NFL Today – On the Field And In The Booth

It has been a while since I had the chance to comment on NFL matters that have on-field implications beyond what people are going to call the Washington franchise this year.  So, let me do a little catching up with a comment on the Jets trading away safety, Jamal Adams.  They sort of had to make a deal sometime because Adams was clearly disgruntled over the lack of contract extension talks.  They got a deal from the Seahawks that gave the Jets two first round picks, a third-round pick and a replacement at the safety position.

Most of the folks who have analyzed this trade – or assigned grades to both teams for making the deal – focused on the Jets getting 2 first round picks as the major assets in return for Adams.  In most cases I would agree with that but my sense was that the Jets just do not draft well and so I wondered if those two first-rounders were as valuable as they seemed.

I went to Google and found a history of NY Jets draft picks leading to this summary:

  • Quinnen Williams (DT) – first round pick in 2019 – played in 13 games last year starting 9 of them – recorded 2.5 sacks and 15 solo tackles.  Ho-hum!
  • Sam Darnold (QB) – first round pick in 2018 – first two seasons have been OK but nothing more than that – a work-in-progress?
  • Jamal Adams (S) – first round pick in 2017 – excellent players now traded away
  • Darron Lee (LB) – first round pick in 2016 – now with the Chiefs
  • Leonard Williams (DT) – first round pick in 2015 – now with the Giants
  • Calvin Pryor (DB) – first round pick in 2014 – played for the Jags in 2017 and has been out of the league in 2018 and 2019.
  • Dee Milliner (DB) – first round pick in 2013 – played well in rookie year and then was out of the league after his third season.
  • Sheldon Richardson (DT) – another first round pick in 2013 – played 4 seasons with the Jets and is now with the Browns.
  • Quinton Coples (DE) – first round pick in 2012 – last played in the NFL in 2015.

That list tells me two things:

  1. Other than Jamal Adams who was just traded away, the Jets have not taken any star players with their first-round picks since 2012.  [In fact, the last bona-fide star drafted in the first round by the Jets was Darrelle Revis in 2007.]
  2. The Jets do not tend to keep their first-round picks on the team as foundation pieces for very long.

As I was reading about NFL players opting out for the 2020 season over the weekend, I ran across a listing around noon on Saturday.  At that point, 34 players had opted-out and 19 of them were either offensive linemen, defensive linemen or linebackers.  Keith Jackson used to refer to those units as the “Big Uglies”; however, don’t call them the “Big Dummies”.  Those are players who are going to be violating social distancing guidelines on every snap of the ball AND those are players who carry with them one of the “underlying conditions” for COVID-19 severity – namely high body mass index.

Over the weekend, ESPN revealed the new announcing team for Monday Night Football in 2020.  It will be a 3-man booth:

  • Steve Levy will do play by play.  He is solid in that role; he will not drown out the game with vocal histrionics.
  • Brian Griese will be an analyst.  He and Levy have worked together before and done a good job on the mic.
  • Louis Riddick will be an analyst.  I really like Riddick on the studio programming on ESPN.  If he carries over that level of performance to MNF, he will be a star.

I have to believe that the suits at ESPN want this team to be stable for a few years because the recent history of the MNF announcing crew has been an embarrassment for the self-proclaimed “World-wide Leader in Sports”.  Here is what has been on the air since Mike Tirico left ESPN to go to NBC after the 2015 season:

  • 2016-2017:  Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden called MNF.  By that point in his career, Gruden had become repetitive and annoying; McDonough could not cover that up.
  • 2018:  Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and “The Booger Mobile”:  Witten was awful; the “Booger Mobile” was transcendentally stupid; Tessitore would go into a paroxysm over a 7-yard gain.  It was a painful year.
  • 2019:  Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland in the booth.  Witten’s return to the field was an announcing “addition by subtraction”; I thought McFarland was fine and Tessitore was still hyperventilating over first downs.  ESPN decided to “go in a different direction”…

I am a little surprised that ESPN did not find a way to pry Ian Eagle loose from CBS.  He and Dan Fouts were the CBS #2 announcing team for NFL football last year.  Fouts’ contract expired after last season do Eagle will pair with Charles Davis as the #2 team at CBS this year.  The thing here is that Eagle is blocked at CBS because the #1 team there is Jim Nantz and Tony Romo.  Nantz is only 61 years old and CBS is not likely to jettison him any time soon; room just signed a 10-year contract with CBS, so he is not going anywhere either.  With that dynamic in place, I thought ESPN might have been able to do some business with Ian Eagle.  Oh well…

Finally, now that we have a short respite from hearing about contract negotiations between the Cowboys and Dak Prescott, consider this observation from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Franchised: During Dak Prescott’s contract saga, would it have been impolite to point out that the Cowboys behind Prescott were 8-8 last season?”

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