OK Never-Ted nation, it’s time to spout off, and you finally have that evidence you’ve been looking for. The argument has always been that Ted’s master-stroke (and ballsiest pick ever I might add) of selecting Aaron Rodgers, covers for the disaster he has been at GM ever since. I believe the argument goes: “Without Aaron, we’re a third rate team.” But, you’ve never been able to prove it, because of the self fulfilling prophecy, Aaron IS on the field, and he makes everyone look far better than they are. We Ted supporters have always said, Aaron and a few stars require a HUGE chunk of the cap, and Ted does a fantastic job of filling up the rest of the roster with the best talent he can, often far superior to the higher-priced lesser-talented players other teams get from free agency, and that even without Aaron, our overall roster is an NFL playoff team with unbelievably bad luck with injuries. But here’s the rub. Both of our arguments require Aaron to go down in order to see who is right. Luckily that never happens, right?
Well, we’ve now seen that show. Luckily I was unable to view the Browns game. But, I think we can all agree in the NFL it doesn’t get any worse than them. As I kept checking the score, and we were LOSING to the Browns, all I could think of was, here comes the Never Ted Crowd! We’ve had a few ups and many downs with our rookie qb, but even with him, our playoff caliber roster should stomp on at least the Browns, right? After all, the pro Ted crowd loves to claim, we have a more talented supporting cast than you do, and due to our genius GM, we actually pay them less, enabling us to keep a couple more of our stars. Even after winning in overtime, I had to hang my head in shame, my snobby In Ted I Trust badge losing a bit of its shine. I just waited to hear the words, without Aaron Rodgers, we’re no better than the Browns.
Before you get the idea that I’m about to announce that I was wrong and you were right however, let me just say that I’m not about to do that. With the exception of the linebacker position, there’s very little the Never-Tedders can say that can’t be countered by circumstances beyond his control ranging from injury to outright catastrophe. Defensive backfield you say? Lenzy Pipkins and Josh Hawkins are on the field you say? To that I say, Ted has picked Nick Collins, Ha Ha Clinton Dix, Morgan Burnett, Signed Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, and picked Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde. How many pro bowlers does he have to find for you to throw him a frickin bone here? Plus, Damarious Randall, despite being injured for virtually his entire career, has so far shown far more promising moments than he has boneheaded moments (which admittedly are plentiful over a short span). And, Kevin King was starting to look somewhere between pretty decent and downright solid before we lost him.
The point is, Pro Bowl talent Collins goes down, enter HaHa. Shields career also ends early, you draft a first rounder whose report card is still incomplete. Hayward and Hyde leave for huge contracts (that based on a combination of prior performance and available cap space we cannot and/or should not match); you’re welcome for Ted doing such a good job drafting and Witt doing such a good job grooming that we can’t afford to keep everyone.
The replacements however, aren’t apples to apples on the spot. You’re correct that with no Shields, Woodson, Hayward, Williams, or Hyde, Ted could have gone out and signed 3 high priced pro bowl caliber free agents immediately and broke the bank, but there are other positions to address as well. He can’t break the bank at just one position, and therefore there’s going to be a slow progression to the next group of starters, whether you like it or not. If you want instant replacements, root for the Redskins. How’s that working out for them by the way? Look at the names above. You just can’t replace those guys overnight by signing the flavor of the month free agent. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. When you lose a guy due to age or insane free agent offers from other teams, you cannot just pluck another pro bowler from the scrap heap to replace him. But, Ted has done an awfully good job of replacing them in due course. It is his fault that many are good enough that they got insane free agent money, but injuries and age aren’t his fault, and no, he can’t be held responsible when his third stringers aren’t good enough to step on the field and be immediate starters in the NFL. They’re third stringers for a reason.
But, I did start this post with an acknowledgement that there is now tangible proof for the Never-Tedders. Although for most positions I can do a similar analysis as I did above for DB, I must acknowledge that the team that’s on the field are what I affectionately like to call ‘strugglers.’ Regardless of injury, they truly are not ‘that’ superior to the rest of the run of the mill NFL teams, and when you play the Browns into overtime, you’re just gone 15 rounds against the worst competition out there and barely escaped with a win. And again, they have battled in their games, but looked bad just as often, if not more than, they looked good.
I don’t know how they looked in the Browns game, but I do know they had to take the Browns into overtime. For that, I must acknowledge that our current roster is not as talented as I have given them credit for. Definite injuries, but if the Pro-Ted and Never-Ted movements ever had a chance to prove their points, it is now, and if injuries aren’t an excuse in the NFL, Never-Ted currently has the upper hand in this debate, because this season is about the only evidence we’ve got available to evaluate, and it hasn’t exactly gone favorably for Ted.