Ian Rapoport | Tags: NFL, Buffalo Bills, Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, Donovan McNabb, Ed Reed, Greg Lloyd, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Rolando McClain, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tim Tebow, Vince Young, Wes Welker
In the newspaper world, the football coverage for Sunday’s paper is in the form of a notes package. In the Internet world, we can do notes, too. I’ve been trying to come up with some kinda feature for Sunday on the blog, and I may tweak this going forward.
Here’s what’s up:
1. I am thoroughly enjoying Tebowmania in New York. Am I alone? I thought colleague Jeff Darlington’s story about the impending takeover was right on. At some point during the season, Tebow will just overwhelm the Jets, even in that circus. He’ll be the biggest attraction in the Big Top. It’s nice that people like Mike Tannenbaum say they were ready for Tebow to take over all the storylines. Sure, you were kinda ready. But did you think we’d be discussing Tebow’s lunch habits? It’s only getting started, especially if the Jets start 1-3 or something. Yikes.
2. It was surprising that WR Wes Welker backtracked in his remarks about his contract yesterday. And it would be tough to argue that it was the right move. Welker needed to say that talks weren’t going well. Of course, the Patriots weren’t pleased with him. How could they be if he admitted the obvious — that talks had gotten worse. That’s business. If it was all going well, he’d have a deal. Thing really don’t go well in negotiations until they are done. It’s fine to say the truth. It’s fine if the team you’re negotiating with isn’t happy… it’s not about being friends when working a deal. In my opinion, Welker should’ve just pivoted yesterday, stood by what he said but added that he’s done talking about it. In fact, he probably should be done now. But, anyway, rough weekend.
3. Officially, we’re calling Vince Young a backup QB for the Bills. Yeah, that’s what he is. And Young, no doubt, has said all the right things in his new home. He’s hoping for one final chance. But let’s be serious. Young isn’t a real backup for starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Their styles are too different, and too much of the offense will have to change if he comes in. Young has shown too often that he’s not capable of being a starter. No, what VY really is is a threat. A big-name threat whose reputation is greater than his production ever was. Much like Tim Tebow in New York, Young’s best attribute is he scares the heck out of Fitzpatrick and forces him to work. But hey, that’s important, too.
4. It’s always good to be reminded of what kind of freaks some of these dudes that we cover are. It’s one thing to see Lions WR Calvin Johnson out-muscle little DBs for a touchdown or run by a safety. We know he can do that. But to see him hit a home run in batting practice the other night, that’s kind of insane. Think about the kind of athletic ability it takes for a sport he almost never plays. Just crazy. A whole ‘nother level of athlete.
5. Ed Reed is a wild card on the football field. As Patriots coach Bill Belichick will note when the teams play, it’s hard to game plan for him because you never know where the Ravens safety will be. That’s what makes him so special. His assignment can be to do one thing, but his instincts will take him to the ball. That said, he’s just as much of a wild card off the field. His comments this week about possibly retiring were borderline hilarious. First he said he wasn’t committed to playing next year, then he said he was not talking about retirement, only his health. Oh, and he’d like a long-term contract. Um, what? Don’t we do this every year with Reed? Wanna bet he shows up for mandatory minicamp ready to go? I just wonder if this is the best way to get a contract extension. Ya know, questioning your own desire to play, then saying you want to be paid to play for a long time.
6. It makes my head hurt to hear former players think that making the game safer will somehow diminish it. Does anyone really miss head-hunting shots from safeties roaming the middle of the field? Did anyone miss head-slapping when that was outlawed? Or chop-blocking? Or leather helmets? Making things safer doesn’t mean making it weaker. It just helps extend the lives of guys who play it. Steelers great Greg Lloyd, one of my favorites growing up, was the latest to sound off. But the game won’t be any less hard-hitting if defenders are forced to stay away from the knees of quarterbacks, for instance. It will just be cleaner. But Lloyd is right in one aspect. Focusing on caring for players after they’re done should be a focus.
7. I remember thinking that the Raiders pulled off a coup when they grabbed Alabama LB Rolando McClain a few years back. He’s smart, he hits, and he could cover (or so I thought). That hasn’t worked out as anyone planned. Goes to show how much experts know, especially those who thought it was a safe pick. McClain’s off the field troubles this week were another tough blow. I don’t know if he’s guilty or innocent, though the court has ruled at least once. Still, I remember how nervous Alabama people were when McClain would go back and visit his “friends” in trouble-ridden Decatur. Well, the whole town isn’t trouble-ridden, just McClain’s crew. It does not help him, let’s say that. The Raiders need to keep him away from there if he’s going to succeed in the NFL.
8. The best line of the week award goes to Eagles coach Andy Reid, who told NFL Network “I’d tell them to take him” when asked what he’d tell teams interested in QB Donovan McNabb. Well played, Andy, well-played. Considering he traded McNabb to a division rival, watched him flounder with two teams, and now has Michael Vick, it’s a tremendous position to take. Call it the high road. I think what Reid really means to say is, “Take him and have him play against us.” But his line was good, too. Anyway, that remains one of the best examples of a team selling high that I can remember.
9. Teams are starting OTAs on Monday, and I’ll be in Detroit for the Lions first day. It’s interesting for a team that has been under the radar so much, but the storylines for them are just overflowing. Under the radar no more. From their three stars — Matt Stafford, Ndamukong Suh, and Megatron — to some off-the-field incidents to Cliff Avril’s sit-out to trying to build off success for the first time in 2000. There is so much to talk about. Why do I feel like we’ll be talking about the Lions for the next 8 years?