Lots of people have reacted negatively to the revelations of sign stealing by Connor Stallions on behalf of University of Michigan football. A few folks – – like Coach Prime – – have minimized what happened; Sanders said even if you know what play is coming, you have to stop it. Now another “prominent voice” has been added to the “minimizing choir”; OJ Simpson said:
“All the talk of stealing of signs at Michigan. You know, I looked at Michigan play. They’re so good they don’t really need to steal signs,”
Well, there you have it. Case closed. Move along … nothing to see here.
For those other folks who might still think there is more investigating to do, let me suggest that the remedy to this sort of nefarious activity can be summarized in two words:
- Wearable technology.
If coaches used transmitters and players wore receivers, play calling on offense and defense could be accomplished without the need for any overt signaling. Even a minor level of encryption on the signals would make the process secure. The equipment need not be nearly as sophisticated as an Apple watch; it does not need Internet connectivity or picture taking capabilities; all it must do is receive a transmission and alert the player who receives the signal as to his assignment on the next play.
Moving on … I read yesterday that ten different rookie QBs have started games in the NFL so far in 2023 and that is an all-time record. The first thing that came to mind was:
- This stat probably contributes to the decline in offense around the league in 2023 both in scoring and yardage gained categories.
Then as I let my mind wander around the league thinking about QBs and rookie QBs, it settled on 5 teams whose QB situation seems dire to me. So, let me explain:
- Bears: The Bears have had a “QB situation” for about the last 70 years – – save for those years when Jay Cutler was the QB and fans in Chicago shifted their focus to wondering how a player with such talent could be as ineffective as he was. This was to be the year the team learned if Justin Fields was “the guy”; we are halfway through the 2023 season and the Bears have no more of an inkling as to the answer there than they did back in August. The kneejerk solution according to fans is to “Draft another QB in April”. Well, the Bears have done that 4 times in the last 25 years and come up with this quartet of QBs:
- Cade McNown
- Rex Grossman
- Mitchell Trubisky’
- Justin Fields
- Sometimes the answer is not so simple…
- Cards: The team needs to know the answer to two questions. First, is Kyler Murray’s knee “good”? He should be back on the field soon for live action assessment. Second, Is Kyler Murray as committed to winning NFL games as he is to winning computer games? During his year of rehab, has he been studying game film or playing Madden football?
- Giants: The team overpaid Daniel Jones. He is signed through the end of the 2026 season with a buyout clause that could kick in at the end of 2024. However, exercising that clause would cost the Giants over $22M in “dead cap money”. The current backup is Tyrod Taylor and his contract “voids” three days after the Super Bowl next February. So far, undrafted rookie, Tommy DeVito, has been unspectacular at best.
- Pats: Mac Jones signed a standard rookie contract in 2021; the Pats have him signed through 2024 with an option for a fifth year in 2025. With two-and-a-half years of evidence gained through observation on the field, Mac Jones could have a long career ahead of him as a perennial backup QB in various venues around the league. It does not seem to me that he has the potential to be a “franchise QB”. Behind Jones on the Pats’ depth chart today are Bailey Zappe and Will Grier. The Pats need a significant upgrade at the position.
- Raiders: Simply put, is Aidan O’Connell for real? Because at age 32, it is not likely that Jimmy G. is the main man going forward for the team; and certainly, at age 38, Brian Hoyer is not the “QB of the future”.
Lots of people – – me included – – think that this year’s Draft has a handful of very interesting prospects at the QB position. I suspect that at least four of these five teams will be in the market for a QB next year and there are surely other teams who might consider “adding a QB” as an element of their long-range planning. It could be a very interesting Draft coming up next April …
Finally, here is an observation by my favorite curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken:
“Suicide is belated acquiescence in the opinion of one’s wife’s relatives.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………