No Bracket racket
We've been forced into different places because of coronavirus. We've learned new terms. Social distancing. Flatten the curve. A new normal. The 20-second rule. That citing a place where a disease started is apparently racist to a large part of the population.
You know the drill.
Today, however, the sports absence hurt a little more. Sure, the Masters being postponed was painful. The unknown return day of so many other sports from the pros to the kids. (Gang, I had zero idea how much time the 5-at-10 clan spent rushing to this gym or that ball park until it all came to a grinding halt. Wow.)
But amid all this standstill, today is different. And way more painful.
Today — in about two hours from when this puppy hits the interwebs — forever was one of the two or three or four best days on the sports calendar.
The first day of March Madness always brought the surge of buzzer beaters, the drama of upsets, the finality of lose-and-go-home (the sport's original and best one-and-done), brackets busted or saved.
Yes, perspective during life-and-death scenarios like the one we're facing is paramount.
But dang, gang. I really missed sports today.
One shining moment. Maybe next year.
NFC QB pieces
We offered the AFC quarterback shuffle on Wednesday. Let's review the NFC today, shall we? I believe we shall.
With all the shakes and shifts, here's a look at the starters and our best guess for who will be at the most important position in sports in 2020. (Provided, of course, there is a 2020 football season.)
Dallas. Current starter: Dak Prescott. Best guess: Prescott. If there's one team that has been noticeably silent in all the NFL moves this week, it's been Dallas. Yes, the Jones clan put the exclusive tag on Dak, which means he will get around $33 million if he plays this season. But that's a big if. And they signed Amari Cooper to a five-year, $100-million deal, but they lost a slew of other dudes on defense as well. In some ways, the suspended operations because of the corona kind of helps the Cowboys a bit. Think of it this way: If Dak is really unhappy being tagged, then his recourse is to sit out. That under normal circumstances would be painful for Dallas, especially with a new coach and a new system to learn. But since there is nothing to be done at team headquarters, everyone is holding out, sort of. Alas.
New York Giants. Current starter: Daniel Jones. Best guess: Jones. Is Jones a franchise guy? I don't think anyone knows for sure, but his back half of 2019 was pretty impressive. He finished his rookie season completing 61.9 percent of his throws, 24 TDs and only 12 picks.
Philadelphia. Current starter: Carson Wentz. Best guess: Wentz. If the Eagles can stay healthy — and that has been a monster if since winning the Super Bowl — this is the time for Wentz make the move into the top 10.
Washington. Current starter: Dwayne Haskins. Best guess: Who bleepin' knows. I guess you would have to start with Haskins, who was a first-round pick last year. But if you're Washington and you're doubtful Haskins is a franchise guy — 58.6 percent completions, seven picks and seven TDs in seven starts — then you have to address that first. Which seems to be one of two directions. Remember, the Redskins have the No. 2 overall pick, which means other than Joe Burrow, they can go after anyone, including Tua. Behind door No. 2 is former MVP Cam Newton, who played at Carolina for Ron Rivera, who just happens to be the new coach of the Washington Redskins.
Chicago. Current starter: Mitchell Trubisky. Best guess: Nick Foles. The Bears appear to be done with Trubisky, who likely will be the NFL draft version of "the Trailblazers took Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan" forever considering he went No. 2 and a couple of dudes named Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson went 10 and 12. Foles was acquired Wednesday for a conditional draft pick and is familiar with Matt Nagy and the Bears system.
Detroit. Current starter: Matt Stafford. Best guess: Stafford. Is Matt Stafford a Hall of Famer? He's 18th all-time in passing yards and if he played another season or three could easily crack the top 10. He's 19th in passing TDs with 256 and, again, could climb the charts rather quickly. (John Elway is 12th with 300, for what it's worth.)
Green Bay. Current starter: Aaron Rodgers. Best guess: Rodgers. Moving on.
Minnesota. Current starter: Kirk Cousins. Best guess: Cousins. Gang, Cousins has stayed healthy, bet on himself time and time again and worked the system to an amazing place. With his recent two-year, $66 million extension, if Cousins finishes that contract at those numbers, he's going to be very close to collecting $200 million in salary as an NFL player. Kirk Bleepin' Cousins.
Atlanta. Current starter: Matt Ryan. Best guess: Ryan. Moving on.
Carolina. Current starter: Cam Newton. Best guess: Teddy Bridgewater. The Panthers are clearly moving on and have handed the keys to Teddy Bridgewater and that is a very interesting glass half full/half empty debate. I think Bridgewater at three years for $21 million per is a smart bet, but considering that Bridgewater has a) had a hard time staying healthy and b) never thrown more than 14 TD passes in a season, there has to be concern on the other side, too.
New Orleans. Current starter: Drew Brees. Best guess: Brees. Side question: Anyone else puzzled by all the Taysom Hill love? I know he's versatile and has a lot of value, but a franchise QB who is 30, never made a start behind center and played more snaps on special teams than on offense?
Tampa Bay. Current starter: Tom Brady. Best guess: Brady. Without Jameis Winston's turnovers, is this a playoff team? Hard to know. With all those much-ballyhooed weapons, will Brady reset all the passing records for QBs over 40? Possibly. Do we completely underuse the word ballyhooed? Absolutely.
Arizona. Current starter: Kyler Murray. Best guess: Murray. And just like that, the Arizona Cardinals are poised to a) make a huge jump and b) make the most of a starting QB on a rookie deal. Dealing a second-rounder and David Johnson for DeAndre Hopkins gives the Cardinals an array of skill guys as good as any team in the league. Who has a better collection of QB1-RB1-3WR group than the Cards' Murray-Kenyon Drake-Hopkins-Larry Fitzgerald-Christian Kirk?
Los Angeles. Current starter: Jared Goff. Best guess: Goff. He's kind of in the same spot Carson Wentz is, and now is the time to be a franchise guy because your getting franchise-guy coin.
San Francisco. Current starter: Jimmy Garrapolo. Best guess: Garrapolo. Is there a QB with more pressure on him heading into the 2020 season than Jimmy G? He's definitely on the short list.
Seattle. Current starter: Russell Wilson. Best guess: Wilson. Moving on.
Speaking of QBs
OK, the moves of Brady and Foles have made a majority of the headlines.
But there are three names that are out there still looking for their next gig.
Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton are guys who have posted a lot of numbers. That's two Heismans, two No. 1 overall picks and a guy in Dalton who has made three Pro Bowls and thrown for more than 31,000 yards. (Dalton is under contract on a team-friendly deal for 2020 and he could stay there, but he also could get released and the Bengals would not take a cap hit.)
But the chairs are starting to disappear as the music starts to slow.
Let's look at the three or four teams that could be interested in those guys.
New England. If the Patriots are not all-in on former Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, then they could be a locale. But man, it's hard to see Bill Belichick wanting to take on the S.S. Turnover Machine that is Jameis, no?
Los Angeles Chargers. I think a healthy Cam Newton could make some sense here — or in Washington, as we mentioned above — but I think Tyrod Taylor is a better bet than any of those other three dudes and he is already under contract.
Washington. This makes a lot of sense for Cam, but again, it's impossible to know where he may land until teams can check on his health.
This and that
— Speaking of March Madness, the final AP poll had Kansas No. 1. And, according to this story from 247sports.com of the 115 coaches polled, the Jayhawks were the pick of an overwhelming 49 of them. Gonzaga got 17 votes and Dayton got 14.
— There's a very real chance that this is the coolest thing you will see online all day. Yes, that's a time-lapse video of the 60 hours it took to build the coolest Lego thing I have ever seen. Seriously. That's 20,000 Lego pieces to make an incredible version of the famous 12th hole at Augusta National. Oh my.
— This is an excellent story from TFP all-around ace David Paschall about how painful losing the first two months of the season will truly be for the Chattanooga Lookouts. Lookouts president Rich Mozingo was excellent on Press Row on Wednesday, and goodness they are in a pickle.
— OK, we're all supposed to be social distancing and the school board is going to vote today on something as controversial as school zoning and proposed open enrollment without allowing non-essential staff and media into the meeting. Here's more from TFP education ace Meghan Mangrum.
— Here's today's A2 column on a local pizza maker making a big-time effort to help the school kids in our county who count on the school system for a vast majority of their meals. Kudos, Erik.
How awesome was that Lego thing? Crazy right?
OK, Brady and the Bucs playoffs in 2020?
As for today, well, let's review for March 19.
Well, there are some birthdays with discussing and some worth forgetting. As for the former, Happy Birthday Bruce Willis (65) and Andy Reid (62) as well as Wyatt Earp, who would have been 172.
Those to forget are Adolf Eichmann and Harvey Weinstein.
Did you know Glenn Close is 73? Seriously.
Also, 25 years ago today, Michael Jordan announced he was coming back to the NBA.
Rushmore of returns, and be creative. (And remember the Friday mailbag, gang.)