Ten-Point Stance: Mike Freeman's NFL Notebook Heading into Week 4
Every week, the Ten-Point Stance takes a look inside the NFL. This week, the insider news, notes and quotes cover the 49ers' calculated immorality, sandwich-quarterback equivalency, the Raiders' new mascot and more.
1. The 49ers play Smith
There is little question that the San Francisco 49ers' Jed York is one of the NFL's more thoughtful and progressive owners, which makes the team's handling of the Aldon Smith debacle so mind-boggling.
This excellent post from the San Jose Mercury News' Tim Kawakami shows a lot of the flawed reasoning exhibited by the 49ers in making the decision to play Smith on Sunday, just two days after his car slammed into a tree (luckily, it wasn't a school bus) and he was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving and marijuana possession. It was the linebacker's second DUI arrest.
Whatever the team's thought process, it cut corners of general decency. Simply put, the decision was disgraceful and is a stain that will stick to the franchise for some time.
Smith's car decapitated a tree. Obviously, it could have been far worse—not just for him, but for others.
So the 49ers made the decision to play Smith. This runs entirely contrary to a decision they made regarding Demarcus Dobbs, who was arrested on a Friday last year and deactivated for a game that Sunday against St. Louis. The Dobbs situation was almost identical to Smith's, except Dobbs hit a chain-link fence and a bush.
What the 49ers did next was interesting. Almost immediately after the incident became public, the team put out a statement saying Dobbs would not travel with the team to play the Rams.
So Smith, a superstar, plays. Dobbs, a seldom-used tight end, was benched.
Making these types of decisions is an equation every bit as mathematical as the theory of relativity. The 49ers plugged in all of the variables: the embarrassment to the organization if they played Smith, the double-standard message sent to the locker room, the horrible message beamed out to the general public. They then spit out an answer like a computer. Or a Vulcan.
They came to the calculated decision that playing Smith against a good Indianapolis team was worth all of the negativity.
"It was a decision we made as an organization, as a team," Jim Harbaugh told the media after the 49ers lost to the Colts on Sunday, "that we felt was in the best interests of our team and for Aldon long-term."
None of this happened for Smith's benefit; it was all for the 49ers.
Smith entered treatment after the game, the team has since announced. So playing football helped him beat alcoholism? If that was true, why did he have two DUI arrests while playing football?
We know teams from all across sports engage in this kind of decision-making process. What makes this one different is that we rarely see a team be so blatantly callous.
2. Anchor around the neck of the Texans
Matt Schaub did the right thing after the Texans choked against Baltimore.
"I've just got to be better," Schaub told the media. Well, yes. Yes, you do.
Schaub is not good. Already this season, he has two pick-sixes. The numbers show a quarterback having an OK season, but go beyond the numbers. Great quarterbacks elevate their teams.
Schaub is mayonnaise; Tom Brady is Dijon. Mayo destroys a sandwich; Dijon turns turkey and rye into something spectacular. Yes, you come here for all of your sandwich analogies.
But you get my point. The Texans have talent all across that roster. The huge weak spot is Schaub. Look at the great passers around the league: Brady, Peyton, Eli, Rodgers, Wilson—they are players whose skills and confidence become infectious. Schaub is mayonnaise.
I've heard scouts say before that the Texans won't reach a Super Bowl with Schaub. I've always believed those kinds of statements are silly because so many average-to-bad quarterbacks have made Super Bowls (cough, Trent Dilfer, cough). I'm starting to wonder if those scouts are right.
It's not that Schaub is bad. He's just not good. And that's bad.
3. It's football, not footie
I can't get over that last play by the Chargers on Sunday, in which quarterback Philip Rivers kicked the ball like he was David Beckham. He kicked a damn football.
HE KICKED THE FOOTBALL!
If there is a football heaven—and there is—Al Davis is in it, not amused and firing someone's ass after seeing his team's ridiculous new mascot.
The Oakland Raiders will be unveiling a new mascot. Here he is: The Raider Rusher pic.twitter.com/XERNYh6xMV— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) September 22, 2013
It's like Dora and Barney had a love child.
The Raiders have to rethink this. Please. I'm begging you.
5. St. Louis fans are an angry bunch
The reaction from Rams fans, particularly the 10- to 14-year-old demographic, was extreme after I tweeted this during Sunday's St. Louis-Dallas game:
Sam Bradford is putrid.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) September 22, 2013
I was called all kinds of four-letter expletives and various forms of the word idiot and was told to get a real job. Many questioned how I get paid for this one.
All fair questions. I am an idiot, but I'm also right about Bradford. He's not particularly accurate. His smarts are OK. His arm is alright. He is a below-average quarterback. When Bradford has time to throw, he still does very little.
Bradford has 28 losses in 45 games played. It's not all his fault, but there has been little significant growth from either Bradford or his team.
And here come more hate tweets.
So, to recap, a Ravens receiver, Jacoby Jones, was busted over the head with a champagne bottle thrown by a "stripper named Sweet Pea." Allegedly. Lions receiver Nate Burleson broke his arm in a single-car accident because pizza was slipping off the seat. Allegedly. And Pacman Jones was arrested for the cabillionth time and still doesn't know how to act around cops. Allegedly.
All happening over the span of about a day. You gotta love the NFL.
7. Wharton economist breaks down draft
I found this fascinating. If what this professor says is accurate, then the NFL draft is a far greater crapshoot than we've ever known. Basically, he's saying the only way to make sense of the draft is to get as many picks as possible because 95-100 percent of the draft is chance.
8. I was wrong
I was wr-wr-wr-wr-wrong. I said Marc Trestman was a dumb hire by the Bears. Good call on my part. Trestman has done two really smart things: He's figured out Jay Cutler, and he's protected him from getting hit.
Both of those things were considered almost impossible, particularly the former. Cutler's skull had been so thick it could withstand phaser fire. That's changed. He's now poised and making fewer mistakes. I've never seen this Cutler before. Ever. And it's because of Trestman.
9. "The Red Lobster"?
Fred Smoot is, well, a character. Always has been, always will be. But he did play seven of his nine years in Washington, so when he takes both Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III out to the woodshed, you have to listen. Because he still knows that locker room.
10. More dirty Suh
Pro Football Talk uncovered the Zapruder film of dirty plays. It involved Ndamukong Suh of course. It's always Suh.
In the video, it's clear that Suh throws an elbow to the head of an opposing player. This was missed by everyone, including possibly the NFL, so PFT deserves credit for finding this. This puts an even bigger target on the back of Suh, possibly the dirtiest player in all of sports.
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