-4 in college, playing both inside and outside. The Eagles don’t have any major needs in the front 7, with the exception of competition for Dixon, but they didn’t really have any to begin with.
3-4 to 4-3

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are making the opposite move this off-season, going from years of a 3-4 back to a 4-3. While I don’t understand hiring Monte Kiffin if he’s not going to run his signature Tampa 2 coverage scheme, I like the move to a 4-3 for the Cowboys. All 3 of their talented non-rush linebackers, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and Dan Connor, will be able to be on the field at the same time, while Lee and Carter will be able to play in space more often. Jay Ratliff is a better fit in a 4-3 than a 3-4 on the nose, though after his recent arrest, it’s questionable if he’ll be brought back next season. Jason Hatcher is tentatively expected to play defensive tackle next to him, but he is a bit of a tweener in a 4-3.

DeMarcus Ware will move to 4-3 defensive end, which is not as risky as moving an edge rusher from a 3-4 to a 4-3 because most edge rushers played in a 4-3 in college, as Ware did. I have no doubt he’ll be able to get to the quarterback regardless of the scheme. Their biggest issue is at defensive end opposite Ware. Anthony Spencer is not expected to be retained as a free agent because the Cowboys don’t have a lot of cap space. Fellow free agent Victor Butler is an option, as he’s been solid in limited action throughout his career. They also have Tyrone Crawford, a 2012 3rd round pick who might be a better fit in a 4-3 than a 3-4. Hatcher is also an option, but that would leave them with just Marcus Spears, Sean Lissemore, and Jay Ratliff inside, assuming the latter is even retained. They could add an end through the draft at some point.


2012 NFL Award Picks

Unlike with several college football awards, I don’t actually get a say in these NFL awards, but I like to make my opinion known on them. These picks are who deserves to win the awards, not who will. None of these awards take into account post-season performance.

MVP: RB Adrian Peterson (Minnesota)

I was meaning to do this before the post-season started. These are regular season awards and I didn’t want anything that happened in the post-season to potentially skew my picks for these awards. I didn’t have time to do it before the post-season, but luckily it didn’t matter. Neither of the two candidates for this award, which was the only one I was really flip-flopping on, won a playoff game this year.

We all know why Peyton Manning is deserving. He took over what was an average team at best to begin with and took them at the #1 seed in the AFC. He was the best quarterback in the regular season this year and this award normally goes to that player and for good reason. This is a quarterback league and you can’t win the Super Bowl without good quarterback play. The Vikings were never a Super Bowl contender because of their quarterback play, in spite of Adrian Peterson.

However, that makes what Peterson did this year even more amazing. Running backs don’t drag teams to the playoffs like Peterson did, at least not any more. A quarterback does what Peyton Manning does every year, but the type of season Adrian Peterson just had is one we might not see for another 10 years. I’d argue he was equally valuable to Manning, at the very least. With even an average running game, the Vikings don’t even sniff the playoffs.

Christian Ponder needed a career best game against the Packers week 17 to get his yards per attempt up over 6 for the season. The Vikings finished, averaging 6.1 YPA, 31st in the NFL. How much did they exceed the record of the average team who gains 6 or fewer yards per pass attempt? Try 6 wins (I know the Vikings technically averaged 6.1 YPA, but I don’t really think that extra 1/10 of the yard was what got them the extra 6 wins). Including this year’s Chiefs, 22 other teams since 2006 have averaged 6 or fewer yards per attempt. 20 of them won 5 or fewer games and none won more than 7. They averaged 3.8 wins per season and 14.6 points per game. The Vikings won 10 (in arguably the toughest division in football) and averaged 23.7 points per game.

Without Peyton Manning, the Broncos aren’t a number #1 seed, but with an average quarterback, they may have still made the playoffs. After all, they played in arguably the worst division in football, a division that they won with Tim Tebow the year before. With an average running back, the Vikings might not have even won 5 games. As long as these two players were even equally valuable, I have no problem giving Peterson the award based on his position. It’s just so hard to be as valuable as Peterson was from his position and when it happens, you almost have to give him this award.

Comeback player of the year: QB Peyton Manning (Denver)

Adrian Peterson gets MVP, but I think Peyton Manning is the clear Comeback Player of the Year. Why? Well, in March, if Peyton Manning had announced his retirement, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised and certainly I don’t think anyone would have blamed him. If Adrian Peterson had retired, I think the reaction would have been “Wow, I didn’t know he was THAT hurt!” Peyton Manning is 36, missed all of last season, got cut and had to find a new team, and had 4 surgeries on an incredibly vital body part. Adrian Peterson can’t say any of those things, so this is Peyton Manning’s award.

Offensive rookie of the year: QB Robert Griffin (Washington)

I’d like to start this by saying that I don’t see Andrew Luck as a legitimate contender for this award. Stats aren’t everything, but sometimes stats are too blatant to ignore. Griffin and Wilson were 3rd and 4th in QB rating, Luck was 26th. He took the Colts from 2 wins to 11 wins, but he did it against an incredibly easy schedule and with almost no convincing wins. He won just 2 games by more than a touchdown and just 3 games against .500 or better teams. A 9-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less is impressive, as were his league leading seven game winning drives, but when you remember most of those came against the likes of Tennessee, Detroit, Kansas City, and Buffalo, it’s not so impressive.

So that leaves us with Robert Griffin and Russell Wilson from arguably the best rookie quarterback class ever. I’m going with Griffin. Russell Wilson was never counted on to be a savior. The Seahawks won 7 games last year with 14 games of a banged up Tarvaris Jackson (7-7) and 2 games of Charlie Whitehurst (0-2) under center. They had the #7 scoring defense in 2011 and the #1 scoring defense in 2012. Wilson, as good as he was, had plenty of help.

Griffin, meanwhile, was the Redskins’ savior. They literally put all of their eggs in one basket with him, trading away three 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick for him, naming him the starting quarterback about 2 days after the draft, and building their entire new innovative offense around him. They asked him to single handed turn around a 5-win team and he did that.

The Redskins’ had the league’s 21st rated defense in 2011 and it was even worse in 2012, despite having much less pressure on them thanks to the offense, as they ranked 22nd. Injuries were to blame as they were without top pass rusher Brian Orakpo for most of the year and also lost starters Brandon Meriweather and Adam Carriker for most of the year as well.

Injuries weren’t limited to defense, as Griffin was playing without expected right tackle Jammal Brown all season, lost talented tight end Fred Davis midseason, and played without #1 receiver Pierre Garcon for most of the year. And he still took them to the playoffs, where they were leading Wilson’s Seahawks 14-0 before he got hurt (it’s not a post-season award, but this is worth mentioning).

Plus, unlike Wilson, Griffin played well all year. Through 8 games, Wilson had 8 touchdowns to 7 interceptions (with one touchdown that should have been an interception) and the Seahawks were 4-4. After a 5 interception in two weeks stretch, in which the Seahawks lost to the Rams and barely beat the Panthers, there were calls for Wilson to be benched. Griffin never played that badly. He never had a multi-interception game, throwing just 5 all year, and even when the Redskins were 3-6 heading into the bye, Griffin still had an 8 to 3 touchdown to interception ratio.

Defensive rookie of the year: CB Casey Hayward (Green Bay)

A lot of people might not know Casey Hayward, but he’ll be a big name someday. He was my top underrated prospect of the 2012 NFL Draft and I can’t remember the last time I was this right about anything. Hayward, a 2nd round pick, was the Packers’ nickel cornerback this year, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have an important role. Because the Packers are in their sub packages so frequently, Hayward played on 703 of the Packers’ 1118 regular season defensive snaps, around 63%. He also made 7 starts when injuries struck.

Despite not being a full-time starter, only three players (Tarell Brown, Antoine Winfield, Cortland Finnegan) played more pass snaps and didn’t surrender a touchdown and Hayward’s interception total, 6, was double the high of anyone in that group. He also got his hands on 12 more balls, deflecting them, a number that was tied for the most among players who didn’t surrender a touchdown and was tied for 6th overall in the NFL. His 6 interceptions, meanwhile, were 4th in the NFL.

As you can imagine, when a player allows 0 touchdowns and picks off 6 passes, his QB rating against must be pretty low. That was exactly the case with Hayward. His 31.1 QB rating allowed was not only the best in the league among those eligible, but among players ineligible, only Darrelle Revis played more than 29 snaps and allowed a lower QB rating and he only played 93. Only Richard Sherman played more snaps than him and had a QB rating that even rivaled his and his was 10 points higher at 41.1.

It wasn’t just a great touchdown to interception ratio powering that low QB rating. Hayward allowed 33 completions all year, on 74 attempts, a 44.6% completion percentage. He surrendered just 456 yards, 6.2 YPA. He also was not penalized all year and played the run well, as well. He ranked 4th among eligible cornerbacks in run stop % and missed just 3 tackles all season. For all his efforts, he was ProFootballFocus’ 3rd ranked cornerback and deserves to be this year’s Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Defensive player of the year: DE JJ Watt (Houston)

This was a great year for individual defensive performances. Geno Atkins and Von Miller would both deserve this award 9 years out of 10 and Aldon Smith had a lot of support as well. I’d like to start off with Aldon Smith. Aldon Smith was 2nd in the league with 20 sacks and for a while looked on pace to break Michael Strahan’s single season record. However, here’s where the perils of just looking at sack totals comes into play.

Aldon Smith wasn’t even ProFootballFocus’ top rated player at his own position, ranking 3rd, nor was he even the top pass rusher at his own position, where he ranked 2nd behind Clay Matthews. Smith was not an elite player against the run and struggled when asked to drop into coverage. While Smith had 20 sacks, he still ranked 2nd at his position in pass rush efficiency behind Paul Kruger. Pass rush efficiency takes into account quarterback hits and hurries as well as snaps played and provides a more accurate picture of how someone was rushing the passer.

Smith also saw frequently single blocking or at sometimes even saw blocking from just a back. ProFootballFocus takes all of this into account, how he did against back blocking, single blocking, and double blocking, as well as pass rush efficiency, run play and coverage play and they didn’t even think he was the best player at his own position. The reason Smith saw such frequent easy blocking was Justin Smith, a talented defensive lineman who played on the same side as Aldon.

Justin, a defensive player of the year snub a year ago, was the most important player on their defense and the guy they ran their scheme around. There’s a reason that they surrendered 76 points in 6 quarters as soon as he got hurt against New England. That wasn’t all him, but a lot of it was. Since Justin got hurt against New England, Aldon hasn’t recorded a single sack. Justin had a higher rating on ProFootballFocus than Aldon and I agree with that. Aldon Smith isn’t even the best defensive player on his own team, let alone in the NFL.

That leaves us with four players, the aforementioned JJ Watt, Von Miller, and Geno Atkins, as well as Cameron Wake, another underrated player who deserves to be the discussion far more than Smith. All 4 paced their positions on ProFootballFocus by a wide margin. Wake finished with a 53.7 rating, Miller with a 78.5, Atkins with a 79.9, but Watt has to take this. He recorded the first 100+ rating in the history of ProFootballFocus (5 years) with a 101.7.

Among the other three, only Atkins didn’t have a regular season game with a negative rating, but Watt was the only who graded out above 1 in every regular season game (he did graded out -0.1 against the Patriots in the playoffs, but still). In fact, with the exception of one game, he never graded out worse than 4.5 in a single regular season game. 2.0 is a great game. Watt was also listed as a “stud” in my studs/duds in my Power Rankings every week, something no one else came close to doing.

The raw stats are this: Watt led the league with 21 sacks and also had another 25 hits and 30 hurries, giving him a pass rush efficiency rating of 10.8 (sacks X .75 hits X .75 hurries divided by pass rush snaps), which is unheard of for a 3-4 defensive end. He rushed the passer like an edge rusher and he’s not even an edge rusher. That also doesn’t take into account the league leading 15 passes he batted down at the line. No one else had more than 8.

10 edge rushers did have a higher pass rush efficiency rating than that, but again JJ Watt is not an edge rusher. He doesn’t play in space. All of his quarterback pressures (sacks, hits, and hurries) were gotten through pure power through double teams in the trenches, which is why it’s so ridiculous that he was that efficient. 3-4 ends are supposed to stop the run first and foremost and Watt did that as well, leading all 3-4 ends in run stop percentage by over 5% and missing just 2 tackles all year. There wasn’t a better defensive player in the league this year and it’ll be tough for anyone, even Watt, to have this type of season again in the next 5 years.

Coach of the year: Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians (Indianapolis)

Yeah, the Colts had an easy schedule and didn’t have a lot of convincing wins, but they still improved 9 games and the new coaching staff deserves to be recognized for that. This is a joint award and it’s not a pity award because of Pagano’s leukemia. This duo legitimately deserves this. Arians coached the most games, going 9-3 in 12 games as Head Coach, and how he held this team together effectively and gracefully after Pagano’s diagnosis was amazing. He didn’t just turn this team around 9 wins; he did it in the face of, as Pagano would put, it “circumstances.”

Pagano deserves credit too. Not only was he their inspiration, but you don’t just roll out of bed week 1 a 9-win improved team. Arians coached the most games and deserves a ton of credit for the wins he actually got on the field, but Pagano helped build this team and mold them into a playoff team in the off-season. He was their coach for 4 months from rookie camp to week 1 before he was even diagnosed with cancer and laid the framework for Arians to take over and have the kind of success they did. Both men were their Head Coach and both men were the reason they were able to such an amazing season. Both men deserve this award.


NFL Head Coach Job Security: Likelihood of getting fired

Definitely Not*

Bill Belichick

Joe Philbin

Mike Tomlin

John Harbaugh

Marvin Lewis

Gary Kubiak

Chuck Pagano/Bruce Arians

John Fox

Tom Coughlin

Mike Shanahan

Mike McCarthy

Leslie Frazier

Sean Payton**

Mike Smith

Greg Schiano

Jim Harbaugh

Pete Carroll

Jeff Fisher

Probably Not

Dennis Allen

Jason Garrett

Lovie Smith

Jim Schwartz

Maybe Not

Rex Ryan

Mike Munchak

Ken Whisenhunt

Very Likely gone

Chan Gailey

Pat Shurmur

Mike Mularkey

Romeo Crennel

Norv Turner

Andy Reid

Ron Rivera

*=All sections are in no particular order.

**=Sean Payton won’t be fired, but he’s in the final year of his contract. He’ll probably return as Head Coach under a new contract and if he doesn’t, it will because he wants to go elsewhere.

Pro-Bowl Thoughts

On Twitter (@stevenlourie), I tweeted “It’s the most infuriating day of the year. Time to read this year’s Pro-Bowl rosters.” And I’m not referring to the stupidity of a game that none of the players care about anyway (my solution: make it like All-American teams, announce the teams, but never play the game. It’s still an honor to be named). I frequently have beefs with Pro-Bowl rosters and this is because, in football, individual players cannot be judged properly by commonly available statistics.

What does a sack mean? It means you tackled the quarterbacks behind the line of scrimmage. However, if you’re unblocked or blocked by a back, a sack is because less indicative of pass rushing skill than if you get a sack while unblocked. Or if you get a sack when the quarterback has barely been in the pocket for 3 seconds, as opposed to one where the quarterback has been sitting back there scanning the field, trying to find an open receiver for 5.

Taking things like quarterback hits (hitting a quarterback while he throws or legally after he throws) and quarterback hurries (forcing the quarterback to throw quicker than he’d like with pressure) helps paint a more accurate picture, but even that doesn’t take everything into account. You really need to watch every snap with a keen eye (or have someone do so on your behalf) to truly understand pass rushers’ skill level.

How about tackles? This might be the most useless one. If you get a tackle after you surrender a 25 yard completion, you didn’t do a whole lot of good, but if you tackled a guy two yards from the line of scrimmage, you’re actually stopping someone. This is where the statistic “stops” comes into play, with a stop meaning you tackle someone within 4 yards of the line of scrimmage on 1st down, within 6 yards on 2nd down, and before the first down marker on 3rd or 4th down, but even this can’t properly measure things like taking on two blockers to free up someone else to make a play. Like with sacks, you need someone to watch every snap (more on this later).

What about interceptions? This is also, in a vacuum, a useless statistic. If you get a bunch of interceptions because you’re being thrown on frequently because you suck in coverage, you’re not doing a lot of good and likewise some of the best defensive backs in the league have 3 interceptions or fewer. At the same time, a defensive back can have a 3 interception season and then a 7 interception season and not actually play any better. Some interceptions have a higher level of difficulty than other. Taking things into account like pass deflections and quarterback stats against help paint a better picture, but once again this doesn’t tell the full story. Sometimes, there’s simply nothing you can do to prevent a completion.

Offensive stats are better. Passing, rushing, and receiving yards aren’t perfect, but they’re better than traditional defensive stats, but for offensive lineman, there are no stats easily available and even if you know how many sacks someone allows, that doesn’t paint the whole picture the same way sacks don’t paint the whole picture for a pass rusher.

It’s not fans’ faults. The common fan doesn’t care enough to do all the work themselves (I don’t either) nor do they care enough to subscribe to a service like Pro Football Focus to do the work for them, which I and actually several NFL teams themselves do. As a result, we get generally crappy Pro-Bowl rosters. These have improved in past years because there’s more of a belief in more advanced statistics and there’s more readily available. Pro Football Focus (who I swear by) releases every two weeks their Pro-Bowl picks for non-subscribers. However, there are still a lot of flaws. Here are my thoughts by position. I also made my Pro-Bowl picks a few weeks ago.

AFC Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Matt Schaub

Manning and Brady were obvious choices. You don’t need advanced statistics to tell you that. I had Roethlisberger over Schaub, but of course that was before Roethlisberger choked away the season in the last 2 weeks. I’m just glad it wasn’t turnover machine Andrew Luck, who has led his team to a farce of a 10-5 record against a crappy schedule against with just 1 convincing win by more than a touchdown.

NFC Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Robert Griffin

My exact picks. Again, traditional stats work fine for quarterbacks.

AFC Running Backs: Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Ray Rice

Here’s where traditional statistics let you down even with skill position players: fantasy football. Arian Foster is great in fantasy football with 1328 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns, ranking 2nd in the AFC in rushing yards behind Jamaal Charles. However, in reality, he didn’t have that good of a year. He averaged just 4.0 yards per carry and only had so many yards because he got 335 carries, 21 more than anyone in the NFL and 57 more than anyone in the AFC.

He also ran behind a great offensive line and any back could total those kinds of numbers behind that line with that many carries. He averaged just 2.1 yards per carry after contact, a figure that only 7 eligible backs did worse than. The only thing commendable about his season was that he managed to have that many carries without getting hurt, but if he had, any back filling in for him probably would have given them comparable production.

Add in his surprisingly mediocre season as a pass catcher and the fact that only 5 backs graded out worse than him in pass protection and you have a guy who actually graded out below average on ProFootballFocus. He should have been replaced with someone like CJ Spiller, who averaged a league leading 6.5 yards per carry, a league leading 3.9 yards per carry after contact. Spiller had 143 fewer rushing yards than Foster despite having 152 fewer carries. Apparently all that separated Spiller from being a Pro-Bowl caliber back like Foster was 152 1-yard carries. Add in Spiller’s passing game advantage and he actually outgained Foster by 50 total yards this year, despite 149 fewer touches.

NFC Running Backs: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore

I had Martin over Gore, but the difference is negligible.

AFC Fullback: Vonta Leach

Got this one right.

NFC Fullback: Jerome Felton

I had Bruce Miller over Felton, but again, negligible difference.

AFC Wide Receivers: AJ Green, Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker

I had Demaryius Thomas over Wes Welker, but again negligible.

NFC Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones, Victor Cruz

Jones making it in over teammate Roddy White, who had better stats on the same team, is a little ridiculous and Victor Cruz makes it in on name value. Having a down year, he ranks just 14th in the NFL in receiving yards. Someone like Vincent Jackson (4th) would have been more appropriate.

AFC Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski, Heath Miller

No complaints.

NFC Tight Ends: Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten

Martellus Bennett had a better overall year than Tony Gonzalez, but no one was a better pass catcher than Gonzalez, so I can’t argue too much. It’s worth noting that only one tight end graded out as a worse run blocker, however.

AFC Offensive Tackles: Joe Thomas, Duane Brown, Ryan Clady

My exact picks.

NFC Offensive Tackles: Joe Staley, Russell Okung, Trent Williams

Russell Okung makes it in because he’s known for not surrendering a single sack all year, but his 12 penalties are 2nd worst in the NFL. I don’t hate the pick, however.

AFC Guards: Logan Mankins, Marshal Yanda, Wade Smith

Mankins makes it in on name value, but he was just ProFootballFocus’ 22nd ranked guard this season and the fact that he missed 6 games with injury had a lot to do with it. Smith ranks 29th. I don’t really know where that came from. Andy Levitre, Kevin Zeitler, and even Jet Brandon Moore deserve it much more.

NFC Guards: Mike Iupati, Jahri Evans, Chris Snee

Iupati and Evans are definitely deserving, but Snee is another name value guy as ProFootballFocus’ 19th ranked guard. Meanwhile, Evan Mathis, who has been the top player at the position in each of the past 2 years, surrendering just 1 total sack, has never gotten a Pro-Bowl nod.

AFC Centers: Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Myers

Myers deserves it, but they’ve got the wrong Pouncey brother. Dolphin Mike graded out 5th at his position (tops in the AFC), while Maurkice ranked 14th, not bad, but not quite deserving. But how can you judge centers without stats?

NFC Centers: Max Unger, Jeff Saturday

Saturday is probably the most famous center in the NFL today, maybe all time, but in one of the funnier Pro-Bowl related developments of the year, the now 37-year-old was benched last week by the Packers, a week before being named a Pro-Bowler. Out of 37 eligible, Saturday was ProFootballFocus’ 30th rated player. Unger, 4th, is a much better selection, but there were 3 NFC centers, John Sullivan, Will Montgomery, and Brian La Puente, ahead of him.

AFC Defensive Ends: JJ Watt, Cameron Wake, Elvis Dumervil

Watt and Wake were obvious selections. I went with Derrick Morgan over Elvis Dumervil. Morgan has 7 sacks to Dumervil’s 12, but Morgan has significantly more combined hits and hurries (62 and 47) on fewer pass rush snaps. As a result, Morgan graded out 3rd in pass rush efficiency, while Dumervil graded out 9th. Dumervil was also a significantly worse player against the run and committed 7 penalties, ranking 39th among 4-3 defensive ends overall, while Morgan ranked 4th.

NFC Defensive Ends: Jason Pierre-Paul, Julius Peppers, Jared Allen

Three big name ends, JPP deserves it, the other two, slightly less so. Peppers and Allen ranked 13th and 17th among 4-3 ends in pass rush efficiency and didn’t offer much in the run game either, grading out 18th and 23th respectively overall. Another big name 4-3 end, John Abraham, graded 5th both in pass rush efficiency and overall. Two Panthers, Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, were equally deserving, as was 3-4 end Calais Campbell, who was the NFC’s top 3-4 end. Also deserving, Brandon Graham, a situational end turned starter for the Eagles when Jason Babin was cut, who leads the NFL in pass rush efficiency and ranks 2nd among 4-3 ends.

AFC Defensive Tackles: Geno Atkins, Vince Wilfork, Haloti Ngata

Atkins is an obvious choice. Wilfork makes it in on name value, but there are far less one dimensional players out there, as good as he is against the run. Muhammad Wilkerson, technically a 3-4 end, but on the ballot as a tackle, is ProFootballFocus’ 2nd rated defensive lineman against the run, only behind Watt and actually significantly ahead of Wilfork in that aspect. Ngata, another guy who is technically a 3-4 end, is deserving, but Kyle Williams graded out 3rd among 4-3 tackles, while Ngata graded out 10th among 3-4 ends.

NFC Defensive Tackles: Justin Smith, Henry Melton, Gerald McCoy

Three very deserving choices, though I would have gone with Ndamukong Suh (4th) over Melton (6th), but that’s splitting hairs. A perfect example of how traditional stats are misleading, Suh, perceived to be having a down year, is actually having his year as a pro. His sack numbers are down, but his hits and hurries aren’t and he’s finally become a good run stopper and an all-around player.

AFC Outside Linebackers: Von Miller, Tamba Hali, Robert Mathis

Miller is an obvious choice. Hali should be replaced by teammate Justin Houston. The two actually had very similar raw pass rush numbers (10 sacks, 7 hits, and 27 hurries for Houston, 10, 7, and 26 for Hali), but Houston graded significantly out better in coverage and against the run. Houston dropped into coverage 164 times this year to Hali’s 75 and did a very good job of it and as a result, he saw fewer pass rush snaps and still outproduced Hali in the raw numbers. The total result: Houston ranked 3rd among 3-4 outside linebackers, while Hali ranked 16th.

Mathis is another name value guy, making it in with just 8 sacks, 5 hits, and 15 hurries, while struggling against the run and in coverage. He ranked 21st at his position overall. Deserving candidates include Miami 4-3 outside linebacker Nick Barnett (3rd at his position) and Baltimore 3-4 outside linebacker Paul Kruger (6th at his).

NFC Outside Linebackers: Aldon Smith, DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews

Smith and Matthews were obvious choices, though Smith is overrated (I’ll get into this when I do offseason awards in a few weeks) and Matthews had to save himself with 2 strong performances after returning from injury, as he missed 5 games. Ware, meanwhile, was outplayed by teammate Anthony Spencer, who graded out tops of 3-4 outside linebackers this year. Ware (8th) didn’t have a bad year, but Spencer graded out as the top run stopping linebacker overall not named Von Miller, did better in coverage, had 3 fewer penalties (Ware’s 9 lead the position) and had comparable pass rush production (11 sacks, 2 hits, and 25 hurries for Spencer, 14/12/30 for Ware). Only Clay Matthews and Aldon Smith graded out better than this position than Ware as pass rushers, while Spencer ranked 6th, but Spencer was the better overall linebacker.

AFC Middle Linebackers: Jerod Mayo, Derrick Johnson

My exact picks, but in the wrong order. Johnson doesn’t get his proper due on a 2-win Chiefs. There’s not a better middle linebacker in the league other than Patrick Willis and that’s not just this year.

NFC Middle Linebackers: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman

Willis was obvious. His teammate Bowman was not, though not undeserving. Excluding Johnson (3rd), the NFC had the top-7 middle linebackers on ProFootballFocus this year (Mayo is technically an outside linebacker). Bowman was 7th, but still had a very good year. Divisional rivals Bobby Wagner (2nd) and Daryl Washington (4th), as well as rookie Luke Kuechly (5th), all graded out better than him. Even Sean Lee, who went down for the year week 7 graded 6th, which shows just how good he can be if he can return healthy and stay healthy.

AFC Cornerbacks: Champ Bailey, Johnathan Joseph, Antonio Cromartie

Champ Bailey and Antonio Cromartie are both deserving, though I only picked Cromartie (my other two picks were Alterraun Verner and Sheldon Brown, who have had shitty two week stretches since I wrote my picks). Both Bailey and Joseph were outranked by teammates Chris Harris and Kareem Jackson, who ranked 5th and 6th respectively. Bailey (11th) was still deserving. Joseph (51st) is one of the best cornerbacks in the league, when healthy, but he hasn’t been for most of this season. Brandon Flowers (7th) also doesn’t get his proper due on the Chiefs. It’s worth mentioning that the top-4 cornerbacks this year were all NFC cornerbacks.

NFC Cornerbacks: Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Patrick Peterson

Only one of those 4, only one was voted in, however, Tillman (3rd). Jennings (9th) wasn’t undeserving, but he’s the perfect example of how a player can have inconsistent interception totals and not have inconsistent years. Jennings ranked 15th in 2011, as one of two cornerbacks to not surrender a touchdown all season, but was unknown with 2 interceptions. This year, the league leader in interceptions makes the Pro-Bowl, even though injuries (he missed 2 games), should have kept him out in the loaded NFC.

Peterson makes it in on name value, but actually graded out 14th overall, which is so much better than 2011, when he ranked 102nd (rookie cornerbacks never do well). The other three of the top-4 cornerbacks who were kept out were, in order, Antoine Winfield, Richard Sherman, and Casey Hayward (the exception to that rookie cornerbacks rule). Hayward wasn’t on the ballot and Sherman may have been kept out by his impending potential suspension, but there’s no excuse for Winfield being left out. The 35-year-old had one of his best seasons this year and is a 3-time Pro Bowler on a playoff contending team.

AFC Free Safety: Ed Reed

Another name value guy, Reed (55th) has lost a couple steps, but no one has noticed yet. The AFC is loaded with free safeties as the top-3 safeties were all AFC free safeties, Eric Weddle (who has taken the top safety mantle from the aging Polamalu and Reed), Jairus Byrd (who is right behind Weddle), and Reshad Jones (a breakout star).

NFC Free Safeties: Dashon Goldson, Earl Thomas

The 4th rated was Kerry Rhodes and he didn’t make it either. Goldson (13th) wasn’t undeserving, however. A Pro-Bowl fraud in 2011, Goldson had an eye popping 7 interceptions, but was among the league leaders in receptions and yards surrendered and graded out 64th overall. This year, he had fewer interceptions (3), but played better football, particularly in coverage, where the 44.8 QB rating he allowed ranked 3rd in the NFL among starters, only behind Weddle and Byrd. Thomas (54th) is just overrated and doesn’t belong.

AFC Strong Safeties: Eric Berry, La’Ron Landry

Berry is making his 2nd Pro-Bowl and he didn’t deserve either of them. In 2010, he ranked 17th as a rookie, not bad, but not Pro-Bowl worthy. He made it anyway and looked it have a bright future either way, but he tore his ACL in 2011 and didn’t seem fully healthy this year and ranked 44th. On a 2-win Chiefs team that actually has some talented individual players on defense, it’s not right that Tamba Hali and Eric Berry would get in, but Justin Houston and Brandon Flowers would not.

Landry, meanwhile, was even worse at 55th. These are two former highly drafted safeties that never panned out (I haven’t given up on Berry though) that are still viewed as top tiered guys. There’s a reason no one wanted Landry when he hit the open market last offseason and had to settle for a 1 year deal. He’ll get a better one this offseason because he’s less of an injury risk, but he’s not a Pro-Bowler.

NFC Strong Safeties: Donte Whitner

Ugh. No. Like Earl Thomas, this is Pro-Bowl by association. The Seahawks and the 49ers both have excellent defenses, but that doesn’t mean every player on it is excellent. Whitner was less than pedestrian at 63rd and his deficiencies in coverage and have the 49ers considering taking him out in sub packages and making him a pure box safety.




Buffalo Bills extend G Kraig Urbik

Not a lot of people know who Kraig Urbik is, but he’s a starting right guard for the Buffalo Bills and he’s actually quite good. A 2 year starter, Urbik graded out as ProFootballFocus 18th ranked guard in 8 starts in 2011 and ranks 24th this season in 11 starts, making him an above average player at that position. He’s also got some versatility to play center, where he made 5 starts last season, though his better position is right guard. He’s a better pass protector than run blocker and actually allowed just 3 quarterback hurries in his 13 combined starts in 2011. This year, he’s allowed 2 sacks, 1 quarterback hit, and 7 quarterback hurries in 11 starts and he’s improved as a run blocker.

He’s had some minor injuries, but this really just seems to be an underrated player getting locked up for a very reasonable deal, 4 years 15 million. With him heading into free agency this offseason, the Bills were smart to lock him up right now, before he could hit free agency, but after the 2009 3rd rounder could prove he was more than a one year wonder. The Bills may now attempt to focus on locking up left guard Andy Levitre for the future before he hits free agency this offseason.




2012 Pro Bowl Picks

AFC Quarterbacks

Tom Brady (NE), Peyton Manning (DEN), Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)

Brady and Manning are obvious choices and will probably finish 1-2 in MVP voting, in some order. Roethlisberger beats out Schaub for the underwhelming 3rd spot, even though he missed 3 games. Roethlisberger carried a team that has had so many injuries this year in a way that Schaub never has this year.

Other options: Matt Schaub

NFC Quarterbacks

Robert Griffin (WAS), Aaron Rodgers (GB), Matt Ryan (ATL)

Griffin would probably be my 3rd choice for MVP. He is tied for the NFL lead in quarterback rating and that doesn’t even take into account what he does on the ground. He’s taken a team that didn’t have a ton of talent to begin with that has lost a lot of key players to injury and put them on the brink of a playoff spot. Rodgers is a no brainer. Ryan was an early MVP candidate, who has gone back to his normal levels of production over the past few weeks, but he still gets the nod over Drew Brees.

Other options: Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees

AFC Running Backs

CJ Spiller (BUF), Ray Rice (BAL), Stevan Ridley (NE)

Spiller is having a year similar to Jamaal Charles’ in 2010. He’s averaging a ridiculous 6.6 YPC, which would be an NFL record if he had enough carries to qualify, but he isn’t even his team’s lead back. Still, 6.6 YPC and 1298 yards from scrimmage on a mere 178 touches in nothing to sneeze at. Rice is having another great all-purpose year and got an offensive coordinator fired for not using him more. Stevan Ridley beats out Chris Johnson, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Jamaal Charles.

Other options: Jamaal Charles

NFC Running Backs

Adrian Peterson (MIN), Marshawn Lynch (SEA), Doug Martin (TB)

No surprises here. Peterson, Lynch, and Martin are 1-2-4 in rushing yards this season. Martin beats out Morris, who is 3rd, because Morris’ rushing yards are more the product of the Redskins’ read option offense and Robert Griffin.

Other options: Alfred Morris, Frank Gore, Ahmad Bradshaw

AFC Wide Receivers

Reggie Wayne (IND), Andre Johnson (HOU), AJ Green (CIN), Demaryius Thomas (DEN)

Again, no surprises here. These are the top-4 in receiving yards in the AFC.

Other options: Wes Welker

NFC Wide Receivers

Calvin Johnson (DET), Vincent Jackson (TB), Brandon Marshall (CHI), Roddy White (ATL)

Once again, no surprises here. These are the top-4 in receiving yards in the NFC.

Other options: Percy Harvin

AFC Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (NE), Heath Miller (PIT)

Gronkowski leads all AFC tight ends in receiving yards despite missing 3 games with injury and that doesn’t even take into account that he’s probably the best blocking tight end in the NFL. Heath Miller is an equally well rounded player.

Other options: Marcedes Lewis

NFC Tight Ends

Jason Witten (DAL), Martellus Bennett (NYG)

Witten leads all NFL tight ends in receiving yards. Bennett beats out Tony Gonzalez for his all around play. Gonzalez has been a terrible run blocker this year.

Other options: Tony Gonzalez, Vernon Davis

AFC Fullback

Vonta Leach (BAL)

Leach gets the nod over Marcel Reece. Reece did a great job moving to running back for a stretch in place of an injured Darren McFadden, but in terms of true, pure fullbacks, there’s still no one better in the NFL than Leach.

Other options: Marcel Reece

NFC Fullback

Bruce Miller (SF)

ProFootballFocus’ top rated NFC fullback, Bruce Miller is a huge part of the reason why the 49ers rank 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards.

Other options: Henry Hynoski

AFC Offensive Tackles

Duane Brown (HOU), Ryan Clady (DEN), Joe Thomas (CLE)

Duane Brown is ProFootballFocus’ top rated offensive tackle and has only allowed 2 sacks this season, which is actually a lot for him. He didn’t allow a single sack all last year. Clady has had a major bounce back year for the Broncos this year, after a down year last year, though I suppose a switch from Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning under center obviously helps. Thomas gets the nod over Andre Brown because Thomas plays on the more important blindside.

Other options: Andre Smith, D’Brickashaw Ferguson

NFC Offensive Tackles

Joe Staley (SF), Trent Williams (WAS), William Beatty (NYG)

Staley has actually allowed 7 sacks this year, but that’s more his quarterbacks’ fault. He’s allowed just 1 hit and 12 hurries and is ProFootballFocus’ top rated run blocking offensive tackle by a wide margin on one of the league’s best run offenses. Williams and Beatty wouldn’t deserve this if they were in the AFC, a much stronger offensive tackle conference, but they are ProFootballFocus’ 2nd and 4th rated offensive tackles from the NFC, allowing 3 and 2 sacks respectively. Beatty beats out Gosder Cherilus because, like Andre Smith, he’s a right tackle.

Other options: Gosder Cherilus, Russell Okung

AFC Guards

Marshal Yanda (BAL), Kevin Zeitler (CIN), Andy Levitre (BUF)

Yanda hasn’t surrendered a sack all season and is ProFootballFocus’ 2nd ranked guard, excelling in both pass protection and run blocking. Rookie Zeitler is a huge part of the reason why the pedestrian BenJarvus Green-Ellis has appeared to be a Pro-Bowl caliber running back this year. Andy Levitre grades out as the NFL’s top rated pass blocking interior lineman on ProFootballFocus, allowing 2 sacks, 3 hits, and 6 hurries.

Other options: Clint Boling

NFC Guards

Evan Mathis (PHI), Jahri Evans (NO), Josh Sitton (GB)

The Eagles’ offensive line has been terrible, but don’t blame Mathis, who has allowed just 1 sack and is ProFootballFocus’ top rated guard for the 2nd straight year by a wide margin. Evans is a perennial Pro Bowler and deserves it again this year. Sitton is on his way to becoming a perennial guy like Evans.

Other options: Mike Iupati, Alex Boone

AFC Centers

Mike Pouncey (MIA), Chris Myers (HOU)

The lesser known of the two Pouncey twins, Mike is playing on a level that his brother Maurkice has never played on. He’s surrendered just 3 total pressures all year and is a strong run blocker. Myers was ProFootballFocus’ top rated center in 2011 and is their 5th rated center this year, 2nd rated from the AFC.

Other options: Nick Mangold, Ryan Wendell

NFC Centers

John Sullivan (MIN), Brian La Puente (NO)

La Puente went from marginal to Pro Bowl caliber this year. Sullivan did that last year and hasn’t looked back.

Other options: Will Montgomery

AFC Defensive Ends

JJ Watt (HOU), Cameron Wake (MIA), Derrick Morgan (TEN)

Ugh.  Why did the Pro Bowl ballot move Muhammad Wilkerson from end to tackle. That left us without a clear 3rd end from the AFC. Watt and Wake are no brainers, ranking 1st on ProFootballFocus in 3-4 and 4-3 end respectively. Morgan is a surprise pick because he only has 5 sacks, but he’s ProFootballFocus’ 2nd ranked defensive end from the AFC as he ranks 4th in the NFL in pass rush efficiency.

Other options: Corey Liuget, Mario Williams

NFC Defensive Ends

Jason Pierre Paul (NYG), Brandon Graham (PHI), Calais Campbell (ARZ)

JPP and Campbell are obvious selections. Graham is a surprise like Morgan, but he leads the league in pass rush efficiency by a wide margin among players with 175 or more pass rush snaps and he has been a monster since becoming a starter 3 weeks ago with 5 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 11 quarterback hurries in 3 games. On the year, he has 7 sacks, 6 hits, and 27 hurries on 177 pass rush snaps, good for a pass rush efficiency of 19.0. Wake is closest at 13.7. Graham actually is ProFootballFocus’ top rated NFC 4-3 end and ranks 2nd behind only Cameron Wake in the NFL at his position.

Other options: John Abraham, Charles Johnson, Chris Clemons

AFC Defensive Tackles

Geno Atkins (CIN), Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ), Kyle Williams (BUF)

Geno Atkins is the league’s best defensive tackle with 12 sacks, 13 hits, and 44 hurries, all while grading out as ProFootballFocus’ top rated defensive tackle against the run. Among defensive players, only JJ Watt and Von Miller have better overall ratings. Wilkerson isn’t the pass rusher Atkins is, but the 3-4 end is ProFootballFocus’ top rated run defensive lineman not named Watt and has 4 sacks, 7 hits, and 18 hurries to boot. Williams was a Pro Bowl caliber player in 2010 and now back from injury he is again, with 5 sacks, 10 hits, and 25 hurries, while playing the run well as well. Only Atkins has a higher rating among defensive tackles.

Other options: Jurrell Casey

NFC Defensive Tackles

Gerald McCoy (TB), Justin Smith (SF), Nick Fairley (DET)

Gerald McCoy has finally showed what he can do when healthy, as ProFootballFocus’ 3rd rated defensive tackle, with 5 sacks, 8 hits, and 31 hurries while leading the NFL’s best run defense. Smith is technically a 3-4 end, but is on the ballot as a tackle. He’s not having the pass rushing year he had in 2011, but only Watt and Wilkerson grade out as better run players. Fairley is a write in, but only Atkins has a better pass rush efficiency rating. He was nuts as a rotational player early in the year and has been equally nuts in 5 starts with 4 sacks, 4 hits, and 15 hurries. I know you can’t write in players, but he deserves it. On the actual ballot, I voted his teammate Ndamukong Suh, who has played almost equally well.

Other options: Ndamukong Suh, Henry Melton, Jason Hatcher

AFC Outside Linebackers

Von Miller (DEN), Justin Houston (KC), Nick Barnett (MIA)

Along Watt has a higher rating among defensive players on ProFootballFocus than Miller, who is a defensive end just in sub packages and has 16 sacks, 13 hits, and 45 hurries, which is good for a pass rush efficiency surpassed only by Brandon Graham. He’s also ProFootballFocus’ highest rated run stopping linebacker and even does well in coverage when asked. Houston is ProFootballFocus’ highest rated AFC 3-4 outside linebacker with 10 sacks, 6 hits, and 23 hurries. Nick Barnett is ProFootballFocus’ 3rd rated 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL and gets the nod because Jerod Mayo is listed as a middle linebacker for some reason.

Other options: Phillip Wheeler, Paul Kruger

NFC Outside Linebackers

Anthony Spencer (DAL), Aldon Smith (SF), Ahmad Brooks (SF)

Spencer is not a household name, but he’s perennially one of the best run stopping 3-4 outside linebackers in the league and this year he is the best and has also chipped in with a career high 9 sacks, to go with 1 hit and 20 hurries. Only Von Miller is a higher rated run stopping linebacker and he’s ProFootballFocus’ highest rated 3-4 outside linebacker. Smith is overrated based purely on sack numbers because he doesn’t play the run well or cover well and his 10 hits and 29 hurries allow him to barely be the league’s leader in pass rush efficiency over Justin Houston, but 20 sacks is nothing to sneeze at. He could set the single season record for sacks. Teammate Ahmad Brooks has also played very well with 6 sacks, 8 hits, and 27 hurries, while grading out 3rd at his position against the run. He gets the nod over Clay Matthews, once a Pro Bowl lock before getting hurt, and DeMarcus Ware, a more one dimensional player who leads the position with 8 penalties.

Other options: Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware

AFC Middle Linebackers

Derrick Johnson (KC), Jerod Mayo (NE)

Derrick Johnson is ProFootballFocus top rated middle linebacker not named Patrick Willis. Jerod Mayo is an outside linebacker listed here for whatever reason, but he deserves the nod either way, beating out teammate Brandon Spikes, a true middle linebacker, for this nod.

Other options: Brandon Spikes

NFC Middle Linebackers

Patrick Willis (SF), Bobby Wagner (SEA)

Willis is the obvious choice. 2nd round rookie Wagner ranks 3rd on ProFootballFocus out of middle linebackers and beats out a loaded NFC middle linebacker group including Daryl Washington, NaVorro Bowman, DeMeco Ryans, and even the injured Sean Lee.

Other options: Daryl Washington, NaVorro Bowman

AFC Cornerbacks

Antonio Cromartie (NYJ), Alterraun Verner (TEN), Sheldon Brown (CLE)

The AFC is clearly the weaker cornerback conference. Cromartie has allowed 4 touchdowns, committed 6 penalties, and struggles against the run, but his 43.8% completion percentage allowed is the league’s best and he has 3 picks and 11 deflections. Verner and Brown are weird choices, but Verner is the only AFC cornerback who hasn’t surrendered a touchdown this year and he’s one of the league’s best run stopping cornerbacks. Brown is submitting an excellent season at age 33 on a very underrated Cleveland defense, allowing 40 catches for 462 yards and a touchdown on 76 attempts, intercepting 3, deflecting 9, committing 7 penalties, and playing well against the run.

Other options: Brandon Flowers, Chris Harris, Champ Bailey

NFC Cornerbacks

Casey Hayward (GB), Charles Tillman (CHI), Antoine Winfield (MIN)

The much tougher cornerback conference, the NFC possesses ProFootballFocus’ top 4 rated cornerbacks, including 3 from the NFC North. Hayward is a mere 2nd round rookie, but he’s playing insane, allowing 43.9% completion, no touchdowns, while getting his hands on 15 balls, intercepting 5 of them. Opposing quarterbacks have a 30.1 QB rating when throwing on him and he’s missed just one tackle all year and has yet to be penalized. He’s not on the Pro Bowl ballot for some reason, so I voted for Richard Sherman instead, even though he’ll probably end up being suspended and ineligible. Tillman and Winfield are more obvious choices as they rank tied for 3rd and 2nd respectively on ProFootballFocus among cornerbacks.

Other options: Richard Sherman, Tim Jennings

AFC Free Safety

Eric Weddle (SD)

Once again, Weddle is ProFootballFocus’ top rated safety, narrowly beating out Jairus Byrd and the emerging Reshad Jones.

Other options: Jairus Byrd, Reshad Jones

NFC Free Safety

Kerry Rhodes (ARZ)

After Weedle, Jones, and Byrd, the resurgent Kerry Rhodes is ProFootballFocus’ 4th rated safety and top rated NFC safety.

Other options: Ronde Barber

AFC Strong Safety

TJ Ward (CLE)

I don’t know why I can’t just pick two free safeties, but TJ Ward is ProFootballFocus top rated strong safety and 5th rated safety overall.

Other options: George Wilson

NFC Strong Safety

Quintin Mikell (STL)

The AFC is the stronger safety conference and free safety is the stronger safety position, but Quintin Mikell has emerged over the past few weeks to become ProFootballFocus’ 6th rated safety and a worthy Pro-Bowler nonetheless.

Other options: William Moore


AFC: Justin Tucker (BAL), NFC: Blair Walsh (MIN)

These two rookies have been the league’s best.


AFC: Brandon Fields (MIA), NFC: Thomas Morestead (NO)

Fields and Morestead are the only two punters in the NFL to have an average of 50+ yards per punt.

Kick returners

AFC: Leodis McKelvin (BUF), NFC: David Wilson (NYG)

McKelvin is averaging a league leading 18.0 yards per punt return and also averages 28.3 yards per kickoff return, why he’s ProFootballFocus’ top rated return man. Wilson is 2nd and tops in the NFC, averaging 27.5 yards per kickoff.

Special teamers

AFC: Darrell Stuckey (SD), NFC: Colt Anderson (PHI)

Do you really want me to talk about special teamers?

By team:

San Francisco 6

New England 4

NY Giants 4

Denver 4

Buffalo 4

Houston 4

Baltimore 4

Minnesota 4

Miami 4

Green Bay 3

Cleveland 3

Philadelphia 3

New Orleans 3

Tampa Bay 3

Cincinnati 3

Atlanta 2

Chicago 2

Washington 2

Arizona 2

Seattle 2

Detroit 2

Dallas 2

NY Jets 2

Pittsburgh 2

Tennessee 2

Kansas City 2

San Diego 2

St. Louis 1

Indianapolis 1

Carolina 0

Jacksonville 0

Oakland 0




Reaction to the Jovan Belcher Murder/Suicide

As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Jovan Belcher, a starting middle linebacker on the Kansas City Chiefs, committed a murder/suicide this weekend, shocking the football world and changing many lives for the worse. I’m not here to talk about the specific incident. There’s nothing really to say that you haven’t heard a million times. What happened is a tragedy. I’ll say that and leave it at that.

I’m here, however, to talk about the public reaction to the incident and some things that have really been bugging me about it. The first is people remembering Belcher as a victim. Belcher is not a victim. Kasandra Perkins is a victim. Literally everyone else closely involved in the situation is a victim except Belcher. Kasandra Perkins was 22 years old and a new mother and now she’s dead. Their newborn daughter is 3 months old and now she has no parents.

The mother of Kasandra Perkins, who watched the incident happen, is a victim, as are the families of Kasandra Perkins and of Jovan Belcher and the people who knew them closely. Scott Pioli, Gary Gibbs, and Romeo Crennel are victims, as they had to watch Belcher kill himself in front of them. Belcher’s teammates, who have to deal with the loss of someone that was not just a teammate, but probably a friend to most of them, they are victims.

Jovan Belcher is no victim. He deserves no RIP. He is the only one in this situation who is not a victim. He’s not an innocent. He’s a killer and a murderer. People who commit murder/suicides are not remembered fondly generally and this situation should not be any different. If he had just committed murder and been arrested and thrown in jail for the rest of his life, he would not have been remembered fondly and this situation should not be any different. The fact that Belcher went to the Chiefs’ facility, of all places, after committing murder to finish the 2nd half of the murder/suicide makes it even worse. By doing that, he was endangering more people’s lives and forcing those who cared about him to watch as he ended his own life, leaving them with undoubtedly painful memories for life.

All of my sympathies go out to the real victims in this situation, but I don’t have any left for a man who would kill the mother of his child in front of their newborn and her mother, go to his place of work with a gun and finish the murder/suicide in front of friends, coaches, and teammates, and leave his 3 month old daughter without parents. Kevin Clancy (KFC), actually wrote about this situation better than anyone I read this weekend, ironic coming from a self proclaimed smut humor site such as Barstool Sports (huge fan, by the way), but KFC did a great job of summing up my exact feelings on the situation. That can be read here.

You can say he was mentally ill and that’s why he deserves sympathy, but isn’t everyone who commits murder mentally ill? Don’t you have to be? There’s no excuse for what he did. Because of this, I’m very, very glad that the Chiefs chose to take a moment of silence before the game in honor of victims of domestic violence, not in memory of a murderer, but there are still too many people forgetting who the real victims are. If you’re interested, there will be a fund for the orphaned daughter opened early this week, as far as I know. There’s no way to donate yet, but as soon as I know how, I’ll tweet it out (@stevenlourie).

The second thing I have an issue with is people saying this game shouldn’t have been played. These people fall into two groups of people, people who literally have their facts wrong and people who think the Chiefs should not be allowed to make their own decisions in how they grieve. I don’t have too much of an issue with the first group of people, people who think the “greedy rich” National Football League MADE them play the game today, unless of course these people are like Michael Silver, who get paid to know things like this and report the facts accurately.

The NFL did not make the Chiefs play this game. At the very least, if they had objected, I’m sure the NFL would not have forced them to play the game. But what was generally reported by (almost) everyone is that the NFL talked with Romeo Crennel, Scott Pioli, the coaches, and the team captains and they decided to continue to play the game as scheduled. Romeo Crennel even said as much in his very well said post-game conference, saying “we’re football players and football coaches and that’s what we do. We play on Sunday.”

That’s why I have an issue with these people thinking this game shouldn’t have been played. If the Chiefs wanted to play the game, let them play. Who are they to tell them how to grieve? They wanted to play football. Very few people out there know what they’re going through and even those very few who do have no right to tell them how to deal with the situation, as I’m sure anyone who has gone through this situation will tell you.

It would have been a major slap in the face to them, the definition of kicking them when they’re down, for the NFL to force them not to play, as some are suggesting should have happened. That insinuates that these grown men are not able to make their own decisions. They are and I have no objection to the one they made.

Do I understand it? Maybe not, but do I have to? Absolutely not. I certainly have no clue how they held it all together and won their 2nd football game of the season today, but I’m not shocked that happened either. This is an emotional situation that I have absolutely no understanding of and I’m definitely in the vast majority there. I’m not going to pretend like I do and that I know better than them. Also, and I can’t confirm this, but it sounds like at least half of the proceeds from the game will go to the fund for the orphaned daughter and to benefit victims of domestic violence, so that’s obviously good.

One of the people who wrote that this game should not go on was Jason Whitlock, a writer for the Kansas City Star and Fox Sports, who I have actually complimented on this site in the past for his article about Roger Goodell’s hypocrisy, forcing the league to play games on Thursday, while simultaneously pretending to care about concussions and injuries. Whitlock actually says in his article about Belcher, “it shouldn’t be their [the Chiefs’] decision. Roger Goodell should’ve made this call,” which absolutely infuriated me. Let them make their own decision.

Whitlock also got into gun control in this article, which leads me to the next thing that really pissed me off: Bob Costas. I hate Bob Costas. I always have. Many people do. The man is incredibly pretentious and insufferable. He always talks as if he is holier than thou and he has the uncanny ability to simultaneously speak from a soapbox while clearly reading off a teleprompter. He adds absolutely nothing to the Sunday Night Football experience and he frequently takes away from it. I’m not even sure he likes football. I wish he was somewhere else because that’s where it feels like he belongs. I’m sure he has a purpose somewhere, but this isn’t it. I make fun of a lot of football commentators, but Costas is the only one I legitimately cannot stand.

However, this week set me over the edge. It wasn’t even the stuff about gun control at first, which has so many second amendment defenders incredibly angry. About 30 seconds into his lecture, I tweeted “Fuck you Bob Costas, you are not fit to talk about the Jovan Belcher situation, go back to sniffing your own farts.” I was really glad this was one of my most retweeted tweets ever because it showed me that people agreed with me. The video can be watched in its entirety here.

That was before he got into gun control. I was just incredibly angry that he looked legitimately happy that this tragic incident happened because it gave him an opportunity to get on his soap box again. He spoke pompously and was clearly fighting to hold back smiles and pure jubilation. He made fun of an old cliché that things like this always help us put things in perspective, by saying that they only put things in perspective long enough until we need another incident to help us put it back into perspective.

He went on to continue with a very arrogant “please” (this is where I lost it actually, he might have well as have “bitch please,” it was that arrogant) and then said “those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective,” basically just destroying everyone who has ever agreed with or said what I find to be a very appropriate cliché. And he’s so holier than thou and so much better than people who say that. And he sounded generally excited that this happened so he could point it out. That’s what set me off. He used this tragedy to toot his own horn and talk down to a large portion of people who didn’t do anything wrong. Fuck you.

And then he made a not so smooth transition into gun control, citing Jason Whitlock’s article as some “real perspective.” I say citing, but I pretty much mean that he read the whole thing to us word for word. I’m not even going to tell you where I stand on gun control. That wouldn’t make me any better than him. That’s exactly the point. This is completely the wrong environment for that conversation.

We didn’t tune in to hear about Bob Costas’ political views or anyone’s political views. We tuned in to watch football and hear about stories that relate to football. Bob Costas’ 2nd amendment views were irrelevant to the discussion about Belcher, as are Whitlock’s, but he felt they were so important that we all had to hear them. And even worse, he seemed happy that this tragedy happened so he could promote his political agenda. Again, fuck you.