I have been going about my off-season in usual fashion,
following cuts and signings, analyzing and scrutinizing draft picks and
trades, in short, doing the small things that I hope will make the
difference when the regular season rolls around. Amidst all the studying,
I find myself, in very typical fashion, getting caught up in the
opinionated and completely speculative rhetoric of the “statisticless
off-season, and the bandwagons this year, no different from any other, are
I can tolerate writers bad-mouthing, albeit usually in a biased
fashion, the likes of Fred Taylor or Terry Glenn; I can fathom the lack of
confidence many have in Brian Griese, Jake Plummer, Jim Miller, Marcus
Robinson or Germane Crowell. Heck, I am getting a kick out of the soap
opera otherwise known as the
But, dealing with the predictable, yet arbitrary skepticism and
capricious trash talk about two of the NFL’s hardest-working and, to one
degree or another, finest players is frustrating. The players are
quarterback Brad Johnson and wide receiver Rod Smith, and on the
"bandwagon train" ride writers from across the spectrum, from
Fanball to CNN/SI and ESPN, including such credible guys as John Clayton.
This, I am not getting!
when does Brad Johnson suck? It was not but a year ago when this guy was
the hottest quarterback on the market. Since when did he come to deserve
jibes like “Brad is long in the neck but short on talent…” or to be,
de facto, shoved down the Buccaneers' depth chart? Initially, when it was
announced that Jon Gruden was traded to the Bucs, I was excited for Brad.
It seemed as if everybody else went in the opposite direction, especially
after the signing of "all-world" Rob Johnson. I have always felt
that Brad Johnson would be an ideal quarterback for the "West Coast
Offense." Johnson is much more mobile than he is given credit for. It
is just that he knows well how to dump off that last-second short pass and
let the more nimble runners do their job. I actually thought it was a
shame that he was forced out of
It will not take too long for Gruden to realize that Shaun King
simply does not have an NFL-caliber arm, Rob Johnson, at best, needs quite
a bit more work and that Brad Johnson is the hardest-working, smartest
and, bottom line, best all-around quarterback he has. In 1999, was it not
Johnson that made a hero out of theretofore "suckass" Michael
Westbrook? Did he not pass for 4,000+ yards, have 26 touchdowns, and
achieve a solid 90 passer rating before falling prey to the Snyder-George-Schottenheimer
debacle and then falling into the abyss now known as Tony Dungy's
Buccaneer "O", which did not even have a real offensive
coordinator with any kind of proven track record. New head coach Jon
Gruden has acquired all of the complementary parts: WR Joe Jurevicious, TE
Ken Dilger and RB Michael Pittman. Along with the Johnson’s, Brad and
All of this talk about Johnsons and I cannot help but think about
Rod... Smith, that is! According to one fairly reputable source, only one
of Denver’s wideouts will make it all the way back this season; Rod is
suffering through a stress fracture from playing through his ankle
injuries last season and has thus far this off-season been limited to
riding the stationary bike to stay in shape and Ed McCaffery is still
recovering from his broken leg, and this writer's "money is on 'White
Man Deluxe'." This opinion is predicated, of course, on the very
well-founded and logical parallel drawn between the hard-working receiver
Smith's missing of the Broncos' first mini-camp and Titans "workoutaholic"
running back Eddie George's missing off-season workouts last year and his
subsequent under-productive 2001 campaign. Oh, but of course, the
situations ooze similarities. Both players play the same position... no!
Okay, they suffered the same injury(ies)... no, again! Okay, they both, at
least, underwent off-season surgery of some kind... nope! They are both
hard workers... okay, yes, and according to this clown it stands to reason
that two hard-working players playing different positions for different
ball clubs with completely different injury situations will suffer the
same fate. Come on! The bottom line is that Eddie George’s poor season
last year was all about three (interrelated) things, not just about his
being a hard worker who was unaccustomed to missing off-season workouts:
1) the loss of fullback Lorenzo Neal; 2) his "between the
tackles" bruising running style and how tough it is on his shoulders,
another part of his body that was banged up; 3) his toe injury and
subsequent toe surgery. Those little digits on your feet are more crucial
to an athlete than you could ever imagine and injuries to them are tough
to recover from and easy to re-injure. Just ask Deion Sanders and O.J.
McDuffie what kind of havoc toe injuries and surgeries wreaked on their
Eddie George's sitch has absolutely nothing to do with Rod Smith. I
do not work for the Broncos' training staff. Perhaps he will have a tough
time getting back to 100% by Week One, almost four months from now, or,
perhaps, I am sitting here writing this at 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night
Opinion aside, all things equal, as they are at present, "Johnson and Rod," in all likelihood, will rise to the occasion in 2002! That is not what my money is on; in fact, that is what the Buccaneers and Broncos' money is on.
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Revised: 08 Oct 2014 11:56:29 -0700 .