Jay Cutler, Teddy Bridgewater and the trouble with predictions
Everyone in the business misses on a few projections and predictions, but only a few are willing admit they were wrong. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White looks back at a few of his hits and misses from the preseason prognostications.
I know plenty of NFL columnists bloviate about all kinds of bullshit before the season, but when the season actually starts, they take almost no responsibility for their wrong predictions. I usually hate those kinds of writers in general, and I certainly would never want to be seen as doing anything similar.
I started thinking about this last week after I had to block three jackasses on Twitter. All three for some reason tweeted me all these weeks later about an article I wrote about Jay Cutler lighting up this year and his haters having to drink a hot cup of shut-the-fuck-up.
Yeahhhh — not my best prediction, admittedly.
I wouldn’t have had a problem with them bringing up the fact I got it wrong if they hadn’t been Richards about it, including one particular shithead who attempted a lame concussion joke.
Yo, I get shit wrong all that time when it comes to predictions, or really anything for that matter, but I have no problem admitting that. I’ve always felt like it helps rather than hurts someone’s credibility when they are willing to admit they screwed up and take responsibility for it.
Credibility is also why I try not to make too many predictions unless I’m really “sure” about it, because I never want to lose my own credibility by throwing stuff against the wall and hoping something sticks. Even then — lets be real — nobody can tell the future. All we can all do is our due diligence, make our best guesses and hope for a little luck.
Like when you predict a team will go from the cellar to being a playoff participant, they don’t lose their offensive coordinator to heart surgery the week before the regular season starts.
Like when you say a guy is worth taking as the No. 1 pick in the draft, a once-in-a-lifetime kind of player. Who could predict that guy ends up on IR after having a hernia surgery, a concussion, and two knee surgeries in his first season, one of which may actually threaten his career.
Like when you predict a big year for an oft criticized quarterback as though the guy you are talking about is Tony Romo and not Cutler.
Or like when you predict the impending demise of a once-feared, high-powered offense after a particularly ugly outing against the Chiefs due to the fact that their offensive line can’t protect the quarterback, the coach doesn’t magically discover the right combination of offensive linemen to keep Tom Brady upright and able to pick defenses apart just like normal.
Yeah, I didn’t have all that much luck this season on some of my predictions. However, I will say that I’m proud of some of the things I did get right.
Teddy Bridgewater has looked every bit as legit as a pro as I thought he would. Just look at the way he has performed as opposed to the rest of this rookie quarterback class. I, and many others, said he would be the best of all of them, and so far I would say he has been. He hasn’t been perfect, or even close at times. But when it comes to running the team well, being prepared for situational football, taking care of the ball and performing well in crunch time, I’m not sure any of the other guys have even been close to his level.
I do like Raiders second-round pick Derek Carr. He has impressed the hell out of me, all things considered. However, I’ve seen enough of him from watching his games to understand that he has some gunslinger in him that’s gonna get him in trouble until he learns to fully control it. He picks some inopportune times to make some really risky throws, and it’s obviously something he is going to have to work on this offseason, perhaps the rest of his career.
Jacksonville took Blake Bortles with the third-overall pick in the draft, and after an exciting beginning to his career earlier this season, he’s been pretty damn awful the second half of the season. He still has a ton of physical talent and at times his pocket presence is amazing. However, he tends to have brain farts near the end of games that don’t do his own team favors. Jonny Manziel didn’t get much of an opportunity this season with the Browns. What little he did get, he certainly did not make the most of it. Titans rookie quarterback Zack Mettenberger? More like MEHttenberger, yeah?
I’m just saying.
That isn’t to say those guys can’t catch up to and perhaps pass Bridgewater. Especially since, lets be real, Bridgewater doesn’t have the biggest arm in the world right now when it comes to his ability to push the ball down the field. I think he will get a lot stronger this offseason now that he doesn’t have to worry about weighing in at combines and whatnot, and that should allow him to improve in that area of his game.
Everything else though? His calm, smooth presence in the pocket, ability to escape the rush his touch on certain difficult downfield passes like corner routes and digs, and the fact that while he doesn’t take many shots down field, he certainly has shown that he isn’t gun shy when an opportunity to push the ball down the field presents itself.
All those things that Bridgewater has shown as an NFL quarterback are exactly what we like to call “draft Twitter” — things we all thought we would see out of the kid as a pro, based on his college film. Reams and reams of college film of the kid kicking ass, taking names, and showing all the skills NFL evaluators usually tend to covet had Bridgewater looking like a can’t miss prospect to most of us.
Somehow, most of our voices were drowned out during the draft season. People with bigger microphones instead chose to talk about skinny knees, small hands and supposed deficiencies as a leader that nobody on Earth had heard about prior to draft season nor had seen anything on film to be concerned about with respect to those issues. Oh, and of course there was the worst draft commentator in 2014 Mike Mayock (YEAH, I SAID IT!) unfairly trashing Bridgewater’s pre-draft workout as one of the worst he had ever seen.
A contention he would continue to make over and over again leading up to draft day until Mayock — the same guy who says always trust the film over workouts and who initially had Bridgewater rated as the top quarterback just like the rest of us — was talking about teams taking him off the board completely.
Are you kidding me?!
Who knows if any teams give a shit what Mayock thinks. We do know one owner who was influenced by a homeless guy, so I wouldn’t put it past any of them. All I do know is Bridgewater damn sure shouldn’t have lasted until the last pick in the first round. Even some teams whose rookie first-round picks have played well probably would have been better off taking Thim than whomever they chose over him. *cranes neck at Bucs*
I can’t take any credit for the kid balling out, but I will take credit for seeing that potential in him and not being swayed by the talking-loud-but-saying-nothing Mayocks of the world who were trying to convince everybody the guy would be a bust based on one frigging workout.
I used to be huge Mayock fan, but he really needs to answer for a lot of the bullshit he pushed this offseason as it pertains to some of these rookies. When he finishes explaining why he had such a hard-on for Bridgewater after that workout maybe he will also explain how he had Louis Nix III listed as his top defensive tackle for awhile.
I won’t hold my breath though.
Also, if I’m pointing out another prediction I’m proud of, I just want to point out that I did say if probable Defensive Rookie Of The Year Award winner Aaron Donald were a couple of inches taller he would be the No. 1 pick in the draft and probably should still be considered that type of talent. Shole did!!!
*pats self on back — hyperextends elbow*
Anyway, I’m sure I’ve been wrong about other stuff this season. If you would like to point those other things out to me on Twitter and even gloat a little bit, I don’t have a problem with that. Just please, pretty please, try to not be a Richard about it.