QBs Favre, Rodgers, Young. .. .And Baseball, Tool
On his KCBS interview yesterday, John Madden raised the possibility that Favre might be traded. Though he said Favre had told him last year that he wouldn’t play for any team other than Green Bay, Madden noted that people can change their minds.
In Favre’s case, the circumstances have changed drastically since last year. At this time last year, the Packers were still regarded as one of the top teams in the NFL. Mostly because of injuries, they had a trainwreck of a season, though. Favre, trying too hard to make up for problems elsewhere, threw interception after interception as he tried to make something good happen.
He’s made the point repeatedly that he doesn’t want to go through that again. The Packers have a new coach and new general manager, though Favre knows Mike McCarthy from the 1999 season, when McCarthy was the Packers’ quarterbacks coach. The Packers have not made significant moves to improve through free agency, and there is every indication that they are resigned to building slowly through the draft. Favre will have his 37th birthday in October. He can’t wait.
His “will he, won’t he?” routine in the offseason has been an obvious attempt to pressure the Packers into making the changes that would bring them back to contending status. The Packers haven't made those changes, so his only chance to play for a winner would be in a trade.
The problem is that the teams which need quarterbacks are usually the bad teams. Almost by definition, the top teams have good quarterbacking. Still, there are teams – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be one – who could be willing to trade for Favre, thinking he could be the piece they need to get them back to the Super Bowl.
The Raiders are also an intriguing possibility. Don’t laugh. This is a team which has played much worse than the sum of its parts, and one big reason has been the lack of a leader at quarterback. The last time the Raiders did anything was when they had Rich Gannon at quarterback. Favre is the same kind of fiery leader – and much better physically.
If Favre were to be traded, it would give Rodgers his opportunity, though under much different circumstances than first envisioned.
When Rodgers fell to the Packers last year, it was thought that he could be Favre’s understudy for a relatively short period, then have a chance to play with a good team. That isn’t happening, obviously, but he doesn’t have a choice. He will have to make the most of this opportunity – if it happens.
It’s about time for Rodgers to catch a break in his fledgling pro career. I have a lot of faith in the young man. He’s got the physical tools and the confidence to succeed. Unlike Alex Smith with the 49ers, he played in a pro-type offense in college, so he is better prepared for the NFL. I hope Favre is traded (or retires) so Rodgers will get his chance sooner rather than later.
THE MOST intriguing player in the draft is unquestionably Texas quarterback Vince Young.
Young is a superb athlete. The question is whether he’ll be a superb quarterback in the NFL, or even a good one. Comparisons are often made with Michael Vick, but Gil Brandt, in his on-line column for NFL.com, has pointed out that Vick was a quarterback who looked first to run when he came out of college while Young has looked first to pass. That’s true, but there’s still a question of whether Young is good enough to complete those passes against much tougher NFL defenses, and he also has to master an offense much different than the spread from which he played in college.
The draft projections have been all over the map, from Young going in the top three picks to falling to the bottom of the round.
One general manager lamented anonymously, “I don’t want to be remembered as the guy who passed over Michael Jordan for Sam Bowie.” When Jordan came out, Portland drafted Bowie just ahead of him. Bowie was a center who should have been a good player but was injured so much, he never had a chance to prove it. You know what happened with Jordan.
The comparison is not a good one, though. Everybody knew Jordan would be a good player in the pros, and his game was not unorthodox. Young’s is, and that’s why many think he’ll eventually be shifted to running back.
The closest thing to a consensus is that Young will fall far enough that the Raiders will have a shot at him. (That means the 49ers would have a chance to draft Young just ahead of the Raiders, but the only way they’d do that is if they could trade him. I don’t think they have anybody in the organization who’s adept enough to do that.)
Young doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Raiders, whose quarterback roster is already so crowded, but he’d probably be irresistible to Al Davis. Logic goes out the window if Davis wants somebody.
--So far, Matt Morris appears to be a very solid pickup for the Giants. He appeared very much in command in his win over the Astros yesterday. With Noah Lowry out indefinitely and Jason Schmidt not yet back to where he was two years ago, the Giants really need the consistency Morris gives them.
--The Houston pitchers came right at Barry Bonds yesterday, pitching to him whether anybody was on base or not. Perhaps they knew that Bonds had not been hitting, and that pattern might change if Barry hits a couple of balls out, but the dreaded rubber chickens didn’t come out, so we can be thankful of that. Bonds backed up Houston outfielders to the wall twice on fly ball outs and ripped an RBI single down the line and off the right field wall in his last at-bat, but he also fouled out weakly in his third at-bat, with runners in scoring positions.
--The radar gun is the scourge of baseball. In Esteban Loiza's Wednesday night loss to the Twins in Minnesota, it was reported that the stadium radar gun clocked his fast ball between 82-85 mph. Now, scouts have said their guns had him in the 88-89 mph range. None of that really matters. The problem, as A’s radio announcers Ken Korach and Ray Fosse noted frequently, is that Loiza was leaving pitches belt-high over the middle of the plate. Even if you’re throwing 100 mph, those pitches will get hammered by major league hitters.
When he was with the A’s, pitching coach Rick Peterson used to say there are four elements to pitching: Location, changing speeds, variety and velocity. He regarded location as the most important, velocity the least – but velocity is what gets the most attention, thanks to the radar gun.
LETTERS: I’ll be updating this section later today.
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