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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Rick Morrissey's Second Apparently Weekly Mental Collapse

Let me first take this opportunity to gloat over the fact that I, and not Rick Morrissey, was totally right about the Bears' first-round pick. However, I can do better than that today because Rick apparently is determined to crank out an even stupider column this week. And he just may have succeeded! 

This week's cannon fodder is entitled "Heredity Made Long Easy Choice for Bears." If you couldn't gather from the title what it's about (in which case, thanks for reading, Telander!), Morrissey is boldly claiming that the only thing Emery saw in Kyle Long was his dad's last name. As ever, his disjointed thoughts are in italics. 

I don’t want to minimize the work that Bears general manager Phil Emery and his staff did in preparation for the draft, the hours they put in and their lack of anything resembling a personal life the last year or so. 

“But I’m going to.”

But there’s no way in the world the Bears would have used their first-round pick on a guy with four college starts if his name had been Kyle Doe, Kyle Smith or Kyle Short.  

I’m going to get this out of the way here: getting starts is not the only way to get experience. While his 11 games of D1 experience is admittedly a small sample size, it is much larger. I bet I can figure out why Rick picked the smaller number. 

Or, to put it another way, if an inexperienced but hugely talented athlete named Kyle Elway were draft-eligible, they would have given him a long look.  

I’m guessing they would give any inexperienced but hugely talented athlete a long look. The phrase “hugely talented athlete” should go a long, long way when you’re selecting, y’know, athletes. 

As it turned out, they chose Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long, who happens to be the son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, a simple genetic fact that made him very attractive to a group of people that will do just about anything to know what it’s buying. 

I would hope so. Because you know what? Coming from a football family isn’t just about your genes. It means you were raised around football, by a man who talks about football for a living. I’ll wager I could get through a presentation about heaters and air conditioners better than most people who were not raised by a man who does that for a living. 

So forgive me if I’m not blown away by the Bears’ daring and due diligence involving a player with one year of college-football experience. 

He may not have the same amount of experience as anybody, but I don’t see how that precludes the Bears from doing due diligence. I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means, Rick. It means they spent a reasonable amount of time studying him. And as for daring, well… I mean they just drafted a guy with 11 games under his belt, I would call that daring. 

Also worth noting is the fact that Long actually played a year as a defensive lineman as well. While not the same position, that is still football experience. Plenty of d-backs were wideouts in college, and vice versa. Some guys even used to be QB’s. If anything, a little experience from the other side of things will be a boon when it comes to reading and predicting the movements of his opposite numbers. But again, it doesn’t fit with Rick’s thesis, so it’s not worth mentioning. 

“We do a lot of research on the athletic end of it,’’ Emery said. “… It’s called our athletic index score, or A-Score. This guy is the highest. This guy is the No. 1 offensive guard in the last 12 draft classes, and that’s as far back as we go. He rates as rare. In our scale, nine is rare. He rates as rare.”

Well, yeah, he’s Howie Long’s son. Oh, and did I mention Kyle’s brother is Rams defensive end Chris Long, who had a combined 24.5 sacks the last two seasons? 

Wait, he’s Howie Long’s son and Howie Long’s son’s brother? Holy shit, what a coincidence! 

Oh and in case you were still thinking about due diligence, Rick, I would say that going back and rating or reviewing players from all the drafts that your predecessor was part of for the sole purpose of equitable comparison is pretty fucking diligent. 

“[Kyle Long] is one of those guys that you want to be in a room with,’’ Emery said. “He’s very much a leader. He’ll be very much a leader of the offensive line. Obviously he’s a very respectful guy, and when it’s his time and place, he’ll become a team leader.”

And he’s Howie Long’s son. 

Padding your article about how the Bears only took Kyle Long because of his dad with quotes about not that thing at all is a really confusing way to present an argument, Rick. Just so you know. 

“All of us have fallen down in life at one point or another,’’ Emery said of Kyle Long’s past off-the-field troubles.  

It’s worth noting that, after one year with Emery, one of the league’s biggest problem children since Terrell Owens has become a soft-spoken, well-mannered RECEPTION MACHINE. And while credit must go to Brandon for seeking help and positively managing his condition, I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that the team change and the personality change happened simultaneously. So maybe he does have a knack for helping out troubled individuals. 

“The important thing is, do we get up and try to move forward and make ourselves better and not only make ourselves better but those around us better? And that’s what this young man has done.’’ 

Why do we fall, Bruce? 

And you know who his father is. 

Alright, Morrissey. Shut the fuck up. If muttering your argument after everything your opponent says like a third-grader is the best you can do, just put Telander on the phone. At least his stories work the “so-bad-it’s-funny” angle. 

The Bears are betting heavily on heredity.  

I think they’re more betting heavily on prodigious athletic ability. You know, that thing they said they’re betting on. 

If that’s scouting genius, or gene-ius, well, OK then. 

ZING. Seriously though, fuck you. 

If we accept that the NFL draft is a meat market and that teams look at bloodlines the way horse breeders do, then Kyle Long is what the league would consider a risk easily worth taking. 

Well for starters, that’s exactly what the NFL draft is. Nobody gives a shit how nice these kids are, or how well they did in school. You are selecting the best player at the position your team needs the most. So it has less to do with the fact that he is related to Howie Long than the fact that he was the best player left on the board at guard, the position the Bears needed more than anything else. 

An NFL personnel director once told me that when he analyzed offensive linemen, he first would look at their wrists and ankles. No matter how big the player might be, if he had skinny wrists and ankles, it was a big concern for the talent evaluator. Thick wrists and ankles spoke of power and strength to him. Skinny ones spoke of frailty, injuries and players carrying weight that didn’t fit their frames.

As interesting as that story is, no comment is made about Long’s wrists or ankles. Rick just really wanted you to know about this conversation he had once. 

“Measurables’’ — those are the things scouts study. Strength, quickness and speed are a lot easier to quantify at the combine than football skills are to discern at a football game.  

And there’s the old Morrissey self-contradiction. “They shouldn’t have drafted a talent, fast, strong athlete because he doesn’t have any experience! But really, you gotta look at a kid’s measurables! What was I talking about?” 

The Bears saw that Long was 6-7, 310 pounds, ran a 4.94-second 40-yard dash and referred to Howie Long as “my dad.’’ 

I love that his entire process in making this argument is just to tack Howie Long’s name onto everything the Bears had to say about Kyle. You could use the exact same strategy and make just as good a point if you replaced all that Howie Long shit with comments about how Kyle Long makes a particularly mean jambalaya. 

Things like “character,’’ however you define it, are much less important to NFL teams. Emery talks about character a lot, but in this draft alone, he took two players who had DUI arrests (Long and sixth-round pick Cornelius Washington)… 

Oh my God, they drank and drove in college! They’re all going to turn into Joe Pesci in Goodfellas! Not to make light of drinking and driving, it is a serious offense, but getting at DUI at 21 years old hardly means you’ll never amount to anything. 

…and another (seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson) who last season quit after nine games and accused his coach of abuse, an accusation he later took back. 

Oh no, we may have to cut our seventh-round pick if he does that again! 

Trust me on this one: Most NFL teams would be far more concerned about a player walking out on his team than getting a DUI. 

I would imagine so, that’s why he’s a seventh-round pick. Also, what in fuck’s name does this have to do with Kyle Long? If anything, you’re defending the pick.  

A kid who comes from the same gene pool as a great football player has a chance of having rare talent. 

That’s true, and not at all surprising. If your dad is a large, strong, fast natural athlete, you are more likely to be a large, strong, fast natural athlete. That’s just how genetics work, you learn about Mendel and his peas in like 4th grade. 

Of course, if genes were the only thing that mattered, pro sports would be filled with the offspring of Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Joe Montana and Nolan Ryan. They’re not. Work ethic matters. 

It’s a good thing genes are not the only thing that matters. In fact, you are the only person suggesting that the Bears picked up Long solely because of his dad. He was a consensus pick at #30, it’s not like they dragged him up from the fifth round. If they had waited until the second, he would no longer have been there because other teams also noticed that he is a good athlete. 

But let’s face it, when you’re scouting a talented player who is the son of a great athlete, a lot of the work is already done for you.

I feel like you could skip the bit about his dad and just say “When you’re scouting a talented player, a lot of the work is already done for you.” You don’t have to watch a lot of film or read a lot of reports to see that Kyle Long has all the upside in the world. That doesn’t mean Emery didn’t do his homework. 

Did I mention Kyle Long could throw a baseball 96 mph.? You can’t teach that, either. 

Oh, that ought to come in handy when he’s playing offensive lineman.


Lee said...

Ever since I started visiting this site regularly, "Holy Shit Todd Collins Blows" was my favorite label. Until tonight.

Code Red said...

Holy Shit Todd Collins Blows was the only appropriate label, frankly.

Keith said...

I laughed so hard at this I almost shit my pants.

Erik said...

Damn. If only I'd packed in a few more jokes. "Once made a man shit his pants using nothing but a keyboard" has to look good on a resume.