At this time last year, all but one of the James Mungro Memorial Award presented by (sponsor pending) candidates had logged uninspiring performances. All we had was Jacques McClendon’s eventual “Mungro Moment”©. I should have ended it then, given the award to McClendon and given up on the rotten crop.
This year, it’s different. This year we got the genetically modified Monsanto crop. Exceptional performances grew out of everywhere. As a group, Friday’s performance by the JMMA contenders was the greatest we’ve ever seen.
The most obvious of which was Matt Willis’ three catches for 51 yards and a touchdown. He looked like a legitimate football player. Still, my initial power rankings had Willis at No. 4. He was garnering a little too much attention from the LAME stream media (Hah! GOT EM! *high fives self*) in the immediate aftermath. I thought he may be able slide through it, though, and avoid a feature story.
It’s a shame. He had so much promise. He wasn’t alone though. More than half our competitors took up residence in the fastest growing city in America. Cut City’s population rose over 200 percent this weekend. We’ll start with those guys then work our way up through the tiers of remaining competitors, ending with Tier 1: the favorites.
DE Braylon Broughton, FB Shaun Chapas, S Trevor Coston, LB Corey Greenwood, T Derek Hardman, LB Brandon Hepburn, T Austin Holtz, G Darren Keyton, CB Brandon King, DT Xavier Proctor, TE Matt Veldman, TE Michael Williams, and, obviously, WR Matt Willis.
All of these guys — with the exception of three — were eliminated because they were barely noticeable: no big plays, no ridiculous celebrations, not even a late-hit, personal foul penalty. We say na na naaa na hey hey goodbye to them all.
Chapas actually made one good catch and I noticed him a couple of other times, but Montell Owens and the tight ends played fullback with the first two units. Chapas isn’t making the team. Rule 2 (the JMMA winner must have at least an outside chance at making the team) stipulates that we must say goodbye to Shaun.
Brandon King was also noticeable, but that was mostly because he’s awful. Goodbye Brandon, we barely knew ye.
Williams needs to be cut twice. At one point Shaun Hill had to yell at him to come onto the field. When Williams did, Hill had to show him where to lineup. That’s not not a good look. We want our guy to have the coaches yelling at him because he refuses to get off the field, even on turnovers.
WR Cody Wilson.
Wilson played four snaps on Friday. He has no chance at making the Lions. I should cut him. I just… I just can’t.
I come from the University of Michigan, where the No. 1 jersey is reserved for the one or two best wide receivers of the decade. Seeing a receiver wear it in any uniform on the field triggers an automatic reaction: ‘That guy is good. Throw that guy the ball.’
I knew the jersey had no significance with the Lions. But when all 5-foot-9 of Cody Wilson trotted out there for some meaningless run plays in the fourth quarter, my first reaction was still ‘Throw him the ball.’ I had my second reaction almost immediately after my first, ‘How did that scrub get the No. 1 jersey?’
It looks so funny, this tiny little white guy wearing No. 1. Receivers aren’t even allowed to wear No. 1 in the NFL. They have to be between 80-89 or 10-19. No. 86 is available, and — unless the Lions are planning a Roy Williams jersey retirement ceremony I’m not aware of — so is No. 11.
Yet little Cody WIlson gets No. 1. Seeing him on the field gave me so much enjoyment. I had to keep him around for another week.
CB DeQuan Menzie, LB Jon Morgan, LB Adrian Moten, S Martavius Neloms.
All of these guys weren’t particularly impactful but did enough to at least earn their way into my notes, and thus earn a reprieve from finding a plot of land in Cut City. They’ll probably be headed there next Monday, though.
Menzie had a spectacular fumble point:
Morgan made one good play. He went from the middle of the field to the sideline to chase down a running back, and added a stare down after making the tackle. … He also bit on a play-action fake and allowed a big gain.
Moten and Neloms both made a couple of tackles and didn’t have any big negative plays. Moten had more of an impact and, considering he was claimed off waivers last week, might actually be a useful player given more time.
G/C Rodney Austin, DB Tyrell Johnson, T LaAdrian Waddle.
Austin continues to hang on a tightrope after his feature story about being fat, but he provided the greatest moment of the night on Friday. Austin, not Darren Keyton or Leroy Harris, was the backup center. Or maybe the backup backup center. I wasn’t paying too much attention. It doesn’t matter. With about 11 minutes left in the game, Kellen Moore lined up in the shotgun and called for the ball.
ESPN play-by-play uses the word “aborted.” Its an apt description. The play was an abortion. Austin’s “snap” consisted of rolling the ball on the ground three feet. Kellen Moore recovered it. Then Austin went berserk.
He swung his torso and arms around spastically, screamed for 15 seconds, then went back to the huddle and dropped an f-bomb that, ever so faintly, was picked up by the Channel 7 cameras.
Tyrell Johnson gave up one moderate pass gain, made one nice play in run support, and delivered one forearm shiver to a defenseless receiver. That’s the football version of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
Waddle waddled around for a while, took a guy down from behind, acted like nothing happened and no penalty was called. He also played decent.
I’ll list this tier in ascending order:
3. WR Terrance Austin
2. Jimmy Saddler-McQueen
1. Ogemdi Nwagbuo
Terrance Austin has the tools to win this. He’s small and wears No. 16, kind of a strange number for a receiver. Both traits make him easily identifiable. He’s pretty good at getting open. He had four catches for 35 yards on Friday but was targeted seven times, the most on the team. Most importantly, he enjoys drawing attention to himself.
Imagine your fringe player on an NFL team. It’s 2nd-and-8 in the middle of the second quarter of a meaningless preseason game. You find a seam, make your first catch of the game, and pick up 19 yards. What’s the next thing you do? Give the ball back to the official? Maybe drop the ball and run back to the huddle? Not Terrance Austin. Let’s break it down:
He starts with the double-fist chest pound, and then ….
Austin’s couldn’t make a tough catch on his next target but that didn’t prevent him from doing a little squat dance and pretending like he almost had it when he really didn’t come close. On Austin’s third target, Shaun Hill missed behind him, causing Austin to do three full jump 360s to express his wideopenness. That’s how you do it kids.
He fell to No. 3 primarily because he dropped a couple of balls, and secondarily because the other two are just better than him.
Jimmy Saddler-McQueen looks like the type of nose tackle a high school team has: really short and really fat. There are a few key differences though. First, Saddler-McQueen is 6-foot-2 and only looks short because he’s lining up against guys who are 6-7. And, second, Saddler-McQueen does much more than take a knee and eat up space.
Friday, he was pushing lineman into their running backs and getting pressure on the quarterback. At a certain point the Jets were triple teaming him. The only reason he and Ogemdi aren’t co-leaders is because he missed a wide open sack, which led to a Jets touchdown.
Ogemdi Nwagbuo made no such mistakes. Pro Football Focus listed him as having four QB pressures. What that doesn’t account for: Nwagbuo embarrassing No. 75 on the Jets the entire second half; Nwagbuo drawing a holding penalty; Nwagbuo delivering a helmet-to-helmet hit on Greg McElroy well after McElroy had already fumbled; Nwagbuo not getting called for a penalty on said helmet-to-helmet hit; Nwagbuo hitting McElroy so hard the quarterback’s head smacked into the turf, bounced up upon impact and then smacked into the turf again, causing him to huddle into the fetal position on the sideline.
Seriously, watch the defensive line this Thursday.
We cannot and will not forget about our good friend, Brother Jacques McClendon, 2012 JMMA winner.
McClendon entered the Falcons’ preseason game against the Bengals with about five minutes left in the third quarter. He was the team’s third center, played there exclusively, and got 19 snaps, 33 percent of his team’s offensive total.
Brother Jacques struggled early. On his fourth play, he was driven back into the ball carrier and McClendon’s guy got in on the tackle. On others he was simply pushed off to the side.
But the Falcons eventually started making him a member of some double teams and McClendon eventually settled down. When the Super Scrubs came into the game, McClendon went into Neanderthal Mode.
He locked guys up in pass coverage and started going downhill on run plays. At one point, the Falcons ran behind him two straight times. McClendon body slammed his guy on the second of those plays.
Brother Jacques made only two mistakes during the second half of his time: He didn’t slide the protection on a blitz (as a center he’s making those calls), which resulted in a Bengal running in untouched for a sack, and he didn’t take a personal foul penalty so he could get his name said on ESPN.
McClendon looks caught in the middle of being a bad backup and a good third-/fourth-stringer at a position that usually has only two spots reserved for it on the 53-man roster. The very little I’ve read on the Falcons’ roster situation has McClendon in the mix for one of the final roster spots, but on the outside looking in.
We’ll see how that changes when he takes my advice and decides, just for kicks, to gets a couple personal foul penalties in Week 2.