Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm Sure You'll Make a Fine Special Teamer!

From Mark Curnutte in Thursday's Enquirer:

"The Bengals appear to be lukewarm toward (Landon) Johnson, whom they consider more of a backup than a starter, though he has led the defense in tackles in three of the four seasons and played in every game since he was drafted in the third round in 2004 from Purdue."

Thank God.

This reminded me of a thread I started at the Message Board more than a month before the '07 season kicked off. The reason for starting the thread was to get people to listen to one of my original podcasts, "Weiners-Odell-Griffey." While I can admit to that podcast being unlistenable, I did make a few strong points about Landon Johnson, and just how overrated he was. I was sick of everyone speaking so highly of Johnson. There were two reasons for the love affair with him, whether people wanted to admit it or not:

1. People only looked at the statistics. So what if he threw up 100 tackles during most years--was he ever a game-changer? Tackles in football can be like batting average in baseball (i.e., not unimportant, just overrated as the main barometer of effectiveness)

2. He was a good guy. So he was a frequent guest with Lance what? Does that mean he wasn't just an average football player? Johnson won over the beat writers, as well. How many times did we have to hear Geoff Hobson go on local radio and sing the praises of Landon Jonson? Too many, right? But why...because Johnson was always willing to talk to the media, even after an embarrassing loss? Gimme a break, the guy was, is and will always be an ordinary football player.

Which brings me back to the message board post I mentioned earlier.

Let me first explain something before you just dive right in (even though I think the paragraph below sets it up nicely): I posted the link to TwinKilling, went away, and let the comments fly. As I was about to reply to a few of them I had to take off for Columbus. When I finally had a minute to share my thoughts, my original post had been commented upon by a whole bunch of people, most of them I disagreed with. So, I made one final post that addressed the strongest viewpoints since my original post. The reason I'm telling you this is so you don't think it's a natural, flowing conversation. Did I just confuse you even more? Anyway...

Without further ado, here's my unedited statement to the Message Board, from August of '07:


I never said Landon Johnson was a bad player, nor did I say everyone else considers him a great player; I merely said he's overrrated. Overrrated only means he's not as good as he's generally regarded, and from where I'm sitting Landon Johnson receives too much credit simply because he pumps out 100 tackle seasons. Am I nuts, or have I heard Marvin Lewis state how overrated the statistic of "tackles" is? Now, clearly, it's not an empty statistic, but it can be misunderstood. For instance, consider the Bengals' shaky defense, and how many extra plays they've afforded the opponent over the last few many more opportunities did Landon have to pick up extra tackles?Anyway, time to chime in on the relevant comments that were made since my initial post...

From shulasteakhouse: " IF the Bengals' go to the Sb this year, I reckon he very well could be this year's Lance Briggs."

My response: That was a joke, right? Hilarious stuff, man!

shulasteakhouse: "We should be praising players like LJ more often, and wanting more of his character, versus whining over the bum that is Odell non-stop because he does karate chops and has an amazing vertical jump, and "got screwed" for two criminal incidents and the inability to pass an NFL drug test consistently."

Me: It's beyond important to have high character guys on the team, but it's unrealistic to think ANY team has 53 "good guys" on the roster. Plus, you rip Odell, but let me axx you this: What would your reaction be towards Employee No. 51 if the Bengals won the 2005 Super Bowl, knowing full well that they wouldn't have had a chance without Thurman wreaking havoc? That's what I thought. Stop lying to yourself.

shulasteakhouse: "I'll take LJ over Odell any day - because Odell looked like crap last preseason and made as many dumb mistakes his rookie year, as he made plays."

Me: Odell looked like crap because he wasn't physically (and probably mentally) ready to play in games. And saying that he made as many mistakes as big plays,well, I don't like name-calling, but that's just a stupid thing to say. First, can you prove such an idiotic claim? Didn't think so. Second, let me ask you, why do you think turnovers were way down last season? Part of the answer is obvious: Odell wasn't out on the field, flying around and disrupting the other team. Odell is a difference maker.

booboo2280: "I have said it before and I will say it again. Just because you were the most consitant turd in the litter box doesn't mean you are anything more then a Turd. Landon is not going to be lance Briggs even if the Bengals make the superbowl. Landon is consistantly average."

Me: Thank you. Now let's make-out (or whatever)

fredtoast: "As for Landon being overrated I don't see how that is possible when he has never started a season as a starter."

Me: fredtoast, everyone in life is rated somehow, whether it's me at work, you as a parent, or Green Day's last album. So everyone can be judged to see if they are fairly rated, or over/underrated. At least that's what I think. Here's an example: I think Anna Kournikova is the most underrated athlete of all time, while I think Peyton Manning is overrated. Now obviously I am not saying that Kournikova is anywhere near Manning's greatness, but I am saying that neither is fairly rated. Landon Johnson, at least on talk radio and on message boards, is wildly overrated.

fredtoast: "Still he made a huge play in the last Steeler game when he stripped Parker of the ball at our one yard line."

Me: I forgot all about that play, or at least that Landon stripped Parker. Besides that, can anyone tell me one game-altering play he's made since his arrival in 2004?

doitagain: "I can't help but recall the '71 Dolphins with the so called "no name defense". They went 17-0 that season, on their way to winning the SB, without losing a single regular season game that year. It's true that Nick Buoniconti was eventually inducted into the HOF, but for the most part that defensive team was known for their great teamwork, as opposed to their being chock full of superstars, which they weren't."

Me: How many different ways can one say "You're wrong?" In this case, we have several. Get out your calculators, boys and girls...

1. It was the '72 Dolphins, not '71. Compared to your other crap, this is not a big deal.

2. But Buoniconti DID make the H.O.F., how can you sidestep that? He was an elite player player in his prime, and he'd been to six Pro Bowls before that season! Going to the Hall of Fame is a really big deal, you know? The Bengals franchise is forty years old and haven't sent a single defensive player to Canton. Something to consider, guy.

3. If memory serves, the nickname of "No Name Defense" was something that took on a life of it's own, and something that probably wouldn't exist today, considering the statistical research that is readily available to schmucks like us. I mean, Buoniconti, DB Dick Anderson, DL Bill Stanfill and DB Jake Scott combined for 21 Pro Bowls in their careers. And except for Anderson, all four of them went to Pro Bowls before 1972 (i.e., they were already established stars, and not unknown also-rans.). I win.

doitagain: "Bottom line, if i'm attempting to put together a winning team, i would select 22 L. Johnson type players (no-nonsense, get the job done athletes) over 22 O. Thurman type players (physically, very gifted athletes), 8 days a week."

Me: I don't even know why I argue with people like you. I'm not kidding, this comment enraged me. Well, it enraged me until I realized that you aren't the only bozo that believes crap like this. Listen, if 22 Landon Johnsons were to play against 22 Odell Thurmans the score would be something like...wait, hold on...I need to feed the computer machine the necessary details (height, weight, talent, etc.) to project an accurate score...wait, here goes...the computer machine predicted a score of Odell 381, Landon 0, which easily surpassed Georgia Tech's 222-0 thumping of Cumberland. Look, holmes, talent wins, plain and simple. And I understand you can't have a full roster of Henrys and Odells, and that you need a large number of high character dudes, but I'll say this: I'd rather have the talented scumbags than 53 Landon Johnsons, and I think every head coach would agree with me; after all, a few 6-10 seasons means they are out of a job, and Landon Johnson is a 6-10-type player. Also, there are 7 days in a week. Dope.

Section313: "Yes, Odell made some big plays when he was here, but he also drove me nuts with some of his boneheaded moves."

Me: His "Holy Shit" plays far outweighed his boneheaded plays. Which is why he was worth the on-field headaches. Plus, don't you think he would cut down on his bonehead plays in years two and three? It's a moot point, obviously, but I gotta believe he would have made great strides in that department.

That is all for now.

-Brad Spieser (