Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jimmy Clausen, Mike Lombardi and Me

My position on Clausen in 2010

A year ago, I was one of Jimmy Clausen’s most outspoken detractors. I went back and read a few of my blog posts in prep for this one, and I cringe at some of the ruthless, crushing, brutal statements I laid down. I was brutally honest. I had reason to be.

Those were desperate times. My Rams had hit the bottom of the barrel. The organization was going to change QBs, and that meant choosing a new QB somewhere in the 2010 draft. We all knew that. There was a loud and vocal Notre Dame contingent in the Midwest who were adamant that the Rams needed to select Jimmy Clausen #1 in the draft. Mel Kiper Jr. was pouring fuel on that fire. I had to stomp out the fire.

It wasn’t personal. I don’t hate the kid. I wish him success now that he is in the league. I just didn’t want my team to take him. Why? Well… I was pretty sure he was going to go bust for all the reasons I spelled out in detail. We were already in the shithouse. We could not afford to lose 5 years and another HQ regime on a busted #1 pick. The catastrophe had to be averted.

Mike Lombardi’s position on Clausen in 2010

A year ago, Mike Lombardi was pretty damn positive on Jimmy Clausen. Like many, he loved the fact that Clausen played under center for the ‘legendary’ (wft?) Charlie Weis. Like many, Lombardi suspected that Clausen might be the most pro-ready QB. Like so many, Lombardi felt that Clausen had fallen into a nearly ideal situation in Carolina. He was with a good team that had a solid running game, a good offensive line, and a good defense. Clausen was ostensibly the QB best setup for success in 2010. Or so they all said…

Well, here we are…

What a difference a single year makes. My Rams are no longer 1-15 but 7-9. The Panthers are no longer 8-8 but 2-14. We gained 6 wins. They lost 6 more games. We took Sam Bradford (over my objections) and they took Clausen (over my objections). The Panthers are drafting #1. We are drafting #14. What a remarkable flip-flop of positions.

My, my, my how everyone’s positions on Clausen have changed!

Mike Lombardi’s position on Clausen in 2011

Lombardi, like everybody else, seems to have completely written off Clausen after a just few starts in 2010. Yes, it was ugly. It was even more ugly than I suggested. Lombardi and everybody else has some justification for the quick flip-flop of position.

Now you see Lombardi advocating the notion that Carolina must draft Blaine Gabbert with the top pick in this 2011 Draft.

My position on Clausen in 2011

You have no idea how awkward I feel writing the following paragraph. Were I any other guy, I would probably be crowing about how right I was, and how wrong everybody else was. I would pound my chest about how I took a stand against the draft experts and won. Granted, I sorta did a little bit of that here, but this is not what I have sat down to write.

My position on Clausen in 2011 is… eh… ah… er… give him another chance.






Yes way. Let me make the following points and I’ll just leave it at that.

Reasons for not drafting a QB and giving Clausen a chance in 2011

  1. You hardly gave Clausen a chance in 2011
  2. Having drafted this kid, you are morally obligated to give this kid something vaguely resembling an even break.
  3. The whole team clearly suffered a massive breakdown this season.
  4. This wasn’t exactly Clausen’s fault.
  5. You didn’t get better results with Nat Moore.
  6. One of the best reasons why Clausen is going bust now lies in the fact that he came out as a true 21 year old junior. Junior QBs go bust at a 90% rate in the NFL.
  7. Lombardi is counseling you to take another 21 year old true junior.
  8. Do you want another thin-dime of a chance with your #1 pick in 2011?
  9. While I do believe Blaine Gabbert is a heck of a lot better than Clausen, I am still not sold on this guy, especially as the #1 pick overall.
  10. I think the odds are perilously high that you will compound the bust of one true junior QB with another true Junior QB. The cost of this bust will be vastly higher.
  11. If you are smart, you’ll trade down with the Bengals, get a 2nd round pick. Then you should select Patrick Peterson and Christian Ponder or (maybe) Jake Locker.
  12. Even if Ponder is the guy you start by the end of the season, you may develop Clausen into a salable commodity in 2011. Get something back for him.
I must say I am a little annoyed…

I’ve been mentioning Mike Lombardi quite a bit lately. Although I like the guy, he annoys me tremendously with his advocacy of the QB position. Setting aside the concrete fact that the only good QB is a dead QB, it seems that Lombardi’s sole mission on Path to the Draft is to convince as many teams to take QBs as high in the first round as possible.

I am not nearly so sanguine about taking a QB in the draft. Knowing full well that you bare a 70% chance of going bust in a best-case scenario, this is not a gamble you take lightly. You don’t gamble like this every year, unless you are a crazy fool. You should be especially careful of gambling like this when you are stuck in the shithole. If you miss here, you are fucked for 5 years, and it will probably sink the current administration.

Just remember what Billy Devaney said to Marshall Faulk “When I drafted this kid, I had to pack-up my office. If he gets hurt, I’m going to be fired.” Draft one at your mortal risk.

Now… once again, I feel a little funny writing that last paragraph. Why? Well… you see, my Rams seem to be the latest primary beneficiaries of drafting a top-end QB. Yes, I know this is true. It is very good not need a QB, especially this year. The future looks bright for my Rams, and this is because we have a rising franchise QB. Thought I fought the hell out of him, Devaney turned out to be right, and I was wrong.

I want to say it one more time, so I make it perfectly clear: None of the QBs in this draft are strong enough to carry the weight of Sam Bradford’s jockstrap. I don’t feel particularly great about any of the QB prospects in this draft. Last year, I liked three of them, but not necessarily for my Rams.

Don’t let anybody deceive you: 2011 is a much worse year for QBs than 2010. There are a lot of absolutely sensational athletes in this draft; possibly the best we’ve ever seen. I don’t know if there is so much as one franchise QB in this draft. If there is, he probably isn’t one of the guys they are looking at in the 1st round.