Not Used To Mediocrity ?

There cannot be any doubt that both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame once they are eligible for that honor.  No one who follows professional football can seriously doubt that assertion; they are both great quarterbacks.  At the same time, 2022 has been a difficult year for both men and for their teams as well.  This morning, both the Bucs and the Packers are 3-5 and both teams have looked inept far more often than we are accustomed to seeing.  No big deal; everyone experiences ups and downs; this is not a cataclysmic situation.

What is interesting to me is the lack of ownership both QBs exhibit here:

  • A few weeks ago, Brady said that he saw a lot of “bad football on display” around the NFL this year.  He said less pointedly that the Bucs had played some substandard football this season, but he never quite said that his performance in 2022 was not up to his earlier level of achievement and specifically that he had put some “bad football on display” in 2022.
  • About a week ago after the Packers wet the bed in a game against the Commanders, Aaron Rodgers said on a podcast that the Packers made mistakes on about 20% of their plays in that game.  He was very specific in his enumeration of the errors, but he never mentioned that some of his passes were less than perfectly placed and/or that some of his decisions might have been even remotely in error.

Without naming names, Rodgers said that there had to be accountability for mistakes and that – maybe – some players needed to have their “reps” limited if the mistakes continue.  However, from the context of his critical remarks, he was not pointing the finger at himself for any “accountability”.

Obviously, quarterbacks get too much credit for team victories and too much blame for team failures; football is a choreographed game involving 11 players “playing their role” on every snap of the ball.  But it seems to me that part of the “job description” for a quarterback is to avoid any sort of piling on to criticism that may come from fans or social media or things like that.  One important way to do that is for quarterbacks to accept some blame for lack of success.  And that acceptance needs to be more than the obligatory statement in the press room after a game where the losing QB stands up and says he has to do better next week.

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have been in the NFL for what seems like forever.  Brady has won 76% of the games he has started over the course of his career; Rodgers has won 66% of the games he has started over the course of his career.  Perhaps the issue here is that neither quarterback has learned what leadership means when the team – – and the quarterback – – are playing poorly?

One other NFL note on this morning of the 2022 trade deadline which comes later today…  The Bears appear to be going into a full rebuilding mode.  After trading Robert Quinn to the Eagles last week, the Bears just traded Roquan Smith to the Ravens yesterday.  Trading Quinn makes sense for the Bears; Quinn is 32 years old; the Bears are a young team looking to rebuild.  Trading Smith on the other hand is a bit strange:

  • Smith leads the team in tackles and is clearly the Bears’ best linebacker.
  • Smith is only 25 years old and has been a second team All-Pro twice in his 4-year career.

For whatever reason(s), the Bears did not pick up his fifth year option and the team could not reach a long term contract extension with Smith and his agent.  So, I guess that “contract question” played a part in making the trade.  The Bears will get a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick in exchange for Smith.

The trade creates an interesting situation for the Ravens once the 2022 season is over.  At that point, the Ravens will have both Lamar Jackson and Roquan Smith with expired contracts that can make them unrestricted free agents.  The “weapon” that teams have in dealing with a star player on an expiring contract is that the teams can apply a franchise tag to a player in that status and that can retain the services of that player for up to three years.  [Aside:  The mandatory 40% increase in salary from Year 2 to Year 3 on the franchise tag makes that third year a theoretical possibility more than an actuality.]  However, each team has only one franchise tag that it can apply at any time.  Two young stars with expiring contracts and only one franchise tag…  Interesting.

There is also something called the “transition tag”.  Without getting into details about the flavors of franchise tags and transition tags, the transition tag is essentially a label a team can apply that gives the team the right to match any contract offered to the player by any other team and if they choose not to match the offer, then the losing team gets draft pick compensation.  Maybe that is the Ravens’ long-term thinking about this situation?

Finally, apropos of nothing, here is an entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Hummer:  An oversized military vehicle that has been usurped by a generation of Yuppies, whose only contact with action in the desert is when they pack up their REI designer camping equipment and drive out to Joshua Tree to drop mushrooms with their golden retriever.”

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



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