- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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Hello there, elite person. Did you know you are elite? You are! Congratulations!
Unfortunately, as those of you who are longtime citizens of NFL Hangover Nation know, that word means absolutely nothing anymore. As Oprah might say if she were an NFL broadcaster: “I’m elite! You’re elite! EVERYBODY IS ELITE!”
Therefore, we now need different grades of ELITE if we are to differentiate an elite quarterback like Tom Brady from an elite quarterback like Ryan Lindley. And as an elite NFL analyst, I’m just the man for the job.
Elite Class I: The Super-Elite (or SuLite)
Two weeks ago on the CBS pregame show, Boomer Esiason said this: “There are elite quarterbacks and then there are super-elite quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers is a super-elite quarterback.” That is super-elite analysis.
The super-elite are the elite quarterbacks if "elite" were still a useful word. They are the guys that all football fans -- outside of trolls or true haters (h8rs?) -- agree are the best of the best. There is no reasonable debate thanks to the titles, MVPs and records these quarterbacks have.
The Super-Elite are, in alphabetical order: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger.
Elite Class II: The Pre-Elite (or PrElite)
These quarterback are often called “elite” but again -- everyone is called elite. However, they are close to actually being elite, if elite were a thing. They need some hardware to move up to Elite Class I and become SuLite.
The Pre-Elite are, in alphabetical order: Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub.
Elite Class III-a: The Young-Elite (or YoLite)
Elite Class III-a is where you find rookie or second-year quarterbacks who most everyone believes have the potential to one day be Super-Elite. These quarterbacks could become less elite or never go past Pre-Elite, but they have shown definite signs of being Elite Class I in the future.
The Young-Elite are, in alphabetical order: Andy Dalton, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson.
Elite Class III-b: The Young Pre-Elite (The YoPrelite)
Elite Class III-b is where you find rookie or second-year quarterbacks who haven’t played enough for anyone to truly evaluate them. They’ve done some great things and some terrible things. A few good games can catapult them into Elite Class III-a, while a bad season drops them to the bottom of the ELITE scale.
The Young Pre-Elite are, in alphabetical order: Nick Foles, Colin Kaepernick, Jake Locker and Ryan Tannehill.
Elite Class IV: The Situational Elite (SitLite)
Only these quarterbacks’ most ardent supporters believe they are real elite (SuLite). However, if you watch them play a nationally televised game, they will be gushed over as SuLite every time they complete a third-down pass -- hence they are Situational Elite. SitLite quarterbacks are often mistakenly thought to be SuLite by their teams and are foolishly given huge, long-term contracts, dooming their franchises to a decade of seasons fluctuating between 7-9 and 10-6. Their teams and fans believe they are always about to become real elite: next pass, next game, next season. Surely soon! These wildly inconsistent quarterbacks who have never won anything may seem doomed to a career of being SitLite, and almost always are, but sports are unpredictable and anything can happen. For example, Eli Manning was SitLite not too long ago.
The Situational Elite are, in alphabetical order: Sam Bradford, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Josh Freeman, Tony Romo, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow and Michael Vick.
Elite Class V: The Post-Elite (or PoLite)
These are quarterbacks who once were regarded as in Elite Class II: The Pre-Elite. They were close to becoming real elite but have since dropped way back and are precipitously falling down the elite scale from SitLite and now to PoLite. Interestingly, it is considered polite to say that PoLite quarterbacks are elite.
The Post-Elite are, in alphabetical order: Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers.
Elite Class VI: The Not-Elite (or NoLite)
Are these quarterbacks elite? Not even close. These are quarterbacks only a mother could love and even then, their mother wouldn’t put them on her fantasy team. However, some will still call them ELITE using this logic: “They’re one of the best 32 or so quarterback in the world. That means they’re ELITE.” This is super-elite twisted logic.
The Not-Elite are, in alphabetical order: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Henne, Ryan Lindley, Christian Ponder, Mark Sanchez, Brady Quinn and Brandon Weeden.
*If Luxembourg can be a nation, so can the NFL Hangover. And, yes, the overuse of “nation” in sports is almost as bad as the overuse of “elite.” Almost.
Quote of the Week
“It’s just something that I sensed, that I felt. When you’re around the game long enough, you get that feeling that, ‘You know what? I’ve seen enough, and it’s time to make that change.’” -- Rex Ryan, on benching Mark Sanchez
Rex makes a good point. If you are around the game long enough -- watching 15 or more minutes of a New York Jets’ game, for example -- you can understand these kind of things. It’s a sense. Not a sixth sense. But a sense. Which number sense is sight? The first one? I don’t know. It’s one of the five. Anyway, if you have eyes, you can sense that the Jets needed to bench Sanchez. And Rex Ryan has eyes. So Rex Ryan is a great coach.
Stat of the Week
It happened this week: Adrian Peterson passed Christian Ponder in yards per attempt on the season. Unfortunately, as you may recall, Peterson is a running back and Ponder is a quarterback. Yet Peterson’s 6.2 yards per carry is better than Ponder’s 6.0 yards per passing attempt. This is perhaps the most depressing thing ever (tied with Larry Fitzgerald’s quarterback situation as the other most depressing thing ever.)
Here is Peterson after Minnesota’s loss to Green Bay, in which he ran for 210 yards on 21 carries, talking about a 6-yard run he had: “If I’m just a second more patient I take that to the crib. It's a 94-yard run. I look back on that and say, 'That could have changed the game.' ... The long run to the left [that went for 48 yards], being able to step out of that tackle and take that to the end zone. Those are the things that come to my mind. See what I can do better."
Yeah. Ponder and the rest of the Vikings have to be wondering when Peterson will step up and start pulling his own weight.
Misleading Stat of the Week
Tony Romo threw three touchdowns Sunday night in the Cowboys’ win over what’s left of the Philadelphia Eagles to give him 168 for his career. That gives him the most touchdown passes in Dallas Cowboys history, meaning he is better than Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Unfortunately, this means ESPN2 is going to have to cancel the show “Numbers Never Lie.” Too bad. I liked that show.
This Week’s Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Jay Cutler, QB, Bears: 17-for-26, 233 yards, 2 TD
James Starks, RB, Packers: 82 total yards, TD
Vick Ballard, RB, Colts: 62 total yards, TD
Donnie Avery, WR, Colts: 5 catches, 91 yards, 2 TD
Golden Tate, WR, Seahawks: 5 catches, 96 yards, TD
Coby Fleener, TE, Colts: 1 catch, 26 yards, TD
Photos of the Week
Press Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
Jim Harbaugh: “Is this the best quarterback controversy you have ever created?”
Ken Whisenhunt: “Why do you hate Larry Fitzgerald?”
Mike Tomlin: “Have you ever played basketball with Charlie Batch and, if so, would it be correct to assume that he has a bunch of unstoppable old-man moves?”
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
@djgalloespn I am conflicted. After watching Adrian Peterson this year, should I be rooting for Matt Forte to tear an ACL?
— Brandon Feldt(@TheRealBFeldt) December 3, 2012
Not while the Bears are still in playoff contention. But if their season slips away from them or if they’re about to get eliminated from a playoff game? Definitely. Tough love is the greatest love. (That is something you would say to Forte while snapping his knee.) Peterson has changed everything.
“I have some terrible news.”
“Your star running back went down and he was clutching his knee.”
“Did he tear his ACL?”
“Unfortunately, no. He walked it off and is fine.”
On the other hand, Peterson may very well be a superhuman alien person who is uniquely capable of healing stronger than he was before.
ELITE Quarterback of the Week
Is Charlie Batch ELITE?
Evidence for him: He threw for 276 yards on the road against the vaunted Baltimore defense to beat the “best” quarterback in the NFL, he is 6-3 for his career as a starter with the Steelers and, at age 37 and 363 days, has lasted longer in the NFL than Hall of Famers such as Troy Aikman, Dan Fouts and Terry Bradshaw. Also, it’s easy to say “CharLETE” and you can’t spell SACCHARINE without CHAR.
Evidence against him: He played for the Detroit Lions, he was deemed worse than Byron Leftwich by his own coaches and you can’t spell CHARLATAN without CHAR.
Five Things I’d Think I’d Think If I Thought
1. Lost in the Jets’ comedy of errors is the remarkable career of Matt Cavanaugh. The Jets’ assistant was the Baltimore Ravens’ offensive coordinator from 1999 to 2004, an era in which Baltimore’s offense blew a chance at a dynasty. He then moved on to be the offensive coordinator at Pitt where, despite having significant NFL talent on offense to work with, Pitt never won an outright title in the Big East. The Big East! Since 2009, he has been the Jets’ quarterbacks coach, overseeing the year-to-year regression of Mark Sanchez. Then just this week Cavanaugh said these words about Sanchez: “I just know he’s talented, he’s very talented. He’s getting better.” So when listing the NFL coaches whose continued employment baffles you, don’t forget to include Cavanaugh.
2. Last week Alex Smith watched the whole 49ers’ game in a helmet. This week he was only wearing a hat. You can see where this is going. If Jim Harbaugh doesn’t start him soon, Smith will be standing completely naked in protest on the sideline by the time the playoffs start. And we’ll see everything because Smith doesn’t have tattoos.
3. Oh, great. Now he’s probably infected. Thanks a lot for ruining a football legend, Cowboys.
4. Ndamukong Suh told ESPN’s Merril Hoge that he doesn’t think his reputation as a dirty player is deserved: “Honestly, I don’t believe it’s fair. A reputation, in my opinion, is something that’s always evolving. You can’t let one particular instance or one particular act, or even one particular year, say this is this person’s reputation.” Ahh, but what about two particular acts and two particular years? Didn’t think we would remember back that far, huh? Well, humans have a great memory. It’s probably thanks to us evolving. Maybe next we’ll evolve a cup to protective us from crotch kicks.
5. Have you heard of Elf on a Shelf? It’s weird and creepy. Parents sit a tiny elf in their house and convince their kids that the elf is watching them and reporting their behavior back to Santa. Apparently everyone is doing it. Even the Saints are putting an elf on the shelf. Darren Sproles hasn’t had a carry in two weeks. Ohmigod! I wonder if he’s the Saints’ mole who has been talking to Roger Goodell?