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Thursday, March 01, 2007

No one lies so boldly as the man who is indignant.
Fish in a barrel! (Nietzche Family Circus @ right randomly and serendipitously generated.)

I've had this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article about Troy Smith's falling draft stock open in my browser window the last couple days in case I bothered to do a Fanhouse post about it. I won't now -- dated -- but it's given us all so much more, as Stewart Mandel saw it and immediately rushed off to pen an epically stupid column that gets the Fire Joe Morgan treatment below.

Let's hit it.

Classic combine confusion

Scouts foolish to ignore QB Smith's college success

I suppose there might be an argument in here, albeit one whose primary adherent appears to be Matt Millen.
For all that Troy Smith accomplished the past two-plus years at Ohio State, I don't think I've ever been more impressed with him than I am right now. After I read the various reports out of last weekend's NFL combine in Indianapolis, it's become apparent that Smith managed to win a Heisman Trophy, rack up ridiculous passing stats and lead his team to 20 straight victories in spite of the fact he's a crappy quarterback.
Note: no one has ever claimed Troy Smith is a crappy quarterback. Crappy quarterbacks do not get taken in the NFL draft, let alone in the third or fourth round. Many, many good to great collegiate quarterbacks have done worse than that, including the man who knocked up the woman you aspire to be.
Yep. You read that right. The NFL cognoscenti have spoken. After eyeballing Smith in shorts and watching him throw 18 practice passes against no defense, the connoisseurs with the clipboards and the stop watches have decreed that the former Ohio State quarterback, to put it simply, stinks. Once considered a late-first or early second-round pick, Smith will now be fortunate to land in the third or fourth round based on the buzz in Indy.
The next paragraph will make it clear that Mandel's getting all of this from the aforementioned Journal-Sentinel article, so it might be useful to bring in the thing he's cribbing from:
Two days before Smith won the Heisman Trophy by landslide in early December, two executives in personnel for NFL teams projected him as a second-round draft choice. Another personnel director went so far as to label him a mid- to late first-round selection.
Do you know what two major events happened between the projections Mandel holds dear to his heart and the combine? The MNC game and the Senior Bowl. Smith's combined numbers across those two games: 9 for 29 for 87 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and one back-breaking fumble. At the Senior Bowl, Smith practiced and played in front of NFL scouts from every team in the league for a full week. None were particularly impressed. Both of these things had a much greater impact on his draft stock than a few balls thrown at the combine, but let's not let actual facts get in the way here.

Also: "stinks" again, when clearly they're going to draft him somewhere.
As one AFC personnel director told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "He's six feet tall, he's not a super fast guy and he's not super athletic. ... I don't think he's horrible. He's just a guy."
These are all reasonable criticisms.
See what I'm saying? How can you not admire a guy who's short, slow and unathletic yet managed to win the most prestigious award in college football?
Jason White.
It's like someone who can't act winning an Oscar.
Charlie Ward.
Or someone who can't sing winning American Idol.
Eric Crouch.
We already knew about everything Smith overcame in his childhood and early OSU years to achieve gridiron glory, but the fact that he managed to do all that despite being "just a guy?" Wow. I can't even begin to imagine what his stats would have been if he was actually a stud.
"Just a guy" in NFL does not equal "just a guy" in college. For an example, pick just about any player ever. I know the idea that the NFL is harder to play in than college must have filtered into your skull at some point.
Before I continue, let me just make the disclaimer that I have never considered Smith to be a sure-fire Hall of Famer. I realize he has his limitations. For months, however, I've maintained that, if given the opportunity, Smith would establish himself as a solid NFL starter. How did I reach this conclusion? Umm ... by watching him play?
And of course none of the NFL scouts who are paid to do this -- and are much, much smarter than you when the topic is football instead of, say, "looking like a fatter version of Subway Jared" -- bothered to watch his games. Or those Senior Bowl practices. And they have no idea what players are likely to fit into the systems employed at a higher level of play.
But now it seems that Smith is being lumped in with the Gino Torretta/Chris Weinke/Eric Crouch/Jason White class of Heisman-winning quarterbacks, destined to flame out at the next level. Here's the thing. Torretta was barely a top-20 passer his senior year. Weinke was 87 years old. Crouch ran the option. White had no functioning knees. About the only thing Smith has in common with those guys is the trophy they won.
The same trophy which was the linchpin of your argument mere paragraphs ago. Perhaps the fact that all these quarterbacks are supremely unsuited to sit in the pocket and rifle balls over the outstretched hands of defenders but managed to win the award is an indication that the Heisman trophy is more of a joke than the idea that an attractive 23-year-old will sleep with you at said trophy's ceremony because "You're Stewart Mandel... THE Stewart Mandel"*.

*(This actually happened according to a friend of mine who was part of the media for the event.)
Well, and one other thing: The national-championship game flop. Smith's nightmare performance against Florida is when all this backlash started.
I wonder why?
Because he's "just a guy," Smith was unable to escape oncoming Gator pass-rushers/freight trains Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey as they routinely plowed through Smith's blockers like they were made of cellophane. As we all know, JaMarcus Russell or Brady Quinn would have spun free of those defenders and completed 70-yard passes.

With such considerable evidence against Smith's worth as a quarterback, I figure there's only one possible explanation for how he won all those games in college: He's an illusionist. Yep. A full-on David Copperfield/David Blaine-caliber performer. All those times you thought you were watching Smith pick apart Texas or throw the game-winning touchdown against Michigan? He was actually throwing incompletions at his receivers' feet. He fooled you.
This is just awful. I don't know where to begin. First: more arrogant assumption he knows more than NFL talent evaluators because he sat on his couch cramming donuts into his face and went "wow... Troy Smith" this fall. This sort of hard-hitting analysis you can get from literally anyone with a TV. Second: a third attempt to convince you that a quarterback who is an ill fit for the NFL game who will be drafted in the third or fourth round has been retroactively declared a crappy college player. Third: none of this is funny in the slightest.
These NFL scouting guys, however, they don't fall for that stuff. They're too smart. These guys get paid the big bucks precisely because of their ability to spot the previously undetected imperfections of college players that we lay people miss.
This attempted sarcasm is absolutely correct.
And boy do they earn every penny, whether by determining Mario Williams to be a better pro prospect than Reggie Bush,
...or that Mario Williams was easier to sign and played a position that the Texans had greater need of...
that Vince Young won't be able to make the transition to the NFL,
...the NFL was so sure Vince Young couldn't make the transition to the NFL that he fell all the way to the THIRD PICK IN THE DRAFT...
that Ernie Sims would be more valuable to the Lions than Matt Leinart
...Matt Millen may actually be stupider than you...
or that Drew Brees was only worthy of a second-round pick.
...Brees was the first pick of the second round and the second quarterback selected behind Michael Vick. This is not exactly a strident condemnation.
I mention Brees, the former Purdue quarterback-turned-New Orleans Saints Pro Bowler, because he happens to suffer from the same, career-jeopardizing affliction as Troy Smith: Being 6-feet tall. This, according to the scouts, is the single biggest reason Smith might not succeed in the pros. "That's the only negative on the guy," Chiefs president Carl Peterson told the Journal Sentinel. "And [defenders] get bigger every year. It gets more and more difficult to look over guys."
I mention the thousands of thousands of failed six-foot quarterbacks because there's such a thing as a "heuristic" that does very well for drafters of all sorts.
You see, this is why I could never hack it as an NFL personnel guy.
No, the reason you couldn't hack it as an NFL personnel guy is that you are incapable of understanding logic, probability, statistics, history, or football.
Here I was, thinking that most men reach their adult height by the time they're 17 or 18, meaning that if Smith could throw over, say, 6-4 Texas defensive end Tim Crowder in the Buckeyes' game against the Longhorns last September, it stands to reason he would be able to do the same thing when the two face each other in the NFL next season. But according to Peterson, NFL defenders just keep getting bigger. Presumably, in a few years, Crowder will be 7-2, and by then Smith simply won't stand a chance.
As noted, the Buckeye offense revolved around outside routes, rollouts, and the shotgun in an effort to take advantage of Smith's particular skills and de-emphasize his height disadvantage. (I thought you "ummmm... watched him play"?) NFL teams don't run that sort of offense because long experience has taught them it doesn't do very well for whatever reason. A team is forced to do one of two things: attempt to fit Smith into its offense or completely revamp it for a rookie who isn't a walking pile of impossible like Vince Young. Note the above "just a guy" mention.
"You [reporters] make it seem like being 6 feet is a disease or something," Smith said at the combine. "I stand before you now wanting to talk about some of the positive things that are going on, but yet still we keep on talking about the negatives. I don't understand."

What's not to understand, Troy? The experts have spoken. You're short. You can't throw. And your entire college career was a lie. Enjoy wearing that baseball cap on the sideline next season while charting plays for some undrafted free agent your employer just loves because they don't have to pay him anything and because he's got "tremendous upside."
A second mindboggling contradiction: the NFL hates the undrafted free agent more than Troy Smith. That's why the undrafted free agent was undrafted and not picked in the third or fourth round like Smith. But all of a sudden the NFL team "just loves" him even though they decided not to expend even a seventh-rounder on him.
Don't feel too bad, though. You'll always have that Heisman Trophy. Maybe one day, when your playing career is over, you can let us in on the secret of how you managed to win that thing despite a lack of any discernible talent. Boy -- you sure got us good.
God. Fat Jared, I hate you. This whole thing is suffused with sarcasm you have no right to wield against people who know way, way more about football than you. (To be fair, this is a vast array of people from Bill Polian to John Madden to Tony Blair to Richard Nixon's corpse all the way down to Matt Millen; chances are whenever you attempt to be sarcastic you are talking to someone who knows more about football than you.) NFL people do think that Troy Smith is an exceptionally talented quarterback for a six-foot guy who operated mostly out of the shotgun and had an offense built around dealing with his shortcomings, pun not intended. That's why they're willing to draft him in the third or fourth round. But make no mistake, his physical stature will be something teams have to work around and he'll be very lucky to be Drew Brees instead of the myriad other short quarterbacks who have failed.

But this isn't really about Troy Smith. He'll get drafted around where he deserves to be drafted. This is about you and your inability to use sarcasm well. Here are some tips:
  • Try to have an actual point to make. Sarcasm is much more effective when you're trying to establish something like "Stewart Mandel writes dumb things" than "Troy Smith should be drafted higher" because the former has a wealth of evidence more detailed than "ummm... I watched him play."
  • Don't go after people who are smarter than you. You'll just look clueless. See our previous contrast.
  • Hire some joke writers or something. Seriously.
  • Start eating one six-inch veggie sub for lunch and dinner every day.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Kudos dude. There's so many pricks in this world shilling out worthless drivel concerning things they know less than nothing about. And more often than not they seem to get away with it. It's nice to see someone that cares to set the record straight.