Monday, December 1, 2014

What Does Loyalty Get You?

by Justin Rasile

What have you done for me lately?  That seems to be a common saying in the world of sports, but especially in the NFL.  With upcoming contract expirations and off the field/ locker room disputes, this topic of loyalty has become a point of interest.  It is quite an anomaly how quickly fan reaction can change.  One minute a player is beloved by the whole fan base, then after a few bad performances or a poor season the love quickly turns to hate and fans start calling for the player or coach’s job.  I also believe it is extremely hypocritical that team personnel and “experts” call for players to play out and honor their contracts when in reality, those players can be cut the very next year.  I took a few topics that have been pointed out in recent weeks and I figured I would add my two cents.

Marshawn Lynch is at the forefront of this discussion.  Since arriving in Seattle, Lynch has been a polarizing figure, not by his off the field antics but by his magnificent on the field play.  The man who occasionally goes by Skittles has had over 1200 rushing yards in each of his 3 seasons starting for the Seahawks and now he wants to get paid again.  We have seen the recent signing busts for older running backs with not much tread left on the tires but who knows how much Lynch has left.  Everybody was writing him off in the offseason claiming he was going to get cut or that Robert Turbin or Christine Michael was going to overtake him for the starting role (YEAH RIGHT).  The Seattle running back is once again on pace for over 1200 rushing yards and looks to set a new high in receiving yards.  Does he deserve a new contract?  Absolutely.  He has not showed any signs of slowing down and will once again have to carry the team on his back to try and get the defending Super Bowl champions back to the postseason.  Now if there are locker room issues that I do not know of, then that may change things a little bit but for now please pay the man.  He has been loyal to you, be loyal back to him.

Keeping on the topic of loyalty, there is another issue that will have to be figured out.  The Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning conundrum.  These two have teamed up to win 2 Super Bowls for the New York Giants and nobody can take that away from either of them.  But as this team is staring at a top ten pick in this year’s draft, fans are questioning as to whether it’s time to move on from the Coughlin/ Eli era.  I don’t mean to sound like an ass when I say this, but these two guys did win you 2 fucking SUPER BOWLS.  Most recently in 2012.  Maybe that is just the New York market overreacting because they aren’t winning despite a somewhat talented team.  The defense is old and the offensive line is horrible. If you fix that then maybe the Giants can turn things around quickly.  The team is going through a transition as Eli Manning is going through his first change in offensive coordinators and has been playing average at best.  Manning had been playing very well up until two weeks ago when he threw 5 picks, but if you take away the game against San Francisco his stats are 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.  That’s not a bad stat line at all considering the offensive line has been pretty terrible and the running game is non-existent.  The emergence of Odell Beckham Jr. has been a lone bright spot on a lackluster team as he has the ability to add a spark that this team has desperately lacked since Victor Cruz went down with an ACL injury.  During the game against the Cowboys, Eli looked like the Eli of old and was zipping the ball to his targets and putting it in places that nobody else could get them.  He has amazing ability, but he just has some off games where he has a massive brain fart and decides to take a dump all over the offensive game plan.  Eli has already matched his touchdowns from last season.  So I still believe that he can remain this teams quarterback but they must draft a quarterback relatively soon and develop him so that when Eli is done, they will be able to seamlessly transition to the next era.  Coughlin on the other hand may have his days numbered.  From everything that I have heard and seen with my own eyes, players don’t respect/ fear him as much as they used to.  He has two rings but when your team stops listening to you it’s time for a change.  It could be an age factor or it could be the way he leads with authority as a dictator.  Players are adamant in their telling that they don’t want to play for hard ass coaches anymore (Belicheck is the exception).  They are adults and professionals and they don’t want to be constantly screamed at and treated like college kids.  Players want to play for “player” coaches like Pete Carroll.  He is a man that treats his players with dignity and respect and will fight for his players.  So maybe it’s time for the 68 year old to hang it up and move on.

The dumpster fire that has been the RG3 situation has been fun to watch but it is incredible how far he has fallen and how quickly fans have turned on him.  He has just been benched for the enigmatic Colt McCoy, possibly ending Griffin’s tenure in the nation’s capital.  The Redskins traded away 3 FIRST ROUND PICKS for this guy.  15% of the Rams roster came through the Griffin trade (8 players in total).  He was the quarterback of the future and the man who was supposed to lead Washington to the promise land.  He was assumed to be a better version of Michael Vick with his amazing downfield accuracy and ability to extend plays and pick up huge chunks of yards with his legs.  He was named to the pro bowl his first year and led his team to the playoffs but was injured in the process.  He ended up tearing his ACL, which normally takes away the explosiveness from athletes when that happens.  And that could not have been worse for RG3 because he relied on his legs when the pocket broke down.  Now he can’t do that, even though he tries.  The Redskins fired Mike Shannahan and hired Jay Gruden to adapt his pro style type offense to RG3’s skill set and capabilities.  This requires being a quick decision maker, which Griffin is not.  Now fans are starting to turn on him and have been calling for a change at quarterback.  Even team owner Daniel Snyder agrees with Gruden’s decision to bench the quarterback.  It is amazing how far this pro bowler has fallen and how quickly the love for him was lost.  It’s time for a change of scenery for him.

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