Patriots' Davey excelling in Europe while awaiting turn behind Brady
Posted: Monday May 10, 2004 9:31AM; Updated: Wednesday May 12, 2004 11:20AM
Rohan Davey has an impressive 108.2 QB rating with the Berlin Thunder this season.
Remember Rohan Davey? Big man on LSU campus earlier this century. Daunte Culpepper reincarnated. Big kid, mobile, terrific arm, better leader. New England snuck the QB out of Baton Rouge in the fourth round of the 2002 draft, Nick Saban's gift to old friend Bill Belichick, and he's been hibernating ever since.
The Patriots will visit the White House Monday. They'll be honored by President Bush for winning Super Bowl XXXVIII. One of the bench warmers on that team, Davey, won't be there. He'll be in Germany, resting up after another NFL Europe game, and thinking, I presume, about backing up Tom Brady this year.
Davey's is not really a sexy story, but it's an interesting one. In the last three years, Kurt Warner, Brad Johnson and Jake Delhomme -- all NFL Europe alums -- have quarterbacked in the Super Bowl. I'm no soothsayer (though I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night), but my money is on Davey someday following in their footsteps. He has a long way to go, but his first taste of pro football is giving him the confidence that one day he will play on the big stage. Davey has led the Berlin Thunder to a 5-0 record, and he's been the best player in the league -- 76 for 126, 1,028 yards, 12 touchdowns, three interceptions and a passer rating of 108.2.
I phoned Davey the other day. The kid makes a great impression. The book on him is a player who teammates like and trust, and a loyal guy to the starter -- Brady, in this case. But Davey hadn't played, really, since the fall of 2001 with LSU, so the Patriots urged him to take a turn at Europe. Ten starts plus the playoffs at something a smidge higher than SEC-level of competition, with weekly calls to Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to talk to analyze his game on film. The Patriots thought there would be very few negatives to this plan. And they're right, so far. There has been zero downside. With New England looking for a backup quarterback -- it had jettisoned Damon Huard and been rebuffed in a waiver-claim for Kurt Kittner, having been trumped by lower-in-the-standings Cincinnati for the former Falcons backup -- Davey is playing well enough to be one Brady injury away from playing for the Super Bowl champs.
"My career so far has definitely been weird, coming from playing a lot to sitting,'' Davey told me. "But now playing again, it's like I'm reborn. It's a time to learn. I've had a good coaching staff and a great player to learn from. Tom and Damon Huard have been great to me, and it's been good seeing how coach Belichick and coach Weis work. I know it's only a matter of time before I get my chance, and that's what I'm working toward now. When this opportunity came up, I thought about it for a couple of days, but then I knew I wanted to come. It's been a great experience, a little better than college ball but obviously not the NFL. But they've made it so that the competition is very, very even. And guys who play here all know that coaches around the league are going to watch every film, so they've been playing really hard every week. They all want to catch someone's eye."
Scouts who've watched tape of Davey in NFL Europe games say he's been cool in the pocket, moving well when needed but establishing a good presence. His gaudy 8.9-yards-per-attempt average means he's doing a good job of getting the ball downfield too. "Every quarterback likes to throw the long ball,'' he said. "But it's not how many times you throw it. It's how many times you hit it. It's a credit to them. Our coaches preach explosion plays, so they're letting me throw the deep ones.
"If I was in Foxboro right now, there's no way I'd be getting this kind of work. By coming over here, after not playing for two years, I get the reps with the first unit, get the two-minute drill, get out and compete with people in your face. It's great. I know it's making me a better player. There's no substitute for that in camp, or a preseason game, nothing. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything. There's no doubt I'm doing what's best for me and the New England Patriots.''
I asked Davey if he'd miss being in Rose Garden Monday with his Patriots teammates.
"Yes,'' he said. "It'd be great to be there. But hopefully someday I get to meet the President -- when I'm celebrating a Super Bowl that I played in.''
"I ain't white. What world are you living in? I live in reality. They'd never let a black man get away with that.''
--Barry Bonds, asked last week about Roger Clemens' travel arrangement with the Astros. Clemens does not travel to Houston road games when he is not slated to pitch.
Editorial aside to Bonds (though I doubt Barry reads MMQB): This is a great example of why so many people dislike you. There's a bit of fundamental difference here, Barry. As an outfielder you're supposed to play most, if not, every day. Clemens is supposed to pitch every fourth or fifth day. If you were in his shoes, teams would line up to make you that offer. What an idiotic, racially divisive statement to make.
I also took issue with Bonds' sentiment, expressed last week, that many of his aches are due to all the intentional walks and regular walks he receives. "You're on your feet all day,'' he was quoted as saying in the New York Times. "I don't ever sit down. That's hard. It's a hard job.''
Stop it, Barry. I'm running out of Kleenex.
Clyde Haberman of the New York Times points out that a minimum-wage worker in the state of New York would have to work 82 full weeks to earn what Alex Rodriguez makes by playing a single inning with the Yankees.
A drumroll, please. A college announcement, plus Sopranos and Tim Couch opinions, all enclosed in seven e-mails.
AND THE WINNER IS ... From Jeremiah of New York:
"Hey, May 1 has come and gone. I could've missed it, but is Mary Beth going to Notre Dame, or somewhere else?''
It's Colgate, Jeremiah. That was a tough one. She really liked Notre Dame, and for months we were pretty sure she'd go there. But late in the winter she decided Colgate was the right place for her. We still thought it would be Notre Dame when she was wait-listed at Colgate, but she came off the wait list last week, got invited and accepted. It's funny. When I was growing up, Notre Dame was the "it" school, and I would have died to go there. And more than ever, it still is a tremendous place, caring and challenging. I can't think of a single negative about it. But when you have such great choices -- Mary Beth had five of them -- it's like asking: Who's a better hitter -- A-Rod or Bonds? You could argue all day and you'd be right, whoever you said. For Mary Beth, it was a feeling that Colgate was the right place for her. Colgate is one of the prettiest campuses I've ever seen, has a tremendous learning environment, and it has some of the best alumni support in America. The climate in Hamilton, N.Y., is a bit nippy, but she likes skiing. She couldn't have gone wrong in either spot.
A FINN FEELING. From Tom Baker of Atlanta: "Do you really think Vito has the guts to whack the Boss' future son-in-law? Whew. I don't see it.''
Maybe not. I've heard from so many people this week saying, basically, that they can't whack Finn; it would ruin Meadow's relationship with her father for life. You might be right. I guess that's why we watch.
FINN, MY BOY, HOW'D YOU LIKE TO RUN MY CARTING BUSINESS? From Paul of New Orleans: "I think you're wrong on the Sopranos and Meadow. This would be the perfect situation for her to muscle in on the family business. She has no clue what to do with her life after college.''
Peter King will answer your questions each week in Monday Morning Quarterback: Tuesday Edition.
Another country heard from. Meadow a mobster. Hmm. Interesting. Hadn't thought of that one.
LAMONT JORDAN NEEDS TO SHUT HIS PIEHOLE. From Brian Procida of New Paltz, N.Y.: "With Lamont Jordan starting to make noise about not enough getting the ball enough -- possibly just a grab for money -- is it finally time to cut down on Curtis Martin's carries and give the kid a chance? If I had to ask anyone to take one for the team, it would be Martin. But is Jordan worth all the trouble?''
The only way he is if it makes the team better now. As I mentioned at the start of this column, Rohan Davey has the right idea. The guy in front of him is playing great and he's not whining. If Jordan is a better back than Martin, he should play. If not, he should be a good soldier and wait his turn. That's life.
WHITHER THE BUCS? From Jeff Read of Clearwater, Fla.: "Given the Patriots didn't win back-to-back Super Bowls, do you think the Bucs have a shot at it this year? It seems like they've reloaded through free agency, and, not as much, the draft. I don't see the departure of Sapp as huge, but I think they'll miss Lynch.''
I really like what the Bucs have done, and what they're doing. And I'm a guy who loves John Lynch. But you don't win in football by having legends on your team. You win in football by playing the best, and the healthiest, players. I like the pick of Michael Clayton in the first round. But mostly I like the rebuilding of the offensive line and honest attempts to make the hard decisions and get players for the future. I think we'll now see how Jon Gruden does as the player-development guy, and we'll like what we see.
HEY! RON WOLF CHECKS IN! From Ron Wolf of Upper Saddle River, N.J.: "No, I'm not that Ron Wolf. I'm the Ron Wolf who's a Giants fan. Taking my yearly Giants road trip, this year up to Green Bay with a Saturday stop in Madison for the Wisconsin-Illinois game. What should my expections be of Green Bay and what's a guy to do late night in Titletown?''
As soon as you get into town Saturday evening after driving up from Madison, go over to Lambeau Field. I think they open the brew pub there the night before the game, but I'm not sure. If not, go to Titletown Brewery, a brew pub/restaurant with a good red beer (don't recall the name); I recommend one I had a couple of years ago called Hinterlands. The day of the game, get to Lambeau by 8 a.m. (It's a noon game on Oct. 3.) If you're not planning to tailgate, change your plans. Or find some new Wisconsin friends to tailgate with. Believe me, you will. They're the greatest people in the NFL, friendly and accommodating. Sometimes I wish I could just take a Sunday and do the fan thing. The first place I'd go is Green Bay.
WE HAVE A BASIC DISAGREEMENT ON TIM COUCH. From Colin Priest of Cape Girardeau, Mo.: "I have to disagree with your assertion that there are worse things for Tim Couch than being heir to Brett Favre. Trying to live up to fans' memories of a Hall of Fame QB can be a nightmare, because fans forget the bad and remember the Hall of Fame stuff. Look at Brian Griese in Denver, Jay Fiedler in Miami, Todd Collins in Buffalo, even Steve Young in San Fran. All of these guys had a hard time trying to live up to their predecessors (John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Joe Montana), and with the exception of Young, none came even close to succeeding. How is Couch, who has trouble staying healthy, ever going to stack up to Favre, who plays through everything?''
Very good points, Colin. But here's the way I see it: What are Couch's options? Imagine being able to sit in meetings and be around Favre for the next year or two, then have a chance to be the Packers' quarterback. Let me tell you, the fans would not skewer him. Those are not brutal fans there, even though obviously Couch wouldn't be able to do what Favre did. Going to Green Bay would give Couch time to breathe and a chance to learn from one of the best of our time. What's the downside?
I traveled into New York last Thursday, to the ESPN Zone in Times Square, to do one of the hardest things I've ever done: host a sports talk show. Maybe it shouldn't be as hard as I made it, and the help I had guest-co-hosting the Dan Patrick Show on ESPN Radio was monumental (from Todd Fritz and Paul Pabst, particularly, off the air, and from Rob Dibble and someone named Phil the Show Killer on the air). But that's a tough gig. It reminded me a lot of hitting a baseball. It looks so easy when you see Tony Gwynn do it. But when you actually step in the batter's box and look out at a guy throwing you a 93-mph fastball, all the little things -- the stride, the reaction time, the swing, the judgment of where the pitch is going -- make it a pretty hard thing to do. I didn't hear how I sounded during the show, of course, but I felt strained and stilted at time, and I walked out saying, "I hope I get another chance to do that someday. It was fun.''
I had to rise stupidly early Friday, just after 4:30, to get some work done, and Bob Valvano was guesting on the overnight show on ESPN radio, and I heard him tease a replay of my interview with Marc Bulger, and my ears pricked up. So I listened. Three questions into it, I knew what I had done wrong. I interviewed. I didn't converse. To me, what makes a good talk show is a host and a subject having a conversation. Patrick does it well. Mike and the Mad Dog (Mike Francesa and Chris Russo) do it extremely well on WFAN in New York. And as I listened to me interviewing Bulger and sounding all official, I said to the radio: "Will you please just talk to this guy?! Converse!''
If I did it again, I'd remind myself of that every five minutes.
1. I think that sometime in the next month an interesting trade will be consummated. It won't really be a trade, but it'll be, in effect, a Kerry Collins-for-Rich Gannon deal between the Giants and Raiders. Gannon still hopes the Raiders will hang onto him, and even re-do his contract, but I don't see it happening. Collins will likely compete with Marques Tuiasosopo in camp and probably win that job. Gannon will be forced to pick from among a bunch of not-very-good options, and will choose to return to his East Coast roots (he went high school in Philly, played in college as a Delaware Blue Hen) to mentor Eli Manning -- and perhaps play the month of September or longer while Manning gets ready. One of the things I talked about with Ernie Accorsi during my radio gig the other day was that Gannon would be a perfect (though more acerbic) analogy to what Gary Danielson was to Bernie Kosar almost two decades ago. All of this, of course, is contingent on the Raiders cutting Gannon and Gannon being willing to be a Danielson.
2. I think, for the record, now that I've seen Drew Bledsoe's renegotiated contract, it's unlikely he'll be back with the Bills in 2005 unless he plays really, really well this year. The Bills whacked the $7 million bonus he was due in November that would have activated the 2005-2007 portion of his contract and handed him a $6.5 million bonus now. They cut his salary from the original $6 million he was scheduled to earn under his old deal in 2004 to $2.25 million. So he'll make $8.75 million in bonus and salary in 2004. He was scheduled to make $6 million in 2005 and 2006 as well, and under the re-done deal, if he stays on the team, he'd make $4.35 million and $5.4 million in bonus and salary in 2005 and 2006, respectively. You don't pay a backup that much money. It's more likely he'll get cut after the season and the Bills will swallow a $4.3 million cap hit in 2005 from his pro-rated bonus.
3. I think you have to look at what the Bills have done to address their quarterback situation in recent years with a suspicious eye and think: This J.P. Losman kid had better be good. In 1998, with a good team getting old fast, the Bills traded their first-round pick (a top-10 selection) to Jacksonville for Rob Johnson. Johnson was an abject failure in Buffalo. In 2002, the Bills traded their 2003 first-round pick to New England for Bledsoe. I guess to be kind you'd say the jury's still out, but he looks cooked. (In 32 starts, he's thrown 35 TDs, 27 interceptions and been sacked a ridiculous 103 times. He's supposed to be a deep-ball thrower, but he completed two passes for longer than 40 yards in 2003.) Now, in this year's draft, Buffalo traded a second-rounder this year and a first-rounder in 2005 for Losman, the brash kid from Tulane. Assuming Bledsoe's gone after this year, the Bills will have traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder in an effort to find Jim Kelly's long-term heir. I sure hope Losman can take the pressure of that weight.
4. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Get a life, everyone, on this Spider-Man 2 base-logo thing. This is where sports have been going for years, and it's going to happen, whether it's now or soon. I don't like logos on bases, but I'm not an owner who's indebted and trying to pay ballplayers' salaries either. How do those ads affect your enjoyment of the game, or the purity of the game? Not much. Baseball shouldn't have backed down.
b. I'm no Friends watcher, but I did tune over after Red Sox-Indians to NBC about 9:50 last Thursday night, hoping to see some drama or gnashing of teeth. And my only comment after watching David Schwimmer stand there staring at Jennifer Aniston for 40 or 50 seconds after she walked back into his life -- apparently -- is this: What are you waiting for, man?! Where are your base instincts?! Who stands and stares at a moment like that, particularly at Jennifer Aniston?
c. Montclair (N.J.) High Softball Note of the Week: Since probably half the teams in New Jersey make the state tournament, it may not seem like such a great accomplishment, but I know the Mounties' parents are certainly happy with the fact that the massively rebuilt Montclair nine clinched a spot in the postseason last week, finishing with a 12-8 season record. Kudos to Lonnie Smith, the rookie coach, and aides Joyce Weeg and Harold Ferguson for their patience in working with many kids who were experiencing varsity softball for the first time. Game 1 in the New Jersey Group IV North I tournament is May 18, on the road somewhere at 4 p.m. Why don't you north Jerseyites come to cheer on the Mounties?
d. Coffeenerdness: Lawrence Latham of Austin, Texas, questions my sanity in praising Green Mountain Coffee and saying it's underrated on the national coffee scene. "Peter, seek professional help,'' Latham wrote. "You have descended into a java-induced hazy underworld I did not know existed.'' Touche, Lawrence. I am deep into that underworld right now, and happy to be there.
e. WARNING! Sopranos Note of the Week ahead!
Last night's show said one thing: Janice should be a far greater presence in this drama. Every time she surfaces, the pace picks up. Her brawl was one great scene. I did think, however, that Tony went eight miles too far in beating the mental crap out of her at Sunday dinner. Simmer, fella.
5. I think the Giants players' protest may get Tom Coughlin to cut back his strenuous offseason workouts a bit, but this is a new world, G-men. This is a world in which the word "voluntary'' does not exist. It has been replaced with "voluntary mandatory.''
6. I think I'm hearing ominous signs out of Washington that first-round pick Sean Taylor does not want to be a Redskin. But I wouldn't expect Joe Gibbs to be too worried. He'll figure this one out.
7. I think those Giants fans who have some skepticism about the validity of picking Chris Snee, father of Coughlin's grandson, early in the second round should rest easy. An executive with a 2003 playoff team told me about the Boston College guard last week: "He was our guy if he fell to us in the second round. We had him as the top non-tackle on our board.''
8. I think Jim Haslett can sleep easy these days, because he loves defensive linemen, especially ones who can dominate in a rotation. After adding Ohio State DE Will Smith in the first round he now has seven of them who could start for virtually any team in the league.
9. I think Randy Moss will have to play with plantar fasciitis all season. Don't worry for him. It's a pain, but once you get loose and warmed up, you don't feel it. How do I know? I had it bad a few months ago. I hated it every day I woke up with it, but you get over it as the day goes on and you get loose. I always knew Randy and I were buds.
10. I think, eight months from now, we'll see a Seattle-Jacksonville Super Bowl. Unless John Fox interferes.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Peter King covers the NFL beat for the magazine and is a regular contributor to SI.com. Monday Morning Quarterback appears in this space every week.