From the soon to be named studios, let's go.
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin chats with quarterback Eli Manning before an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
NFC title game
We talked Tuesday a little bit about the all-time match up between all-timers when Tom Brady and the Pats face Ray Lewis and the Ravens this weekend in the AFC conference title game.
In the NFC title game, there is an argument to be made that it's the league's most underrated franchise of the last decade (the Giants, who have consistently contended, won a Super Bowl and have always had to listen to why coach Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat) against the most under-performing franchise (the 49ers have floundered despite playing in the league's weakest division and collecting No. 1 picks like a ceiling fan collects dust — the 49ers have now fewer than 13 former first-round picks, including key contributors Justin Smith, Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn Jr., who were first-round picks by other organizations).
In some ways, the perception of underrated and underperforming is mirrored by the two quarterbacks — the Giants' Eli Manning and the 49ers' Alex Smith. Each was a No. 1 overall pick and each has settled into the previous descriptions.
The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. Let's look back at the last 10 No. 1 overall picks, give them a grade, look at which player would have been the No. 1 overall pick if hindsight was allowed and then a comment. Who's in?
2011 — Cam Newton, QB, Carolina. And without much hindsight — or the need of much more — Newton looks to be a home run pick. (Sorry, Dr. B, we know you're a doctor and all, but Newton is going to be a star.)
2010 — Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis. Bradford could still be a star — injuries derailed his 2011 season. Although the Lions landed Ndamukong Suh with the second pick, and as career arcs go, Suh's is much, Much, MUCH more promising.
2009 — Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia. Well done Lions, well done.
2008 — Jake Long, T, Miami. The Dolphins have floundered without a franchise quarterback for years. Matt Ryan (No. 3 to Atlanta) was in this draft, as was Joe Flacco (No. 18 to Baltimore). There were also five franchise running backs — Rashard Mendenhall to the Steelers at No. 23, Chris Johnson to the Titans with the 24th pick,Matt Forte to the Bears at No. 44, Ray Rice to the Ravens at No. 55 and Jamaal Charles to the Chiefs at No. 73 — in this draft. Long is a good player that will have a strong career, but the retro-pick is probably Ryan.
2007 — JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland. Ouch. And the disaster that is this pick is only made worse by the names behind Russell. The best WR of this generation (Calvin Johnson, No. 2 to Detroit), the best offensive tackle of this generation (Joe Thomas, No. 3 to Cleveland), the best running back of this generation (Adrian Peterson, No. 7 to Minnesota), the best middle linebacker of this generation (Patrick Willis, No, 10 to San Fran) and the best shutdown corner of this generation (Darrelle Revis, No. 14 to the Jets). Some one take FE to the C's shoelaces and belt and talk him off the ledge. If Brady is the best draft steal, Russell is the single worst draft pick.
2006 — Mario Williams, DE, Houston. You could make the argument that Jay Cutler (Denver, No. 11) or even Haloti Ngata (Baltimore, No. 12) would have been better picks but Williams was OK — and way better than Reggie Bush, who everyone thought would be the No. 1 overall pick.
2005 — Alex Smith, QB, San Fran. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers fell down the draft board and went to Green Bay at No. 24. But this was a strange first round. There were great home run values — Rodgers, Roddy White at No. 27 and Logan Mankins at No. 32. And there were huge disappointments high — Smith, Ronnie Brown at No. 2, Braylon Edwards at No. 3 and the nickname boys, Cadillac Williams and Pacman Jones at 5 and 6.
2004 — Eli Manning, QB, San Diego (traded to New York). Like Newton, Manning was the pick and clearly should have been the pick.
2003 — Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati. Palmer had a nice run with the Bengals before he got his feelings hurt. The two picks that jump off the screen are potential Hall of Famers Andre Johnson (Houston, No. 3) and Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh, No. 16).
2002 — David Carr, QB, Houston. Julius Peppers went second and Dwight Freeney went 11th as pass rushers were the highlight of this draft.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins in Indianapolis, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Are the Don's days over in Indy?
Peyton Manning appears to be on shaky ground in Indianapolis. Yes, we know the Colts have the No. 1 pick and Andrew Luck is the best QB prospect since, well, Peyton. Manning has a bad neck that may never be fully healed. The Colts parted ways with the Polians, the father-son executive tandem that drafted Peyton. Now, the Colts fired coach Jim Caldwell, ending another link to the previous era.
When EC informed us of this news late yesterday, here's what we wrote:
And yes, it appears the Colts are cutting all ties to the five families. Somewhere, Archie is having this conversation with Peyton:
AM: "Do you know how they are going to come at you? They're going to set up a meeting at a place where I feel safe."
PM: "I always thought it would be Tom Moore."
AM: "No, Irsay is the smart one and it's the smart move."
Here's hoping Manning doesn't find a horse head in his bed — and if he does he returns it to John Elway. ZINGER.
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant celebrates after making a three-point basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back
Hopefully you read the title humming the old Welcome Back Kotter tune.
So let's name the cast as we re-introduce ourselves to the NBA:
Mr. Kotter: Kobe Bryant, the star of the show, and the veteran that still has some bullets left.
Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington: LeBron. Not unlike Boom Boom, he looks the part of the lead, but we always seem to be waiting on him to take the big step. Is this the year for the Heatles? We'll see or we'll be asking if 2013 is the year the Heatles bust up
Arnold Horshack: The annoying pain that drew became it's own story line is the "Where will Dwight Howard end up" saga that is starting to take shape around the league.
Vinny Barbarino: Kevin Durant, the best young player in the league with a super-high ceiling that could become the next big thing. We're officially fans of K-D.
Juan Epstein: The truant that always brought a note from his mom signed "Epstein's Mother" was kind of a one-hit wonder and then struggled in big moments on the show. Hello Blake Griffin and CP3 and the L.A. Clippers. Hey, Lob City is a catchy nickname and we know you guys can dominate a highlight reel. What you got with the chips on the line in the fourth quarter.
This and that
— When an emotional leader of your defense (Ed Reed) says your quarterback (Joe Flacco) was rattled against a team (Houston) making its first playoff run, well, that's not exactly the best way to head into a potential shootout with Tim Brady and the Patriots.
— Remember when arbitration was baseball's way of trying to keep salaries in check? Yeah, we do as well. Now, a starting pitchers (namely Tim Lincecum) are asking for $21.5 million in arbitration. For one stinkin' year. Sweet buckets, Lincecum had a grand total of 27 decision last year — and he was 13-14 for what it's worth — and he thinks he's worth $21-plus million? Everyone take a break, the 5-at-10 needs to lay dow for a second.
— We're back, and that's a wrap on Mike Dyer's time at Auburn. The former hero of the BCS title win last January, Dyer has enrolled at Arkansas State and will sit out the 2012 season. Dyer followed former Auburn OC Gus Malzahn to ASU, and we'll see how loyal Dyer is to Malzahn since Dyer could very well enter the draft next year without ever playing a snap at ASU.
— Wow, did Kentucky look stout last night. Big-time good. And yes, we talked about this a little above and some yesterday with Kansas, home-court edge plays a huge part with young teams. But when the 'Cats are running and rebounding like they did against Arkansas, look out. Is there a ceiling on what Anthony Davis can be as a basketball player? (Side note: We're starting to like Jimmy Dykes as a college hoops analyst. He's growing on us.)
San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum throws during the first inning of Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
We're going to be in some seminars all day learning about stuff and things and having a grand time. (What's that, shirts are optional. Excellent.) So play nice.
The question, in honor of Tim Lincecum asking for $21-plus million after going 13-14 (and yes, we know he had a boss ERA and blah, blah, blah), who is the most overpaid sports figure?
Discuss, and play nice as we head to the seminar — with our chest painted of course.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...