NFL power

We have frequently discussed the importance of quarterback play. It can't be overstated.

By any measure.

That said, though, it dawned that in preparing the power poll, are teams truly powerful if they are too quarterback dependent? We ask in earnest and with the knowledge of the two dramatic salary-cap narratives around the most vital position in team sports.

Scenario a) the all glorious rookie deal for a QB you can trust and then scenario b) the franchise guy on a huge-dollar deal that forces frugality across the rest of the roster.

That matters. It also matters because the powerless teams are in the process of reviewing the quarterbacks on their roster in terms of value and future return on investment. (Of the guys being debated, I think the best QB who could take the blame and move along only to find Tannehill-like greener pastures is Sam Darnold.)


1 Pittsburgh. In terms of QB dependent and excellence, the Steelers have the best balance. Why? Because they have valuable pieces across all positions. In terms of the modern hiring process, most teams looking for offensive coaching hires start with folks who have stood near Sean McVay or Andy Reid. Defensive hires have been guys connected to Coach Hoodie. Well, if I had a front office hire to make, I look at the Steelers organization, because every time a player goes down, here comes a competent replacement. That's drafting exceedingly well and maximizing those reserves when called upon.

2 Kansas City. Yes, the Chiefs are exceedingly quarterback dependent — did anyone know that Chad Henne is on the KC QB depth chart — but not unlike the Braves preemptive signings of Acuña and Albies, the Chiefs inked Patty Mahomes to a long-term, team friendly deal that extends his winning window. Want to follow the best — and maybe the most important — season within a season that is not fantasy-related or Intimidator Pool-connected? The Chiefs and the Steelers fighting for home-field advantage may seem rather insignificant because of Corona and the absence of fans and the crazed denizens at either stadium. But remember this year there are seven playoff teams from each conference, so only the team with the best record in the AFC and the NFC gets that all-important first-round bye.

3 Tampa Bay. Confused yet, because just yesterday I said Tom Brady is a true MVP candidate because of the upgrade he gives the Bucs at QB? And yes, the two-loss Bucs are behind a slew of one-loss teams in the standings — and we subscribe to the Big Tuna's "You are what your record says you are" — but this group has the pieces and insane versatility. And for good measure, they may have the best defense in the NFC.

4 Green Bay. The Packers may be the one team that defies the QB dependency scale because Aaron Rodgers is that good. Seriously, he's that good.

5 Tennessee. Above Baltimore? Yes, because the Ravens are flawed offensively. Above Seattle? Yes, because Russell Wilson is going to have to be record-setting to win with a defense allowing 35 every night. The Titans defense is starting to be a little more shaky than most of us may recall. Still, the level of guts this bunch showed down 27-7 with 23 minutes to play to the best team  in the league to get back in the game and be a makeable field-goal try away from forcing overtime screams to me that the Titans are going to be a tough out.


28 New York Giants. What do you say at this point, right?

29 Jacksonville. If you are Trevor Lawrence, Jets or Jags? Thoughts?

30 Atlanta. OK, let's play a little game. Imagine, if you will, I told you that a team had a five-point lead, had the ball and was looking to run out the last 3 minutes on the clock. On third-and-4, said team attempted a safe play-action pass to the fullback in the flat, then a paratrooper flew into the stadium and deflected the ball, which hit the line judge — who had both feet in bounds — in the head, then bounced back to the running back, who was promptly stripped by the linebacker who ran the wrong way and ran through the back of the wrong end zone for a safety. The team, now down seven, recovers the onside free kick, manages to put together a clock-draining drive, scores as time expires, goes for two and gets it to win 32-31. Your first question then has to be, "Falcons, right?" On a serious note, for NFL teams that have salary caps across the roster, but can spend anything they want on the sideline personnel, why is there not an analytics guy there with every scenario played out in terms of clock management, two-point decisions, fourth-down decisions and all the rest on every sideline? If I was a head coach, I would assuredly have that.    

31 New York Jets. Yes, the Jets are on the move up and despite being winless are out of the cellar. Yes, the Jets have less talent than the Cowboys — the Jets have less star-power than Clemson, THE Ohio State and Alabama (Side conversation: Of course the Jets would be a multiple-TD favorite over any of those college squads, but do the Jets have five players better than THE Ohio State's five best? Or better yet, how many practical positions would the Jets swap player for player with Alabama? Alabama's got as many as eight first-rounders on that team; the Jets have five first-rounders on their active roster, including back-up QB Joe Flacco. Of those first-rounders on the Jets, and considering the QB contract narrative, I think the Jets would gladly trade Darnold/Flacco for Mac Jones, I'm sure they would trade Breshad Perriman for either DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle, and tackle Mekhi Becton for Alex Leatherwood. The Jets' lone first-round pick that is a dude? Quinnen Williams from Alabama.) Still, the Jets are fighting and were right there with the Bills for a half before remembering that a) they're the Jets, and b) had 4 yards after halftime.

32 Dallas. Maybe the poster-child for the QB dependence, but you have to believe that the future QB conversations are being had because the holes elsewhere on that roster — a defense that is too cute and over-coached, an aging offensive line, a tight end named Schultz who knows noth-ING, high-priced skill guys and little pass rush — are not going to be fixable by giving the QB $40 million. That said, as sad as any injury is and the anguish for Dak Prescott getting hurt and missing the season may be the one injury that actually could increase his value because without him in the room, this bunch has quit. Yes, that's on the coaching staff first and foremost, but if Dak had stayed healthy and these Cowboys go 7-9 or 8-8 and get hammered in the opening round of the playoffs, would that be a better or worse statement of his worth?    

College hoops bounced from bubble

So that's a wrap before it was ever unwrapped.

The plans to have college basketball events in bubbles at Disney, not unlike the NBA did, have been scrapped.

ESPN and the college basketball bigwigs could not come to terms on as many as 10 bubblized tournaments at Disney World. In the announcement, the details hinged on testing protocols and bubble issues.

That makes sense and in this day and time, being comfortable with the details is ever important.

But is it too big a leap to think that there are a lot of layers to this considering the reach?

Consider the following:  

> Basketball coaches everywhere hate how much attention football, which in turn leads basketball coaches wanting the same kowtowing and allowances.

> ESPN is not in a position to bite the financial bullet on anything these days, especially when the TV numbers are plummeting across every sport.

As for that last one, ESPN pushed a lot of chips and made a lot of sacrifices for the NBA. The NBA reported that they were $1.5 billion short of revenue projections and the bubble cost them $250 million.

And ESPN also lost a pretty penny considering the tanking ratings across all sports, but especially in the NBA.

So it's hard to see how the TV projections in terms of viewers and advertisers would make ESPN super eager to share the expenses with the college programs, especially if those elite programs are expecting to turn profits from being at these tournaments.


To add some extra mettle to argument of the fiscal terms being as important as physical terms, ESPN is still trying to work out the details for two tournaments, the Champions Classic and the Jimmy V Classic.

The Champions Classic produced the most-watched games of last season since we were without March Madness, and with a field of Michigan State vs. Duke and Kansas vs. Kentucky, it would have been the most-watched non-postseason games this season too.

The Jimmy V event is worth the sacrifice for ESPN because of the brand and the cause, and in a lot of ways, likely is a tax-deductible deal.

Awful middle school acts, future impact

I'm genuinely curious about how this story makes you feel friends.

Arizona picked an Ohio hockey player in the fourth round of the recent NHL draft.

Details have emerged about Mitchell Miller's hazing and bullying and allegations of racism when Miller was an eighth-grader. The details are wretched and evil and regardless of color, I don't know of any parent anywhere who can not be outraged by the bullying and hazing of anyone, especially a classmate with "developmental disabilities." Here's the story.    

This is certainly worse than the occasional story of a young professional athlete having some rotten word choice made in either hate or poor taste. Way worse, in my view.

But I also know that I did a lot of things in middle school I would love to have do overs for. Were any of them this bad? No where close.

If you read the story, they hate-filled acts that Miller admitted to and did community service for, and please note the "boys being boys" mumbo jumbo simply does not apply here; there was a stomach-turning meanness in Miller's actions.

So should these middle-school mistakes affect his professional future? Discuss.


This and that

— Lane Train was fined $25K for a social media post and then took back to the social media to say he was going to pay it with "25,000 pennies." Yes, bad math, but I'm here for all calls of transparency in terms of officiating in the SEC. Because let's be very direct: In the SEC, where coaches are the highest paid or second-highest paid state employees in most every state, one bad call can generate a seat as hot as liquid hot magma (copyright Dr. Evil) the officials are making more and more miscues with more and more deflection and slight of hand. And I believe Greg Sankey and the SEC leadership to be smart folks, but if you hear nothing else around this word salad today, please hear and file away this: Ignoring outlandish conspiracy claims only add fuel to the fiery whispers. The only way to quash the outlandish conspiracy crowd is transparency.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on Georgia's running game, Tennessee's struggles on defense, and Alabama's plans to replace the borderline irreplaceable Jaylen Waddle. That's a full day friends.

— World Series Game 6 tonight. Dodgers win it all with a victory tonight; Tampa Bay forces a Game with a win tonight.

— Week from today is a HUGE day. That's right, the NFL trading deadline. (What? Is there something else?)


Today's question

True or false, it's Tuesday after all.

True or false, you agree with Jeremy Pruitt's assessment that the Vols are closing the gap on Alabama.

True or false, when betting goes live in Tennessee this weekend (hopefully), you will sign up.

True or false, the Dodgers win it all tonight.

True or false, the Falcons should make major deals before next Tuesday's trading deadline.

You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.

As for today, Oct. 27, let's review.

Teddy Roosevelt was born today. So was John Gotti.

Today is also national black cat day. Rushmore of most famous "bad luck" superstitions.

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Jay Greeson