For the second time in three weeks, I’m going to publish a random story Friday column. This might work out after all.
In case you didn’t catch the first edition, every week I look for headlines to give me ideas for a blog post. There are usually several that I want to write about, but I don’t think I can write an entire article about them. So I’m going to give you a few headlines from this week that I found interesting/entertaining/maddening but weren’t quite big enough for their own post.
The Arizona Cardinals asked star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald his opinion on a quarterback for them to target in the offseason. This is a rare smart move from the Cardinal organization. Keeping their stars happy (or even willing to play) has never been a top priority. Fitzgerald is the face of the Cardinals’ franchise through good and bad. Ironically, the lasting image of the 2010 Cardinals season is Fitzgerald’s face as the 74th consecutive ball was thrown ten feet over his head.
Fitzgerald’s first choice is Philadelphia quarterback Kevin Kolb. Very reasonable. He was the guy that the Eagles were willing to turn their team over to before Michael Vick turned into a revelation. The Eagles are a far better franchise than the Cardinals; the fact that trusted Kolb bodes well for Arizona. So far, so good.
Fitzgerald’s second suggestion? Marc Bulger. I find this extremely hilarious.
Bulger is terrible. In his last three seasons as a starter (2007-09), he wasn’t just a below average quarterback – he was one of the worst starters in the league. In 2007, he finished 30th in the league among qualified starters with a 70.3 passer rating, ahead of only Brodie Croyle, Rex Grossman, and Kellen Clemens and just behind Trent Edwards, Tavaris Jackson, and Cleo Lemon. None of those six quarterbacks are still starters. In 2008, he finished 30th again with a 71.4 rating, just ahead of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Derek Anderson and just behind Gus Frerotte and Dan Orlovsky.
In 2009, Bulger had a 70.7 passer rating, but finished 24th in the league. Apparently the league got quite a bit worse on average that year. That season, the Rams finished 1-15 and Bulger was benched first for Kyle Boller and then for West Texas A&M rookie Keith Null. Null’s quarterback mentor? Ryan Leaf. You couldn’t make this stuff up. Those there quarterbacks were so bad that the Rams decided to jettison all of them this offseason. They drafted Sam Bradford with the #1 overall pick and brought in veteran A.J. Feeley as a mentor; Bulger signed a one-year deal with the Ravens to backup Joe Flacco.
I could go on, but I think I already made my point: Bulger sucks. He hasn’t been good since 2006 and, really, he wasn’t even all that good to begin with. The Rams went 6-42 in his last three seasons with the team. Fitzgerald just might be delusional. I laughed at the idea that Fitzgerald actually thought that Bulger would be an upgrade.
But this story keeps on giving. I stumbled upon this article from SB Nation, which notes that Ken Whisenhunt really likes Bulger. Then I realized that the Arizona quarterback situation is so bad that Bulger would actually be an improvement and I found it even more hilarious.
Starting quarterback Derek Anderson finished 30th in the league this season with a 65.9 rating, only beating out Jimmy Clausen (somehow Cleveland didn’t have a quarterback qualify). He actually regressed from his last season as a starter, the aforementioned 2008 season, when he finished last in the league with a 66.5 rating.
That’s not even the whole story: the Cardinals started four quarterbacks this season, each more preposterous than the last. After Anderson, the duty fell to undrafted rookie Max Hall, who was overmatched. Then the duty fell to rookie quarterback John Skelton, a fifth-round pick out of FCS Fordham, who was overmatched. Then the duty fell to Richard Bartel, a third-year undrafted player out of Tarleton State with no career NFL passes who signed with the Cardinals in December. He was overmatched.
To recap: I laughed at Larry Fitzgerald for advocating for a quarterback who last started in 2009 and was one of the worst quarterbacks in the league for his last three years as a starter. Then I laughed at the Cardinals because Bulger would actually be a huge upgrade over their current quarterback choices. Hell of an organization out there in Arizona.
Fitting that the NBA’s version of Jeff Fisher resigns just a week and a half after the actual Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans agreed to part ways. I never quite understood why Sloan was considered one of the best coaches in the NBA. Like Fisher, the problem with Sloan seemed to be that he was never really bad enough to fire – in 22 seasons with the team, he only had a losing record once.
But how impressive is that really? Sure, he made the playoffs in his first fifteen seasons with the team. That’s not easy to do, no matter who your players are. So I give him credit for that, but I’m still not impressed. He had Karl Malone and John Stockton, two of the NBA’s 50 greatest players, for that entire 15-year run. And he still couldn’t win a title.
The familiar refrain is that the Jazz simply ran into historically great teams. Their two best teams were the 1996-97 and 1997-98 teams; both ran into the Jordan/Pippen Bulls in the NBA Finals and lost. We can’t really fault Sloan for that. Nevertheless, I still don’t understand how he was considered a great coach. My favorite test for the MVP Award is “how good would the team have been without the player?” We can employ a similar test for Sloan – “how good would the Jazz have been over his career had another coach been in charge?”
My answer: just as good. Any halfway competent coach could have coached the Malone and Stockton duo to fifteen consecutive playoff appearances. The Jazz put up gaudy regular season records and continually choked in the playoffs. They fell in the first round seven times, and were the higher seeded team four of those times. What exactly was Sloan bringing to the table?
Although like Fisher, I think middle management everywhere can take a lesson from Sloan. You don’t have to be great at your job, just don’t be bad enough to get fired. Well done, Sloan…but I think you and the Jazz are both better off now.
You’ve probably already seen this, but the Fort Wayne government took to the web to ask for suggestions for the name of their government center. The runaway favorite is the Harry Baals Government Center, named after a former mayor named Harry Baals (seriously).
I have no comment on this, but I find it hilarious. And yes, I’m 26 years old.