Quote of the Week I
"Wow. We got Holmes this is crazy. We makin' big moves this offseason.''
Quote of the Week II
"You don't have to be Mr. Loudest Guy in the Room. That's not ever going to be Sam. He's not going to be on 'SportsCenter' screaming at the top of his lungs. But that doesn't mean he's not going to get after you if you're not doing your job. He was well-respected in our locker room, and that wasn't just some transformation that happened in the last month or so either.''
-- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on Sam Bradford, in the excellent Bradford profile by Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday.
Quote of the Week III
"Going to Washington was the shocker to me. I think the Eagles are hurting themselves. Donovan makes the Redskins a better football team. They needed a player like that. But the Eagles run their team as a business. It's the New England approach -- 'Don't fall in love with the player.' I see why they did it. But I think Donovan's got a lot left and really improves the Redskins.''
-- FOX studio analyst Jimmy Johnson, to me, on the deal of Donovan McNabb from Philadelphia to Washington.
Quote of the Week IV
"Coach Reid knows what Donovan's limitations are.''
-- Former Eagles tackle Jon Runyan, on Sirius NFL Radio, asked why Philadelphia coach Andy Reid would deal McNabb within the division.
To be fair, Runyan didn't say this as a shot at McNabb. He said it simply to acknowledge that any coach who would trade a quarterback to a rival he plays twice a year would certainly know how to attack that quarterback and be comfortable that the quarterback would have an Achilles heel the old team would be able to exploit. That is why the trade is so fascinating, even a week later.
Stat of the Week
You think it's tough to pick a quarterback out of college football who will succeed in the NFL? I say it's harder to pick a pass-rusher. And when I talk to coaches and personnel people around the league, it's maddening to them to try to figure out if Derrick Morgan or Jason Pierre-Paul -- or maybe Sergio Kindle, if he goes to a 4-3 team and plays end -- will be productive rushing the quarterback.
A look at the nine defensive ends picked in the first two rounds of the 2009 draft shows that only one rushed the passer at a big-league level as a rookie. That was Brian Orakpo, the 13th overall pick, by Washington. He had 11 sacks and was getting some double-teams by the end of the season. Here are the other eight college defensive ends (one exception -- Connor Barwin was a jack-of-all-trades at Cincinnati) and how they fared rushing the passer as rookies:
Admittedly, this is no exact science. But the Bills and Broncos didn't draft Maybin and Ayers to see them take the field 31 times and never sack the passer.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
I spent some time recently with intriguing draft prospect Akwasi Owusu-Ansah of Indiana University of Pennsylvania for a piece that appears in the magazine, and I went into it thinking what a long shot small-college prospects are. And in terms of being an impact starter for years in the NFL, yes, a prospect from one of the 158 NCAA Division II schools is a long shot.
If you haven't heard of Owusu-Ansah, he's a 6-0, 208-pound corner/safety who runs a 4.38-second 40-yard dash. He's probably the best return man in the draft. He had five returns of kickoffs or punts for touchdowns last fall, including one of each in a four-minute span last October against Edinboro (Pa.). It's difficult for NFL teams to project how a player accustomed to competing against smallish, future bankers and insurance men will compete against some of the best athletes in the world.
I checked the last 10 drafts to see the history of Division II defensive backs, and it's actually very good news for Owusu-Ansah. Here's how the last 10 years of drafted Division II DBs have fared in the NFL:
Ten draft choices, zero busts, and two (maybe) solid NFL starters if Carr continues on his early-career path with the Chiefs. Pretty good odds for Owusu-Ansah.
Baseball Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
The Joe West umpiring crew made some headlines during the week, with veteran ump West telling The Record (Bergen, N.J.) that the Red Sox and Yankees took too long to play baseball. He said it was "pathetic and embarrassing'' that the two teams evaded the measures put in play by major league baseball to shorten the game.
The West crew did the Boston-New York three-game series in the first week of the season, followed by the Toronto-Baltimore three-gamer.
Time of the three Red Sox-Yankees games: 3:46 (West at the plate), 3:48, 3:21.
Time of the three Jays-Orioles games: 2:54, 2:24 (West at the plate), 2:22.
The Baltimore-Toronto games, on average, were 65 minutes shorter than the Boston-New York games.
West's game behind home plate in Baltimore was 82 minutes shorter.
I watch a lot of baseball, and since I follow the Red Sox closely and have since I was 6, I'd watch Sox-Yanks if their games were four hours long. That doesn't mean I enjoy the Sox-Yanks at four hours. I'd much rather see a 2:45 game. The other night, at fast-working John Lackey's first game with the Sox, I timed a six-pitch at-bat of New York's Nick Johnson at 78 seconds. That's a good thing. I support the umps telling Derek Jeter to get in the box and telling David Ortiz he doesn't have to adjust his gloves, spit in them and clap his hands before every pitch.
Enjoyable/Aggravating Travel Note of the Week
Commuting on the East Coast is fun. I mean, really -- it's fun. On Friday, I had an SI World Cup meeting (yes, I'm covering the group stage of it in June in South Africa) at a restaurant inside Citi Field at the Mets-Nats game. Left my Boston apartment at 11:50 for the 12:20 Acela to Manhattan. Arrived at 3:45 at Penn Station in Manhattan. Walked a few blocks to get on the 7 express train to Citi Field. Arrived at 4:40. Met with Team SI (Mark Mravic, Grant Wahl, Mark Bechtel) for 90 minutes, out-drank all but Mravic, listened to Wahl warn me about no Starbucks in Johannesburg, froze at the ballgame for four or five innings, got in a cab to JFK at 9:10 p.m., took the 10:40 p.m. JetBlue flight to Boston, was back in the apartment at 12:05. Door to door, with all that in between, in 12 hours and 15 minutes. Can't beat that.
Tweet of the Week
"Strasburg update: Between innings, he fixed a fan's carburetor on a '67 Buick&helped a woman give birth''
-- EricStangel, head writer/executive producer Eric Stangel of the "David Letterman Show,'' on the professional debut of last year's first-round baseball pick Steven Strasburg of the Washington Nationals. He pitched for Double-A Harrisburg at Altoon (Pa.) Sunday afternoon.
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