Dan Hanzus takes questions from you, the readers, in his latest mailbag. Thanks to everyone who sent in questions. You get me.
One of my favorite quotes of the offseason came from Ben McAdoo, the discarded Giants coach who launched an unexpected image resurrection tour last week. In an interview with the New York Post, McAdoo predicted that the Giants would win their division, then described the rest of the NFC East thusly:
"I think Philly, how much success has Philly had? I think they're gonna have a hard time handling success. Dallas, I like their offensive line, but how long have we been saying that? Their defense, they got a bunch of young guys playing DB, Sean Lee is banged up a lot, and their D-line, they got a bunch of guys getting in trouble all the time. And Washington is Washington, right?"
The whole answer is the type of surface-level analysis you'd expect from your drunk uncle on Thanksgiving, but McAdoo's Washington take had some sneaky depth. For decades now, McAdoo's opinion seems to be the prevailing take on the 'Skins: Washington is Washington. In other words, the Redskins will neither be one of the league's best teams nor will they be among the worst. They will just exist from September through December before resurfacing again late in the following summer. Rinse and repeat.
And Alex Smith is the perfect Washington quarterback, isn't he? After all, Alex Smith is Alex Smith. He won't be in the conversation of the game's best quarterbacks, but he won't be lumped in amongst the worst, either. Washington has the potential to put up points and surprise people this season. Smith played the best football of his career in his Chiefs swan song, and you can see the upside of an offense that includes Jordan Reed, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson and intriguing newcomer Derrius Guice. That group needs to stay healthy, of course, but don't we all?
For you kids out there, Ken O'Brien was the quarterback the Jets picked with Dan Marino still on the board back in 1983. O'Brien went on to have an up-and-down, nine-season tenure with Gang Green. He never lived up to expectations, but he had his moments (including a memorable shootout victory over Marino and the Dolphins in 1986). That said, consider it a huge disappointment for the Jets and their fans if O'Brien's arc approximates Darnold's ceiling. Darnold is here to resurrect the franchise and lead to the Jets to division titles in the (eventual) post-Brady AFC East. If Darnold is middling (or worse), everybody gets fired. No pressure, kid.
I don't have a personal Mount Rushmore, but this question did prompt me to Google the "Ickey Shuffle," a famed touchdown celebration by former Bengals running back Elbert "Ickey" Woods during the days of hair metal, The California Raisins and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" Before I get to the video, let me just say that the Ickey Shuffle was a big deal in 1988. This was a legit cultural sensation on the playgrounds of America. At the time, it was pretty much the coolest thing in football not named Bo Jackson.
Anyway, here's what all the fuss was about:
It's ... underwhelming, right? How was that such a huge deal? In retrospect, it's hard to say. My best explanation: This was the late-'80s ... there was no ironic appreciation for anything. Woods' dance wasn't "so bad it's good." It was just, well, good! People throw "It was a more innocent time" around way too often, but that phrase helps to explain the incredible popularity of the Ickey Shuffle -- my favorite touchdown celebration of all time.
Let's go in order here: Cleveland paid Jarvis Landry superstar money, so you can safely assume he will be a target monster, even with Josh Gordon and former first-round picks Corey Coleman and David Njoku in the building. Watkins also got paid a ton of loot in free agency, but where is he on the pecking order in Kansas City? You'd assume behind both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, right? Allen Hurns is in line to be the Cowboys' No. 1 wide receiver, but that doesn't make you a No. 1 wide receiver. As for Martavis Bryant, he has the potential to be a big-play machine in Oakland, but his off-the-field issues cannot be ignored.
My choice out of the group is Landry, who has a skill set that should travel well. He also seems to be a snug fit with Tyrod Taylor's game. Put it together, and Landry stands a reasonable chance of delivering another 100-catch season. This is where you're supposed to knock down expectations due to the Browns Tax, but I won't do it! This is the rebuild that takes!
Aaron Rodgers is a smart guy. He won in "Jeopardy!", after all. There's no better intelligence litmus test than that. He's the best quarterback in the league, and guys like Kirk Cousins and Matt Ryan just signed new deals that dwarf the $22 million per-year average on Rodgers' current Packers deal. That won't be the case much longer. Here's what he said to Peter King last week:
"It's only been on my mind because ... people have been writing and talking about it a lot. There have been many conversations about it. I think that there's some merit to looking into where you do a non-traditional contractual agreement. If anybody at this point is gonna be able to do something like that, I think there needs to be a conversation about it. I never said anything about [tying the contract to] the cap. I just think there's ways to do contracts where you can still be competitive so the team is happy about it, but have some more freedom."
I really wanted to like "Ballers." After all, this was a show that ingeniously dove through a loophole to use real NFL names and logos. Cheers for verisimilitude! But I only made it five or six episodes before bailing. I didn't buy The Rock's character, his wacky sidekick drove me crazy and the football player characters felt like flimsy cliches. I view it as another missed opportunity in this realm for HBO, which previously whiffed in a similar territory with the thoroughly unlovable sitcom "Arliss." When I was 16, "Jerry Maguire" briefly made me want to be a sports agent. I credit "Arliss" with single-handedly reversing that career trajectory.
Did I bail on Dwayne Johnson and friends too soon? Hit me up, "Ballers" fans -- assuming you exist.
I have to say I've been surprised this decade by the renaissance of the mustache. Some guys can pull off a mustache, but does anyone actually look better with lip rug? And no, you can't say Tom Selleck -- the statute of limitations on that reference ran out years ago. Elsewhere, the male romper has been a more stubborn trend than expected. If Cam Newton -- a human carved out of stone by the gods -- is unable to pull it off, it's time to move in a different direction.
I'm a Jets fan, so I'll leave Darnold out of this. Let's go with Josh Rosen, just because of the incredible amount of conversation and hand-wringing he generated during the pre-draft process. Of course, we have to wait for Sam Bradford to get injured before Rosen takes the field, but give it time. In February, the Cardinals looked like one of the NFL's most moribund franchises. The move to trade up and snag Rosen in the first round of April's draft was like a shot of adrenaline for a team that desperately needed it. If the worst-case scenario is that he becomes the new Jay Cutler -- as some have speculated -- I can live with it. After all, Jay has moved on to new endeavors. Speaking of which ...
Let's go with Jaguars teammates Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey living in a luxury Duval condo together. I was at the premiere of the Cardinals' "All or Nothing" season in Los Angeles a couple years ago and was taken aback by how big Campbell was. Not just as a human, but as a personality. Biggest smile since Andre The Giant in "The Princess Bride." Ramsey, meanwhile, is kind of an evolutionary Deion: A brash, dynamic, ridiculously talented cornerback who wants you to know exactly how great he is. Pair these guys together and maybe we'll get another chemistry hit in the vein of "Rob & Big".
Until next time ...