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AFC South QB Review & The 2023 Combine

We continue our discussion on quarterback storylines going into the NFL offseason with an episode focused on the AFC South. This episode also features discussion on The NFL Combine's biggest stories, UFC's big weekend, and a proposed rule change for the MLB.

Watch/listen here:


Mike Lewis 0:08

Hey everybody. Welcome to the Fanalytics Podcast Mike Lewis Doug Battle brought to you by the Emory marketing analytics center. Dug today our main topic will be a rundown of the quarterbacks in the AFC South. But before that, well you know, Duggan. I think there's been a lot of little things happening in the world of sports and popular culture over the weekend. So I don't really know where to start. I mean, anything. I mean, the one thing that did catch my eye was the pay per view results came in on that. Jake Paul, Tommy fury fight and they exceeded apparently 700,000 by so you know, again, it's you know, I've gone back and forth on Jake Paul and sort of the this turning boxing into a full spectacle. But man, if the path forward is get a another social media star, maybe from another market? Maybe this stuff is still alive and well.

Doug Battle 1:09

Yeah, or the key is to get someone who people confused with someone who's a better fighter. I talked to so many people this week, who thought Tommy Fury was Tyson fury. And they were very impressed that Jake Paul could hold up with Tyson fury. And they were saying this guy's the champion of the world. And Jake Paul was right there with them. This legitimized him in their eyes. So, I mean, it's like, could you get Michael B Jordan to play in a basketball game and sell out the arena? Because people think it might be the Michael Jordan. And I think there's some magic to that. I think that Tommy furies name, almost being Tyson fury, might have been a huge part of the numbers being as good as they were.

Mike Lewis 1:53

Well, that's interesting. I mean, if it if it is possible that there was this mistaken identity, that literally people thought he was fighting the heavyweight champion of the world, then you add into the fact that apparently he's a mega star in terms of reality TV and England, it does seem that there's still more legs in terms of constructing these events around branding, rather than around athletic competition. I feel legitimately bad for the entire boxing industry. You know, maybe this is the death knell of real boxing, that, you know, the more Jake Paul and Logan Paul can sort of proceed with this, the less likely it is that that sports going to rebound and sort of catch, you know, catch the popular culture. Again, you know, we and on top of it like we got, we got UFC, you know that that is sort of nibbled at some of the edges, then you got some of this novelty stuff, taking away some of the spectacle of boxing. Perhaps that's a sport that really is, is gonna fade as we move forward.

Doug Battle 3:03

Yeah, and we've got some criticism, Mike on socials, for saying those types of things from the hardcore boxing community who would say, oh, boxing is alive and well, it's some of the best material we'll ever see. The product is very good. But I think the bottom line is the most talked about fight seems to be when it's Jake Paul, or when it's Logan Paul against the love Island guy or Tyson fury, his brother or whatever it is. And and I do think that that's a huge concern. It's like if we were talking about Michael B, Jordan, and basketball playing a one on one game instead of talking about the NBA. And so just to clarify there, but you mentioned UFC Mike, I was at a bachelor weekend this weekend, and people are always like, oh geez, you do anything crazy. There's a Yeah, we ate steak and we watch the UFC fight like what else would we do? You see I think amongst my generation X laughing is pretty popular more so than boxing, I would say

Mike Lewis 4:06

like a pre emptive denial you know.

Doug Battle 4:12

UFC is pretty popular amongst my generation has caught some of that attention that boxing used to get and one thing one of my takeaways from this weekend watching the fight was John this guy John Jones heralded as the goat presented as a Michael Jordan type figure in the UFC realm. Come to find out the guy's got a pretty dark past with arrests domestic violence, public intoxication and you know outing or acting all kinds of ways around cops in public and on video. And you would have never known it watching the presentation here. This guy was heralded he was worshipped and it struck me Mike is his boxing slash fighting is that like the one sport where guys can't really get canceled because we had a week where like Jalen Carter might have dropped from potentially being the number one pick to who knows how far he drops over reckless driving, essentially, or drag racing. This John Jones guy though nobody batted an eye, you know, five arrests or, you know, it didn't seem to to affect Joe Rogan's commentary people I was watching with were just admiring the guy and his character for for being outspoken in his faith. And it just had me wondering, like is, is fighting the sport for guys that are going to get canceled from the NFL?

Mike Lewis 5:39

Yeah, it's it's an interesting point. And it's really a fascinating point, right? Because I think you're right, because you know, as you're talking about John Jones not being canceled, you know, it occurs to me Well, Dana White didn't get canceled. Right for his vacation with his wife over over the like the new year's Christmas holidays. Joe Rogan didn't get Ken's canceled. Remember in when audio footage,

Doug Battle 6:06

right? It was like he was he was too big to fail with the whole, Spotify can even cancel him in their business.

Mike Lewis 6:16

I don't know what the answer is on that, right? Because it does seem that the idea of being too big to fail, really. I mean, you gotta be really big, right? I mean,

Doug Battle 6:26

you can never be too big to fail in entertainment, or in other sports, like Kanye West earlier this year, was making a point about being too big to fail. Right. And he made a comment during that remark, in which he became canceled and still to this day there, I know, people who won't listen to him or will publicly play him or affiliate with him wears clothes, any of that, because of the statement. And so that I think that kind of proves the opposite point.

Mike Lewis 6:51

And Adidas. You know, Adidas canceled Kanye, and cost them an enormous amount of money, right? I mean, so it really was, you know, there, there almost seems to be something more to this story than just the financial side of the equation, right? I mean, Kanye is partnership with Adidas, might have been the most important thing from a brand. If you think about the Adidas brand elements, Kanye was really important. And they ended that, basically, instantly. I do suspect that the male female ratio of fans is really skewed towards the male in combat sports, beyond any other sport, I suspect it's not even close, that there are very, very few women watching UFC and boxing. And again, you know, there's always this inevitable pushback of there are female fans. Absolutely. But it might be a 9010 split or a 95 to five split. And so I suspect that there is just, you know, the combat sports just ended up being a little bit out of the mainstream, in terms of, you know, when the the cancellation hammer comes down, but like, Doug, I'm, I'm gonna be completely, you know, sort of open on this one. I don't know how it doesn't, right. Because it does seem like it's almost automatic. And, like, at this point in the NBA, if you make the wrong kind of off color joke, you're gonna get a 40 or $50,000 Fine, you know, maybe you're not gonna get canceled, but you're gonna get pushed out, you know, you're gonna have a problem. And in the UFC and unboxing just business as usual, they keep going.

Doug Battle 8:36

Yeah, we've seen a couple examples of UFC fighters slash mixed martial arts fighters, stepping out of the UFC realms, and finding out that the rest of the world doesn't operate the same way. Gina Corrado, from the Mandalorian, you know, probably had her behavior probably is consistent with how it always had been. And she was heralded as a fighter and a model and an actress and, but in the in the Disney World, you know, the same type of behavior didn't hold up. We of course, have seen that with Joe Rogan. Of course, there was pushback there, but he wasn't canceled probably for financial reasons for Spotify, and how much their business their podcasting business relies on him. But you know, it is, is quite an interesting observation to me that that's like the last remaining sport and you said something like about it being skewed toward male viewers. I agree. I gotta say when I was watching this weekend with a group of men I've never seen a group of guys so into a women's competition as when the women were fighting. I like you turn on our women's basketball game. Dudes tune out like it's it's just the way and you the numbers likely reflect that as far as viewership and the lead up to the John Jones fight. There was a fight between two female mixed martial artists, and that room was fired up. They were You know, they weren't impressed. They were in I'm like, Man, that's a sport. That's a women's sport that has a lot of potential with a male audience, which might be unique.

Mike Lewis 10:09

Do you think that sport has a lot of potential with a female audience?

Doug Battle 10:13

I don't know. I don't, I don't, I don't have a feel. And I would love to see the numbers. As far as viewership for the for the female fights, because I have no idea. I just observed, you know, the room I was in. And I was like, wow, this is there really was no drop off and engagement.

Mike Lewis 10:31

Well, Doug, I mean, like, on a fundamental level, right? It's like, if we think about what, you know, if we think about what sports the appeal of sports, right, that there's always going to be something sort of primal about the about sports, and this is why combat sports, I think we'll always have a a special kind of occupy a special place in the world of sports, right? Because this is this primal kind of combat one on one, usually one on one type of sport. It's, you know, and look, I'm absolutely a combat sports fan. I'll be I'll be, you know, very honest here. You know, sometimes I feel guilty watching it. You know, when you see a guy in there, getting his brains rattled, you know, the classic, like, chin shot, ending to lights out. It's, it's uncomfortable. I mean, I find it especially kind of, like watching the crowd and those things like the bloodlust for essentially these kind of gladiators that it's so when I watched fighting, I think I actually started trying to watch it almost from a more technical perspective. I don't want to see anyone get knocked out. Because that's a very, you know, knockouts are really bad things to, to to have happen. But you know, when you add in the female combat sport element, I feel guilty enough watching guys. Try it. Yeah.

Doug Battle 11:59

Yeah, that's, I mean, I think that's my initial response. And so it was just shocking to me. I was like, Oh, wow, this is like people in the crowd there. I mean, people are really into this, and I feel you with the, I mean, it's like when you're watching football, like you don't really want to see someone get CTE, you know, that's how I feel or when you're watching a NASCAR race, you don't really want to see someone car catch on fire with a human being inside. And but that's kind of the the part of the thrill of the sport, you know, with with football, it's those big hits. And with NASCAR, sometimes it is the big crashes. And with boxing, of course, or with MMA, any kind of martial art, there's that desire amongst that lust amongst a lot of the crowd for a knockout to see someone just get totally wiped out. And I mean, it's kind of uncomfortable just to see like their ears, you know, they all got the cauliflower, ears like the guys and their faces are disfigured. The one thing I especially noted from the Women's fight was that in their pictures, all the women are done, like their makeup and their hair's done. And by the end of the fight, they're very unrecognizable, because there's a lot of swelling in the face and broken noses and stuff. And it's like, I don't know, apparently, people want to watch that happen to a person. More so than I would have thought I'm a casual when it comes to fighting. And so I know I'm sure there's someone listening like, Oh, this guy didn't know what he's talking about. I don't, that's not my area of expertise. And I'm just I was just making observations about the sport and its fans,

Mike Lewis 13:32

dog on a primal level sports probably comes from like this notion of, you know, sort of play fighting, right? Yes, it because, you know, we go back to sort of, you know, it's like caveman roots, and it's like, well, was was one tribe going to defeat the other tribe, and we ready for that is, is play fighting. And that turns into, you know, throwing things is like throwing a spear, you know, fighting is, is you know, physical combat. And so there probably is something deep inside of us that is drawn to that. And you see it in all that, you know, basketball is about physical domination, right, being able to jump over people be more accurate with your shooting polarizing

Doug Battle 14:13

somebody. Yeah, it's all Yeah.

Mike Lewis 14:17

You know, but But you know, that kind of stuff. It's almost like people don't even want to think it all the way through in terms of it, but it's definitely part of why we care about sports, right?

Doug Battle 14:28

Yeah, that's a very philosophical analysis of what's going on. But

Mike Lewis 14:35

one thing I remember the day back in the day, like five, six years ago, Ronda Rousey was probably the biggest UFC star. Yeah, right.

Doug Battle 14:43

Now, you're right. I mean, the biggest name for sure.

Mike Lewis 14:46

And I think at that moment, that was sort of shocking. That or at least maybe not shocking, but it was surprising that a female fighter could be could really drive Pay Per View Results. Do you notice that? I mean, there's only one or two female fighter return any card. Yeah, right. And so you could almost argue that, you know, if you added in basketball a game doesn't really lend itself to this. I mean, but imagine if you were doing a tennis card, right, or something like that, if you had eight matches, men's matches, and then two female matches, right, that I think that would absolutely resonate with, with consumers, right, that that having that kind of mix, but I don't think they've ever approached like a 5050 card even.

Doug Battle 15:27

It's, again, it's, it's in my eyes, the only, I guess in my experience, the only females sporting event I've seen, that probably was majority men who were engaged with it, you wouldn't see that with I don't think soccer, tennis, volleyball across the board. And that was striking to me. And so that is my takeaway from this weekend. Of course, the John Jones, lack of cancellation was also interesting, and the climate that we're in and what we're seeing across sports,

Mike Lewis 16:00

but I think you're right, and we can leave the UFC behind. But it is it is interesting, fascinating that the UFC does seem to be different, right? That they are kind of and maybe leave the UFC in combat sports are in their own category. Yeah, they are kind of they operate separate from the majority of the sports sports world.

Doug Battle 16:20

So another current event this week that I took a lot of note of was the NFL Combine kind of snuck up on us like it does. And the NFL has a way of keeping their calendar filled with storylines year round, even when there's not competition going on between teams. And a lot a lot going on. We can touch on some of it when we're talking about the teams but a couple really memorable moments. One was Darnell, Washington, pushing the sled about making it look about 10 times easier than any other tight end. And that guy is like a mutant Mike. He is I've seen him in person. He's, I think they measured him at six, seven when he's got cleats and a helmet on I mean, he's like six, nine. Pretty fast, like, I don't know, he ran like a four or five or six, somewhere in there. And for big guy, amazing hands. I think he has the biggest hands of any tight end ever coming out of the combine, as well. I don't know what his vertical was. But I mean, the dude, he's just a freak. Like I said, he's like a mutant. And he might be the first number two tied in on a college team to go in the first round of a draft. I'm not I don't know if that's gonna happen. But I wouldn't be shocked after this combine.

Mike Lewis 17:39

Yeah, I mean, the you know, every year and I, every year, right. There's always these workout warriors that and I don't mean that the way it sounds. But you know, these guys, they get to the combine, and suddenly it's like, wow, this, this quarterback ran a 4.2 740. Right. And suddenly, everyone's got to have the guy. I know, there was some speculation that Anthony Richardson was going to go to the combine and the athleticism was going to rocket him up the draft charts. But hey, you know, your observation that a number two tight end could go in the first round based on the physical attributes. You know, I don't really know how to get my head around it. But that's that again, what a great story in terms of like, if you think about the big picture of college football, and what's happening there with a concentration of talent, exactly how else can even change that right. So

Doug Battle 18:30

yeah, and and to go back a year, Washington. I know this because I follow Georgia closely. Washington was looking at transferring, he was looking at transferring to Florida State. He was in talks with Alabama, and ended up staying at Georgia but he knew he was going to be the number two tied in and you know, it may not even matter I know there's I'm sure he made some NFL money at Georgia and of course played on a great team was able to win another championship. But yeah, seeing a number two player at his position, maybe be the number one player in the draft his position is quite telling about the nature of college football and how top heavy it is in this day and age with NFL with the transfer portal. You mentioned Anthony Richardson I've heard more buzz about Anthony Richardson. I didn't even know if Bryce Young was there outside of seeing pictures of him looking short or

Mike Lewis 19:27

geography right. Yeah. Is high heels

Doug Battle 19:30

that he basically had on walking in AI but other than that, not a lot of not a lot of young buzz. And a lot of Anthony Richardson people are fired up.

Mike Lewis 19:41

Don't you suspect that like the the Bryce young situation was probably almost like the old school like People Magazine paparazzi everyone trying to get shots of him every time he's made the mistake and stood next to a six six offensive lineman. Yeah, it was like he was pure photo op driven stuff.

Doug Battle 20:00

Yeah, I was like TMZ following him around waiting for the moment and yeah, not a very tall guy. I think Alabama had five players who were like an inch or two shorter than what they had listed on their website. And further and players, Bryce young being one of them. And so, but Anthony Richardson, kind of stealing the hype with the combine. He's one of those guys. I know so many scouts are probably selling themselves on him and a bunch of fans are going to, I will say this, I would take as a tight end prospect. I think he's an elite tight end prospect. I think like, hey, if he doesn't pan out as a quarterback, you got probably a first team tied in right there. compare him to Darnell, Washington, compare him to some of those other top tight ends athletically, and you got something but he's won, you know, with quarterbacks, Mike, how many times have we seen a guy who has all the tangibles who didn't show that they had the hit factor in college? And it's, they never develop past that. And that would be my concern if my team was taking or looking at Anthony Richardson

Mike Lewis 21:05

and I'm just gonna shake my head right I mean, it's like no, you go back to the old school idea like the Power Cells Rules. The you know Bill Parcells heuristics for drafting quarterbacks and it's, you know, three year starter wins 23 games you know, and people might go well, the game has changed Bill Parcells is passe but you know what was Parcells really talking about? Even if he didn't say it was like, you want your quarterback to be experienced? You want them to have leadership abilities. You want them to be a proven winner, right? And historically, right, these these guys sort of one hit wonders. And you could say Anthony Richardson wasn't even a one hit wonder, right? Just pure physical talent that when I see these elegant, like trade lands might be the most recent one. Yeah. It was a Jamarcus Russell back in the day. Ryan leaf I think was really kind of just known for one one year. I mean, a lot of the classic busts are these guys falling in love with these quarterbacks that don't have sort of the in game experience in in game success. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, you know, we talked about it with you know, like this idea of drafting guys that scare you as a general manager. Terrifying. And what in Florida do last year? Doug, what are they like? six and five kinds of team?

Doug Battle 22:25

Yeah, somewhere around there. They were there the first three weeks of the season, I think people were talking playoff and that they beat who was a b2b for Utah. The betas are early on. And people were saying, Oh, this might be the hardest game on their schedule. Not true. Not true. Tennessee had Georgia. couple others so yeah, that was fascinating to me because there's the age old argument of like, well, this guy isn't a winner. He doesn't want Flipside you see bus that are like, like Trent Richardson at Alabama like won the Heisman won a national championship. But he's running behind the best offensive line ever. And he's the you know, and it's so it's like some guys were teams make them look better than they are. And that's kind of my like, struggle. It's like with Anthony Richardson, if you put him on George's team this year with Georgia not have won a national championship, he probably wouldn't want a national championship. And people would look at him totally different. And I said the same thing about Daniel, he put Daniel Jones on the LSU Joe burrow team, people talking about Daniel Jones, like he's Joe burrow. And so I think you can play that game with these guys. And with Richardson, the counter argument that people make is like, look at Josh Allen. He was supposed to be a project. And now he's he's a complete package. And the counter to that, of course, is what is Josh Allen one and the NFL?

Mike Lewis 23:45

Well, I think what you got to do, and this is what people don't, you know, you got to think probabilistically, right, you got to think in terms of like the probability of different outcomes. And Anthony Richardson might be the most talented. The most talented quarterback, prospect, physically talented quarterback prospect in the history of the game. That might be fine, right. But then you look at the other, the other aspects of his history and his performance and his outcomes. And, you know, so it's not just a matter of saying, Well, this guy is because in some ways, it's like, you're you're looking at the mat and thing, it's like he's a 99 quarterback physically, right. But you probably have to look at it like there's a 10% chance he's a 99 number quarterback, and there's a 50% chance he's a 90 quarterback, and there's a 40% chance that he's a and I don't know what a bad Madden score is that he's a 64 quarterback pretty bad. And so when you look at it in those terms, that as the General Manager, you probably look at it going well, there's a 50% chance this guy gets me fired. And there's a 5% chance he wins me multiple Super Bowls. You are watching at

Doug Battle 24:56

home. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And you You know, I, my counter, and I kind of brought this up earlier with guys like Richardson guys like when Lamar Jackson was in the draft is I just say he's an elite athlete, there's a 5% chance he ends up being a Super Bowl winning quarterback. If he's not just transitioning, you think Justin fields couldn't play linebacker tight? And if you've seen him run the football like you think Trey Lance, couldn't you think Lamar Jackson, like these guys that are such elite athletes, like there's a place for them on the football field. And I think you can hedge your bets by transitioning them. I think the problem is when you invest quarterback money in a player, and you know, it's got to be a franchise quarterback, if you're taking them this high in the draft, and that with Richardson, I do think there's this sense of the odds of that happening seem low, even though his upside seems remarkable. And I think a lot of coaches have the confidence that, you know, I want to take this kid and I want to mold him, and I want to fix him. And he's got the pieces, you know, he's Darth Vader and Palpatine. And I'm gonna, like, mold him into the guy that's going to dominate. And and it all goes back to Star Wars mine.

Mike Lewis 26:05

Of course it does. The Gen Z and X bar, I guess. Okay. You mentioned quarterback dollars. And so maybe that's a good transition point to talking about the South quarterback narratives. But even before you know, we dig into the AFC South big news this morning was that Derek Carr had signed for four years $150 million or so with about $100 million guaranteed. So Doug, I'll make an observation. You know, I'm obsessed with quarterbacks, that's how I view the NFL. Doug, we're gonna start to see well, and the other story that came out was Phillip Phillip rivers, talking about making a comeback. So at this point, a quarterback, but I don't know where the stops, right, if you're Ben Roethlisberger, Phillip rivers in or Drew Brees, there might be $100 million out there for the next two years.

Doug Battle 27:06

And okay, I don't want my team taken on. You might

Mike Lewis 27:09

not but there might be literally we're talking about $100 million for the next two years. And when I think about, you know, the money that car got and some of the money that's been floated around for for Jackson and Deshaun. Watson, last couple of years, Doug, we're actually going to, we're going to see an athlete, and it's probably mahomes That's going to make a billion dollars in salary over the course of their career. Right. This is something kind of different and just like really shot should throw a spotlight on this quarterback position. That it's just it's getting kinda it's getting kind of muddy out there.

Doug Battle 27:49

Yeah, we're not a Lamar Jackson haters here. But we have made a lot of observations as to the risks of signing a player like that for that kind of money. I will say some of these deals make me feel like maybe Lamar Jackson. isn't the worst deal out there for what for what he's gonna demand and what you're gonna get. I'd rather have, you know, as a Giants fan, but I'd rather go 100 million for Philip Rivers for a couple years, or just like go all in on Lamar Jackson. I'd much rather go all in on Lamar Jackson. And and I'm sure Ravens fans feel the same. And I'm sure you know, there's a lot of people I'm sure Saints fans aren't super stoked about Derek Carr, when they were thinking Lamar Jackson, they were thinking, you know, maybe some somebody in the draft, I think they'd probably rather have an Anthony Richardson with the high upside where they least don't know, you know what his ceiling is. And so, the NFL, it's like we forget, we get so fixated on, it's got to be Josh Allen or Patrick mahomes. Like, unless you're building around one of those type of players. It's all a wash and you need to start over. Whereas like the reality for a lot of teams is having guy like Lamar Jackson, is probably your best bet. Moving forward and when mahomes isn't on the market, and Josh Allen isn't on the market, and Justin Herbert is not on the market. And your option is Jackson or a guy like Geno Smith, or a guy like Phillip rivers coming off of pretty dismal last year, and potentially I don't know what team's going to be throwing a lot of money at him, but great careers just for his age and his performance in recent years. It's hard to imagine getting excited about that guy leading your franchise.

Mike Lewis 29:33

Well, and again, I It's important background, sort of an important backdrop for any of these discussions about quarterbacks in terms of how much are these guys going to cost going going forward and potential renegotiated negotiations and signing guys to longer term deals earlier than you might want to in the AFC South. You know, the winner of that division was the Jacksonville Jaguars. and they were led by Trevor Lawrence, Trevor Lawrence through for 25. I'm going to keep the stats kind of simple this week, 25 touchdowns, eight versus eight interceptions. I think that ratio and the the number of touchdowns is probably the shortest, easiest way, the most complete way of looking at these guys without getting into the weeds. Versus I think it was 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in his first year. So this heralded quarterback class of 2021. We have a pretty clear winner, I think, who take who took Jacksonville to an above 500 record and getting into the playoffs. If I'm in the, you know, if I'm just ranking AFC quarterback prospects. He's in the top five for me. He's like, the guy that has now shown that with a college background, the level of experience and his trajectory and improvement as a pro, I think he starts to enter the conversation much like Joe burrow, have, you got to pay this guy early, and say, Hey, maybe maybe Trevor is not going to reach the lever, the level of mahomes. But it's hard to find a guy that's going to potentially put you into that discussion about playoffs and in Super Bowl, you got to lock this kid up

Doug Battle 31:23

as soon as possible. I don't know if we've ever seen as quick a turnaround as Trevor Lawrence saw last year, in year two for a quarterback burrow. It was pretty much immediate. In Cincinnati, for Jacksonville to go from the number one pick in the draft last year. We forget that with Trayvon Walker, so they were the worst team in football a year ago. And in one year, going from the worst team of football to winning the AFC South, nine and eight. Trevor Lawrence all of a sudden looking like Peyton Manning at times I went to a Jaguars game and I hadn't seen him play in a while since last year at the time. And I was blown away and I was like is this Peyton Manning he had total control the offense he was totally calm, cool and collected. He was everything that he was hyped up to be since he was a high school prospect. And it just took the right coach pairing and maybe a year of experience and all the sudden it looks like Jacksonville is in a very similar situation to Cincinnati. Like you mentioned. Trevor Lawrence is positioned to be a mahomes or a Josh Allen, one of those top five guys in the league. And this is my question. Look at the AFC South. Teams like the Titans and the Colts have been competitive to a degree over the last 10 years. Lots of 10 Win teams, lots of playoff teams, the Jaguars have been atrocious as an NFL fan, would you rather see your team become the Jaguars? And absolutely tank to get a player like Lawrence for the next 1015 years? Or would you rather be competitive every year like the Titan seem to be and yet always be at best, you know, AFC runner up come playoff time

Mike Lewis 33:05

championships. I mean, that's that's that's the tough thing about this equation. Right? How many losing seasons? Would you trade for a championship? Yeah. I mean, that that kind of glory, you know, like duck era Georgia fans. So you know, the pain and anguish of being competitive. Right. As last year were, you know, in some ways was at 65 to seven in the national championship game.

Doug Battle 33:29

Yeah. And I used to be.

Mike Lewis 33:32

That was probably the first time as a Georgia fan, you didn't have any stress. Yeah, it was pure joy. Like the only half of football you've ever truly enjoyed.

Doug Battle 33:41

I used to be envious of Auburn. Because in my lifetime, up until two years ago, Georgia had a far more winning record than Auburn. They, I mean, it wasn't even close. And then the head to head it's like 20 to two or so like, it was not even close. Auburn had a lot of 500 seasons, I think their average over, you know, 1015 year span might have been 500. Whereas Georgia has was like 10 and two every year. And yet Auburn had one championship runner up year and won national championship year in Georgia didn't have any championships to show for. And I was like I would trade so many years of going five and seven or four and eight or whatever, to just have that championship. And so you know, if I'm looking at this, it's like, I might rather be the Texans than the Titans right now. But Titans are a very competitive team. They've been considered a Super Bowl contender in recent years, but the question has always been can Ryan Tannehill get them over the hump, you know, and they're not able to draft a top 10 pick. So like quarterback wise, they're only able to bring in someone like Malik Willis who's got a high upside but also pretty low percent chance of becoming that top quarterback and a team like the Texans with you know, Bryce young CJ Stroud, and The Richardson will love us like these guys that all you know in their eyes have the capacity to become if they pick the right one to have one of the top quarterbacks in the AFC. You know, I think that Texans fans probably have a little bit more reason to be optimistic or hopeful than the Titans fans even though the Titans might win more games this year. Yeah.

Mike Lewis 35:22

I think that's fair, you know, um, the Titans probably? Well, let me let me get add one last thought to the Trevor Lawrence, and we'll move on to the title. Yeah. You know, the, the issue, it might seem crazy to talk start talking about paying a guy going into his third year without proving it for that extra year. But I think these executives have got to look at this, that if there's a reset of the quarterback market, and that could very well be to 60 million over, let's say, five years with Mr. Jackson, then potentially, you know, that Trevor Lawrence and those that Joe burrow price is going to go from 50 million right now, to 60 or $65 million per per year. And so, you know, kind of playing the playing the long game here. Okay, so you mentioned the Titans. Yeah, the Titans are in Purgatory. Right. I mean, they've, they've had some amazing seasons. Well, I think they were 13 and three, the year before last, they slipped to below 500. They've got a quarterback and Ryan Tannehill, who, in 21 was 21 touchdowns, 14 interceptions regressed to 13 and six with some injuries, I think going on last year. This is, you know, in some ways, you know, we talked about Derek Carr signing, that's, that's the kind of player that I think of Ryan Tannehill. Good player, gonna make a pro bowl once in a while gonna lead his team to some playoff runs. But in some ways, just gonna lead it to, you know, kind of frustration, this this this thing, you're not going anywhere. I'll take

Doug Battle 37:02

car over Tannehill for what it is. But yeah, I think that the Titans and letting AJ brown walk, you know, sending him to Philly and watching him, become an elite receiver come to find out, you know, maybe it was the offense, maybe it was the quarterback, maybe it's the system that he was in. And he was kind of set free in Philadelphia. And the Titans when they were winning, I think the criticism was that they were winning in boring fashion. You know, it was ground and pound defense kind of old school. And the question was, you know, can that win championships in the modern era? We haven't seen a lot of that in recent years in the NFL, particularly in so I think college football probably had a little bit more of that. But still, it's been a while and both both leaks. And so the Tennessee Titans seven and 10 Last year, you know, right at that spot where it's like, you can't get a top quarterback prospects in the draft. You know, they're not going to get a Stroud or Richardson or Bryce young. And, you know,

Mike Lewis 38:07

sometimes we talk about the, you know, the people want to talk about the Super Bowl window closing. That's closing on the Titans. Right. I mean, you know, I think Tana hills, Tana Hills got one year left on 100, and basically a four year $120 million deal. You know, I mean,

Doug Battle 38:24

that's a team that it's like, Can they do they have money for Aaron Rodgers? You know, like, if they're Windows closing, and it's all about championships? Why not? Kind of like Tampa a couple years ago with Tom Brady. It's like, well, he might not be the face of the franchise for very long. But why not make a big run at one championship while the rest of your rosters pretty solid? I mean, Tennessee's got to be thinking that way. I know that they were in the running for Brady. People forget they were in the running for Brady that offseason. And have you gone there? Who knows what would have happened?

Mike Lewis 38:55

The reason why I said that their windows probably closing is the derrick Henry's a seven year player. Yeah, right. And so they're sort of different. You can you know, if I always want to focus on the quarterbacks to look at NFL teams, you could argue that Tennessee was probably the one exception to that rule that this was really a running back led team, as much as it was a quarterback team and perhaps even perhaps even more. So I think, you know, not a lot of stardom an eight year nine year 10 year running backs. And so, you know, this is probably a team that the general manager has got to be looking at. We're going to trend down for a little and then we come back up so you're probably right that, you know, drafting a quarterback prospect, you know, or waiting a year to get a more elite quarterback prospect, but it's got to be a tough, it can't be a fun place to work. At this moment, given the trajectory in the age of some of these players. You know, Tannehill might be a loyal kind of foot soldier for Tennessee. Tough idea to resign that I add 40 $45 million a year per contract with how things look.

Doug Battle 40:06

Yeah, to me, I've always viewed him as a Trubisky type quarterback. And I mean, that's kind of how I value Him. Now, Derrick, Henry, Mike, you mentioned Derek, he's reportedly on the trading block, kinda interesting situation where you have a player who it's like, I didn't give him a year. He looks like the MVP of the league. But he's 29 years old. And he's a running back. And he's got a lot of mileage on him, because he ran a lot at Alabama. And then so I mean, he's got, he's got 10 years of pretty much professional football mileage on him. It's hard to imagine a team giving up significant assets for a player at that point in his career. What do you think the the trade value of a guy like Derrick Henry is? I think the point is,

Mike Lewis 40:53

I think very little right. I think it's all you know, that I think there's always this tendency, like this recency bias to look at the most. You know, what's what's happened lately? And zekiel. Elliott, Todd Gurley Leveon. Well, right. And so like this idea of running backs are gonna get that big second deal, or maybe even get into that third deal. I don't see anyone. I don't see anyone. You know, they got to find that right there right situation where there's a missing piece for that quest for that championship.

Doug Battle 41:27

Yeah, and I think, like, I've seen speculation about Nick Chubb for the browns, who clearly has been the best player on their football team in recent years, and has kind of carried that team to the wins that they have had 27 years old, and there's speculation that the Browns would be willing to trade him. Some of the fans aren't super stoked about that. And it's like, I'm a job guy, you know, I went to school at the same time as him at Georgia. But my, my question there is like, I mean, I get it, you know, I could understand looking at it and saying this guy is like, probably the highest value, he's, you know, it's kind of like it's buy low, sell high, like they bought him in the second round. They can sell them after just about 10 years of use, I don't know how many 678 years of use great use production, and recoup some assets in return for him. Like I get it for the browns, if they were to do that the fans would hate it. Nick Chubbs beloved, and for good reason. And he's not just a great football player, but he's a leader. But I get it. If the GM were to do something like that. So with Henry, you know, with Chubb, it's like, that's a really tough one to me, because he might be the best running back in the NFL right now. But he's 27, like I said, and, you know, maybe he has that, that career of Frank Gore, or someone like that, who maintains his level of production for much longer. But that would be, you know, that would be an outlier. And Derrick Henry just seems like, it seems like he's already starting to trail off a little bit. And so I'm really curious to see if these guys get traded? And if so what their value? You know, is it a sixth round pick for Derrick Henry? Is it A, is it a third round pick is the second round pick, I have no idea what their value is right now. So that's something to keep an eye on this offseason?

Mike Lewis 43:16

I think I mean, you're absolutely right. Right. It is, it's a funny thing, that the value might be something like a third or a fourth round pick, versus a guy that might be potentially the league MVP for a season. You know, that's, you know, sometimes I get the sense that like, some of these trades are kind of overvalued. And then you see something where, you know, a blockbuster trade sort of sets up team up for for years and years. But then, you know, you'd like, suddenly, you see, like, a potential MVP running back being traded for a third rounder, and that third round, or sometimes doesn't even make the roster, right. So it's, you know, yeah,

Doug Battle 43:55

those are the those are the hard ones. For me, those are the hardest decisions and in football, but but and you look at it, you're like, Wow, a third round pick for Derrick Henry, a guy who could be the MVP of the league. Then you look at Todd Gurley, and what he you know, where his level of production was at that age, like you want to give up a third round pick for that, especially if you look at some of the guys drafted in the third round over the years, guys who become Pro Bowlers guys who become tenure starters. And so the those trades are the most interesting in football to me, because they always feel like steals. And when you're playing Madden, you make those trades because you're playing for one season and you're like, Yeah, I want the best running back in the lead. I'll give you a fourth round pick and a fifth round pick for him. But in reality with the long game and play, it's a different ballgame.

Mike Lewis 44:39

Number three is the Colton Matt Ryan. Now this is one that going into the season. You know, Matt Ryan's performance did not surprised me at all for the Colts. Looking at the data looking at his performance. This seemed to be about what you might expect. Now, I think Ryan was he's an unperfect unrestricted free agent in 24. So he's got one more year, he ends up being again, kind of one of these really, you know, it's almost like there's gotta be some analogy for this. But this this mistake that general managers are likely to make, right where they say I've got this roster that I really like. And so I'll take this like the Russell Wilson deal, right and maybe bring him back rivers that I'll bring back this veteran quarterback, maybe they can find some some magic, something's still left in the tank, and we can get to the Super Bowl, for the most part. So it is exactly what you're saying of this is the opportunity to play the one year game right? I bring this guy in for one year. I hate it. You know, to me, it's like you're trying you're you're like rolling the dice on a long shot. And it's seems to seldom workout for me. And it's like I think people get fixated on the Tom Brady wasn't doing so great in in New England. So we can sort of play that that game again and get to sort of get over the hump. Ryan, 14 touchdowns. 3013 interceptions versus 20 and 12. In 21. It's, um, you know, it was, I mean, the the, the one aspect of this that I think potentially make some sense is if you roll the dice, and things don't work out, well, the Colts have the fourth pick in the draft. There has been some talk about the Colts moving up. I mean, both of the final two teams in this division, the Colts and the Texans are very likely to draft quarterbacks. So suddenly, maybe you're transitioning to a different type of situation, where the idea is we'll keep Matt Ryan around for one more year. And we'll ease in our, you know, highly drafted, pick one through five type type quarterback. Does Ryan want to do that? I don't know. You know, because look, and again, this is how the salary market starts to make all this stuff crazy. Matt Ryan might be looking at it as, hey, if this is not going to work out with the Colts, maybe there's another team out there that will give me $100 million for two years. I would like to take that 100 million dollars.

Doug Battle 47:20

Yeah, if I'm out Ryan, I just say yeah, I'll I'll be the support buddy for Bryce younger, CJ Stroud, and we get paid like a starting quarterback to practice and show him the ropes. But yeah, I mean, as much as I'm critical of these moves, you know, we talked about Russell Wilson, we talked about Matt Ryan last year now Phillip rivers, I kind of get it. Like earlier in this conversation, we brought up Anthony Richardson, a guy with all the physical tools. And yet it's like we already know that it factor that like quarterback ability. It seems like in the NFL, like the brain is more important than the body of these players. And so when a team like the Colts brings in Matt Ryan, they bring in a guy who's a former league MVP, who's never relied entirely on his athleticism. It's always been the inner characteristics of the player that make him a winner. And so I think a team like that sees a winner. And they say, you know, we've got a good enough line, we've got a good good enough receivers defense, all the rest. We just need a guy that's not going to lose us games. A winner is not going to lose you games like Tom Brady wasn't going to lose the Bucs games. Even you go back to Peyton Manning in Denver. Not a great player at that point in his career. pretty underwhelming performances across the board won a championship. He was you know, he was a winner. He was he had command of the offense. You knew how to lead the group. And so I understand why teams like the Colts teams like the Broncos make these moves. And like you mentioned, you know, worst case scenario for the Colts they it was kind of a boom or bust thing and they tanked and it's better to tank and the NFL than to be in a situation like the titans in my opinion. So I don't think they're in the worst position that they could possibly be in. And it will be interesting. I would kind of expect Matt Ryan to be quarterback start the year handed off kind of the traditional changing of the guards a quarterback that we've seen over the years with veterans and young draft picks. So I'm definitely I want to be super optimistic on Matt Ryan and Matt Ryan led colts team but that's the team. They've probably got their pick of CJ Stroud will love us. And Anthony Richardson I mean to all the top quarterbacks outside of probably Bryce young, I don't know, of course, some of those guys might get reached for I mean, Jalen Carter dropping might hurt their case with with some of the quarterbacks because there's going to be one taken a little bit sooner than expected, I would imagine.

Mike Lewis 49:40

And, again, you know, the salary market and the salary cap. Yeah, are playing an enormous role behind the scenes on anything related to Matt Ryan right. So the number of listeners that you know, releasing him would save the the call $17 million in cap space. So it's all kind of this This equation of there moving on and so is it worth to keep him around a little bit? And on the other side, does Matt Ryan look at it and go, I mean, like Matt Ryan might be looking and going, I you know, it's time for me to join in announcing booth, you know, but he might be looking at it like, you know, I want another 100 million dollar contract. So I gotta get out of here.

Doug Battle 50:21

Well, looking at how much Tony Romo and Tom Brady are going to be making as announcers that that gig might be higher paying than the backup quarterback or even the starting quarterback gig for a guy like Matt Ryan, who probably is seems pretty well suited for that. So that that could be in his future as well. We'll see what happens. I just I feel like this year is a really good year, it's never a bad year to have a top pick. This year is a really good year to have a top pick and the quarterback as far as quarterbacks go, because if you don't have a quarterback this year, your options are probably overpaying for guys that are unrestricted free agents and those guys that I've seen are not Proven Winners, Derek Carr, Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones, a lot of talent, a lot of talent between these guys and maybe one of them will see that next level of success at their next stop. I don't know but I would much rather not spend the $40 million or however much these guys are demanding and 40 5060 whatever it is and and take a rookie quarterback with the high up side and just go that route and see if they pan out and say don't do it again until until you you know catch lightning in a bottle like the bills did with Josh Allen or the Chargers with Justin Herbert.

Mike Lewis 51:41

So a lot of this is a it's a good way to sort of sum it up or you're in a position where potentially you're going to devote a quarter of your salary cap to a guy that feels like a mid range guy versus going into the to the rookie market and having a cost controlled quarterback the last team on our list the Houston Texas is definitely going to select a quarterback in the first few pics of the the upcoming draft. I don't know that there's much more to say beyond that. I mean they they are probably they have picked number two. So they're playing a little bit of a waiting game and sort of a you know this this game of chicken in terms of the bears and the Colts potentially where the upside is to, I guess draft Bryce young ahead of CJ Stroud to be honest with the dog as I look at that, and again, we had some fun with Bryce young and everyone had some fun with Bryce young sight. I don't know that I make a move. I might look at these guys and kind of go you know, I look at the top quarterback group and I'm kind of willing to roll the dice on whoever lands in my place. I don't I don't have some firm expectation that you know Trevor Lawrence is the guy more than Justin fields or you know, this one seemed less clear cut to me.

Doug Battle 53:01

Let's so you don't have you don't have a top QB like if you're a QB needy team. Yeah, the number one pick this year.

Mike Lewis 53:08

Okay, so you're watching young at Alabama. As an opposing fan, I would think and this is nothing but a compliment to Bryce young. He felt inevitable. Right? I don't want to have him have the ball. He felt like Tom Brady like, right, I don't want him to have the ball with two minutes left in the game on the line. But the physical limitations suddenly make me kind of raise this enormous question mark. And again, I view this stuff probabilistically very talented player, very talented player at the high school ranks at the college ranks. I assume he will test well on every aspect except for height and potentially hand and how do you do in hand size deck and at the Combine about when you look at that stature, then suddenly you have to say well, there's some percentage some possibility that he's going to struggle more than a taller quarterback. And so I find myself you know, I would almost want to let the fates then decide which quarterback I went with.

Doug Battle 54:09

Yeah, I personally, I bet it does.

Mike Lewis 54:13

happen happened. The analytics professor just said, I'm gonna let fate decide my quarterback position. throw up your hands.

Doug Battle 54:19

I don't know. I I personally became a big CJ Stroud guy during the Peach Bowl when Georgia kind of lost Ohio State even though they technically won. And Stroud like seems like a high character kid. And seems to me it's a lot. He's very similar to Bryce Young as a player. He just has a little bit more of the tangibles. Apparently, Richardson has been the guy wowing with his interviews, which is surprising to me. But I've read for multiple accounts that Richardson's really, not only did he impress teams on the field, he's impressed them off. The field with how he's conducted his interviews. And so I've read reports that he could go number one, Mike, and like not to count him out, which is kind of crazy to me. But it wouldn't be unprecedented with what we've seen, you know, teams making reaches for quarterbacks based on not their college performances, but their combines. And so this year is really like, it's kind of crazy. I think for the longest time we all felt like Bryce Young was definitely going to be the guy. And maybe he is, but now with, you know, his height coming into question measuring a little bit shorter than expected, Richardson outperforming his expectations. Stroud having a really strong postseason when Bryce young wasn't playing, when Anthony Richardson wasn't playing, and also having a pretty good combine. And then, of course, for whatever reason, teams falling in love with will Levis, I guess due to his measurables as well. And it's the first like year and a while where I truly don't know what quarterback is gonna go first. And I imagine these guys are going to be dissected. So excruciatingly, that we're going to know every detail of their past from high school, every potential question mark, every, you know, medical exam they've ever had or health issue. I know when it was fields, we we came to find out that he had had seizures at some point. And that was kind of out of nowhere. And so these guys are going to be dissected. Like I said, and I think, you know, if I had to guess right now, I would still bet Bryce young, but it feels it feels like team, it feels like the buzz has kind of died down on him. So I guess we'll just have to wait and see. But if I like CJ Stroud, I'm just a little I think there's this anti Ohio State bias and maybe for good reason. Their quarterbacks due to the competition. They're playing in college or no offense, Mike, Illinois, due to, you know, a couple of busts over the years that that there might be some hesitancy there.

Mike Lewis 57:10

No, no offense taken. Okay. You know what, I will clean close the book on this episode real quickly. One of the other big stories out there is the major league baseball pitch clock. You know, so basically, they've instituted a pitch clock that has been found to reduce the time of the games by about 2025 minutes. What do you think, Doug? You a fan of this? You're a purist?

Doug Battle 57:38

Yes. Yes. No, I'm not a purist. I am. I'm not a baseball purist. It's one thing I'm not a purist of, and I'm all for it.

Mike Lewis 57:48

It seems to be you know, my initial reaction was I wonder if this is going to be distracting forever our clock kind of putting baseball on a pace. But it does seem like you know, in sort of the purists might be offended. Seems like there's almost nothing but universal love on this thing. In terrible hate it though. They well, but I'm surprised at how I change. I'm surprised at how little reaction there has been from the purists. We'll see once the regular season starts. But it seems like Major League Baseball kinda has a winner with with at least one of the changes they're going into the 2023 season with. Okay, we'll wrap it there, as always more content at WWW dot fandomanalytics. And we'll talk to you guys next week.



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