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Year End Review: My best and worst calls in 2013

December 29, 2013


Best calls


Seahawks: On September 6, 2013 I wrote, “Until the Seahawks lack of playmakers in the passing game becomes an issue I see them as the team to beat in the NFL this year….I suspect a heavy dose of Marshawn Lynch and the football IQ of Russell Wilson will get that accomplished and is the reason why I have them as my Super Bowl pick this season.” The Seahawks are the #1 seed for the NFC and are Vegas’ pick to win the Super Bowl.


Joe Flacco: In August I wrote, “I’ve been saying it for the past 6 months or ever since sports writers began making the case that Flacco deserves to be paid +$100 million so don’t think I’m saying this just because I watched one crappy preseason performance of his but Joe is going to have a very difficult season in 2013. The bullseye will be on his back as he’s not just one of the 3 highest paid players in the NFL but is also the reigning Super Bowl MVP and will be looked upon as the Ravens locker room leader with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed no longer around. He also lost Anquan Boldin to free agency, Dennis Pitta to a torn ACL, and could be without Ed Dickson for awhile so he’s going into the season with an average supporting cast. Unlike the great QBs like Rodgers, Brady, Manning, and Brees you can’t put any group of skill position players around Flacco and have it work well. His contract makes it seem like that should be the case but in reality he’s not a Top 10 QB…and I suspect the Ravens will very soon regret giving Flacco that huge contract. I have the Ravens missing the playoffs and Flacco having a statistical season that lumps him in the middle of the pack among QBs. The media will be calling his blockbuster contract a mistake by midseason.” The Ravens missed the playoffs in 2013 and it’s largely due to Joe Flacco’s horrific season. He ends the season with 22 interceptions (2nd worst in the NFL), a completion percentage of 59% (27th in the NFL), a negative TD/INT ratio at 19/22 and a QB Rating of 75 (somehow putting him at 33rd in the NFL!). He is 1 year into a 6 year $120.6 million contract and right now is neck and neck with Eli Manning for the title of most overpaid player in football. It only gets worse for the Ravens though as next year they have a $15 million option bonus due to him as well as a $6 million salary for him. Including his $29 million signing bonus and $1 million salary for 2013 that means the Ravens will be paying him $51 million over 2 years. With his first season being so abysmal it makes me wonder if he will even see his 2015 option bonus of $7 million or if they will just throw in the towel after 2 seasons. Ozzie Newsome was an idiot for signing Flacco to this deal and it will cripple the proud Ravens franchise for years to come.


Giants: I predicted in September that the Giants would miss the playoffs. “While many people look at the Giants winning 2 Super Bowls in the past 5 seasons and consider them a dynasty I look at the fact that they’ve missed the playoffs 3 of the past 4 years and consider them a team on the decline and an asterisk team for history ala the 2004 Detroit Pistons. This team will live and die by how their defensive line plays and in 2013 I think they will die by it. This time next year people will no longer be talking about the Giants as former champs but will mention them for what they truly are, a struggling team without an identity that has been habitually overrated by the media. Final thought: With the Cowboys in Week 1 and the Broncos in Week 2 I fully expect the Giants to start 0-2 and have the full spotlight of the NY media on them early this season.” That was a pretty specific and on point prediction as I stated they’d get in an early hole (started 0-6), continue having a defensive line that wouldn’t produce up to it’s reputation (JPP and Justin Tuck combined for only 11 sacks), miss the playoffs and no longer be talked about as a team that’s won 2 Super Bowls in the past 6 years but as a team that’s missed the playoffs 4 of the past 5 years. The Giants are a mess and I don’t see them being much better in the 2014.


Sean Lee: It was, without a doubt, my most controversial call of the year. When Jerry Jones signed Sean Lee to a 6 yr $42 million extension I was the only one claiming it was a bad deal. I couldn’t find anyone in the media or any of my friends who thought it was a bad deal despite the fact that Jerry Jones had just made him one of the 5 highest paid linebackers in the game. My argument at the time was, “He’s never finished in the Top 20 among LBs in tackles, never has played a full season in the NFL, provides no pass rush (0 career sacks), and isn’t an intimidator in the middle of a defense. He’s an instinctive, hard working lunch pail type guy who has a knack for making plays in the passing game. He’s a very good player but the Cowboys are paying him as if he’s a superstar and he just isn’t.” One year later and he still has never been to a Pro Bowl, never has finished in the Top 20 among LBs in tackles, never has played a full season and never has recorded a sack. He had 4 interceptions this season (“knack for making plays in the passing game”) but continues to look average or below average in a number of key areas. I said this summer that Sean Lee wasn’t a superstar linebacker and I got a lot of flack for it. Well does everyone still disagree with me or are we starting to realize that Jerry Jones once again overpaid for a player?

Preseason Top 100 Prospects List: 4 of my top 6 players in my preseason Top 100 are still in the Top 8 of my end of season Top 100 list. Yes everyone had Teddy Bridgewater and Jadeveon Clowney in their preseason lists but I had Anthony Barr and Marcus Mariota in there as well from the start and few others were with me in that regard. I also ranked Aaron Donald #15 on my preseason list when few had a 1st round grade on him (now he’s a Top 15 on EVERYONE’S Board), had Johnny Manziel with a 1st round grade before the season began (it wasn’t until midseason that Mel Kiper gave him a 1st round grade) and I didn’t have a 1st round grade on Taj Boyd (#66 on my preseason list) despite everyone else placing him high on their preseason boards. He had a disappointing year and continues to look like a player that will struggle in the NFL.


Andrew Bynum: Days after he signed with the Cavaliers I wrote, “After hearing reports that Bynum hadn’t picked up a basketball in months, was overweight, wouldn’t workout for teams, the Hawks didn’t offer him a deal either, and he only practiced once all season with the 76ers last year I changed my mind. Many a star has succumbed to injuries and never been the same since. Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill, Antonio McDyess, Ralph Sampson, Larry Johnson, etc. all were All-Stars and then poof became limited role players at best. I have a suspicion that is what is going to happen with Bynum and he went for one last cash grab. He’ll collect his $6 million, hobble through a few dozen games next season, and the Cavs won’t exercise his option for 2014. He has two very bad knees, a lack of passion for basketball, and $72.8 million in career earnings (only counting the $6 mil guaranteed in 2013). That is a combination that tells me he won’t be in the league in 5 years and the Mavs probably were smart to not offer him a contract.” To date Bynum has earned the first half of his $12.25 million salary (“he’ll collect his $6 million”) and played in 24 games (“hobble through a few dozen games”). The Cavs have until January 7th to trade or cut him otherwise he will be owed the second half of his salary. Likely the Cavs will cut him in a few days and then he will be unemployed until April when a contender like the Heat, Thunder or Clippers sign him as a backup center and hope he cares enough to be in shape for 2 months. His career looks to be winding down and his offseason signing last summer appears to have been the “last cash grab” that I designated it as on July 12th.


Worst calls


Texans: I predicted them to go 13-3 and be the #1 seed in the AFC. Instead they went 2-14, lost 14 straight games and are going to have the #1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. It could not have been a worse call on them but, if the Texans don’t overthink their pick and just stay at #1 to pick Teddy Bridgewater, I will be picking them to win the AFC South in 2014. There is just too much talent on offense and defense for this team to miss the playoffs back to back years. This was probably my worst call of the year.


Falcons: Neck and neck with the Texans as the worst call of the year was my call on the Falcons to go 12-4. I knew the Falcons had their issues when I wrote about them in September, “Their big issue is on the defensive side of the ball as they only have one above average pass rusher (Osi Umenyiora) and have a secondary full of inexperience. With Asante Samuel battling injury and age the Falcons will often be playing two rookies at cornerback and, while I thought Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford were very talented prospects in the draft, it will be a tough task to be throwing into the fire immediately like they will be. They will have their growing pains but the Falcons offense should keep the team afloat as the rookies adapt and the hope is that by playoff time they will no longer be playing like rookies. If that occurs the Falcons will be legit title contenders but if the rookies don’t develop or there are significant injuries to their defense then the 2013 title chase could be derailed as the Falcons aren’t deep and could end the season with a defense in the bottom quarter of the league.” Yet I didn’t see Julio Jones injury occurring and even if it hadn’t I’m unsure if the Falcons would be a playoff team right now. They were 1-4 with Jones and would have had to go 8-3 the rest of the way just to get to 9-7. I think 2013 was going to be a season to forget whether they had Julio for the entire year or not. The bright spot though is that 4 rookie defenders got a lot of playing time this season and LB Paul Worrilow, CB Robert Alford and CB Desmond Trufant look like future starters in 2014. That’s 3 young, cheap starters which should help Atlanta turn it around in 2014.


Angels: On June 1st I wrote, “While everyone is focusing on the Oakland A’s the Angels have shown signs that 2013 won’t be like 2012. They are 10-3 in their past 13 games and that’s despite Josh Hamilton still having an OPS below .700 and Albert Pujols only at .733 both of which are well below their career averages. Mike Trout is having another great season with 10 HR, 12 SB (appears to be on pace for another 30-30 season) and an OPS of .919. It’s only a matter of time before Hamilton has one of his patented hot streaks and in 12 seasons Pujols has never had an OPS lower than .859 so both players should revert back to form soon enough and when they do the Angels could easily go on another 7 game winning streak to put them into the thick of the AL West race. Right now it’s a two team race but I suspect that in 30 days or so the Mariners will be farther back, currently 10.5 games back, and the Angels will have made a move to close the gap. The Angels have bullpen and back of the rotation issues to deal with but any team with Trout, Trumbo, Hamilton, and Pujols is too talented to stay below .500 for very long.” Well the Angels finished 78-84 so I guess they did have the ability to stay below .500 for very long. 2013 was a tough year for the Angels as they put so much money into Hamilton and Pujols yet got mediocre returns on both. Pujols was hurt the entire year and finally shut it down late in the season while Hamilton rode a hot September (30 hits, .850 OPS) to finish with mediocre numbers overall (.739 OPS). He had such a horrific start (April his OPS was .548) that it took a good month just to get to average for him. I suspect that a comfortable Hamilton, he clearly was pressing in April after signing his big contract, and a healthy Pujols will join with uberkind Mike Trout to get the Angels above .500 in 2014. Of course with the A’s getting better every year internally and the Rangers getting better short term by mortgaging their 2019 and 2020 seasons long term I doubt the Angels will be any better than 3rd in the division. I still can’t believe the Angels have 8 more season of Pujols. Wow that was a bad contract.

For some of my other worst calls of the year simply call Joe Casey at 682-438-6261. He will go through each and every one far more thoroughly than I can. And for my final prediction I have the Cowboys losing by +20 points to the Eagles at home and being 8-8 AND eliminated from the playoffs in the final week of the regular season for a 3rd straight year. Who says parity is dead in the NFL? 

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