Perhaps no other industry displays the “ripple effect” like professional sports and in particular the National Football League. Think about it; the swings in momentum on the completion of a deep 3rd and long pass, the crippling blow to an offense of a torn ACL in week five or the rebuilding of an entire roster as a result of changing a front office philosophy through the hiring of a new General Manager. Perhaps it’s exactly for this reason that each and every aspect of professional football is followed so closely and is so intriguing to its fans.
Evidence of influence
We’re not one week into the NFL Free Agency period and already a number of moves have sent shockwaves through the League. Peyton Manning’s quest to find new employment has held captive the likes of Denver, Arizona, Miami and Tennessee. His decision could change the course of one of those franchises, while sending three others into Plan B preparations for their quarterback position.
Calvin Johnson signed a corresponding “Megatron” deal to stay in Detroit that will permeate throughout the organization both on and off the field. Vincent Jackson was somewhat equally rewarded to jump ship from San Diego to Tampa Bay in hopes of bolstering the Buccaneers passing game.
Starting a “ripple”
Circling back to Manning, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay (to an extent) surprised the football world by releasing his superstar quarterback and setting into motion a foregone conclusion of QB Andrew Luck out of Stanford as the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Luck (since deciding to stay for his senior season) has been at the top of most Mock Drafts for quite some time and rightfully so. His physical skills, maturity level and past production all point to a promising future as a franchise QB.
Correspondingly the football following public has been looking for an alternative to the Luck bandwagon for most of the fall. Enter RG3. Robert Griffin III captivated College Football with his mix of aerial ability and open field running skills to lead the Baylor Bears to an Alamo Bowl victory over the University of Washington. Griffin’s statistical numbers would actually surpass Luck’s on the season and secure an upset win in the Heisman Trophy voting.
The resulting notoriety thrust Griffin to the top of the QB position, though not enough it appears to unseat Luck as the #1 pick. But the NFL is a QB driven League, and a number of would be suitors quickly fell in line to further evaluate and position themselves for the dynamic RG3.
A historic NFL Combine performance only strengthened RG3’s position as the #2 QB prospect of 2012 and started a chain of events that would spin out of INDY for three reasons; the unexpected availability of Peyton Manning, the almost certain unavailability of Andrew Luck and the perceived upside athletic potential of RG3. Griffin’s 40 yard dash time and subsequent performances in the remaining drills made him too valuable for some to pass on.
“Thank you very much”
The St. Louis Rams would stand to benefit. Eager to unload their #2 pick in the draft (well earned I might add), new head coach Jeff Fisher was looking to parlay a poor 2011 season into opportunity for 2012. Enter the Washington Redskins. Faced with their own troubles at QB, the Redskin staff understood that the answer would have to come quickly through a young prospect and not Peyton Manning.
Assuming that the Washington scouts had RG3 already a top 10 pick, the case could be made that they had no other choice but to deal up to #2 from #6. Entering 2012 with an overall 11-21 record, Dan Snyder’s current coaching staff has to show marked improvement and RG3 appears to be their man. To secure his absolute position on the roster, the Redskins somewhat mortgaged their future #1 picks in 2013 & 2014, as well as a high #2 in 2012, to ensure the acquisition of the dynamic playmaking of RG3.
This falls right in line with current Redskin leadership, that when faced with a need and perceiving a solution, they’ll do whatever necessary to attain it. Including a monster trade.
This now puts the remaining teams looking for a future signal caller focusing on various other alternatives in the form of Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden or Brock Osweiler. With on average four or five QB’s taken in the first round each year, these and perhaps others are looking to take advantage of their own new found opportunities.
So as the dominoes continue to fall, understand that for every action in the NFL, there is an equal and corresponding reaction that only time will tell if it produces a positive or negative effect. In 2012 that all started with Andrew Luck deciding to stay in school. Thank you Cam Newton.