Two Quarterbacks…

According to a report on Yahoo! Sports, JaMarcus Russell is serious about making a comeback to the NFL. How do we know that he is serious? His weight is down to 308 lbs and he is working out at the TEST Football Academy in Florida. Yes, you read that correctly, his weight is down to 308 lbs from a high of 320 lbs. Look, if he said that he was working out to gain lots of strength and bulk and he hoped to come back to the NFL as an offensive lineman, that would make this announcement only a little less strange.

Russell is only 27 years old but he has been out of football since 2009. He has flirted with the idea of a comeback in the past – but this time he says it is for real. The problem he faces is two-fold:

    1. Clearly, he has a ways to go with regard to physical conditioning and “playing shape”.

    2. The knock on him before was that he could not – or would not – learn the subtleties of an NFL offense and/or how to read defenses. “Could not” refers to his mental capacities; “would not” refers to his dedication to the job. No amount of diet and training is going to change either of those situations.

Let me assume that JaMarcus Russell actually gets his weight down to 250 lbs and does enough conditioning to demonstrate a degree of mobility to scouts/GMs/assistant coaches in the NFL. At that point, I wonder how many teams would take the chance to invite him to minicamp in June to see if any of those workouts have improved his passing accuracy and to quiz him in film studies of NFL defenses. The only team in the NFL with a QB situation shaky enough to bring in JaMarcus Russell for a serious tryout might be the Jacksonville Jaguars – and even that might be a stretch.

This is definitely a wait-and-see situation…

Speaking of young QBs who have been less effective than anticipated on draft day, I have been reading lots of stories about why the Jets must play Mark Sanchez next year if they cannot find a way to trade him somewhere. The argument tends to go like this:

    Because of the contract extension the Jets gave Sanchez prior to the 2012 season, they must pay him $8.25M next year guaranteed and then some smaller amount in 2014. They owe him that money whether he plays or does not play a single down. Ergo, the team has so much money invested in Mark Sanchez that they cannot do anything except put him under center.

In business/accounting terminology, the Jets burdened themselves with a large fixed cost for 2013 when they signed the Sanchez contract. However, it is more than just a fixed cost, it is a “sunk cost” because they owe the money even if Sanchez never takes a snap from center. The Jets knew that prior to signing the contract; when they did so, they put themselves in this “predicament”. However, that does not mean they “have to play Sanchez”. Woody Johnson will write a check for $8.25M no matter what; so, if the Jets have a better option at QB in terms of winning games, they should play that alternative QB and pay Sanchez to model baseball caps on the sidelines during games.

The objective in the NFL is to win games and playing the best QB available is a smart strategy in terms of achieving that objective. It is really unimportant to “get your money’s worth” from a player with a fat contract unless that is part and parcel of playing the best QB available. In business, managers have to deal with the issue of not throwing good money after bad. In the Jets’ case, the money has already been thrown for the 2013 season; the Jets’ question devolves to:

    Who is the best available QB that will help the team to win the most games in 2013?

    Before anyone asks; no, I do not think JaMarcus Russell is the answer to that question…

Here are three happenings from last Sunday’s NFL Conference Championship games:

    1. Both home teams were held scoreless in the second half of their games. That has never happened before in the current playoff format.

    2. The Falcons are the first team in NFL history to lose a home playoff game by being shut out in the second half after scoring more than 20 points in the first half. [Elias Sports Bureau via]

    3. The 49ers defeated the Falcons to advance to the Super Bowl, after trailing by 17 points. Only two other teams have won a postseason game on the road after trailing by that many points, and both did it against the 49ers:

      San Francisco led Detroit, 27-7, in the third quarter of a playoff game at Kezar Stadium after the 1957 season, but the Lions scored three touchdowns in a span of 4:29, and won the game, 31-27. That was the first postseason game in 49ers history.

      San Francisco led Dallas, 21-3, in the second quarter of a playoff game at Candlestick Park after the 1972 season, and the 49ers had a 28-16 lead with less than two minutes left, but Roger Staubach led the Cowboys to a 30-28 win, with two TD passes in the final 90 seconds. [Elias Sports Bureau via]

Finally, Greg Cote had this comment in the Miami Herald about an event of minimal importance:

“Those Redskins fans known as “Hogettes” — men who wore dresses and pig snouts — are retiring, it was reported on their website. And I’m not sure which is more ridiculous. That they wore dresses and pig snouts, or that they have a website. (I am envisioning a very sad retirement party attended only by the Hogettes and Fireman Ed.)”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

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  • Ed  On January 24, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Beat out Sanchez? Russell couldn’t beat out Tebow. And as for the Jets having to play a QB because yuou paid big bucks for him? How did that work for the Seahawks with their UFA they won a bidding fight for? Oh, wait, they played the kid whose height cost him millions in the draft.. if Wilson is 6’4″ instead of 5’10” he’s likely top-10, not 75.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 25, 2013 at 9:25 am


      The thought of JaMarcus Russell trying to survive the media scrutiny of NYC is frightening. I cannot imagine a scenario where the Jets would even return a phone call from his agent.

      Lots of folks seem to confuse the “sunk cost” of Sanchez’ guaranteed money with some kind of imperative that the Jets play him at QB. I maintain that those ought to be two distinct decisions.

  • Rich  On January 26, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    The Jets are also stuck with Rex Ryan’s contract. Mr. Johnson has elected to get his money’s worth by retaining the likes of Sanchez and Ryan, but ridding the team of various assistant coaches and their general manager, who is now being blamed for forcing Woody to accept Tim Tebow and his contract. Tebow will be hung out to dry. What a mess! Perhaps the fans who are dumping their seat licenses should demand a change in ownership, if that would ever happen. If it could, Dan Snyder would be an improvement.

    • The Sports Curmudgeon  On January 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm


      The Dan Snyder of the last 2 years MIGHT be an improvement because in the past couple of years Danny Boy has hired a team of guys to run the football operation and kept out of the way – and out of the limelight. However, he has finally hired folks who know what they are doing in the modern NFL game so staying out of the way is a productive experience. If Woody Johnson had let his team of geniuses just continue to run the team by themselves, it might have devolved into a Pop Warner team.

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