Matt Leinart: It wasn’t in the Cards

Posted in NCAA Football, NFL with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2010 by nathanelwell

Matt Leinart, supreme stud of the USC campus, and eternal back-up of the Arizona Cardinals, was released by Arizona on Saturday.  Not a shocker, as far as I’m concerned.  Leinart never seemed to sit well with Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.  “I think that in the end we both agreed this was probably the best thing for him, to have a fresh start” said Whisenhunt.  Leinart’s history with the Cardinals has been a rocky one, to say the least.  His social life was often scrutinized more than his contributions to the NFL.  Beer bongs, playmates, parties, and a pregnancy were headlines instead of wins, touchdowns, and playoffs.  But to be fair to Leinart, several other NFL athletes have had over-publicized social lives only to excel on the football field.  So why don’t we look at Leinart’s career statistics in Arizona to see if the Cardinals were justified in releasing him.

Matt Leinart was selected 10th overall in the 2006 NFL draft.  At the time, this was considered a steal.  After a contract holdout, Leinart became the starter for the Cardinals over veteran Kurt Warner.  He ended the 2006 season with 2,547 yards and 11 touchdowns., but had a 4-7 record as the starter.  In 2007, Leinart’s season was cut short due to a broken collarbone.  He only started in 5 games, throwing for 647 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.  His career numbers are nothing to write home about – 3893 yards, 14 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 29 sacks.  For being in the league 4 years, these numbers are mediocre, for a QB drafted at the front end of the 1st round.  Steve Clarkson, who is considered a “private quarterback guru and friend” to Matt Leinart, said “when you enter the league with a certain perception, people will continue to believe that perception no matter what you do…its unfortunate.”  Or more simply put, “perception is reality”.

So where does Matt Leinart go to next?  The most media-tantalizing location would be Seattle, where Leinart would team up with rookie head coach Pete Carroll.  But before you USC fans quiver with anticipation, the Seahawks say they see no need for Leinart.  Another rumor was that the NY Giants may consider Leinart to be a back-up behind Eli Manning.  This rumor was quickly extinguished when the Giants picked up Sage Rosenfels from the Vikings.  What option is he left with?  I vote on a reality tv show.  Wasn’t it the fourth season that Leinart was the Bachelor?  Oh wait, nevermind.  That was Bob Guiney.

Ryan vs. Schaub

Posted in NFL with tags , , , , , , , , on September 3, 2010 by nathanelwell

I was driving to work yesterday and was listening to Atlanta sports radio.  The question at hand was if the Falcons would’ve been in a better position if they kept Matt Schaub instead of trading him away for a 2nd round pick back in 2007, thus leading the way for Matt Ryan to be drafted in 2008.  There are so many different alter-realities that would’ve been caused if Schaub stayed with the Falcons, but for the sake of simplicity, lets take each QB head to head based on statistics:

Matt Ryan

08            09          08-09

Matt Schaub

08            09           08-09

CMP/ATT

PCT

265/434

61.1

263/434

58.3

528/885

59.7

251/380

66.1

396/583

67.9

647/963

67.1

YDS

3440

2916

6356

3043

4770

7813

AVG

7.9

6.5

7.2

8.0

8.2

8.1

TD

16

22

38

15

29

44

INT

11

14

25

10

15

25

FUM

2

5

7

6

1

7

RAT

87.7

80.9

84.3

92.7

98.6

95.6

RUSH YDS/TD

104/1

49/1

113/2

68/2

57/0

125/2

Matt Ryan 08 Matt Ryan 09 Matt Ryan 08-9 Matt Schaub 08 Matt Schaub 09 Matt Schaub 08-9
CMP/ATT

PCT

265/434

61.1

263/434

58.3

528/885

59.7

251/380

66.1

396/583

67.9

647/963

67.1

YDS 3440 2916 6356 3043 4770 7813
AVG 7.9 6.5 7.2 8.0 8.2 8.1
TD 16 22 38 15 29 44
INT 11 14 25 10 15 25
FUM 2 5 7 6 1 7
RAT 87.7 80.9 84.3 92.7 98.6 95.6
RUSH YDS/TD 104/1 49/1 153/2 68/2 57/0 125/2

I’m starting to think choosing Schaub or Ryan is like choosing a Big Mac or a Whopper.  You could choose either and still be happy.  But what else does each bring to the table?  (not the sandwiches, the QBs).

Matt Schaub came into the NFL with a successful college career at UVA.  He broke 22 school records including yards passing (7502), touchdown passes (56), completions (716), attempts (1069), completion percentage (.670), 300 yard games (8), and 200 yard games (20).  Schaub had two top notch campaigns in the ’08 and ’09 NFL seasons for the Houston Texans.  He set the franchise record for passing yards at 379 yards.  In 2009, Schaub led the league in passing yards (4,770), completions (396), yards per game (298), and passing attempts (583).  Matt Schaub is part of arguably the best QB/WR tandem in the NFL, the other half being Andre Johnson.  In the 2008 season, Johnson led the league in receptions and receiving yards, only to duplicate the feat in 2009 with 1569 yards.  Only one other WR in the history of the NFL went two consecutive seasons leading receiving yards – none other than the great Jerry Rice.  On top of receiving yards, Johnson went 7 games with 10 receptions, only further solidifying one of the most successful QB/WR tandems in the NFL.

Matt Ryan shined at Boston College, where he led his team to 3 bowl victories, and an overall record of 25-7.  He threw for 200 yards 15 times and is 5th all time in school history for both passing yards and completions.  Matt Ryan was picked 3rd overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2008 NFL draft.  Ryan beat out Chris Redman for the starting QB position, becoming the first QB in Atlanta since 1975 to start the season opener.  He threw a touchdown on his very first past completion.  Ryan became the first rookie QB in Falcon history to throw over 3,000 passing yards in one season.  Along with Joe Flacco, Ryan was the first rookie QB to start all 16 regular season games and lead his team to the playoffs.  He was also named AP Rookie of the Year.  In 2009, Ryan fought turf toe for a significant part of the season, but still led the Falcons to a 9-7 record, which was the first time in franchise history that the team had consecutive winning seasons.    Matt Ryan fired many of his shots to WR Roddy White.  White was 4th in the league for receiving yards in 2008, finished the season with career and franchise highs in receiving yards.  This is receiving from a rookie QB.  In 2009, White was able to break the franchise record for most receiving yards in a game, with 210.  Under Matt Ryan, Roddy White gained the 2nd and 3rd years where he had more than 1,000 receiving yards for the season.

What do I conclude from all of these statistics and accomplishments? (1) Matt Schaub is a seasoned veteran who has reached the pinnacle of his career.  The Falcons may have gotten one more season out of him, but he probably is over the hill.  (2) In Ryan, you have a young QB that played like a veteran in his first NFL season.  (3) If I wanted a franchise QB who I knew would take the Falcons to the Superbowl, then I choose Matt Ryan.  If I want a QB to help with my fantasy league, then I’d probably pick Matt Schaub.  (4)  If I’m choosing between the Big Mac and the Whopper, I would choose neither.  I always go with Taco Bell!

Roddick tanks in 2nd round of U.S. Open

Posted in Tennis with tags , , , on September 2, 2010 by nathanelwell

For the first time in his career, Andy Roddick (#9) lost in the 2nd round of the U.S. Open.  Janko Tipsarevic defeated Roddick 6-3, 5-7, 3-6, 6-7, to head to the third round for the first time.  Roddick’s play could be compared to that of a fat kid after an Oreo binge: slow and lethargic.  In my ever-so-humble opinion, Roddick lost his confidence after the 2009 Wimbledon Final defeat to Roger Federer.  In 2010, Roddick has had the capacity to win tournaments (ATP Brisbane International & ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Sony Ericsson Open), but he can’t win when it matters.  The Australian Open brought a 4th round loss to Marin Cilic, the French Open resulted in a 3rd round loss to someone whose name I can’t pronounce (we’ll say Fred Jones),  and his Wimbledon appearance…well, lets just say he lost in the 4th round to someone he had no business losing to.

Is Roddick losing steam?  Yes.  Why is he losing steam?  Himself.  Or his wife, Brooklyn Decker.  But seriously, Roddick used to be the most dynamic tennis player next to Roger Federer.  Roddick’s energy tonight was spent when he argued with a line judge over a foot fault.  Its one thing if you’re John McEnroe and can throw a tirade during one of your SEVEN grand slam titles.  Its another thing to do it and lose steam.  Could this be the end for Andy Roddick?  Will he soon bow out of competitive tennis?  How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?  There is no way to know for sure, but if I were Roddick I would start taking steroids…

ESPN Loves Brett Favre

Posted in NFL with tags , , on August 18, 2010 by nathanelwell

As I sit watching the latest episode of Man vs. Food, I couldn’t help but notice the headline on ESPN.com.  It is……brace yourselves……about Brett Favre.  If you haven’t heard, he is returning to the Minnesota Vikings because he feels that “I owe it to the Vikes” to return.  This is really no surprise.  It was just last month that multiple news outlets reported that Brett Favre was actually retiring, and by multiple news outlets I mean the dum dums at ESPN.   I’m not a journalist by any sense of the word.  But it does irritate me that ESPN has become so relative in its reporting.  a couple of weeks ago, ESPN stated that according to “multiple reports”, Favre was going to retire.  Now, it has been made public that Brett Favre IS coming back.  Again, I must reference the ingenious Onion article about Favre from 2008.  How is it that a satirical newspaper becomes more credible than ESPN?  Perhaps there should have been “The Decision” part 2, where Brett Favre stands on stage and ping pongs back and forth about his impending retirement next to the abrasive Jim Gray.  I think the big question is, what is sports journalism?  Is it beating a dead horse in the ground about Brett Favre, A-Rod, the Yankees, or the Patriots?  Or is it simply reporting the sports news, with balanced, RELIABLE, and verified stories?  I don’t know, but I am switching to Sports Illustrated.

Manny Ramirez – Help or Hurt the White Sox?

Posted in MLB with tags , , , , , , , , on August 30, 2010 by nathanelwell

What’s certain is that 38 year-old slugger Manny Ramirez is heading to the Chicago White Sox.  What’s uncertain is how effective Manny will be.  Will it be “Manny being Manny” or will he help them reach the playoffs?  Jayson Stark had a compelling article on Manny, which would place Ramirez in the “Manny being Manny” camp.  And he has some valid points.   Not to mention all of Manny’s past woes: With the Red Sox, Manny’s knees were sore, but we never knew which one.  The water-bottle-in-the-back-pocket-syndrome.  The dropped-catch-and-then-sitting-on-the-ball-disorder.  With the Dodgers, his calf and hamstring seemed to be the problem.  The positive PEDs.  The one-pitch ejections.  The impending divorce of the McCourts, the owners of the Dodgers (there is an entire web-site dedicated to their demise).

But in baseball, what ultimately matters?  In 2008 (pre-PED suspension) Manny ONLY hit .396 with 17 HR, .743 slugging percentage, and .489 on-base percentage.  This was over the next two months after he was traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers.  Can Manny duplicate these numbers with the White Sox?  He hasn’t exactly provided his “A game” over the last year and a half.  He has only played in about half of the last 260 games.  .269 batting avg.  Slugging and on-base percentages took a royal dive.  So what can make things work for Manny on the South Side?

If you ask me, Chicago is the perfect match for Manny, specifically with the antics of Ozzie Guillen.  In his usual banter-in-broken-English, Ozzie had some entertaining things to say about Manny becoming a South-sider: “I think its funny how people tell people ‘Manny being Manny’.  Hey, Manny be real…To me he’s a great guy.  He don’t have any problem with anybody…It’s two rules I have: You gotta be straight with the team and be there for the national anthem…If the guys can go there butt naked, they don’t have to wear a uniform.  They win game for me?  I’m only happy for them.”  Fair enough, Ozzie.  Essentially we’re looking at a one-month hire.  During Manny’s career, his September hitting has produced a .313 avg, 93 HR, .412 OBP, and a .604 SLG.  Why wouldn’t GM Ken Williams go after this guy?  So what if he left the Dodgers high and dry.  If I were Manny, I wouldn’t want to play for a team who has been caught in the middle of the royal McDivorce.

Brady vs. Rex = Bradysaurus Rex

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 24, 2010 by twonateshow

The NFL regular season hasn’t even begun and the Patriots and Jets are already sparring.  When Tom Brady appeared on a local Boston radio’s morning show, he was asked about the Jets’ appearance in the HBO series “Hard Knocks”.  “Honestly, I haven’t turned it on, I hate the Jets so I refuse to support the show”.  Rex Ryan replied with “He knows we hate the Patriots, so whats the difference?”  It was a surprise to see Tom Brady react in the way he did.  The Pats are used to remaining tight lipped about such issues, and they clearly stated as much when asked about the situation.  Tully Banta-Cain, an OLB for the Pats, said the following: “We just can’t focus on what they’re doing on TV, we have to focus on what they’re doing on Sundays”.  Its evident why Brady hates the Jets so much.  The Jets were brilliant with the pass rush last year.  They not only blitzed on Brady, but they did so roughly 6 times more than any other team they played against in 2009, and held Brady to an approximate 50 QB rating.

This little “riff-raff” over the airwaves will surely make for a strongly anticipated match-up between the Pats and Jets, which will take place week 2 at the Jets home turf.  They will face off again during week 13 on Monday night in Boston.  Last year, the Jets eeked out the victory during their first match-up, while the Pats drubbed the Jets in the second match-up 31-14.  The addition of Jason Taylor to the Jets defense will only improve their pass rush against Brady.  He can guarantee that they’ll be going after his legs all game long.

Can’t we all just get along?  Maybe Brady and Ryan can learn from our favorite purple friend…


An Open Challenge to all Male Professional Athletes

Posted in Sports off the field with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by nathanelwell

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said the following about accountability: “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both”.  Seeing that Eisenhower was once our President, he may have actually known what he was talking about.  After watching the unfortunate outcomes of Tiger Woods, Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes, Matt James, etc etc etc, it makes me perplexed and frustrated to see professional athletes continue to make the same poor choices again and again.

Don’t get me wrong – I am sure that being a professional athlete presents challenges that many of us would never understand.  You are considered a god, and get attention and affection that a normal Joe like me would never get.  Drinks, clothes, cars, ladies, everything that would make most men quiver with anticipation.  You get endorsements, media attention, for some of the lucky few, political recognition.  But lets not forget that whether Ben Roethlisberger likes it or not – he is immediately thrown into the “role model” arena by being a professional athlete.  Teenage football players aren’t looking up to Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, or Zig Zigler – they’re looking up to all the football players who have made it to the big show.  And for every Michael Oher success story, we seem to get three or four miserable failures.  I’m not saying that male athletes should sew themselves in a potato sack and vow to be sober for life.  What I am saying is, “DON’T BE STUPID”.  We may never know what really happened to Roethlisberger in the bar bathroom in Georgia.  But what on earth was he doing at a bar, with trashed women in the first place?

I liked what Herm Edwards said on SportsCenter, when asked about what he would say to Tiger Woods after the whole scandal became public:

#1 – The 12am rule – nothing good ever happens after midnight

#2 – Have only one of everything – one car, one house, one piece of jewelry, one wife, etc etc

#3 – Leave a good legacy

At the end of the day, will people remember a guy like Ben Roethlisberger because of his athletic prowess, or because of his barroom affairs?  Will they remember Matt James because he was a talented football recruit, or because he fell to his death after having too much to drink?  Will they remember Tiger Woods for being a golfing phenom, or because he has a loose zipper?

Are we sacrificing values because we are entitled to whatever we want?  Are we sacrificing ideals for instant gratification?  As human beings, we don’t like rules, authority, or discipline.  But living without these things doesn’t promote a life of freedom, but a life of anarchy.  And anarchy will only bring a life of poor choices and self-destruction.  Why so serious?