Don't forget about Friday's mailbag and we're still fine-tuning our Bowl Bonanza (if you have any thoughts or suggestions, as always, feel free), so know we have that coming.
From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...
NFL QB Power Poll
We talked a little about this Monday, but it deserves more attention. Did anyone see that Cam Newton and the Panthers were running the option and using spread sets in Carolina's 38-19 whipping of Tampa Bay? There were a lot of NFL coordinators who saw it, and the offensive guys went, "Hey, maybe we can do that," and the defensive guys asked, "Hey, how are we going to stop that?"
And yes, there's a lot of concern about injuries to running quarterbacks, but at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Cam Newton is not your average running quarterback.
As for Cam's rookie season, it's fair to say he's over-exceeded even the highest of expectations. He has completed better than 60 percent of his throws for 3,297 yards and 13 TDs with 14 picks. He has rushed for 518 yards and an NFL-record-for-a-quarterback 13 TDs. Which causes the 5-at-10 to ponder, if you are the Panthers, which quarterbacks would you trade Newton for straight-up.
Using Cam as the measuring stick to see where the league's QBs rank, let's examine this in TD circles (groups of seven):
There's the game-winning TD circle (or the power QB accounting firm) of Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Rivers, Roethlisberger, Manning and Manning. This group laughs at the Panthers for making the suggestion.
There's the garbage time TD circle of whomever is QB du jour ("hmmmm, that sounds good, we'll have that") for the Seahawks, Cardinals, Vikings, Titans, Redskins, Jaguars and Dolphins. This group does not have enough assets to even call the Panthers about Fig Newtons, much less Cam Newton.
Then there's the easy TD group of Colt McCoy, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, Mark Sanchez, Matt Cassel, Jay Cutler and Carson Palmer. This group is filled with teams that would pause for just a second and say, "Well he's been our QB for a while and he's liked in the clubhouse, but OK, we'll trade him for Cam," and then hang up the phone and high-five everyone in sight, including the lady that cleans the bathroom who always seems to be in the men's room on your floor right when you need to go.
That leaves 10 starting QBs around the league to answer the following question, would you trade Cam Newton for (blank)?
Matt Schaub? No.
Matt Stafford? No.
Tony Romo? No, but it's closer than most would think.
Mike Vick? Absolutely, since Cam is a bigger, younger version of Vick.
Joe Flacco? Yes.
Andy Dalton? Yes.
Sam Bradford? Yes, but it's close.
Josh Freeman? Yes.
Tim Tebow? Who knows? Two more Tebow come-from-behind wins and Denver fans may elect him governor of Colorado.
Matt Ryan? Here's the big one. We say no, but there'd be a lot more debate than most would care to admit. (And that's as much about Cam being better than expected as Ryan being overrated, since both are true.)
NFL power poll
It's no surprise that the information above details greatly where teams rank. There are a few undeniable truths in sports, and the NFL being a QB-driven league is high among them.
With that in mind, here's our rankings:
1) Green Bay: Duh.
2) New England: If a nasty defense is known as salty, can we call an awful defense "sweet" from now on? Great. The Pats defense is so, So, SO sweet. And cuddly. (The flippin' Colts scored 24 on them for crying out loud.)
3) New Orleans: The proof-reader on the corrections part of the NFL record book needs to make sure he knows that Drew Brees is spelled B-R-E-E-S. He's on pace to throw for more than 5,400 yards this year. Yep, Drew Brees is going to top 3 miles in passing this season. That just sounds cool, you know?
4) Pittsburgh: The Steelers have stealthily glided by the quarter poll at 9-3, and with the Browns twice, the Rams and the 49ers remaining on the schedule, it's hard to see Pittsburgh finishing any worse than 12-4.
5) San Francisco: Yes, Alex Smith is still their QB, but they keep winning, too. Go figure.
28) Washington: There are a lot of bad 4-8 teams that are caught in the deadly NFL vortex of being good enough to win a few but not good enough to make a run. Washington is the poster child for this. Since the 2000, the Redskins are 80-107. That's not good.
29) Jacksonville: The Monday night whipping shows maybe it wasn't all fired coach Jack Del Rio's fault. Speaking of Rio, that new "Rio" song from the Disney movie is catchy. Thoughts? (and yes, with two kids under the age of 4, we are well-versed on the ways of the Mouse.)
30) St. Louis: Hey, didn't you used to be Sam Bradford?
31) Minnesota: If you're a Vikings season-ticket holder, and the starting backfield Sunday when Denver came to town was Christian Ponder and Toby Gerhart, aren't you thinking about asking for a refund?
32) Indianapolis: Gross.
We'll take college football hodgepodge for $200, Alex
— Hugh Freeze was hired to be the Ole Miss football coach. Freeze has an interesting tapestry in football. He was the high school coach of Michael Oher (the "Blindside" story) in high school — although he denied the scenes in which Sandra Bullock's character comes out of the stands to calls him on a cell phone with tips during a game. Freeze was the lowest paid FBS coach in the country last year, making a shade more than $200,000 while leading Arkansas State to a 10-win season. Freeze was a finalist for the UTC job when the Mocs hired Russ Huesman three years ago. He was super-excited at the introduction ceremony at Ole Miss on Monday. Getting an extra digit in your annual paycheck can do that — whether Sandra Bullock is calling or not.
— The Heisman finalists were announced. You know that Trent Richardson, RG III and Andrew Luck will duke it out for the honor. Tyrann Mathieu is making a late push with his end-of-the-season heroics on defense and special teams for top-ranked LSU. This got the 5-at-10 thinking (which, yes, CJ, can be a dangerous thing), if Charles Woodson was good enough to edge out Peyton Manning in 1997, Mathieu is certainly good enough to edge out Luck, the most-NFL-ready QB since Manning, and the rest of the field. Well, Mathieu, who had a better season this fall than Woodson did in '97, does not have the full support of ESPN, the way Woodson did 14 years ago.
— Some of the smaller jobs — UMass and Tulane — are starting to be filled. Ole Miss has landed Mr. Freeze. Now the bigger fish are starting to swim around the bigger ponds. Texas A&M appears to be down to two names — Houston's Kevin Sumlin and Southern Miss's Larry Fedora. One of those bigger ponds is not even a head coaching job. Urban Meyer, THE new coach at THE Ohio State University, is looking to add some big names to his staff with names such as Gus Malzahn, who is rumored to be leaving Auburn for every job this side of Jack Bauer's sidekick to Simon Cowell's straight guy, or Mike Stoops.
— As for our view on the coaching names out there, let's go Larry King-style: "Lexington, hello..." "We've said this from the get-go, but if we had an opening, our first call is to Charlie Strong."
— The AP All-SEC team was released Monday. Here's the breakdown of first-team picks: Alabama and LSU 5, Georgia 4, Arkansas 3, Tennessee and South Carolina 2, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Florida 1 each, Ole Miss and Vandy 0. Who's surprised that 5-7 UT had the same number of All-SEC players as 10-2 South Carolina? And more than bowl-bound Auburn, Florida, Miss. State and Vandy?
This and that
— How about some breaking news in today's TFP. Ralph Potter returns home to Chattanooga to coach football at McCallie. Potter had some big-time success there during his previous run — including the 2001 state title — before heading to Brentwood Academy.
— Great job by Harris English, getting his PGA Tour card at Q-school, which finished Monday. English, the former Baylor School star, finished in the top 25, and another local golf star, Luke List finished in the top 50 and will be fully exempt on the Nationwide Tour next season.
— The Marlins are talking with Albert Pujols. Here's more Larry King, "West Palm Beach, hello...." "Yes, if we had a bag of money, we'd sign Albert Pujols AND Prince Fielder. Wow what a line-up..."
Feel free to weigh in on any of the above topics, including the QB trade chart.
Also feel free to offer Bowl Bonanza ideas or more of your bowl complaints, those are good times.
But here's a side note question: When we were talking about Ralph Potter returning to McCallie in the office Monday, some one mentioned Harry Potter for no other reason than the last name connection. It got the 5-at-10 thinking (which, yes, CJ, can be a dangerous thing), what name would have been a normal person's name and everything was fine dandy until and you're Harry down the street and everything, then... BANG... now you're HARRY POTTER? Really? You're name is HARRY POTTER?
Any thoughts? (And yes, we had the "Office Space" exchange, too, so Michael Bolton counts, too.)
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...