Three “QB-watches” more interesting than the 2013 “Tebow watch”

If your routine is anything like mine, you’ll wake up in the morning and start your day with a fresh batch of ESPN, whether it’s Sports Center or a click glance at the headlines on ESPN.com. Inevitably and unfortunately, that also means you’ll probably start your day with a fresh batch of Timothy Richard Tebow.

It’s no surprise that ESPN urges its employees to constantly discuss the Jets third-string “quarterback” considering America’s bizarre infatuation with him. He’s created a buzz in football that hasn’t been matched since, well, ever. And if you want ratings to go up, you give the people what they want, even if many others (like me) want up-to-the-minute Tebow coverage like we want a hole in our heads or kickoffs to be replaced by fourth and 15 at the 30.

But with recent news emerging that Tebow will ask to be traded or released after the conclusion of this season, he will be at the forefront of media attention once more amongst great speculation of where he might go and what team might benefit from bringing the Bible-bearing circus into town. I’m not sure where he might do any good but that’s because I couldn’t care less about the whole situation. He’s an average football player at best (his NFL stats show that) and he warrants as much attention any other third-string quarterback gets on a weekly basis, i.e. none.

Come the end of the 2012-2013 NFL season, there will be a few more interesting quarterback story lines that NFL fans should monitor instead of following Tebowmania: Part Deux, regardless if he ends up taking over for the pathetic Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville next season.

Starting in the same locker room…

Mark Sanchez

There’s been a lot of speculation as to where Sanchez will play next season considering how bad he’s been. He would almost assuredly play somewhere else if it wasn’t for the guaranteed $8.25 million the New York Jets are due to pay him in 2013. There’s not a team in the league that should consciously decide to pay Sanchez that kind of money to be their quarterback — starting or backup. So will Gang Green give him starter money to ride the pine behind Greg McElroy or another QB TBD? Will they eat all of part of his contract to get him out of town and be rid of the bad voodoo and butt fumbles?

He’s been pretty awful but his body of work career-wise hasn’t been as bad. He has a 72.0 career quarterback rating, has thrown for 68 touchdowns, 68 INTs and is 33-28 as a four-year starter. He’s certainly not elite, but his career stats are still better than guys like Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell, who were both drafted higher than Sanchez.

And in the postseason, his numbers are significantly BETTER. Sanchez is 4-2 in the postseason, leading his team to two NFC championship games in his first two NFL seasons, becoming only the second quarterback in NFL history to do so.

He’s shown that when he has adequate personnel around him, Sanchez can actually be a winning quarterback. Injuries and poor roster moves (cough-Tebow) narrowed the chances of success for Sanchez this season. Perhaps some roster changes or a trade elsewhere could reinvigorate Sanchez and salvage his career.

And if it doesn’t, at least he can say he dated Kate Upton, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Eva Longoria.

Alex Smith

You really have to feel for Alex Smith. He spent his first five NFL seasons as a bottom-feeding quarterback, not once notching a winning season. When he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers, analysts warned that his hands were too small to properly hold and throw an NFL football. (He didn’t quite dissuade this notion after throwing 27 interceptions and fumbling 21 times in his first two years with the 49ers.)

But when Jim Harbaugh took over as San Francisco’s head coach in 2011, he expressed confidence in Smith and immediately helped the embattled quarterback develop into a consistent game manager and more importantly, a winner. Smith led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and nearly took them to the Super Bowl if it hadn’t been for a red-hot New York Giants, which beat San Francisco in the NFC Championship game.

It was his first season with more than 3,000 passing yards and he set personal bests in just about every statistical category:pass attempts (445), completions (273), completion percentage (61.3 percent), passing yards (3,144), average yards per pass (7.1 yards per attempt), overall passer rating (90.7), rushing attempts (52), rushing yards (179) and total touchdowns scored (19). And he set these bench marks while throwing a league-low five interceptions.

In his first nine games this season, he continued his stellar play, throwing 13 touchdowns and five interceptions while completing 70 percent of his passes. But after being sidelined with a concussion in week 10, backup Colin Kaepernick took over and never relinquished the starting role. When he found out he had been delegated to a backup role, he said “I feel like the only thing I did to lose my job was get a concussion.”

And he was right.

Harbaugh has committed to Kaepernick like he committed to Smith in 2011 and that likely won’t change in 2013. But even though it seems that no quality play goes unpunished for Smith, he will certainly be a starter somewhere next season and it won’t be in San Francisco. Now that he’s a proven commodity in the most difficult role in team sports, there should be a handful of teams clamoring to sign the seven-year veteran. With a stink cloud emanating from under center in Arizona (no joke intended), there’s a chance Smith could head to the desert to play for Ken Whisenhunt and throw to Larry Fitzgerald.

Michael Vick

Michael Vick’s career went from being exciting and dynamic to non-existent and irrelevant, to exciting and dynamic (again) to non-existent and irrelevant (again). But if you’ve noticed the pattern, the next logical step should be, you guessed it, exciting and dynamic.

Sure he’s had trouble staying healthy in his past two seasons and he’s struggled to keep possession of the ball (he has 19 turnovers so far this year) but still, after all the issues he’s gone through both recently and in the distant past, Michael Vick is still an exciting player to watch and a possible solution somewhere to a team’s quarterback woes.

Remember that only two seasons ago, Vick was the AP and Sporting News NFL Comeback Player of the Year after going 8-3 as a starter, scoring 30 touchdowns (21 passing and nine rushing), throwing only six interceptions, and making the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career. Philadelphia’s offensive line has been unable to protect Vick in the past two seasons, so if he can find a team with a solid offensive line, he might be able to stay healthy and return to his Pro Bowl-form.

There’s an outside chance Vick could remain with the Philadelphia Eagles, but if head coach Andy Reid is fired at season’s end, it’s likely the following staff will either bring in a new quarterback or try to develop rookie quarterback Nick Foles. If so, Vick will be released and looking for a new home, which could be the Empire State according to some rumors. Regardless what happens to Vick, it’s highly likely he’ll start somewhere next season.

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Fears of the ignorant American: Toronto edition

If you are a frequent visitor of my site, you know that everything I write about has to do with sports. I stick to what I know. But a friend asked me to write a post for him on his travel site about our trip to Toronto in 2011. Essentially, he wanted people to hear the story of my travel stupidity.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I wrote it for him and it is proudly on display at Madalapa’s Excursions.

Anyway, if you’re a fan of my writing or just want to see how poor of a traveler I am, click here to read Fears of the ignorant American: Toronto edition.

NHL lockout close to end…not so fast my friend.

This week, the NHL labor negotiations borrowed a page from ESPN college football personality Lee Corso’s book.

It looked like the NHLPA and owners were coming close to reaching an agreement and ending the inexcusable, unreasonable and unfathomable lockout this week. Optimism was surprisingly high on both sides. Multiple media outlets reported that the owners and players seemed close to an agreement. They met all day and into the following morning on both Tuesday and Wednesday. It seemed that the presence of moderate owners like Jeff Vinik of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Ron Burkle of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mark Chipman of the Winnipeg Jets and Larry Tanenbaum of the Toronto Maple Leafs might have to doing some good to grease the wheels of appeasement on both sides of the puck.

Then on Thursday evening, the vibe seemed to fluctuate. The media began to tweet that the atmosphere no longer had the feeling of positivity, but then reported that NHLPA head Donald Fehr said, “We think there is a complete agreement on dollars. If that’s the case, and we think it is, there’s no reason to not have agreement.”

In hindsight, there was no good reason to trust what Fehr said, but sometimes when you want something so badly, all you see and hear is what you want to see and hear. So I read the words in front of me and began to feel hope, and even the hope of hockey is enough to get me through my day. It was slight, but it was a good feeling, one that I hadn’t had at all concerning these labor negotiations.

I updated my Christmas wish-list to read “1. NHL Game Center, 2. Penguins tickets, etc.” I glued myself to Twitter (since the NHL Network didn’t have the decency to broadcast any breaking news about the near future of its league) and kept my phone handy, ready to call my brother and father to rejoice about the saved season. Hell, I even thought I’d feel so good tomorrow I might get up early and start working out again. Now that the NHL was back, the world was my oyster and there was no limit to my potential!

As the evening negotiations came to a close, reporters waited for someone to take the podium and fill us all in on the days talks. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dejan Kovacevic tweeted “You can tell even players have no idea what Fehr is going to say, what NHL response was. Makes for unreal drama in here.” And that was even palpable through the Twitter machine as I sat alone on my couch in my Brooklyn apartment. I was nervous, excited, doubtful, anxious and about 50 other emotions I can’t quite qualify with labels. I wanted it so badly. Then…

A dark cloud blew into midtown Manhattan and started raining ill will inside the Westin New York at Times Square. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daley left a voice mail on Fehr’s brother Steve’s phone regarding the current proposal from the NHLPA. Kovecevic tweeted what the union head told reporters.

Fehr: “Advised in a voice mail that moves players made were not acceptable, that there was no reason for owners to stay.”

And just like that, everything went up in smoke and the collective hearts of NHL fans plummeted into our stomachs and shattered at the bottom like a faulty elevator.

This pretty much sums it up.

The grim reality was splattered on the wall. It appeared unlikely there would be an NHL season after this let down and all because of a three-year disagreement on contract term (NHL five years, PA eight years) and a two-year gap on CBA length (NHL eight years, PA six) . No, the season hasn’t been cancelled yet, and there still is time to save 40-50 games. But if you’re confident that the same guys blowing these negotiations now can save the season, I envy your optimism. Mine is drowning in melted ice and tears.

After the bad news was revealed, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman informed the media and public what happened with the labor negotiations on Thursday.

But to NHL fans Bettman’s address sounded more like the South Park presidential duck.

Partisan politics came back to the forefront and the fan constituency was forgotten, if it had ever been considered in the first place. The big wigs of hockey took one step forward then five steps back. Some owners told Bettman the process was over. Concessions came off the table. Bettman said it didn’t look like the two sides would be meeting soon, adding that he had no idea why Fehr said the two sides were close, and that was unfair to hockey fans.

Now, the next reasonable conclusion is for Cthulhu to exit his hibernation to cast the hockey world into darkness and despair for 5000 years.

Ok, maybe it’s not that bad but this situation is about the worst we could have asked for. It’s not too late to start following the NBA (sob) fellow puck heads, because following these labor negotiations is a slap in the face. We can’t trust Bettman or Fehr. We’re watching a bad movie where there are only villains and victims and the ending is starting to seem as predictable as 1997’s biggest blockbuster.

Hockey fans have been helpless through this whole process and now, as we watch our beloved game be torn limb from limb by greed and narcissism, all we can do is regret loving the game as much as we do and hope that we can forget our affection for the NHL or pray that the NHL will remember us.

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