Play this in the background for the best experience: “Don’t Give Up On Us” by David Soul
Made famous for my generation by Starsky and Hutch with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller. I’m not exactly guaranteeing it will make sense if you are listening, but the premise will be lost entirely if you don’t at least listen to the chorus.
Essentially, this is a my collection of NFL players that, for some reason, we just can’t quit. Their ship may or may not be sinking, but we’re just excited that there is less people on it, giving us more room for activities. This isn’t the top 22, because that would be filled with just starting and back-up QBs, along with Tim Tebow (for all the people who love to tell you how Christian they are), Kenny Guiton (Go LA KISS!), Brett Favre (you got one more year in you, buddy) and Drew Willy (CFL Superstar) and while that list would be really, really fantastic, this format gives us a better gauge on people that actually matter and doesn’t feed the national media’s unhealthy quarterback obsession.
Plus, this way was much more fun than making recycled jokes about Tebow and trying to convince people that even though Andy Dalton has red hair, he’s a better and more productive quarterback than Andrew Luck. (Note: I am contractually obligated to make at least one Andrew Luck joke per article)
I would like to thank #drunj Jinx for helping me with some of the tough positions some of y’all already don’t want to acknowledge exist, namely the offensive line.
For anyone that’s still confused, here is an actual explanation: I compiled a list of ‘Damaged Goods’ players that may or may not be disregarded by the football media community. Please don’t comment “OMG NOBODY IS COUNTING _____ OUT” because this team was tough enough to create and it’s entirely opinion based, and presented as such.
I apologize if you take this seriously. Just having a little fun while we wait another week for football to be played.
QB: Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans — An easy target for all the lazy quarterback “experts” (read: anyone with a twitter account) because he didn’t play a ton in his career and last season, when he was statistically the best he’s ever been, he got injured in the fourth week. Due to the stigma of being “injury prone” (which only exists if it’s a chronic injury, acute injuries are entirely unpredictable but that’s another topic for another day) people are putting much less talented quarterbacks above him on their ever-popular QB lists and even Tennessee showed some wavering in their belief, when they chose to not pick up his 5th year of his contract this past off-season. A healthy Jake Locker is a problem for the AFC South and possibly push the Titans into the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and that should be enough.
RB: Chris Johnson, New York Jets — Yeah, I know he turns 29 during the season and we all know that every birthday past 28 also brings a decline in talent, magically, in the night. I also know that he was under 4 YPC last season, for the first time in his career. A backfield of Vick/CJ2k is going to do wonders for the spac… wait, sources close to the situation are telling me that Geno is getting the majority of reps in practice, and is looking to be the starter. Still, assuming Johnson is washed up is very irresponsible. He hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season, where he missed a grand total of one game. It’s fun to talk about running backs losing a step, or calling someone CJ3.9, but that’s incredibly lazy thinking, considering he a 39 yard run away from being over the 4.0 mark, and that is something that was missing from his game this past season. The rumors of CJ2K’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
RB: Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts — The butt of more jokes (man, you’re all jerks) after his abysmal 2013 campaign in Cleveland, but sometimes a change in scenery is very beneficial to the psyche of a player. The wide-openness of Indianapolis’ offense this upcoming season should hopefully give Trent a little more room to operate and contribute. He’ll probably never live up to his billing that comes with being selected third overall, but maybe we should wait on labeling him a bust.
Who really knows anymore: Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars — Last season he had nerve issues in his elbow, no real position, and the majority of his playing time came when the team was behind the 8 ball already, as they were down early and often last season. I think he’s still a running back, but not in the strict sense of lining up in an I-Formation and a sweep because he’s small. Where Denard has always excelled was making plays between the tackles, picking the right hole, and accelerating through to the 2nd and 3rd levels. It’s tough to give up on a guy when he never had more than 4 rushing attempts in a single game, but the general consensus is that he’s done for. Rumors are he’s now playing WR or something (I can’t find a single thing that’s definitive for either side), but he’ll be fine once he actually has a position on the roster.
WR: Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings — He had Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman and Christian Ponder ‘throwing’ him the football last year and he still showed a ton of promise at the end of the year, especially during the 48-30 week 14 drubbing of the Eagles when he had 11 catches for 163 and a touchdown. We all know that Greg Jennings possesses the ability to put the team on his back, and now, he’s finally going to be coupled with a competent quarterback and hopefully sensible playcaller. I don’t care about your fantasy team, so this isn’t a prediction of success there, but Jennings will be very solid at actual football this upcoming year.
WR: Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots — The often cast-aside Dobson was a Jinx selection to the list, and the second year product of the Thundering Herd of Marshall is surely going to be looked at as a head-scratching inclusion to the list, because of the notion that Tom Brady is going to spread the rock around and Dobson’s uncertain injury status. All of those reasons are exactly why Dobson is on the list. As talented as Dobson is, his situation is equally favorable, yet one screw in his foot and he’s now regarded as done for. I’m trusting Jinx on this one.
TE: Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens — The Texans were more than fine cutting Daniels back in March, and Baltimore was quick to scoop up the free agent for zero guaranteed dollars. The market for the 31 year old Daniels wasn’t exciting huge and teams were wondering if the productive days are behind him, setting him up for the perfect situation to announce to the world that he is still here.
OT: Eric Fisher, Kansas City — The former #1 overall pick in the 2013 draft is set to move over from right tackle to left tackle, his natural position, and people are talking about him very, very little. Does anyone have any reasons why? Offensive linemen going through camp for a second time usually take huge steps and there was none selected before Fisher last year, because of what the Chiefsthought he would become. What changed between that day and now to lower the perception of Fisher? And how come RIGHT TACKLE WINS aren’t a stat? How many other tackles drafted to a 2-14 team can hop in immediately on the right side and immediately turn things around and lead their team to the post season?
OT: Seantrel Henderson, Buffalo Bills — This selection is for all of us who lost our way, and gave up on the man who never gave up on us. Even when he was giving up during his pro day or at Miami or playing checkers in his dorm, Seantrel still carried a potential that screamed “One day, I’ll be really good at football” and it was tough not to believe it. One of the biggest ‘Trel supporters I know told me he had sold so much Seantrel stock when it looked like he was done for, and his most recent successes are a lose-lose, because they’re either a red herring or Seantrel really is legit, and he left his front row seat on the bandwagon for nothing. I’m sure that he wouldn’t be the only person who feels this way if Seantrel becomes the man we all think he could be. Hopefully he starts the “draft your franchise left tackle in the seventh round” movement we’ve all been waiting for.
Interior OL: Chance Warmack, Tennessee Titans — This was a Jinx pick.
Interior OL: Travis Fredrick, Dallas Cowboys — Also a Jinx pick. Man, he really loves second year players that started last season. I think I understand his logic now, because the players these guys were as rookies aren’t who they’ll be forever. Alright Jinx, I’m with you on this.
Interior OL: Eric Wood, Buffalo Bills — The third pick. He had really good logic when he sent me this one. I’m thinking he just gave me the 3 most underrated guys and that is good enough for me. It’s still better than me pretending like I know a lot about 32 year old guards who just swapped teams.
EDGE: Julius Peppers, Green Bay Packers — I’m just going to save time and combine both of these guys, because their stories are very similar and I’m sure if you’re this far into this list, chances are you are just skimming to see who I put at each position and nodding along with this. Both these guys were let go by their respective franchises, where they were household names (in houses that discuss prolific edge rushers, but the metaphor stands) for years, and then they ended up on good football teams, hopeful to get a championship on their resume. I think both still have the ability to get to the quarterback, just because they’ve done it for so long that any athleticism they lost has been replaced by their technical mastery and savvy-ness.
INTERIOR: Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots — Even though Wilfork was the kingpin behind the Patriots defense for years, (I’m about to use my first major cliche here) the 32 year old just isn’t getting any younger. Last season, Vince was hurt and missed the last 12 games of the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and which has, deservedly, brought a ton of concern for his future. His importance on the team has always been understated throughout his entire career, and I believe the ailing Wilfork will be able to step back in and remind people how much he means to the Patriots defense.
INTERIOR: Tyson Jackson, Atlanta Falcons — The Falcons defense was so bad last year that nearly any addition would have been huge for them. Lucky for them, Jackson is literally huge and actually very solid at stopping the run. Still, this signing has gotten very little fanfare and attention. Maybe a new scheme is going to help out Jackson immensely, and he’ll become a very solid player.
LB: Shea McClellin, Chicago Bears — Probably the boldest name on the list, the first couple years McClellin’s career have not been as prolific as he would have wished. Now, in his third year, he moves back from DE in a 4-3 to OLB, allowing him to do a more diverse set of things. He’s slimmed down and the talent didn’t go anywhere, and I think rushing as a stand-up linebacker is going to help him reinvigorate his career (or invigorate, depending on what you expected) and he’ll be fine.
LB: Mason Foster, Tampa Bay — The forgotten man on the Bucs defense, Foster was the promising linebacker prospect in Tampa Bay before Lavonte David came in and took over. On most teams, Foster is an impact player with one of the most popular selling jerseys and all of the love. In Tampa Bay, that’s David. Still, Foster is young and has been improving every year, so I think he’ll be good in the future.
LB: NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco — I would not be surprised if he doesn’t take a single snap this upcoming season, but you never really know how well someone is going to recover from ACL surgery in 2014, as each case varies a ton. A torn ACL also isn’t the career killer it used to be, and people are often coming back better after rehab. Bowman was a very important part of the Niners defense last season and anything he can give them this year is crucial.
CB: Champ Bailey, New Orleans Saints — If the Saints signed 2013 Champ Bailey, they’re in the same spot as they were last season because he’s not going to see the field much. If they got 2012 Champ Bailey, they just got better. Kind of like the pass rushers mentioned above, what Champ lost in athleticism (if anything) he’s gained in veteran knowledge and that should be enough. If you ask him to go one on one on an island against Julio Jones, you might not have the best time, but if you ask him to play in a cover 3 or play off man or in the slot, I think you have a huge asset.
CB: Brandon Browner, New England Patriots — As quick as he was a star, he was done. Browner emerged on the scene back in 2011 and took the league by storm, but a couple seasons and drug suspensions later he was a free agent, searching for a team after his previous won the Super Bowl without him. Browner found New England, and New England is hoping they found the old Brandon Browner. To some, it’s like riding a bicycle; to others, it’s like re-learning the English language. If it’s the former for Browner, New England will be very happy.
S: Ryan Clark, Washington Redskins — Washington is where promising careers go to die. Hopefully, the veteran Clark can find away to turn back the clock and help the horrendous Redskin defense become slightly less horrendous. All they need is a couple (alright, a bit more than a couple) of bounces and the tone will do a full 180 on everything except for the racist name that has to go. Clark paying homage to Sean Taylor is really why he made this list tbh #SeanTaylorRIP
S: Bernard Pollard, Tennessee Titans — Bernard Pollard is a national treasure, and it makes sense for him to be the last player listed (I’m not doing special teams, I don’t watch your kicker kick and neither do you) due to the whole Titans connection or theme that this list has. If everything comes together for Tennessee, Pollard is going to be showered in awards because of safety wins. In all seriousness, Pollard brings a real interesting dynamic to Tennessee, which is something that was missing a year ago. If Tennessee’s front seven is getting pressure and filling gaps well, the field stays downhill for Pollard, which is his specialty, and the team will be effective defensively. If not, they’re going to be asking a ton out of their back 4, which isn’t a very good idea for any team, period. Bernard ‘The Patriot Killer’ Pollard may be approaching the twilight of his career, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some solid years left in him.
Go be great, everyone on this list.