Archive for January, 2011

January 29, 2011

Could Jimmer Fredette Be the Next JJ Redick, or some other white player?

by npiller88

After (formerly #6) San Diego State got Jimmer’d this past Wednesday to the tune of 43 points, the game has begun in the minds of pundits to project college Player of the Year candidate Jimmer Fredette as an NBA prospect.

NBA players reacted to Fredette’s nationally televised smackdown of SDSU by revving the engine of the hype machine for the nation’s next great white hope. Last year’s NBA leading scorer, the freakishly long and athletic Kevin Durant (who possesses athletic advantages Fredette will never sniff), called him “the best scorer in the world!!” on twitter (his exclamation points, not mine). I’m not sure if Fredette, who is older than John Wall, was really in search of “respect” from his junior, another freakishly athletic NBA rookie talent, but that’s what he got when Wall proclaimed on twitter: “Jimmer Fredette is cold! Respect.”

Fredette leads the NCAA in scoring, at 27.4 points per game. His .421 three point shooting percentage isn’t at the top of Division I, but given the staggering number of threes he’s taken, that percentage is pretty damned impressive. His 4.2 assists per game are respectable, especially for an off guard. And with such high usage, the 1.44 assist to turnover ratio ain’t too shabby either. It’s also the worst of his college career, which speaks again to role Fredette has played as ball-controlling leader on this Mountain West leading BYU squad.

Many of his stat lines have been astonishing this year. In four of the last six games, he’s had at least 39 points, and 47 in one of them against Utah while playing only 35 minutes, the fewest of the six game stretch. Fredette has made the third most threes in the NCAA. It’s worth noting that there are better three-point shooters out there. For instance, Ashton Gibbs of Pitt, nearly the same height and weight as Fredette, is hitting on 45% of his threes, while having made only four less than Jimmer. But Gibbs lacks the versatility of Fredette as a scorer. Fredette, who doesn’t have elite leaping ability or quickness, finds a way to score inside, absorb contact and finish around the rim. The college game is filled with players who take advantage of the NCAA’s short three point shot, and linger on the perimeter, playing the role of sharpshooter. There are players who have lived out there and had very successful careers, even landing NBA gigs as a result (see Anthony Morrow of the Nets). But Fredette is not that guy. Among the top 35 leaders in three pointers made in Division I college basketball, Fredette is the leader in two point field goals. Only one other player, Andrew Goudelock of mid major College of Charleston is close. Make no mistake about it, Fredette knows how to score, and in a variety of ways.

So, the question is, will he score at anywhere near that rate at the NBA level?

History says no. But is there a little racial bias here? The early NBA comparisons Fredette has garnered have been to other good white shooters like JJ Redick. No doubt, there are clear similarities between Redick and Fredette–strong fundamentals and knock-down shooting ability. But the knock on Fredette, and guys like Redick before him, is that he is “not athletic enough.” And maybe that’s true. But what is athleticism? If it is solely defined by leaping ability and raw speed, then Fredette is probably in the bottom third of NBA guards. But if you want to include body control, concentration, and strength, Fredette is at least competitive with most young point guards in the NBA. His skill level is elite, and we can thank that father of his, as seen in many a youtube video, passing the ball to Fredette for a few of his twenty thousand shots during the day’s workout.

The projections for Fredette also seem to forget the long list of black players whose athleticism has disappointed at the NBA level thus far (OJ Mayo or Evan Turner, anyone?), and the white players who have exceeded expectations athletically (Chris Andersen, Kevin Love). A search in google for the “worst athletes in the NBA” brings up multiple lists of the “worst white players of the last 15 years” and other such tantalizing nuggets. There’s nothing wrong with the tacit understanding that there exist far more elite black athletes in the NBA than white ones. But whenever a strong white player like Fredette comes along, there are only comparisons to other white players, and often white shooting specialists at that, rather than complete offensive players (which is what Fredette is). Fredette’s game doesn’t actually resemble Redick’s as much as people think. He’s more creative finishing around the basket than Redick ever was, and has far superior body control, at least at the college level.

The only fair comparison I’ve seen thus far has been to Warriors’ guard Steph Curry (a player exceeding the expectations of many, despite athletic limitations), who has a similar inside and out game. So let’s hold it on the projections at this stage. See how the season finishes. See what the Scouts say as the draft nears. But don’t assume that Fredette’s NBA ceiling is Redick.

January 28, 2011

Friday Photo: Blake Keeps his Eye on the Ball

by Jeeves

Each Friday we bring you a funny/odd/offbeat photo from the week before. As always hover over the pics for bonus captions.

Today’s picture has Blake Griffin upping the degree of difficulty on his rebounds because the game is coming too easily.


After the jump we have two more pics

read more »

January 28, 2011

Lebron James, Hindu Guru

by Jeeves

Perhaps we were a bit too harsh on Lebron.  Maybe, just maybe, we jumped the gun on condemning him. For those of you with short memories, the entirety of the Interwebs got all up in arms over this infamous tweet:

Crazy. Karma is a b****.. Gets you every time. Its not good to wish bad on anybody. God sees everything!

At the time it was assumed that the tweet was a direct response to the thrashing the Cavaliers had received earlier in the night, which I think was, indeed, a fair assumption. Seeing how things have played out in the days since, I think that Lebron may have had an ulterior motive. I think, deep down, he wanted to show us all just how strongly he believed in the tenet of karma. As they say, let’s take a look at the tape.

This is the timeline of James and the Heat since shooting off that tweet on January 11th:

January 12th – Lebron James sprains his ankle in a 105-111 loss to the Clippers

January 13th – Lebron James sits out with his bum ankle as the Heat fall again as they get pummeled by the Nuggets 102-130.

January 15th – Lebron James is on the bench again as the Heat lose a close one to the Bulls 96-99. Chris Bosh is also felled by a sprained ankle.

January 18th – Lebron James returns to action, just in time to lose in overtime to the Hawks 89-93.

January 22nd – Lebron James and the Heat thrash the Raptors 120-103, though Dwyane Wade is felled by a migraine

January 27th – Lebron James and the Heat lose 88-93 in New York

Do you see what has happened here? Since raising the issue of karma, Lebron and the Heat have suffered through 5 losses in 6 games and 2 sprained ankles and 1 massive migraine. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but it is clear to this writer that James whipped up that tweet, not  to spite the Cavaliers, but rather to seize the opportunity to prove the existence of karma. And to that, Lebron. I say, (for perhaps the first and last time) well done!

January 28, 2011

Underrated: NHL All-Star Game

by Jeeves

I am a hockey fan; I admit it. Unfortunately, I’m not as big of a hockey fan as I was in the mid-90’s, back in the days with the likes of Chelios, Amonte, Roenick, and Belfour. Part of the reason for that is due to Bill Wirtz trying to kill hockey in Chicago, part of it is due to less leisure time than I had as an elementary school kid, and a large part of that is due to general mismanagement by Gary Bettman. I think one of the few things the NHL and Bettman have gotten right in the intervening years is the NHL All-Star Game. I’m going on the record and saying it’s fairly underrated.

Before we get into it, here’s a brief history of the NHL All-Star Game:

1947-1967: The Stanley Cup champion from the previous season played against All-Stars from the other teams preceding the start of the season, except for the 5th and 6th All-Star games where it was a team of all-stars from the Canadian based teams vs a team of all-stars from the American based teams.

1967: The All-Star Game moved to mid-season

1968: The All-Star Game became an East vs West affair, with the teams not chosen after the end of the preceding system, but at the mid-way point.

1975: Due to realignment into 4 divisions, the All-Star Game now pitted the Wales Conference against the Campbell conference.

1985: Fan balloting was started to determine the starters.

1990: The NHL skills competition was introduced.

1998: North American stars vs World Stars

2003: The game reverted back to East vs West

2011: Two players serving as captains will choose their teams from a pool of all-stars

That brings us to the present and the point of my article. I find this new wrinkle absolutely fascinating. There are so many storylines that will play into and come out of the “draft.” Bunches of questions will be answered, like which Sedin brother will be chosen first? Will the latter chosen brother rise up and play better to prove the captains wrong? Do players think as highly of Jonathan Toews, as I do? Will the captains skew towards players from their own countries? The questions go on and on and on. To be honest I may be actually more interested in the picking than the actual game. There’s also the fact that the picking will allow the public to see the actual pecking order within the NHL. Yes, there are ways to judge players and rank them, but this serves as a, sort of, straight from the horse’s mouth ranking scheme.

While this whole concept is, to be honest, a little weird, it has definitely achieved its purpose; it has increased interest in the game. Perhaps it is just me, but as I grow older, I have become less and less interested in All-Star Games. The appeal and shine have slowly come off of the games and they seem like empty exhibitions. The NHL had the stones to mix things up and inject some life into the proceedings. They have created a novel twist into something that had become increasingly rote, and for this I commend them. Brendan Shanahan deserves major credit for working on the idea and standing behind it.

I’ll also add that the NHL has the best non-ASG event. I completely and thoroughly enjoy the skills competition. The different competitions are so basic that there’s actual bragging rights that come with it. Who wouldn’t enjoy finding out who the faster player in the NBA or NFL is? Well, the NHL tells us this each year (save for Olympic years). Want to know who can hit the hardest shot? Well, the NHL sets up speed guns for that very purpose. It’s pure awesomeness; it would be akin to having MLB pitchers try and throw the fastest pitch. These are the types of questions that fans argue about over beers and think about while writing blog posts. The NHL provides a forum to answer these questions and put the arguments to rest for a year. No other sport offers that same forum (now that the NFL stopped). Yes there are events like the home run derby and the dunk contest, but it doesn’t break things down to their fundamentals the way the NHL SuperSkills competition does.

The actual game itself may end up being just as exciting as past iterations, but that’s not the point. The point is the NHL is providing novel entertainment. They are throwing in tweaks that are far more exciting than in other sports, yet how many of you honestly knew that the ASG is this weekend? Bottom line: the NHL All-Star game is totally unheralded and completely underrated.

January 27, 2011

Money on the Table – A Goodwill Gesture and a Leverage Ploy

by Jeeves

A little more than a week ago Gil Meche announced his retirement. Under normal circumstances this wouldn’t have been all that newsworthy. Meche amounted to a league average pitcher over his career (ERA+: 99) and made a well deserved appearance in the All-Star game in ’07; this isn’t what interests me about him, as those types of plaudits could describe any number of pitchers (around 114 to be exact). What I find fascinating and admirable is the fact that Gil Meche retired with $12.4 million in guaranteed salary left on the table. This isn’t football where he could have been cut and his contract would have disappeared; as long as he didn’t retire (and didn’t come into breach of contract) he would have seen $12.4 million dollars (less taxes) flow into his bank account by this time next year. His reasoning is as follows:

“I didn’t want to go try it again for another season and be the guy making $12 million doing absolutely nothing to help their team,” Meche said. “Yeah, a lot of people might think I’m crazy for not trying to play and making this amount of money. I don’t think I’m ever going to regret it.”

It’s a rare person who passes up that type of money because he’s concerned about not making the value up to his team and teammates. I don’t think there are many who would fault him for rehabbing and collecting the last year of his salary. I know I would, and that’s without even considering that the Royals have some blame in the current state of his arm. When he was clearly ailing last year, they had him go out and pitch 121 pitches and then 115 pitches his next time out, which contributed to him hitting the disabled list.

The most striking thing to me is his comment, “I don’t think I’m ever going to regret it.” This is a guy who is clearly happy with his place in life. He is grateful for the lavish amounts of money he has made in his career, and he clearly cherishes his time with the Royals despite the fact that their on-field performance was dreadful.

All this serves to contrast nicely with the rumblings surrounding Carson Palmer. According to Chris Mortenson, Palmer has threatened the Bengals with retirement if they do not trade him. He is willing to forgo the final 4 years of his contract which would see him make 50 million (unguaranteed, of course) dollars. His salary for next season will be somewhere north of $10 million.

Palmer has made a lot of money in his 7-years in the league. It’s well within his rights to end his career on his own terms, but I wonder if it makes him feel a little dirty, at all, that he’s trying to leverage himself out of Cincinnati in such a fashion. Yes, the Bengals were terrible this past year, but they are, after all, only 2 years removed from a division title in the tough AFC North.

I find it hard to believe that Palmer wants to bail out on his team so badly. This truly is his team. He’s the face of the franchise and has by far the largest cap number. I find it unfathomable that he publicly submarined his trade value by announcing that he’d rather retire than be paid handsomely to helm the Bengals’ offense. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but I feel a player should afford his organization some modicum of respect. If Carson really, really wanted out and privately met with management and gave him his ultimatum, fine. I still think he’s shirking on his contract and responsibilities, but at least that way he gives Cinci a fair shake and time to try and accommodate him while recouping some value. By letting this mess get to the public, it makes it sound like he wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Ultimately, I do care where Palmer ends up. He has the ability to still be an effective QB in the NFL, but until then, let’s all take a moment to appreciate Gil Meche the person. He gave his all to his team, to the detriment of his own health. He stuck with the Royals through all the losses. He maintained a sense of duty and loyalty to his employer, which is far too often overshadowed by the petulance normally associated with pro sports. So here’s to you Gil Meche.

January 26, 2011

My Rock Climbing Experience: Hippie Culture and Bulging Forearms

by npiller88

heels not recommended There is a place, not far from LAX, where flower children born in the wrong decade come to play. It’s called Hangar 18, and its an indoor rock climbing gym.

When my roommate shepherded me off to try my hand(s) (and legs, and arms, and sheer will) at “bouldering,” I wasn’t too worried. Sure, he did warn me that there are no harnesses. He also mentioned that his friend once shattered his tailbone after landing awkwardly. But he also said: “You should be fine,” and so I trusted him. I figured I would be fine, given the fact that I’d had ample climbing experience as a child, usually of the tree variety, and also that I am a gym rat these days. But sadly, the vanity muscles that us men tend to work on in the gym (chest, biceps), left a little to be desired here.

For all you noobs, “bouldering” is the same thing as standard rock climbing, but the heights are shorter. You might say, “well, sign me up. That sounds easy.” You would be wrong. “Bouldering” is not easy. It is very hard. The shorter rock walls just mean you have no harness or support of any kind, which can be a bit challenging when you are facing an INCLINING wall.

My first climb was a rated a “v-0.” I polished it off pretty quickly, but upon returning down I faced a crowd of enthusiasts either rolling their eyes or shaking their heads. “You didn’t use the proper color-coded holds,” said my roommate. Apparently, I had just used whatever holds were available, when in fact, the route had specific holds that had to be followed. The second run was less successful. A beautiful rock climbing goddess with a nose ring cheered me on as I tried to gain a foothold to start my next climb. As I stumbled and tumbled and failed to get set, she turned to her friend and said “oh, he’s new.” Sprawled out on the mat, I looked over in her direction and smiled about the lamest smile I’ve ever smiled. And then I got up, applied a heavy dose of chalk to my clammy hands, and set out to try a “v-2.” Before I could, my roommate explained the rating system. Apparently bouldering routes go up in difficulty according to the v rating scale, with 0 being the lowest. At this time, v-2 sounded pretty baller.

The route required me to scale a 90 degree wall and then turn myself upside down and travel to the other side by scaling a wall on a low ceiling, as if spelunking in a reverse-gravity chamber. Surprisingly, this wasn’t too great of a challenge. But when I tried to gain the next foothold, a microscopic, misshapen piece of blue plastic that would probably serve as an effective platform for an insect, failed to provide the necessary hold, and I fell again. Thank God for the soft, soft mats. This one moment repeated itself several times. But finally, after much cheering from the peanut gallery, not to mention some useful advice from my roommate (concentrate on core strength, straighten out your arms so they aren’t flexed the whole time and you won’t get so tired), I finally conquered the v-2. I asked him when I got down, with a huge grin on my face, “what’s the highest rating?” I expected 5 or 6. The answer was 14. Suddenly I didn’t feel so great about myself after taking about ten attempts at a v-2.

But when I took a break, I started to realize how these people work their way up to the higher v’s. It’s called grit. It was the goddess’ turn. Before I saw her climb, I probably would have liked to arm wrestle her (even if I would let her win for obvious reasons), but after watching her effortlessly scale a v-4, I suddenly wasn’t too sure that my arm wrestling defeat would be feigned (needless to say, we never arm wrestled). But it wasn’t just her technique (which was impressive), but also the energy and support of the group on the ground. As five or six of us sat cross legged next to the wall and watched one another take turns, shouts of encouragement rang through the air. But not “good try.” I’m talking: “Come on. Push! Do it!” Suddenly, I was getting flashbacks of the weight room. But this didn’t really have the same testosterone-fueled intensity. It was more of a earthy, focused sense of determination sustained by the energy of the group. I was new, but these people came here five or six times a week, and the culture had worked its way into their bones.

We all reeked. When you wear shoes designed to squeeze your toes into a rubbery oblivion, it can be tempting to take them off in between climbs. But there is a price to pay when such a decision is made. Still, most people didn’t seem to care. As we laid on the mats, completely exhausted, I looked around and felt at peace. The drum circle was implied.

But there is a dark side, or an awesome side, depending on your outlook. Many of the most fanatical members of the gym had gotten extremely strong, but in odd, odd places. In rock climbing, it pays to have massive forearms. But as someone who works on his chest and upper arms all the time in the weight room, the sight of novelty-size Popeye arms was a bit of a shock. Still, when guys like that showed off their one-handed, three finger pull-ups, I was a bit jealous.

I’m not sure when, but I’ll be back. Probably once the sensation in my forearms returns.

January 25, 2011

Criticism of Cutler’s Critics

by npiller88

Chuch isn't wrong on this one

Good foresight by Jeeves about this whole Jay Cutler mess. We expected Cutler-bashing, and we got it, with plenty of irrational vitriol, of course.

It is true, however, that Cutler didn’t really help his case by standing on the sidelines with nary an expression on that chubby face of his. He seemed, well, nonplussed. I can see why Bears fans let the emotion of the moment get to them and decided to throw their guy under the bus.

Body language is everything in today’s NFL, where sideline cameras cover everything coming out of the players, down to last chuckle or fart. Arizona Cardinals QB Derek Anderson can certainly attest to this after he was admonished by a local reporter for being “caught” laughing on camera in the midst of an embarrassing Monday Night Football loss to the lowly 49ers.

But the truth of the matter is that no one really fits into the “NFL player” box that the fans construct (Ok, maybe Brett Favre does, but to a fault). Players react to adversity in different ways. There is no one acceptable emotional response to a serious injury sustained in a key game. Some would probably scream to high hell and insist on remaining in the game, even against the advisement of the team’s medical professionals (see Favre, Brett). Others might realize their fate and accept a role as a motivating cheerleader on the sideline (a guy like Ray Lewis would probably react in such a way). And others pull a Jay Cutler, complete with the glassy stare and hint of tears on the horizon. But whatever the reaction, it’s not fair to make judgments about character based on these kinds of isolated incidents. Fans expect certain displays from their beloved players. I remember a frustrated friend of mine commenting after the game that “You can bet most guys in Chicago would go out there on a broken leg if given the opportunity. Why wasn’t he at least trying to pump up his teammates?” That is probably fair. And I can certainly understand his frustration, given the emotion of the day. But the fact is, the NFL culture has become so gladiatorial in nature that all rationality gets thrown out the window. Don’t Bears fans want Cutler to be ok for next season? It was just a hard pill to swallow for them, and complaining about his attitude isn’t going to make that pill go down any smoother.

I was glad to see Sir Charles chime in today on my side. His criticism sidestepped the reporters and targeted the players who questioned Cutler’s heart. In today’s macho NFL, in which a herd mentality reigns and players feel compelled to emphasize toughness over rationality at every turn (see the widespread player reaction to increased fines in response to illegal hits) it’s nice to have a former star exposing the ludicrousness of the “toughness above all” mentality.

Chuck had this to say:

That crosses the line, because you don’t know. If you go back and start looking at all the stuff that’s been said, and clearly one of the more vocal critics was Maurice Jones-Drew, and then you find out he missed the last two games with a bad knee. And he was really the first guy who crucified Jay. You have to be careful, because in the two most important games of the year, he sat out with a bad knee. And then it really makes him look like an idiot now.

Good point Chuck. Good point.

But I’ll give the Bears fans this: Cutler was too aloof after the injury, and you could see it in his sideline demeanor. None of the players should have questioned his heart, but maybe a shot at his enthusiasm would be justified. What’s that, Chuck? You Agree?

I was very disappointed he wasn’t there trying to work with that young kid. There were a couple of shots of them on the sideline, with [Hanie] looking at pictures, and [Cutler] was just disengaged. That’s a fair criticism.

Still, It’s time to end this obsession with the thuggish mentality pervading throughout the league. When guys like James Harrison scoff at increased penalties for illegal hits by admitting that they “try to hurt people,” red flags should shoot up in the minds of fans. Hard hits are great, and make the game great. But glorifying injury inducement and questioning a guy’s heart after his knee was rendered useless is a big step in the wrong direction. Every time a guy like Sir Charles steps out of the herd, a few players who feel pressured to talk tough all the time and conceal their true feelings about safety probably smile.

January 25, 2011

The Unintended Result from Cutler’s Knee

by Jeeves

As many of us are aware, the NFL faces a potential labor stoppage this off-season. The thought of missing out on any games next year is truly terrifying, but there is the very real possibility that this thing doe not get resolved any time soon. Apparently it’s a lot harder to divvy up billions and billions of dollars than you would think.

One of the biggest issues that will be negotiated is an expansion of the regular season from 16 games to 18 games. The  owners are all for it as more games equals more ticket and, down the line, more TV revenue. The players are against it for two reasons. One is that the players want their salaries to grow by, at least, the same percentage as the season. In their view, (and I think rightfully so) their current contracts were negotiated for a 16 game season, thus they should be paid more for an 18 game season. The other reason is the toll that an additional two games will have on the players’ bodies. This is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it seems qualitatively that teams are filling up their IR more and more each year. Just look at the Saints running back depth chart or even the Packers.

This brings me to my main point. I think it all the public outrage over Cutler’s knee the players have hurt their position with regards to collective bargaining. One of their main arguing points for either more money or for a status quo with regards to the length of the season is the amount of additional punishment the players would incur. Unfortunately, the flurry of tweets and immediate armchair analysis made the players association  look far from united in that regard. All the current and former player’s blatherings about Cutler makes it sound like they would do anything to stay on the field, no matter the costs to their body. It’s football after all, they have to do what they need to for their team. Plus they’re super bad-ass and would play gladly play on torn MCL’s if given the chance. While I’m sure that it won’t have a massive effect on negotiations, the deluge of thoughts along these lines can only serve to help the owners.  Hopefully, it doesn’t come back to bite the players in the butt, but if it does we’ve at least learned that they’ll play through the pain.

January 24, 2011

Despite Bevy of Hungry Packer Fans, Roasted Bear Meat Goes to Waste

by npiller88

human is on the picnic menu

Blake Montpetit, a rabid Packers fan, ROASTED a giant BEAR at his bar in Minnesota for the Bears-Packers NFC Championship game yesterday. If it wasn’t for those pesky “local health officials,” maybe the patrons could have enjoyed a nice slab of bear meat fresh off the pork rotisserie. Yikes.

January 23, 2011

Big Ben’s Stinker Just Enough, NFL In Identity Crisis Mode

by npiller88

Unlike some QBs, Big Ben loves dogs

The Steelers are going to their third Super Bowl in six years. They’re turning into the new Patriots. Sure, their quarterback isn’t quite the model citizen/model that Tom Brady is. Sure, their coach is a hard-nosed defensive guy, not a cerebral, x’s and o’s obsessed hermit. Sure, their running back actually looks like an NFL running back instead of …Danny Woodhead. Sure, they succeed with tough defense, a relentless rushing attack, and well-timed big pass plays, instead of a meat grinder of an efficient passing game. Sure, they employ thugs like James Harrison, instead of thugs like Brandon Merriweather. But underneath it all, aren’t they very similar?

Not Really. All we heard during the regular season was that the NFL had morphed into a passing league where the smartest coach/quarterback combos succeed by sheer intellect and precision. The Patriots resurgence this season, and especially the success of Tom Brady without any legitimate playmakers  was fitting evidence of a trend being cemented. As a 49er fan who braved the Singletary era, which met its end in a flurry of false starts, awful game management, boneheaded late game meltdowns and Alex Smith stagnation at the QB position (despite the presence of strong skill players like Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis, not to mention a stellar defense headed by Patrick Willis), this all seemed quite plausible.

But a look at the Steelers recent run of success got me thinking. Here we have a team that reaches an elite level, year after year, and does so without flashy quarterback play or overly complex offensive schemes. They do have a good quarterback, but not one who gets by with precision. He just wins games, makes the right plays and sacrifices his body like no other. Here’s to Ben Roethlisberger, who never gets enough credit, and isn’t likely to in the near future, in spite of his winning resume, which can only be challenged by the likes of Tom Brady in today’s NFL. Big Ben’s stats from today’s AFC title game? Lackluster, good for a QB rating of 35.  But he’s won before, and continues to do so. Go figure.

The larger point is this: Perhaps we should be wary of jumping on certain NFL trend bandwagons. Maybe the NFL is turning into a QB-led league stressing precision passing. Maybe it’s turning into a hard-hitting defensive league. Or neither.

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