All posts by Jay Brandriet

THE PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME IS ABOUT TO HAVE A SERIOUS LOG JAM: WR EDITION

Jay C. Brandriet

12/4/17

The old saying has often been “too many guy’s get into the Hall of Fame”. The new truth is, not enough players are getting that call. We have so much more information about today’s athletes and the history of the NFL than ever before. An average of six men per year have been inducted over the past 20 seasons. That comes across as a reasonable number. If you look behind the curtain, a log jam is taking place. Looking at the category of receiver only, I think this group of retired players all have a compelling case to be in.

Proudly from the University of Utah, Smith was a punt and kick return star in his early NFL days.

 

 RETIRED RECEIVERS THAT DESERVE TO BE IN THE HALL: 

 

RANDY MOSS: “Freak”.  Legend.  His go up and get it, and ball skills were a ten. Many fans would say Moss is the most talented wide receiver they have ever seen.

 

TERRELL OWENS: His initial power off the line of scrimmage was intense. It’s obvious T. O.  is a  Hall of Famer( just ask him)! Owens work ethic, skill, and level of dominance attained are all top shelf historically.

 

CALVIN JOHNSON: Johnson was the ultimate specimen to ever play wide receiver. I remember a few late game situations where “Megatron” was triple covered by Cowboys players. Each time the ball was in the air, it felt like the odds were 60 percent in his favor…. Calvin caught all three of them.

 

DREW PEARSON:  Pearson was the NFC’s best receiver in the 1970’s. He is widely considered one of the greatest clutch players in football history.

 

CLIFF BRANCH: An elegant yards per catch guy, Branch is the only Raider to play on all three title teams. At the time of his retirement he ranked number one in total post season catches and yardage.

 

HINES WARD: His Pittsburgh Steelers team records speak volumes. Ward has two rings and a Super Bowl MVP. His niche of being an all time great blocker helps get him in.

 

ISAAC BRUCE: His 80 yard TD grab was the go ahead score in Super Bowl 34. Bruce does not have near the name he should for how awesome he was. He’s like his generations Art Monk.

 

STERLING SHARPE: Sharpe did not miss a game in his seven years. His career ended after a serious neck injury following a season where he scored 18 times. At his best, Sharpe was in the same class as Irvin, Carter, Reed, and Tim Brown.

 

TORRY HOLT: His routes were precise and his hands were like football magnets. From 2000-2009 Holt’s 868 receptions and 12, 594 yards are the highest totals, for any decade in league history.

 

REGGIE WAYNE: Reggie was a steady pro who likely left a HOF resume on the field. He played in 21 post season games. At the time of his retirement, no player had more receiving yardage versus Bill Belichick led teams.

 

ANQUAN BOLDIN: I watched every snap of his first pro game at Detroit. He had 217 beast like yards. Boldin was eventually the go to guy on a world champion. He played a month after having seven plates and 40 screws put in his face.

 

STEVE SMITH: Nobody wore that chip on the shoulder better than Steve Smith. He was so fierce, and was one of the top playmakers of his generation. He’d catch it, pivot the other direction and it would look like he was part of the field.

 

ANDRE JOHNSON: Some guys should simply be awarded in the category of “what was your level while you played”? Johnson was elite at his job. Three times he had 1, 500 plus yard seasons.

 

RECEIVERS THAT STILL DESERVE A LOOK:

Chad Johnson

Rod Smith

Gary Clark

Harold Carmichael

Henry Ellard

Otis Taylor

Wes Welker

Larry Fitzgerald will be a first ballot guy when he’s done. Guys like Antonio Brown can think ahead to how the yellow jacket may fit them. The game will continue to be full of volume passing totals. More receivers are getting in this long line to be recognized. Who else deserves to be on my list?

 

 

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ELI MANNING IS A WEIRD LEVEL OF GREATNESS

Jay C. Brandriet

11/30/17

The New York Giants (2-9) have benched Eli Manning for the rest of the year to look at younger players. This has caused quite a stir, and a reason for everyone to judge Manning’s career.  As a Dallas Cowboys fan, my job is to “hate” Eli. I truly have thought of his interceptions to put myself to sleep a few times. I can picture each pick, like cute little sheep.

Eli did not have the talent of division rivals McNabb or Romo. Those guys want Manning’s trophy case.

 

From a family of football royalty, it comes across like Eli has always been fighting through shadows. He doesn’t have the skills his father had. The only time he has ever been better at football than his brother Peyton, is right now.

Who has ever thought of him as top three QB at any point? Top five? Bueller? This guy is very hard to rank among the best that ever played.

Manning has three seasons of disgusting interception totals (20, 25, and 27).  He would turn the ball over and have this mopey expression that would annoy Giants fans to no end. I can see him unsnapping his chin strap to a chorus of New York boo birds as he walked to the sideline. Tiki Barber said he would follow a young Manning off the field yelling “posture matters”!

Eli is very good. He is tough, durable, smart, and above all clutch. Some will claim “Eli threw a couple lucky passes to win his two Super Bowls.” That’s garbage!

In the 2007 post season, he beat a Cowboys squad with 13 Pro Bowlers on the road. Number ten then out clutched Brett Favre in extreme temperature in Green Bay.

Manning then played a huge role in the biggest NFL upset of my lifetime. That Patriots team came in 18-0, and WOULD HAVE been considered the best single season team of all time.

Eli won a second ring and Super Bowl MVP a few years later. Let’s not under do that his teams beat Bill Belichick and Tom Brady TWICE when it mattered most.

This guy is a class act. He  will end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday. First ballot? Probably not…Eli Manning a weird level of greatness.

ISIAH THOMAS SAID THIS ABOUT MICHAEL JORDAN’S ENERGY LEVEL

Jay C. Brandriet

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The Detroit Pistons were Michael’s biggest hill to climb.

9/4/17

From on court battles, “freeze outs”, and Dream Team controversies Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan are at a minimum, rivals.

There is true basketball tension between the two players. Isiah is an expert on Mike’s energy.

 

BEFORE GAME 3 OF THE 1993 NBA FINALS

Thomas was being interviewed before the game. Bob Costas was breaking down how tough and how well Isiah’s clubs played Jordan years earlier.

Isiah responded, “The thing that amazes me about Michael Jordan compared to any other player in the league is his stamina and his endurance. The thing that I wasn’t able to do and Magic wasn’t able to do, we had to succumb to injuries. We didn’t seem to have the type of energy level and stamina he seems to possess. Every single night whether he’s playing against the worst team in the league or the best team in the league….He has an energy level that is unmatched by any other player or any other athlete that I’ve seen in professional sports. Whether it be basketball, football, baseball, track, or tennis. His energy level is so much greater than ours it seems that night in and night out, he’s there performing at a level that we quite frankly weren’t able to reach.”

After Isiah said this, Jordan won four more NBA championships.

LEBRON DOESN’T REMIND ME OF ANY ONE PLAYER, HE REMINDS ME OF SIX

Jay C. Brandriet

Trying to compare LeBron James to another player I’ve seen is impossible. There has never been anyone quite like him in pro basketball. He’s so unique it took these six great players to explain how I see him.

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Like Magic, James knows who needs the ball next. Like Malone, he often gets over with power.

KARL MALONE (30%)  Have you ever seen the 6’9″, 260 lb. Karl Malone filling the outside lane on the fast break? Scary! His body was a weapon and nobody delivered at the rim like “The Mailman”. When you look at LeBron in transition you see something similar. He’s a freight train and it might be smart to move aside. I watched Karl score 37,000 points and many of them were playing “bully ball” like James has. They each seal defenders off down low, and guys bounce off their muscles. They both hit about 74% of their foul shots. LeBron is durable and sometimes seems bionic. He will get hurt, and will be running full speed a few minutes later. Malone played 80 or more games an incredible 17 times.

 

EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON (25%)

Among the greatest passers, my favorite was Magic. He was the ultimate conductor and it seemed like he had four guys on a string. LeBron, like Magic before him is obsessed with making his teammates better. They both lead with joy and a brain for the game. James was a share first guy from day one, and is one of the elite passers in his own right. He comes up with crafty stuff, especially getting the ball cross court. The King and Magic are also a perfect match as rebounders. LeBron seems to go the Finals every year, a place Johnson found himself 9 times over 12 seasons.

 

SCOTTIE PIPPEN (15%)

It’s the point forward thing. Mostly it’s that Scottie Pippen was a defensive terror with athleticism and length. He could matchup all over the floor. LeBron can check anyone in the league in a pinch. His defensive versatility is arguably his most impressive trait.

 

MICHAEL JORDAN (20%)

Michael Jordan took what he wanted when driving to the hole. He’d pull up and go glass, go around you, over you, and even through you. LeBron James is unstoppable driving to the basket. Finesse and power come together in harmony. Nobody had energy like Jordan. He only slept four hours a night during his prime. Dropping 22 in the final quarter, while shutting down his man was just another Tuesday night for Mike. King James is producing a new kind of energy. He has a body and a skill set that has him on pace to be great at an older age than anyone in NBA history. In his 15th pro season, LBJ is slapping father time in the face.

Jordan is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. It was not because he was 6-0 in the Finals….He actually just played basketball better than everyone else has. As LeBron ages, he reminds me more of Michael now than ever.

 

CLYDE DREXLER (5%)

LeBron also has a smooth side. I think of Clyde “The glide” at his best. Drexler would spin and lay it in pretty. He may dunk it from 10 feet out, or swoop in for a timely finger roll.

 

DWYANE WADE (5%)

On a professional and personal level LeBron and D Wade are close and share a lot of beliefs and history inside the game. Both guys are explosive scorers. Their similar styles were evident in the alley-oop connection they displayed in Miami. King James is a much better clutch player than his reputation suggests.

Jay C. Brandriet

12/5/17

 

 

 

 

STEVE KERR TELLS US HOW JORDAN DOMINATED DIFFERENTLY THAN CURRY

Jay C. Brandriet

5/24/17

In 2016 Steph Curry was named the NBA Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season. He was a unanimous choice and that was a legit result. When someone gets this good, it’s natural to compare them to Michael Jordan. Steve Kerr is uniquely qualified to talk about these two guys. He played with MJ and currently coaches Curry. Kerr broke it down this way to Dan Patrick:

 

 

 

 

“It’s a different feel. Michael was so dominant, physically, emotionally. I always got the sense everybody was afraid of him-the opponents, the referees, his teammates. He was so dominant just with his presence. With Steph it’s totally different. He looks like your little brother. He’s just out there running around and firing away and hitting these incredible shots. He dominates with his skill. Michael did too,  but Michael dominated with just his very presence. I think it’s just a different feeling with Steph. It’s one of the reasons he’s so popular. I think people can actually relate. Not so much to his skill, but his physical stature and just the fact he looks like a normal guy. It’s remarkable he can dominate the way that he does at that size.”

 

A COUPLE FACTS YOU HAVE TO SEE ABOUT MICHAEL JORDAN CONSISTENTLY WINNING GAMES

Jordan’s Bulls were 23-0 when they had home court advantage.

The greatest player of all time was his most productive from 1990 to 1998. You often hear about Michael Jordan’s six championship rings and the six Finals MVP’s that came along with them. His Chicago Bulls compiled two different “Three-Peats” and were never pushed to a game seven. Jordan won 25 of his last 26 playoff series.

From November 3rd 1990 to June 14th 1998, no Michael Jordan led team lost three games in a row. That covers a span of 628 games (502 regular season-126 post season games). He was that good kids!

Jay C. Brandriet

5/10/17

THE LEVEL TONY ROMO HIT IN 2014, LEFT RESPECT ON HIS LEGACY

With a broken back, Romo put on a clutch clinic in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jay C. Brandriet

4/25/17

Tony Romo leaves the game of football as one of its most polarizing characters. He was all time talented, and highly criticized. Some of the heat was fair because he and his teams did not win enough big games. He also could melt down with the best of them over his first seven seasons. Truth is, Romo’s overrated Cowboys teams helped him become the most underrated quarterback of his generation. While he had a handful of star level seasons, 2014 was his finest work. This was the best offensive team he ever played on. This effort was more than just Romo’s remarkable peak. You’ll soon agree it was one of the most efficient, clutch seasons in the 97 year history of the National Football League.

SETTING THE SCENE

Tony was coming into 2014 off his second back surgery in as many years. He was now 34 years old and his health was a major question mark for the first time in his career. He was held out of practice on Wednesday’s all year long. Dallas had the worst defense in the league the previous season. This Cowboys team was “expected” to win 7 games.

In the season opener at home I didn’t expect Romo to have his legs. He struggled to push the ball down the field. He threw three first half picks. The 49ers had their way with the Cowboys 28-17.

Week 2 at Tennessee. I thought Tony’s body looked stiff and his ball was coming out wobbly. He was like a shell of the young, spry athlete he once was. It went overlooked because Dallas won, number nine did not turn it over, and the ground game was elite.

Week 3 at St. Louis. After Romo throws a pick six late in the second quarter, It’s 21-3 Rams. In that moment, this season was looking very bleak for Tony and his team.

Week 8  vs the Redskins. Romo receives a knee in the back. The result was two fractured transverse process and a cracked rib. He comes back to play late in the game in an eventual Redskins victory. He misses the next week (28-17 loss to Arizona). He comes back 12 days later in a flak jacket.

WINNING/LOSING/CLUTCH

(These are the three areas every QB is harshly judged in the ultimate team sport).

Romo was 12-3 as a starter. (League best winning percentage).

He was 8-0 on the road.  (Fourth QB to accomplish this. Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, and Joe Montana did it twice).

With the NFC East crown at stake, the Colts were the Cowboys opponent. Romo was on fire, converting on 16 straight passes. He had 4 touchdown strikes in a 42-7 route. Tony finished 18-20. It was only the 24th time in NFL history a player completed 90 percent of his attempts.

Playoff game vs Detroit: The best defense in the league belonged to these Lions. They beat Tony down and sacked him six times. Detroit was up 20-7 with under three minutes left in the third quarter. Romo made multiple plays in crunch time and hit Terrance Williams for the game winner.

Playoff game at Green Bay: Tony goes 15-19 throwing the ball. With four plus minutes remaining, Dallas was down five points on the 33 yard line. The intense situation was fourth down and two. On an incredibly daring play, Romo threw a beautiful ball 35 yards down the field. He gave Dez Bryant the right opportunity. Things did not work out, and the Packers advanced to the NFC championship game.

The Cowboys faced a deficit in 13 of his 17 games.

Tony tied for a league high, five game winning drives.

He had a passer rating of 133.7 in December. The best mark of all time for the month.

His completion percentage in December was 74.8%, the second best mark ever for the month.

Over the last six games (4 reg season, 2 playoffs) his TD to pick ratio was 16/1.

When trailing, in the last four minutes of games…Romo was 11 of 15 passing. This included seven first downs, three touchdowns, and zero picks.

DOMINANCE

Look at where Romo finished in the following crucial categories:

Number one in passer rating (113.2). (Only six seasons have ever been better).

Number one in QBR (81.5).

Number one in completion percentage (69.9). (Only seven seasons have ever been better).

Number one in yards per attempt (8.5).

Number one in touchdown percentage. He threw a td pass on 7.8% of his throws.

Only player to ever have six games in a season with a rating over 135.0.

From week two of the season to the Cowboys  second playoff game, Romo had 37 touchdown passes and 6 interceptions.

HONORS/PERSPECTIVE

NFC Offensive Player of the Month for December

He was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl.

Named Second-Team All-Pro

Finished in third place for NFL Most Valuable Player (with teammate DeMarco Murray).

This was a competitive MVP race. Aaron Rodgers may be the most talented QB ever, and was a fine choice as the winner. JJ Watt was in his most dominant form. DeMarco was a beast, and helped muddy the voting waters. Tom Brady’s legend was also in the mix.

Tony didn’t sniff a Super Bowl ring. I think he will come up short of the Hall of Fame. He never got the credit for the heavy lifting he did for mostly average teams. He was a low-level star with issues, not the bum many painted him to be. There is a reason this QB himself, and his fans can be at peace. For an 18 game window in 2014, nobody on earth played professional football better than Tony Romo did. Respect that.