My buddy Wess (from Sons of the Tundra) and I decided that it's never a bad idea to discuss football. We blindly sent each other a bunch of questions and here is the aftermath of my questions to Wess:
Brad: Shaun Hill just signed for three years to stay in San Francisco. Does Mike Martz have his next Kurt Warner on his hands? Marc Bulger? Jon Kitna?
Wess: I do think Shaun Hill will beat out Alex Smith for that job, but I don't think he shares much with Warner, Bulger, or Kitna. He's more athletic, more of a game manager type, and he's not going to be making big plays down the field. He does have a quick release, which is a must in Martz' system, but I don't see him becoming a fantasy stud.
Brad: Will Eli Manning's strong postseason play turn him into a fantasy stud?
Wess: No. Eli will not be a fantasy stud. No doubt the light appeared to go on for him about six weeks ago, and his turnaround is one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen in the NFL, but he's ALWAYS been an inconsistent QB. With that in mind, should this turnaround be all that surprising? I think he remains a high end QB2 and woe unto you who believes he's now an elite QB, fantasy or otherwise. I mean did you see some of those floaters he threw up in the Super Bowl? He put up 17 points helped by the Immacu-helmet Reception. To quote my 10-year-old neighbor, "Big whoop."
Brad: I believe the Jags--with little or no changes--are good enough to win next year's Super Bowl. Agree or disagree?
Wess: I loved the Jags going into the '07 season as a sleeper because they were so much better than their record in '06. But they're not better than their record in '07, and too many people are on that bandwagon already. I can't see Fred Taylor repeating that season at age 33, and though David Garrard is a very good QB, he's not going to keep playing at that high of a level. I think they need three things to happen in order to win next year's Super Bowl: 1) Maurice Jones-Drew has to be more involved in the offense almost like a Brian Westbrook, 2) Somebody has to step up as a legit go-to option as a receiver, or they have to import somebody who can perform that role, and 3) Their defense has to apply more pressure of the ballhawking/QB-haggling variety as opposed to simply stopping people.
Brad: What was the most under-reported story of 2007 season? It had to be Gaines Adams, right? By "Gaines Adams," what I mean is the length of his neck. Jesus! Merton Hanks has nothing on Gaines Adams.
Wess: I must have missed Gaines Adams' neck. I watched them play quite a few times, and I never noticed it. Common sense tells me there's no way it's longer than Merton Hanks' though. I think ol' Merton was adopted by a family from Thailand. The answer to your original question is that Ben Roethlisberger's rise to Tom Brady/Peyton Manning true franchise QB status was the under-reported story of the year.
(Note from Brad: I can't find a decent picture of Adams' neck, but I assure you it's the most incredible thing you've ever seen. In fact, That's Incredible! should come back just so they can do a feature on the length of Gaines Adams' neck. Anyway...)
Brad: Did Phil Rivers show you enough with his playmaking and guts in the postseason to make you believe he can lead the Chargers to a Super Bowl in the next two years (while Tomlinson is near the top of his game)?
Wess: No. Phil Rivers will have a tough time making much of a contribution at all next season. Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb didn't return to their former selves the year following ACL surgery, and they were both much better QBs than Rivers. I was very impressed by Rivers' play in the post-season, but I just saw too much David Carr in him during the regular season to believe he's going to be Super Bowl bound the next two years. But if Eli can be Super Bowl MVP, then I guess I'll believe that anything is possible. . . .even Rex Grossman redeeming himself.
Brad: What's Minnesota going to do with their QB situation? Tarvaris Jackson can't be the short-term answer, can he?
Wess: Minnesota is in a tough spot because Tarvaris has just enough promise not to discard, but he's simply an awful fit for a team with their unique strengths and weaknesses. They almost have to go with him again if J.P. Losman and Daunte Culpepper are the best options on the market, but if ever a team screamed for a 2001 Ravens-style "game manager," it's this Vikings team. Chad Pennington is the obvious solution because he's a poor fit for the Jets right now, and he should be available for the right price. But what are the chances the Jets let him go for a price the Vikes are willing to pay? If I were the Vikes, I'd have to consider paying through the nose for McNabb too. An asset at QB could be a franchise momentum changer.
Brad: Is there any chance that the McNabb situation ends well in Philadelphia?
Wess: There's a chance. I think the Eagles could be on the brink of collapse/rebuilding, but I do expect McNabb to return with a vengeance in '08. If Westbrook can stay healthy and a receiver steps up (Kevin Curtis? Another free agent?), their offense could be a big surprise in '08; on the other hand, I think their defense is about to crumble. I expect the Eagles to actually trade McNabb after NEXT season, and then go through the rebuilding process. Of course, with a nice bounce back season out of McNabb, it could be Kolb that turns into Matt Schaub instead.
Brad: Dave Lapham told me two years ago that Vince Young's potential and playing style would get his coach fired. Norm Chow, although just an offensive coordinator, was his first casualty. How do you see the Vince Young Experience playing out over the next 7-8 years?
Wess: I actually like Vince Young's future. A couple of months ago, I was asked who he reminded me of, and the inquirer brought up Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, and Donovan McNabb. He doesn't really remind me of anybody, but I'd say Steve McNair if I had to make a guess. He's tough, he's a leader and a winner, he can make plays with his legs when he has to, and the Titans offense will hold his numbers down most years. No doubt his season was tremendously disappointing in fantasy circles, but let's not forget that he had possibly the worst set of receivers in the league. I'm not saying Vince Young is Tom Brady, but look at the jump in Brady's production from the Caldwell/Gabriel crew to the Moss/Welker crew. Night and day. On a side note, I covered the Titans for a month straight at one point, and I've never seen a QB lose as many TDs to penalties, drops, and bad routes as Vince Young did in that month. He seriously should have had 8-10 more TDs just in those four games.
Brad: Will Larry Johnson ever be a top 3 fantasy RB again? Top 5?
Wess: I don't like LJ's chances of becoming elite ever again. People will point to the low YPC, the heavy workload, the foot injury, and the poor Chiefs offense (which are all very good points), but the biggest factor is that he's no longer running behind the best offensive line in the history of the NFL. They've gone from an O-Line full of Hall of Famers and Pro-Bowlers to an O-Line that is pretty much bottom of the barrel. Still, I'd like his chances much better if the Chiefs weren't so disillusioned as to believe that Brodie Croyle should ever start another NFL game. I just think LJ has too much going against him right now in addition to the fact that he'll be almost 29-years-old at the start of the season.
Brad: Where is Michael Turner headed? At what cost?
Wess: I'm not up on everybody's cap space but in just looking at need and fit, I'd say it's something like this: Chicago 25%, Detroit 20%, Atlanta 15%, Seattle 10%, Tennessee 10%, Houston 5%, Cincinnati 5%, Arizona 5%, and Carolina 5%. So I guess I'm saying there's a better than 50% chance that he goes to one of CHI, DET, or ATL. And I'll guess the price tag is similar to the one Travis Henry signed last year with the Broncos. He'll beat LaMont Jordan's Raiders contract, but he won't get Edgerrin James money.
Brad: When will Brady Quinn start a game for the Cleveland Browns? Are you a Derek Anderson guy? I am.
Wess: No, I'm not a Derek Anderson guy. I don't think he'll ever have as good of a year as he just had. I made the comparison a couple of months ago that Derek Anderson is the new Jake Delhomme: a playmaker with considerable accuracy and interception issues who is good enough to put up decent fantasy numbers some years, but he'll likely leave your NFL team feeling like they're just shy of having a franchise QB. There's definitely a place for guys like that as starting QBs in the NFL, but everybody went way overboard on his value the first couple of months of the season. My guess is that Brady Quinn starts a game for the Cleveland Browns at some point next season.
Brad: Do you think Phil Jackson is a good looking man?
Wess: No, he doesn't seem attractive to me, but I imagine chicks dig the 6'8" former athlete, HOF coach, yet intellectual and in touch with his feelings kind of thing he has going on. I always thought Cal Ripken Jr. seemed like a guy the chicks would dig, but it doesn't seem like they ever went gaga over him.
Brad: Will Sean Payton ever figure out how to get the most out of Reggie Bush?
Wess: I'm beginning to believe Reggie Bush just isn't that good. I thought he was way over-hyped coming into the league (compared to somebody like Adrian Petersen), but I still believed he'd be much more of a homerun threat than he's been. I'm not sure he can hold up to regular carries, and while he's a terrific pass catcher, I just don't know what to make of his horrific 5.0 yards per reception average. By all accounts, Sean Payton seems like a pretty innovative offensive mind, so I'm not sure what he's missing that he should be seeing.
Brad: The Houston Texans are my super-sleeper pick to win next year's Super Bowl. Schaub needs to stay healthy and an upgrade is needed at RB. But...with two monsters on the D-line, Amobi Okoye and Mario Williams, it's not inconceivable that they could make a run with a little luck. Am I crazy? Who's your way-off-the-radar pick? (By the way, my other pick would be Green Bay if Favre retires)
Wess: I like the Texans young talent a lot, but their major problem remains their division. You already have two teams from that division in the Super Bowl (JAX & HOU: nicely done Dicky V), plus the Colts figure to remain playoff caliber and Tennessee is anything but a pushover. I think the Texans are at least another year away from making the leap. I almost asked you the same question, but I decided it's too early to call before free agency and the draft. However, teams I think will surprise: Eagles, Rams, Bills, 49ers, and Panthers. If the Bears or Vikings get a legit QB, they could be in thick of it.
(Note from Brad: I never said the Jags and Texans were going to play in the Super Bowl. Jerk.)
Keep the change, you filthy animals.
Part Deux coming Tuesday afternoon.
-Brad Spieser (Brad@TwinKilling.com)