Monday, May 11, 2015

Brady gets what he deserves as NFL suspends QB for 4 games

Tom Brady was suspended for four games. The New England Patriots lost a first-round draft pick next season and a fourth-round pick in 2017 and also have to cough up a million dollars. And the NFL handed out on Monday what will not only be a popular punishment for the legions of Patriot haters, but also a deserved one.

As I wrote Sunday, Brady had to be suspended for his role in "Deflategate," no matter how murky he and the Patriots tried to make the water around it. The four-game suspension -- which Brady's agent announced he would appeal -- was exactly what I advocated. Why?

Simply, Brady seemed shady. He wasn't totally forthcoming during the investigation into the footballs deflated before the AFC championship game, and a reasonable man would assume that is because he had something to hide. Basically, the Patriots cheated and got caught -- that's how I and millions of others read it. (The Patriots don't believe they did anything wrong, though).

Remember -- and a retired judge pointed this out to me -- the burden of proof is different in a case like this. The bar is set lower, because while "Deflategate" is a juicy topic it is not a criminal investigation. Brady is an employee of the NFL, and based on its investigation it has determined that there is a preponderance of evidence that more likely than not Brady knew about and agreed with what was going on. Thus, the quarterback violated the integrity of the game.

The suspension of one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history for the first four games of this season will be one of the biggest stories in the league in 2015. New England won its fourth Super Bowl under Brady earlier this year. Now the Patriots will likely be starting Jimmy Garoppolo for a month. The loss of a first-round draft pick is also significant; the fourth-round pick and the million dollars, not so much.

The many fans who are jealous of the Patriots' success will revel in the Patriots' golden boy getting punished. But I am not happy about it for that reason. I am happy about it because Brady and the Patriots deserved it.

This was an obvious skirting of the rules, and no one on the Patriots' side has defended the quarterback with a lot of specifics for very good reason. The specifics would make him look bad. Brady will still be a first-ballot hall of famer, but Deflategate now and forever will also be a part of his legacy.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Was Shaq Thompson a luxury pick? And about those crab legs....

3 thoughts on the first day of the NFL draft:

1) I thought Jameis Winston posting a picture of himself on Instagram with a plate of steaming crab legs Thursday night after Tampa Bay selected him No. 1 showed exactly the kind of immaturity that the Bucs don't need out of Winston. I know, I know, I sound like a grumpy old man, Winston was just having fun given that old accusation of stealing crab legs from a grocery store in Florida, etc. But the guy needs to start acting more like an NFL rookie who needs to learn some things and less like an entitled Big Man on Campus. Pronto. (The picture has now apparently been deleted from Winston's Instagram account -- but it's a little late for that).

2) Pro Football Focus had this to say about Carolina's pick at No.25, linebacker Shaq Thompson of Washington: "They say linebacker, we see safety. Thompson is not good when blockers get on him, but looks a natural in coverage. How that fits in with Carolina in the short term is most interesting, because there’s no way you’re taking Luke Kuechly or Thomas Davis off the field on those passing downs any time soon.

"Thompson had the sixth highest grade in coverage of all linebackers against Power-5 opposition but was down in 25th for his work against the run. Numbers that really sum him up. We can’t fault the Panthers for not going offensive line (biggest need) given the run on linemen, but it does seem like something of a luxury pick when you’ve got some real weapons at wide receiver on the board

So was Thompson a luxury pick? Not really. Thomas Davis is the longest-tenured Panther (he also announced the pick of Thompson last night, which had a bizarre symmetry to it). TD won't last forever, and Thompson may start right away at weakside linebacker if he can beat out A.J. Klein. I'm OK with the pick if Thompson can play, but Carolina still needs help at OL, DB and RB in the next six rounds. As for PFF idea of Thompson playing safety, the Panthers don't plan to do that (nor at RB, either, although he gained 456 yards rushing as a rare two-way player for Washington)

3) Thompson made an interesting comparison last night, saying he was similar to Bucs linebacker Lavonte David in the pros. For those who don't follow the Bucs much, David is one of the few really good players that Tampa Bay has -- kind of a poor man's version of Luke Kuechly. If Thompson can become Lavonte David, everyone in Charlotte should be happy.