Thursday, March 22, 2012

Doubling down on quarterbacks

They say fortune favors the brave, and at The Quarterback Casino this week, there were five fearless bidders for Peyton Manning. But there were also four losers at the close, and no matter what you think was whispered behind heavy doors guarded by burly earpiece-toting goons, there was only ever going to be one awarded the spoils. So I think it’s a stretch for some pundits and fans to start tossing their complimentary cocktails at the GMs who sat down at the Peyton Hold ‘Em table and left short of a flush. Cards were dealt, faces turned to stone, and perhaps some Jennifer Tilly-style cleavage was even dropped. But once those cards tumbled, all bets were off. The public went into a frenzy and everyone with a Twitter account was ready to pounce with 140-character assassinations. Sure, it’s human nature to hope for a run of aces in such matters, but really, how often do you land a king? 

The Manning free agency story has reaffirmed an ugly truth about modern water-cooler conversation, and that’s that every opinion, and every warped or misguided piece of gossip is shaping the collective perception about sports stories, even if all the information published is inaccurate. In particular, I take exception to the incessant slaughtering of the Miami Dolphins, as both a brand and an organization, first by a number of columnists, and broadly across social media, as if their current circumstance - being a mid-tier ball club - is the result of a flawed business strategy. This so-called hopelessness, not merely the ups and downs of off-season gambling, is said to have undermined the Fins ability to sign Matt Flynn, and perhaps Alex Smith, too. Seriously? Somebody sound the shark alarm: the Dolphins are in trouble!

Even if the Fish are starting to smell, even if what chronic tweeters like the Steelers' Ryan Clark says is remotely true, we have no real evidence to suggest that it was the basis of Manning’s choice to play in Denver. The fact that John Elway is the head honcho in Mile High would indicate that Manning was hooked on the Broncos from the start. None of the other four teams in play employ Elway either, so in that regard, they were each equally disadvantaged, and equally flawed in their chase. But because Miami so hastily pursued Flynn after Manning, and missed there as well, the stink of the initial miscue is more pungent, at least in the public arena, where apparently opinion now trumps fact. That little context is provided to the endless vitriol of rumor spewed across the web, and that only a tiny percentage of people – usually players, agents, and some reporters are actually informed about these dealings – makes it implausible that we consider it, or that so many columnists fuel the fire further. In some cases, it seems, the players don't even know the truth themselves, as we saw with Smith traveling to Miami in search of new options.

And now the online consensus is that Miami's signing of David Garrard was a desperate and floundering move from an organization is complete disarray, due mostly to the perceived ineptitude of GM Jeff Ireland. Heck, fans in Miami have taken to the streets over this. My question to those spinning this agenda, including the Tweeters, Commenters, and News Churners, is what is the club supposed to do at this juncture? If they do nothing, after missing on two quarterbacks, one of whom hasn't proven a thing outside of playing well in two NFL games, then certainly their inactivity would be ridiculed. By inking Garrard, who has played well in recent seasons, including 23 touchdowns for a 90.8 QB rating in 2010, they at least have an additional QB option. If the team signed him after 2008's AFC Wild Card Game it would be regarded as genius. Instead, now, it's a major risk because what you did five minutes ago isn't just fresh in the mind, it means the world. In this light, Matt Flynn is a superstar because he won a meaningless game late last season.

Hey here's something to tweet: Matt Moore won six games last year as the Dolphins starter, and was a play away from beating both the Cowboys and Giants too.

This article first appeared on Technorati as Broncos Strong Hand, While Dolphins Go Fish 

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