What up world! This your boy Earl and I’m back with another edition of The Blog About Nothing. The NFL playoffs has reached the Championship game round, and the college football world recently crowned Ohio State as it’s National Champs. So, if you’re a fan of the pigskin your season has ended (for college fans) or will end soon if you’re an NFL fan. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Welcome to a pigskin filled blog edition.
In the National Football Conference the Green Bay Packers will travel to Seattle to face off against the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Seahawks. The Packers have played admirable football this season under injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers but I won’t give you much of a game preview. Why? It’s hard for me to see a quarterback in Rodgers, who has been limited with a calf injury, causing much damage against a defense as strong as the Seattle Seahawks. Rodgers was limited against the Cowboys, and the Packers survived and advanced due to a questionable referee call but Rodgers and the Pack will lose in Seattle.
I’m pretty confident. Why? Although Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Seattle has an amazing home field advantage, a tough defense, and a quarterback with ice water in his veins in Russell Wilson. Wilson will never be a statistical marvel, but he’s a winner and he does enough to not put his team in a bad position. Many doubted Wilson, and although a Super Bowl ring should have shut those doubters up, there were some who wondered if he could lead his team back to where they are now. Well, he has. As I stated he’ll never light the world on fire with his play but he doesn’t have to. All he has to do is feed “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch in the backfield, and keep the ball moving with his arm and legs. That’s it. He’ll do enough of that this Sunday, to get the Seahawks back to the Super Bowl.
Now, who do I think comes out of the American Football Championship to face them? Well, we have the Indianapolis Colts traveling to Massachusetts to face off against the New England Patriots. The Patriots lead by head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady seem like they have been good forever. They’ve made five Super Bowls, winning three of them (their only losses were to the New York Giants). The Colts have a good history recently, but their head coach and quarterback (Chuck Pagano, and Andrew Luck respectively) are neophytes to this game. Luck and the Colts may have just beaten the Denver Broncos (more on them in a minute) at home last Sunday but I think this challenge will be too much for them.
I’ve been a big fan of Andrew Luck since his days at Stanford and he’s definitely backed up my faith in him. However, Brady and Belichick have all the advantages this Sunday. The AFC title game is old hat to them. Playing this game won’t faze them the way it’ll likely be for Luck and his teammates. As I stated earlier the Colts aren’t new to the playoffs, and they themselves were in a Super Bowl not too long ago but many of those players are gone. With the exception of a small contingent, there aren’t too many experienced players in that locker room and I predict that will hurt them this Sunday. So, advantage Patriots and I really think we’re going to see a Patriots vs. Seahawks Super Bowl on February 1.
Those aforementioned Broncos were built to return to the big game, but as we know they won’t be. In the aftermath of their home loss to the Colts, the team parted ways with head coach John Fox. Fox won the AFC West every year he was in charge. For four seasons the Broncos, first under Tim Tebow and later under Peyton Manning was the class of the division. It’s not every day a coach has a 46-18 regular season record, with four division titles and a Super Bowl appearance gets shown the door. It was a surprising development, and Fox should get another job elsewhere but I wonder if that move will lead to some wholesale changes in Denver.
Denver has some interesting free agent decisions ahead. The Thomases are free agents. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is a free agent, as is tight end Julius Thomas. You’d have to assume that the team will franchise tag one of them, preventing that player from reaching unrestricted free agency. The team has a few weeks to negotiate but losing one of those players, or both, would be huge. Why? No one knows what quarterback Peyton Manning wants to do. Fox is gone. His offensive coordinator Adam Gase is linked to several jobs, and he likely leaves if he isn’t offered the Broncos job. Manning is known to hate change, but if he doesn’t retire will he leave Denver?
It’s my opinion that Manning retires after this season. He’s had a long and distinguished career. It’s a Hall of Fame career for sure, even if he does lead the NFL in playoff losses and only won one Super Bowl. It’s a shame his playoff record is so bad, but he is a surefire Hall of Fame player. However, he’s had several neck surgeries, played the end of this season with a quad injury and his arm strength is non existent. It should be noted that Peyton never had a strong arm, but it has been weakened even further over the years. It’s time for him to hang it up, but if he does decide to play on, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’ll be in another uniform.
He and Gase clicked well, so I can easily see him playing for a team that hires Gase. Unless, that team is scheduled to play the New York Giants next season. Peyton doesn’t want any part of the media shit show that is the Manning Bowl and I don’t blame him. Playing against little brother Eli next season, or in general, has never been something he likes to be a part of. I’d also eliminate the New York Jets from any consideration. Playing in the same stadium as little brother, and playing for a franchise he’s avoided since college (if Peyton came out of college after his junior season the Jets would have taken him since they had the #1 pick that year) obviously wouldn’t appeal.
Even though I am not a betting man, IF Peyton were to play next season and NOT play in Denver I’d look at three teams: The Tennessee Titans because it brings him back to the state where he starred in college for the University of Tennessee is an option. Another is the Cleveland Browns because team owner Jimmy Haslam is a University of Tennessee grad and booster (he was also born and raised in Knoxville which is the home of the University). I’d also throw the Houston Texans out there. I don’t think they have any interest in Manning but with that defense, if they had a proven QB they could easily make the playoffs.
Although I list the Browns I am aware that with rookie, and team lightning rod Johnny Manziel in the picture at quarterback, it’d be very unlikely but I still list them because anything can happen. Now, I don’t see Peyton playing next season but if he were to play those are my choices. We’ll see in a few weeks how it unfolds.
Speaking of the Browns, they play in the great state of Ohio and THE college football team of the State just beat the University of Oregon Ducks to win the National Championship. The Ohio State University are the champions of college football. How unlikely is that? The Buckeyes were written off before the season started when their quarterback Braxton Miller was ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury. Backup quarterback J.T. Barrett was shaky early, and that includes the second game of the season where they lost at home to unheralded Virginia Tech. That loss should have been the proverbial nail in the coffin but the team and Barrett bounced back to go undefeated the rest of the season.
However, Barrett came up with an ankle injury in the regular season finale against the University of Michigan. Barrett bounced back after the Virginia Tech loss to have the best season for a QB in Ohio State history, and although third string QB Cardale Jones came in to finish the Michigan game, the odds were against him and the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin. So, who saw Jones and the Buckeyes stomping Wisconsin into the ground? No one. Who believed he’d beat the University of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl? No one. Who really though the Buckeyes with their third string QB win the National Title? No one. Obviously. However, that’s what Jones did. He won those games with decent play, and a strong effort from running back Ezekiel Elliot. Head Coach Urban Meyer won his third title, and his first at Ohio State (the other two were at the University of Florida).
Now, Meyer has a dilemma on his hands. All three of those quarterbacks are slated to return to Ohio State. Braxton Miller was an all Big Ten player before his injury. Barrett had one of the best seasons in the school’s history, and Jones is a National Title winner. Miller has a year of eligibility left, Barrett has three years left, and Jones has two. Now, it would be hard for all three to come back and I don’t think all three do. I’d expect Miller will transfer. He already has his degree, and could transfer to another school without penalty. The chance to go elsewhere, start at quarterback and raise his already suspect NFL stock would be a smart move.
The man of the moment, Cardale Jones, is also returning to Ohio State for what will be his fourth season on campus. The redshirt junior could have gone pro, and should have in my opinion, despite making only three starts at the University. Going pro with that few starts for a quarterback is not unprecedented. Matt Cassel was a 7th round pick and he made no starts at the University of Southern California. Jay Schroeder was a 3rd round pick back in the 1980’s and he only made one start during his time at the University of California Los Angeles. So, he could have gone three and out at Ohio State but he chose to return.
In my opinion I can’t help but think that he has made a stupid decision. Yes, he wouldn’t be NFL ready after three starts. Yes, he wasn’t all that impressive in those games against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon but he’s 6’5″, 250 pounds, and he has good mobility. He’s a prototype for the position. I’m not saying he’d be a good professional quarterback but he’s already 22 years old, and he has a child on the way. If the young man sits on the bench at Ohio State next season because he’s unable to surpass Barrett or Miller, then he would have to kick himself for not cashing in his winning lottery ticket. He’d be better off, at least financially, sitting on a professional bench next season than sitting in college for free.
However, I do feel sorry for the young man. People, such as myself, flooded social media telling him what to do. We all had an opinion, and we stated that shit like we were his family or something. If he himself doesn’t feel like he’s ready, then it is his choice, but I can’t help but think he is doing himself a great disservice by returning. He wasn’t able to beat out Miller or Barrett for the starting position before, and he might not be able to once they return healthy. If he gets through spring ball and he’s still in third place, he could theoretically withdraw from school and transfer to a 1-AA school, or even enter the NFL Supplemental Draft, but no matter what he does he lost a chance to get paid. Doubt he gets that back.
So, as of now all three quarterbacks return and the odds are Barrett is the guy to go with because he’s the youngest of the three QB options. In any case Ohio State is well poised due to their most talented players being young, and with a recruiting pipeline that should keep them well stocked for future seasons. The Big Ten, a conference that has been mocked for awhile, will be one to be reckoned with nationally because Ohio State just served notice. The Big Ten ain’t going nowhere. Recognize.
It should be noted that I’m a Michigan fan. I’ve said it a million times that I’ve been a fan since I saw Desmond Howard hit the Heisman pose when I was a kid, and I’ve remained one since the team has hit the skids the past couple of seasons. I shouldn’t be rooting for a strong Ohio State, but I am. A strong Ohio State serves notice to new Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh that he needs to get it right at Michigan and in a hurry. A strong Ohio State isn’t only good for Michigan but it’s good for the whole conference. Michigan State needs to stay relevant, Nebraska needs to get back to what it once was, Minnesota needs to keep it’s new found momentum alive, Wisconsin needs to stay in the conversation, and Penn State could be the sleeping tiger in the bunch.
For a conference that many mock, including the founder of this website who has the misfortune of being a Notre Dame fan (I guess God will forgive that blunder), the Big Ten is in a position to become what the Southeastern Conference became: a conference that will stay national relevant and feared. I believe in its future. Ohio State did just serve notice. Recognize.
I’m done. Pigskin heavy edition this week and I thank y’all for reading. I’m out. Peace.
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