Posted on: January 16, 2012 5:36 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 8:20 pm

Could Peyton Manning be traded for Jim Harbaugh?

I've been trying to figure out why Colts head coach Jim Caldwell has been left twisting in the wind by Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay. Why would you tell your coach that he may or may not be back. What factors does this depend on?

Well, here's the situation the Colts find themselves in: They have an owner who just dumped his longtime and quite successful general manager, Bill Polian, along with that GM's heir apparent and son, Chris. Irsay replaced the Polian regime with some neophite.

They have a legendary quarterback who had three neck surgeries in 19 months and nobody knows for sure yet what he'll do when he comes back. Peyton Manning is also due $28 million if he's on the Colts roster on March 7.

The Colts have no other legitimate quarterbacks on the roster. They do have the first pick in the upcoming NFL draft, and the top player available is what most experts call a sure-fire franchise quarterback, Stanford's Andrew Luck.

The Colts have other holes to fill. You don't just need one player when you go 2-14. However, some of those holes are due to injuries, and some of those players may be back.

The Colts' first priority, though, must be deciding what to do with the quarterback position, the most important position on the field these days. I don't believe they can give Manning $28 million unless they're sure he'll be healthy and will be around for a while, not with Luck on the board for their plucking. I don't think there's any way they can make that decision by March 7. If both sides are willing to negotiate a later date, that's fine. But nobody will likely know just how healthy Peyton is until until training camp at the earliest. The Colts will have to draft before they know about Peyton. Being in prime position to take a QB who has been said is head-and-shoulders above all other QB prospects for the past several years, they either have to take him, or trade that pick for multiple picks and/or players. The Colts simply can't go to training camp with only an iffy Peyton Manning at quarterback.

My guess is they'll take Luck. You just don't pass that up, and I think the Colts have already decided to go that route. 

So, do the Colts keep Peyton, too? Considering the money he's due and his health unsure, I don't think so. They'll either cut him or trade him. While other teams might be leery of Manning's health, you know someone will offer up something. And something is better than nothing. 
Now, why would any of this have anything to do with Caldwell's status as Colts head coach?

First of all, I think the man Irsay wants to replace him with is still coaching in the NFL playoffs. But Irsay's not sure if that guy will be coaching his team next year. If whoever Irsay has in mind is not available or chooses not to come to Indy, I think Irsay holds onto Caldwell another season, at least. But if that right man is available, they sayonara, Jimmy C. 

I also believe whoever is coaching the Colts next year could depend on whether Manning's still the starting QB. If the Colts do decide to keep both Luck and Manning, and have Luck serve as No. 18's understudy for a while, Caldwell hangs on for a while at least.

It may sound fairly crazy to say San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is the guy Irsay is targeting. Even if old Captain Comeback (a moniker bestowed upon him during his days as the Colts quarterback) does want to come back to Indy, where he would be reunited with the quarterback who he coached at Stanford prior to this season, there's that matter of whether the 49ers would be willing to part with the coach who rejuvenated the franchise this season and led them to the NFC title game.

While the 49ers have a decent QB in Alex Smith, about the only thing they really lack is an elite quarterback. When healthy, Peyton's one of the best. However, without assurances that Manning will make it through another few full seasons, I don't believe San Francisco would simply let Harbaugh go in a one-for-one trade for Peyton Manning. But if the possibility that Manning returns to health is great enough to take a chance on... well, who knows. But if, and that's a big if... the Niners went ahead with something in which Manning and Harbaugh were the two principles, they'd need something else.

And that would be a head coach. 

If Manning were to go to San Fran, I don't think getting a great coach would be a problem. You think there's any great coaches without jobs right now who wouldn't salivate over taking the reins of that San Francisco defense, along with Peyton Manning at the controls of an offense with Vernon Davis, Frank Gore and Michael Crabtree, et al? You think Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher might be tempted to return? Or how about Tony Dungy? It's been said that Dungy's exit from Indy may have been hastened by Bill Polian's sandpaper nature around the office. Do you think Dungy would come out of retirement to coach Peyton in a situation as has been described?

With Peyton on board, maybe the Niners trade Alex Smith for something. Or keep him as insurance for a year, then trade him. After the solid year he's had this year, I think Smith would bring something of value. He'll never have the upside of Manning, but he's shown that in the right system, he can succeed. There are teams with much worse quarterbacks who would love to have him.

I think San Fran would need all the pieces in place before it pulled the trigger on such a deal. 

So, Niners fans. What do you think? If it all fell into place, would you go for it?

I'm going to add this on the end... since folks won't see my own comment to my own post:

By the way, this isn't going to happen. Someone mentioned it to me the other day and I started trying to figure out ways it could happen. But it won't. Mainly cause the Niners wouldn't let Harbaugh go without huge compensation, if at all. And the Colts don't have what the Niners would want. Peyton Manning probably won't be traded since his contract calls for $28 million no matter whose team he's on (contracts are traded, not players). In all likelihood, Manning will either retire or be released. It's highly doubtful he'll be able to show the Colts he's healthy enough by March 7 to invest a $28 million payment on.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:22 am
Edited on: January 2, 2012 11:30 am

Rodgers should beat Brees for NFL MVP

Seems there are two quarterbacks most folks consider for NFL MVP this season -- Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. Brees broke Dan Marino's records for passing yardage in one season and led the NFL in TD passes and completion percentage. Rodgers set the all-time passer rating mark and led the NFL in TD percentage, yards per attempt and was second in interception percentage and TDs thrown.

Those who like Brees enjoy pointing out his "quantity" stats: number of yards, number of TD passes, etc. Those who like Rodgers point out his efficiency, his QB rating for example, plus the fact the Pack went 14-1 with him as the starting quarterback.

Both players had great years.

But let's look at this: Brees threw 657 passes, Rodgers threw 502.

If you take Rodgers' 2011 rates and apply them to 657 pass attempts, he ends up with 6,044 yards, 59 TDs and 8 interceptions, yardage and TD marks that would have easily obliterated the current NFL records. Brees' numbers were 5,476 yards, 46 TDs and 14 picks. Brees' numbers pale in comparison. Rodgers' QB rating, which I admit can be a somewhat flawed statistic (but all stats can be somewhat flawed when viewed separately), was nearly 12 points higher than Brees' rating (122.5 to 110.6). And while Brees did set an NFL record with completion percentage, his mark of 71.2% wasn't all that much higher than Rodgers' runner-up mark of 68.3%.

It wasn't like Rodgers threw 155 fewer passes than Brees because he wasn't good at throwing the ball. And he didn't miss any games due to ineffectiveness or injury; he was just held out of the last game because the Packers didn't need to win it.

Rodgers is also a way better runner than Brees, with 257 yards and 3 rushing TDs to Brees' 86 yards and 1 TD.

Taking all these factors into account, Aaron Rodgers is your 2011 NFL MVP.
Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:10 pm

Verlander for the MVP?

1) The MVP award was designed to honor the best player (regardless of position, won/loss records, etc.) This argument that "if you took so-and-so off their team, where would they be" does not apply. If you do that, then every year we'd find a crappy team that has one great player and give the award to that guy. Nope, it's to honor the best player. I do look at a team's success as a tie-breaker sort of deal; if two players are extremely close and I can't make a decision, I might go with the one whose team has had more success... but only as a tie-breaker.
2) Just because there is a Cy Young Award does not automatically disqualify pitchers from being considered for the MVP award. There are Silver Slugger awards, too. Does that disqualify hitters from being considered? And there are Gold Gloves? Does that disqualify position players from winning MVP? No.
3) The argument that position players have a bigger effect on their team's ability to win than do starting pitchers also fails to hold water. While position players play in more games, they are not always involved in that many more plate appearances that the top starting pitchers. This year, in fact, Justin Verlander has been involved in more plate appearances than the player who I believe is in the running for AL MVP with him. Going into tonight, Verlander has faced 938 batters and had 47 fielding chances. Jose Bautista has 622 plate appearances and 328 fielding chances. That totals 975 plate appearances that Justin Verlander has control over, with Bautista having 950.
4)I don't see a case in these days where a closer has a shot at MVP. These guys don't often come into the game in stressful situations anymore. They normally show up with a lead and nobody on base in the ninth inning. Even bad closers convert 75% of their save chances now.
I'm not necessarily saying that Justin Verlander should be the AL MVP. What I'm saying is that a pitcher who has had the kind of year he has had shouldn't be discounted for the award just because of the position he plays.
To tell you the truth, I'd have a difficult time deciding between Verlander and Bautista. Since some of the numbers I consider important (ERA+ and OPS+) are very similar for these guys, I'd go to the tiebreaker and give it to Verlander due to the Tigers' success, of which he has been the most key element.
Posted on: March 5, 2011 12:12 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 11:19 am

Spanish NBA team nicknames

I see the "El Heat" played "Los Spurs" last night in NBA action. Translated into English, that means the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. I get that the NBA wants to reach out to its Spanish-speaking fans. But I don't get that putting the Spanich word for "the" on uniforms does. They don't put the English word for "the" on the uniforms. So, when they "go Spanish," why don't they just put the nickname in Spanish? If I speak only Spanish and I see the NBA is trying to attract my attention, I'm not sure I'm going to feel that throwing the word for "the" in Spanish on the uniforms and leaving the nickname in English is going to make me feel all that welcome. I'd think it would be more of a slap in the face. 
My suggestion: either figure out some other way to reach out to your Spanish-speaking community or go the whole nine yards, as they say, and replace the English nicknames with Spanish translations. In this case, we'd have the Calor (Heat) playing the Espuelas (Spurs). Or El Calor vs. Las Espuelas, if you so desire. You can even have that little hot flame thing come off the top of the l in Calor, and make the u in Espuelas a spur to keep the logo look.
It seems silly to add the word "the" when it wasn't there to begin with, then translate it into Spanish. Do one thing or the other.
Category: NBA
Posted on: January 24, 2011 9:22 pm

Cutler's physical toughness shouldn't be question

Several NFL players, not to mention fans and media members, have raked Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler over the proverbial coals for coming out of the NFC Championship game with an injured knee Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. They reason that since they didn't see Cutler on crutches, showing obvious distress or with ice on the knee, he must have not really been all that injured. They questioned his physical toughness.
I'm not sure how injured Cutler's knee was. That's something that Cutler, Bears coach Lovie Smith and the Bears trainers and doctors know the answer to, as well as a subsequent MRI. Those folks determined the guy was too injured to play at any sort of level that could help his team win. Naysayers say that Cutler was just having an awful game and wanted to be out of it.
I disagree.
For all of Jay Cutler's faults, physical toughness has never been one of them. Sure, the guy melts down when things start to go south. Sure, he's surly in public and not good with the media. He has given the appearance of being a whiner on the field. But all that has to do with his mental state of being, his mental toughness. And even with all that, he's never been accused of giving up and having no heart, just that he makes really stupid decisions when the pressure's getting to him and his back is up against the wall.
If he wanted to cop out of games, he would have done so before this; instead, the strong-armed thrower has stayed in and continued to throw pick after pick in lost causes. 
So, while I do agree that Cutler has many faults as a quarterback, physical toughness isn't one of them.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 12:26 pm

Prime Time for Milwaukee Bucks 1 Year Away

The Milwaukee Bucks burst onto the scene unexpectedly last year, featuring a talented rookie point guard, a legitimate NBA center (sorry Shaq), some intense defense and the in-season pick-up of a solid scoring shooting guard.
Some are looking for similar types of improvements this year for the Bucks. The thought here is that, for several reasons, the Bucks will plateau this year before making an even bigger splash a year from now.
I'm thinking the Bucks are a year away from making a serious run deep in the playoffs. Some reasons why it may not happen this year (although it's possible): 
1. The Celtics have one more year in their window of opportunity; they will be in a rebuilding mode next offseason and will by default move the Bucks up a spot in the pecking order. 
2. Center Andrew Bogut isn't healthy enough yet for the Bucks to get a good enough start to get homecourt advantage beyond Round 1 this year. It will take a little time for him to get into complete basketball shape, trust that his arm won't fall off and go back to being the defensive intimidator underneath that he was before the injury. 
3. New key cogs Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden need more time to gel with John Salmons, Brandon Jennings, Bogut and others before the Bucks can really scare some people. 
4. Michael Redd, who may not even play this year at all (if he does, he'll be a Steve Kerr-type outside shooter come playoff time), has his huge salary come off the books after this year, giving the Bucks that much more flexibility in shaping next year's roster. They've got a lot of pieces that other teams may find desirable after the year, plus plenty of cap room. 
5. Larry Sanders will get called for a lot of fouls this year. The rookie center, Bogut's backup, is talented. But rookies, especially centers and PFs, get called for lots of fouls. He'll be more effective next year just because of the way the NBA refs its games.
That having been said, the Bucks are pretty deep with a roster full of solid players. They won't drop off the side of a cliff when they go to the back-ups, but neither do they have elite players who can basically take a team on their backs and will them to victory. They have players who can fill specific roles, but are also multi-dimensional enough that they won't have to sacrifice too much on one end of the floor to gain at the other.
When you can't get people like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant, you go after as many of the second- and third-tier guys you can at prices that won't break your bank and go about it that way. 
Nice job by GM John Hammond thus far retooling this team from the graveyard and into a legitimate playoff club. Another year, and the Bucks may be able to really do some damage come playoff time.
Posted on: September 30, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2010 10:11 am

Is it time for MLB to leave Florida?

In the wake of star players David Price and Evan Longoria calling out Rays fans -- or more accurately -- calling more Tampa Bay area people to become Rays fans, let's take a quick look at the Rays' home attendance situation.

Tampa, currently leading the American League in winning percentage and having made it to the World Series just two years ago, is ninth in the American League in average home attendance. That kind of stinks for a team that's been so successful the past three years. However, it's three spots better than the team drew in its World Series season. So, while the raw number of fans coming into Tropicana Field may not be much higher this year than in 2008, (23,025 to 22,370), the Rays have done better holding on to the fans that do come than some of the other AL teams. Blame the economy for that. Other problems for the Rays have been that they have been horrible almost all their stay in St. Petersburg, the field isn't really that close to the bulk of the population (across the bay in tampa) and they found contaminated soil on the property.

Now, while the contamination may have been cleaned up, these factors can make it difficult for a team to build a large, rabid fan base. Not to mention that Florida is a big retiree area, and how many of those retirees have had their Social Security checks' buying power whittled away in recent years? 

Heading into the past three years, the Rays were last in the A.L. in attendance each of the previous seven years, as the honeymoon of the new team in town wore off. Most of that most likely had to do with the putrid records. But the other factors didn't help.

Where are we at now? Well, attendance has been rising for this team, albeit not very quickly. There is a movement to build a new stadium, perhaps in Tampa, that could generate more dollars for the club and more attendance. Will it be enough that Tampa will be able to keep most of the homegrown young talent that is close to going free agent? Who knows. Is it worth the risk? If you build this stadium and attendance doesn't increase over the long haul (we're expecting it will for a few years at least just due to the newness of the ballpark), then what?

Or is it time for the Rays to find a new home?

Similarly, the Florida Marlins, downstate in Miami, have had an awful time trying to draw fans. The Marlins have been last in the National league in average home attendance each of the past five years and have been 13th or worse out of 16 N.L. clubs each year since 1998. And that includes a World Series victory in 2003. Extenuating circumstances could include the Marlins dumping player salaries both times it won the Series (including 1997). But this club has been above .500 four of the past seven seasons, including 87 wins just a year ago. And attendance still fails to climb relative to other National League clubs.

Maybe Florida just doesn't want to support Major League Baseball other than in spring training. That's fine. There's no law that says they have to go see Major League regular-season games.

There are other places to try. Places like Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Louisville, Charlotte, San Antonio. I think one or two of those cities might support a Major League Baseball team. One place I think Major League Baseball will eventually have a team is in Havana, Cuba. You don't think Cubans would love to have a Major League team? Their stars right now have to defect to play in America. The tide is starting to turn ever so slightly in Cuba. One day, things will be much different, more like it was before Castro took over.

Maybe the Rays or Marlins will end up there. Who knows. All I know is that those clubs aren't being supported very well where they are at right now. Maybe that will change. But there are alternatives if it doesn't.
Posted on: September 24, 2010 7:40 am

Favre: We should have seen this coming

I always knew Brett Favre was coming back this year. As a lifelong Packer fan who has been privy to all Brett Favre for the past 20 years or so, and as a fervent supporter of his throughout the first three-quarters of his career, the routine became ingrained in my soul. Brett tries to get management to do stuff. Management caves in. Brett gets what he wants. It doesn't end in a Super Bowl victory. The only time management stood up to Brett's desires was when Brett decided to retire. "I'll show them; I'll just quit." Well, it didn't show them. And when he tried to come back to the Green Bay Packers, they basically told him "too late."
Brett came back and he did it with the Jets. And he had a dang good year, except that he wouldn't let anyone take him out when his injured thumb kept him from throwing a spiral the last several games of the year.
Then he retired again because he didn't really want to play for the Jets anyway. And by the time he decided to come back, believe it or not, the Jets had already drafted Mark Sanchez and were over the salary cap. So they had to let Brett go free agent. He left them no choice.
So, he goes to the Vikings and tells the coach when he's going to play and when he's not. Cause Brett by now is the most powerful GM in sports. And of course, he makes a stupid pass that costs the Vikings a chance to go to the Super Bowl. And then he makes it look like he may not come back unless the Vikes send a contingent of players to go tell him how much they miss him and need him. Of course, he already knew he was going to just sit out most of training camp and come back anyway and this trip to Hattiesburg, Miss., was just for show.
All along this convoluted path Brett Favre has taken the past several years (including the years of waffling every offseason with the Packers on whether he was coming back or not) he's at least wanted to play football. Sure, he's wanted to play WINNING football, and win a Super Bowl, too. But he's always enjoyed just playing football. The camaraderie, the competition, etc. 
This year, though, he admitted that the ONLY reason he came back was to win a Super Bowl. When I heard that, I thought things could very well go very wrong for him. He's not back for the competition. He's not back for the fun. He's not back for the camaraderie. He's only back cause he wants to win a Super Bowl. He doesn't care about the Minnesota Vikings players or fans. This is all about Brett Favre winning a Super Bowl for Brett Favre. It's different this time around and I bet his teammates can tell. He doesn't have the same enthusiasm anymore. Now, I know if he wins a few games, some of that enthusiasm will return. I'm not dumb enough to think his demeanor wouldn't change with a few victories.
But this return, more than all the others, is ONLY about Brett Favre winning a Super Bowl.
I see major disappointment in the man's immediate future.
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