Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think I always love getting the Ourlads Guide to the NFL Draft in the mail—you can order it at ourlads.com—and thumbing through to read who Tom Hepler, Dan Shonka and company are high (and low) on. Interesting notes this year: Ourlads has Washington State free safety Deone Bucannon going 13th overall, to the Rams … The quarterback picks are interesting: The first one off the board, Ourlads says, will be Johnny Manziel, 26th to Cleveland; then Blake Bortles 33rd to Houston, Teddy Bridgewater 39th to Jacksonville and Jimmy Garoppolo 40th to Minnesota.
2. I think the one consistent whine about the schedule I heard in the past few days was the Oakland fandom complaining about opening at the Jets, then returning to play at New England in Week 3 and London in Week 4. That’s a tough start for sure. But the Raiders—as most western teams do when they have to play in England—requested a Week 3 East Coast game so the trip to England would be 5.5 hours instead of 10. So the only beef is playing Week 1 on the East Coast. And who cares, really? Oakland has six games two or more time zones away. It’s logical, not onerous, that one could be in Week 1.
3. I think the one thing that surprised me being inside the scheduling process on Wednesday was scheduling czar Howard Katz saying he wouldn’t have had a problem making Seattle play a three-game road swing that seems, on its face, pretty mountainous: at St. Louis, at Washington (on a Monday night), at Kansas City. He’d prefer not to, and the schedule Seattle will play doesn’t have a three-game road trip. But the slate with that three-gamer came in second when the league made its final decision on which schedule to play.
4. I think one of the smartest things I read last week came from John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, about the importance of continuity with the offensive system and how lack of continuity contributes to the failure of so many quarterbacks. McClain talked to David Carr, the first pick of the Texans 12 years ago, and summed up his Houston football life thusly: “In his five seasons, Carr had two head coaches, three offensive coordinators, three different schemes, three quarterback coaches and four offensive line coaches. ‘You can have a talented offensive line that gives up a lot of sacks, and that’s the fault of the system,’ Carr said. ‘I think you can have talented coordinators that have bad offensive lines, and that’s a fault of that bad offensive line. You have to have a combination of those two things.’”
5. I think if Blake Bortles sat in the front row at a Rays or Marlins game with his girlfriend, no one would say, “Hey, why isn’t Blake Bortles concentrating on football and staying out of the public eye before the draft?” First: it’s possible directors and camera people wouldn’t know what Blake Bortles looks like, so he might not even be noticed. But also, if they did know it was Bortles and put his mug on TV, I can’t imagine anyone questioning his dedication or decision-making because he chose one evening to sit in the stands at a baseball game.
6. I think, also, I’d like to know the difference between J.J. Watt and Russell Wilson being on-site at the NCAA basketball tournament, and Johnny Manziel being there.
7. I think I get the part about folks wondering if Manziel is devoted to his craft when they see him in the bars at 2 a.m. But going to sports events is a different story entirely. If you’re an NFL GM or coach and wonder about Manziel’s dedication, I’m okay with that. But I’m not okay if you say, “What’s Manziel doing at a baseball game at night instead of working out or studying tape?” I mean, how do you know he wasn’t working out as normal during the day? Do you know, for instance, that Manziel, on the day he visited with the Texans in Houston, was in the gym at 6:15 a.m.working out before he had to be in front of the Texans brass? My point about all of this: It’s fair game to doubt Manziel. But I think it is folly to suggest that being at a ballgame or The Masters is a black mark against his dedication to football.
8. I think the Texans are doing a good camouflage job, 10 days out from the draft. Very good, in fact.
9. I think I’d like to congratulate our writers at The MMQB for a fine week. When the NFL pushed the draft back two weeks, I wanted to avoid two extra weeks of nothing but draft coverage, because I think we’re already inundated with it for two full months, starting at the combine. So this week, while not ignoring the draft, our writers wrote solid pieces on other things. Robert Klemko reported from California on the harrowing story of a Jaguars player whose career was ended by a stroke on the field … Jenny Vrentas reported from Harvard, and learned that Richard Sherman is one of Bill Clinton’s favorite players … And from Santa Clara, Calif., Greg Bedard dug into the widely reported fractured relationship between San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke, with an interview with both men … Business of Football columnist Andrew Brandt contributed a smart draft-related column about how agents of marginal players get their clients seen and heard by the NFL powers that be … I threw in the behind-the-scenes story about the NFL schedule. When I walked into Sports Illustrated managing editor Chris Stone’s office Friday, he said, “What a week you guys had!’’ That is my bow for the week. Hope you don’t mind me bragging about our troops.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. The only remaining question about Donald Sterling: When’s he selling the team?
b. I like the two guys at the Clippers-Warriors game in Oakland on Sunday, one white and one black. The white guy held a sign reading: “I brought a black guy 2 the game.” The black guy’s sign: “I’m black.”
c. Brandon Morrow, pitcher of the Blue Jays, faced 14 Red Sox batters Saturday. The 14 results: walk, pop out, walk, double-play groundout; walk, walk, fly out, double-play groundout; strikeout, fly out, walk, walk, walk, walk.
d. He walked eight in less than three innings … and the amazing thing is, when he left the field, he’d only given up one run. Reliever Chad Jenkins took care of that, giving up a grand slam to A.J. Pierzynski on the first pitch he threw.
e. Daniel Murphy stole his 27th straight base Sunday. I dropped my dentures when I heard who held the Mets’ record for consecutive stolen bases: Kevin McReynolds, with 33. How is that possible?
f. Dice-K a closer? A nibbler closing? Impossible. That’s it. I am officially a baseball dunce.
g. I am also officially a TV dope. I have missed “Game of Thrones” and “Mad Men.” Totally. Every episode.
h. Apropos of very little: Ansel Adams died on April 22, 1984. Richard Nixon died on April 22, 1994. Pat Tillman died on April 22, 2004.
i. Coffeenerdness: Six shots of espresso Sunday, before 3 p.m. It is officially close to the draft.
j. Beernerdness: Had a swell Bronx Pale Ale the other day. Strongly recommended. Lots of taste, and a great story by brewers who went out on a limb to do what they love to do, which is making beer.
k. If I could print the best lines each week in “Veep,’’ I would. If Elaine Benes were saying them, they’d be printable. But Selena Meyer? Too edgy for a family website.
The Adieu Haiku
So, Donald Sterling:
You had to open your mouth.
Long past time to go.