published Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

5 at 10: NFC title game, Peyton Manning and Welcome Back Kotter

From the soon to be named studios, let's go.

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    New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin chats with quarterback Eli Manning before an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

NFC title game

We talked Tuesday a little bit about the all-time match up between all-timers when Tom Brady and the Pats face Ray Lewis and the Ravens this weekend in the AFC conference title game.

In the NFC title game, there is an argument to be made that it's the league's most underrated franchise of the last decade (the Giants, who have consistently contended, won a Super Bowl and have always had to listen to why coach Tom Coughlin is on the hot seat) against the most under-performing franchise (the 49ers have floundered despite playing in the league's weakest division and collecting No. 1 picks like a ceiling fan collects dust — the 49ers have now fewer than 13 former first-round picks, including key contributors Justin Smith, Carlos Rogers, Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn Jr., who were first-round picks by other organizations).

In some ways, the perception of underrated and underperforming is mirrored by the two quarterbacks — the Giants' Eli Manning and the 49ers' Alex Smith. Each was a No. 1 overall pick and each has settled into the previous descriptions.

The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this. Let's look back at the last 10 No. 1 overall picks, give them a grade, look at which player would have been the No. 1 overall pick if hindsight was allowed and then a comment. Who's in?

2011 — Cam Newton, QB, Carolina. And without much hindsight — or the need of much more — Newton looks to be a home run pick. (Sorry, Dr. B, we know you're a doctor and all, but Newton is going to be a star.)

2010 — Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis. Bradford could still be a star — injuries derailed his 2011 season. Although the Lions landed Ndamukong Suh with the second pick, and as career arcs go, Suh's is much, Much, MUCH more promising.

2009 — Matthew Stafford, QB, Georgia. Well done Lions, well done.

2008 — Jake Long, T, Miami. The Dolphins have floundered without a franchise quarterback for years. Matt Ryan (No. 3 to Atlanta) was in this draft, as was Joe Flacco (No. 18 to Baltimore). There were also five franchise running backs — Rashard Mendenhall to the Steelers at No. 23, Chris Johnson to the Titans with the 24th pick,Matt Forte to the Bears at No. 44, Ray Rice to the Ravens at No. 55 and Jamaal Charles to the Chiefs at No. 73 — in this draft. Long is a good player that will have a strong career, but the retro-pick is probably Ryan.

2007 — JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland. Ouch. And the disaster that is this pick is only made worse by the names behind Russell. The best WR of this generation (Calvin Johnson, No. 2 to Detroit), the best offensive tackle of this generation (Joe Thomas, No. 3 to Cleveland), the best running back of this generation (Adrian Peterson, No. 7 to Minnesota), the best middle linebacker of this generation (Patrick Willis, No, 10 to San Fran) and the best shutdown corner of this generation (Darrelle Revis, No. 14 to the Jets). Some one take FE to the C's shoelaces and belt and talk him off the ledge. If Brady is the best draft steal, Russell is the single worst draft pick.

2006 — Mario Williams, DE, Houston. You could make the argument that Jay Cutler (Denver, No. 11) or even Haloti Ngata (Baltimore, No. 12) would have been better picks but Williams was OK — and way better than Reggie Bush, who everyone thought would be the No. 1 overall pick.

2005 — Alex Smith, QB, San Fran. Everyone knows Aaron Rodgers fell down the draft board and went to Green Bay at No. 24. But this was a strange first round. There were great home run values — Rodgers, Roddy White at No. 27 and Logan Mankins at No. 32. And there were huge disappointments high — Smith, Ronnie Brown at No. 2, Braylon Edwards at No. 3 and the nickname boys, Cadillac Williams and Pacman Jones at 5 and 6.

2004 — Eli Manning, QB, San Diego (traded to New York). Like Newton, Manning was the pick and clearly should have been the pick.

2003 — Carson Palmer, QB, Cincinnati. Palmer had a nice run with the Bengals before he got his feelings hurt. The two picks that jump off the screen are potential Hall of Famers Andre Johnson (Houston, No. 3) and Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh, No. 16).

2002 — David Carr, QB, Houston. Julius Peppers went second and Dwight Freeney went 11th as pass rushers were the highlight of this draft.

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    Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins in Indianapolis, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Are the Don's days over in Indy?

Peyton Manning appears to be on shaky ground in Indianapolis. Yes, we know the Colts have the No. 1 pick and Andrew Luck is the best QB prospect since, well, Peyton. Manning has a bad neck that may never be fully healed. The Colts parted ways with the Polians, the father-son executive tandem that drafted Peyton. Now, the Colts fired coach Jim Caldwell, ending another link to the previous era.

When EC informed us of this news late yesterday, here's what we wrote:

And yes, it appears the Colts are cutting all ties to the five families. Somewhere, Archie is having this conversation with Peyton:

AM: "Do you know how they are going to come at you? They're going to set up a meeting at a place where I feel safe."

PM: "I always thought it would be Tom Moore."

AM: "No, Irsay is the smart one and it's the smart move."

Here's hoping Manning doesn't find a horse head in his bed — and if he does he returns it to John Elway. ZINGER.

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    Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant celebrates after making a three-point basket against the San Antonio Spurs during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, April 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back

Hopefully you read the title humming the old Welcome Back Kotter tune.

So let's name the cast as we re-introduce ourselves to the NBA:

Mr. Kotter: Kobe Bryant, the star of the show, and the veteran that still has some bullets left.

Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington: LeBron. Not unlike Boom Boom, he looks the part of the lead, but we always seem to be waiting on him to take the big step. Is this the year for the Heatles? We'll see or we'll be asking if 2013 is the year the Heatles bust up

Arnold Horshack: The annoying pain that drew became it's own story line is the "Where will Dwight Howard end up" saga that is starting to take shape around the league.

Vinny Barbarino: Kevin Durant, the best young player in the league with a super-high ceiling that could become the next big thing. We're officially fans of K-D.

Juan Epstein: The truant that always brought a note from his mom signed "Epstein's Mother" was kind of a one-hit wonder and then struggled in big moments on the show. Hello Blake Griffin and CP3 and the L.A. Clippers. Hey, Lob City is a catchy nickname and we know you guys can dominate a highlight reel. What you got with the chips on the line in the fourth quarter.

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    Auburn Tigers running back Michael Dyer (5) celebrates his game-winning touchdown over Utah State in September. Auburn won 42-38.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

This and that

— When an emotional leader of your defense (Ed Reed) says your quarterback (Joe Flacco) was rattled against a team (Houston) making its first playoff run, well, that's not exactly the best way to head into a potential shootout with Tim Brady and the Patriots.

— Remember when arbitration was baseball's way of trying to keep salaries in check? Yeah, we do as well. Now, a starting pitchers (namely Tim Lincecum) are asking for $21.5 million in arbitration. For one stinkin' year. Sweet buckets, Lincecum had a grand total of 27 decision last year — and he was 13-14 for what it's worth — and he thinks he's worth $21-plus million? Everyone take a break, the 5-at-10 needs to lay dow for a second.

— We're back, and that's a wrap on Mike Dyer's time at Auburn. The former hero of the BCS title win last January, Dyer has enrolled at Arkansas State and will sit out the 2012 season. Dyer followed former Auburn OC Gus Malzahn to ASU, and we'll see how loyal Dyer is to Malzahn since Dyer could very well enter the draft next year without ever playing a snap at ASU.

— Wow, did Kentucky look stout last night. Big-time good. And yes, we talked about this a little above and some yesterday with Kansas, home-court edge plays a huge part with young teams. But when the 'Cats are running and rebounding like they did against Arkansas, look out. Is there a ceiling on what Anthony Davis can be as a basketball player? (Side note: We're starting to like Jimmy Dykes as a college hoops analyst. He's growing on us.)

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    San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum throws during the first inning of Game 5 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers Monday, Nov. 1, 2010, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Today's question

We're going to be in some seminars all day learning about stuff and things and having a grand time. (What's that, shirts are optional. Excellent.) So play nice.

The question, in honor of Tim Lincecum asking for $21-plus million after going 13-14 (and yes, we know he had a boss ERA and blah, blah, blah), who is the most overpaid sports figure?

Discuss, and play nice as we head to the seminar — with our chest painted of course.

about Jay Greeson...

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 ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
govolswb said...

I agree with pretty much all of your assesment of the last 10 drafts. I'm fairly certain Peyton is on his way out at Indy. Don't know where he'll end up, but he'll land on his feet. As long as it won't endanger his health he should have a few more good years as an NFL QB. I know this is off the subject of todays 5 at 10, but how about naming the studios the "SEC owns the BCS" studios. Might sound kind of lame but it's the truth after 6 in a row.

January 18, 2012 at 10:41 a.m.
chas9 said...

5er--Agree about Cam. Remember that Dr. B thought Christian was better than Shaq in that other draft, so he's disqualified. I was dubious about Ryan at the time, but agree he's #1 timber. I was right about another Dirty Bird QB, though. I thought Atlanta was foolish to trade Favre, even then. Do you remember what a stud he looked, even then? (Yeah, I know they had a stable full then.)

2005 was a memorable year. Do you think having a nickname like "Cadillac" subconsciously raised Williams' stock? My big ouch, of course, was 1999's Tim Couch. But probably not as bad as JaMarcus.

Yes, the "Welcome back, welcome back" tune is an ear worm. Thanks for the memories.

January 18, 2012 at 11 a.m.
John_Proctor said...

The Don in Indy is hilarious!

Somewhere in that great movie studio in the sky, Mario Puzo is laughing hard enough to remove his hips and Marlon Brando is having another drink of his favorite chilled adult beverage.

January 18, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

After doing some research on the GM for The Colts, something tells me that Caldwell is the first of a few that will be changing their address... I do not look for Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday or My Peyton Manning to return to Indy. I will make a guess that a number of insulting offers will be made to retain the first 3 players and Manning will simply be traded to an NFC team looking for some QB help/stability. The Colts new GM Ryan Grigsdon is the type of guy who prides himself in finding Talent in Obscure players...remember when Kurt Warner went from bagging groceries to tossing TDs in the NFL...yeah this guy had a hand in all that....

If the Giants agree to pay Tim Lincecum this kind of money...Ill never watch another Giants game ever... and I will be sure to tell any Giant fan...that the Dodgers are #1 and Barry Bonds is the bet Giant ever!

January 18, 2012 at 12:06 p.m.
fechancellor said...

10-Ring, instead of hanging it up or taking a dive, I have 10 years of used Raider barf bags dated and cataloged just as Howard Hughes did with his urine.

I wonder if the Hall of Fame would have any interest in such a collection from a frustrated Raider fan.

January 18, 2012 at 1:24 p.m.
chas9 said...

In his UT story yesterday ace reporter Patrick Brown told us that coaches Martin and Calipari both mentioned The Vols and The Big Dance in the same sentence. So I thought it odd that the usually orange-leaning scribe then gave his own verdict: "there's too much ground and not enough season for the Vols to make a run at an at-large bid."

As Weeds ruminated today, Tennessee could be "the team nobody wants to play come March."

Would I bet on the Knoxville troupe getting an invite on Selection Sunday? No. But if they play like they have the last three games and Stokes learns fast, they could beat Connecticut and go 10-3 in remaining conference games. They'd finish 19-10 and 11-5, which would surely be bid worthy. Even another loss or two than in my scenario coupled with a couple of SEC tourney wins would constitute "making a run at an at-large bid," to use Patrick's language.

Probably Patrick should've used a "probably" in his pronouncement.

And yes, The Cuonz would be coach of the year. (But I'm not hugging anybody's neck just yet.)

Side note to EC: Best Giant ever was Goliath.

Bonus note: Pulp Fiction's Travolta may be worthy of a Team Morgan Freeman slot. Discuss.

January 18, 2012 at 1:25 p.m.
Livn4life said...

I was fine 5at10 just HAD to and I know you HAD to put in the 2007 JaMarcus Cussell(he made many Raider faithful cuss more)debacle. But you were spot on. Do the Tenn. men bb Vols make the big dance? I don't think so, would love it, but think overall they will end up better than many thought for this year and improve a lot next year. How about the "WeDon'tKnowTheNameofOurStudiosButWeKnowSports"Studios? JUst an idea.

January 18, 2012 at 1:52 p.m.
Eustice_Chase said...

If we are going to get Technical Chas(2-4-9)er...the best Giant.. was Becky "IceBox" O'Shea...and that my friend is not debateable

January 18, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Jimmy Dykes has long been one of the more astute ESPN analysts (which, frankly, given their "brand" they seem to be in short supply of, regardless of the sport), overshadowed by the personality of Vitale and the entertaining Mr. Raftery.

And if you're looking at bad first-round draft picks (I'm looking at Tony Mandarich and Brian Bosworth), the Falcons can go head to head with anybody. Aundray Bruce. Bruce Pickens. T.J. Duckett. Jamaal Anderson (the defensive end). Peria Jerry. FWIW, Jamal Anderson the running back was a seventh-round pick.

January 18, 2012 at 3:09 p.m.
chas9 said...

EC--If you're including girls, I'd vote for Chyna. Though Becky Icebox is cool too.

January 18, 2012 at 3:15 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Just emerged from the leadership seminar, and know that we had to choke back about 1,000 references to "Office Space" — "Wouldn't say I was missing it there Bob."

Govolswb —

Welcome to the show and feel free to swing by anytime. If/When the Colts part with Peyton, there will be no shortage of teams looking for a sit down. In fact, if/when the Colts part ways, they best make sure Jeff Luca Brasi Saturday is sleeping with the fishes.

We're hoping to have the studio name ballots tabulated this week.

9er —

Anyone that thought Laettner was going to be a better pro than Shaq, well, don't know what to say about that. Although Laettner was a better pro than he got credit for. As for Favre, the 5-at-10 had a friend that was a QB that was trying to make Falcons at the time Favre was there. Let's say he got plenty of workouts with 12-ounce curls back in the day.

Cadillac was a great nickname. Simply off the charts, but a nickname will only take you so far. Injuries derailed Carnell more than karma.

Mr. Proctor —

Thanks for the kind words, and hopefully Brando looked over at a sniffling angel and said, "You can act like a man."

EC —

Yes, the Colts are about to go full-blown Hazel-Alice-that lippy woman from the Jeffersons and any other housecleaner we can think of. And no one with a delivery as cooked as Lincecum who is inviting an arm injury deserves $21 million in a year.

And, sorry 9er, Andre is the best Giant of all time — if for no other reason than his work in "Princess Bride."

9er —

Probably would have been better, but that all starts tonight. And the cast, script and movie "Pulp Fiction" could be Team Morgan Freeman, but probably not Travolta. For every Pulp Fiction there's a Broken Arrow, for every Urban Cowboy there's a Phenomenon.

FE to the C —

The JaMarcus debacle is overwhelming. It's going to cost the Raiders a full decade, considering that they had to deal this year's No. 1 and a No. 2 next year for Palmer.

Livin(Large) —

Your suggestion is DE-finitely on the ballot. And we're sorry to mention the Raiders and Cussell (great nickname by the way). Here's saying that, since we know you're a UT fan and now know you're a Raiders backer, we're going to guess that there's not a poster of Lane Kiffin in your home. Correct?

— 5-at-10

January 18, 2012 at 3:17 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Nice run of Falcons picks. Or bad run. Well you get the idea. Raferty is top notch. ONIONS. Vitale is painfully over-the-top. Dykes is improving and better than we remembered.

EC —

Wow. GREAT call on Ice Box. "Little Giants" is a wickedly underrated kids sports flick.

"OH! Somebody's holding a pound of Aunt Betty's nut butter, and that's a live ball!"

9er —

Wow, we all brought our "Clever" hats today. Chyna? Well-played indeed.

— 5-at-10

January 18, 2012 at 3:23 p.m.
Redlegs11 said...

Before we say Cadillac and Ronnie brown were unworthy draft picks I think you have note that each averaged a 1000 yards over their first two pro seasons and caddy was really crippled with that knee injury. Brown likewise had injuries as well. Also I think early draft picks simply by the nature of the nfl today are wasted on RBs. Really not that many elite backs because of the evolution into a passing league. If you are going to quantify the auburn duo as being poor selections due to Injuries then me hates to think what category mark turf toe Ingram and his 3.9 ypc and 472 yards rushing falls into.

January 18, 2012 at 3:38 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Leadership seminar? You leading the class or did they try to tell you something you already knew?

January 18, 2012 at 4:43 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Ten Ring,

No Lane Kiffin or Jamarcus Russell Fatheads here. My best buddy, who also bleeds Orange as well as Silver and Black (I wonder what color that would make) both of us warned our Vol friends about Kiffin. No one was listening.

About the only payback I can think of would be ordering those Fatheads and taking them to a shooting range.

January 18, 2012 at 5:01 p.m.
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