What's that? You were wondering exactly how many days until the start of the NFL season? Well, you're in luck! We here at the Triangle are set to spend the next three and a half months providing a daily reason to get excited about pro football's return.
In the first quarter of the Cardinals’ Week 3 win over the Eagles last year, a few minutes after Larry Fitzgerald caught a desperation flip from Kevin Kolb that went for four yards on 3rd-and-16, this graphic popped onto the screen.
Think about this only for a second, and it makes sense. Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best wide receivers in football, and has been since he came into the league almost a decade ago. Think about it for any longer, and it makes absolutely no sense at all.
Since Fitzgerald came into the league, the Cardinals have played 144 regular-season games. For 57 of those games (and two playoff runs), Kurt Warner was the Cardinals’ starting quarterback — so we’re good there. For the other 87, Arizona trotted out a combination of — I know you think you know this list, but I promise, it’s still great every time — Josh McCown, Shaun King, John Navarre, Matt Leinart, Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb, Ryan Lindley, and Brian Hoyer. For 60 percent of his games, this is what Larry Fitzgerald has worked with at quarterback, and still, no one younger has ever caught 700 passes. Bill Belichick thinks everyone he’s about to play is the greatest something ever, but with Fitzgerald, I think he might actually believe it.
In the past month, the deck of quarterback mediocrity has seen plenty of shuffling. First, it was in Buffalo. Less than two years after getting $24 million guaranteed from the Bills, Ryan Fitzpatrick was released, off to Tennessee to back up Jake Locker. Three days later, the Cardinals, hoping to avoid a $2 million roster bonus and $9 million in salary, released Kevin Kolb. On Monday, the Oakland Raiders traded for Matt Flynn, who was Russell Wilson’d in Seattle last offseason. The next day, the Cardinals traded for former Raiders starter Carson Palmer. I hope everyone is following here.
Where each quarterback ended up is mildly important, but what all the movement really says, it says collectively. For the handful of NFL teams actively searching for a long-term answer at quarterback, this may not be the draft in which they’re going to get it.
There's one enormous misconception that keeps cropping up this NFL offseason in the reaction to surprising personnel decisions. In terms of evaluating how much a particular player is worth (to his team or another), one little tidbit matters more than anything else: Past performance, future performance, personality, and name value all fall by the wayside to this most essential bargaining chip. It explains both the Tony Romo deal from this past weekend and Carson Palmer's desperate attempt to flee the East Bay. In the NFL, leverage is everything.
Consider Dallas's predicament with regard to its occasionally brilliant, frequently embattled quarterback this offseason. With a team of expensive veterans surrounded by a relative paucity of players on cheap, team-friendly rookie contracts, the Cowboys normally would be up against the salary cap. It didn't help when the Cowboys failed to come to terms with Anthony Spencer on a long-term deal and were forced to franchise him for the second consecutive year. Throw in the cap penalty they're eating after the NFL took away $10 million over two years for their handiwork during the uncapped year, and the Cowboys were really struggling to create space under the cap. Cap figures aren't released publicly, but by some accounts, the Cowboys couldn't have fit a Crown Victoria into their cap space this offseason, let alone Victor Butler.
In case you were busy crashing Lark Voorhies's birthday party (and if so, kudos to you), here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Tiger Woods had a vintage weekend as he both reclaimed the no. 1 world ranking in golf and won his record eighth Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. When asked if things could be any better than they are right now, Woods responded, "Um, yes. Yes, they could. You have no idea." When asked to elaborate, Woods responded, "No, I better not. I I better not."
The Miami Heat ran their win streak to 27 games after a 108-94 win over the Orlando Magic. Miami forward Chris Bosh was jubilant after the performance, saying, "Big things are happening in Miami. I'm hoping this will finally get the media to pay attention to us down here. These 27 straight wins should definitely get us the attention we deserve."
How did Chad Henne only score five BQBL points? How did Mark Sanchez only score four? Wait, Lauren Tannehill’s husband was in the red with -7 points? When I first saw the numbers for this week I thought that our scorer must have gone on a four-day “The only way to stop the sounds of my family is by drowning them with alcohol” binge, but when I saw who was on top of the leader board, it all made sense. Since Thanksgiving weekend has no mascot like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, I am nominating Ryan Lindley. His fear-driven failure on Sunday was a calming transition to life as usual after a weekend that was anything but in both your life and in the NFL. Let me explain.
Three and Out
Cardinals (Ryan Lindley), 80 points: Last week, Ken Whisenhunt introduced us to rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley, and we watched him make it through his first NFL game without throwing an interception. He didn’t look great, but he didn’t look Skeltony either. After getting a week’s worth of reps with the first team, his true test came Sunday against the Rams. Let’s have a look at the pass attempts during his first drive as a starting quarterback:
Each week, the Fantasy Island contestants will submit a preview for each of that weekend's games. The best preview from each game will be selected and combined with the others into one comprehensive guide, and points are awarded based on how many individual previews from each writer are selected. Get it? OK. We sorta do, too.
Bills at Patriots
Buffalo hemorrhages 169.5 rushing yards a game and there’s a toddler-with-permanent-marker glee in Tom Brady’s eyes when he gashes open wounds, even if it means doing so via hand-offs (40 carries, 247 ground-game yards when these teams met in Week 4). There won’t be six New England turnovers this time; coupled with the running game, I’m expecting sub-par receiving lines for the Pats’ aces. Stevie Johnson has been leaving behind a data trail of ghastly box scores, including a three-catch-for-29-yards showing last week. This is largely because Ryan Fitzpatrick loves wheel routes to running backs and third-read safety-valve tosses to Scott Chandler. Donald Jones has scored every three weeks this season, and these migration patterns point to a touchdown this week.
Each week, the Fantasy Island contestants will submit waiver wires detailing their recommended pickups. The best waiver column will be published and awarded points as part of Grantland's ongoing contest to select our fantasy football writer. Get it? OK. We sorta do, too.
To: Josh Klein
From: Robert Mays
Date: 5:32 PST 11/4/2012
Subject: Fantasy Island
Thanks so much for participating in Fantasy Island this year. Unfortunately, due to your horrifyingly bad advice to trade Doug Martin right before he had the third-highest scoring day in ESPN fantasy football history, we are forced to let you go. There is absolutely no way that we can rightfully award a weekly fantasy column to anyone who would give fantasy advice so terrible. Please enjoy this complimentary copy of the Grantland quarterly as a consolation.
In this week's Fabulous and the Flops, we're advocating for suspensions for big hits, criticizing the performance of a likely Rookie of the Year, and talking about the most embarrassing drive of the year by any offense.
Despite their best efforts, T.J. Yates, Tyler Palko, and Kevin Kolb all won NFL games this week. Not BQBL games — actual professional American football games. Yates won because a defensive hold negated his pick-six, Palko won because he was up against Caleb Hanie, and Kolb won because, well, there’s only one way to put this: Dallas coach Jason Garrett iced his own kicker. Oh yeah, you know who else won? The greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL: Timothy Richard Tebow.
Timothy Richard Tebow’s success has gone from shocking to flukey to confusing, and has finally landed on expected. I watched the Broncos-Vikings game in a bar Sunday, and as it entered the fourth quarter, every completed pass, positive run, and cutaway to Timothy Richard on the sideline was met with screams and chants of “Teeeeeebooooooooow!” There was not a single soul in the place watching another game or rooting against Timothy Richard. Now that Timothy Richard has a hold on the division lead, there is only one man, one bad quarterback on the planet who could loosen his hold on the zeitgeist — The Gunslinger, Brett Lorenzo Favre. Please, please, please return, Gunslinger. Please, Gunslinger. The Bears need you, the BQBL needs you. Besides, we all know you’re jealous of the attention Tebow is getting. We all know how much you love to see your face on ESPN.com. Just think about how good it would look on the BQBL Summer Jam Screen.
This week there was no Gunslinger, but let’s have a look at the BQBs who turned in some truly pick-tastic gunslingeryish performances:
Hey degenerates — remember me? I’m the guy who last week told you to bet the Ravens over 28.5 points and to wager on the Philip Rivers interception machine to keep rolling. Unfortunately — those were my only winners. A net of -15,000 jermajesties last week takes my year to date total to -48,500 jermajesties overall. I apologize. My proposition picks have been as flimsy as a Kardashian’s wedding vows. Now that I got the “Kim Kardashian is a fickle sports groupie harlot” joke out of the way let’s proceed with the gambling:
Every movement has a defining moment. The American Revolution had the Boston Tea Party. The hippies had Woodstock. Occupy Wall Street has well, regardless, the BQBL’s defining moment occurred on October 23, 2011, in Week 7 of the NFL schedule. For generations to come, on the morning of October 23, families clad in Carson Palmer, Curtis Painter, and A.J. Feeley jerseys will grab a football, head to the backyard, and throw errant passes to each other in recognition of this glorious day.
Keeping with BQBL Day tradition, the elder generations will describe the events of Week 7 in 2011 to the young'uns while aimlessly scrambling around the yard and throwing passes 30 feet over their heads. They will tell of the mythical Matt Hasselbeck and his 104 passing yards against the Texans. They will repeat the story of Palmer, who helped solidify a scoreless afternoon for his Raiders and — keeping with BQBL Day tradition — they will don a long blond wig and detail exactly how Painter, on national television, willed his team to lose by 55 points. Then, BQBL Day will culminate with the whole family around the dinner table, poised to dive into their traditional BQBL Day feast of nachos, buffalo wings, and HGH flakes, and they will first all take turns telling the tale of the Miami Miracle. The day that it was revealed to the world that Timothy Richard Tebow was not only the greatest quarterback to ever play the game of football, but the greatest man to ever walk the earth. I can’t wait until next year. I think I am going to adopt a son right now.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Allen Craig's RBI single in the sixth inning proved to be the game-winning run as the Cardinals beat the Rangers 3-2 in Game 1 of the World Series. A series of bullpen moves by Cardinals manager Tony La Russa paid dividends in the late innings, which should silence those critics who still doubt the power of Flippy, his lucky coin.
We have very few rules for the BS Report, but this is one of them: Any time an NFL team does something completely and utterly insane, we send out a bat/pod signal for the NFL Network's Mike Lombardi. When news broke today that the Raiders were trading one (and possibly two) first-round picks to Cincinnati for the Artist Formerly Known As Carson Palmer, we took this up a notch by sending bat signals, flares and even fireworks before Lombardi finally noticed, then emerged from a tape room in the NFL Films studio to talk football with us. We ended up dissecting the Palmer trade, the 2011 season, the playoff picture, what Lombardi would have done differently had he gotten the Niners job, whether the Niners are for real, and even Al Davis' legacy, before deciding that the NFL Network should spin Lombardi off into his own channel.