Yes, we're 40 days from the Super Bowl. Seems surreal, no?
And the playoff races are in a crazy upheaval with an extra team and one fewer bye.
But the winners can wait. That's right, we all know that Patty Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers are doing eye-popping things. We know the AFC East has been ransacked and the Patriots were humiliated last night.
(Side note: Did anyone else watch that game into the second half and see Bill Belichick lose it. I mean completely, Bobby Knight-level, phone throw lose it? Here it is.)
No the debates and the winners and the playoff projections can wait. Because what's at the other end of the power poll? The powerless poll.
You know what is handed to the powerless? That's right draft capital. (Side question with depth: I love the draft, but I loathe socialism, but isn't the NFL draft the most socialistic aspect of sports in many ways? Discuss.)
Anywell, we love the draft. You know this.
So in honor of the final moments in the sun for the worst of the NFL, let's flip the script a little but today and expand it. We will do the worst 10 NFL teams in accordance to the draft order heading into week 17.
Also, and we are going to try to do this every time we offer a mock draft of what we think they should do, not what will they do. Because in this top 10 there are simply no where near the number of QBs that will be picked next spring.
QBs — other than the generational ones like Luck, Manning and now Lawrence — are as big a crap shoot as any other position, and way more impactful in terms of setting back a franchise.
But drafting QBs offer front offices two highly coveted commodities. It harbors hope for the hometown huddled masses, and it grants time for the decision makers under the guise of 'developing a young QB.'
Like EPB says after a blizzard, let's get to the powerless. (Number is draft position as of right now.)
1 Jacksonville. The Jags have clinched. What kind of marketing campaign do you craft for Trevor Lawrence, and more importantly, would you let the future franchise QB have a say in the head coaching process in an effort to avoid any Eli Manning- or John Elway-like "I'm not going there" type of draft drama?
2 New York Jets. The Jets have clinched the 2 pick, which seems apropos since everything involved with the second-tiered, second-best NYC team has the feel and the smell of a big No. 2. I think the Jets should go after the tackle from Oregon here, because every other QB is just as big a reach as Sam Darnold is/was, and I don't think Darnold is/was the issue with this team.
3 Miami. This pick is from Houston, which should cause the Texans brash to go roll Bill O'Brien's yard on draft day. (Side question: Do kids still roll each other's yards? Side question on the side question: Considering my 'inflated' ego during my teenage years, if I set the over/under at 8 on the number of times my childhood home got 'rolled' would you ride the over or the under?) But imagine a Tua-DaVonta Smith reunion on South Beach.
4 Atlanta. The Falcons are naturally a swing team, and if things fall right and they beat the Bucs on Sunday, they could fall all the way to the No. 11 pick. That fact alone makes me want to put a mortgage payment on the Falcons on the money line because only the Falcons — and the Jets — can truly find ways to lose when you top a rival. You have to believe this pick is defense in general and something to aid the worst pass defense in the league in particular, but there will be a lot of chatter about the QB of the future, I get that. Truly I do, but who on the board do you want at 4, and does a team that started the season with 11 first-round picks on the offense really need another one at back-up QB? The Falcons went corner 1 last year and AJ Terrell has developed into a legit starter. This pick has to be an edge rusher and I think Gregory Rosseau from Miami is a true difference maker at 6-6, 260 with quicks.
5 Cincinnati. The Bengals truly hope that the Jets make the wrong choice and go QB rather than the Oregon tackle, Penei Sewell, and if you're hoping for anything in the NFL, right behind the hopes that Aaron Rodgers will deliver, the Jets making the wrong choice is as secure a wish as there is. But in this version, Sewell is gone, and if I'm in Cincy's war room, someone's going to have to fight me not to take Kyle Pitts, the Florida tight end. Go find free agent O-linemen and give the young triple-threat trio of Burrow, Tee Higgins and Pitts the chance to sling it all over the yard.
6 Phily. Yes the Eagles took a WR last year, and Jalen Reagor has failed to deliver. In this mock, out of sight and out of mind means JaMarr Chase, who in 2019 at LSU was better than Justin Jefferson, who was the best rookie WR in the league in 2020, is still there and you have to pull the trigger.
(Side note while we're here: Yes, this may seem surreal that we have three pass catchers and only one pass thrower in the first six picks. But ask yourself this: Did you watch Matt Ryan when Julio was on the field and when Julio wasn't? Did you see the difference between Josh Allen this year, when Stefon Diggs is doing legit WR1 things and last 2019 when he was trying to find John Brown? Have you seen the difference in the 49ers offense, regardless who's slinging it with George Kittle and Debo Samuel in the huddle and when they're not? How about the improvement of Russell Wilson with DK Metcalf, or the emergence of Mitchell Trubisky with Allen Robinson rounding into a legit WR1. Heck Andy Dalton looked great Sunday with Dallas' trio of star WRs. This is not by chance, friends.
7 Detroit. This is where it gets weird. We know the Lions will hire a new coach and face a complete rebuild, right? Right. We know that Urban Meyer has been in conversations with the Lions, right? Right. We also know that the Patriots shrug their shoulders at draft picks to begin with, Belichick will be extremely motivated to rebound after spending his first postseason in more than a decade at home and watching TB12 play in Janaury, and the Pats will get six starters back who opted out during the COVID. OK, so the Lions deal Matthew Stafford to New England for picks and draft... Justin Fields.
8 New York Giants. This offensive line has been bad for years, so that certainly could be addressed. But in terms of the best player on the board, Micah Parsons, the Penn State inside linebacker who also opted out would be some kind of fit for a defense that is improving and an offense that will get its best playmaker back.
9 Carolina. A home run pick last year with Derrick Brown, who is simply awesome in his awesomeness. I think the Panthers realize their mistake in paying a back-up QB starters money when they signed Teddy Bridgewater, and the best way to correct that is pay your starter rookie money. I think they pull the trigger on QB and I would make that pick Kyle Trask, who has shown me more in terms of future skill sets that transition than Mac Jones or Zach Wilson.
10 Denver. A defensive-minded coaching staff has actually assembled a slew of likable offensive pieces, and I love Alabama DBs. Can anyone recall a former Nick Saban-coached defensive back who was picked in the first two rounds who did not excel at the next level? We'll wait. Patrick Surtain II is the next one in the litany of Tide cover guys to shine like new money.
OK, you die-hard Braves fans and those of us who spend our summers watching and wanting the best for Atlanta's MLB bunch have to be wondering, 'Huh, what just happened?'
As we ponder whether Charlie Morton is an ace to go into a Braves rotation that has a few good, but all-be-it young pieces, the moves around baseball are starting to raise a ruckus.
And, as brave Braves followers, we are accustomed to the Yankees and the Dodgers and occasionally the Cubs or a motivated new owner in, say Anaheim or Arlington or the new billionaire with the Mets, pushing huge dollar amounts into the players' pockets. Part of the territory for an Atlanta team that has a mediocre TV deal and corporate ownership that is more concerned with the numbers on bottom line than in the win column.
And never is that more true than after a pandemic and the money lost from a new stadium that would have been close to full every night in the Braves' magical 2020 ride to within a game of the World Series.
So as the Braves drag their feet about making the obvious move of resigning Marcell Ozuna, there is another NL team stacking its rotation with legit, power-stuff aces.
The San Diego Padres, a roster filled with young stars and team-friendly deals like a certain bunch in Smyrna that sounds like 'Craves,' reportedly have dealt prospects and promising young players for Yu Darvish.
So the Braves have added a good (and aging) starter in Morton and the Padres have added a legit 1 in Blake Snell and now a 1B in Darvish.
I'll ask again, Fat Vader, how early is too early to start kicking them back.
Well, after today, we'll only have two more days left in 2020.
Hallelujah. (Here's Jeff Buckley's amazing version of that amazing song.)
So in terms of year end stuff, well, if you have specific questions about the year that was or the year that will be, fire away for Friday. Deal? Deal.
But in our final three days of 2020, let me offer a few words about three of the biggest takeaways of the COVID on sports, at least in my view.
Today, at No. 3, let's spend a moment about how our games will be covered moving forward.
The impact of Zoom will mean far fewer reporters on site, and in truth, it makes fiscal sense. And in a lot of ways the shutdowns and precautions of the pandemic sealed that decision.
But as just about anyone who has worked a beat — regardless of level, be it the Pittsburgh Steelers or the South Pittsburg Pirates — can attest, it will mean worse stories and lesser reporting.
The outcomes of the pandemic truly only hastened this decision, because the ever-reaching control of the message and who reported could speak with — especially on the college level — is every bit as much as these decisions moving forward as the ripple effects of the COVID.
Heck, we're going to have more and more announcing teams call games from their basement at the highest levels of sports.
This is already happening and will become standard operation procedure sooner rather than later and remain long after we all are vaccinated. (Hopefully, we all get vaccinated that is.)
And the reason is not precaution, it's preventing costs.
This and that
— Yes, I know I said I would have the Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success (Bowler Optional) scores. Well, stop if you've heard this one before, but I got covered up and there you go. On a serious note, my long-time lap top is ill and in the shop. Man, I've had that thing longer than Spy has had some of his undergarments. Spy, you still wear the old Snuffy Smith red long johns in the winter. (Side question: Which is the more dated, old-man reference there, Snuffy Smith or long johns?)
— How crazy is the NFL right now, and how does attrition play an imaginable role all things consideried? Glad I asked. Well, in a tens of billions of dollars a year industry, the biggest game of the season for two billion-dollar operations in which Arizona and the L.A. Rams will face off and the winner gets into the dance and the loser goes home, the teams likely will turn to Chris Streveler and John Wolford at quarterback because of injuries to Kyler Murray and Jared Goff, respectively. So there's that.
— Not to get too far off the deep end in the non-sports pool of modern conversation but I am 100 percent against the $2,000 stimulus check that is being discusse and looks likely to pass. Could not be more against it, if every check came with the Alabama logo on it. Dear Lord, will we ever learn that borrowing against the future never works, and instead of adding $1 trillion to the ever-expanding debt with the proposed $600 aid, now we're tripling that? Holy Buckets of economic incompetence. And when you start to read about the layers of pork — from both sides — in the bill, it makes me want to vote them all out of office for political malpractice. Washington, you stink.
— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on Alabama aiming to reclaim its defensive dominance. And here he writes of the underdog motivation of Cincinnati that scares every Bulldogs Backer like Jules and Alejandro every bowl season.
— We are on vacation this week, so there will be no A2s. See you there next year.
True or false, it's Tuesday after all.
True or false, you know what 'rolling a yard' and who Snuffy Smith is, without looking it up.
Follow up: If you answered true about, true or false, you are older than 50.
True or false, Trevor Lawrence will be a star in the NFL.
True or false, the Braves will resign Marcell Ozuna now that the Padres have made these moves.
True or false, the $2,000 stimulus to every American is a good idea.
As for today, Dec. 29, let's review.
Jon Voight is 82 today.
What's on Voight's Rushmore? Discuss, and be careful out there friends.