An introduction: Last year, I put together free-agent books from the perspective of a player agent for four different players, starting with Mike Wallace before moving on to Matt Flynn, Mario Williams, and Arian Foster. This year, I'll be doing the same for three players, starting today with Reggie Bush.
For those who weren't around last year, these articles are designed to be smaller versions of the "books" that agents like Drew Rosenhaus or Scott Boras might prepare on behalf of their veteran free agents as they're about to hit the market. Normally, my goal is to present an accurate depiction of the league and its constituency; that's not the case here. In these articles, my goal is simply to sell the player as best I can to a potential team. I won't flat-out lie about the player's strengths or statistics, but if I can distort the numbers to make the player look better, I'm happy to do so. Please keep that in mind when reading these next three pieces. Thanks!
On any given Sunday (or Monday, or Thursday), your NFL Run & Shootaround crew will be gathered around multiple televisions, making inappropriate jokes and generally regressing to the mean. Catch up on all the NFL action right here.
With or Without You
Over the holiday, I was back in Chicago for the first time since the start of football season. Amid all the eating and drinking, there was plenty of time in the car, and with that came the chance to hear Chicago sports radio. I made a handful of long drives over the course of those few days, and each time the radio was on, the programming was the same — a re-airing of that week’s "Jay Cutler Show."
Each week (excluding those after a concussion), Cutler joins the "Waddle & Silvy" show on ESPN 1000 for an hour, and from what I gather, the segment is immensely popular. All of my Bears-fan friends are regular listeners, and considering the station was content to let it run for what seemed like three days, I imagine those friends are a representative sample. They tune in because, much like watching Cutler play football, just about anything can happen. Sunday’s Bears game against the Vikings was a perfect example.
My mind was made up. I sat at the kitchen table and typed an e-mail to my friend Richard Feynman, whose name is not really Richard Feynman.
"I'm starting Matthew Stafford instead of Matt Schaub on Sunday," I wrote.
"This will end in blood and tears," Feyman replied. Then, after a minute: "Are you watching AM games at Ye Rustic tomorrow? Need a ride?"
"I always need a ride," I wrote back. "But you're not going to change my mind about this QB situation. Your team needs a shakeup."
It was Saturday night and I was drunk with power. Feynman had given me control of his fantasy team for a week so I could write about what it felt like to watch a day of football the way people in a fantasy league watch a day of football.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Wednesday.
Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda, became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a World Series game, and the Giants roughed up Justin Verlander to take Game 1 8-3. Tigers manager Jim Leyland was upset at his ace. "We told Justin that even though he may look soft and cuddly — especially when he's curled up around a bamboo shoot — he's a very dangerous creature when approached," Leyland said. "He didn't listen. There have been over 15 incidents of Kung Fu Panda home run violence this year alone, and most of them could have been avoided with a little pitcher caution."
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, where points are awarded based on how many individual previews from each writer are selected. Get it? OK. We sorta do too.
Buccaneers at Cowboys
The Bucs are legit. They fell victim to a little Eli magic this Sunday, but I think we all know Tony Romo is about as magical as David Blaine. (Sorry, buddy. Standing in an ice cave for two days isn't magic.) The 'Boys haven't been able to stop anyone, so I like Doug Martin a lot this week; I think he finishes as a top-10 RB. Vinnie Jackson is always a boom-or-bust play, but an interesting sleeper in this game is Dallas Clark. America's Team of 1992 has given up TDs to TEs (that's a weird phrase) in two straight weeks, and Clark is better than either Martellus Bennett or Anthony McCoy (my apologies to the McCoy family, who may be the only people who knew who Anthony was before this week).
Rams trade Jason Smith, provide Brian Schottenheimer with the devil he knows
It doesn’t come as a surprise, but Jason Smith’s time in St. Louis is finally over. The Rams reportedly agreed last night to send the former no. 2 overall pick to the Jets in exchange for similarly maligned tackle Wayne Hunter. The move gives new Rams (and former Jets) offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer a familiar face for his swing tackle, but it also marks the failure of yet another draft pick for the Rams.
Smith is the second first-rounder from the 2009 draft traded in as many days, with Vontae Davis being the other. That year was former general manager Billy Devaney’s first with the team, and a year after the Dolphins took Jake Long and saw an immediate turnaround, the Rams hoped to establish a bookend on their offensive line as well. Coming out of Baylor, Smith was a converted tight end who was supposed to have the feet and frame to develop into a stalwart left tackle for the next decade. A mix of injuries and poor play was enough to keep that from happening, and it soon became clear that 2010 second-round pick Rodger Saffold, and not Smith, would get the chance to be St. Louis’s left tackle of the future.
Here's your Tuesday whip-around on the stories dominating coming out of last night's Monday Night Football games. No pads needed.
The New England Patriots are Robert Sean Leonard in Dead Poets Society and Bill Belichick is their dad. The Pats beat the Dolphins, in Miami, 38-24 in a game that felt a lot less competitive than the score ever suggested. Tom Brady put up 517 yards in passing while marshaling a no-huddle, chuck-it-to-the-TEs offense that had Fins defenders gasping for air. Was this electric offensive performance enough to satisfy their overbearing patriarch? "We're a long way from being a good football team right now."