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Lions, Jets Roll the Dice with Stafford and Sanchez, Worth the Gamble

Most of the Matthew Stafford reaction from Lions fans on my show Friday night was negative. Most Lions fans were scarred by the likes of Joey Harrington and all the other offensive skill position busts they’ve had recently and wanted to go with a safer pick. They wanted to build up the defense because it was so terrible last year. While I understand their concerns, here’s my argument in favor of Detroit’s pick and the Jets moving up to get Mark Sanchez: if you’re looking to achieve long-term success in the NFL (division titles, playoff appearances, double-digit wins, Super Bowl contention) year-in and year-out, you need a good quarterback. That may be understating things — you need a very good to great quarterback.

If you were a fan of the Packers under Favre, the Broncos under Elway, the Colts with Peyton Manning, and the Patriots with Brady, you can/could be confident that your team will be in the playoffs and threatening for the Super Bowl almost every year. That’s not to say that defense doesn’t win championships — it does, just look at Pittsburgh this year — but defensive-minded teams have off seasons more often than ones with excellent quarterbacks. If that weren’t the case, then Brian Billick wouldn’t have been fired by Baltimore. While Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez might not develop into stars, there’s no question in my mind that having a good quarterback is essential to building a franchise. Why do you think Bears fans were so elated to have Jay Cutler? Stafford and Sanchez might not be the guys, but they’re worth the gamble, especially for Detroit. Lions fans should be patient and be willing to live or die with Stafford. Going QB with the first pick was the right move.

Pete Carroll Backtracks on Mark Sanchez Trashing, Calls it a Test

I gave Pete Carroll the benefit of the doubt the first time around when he strongly disagreed with Mark Sanchez’s decision to leave school early for the NFL. I understood that Carroll was motivated by his desire to run a strong program and also his desire to see Sanchez develop more before going pro. I also speculated that the move could hurt Carroll in recruiting since recruits would see that Carroll doesn’t always support their decisions. That must be the case because Carroll looked like Deion Sanders backpedaling off his initial comments when he spoke at Sanchez’s pro day:

“He made a point to really go to bat for Sanchez,” a scout said. “You could tell he meant it.”

Carroll told the group that his public frosting of Sanchez — including the comment the player made a “bad choice” — was meant to test his resolve, to see if he truly had his heart set on turning pro right away or if he would waffle. Sanchez didn’t waver.

“He told us, ‘I challenged him. I wanted him to make the right decision,’ ” the scout said. “He said, ‘I love the kid. I support him. I think he’ll make a good pro.’ “

If there isn’t more of a b.s. line that the one where Carroll said he was testing Sanchez’s resolve, I don’t know what is. Carroll should have kept his feelings to himself from the start so as not to reflect poorly upon himself or Mark because he ended up making both look bad when he questioned the decision. Ultimately I don’t think Sanchez’s stock will be adversely impacted by the remarks. Clearly Carroll now realizes the error of his ways. That excuse was just too lame though — we could have done without it.

Will the Mark Sanchez Conference Cost Pete Carroll in Recruiting?

It’s really tough to judge Pete Carroll based on his answers to questions regarding Mark Sanchez’s decision to leave school early for the NFL draft. Carroll’s clearly motivated by his desire to run a strong program, and having Sanchez back for a 5th year would ostensibly put the team in its best position to win the Pac-10 and compete for a BCS title. At the same time, he recruits and coaches his players and develops strong relationships with them over the years. Wouldn’t he want the best for those players and want them to take his advice when he feels so strongly about a subject? Given the numbers and history of quarterbacks leaving school early, I understand why he advised Sanchez to return to USC, putting his own motivation aside. But I also understand why Sanchez left and can’t blame him for it.

Mark Sanchez had the game of his life in the Rose Bowl and really could not be leaving on much of a higher note. It’s not a guarantee that his stock will improve just by staying another year, especially considering the all-world performance he put on in Pasadena. Couple that closing note with Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford returning to school, and the choice to leave for the NFL seems like a logical one for me. If Sanchez’s goal is to get drafted as highly as possible and to make a lot of money, this is probably the right move. Furthermore, Sanchez is a senior in school standing, and if he’s really motivated to become a pro, who’s to say he won’t do well? And even if Carroll disagrees with the move, why tell the media?

I don’t understand how it helps Carroll to tell people that he disagrees with the move. What good does that do him or the program? Couldn’t that be used against him by other coaches in recruiting? Maybe potential recruits saw that and didn’t like it. That’s not to say that Carroll won’t be able to get great players — he still will — but that wasn’t a good sign. Though USC will still be strong next year, perhaps Carroll may be feeling some pressure from having coaches on his staff leave and one of his top players go pro. Look at Nebraska, Florida State, Tennessee, and Miami and some of the other dynasties of the past 15 years. You dominate for a good five years or so, then after that, things start going downhill. It’s inevitable, and this might mark the first step for USC.

If you haven’t seen video of the conference yet, here it is via Hot Clicks:

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Mark Sanchez Wears the Pride of Mexico in His Mouth

Yes, literally. You know how boxers usually sport their native country’s flag on their trunks? Well, Sanchez is doing the same thing, only with his mouthpiece. In fact, he had the USC team dentist customize it for him with the Mexican flag for the game against Notre Dame.

“He put the eagle with the snake on it — it was looking sweet so I had to wear it,” said Sanchez, who is of Mexican descent.

Sanchez said he took pride in the influence his role as USC’s quarterback could have on youngsters.

“When I see little kids after the game and they’re Mexican like me . . . they see hope,” said Sanchez, who attended Mission Viejo High. “That means a lot to me playing for them, playing for my community and this greater L.A.

“I really take that to heart and I think the mouthpiece is just a portrayal of that.”

Sanchez added, “It’s not a Mexican power thing or anything like that. It’s just a little bit of pride in our heritage. Hopefully, it inspires somebody and it’s all for the best.”

“That’s fun. I love it. It’s just all part of it,” Sanchez said. “The band’s going to start playing, ‘Lean Like a Cholo,’ or something. Sweet.”

Lean like a Cholo? That’d be interesting. But someone please tell Mr. Sanchez to chill out on the “model for kids” thing. He’s played just one game (though he did look great), and isn’t assured of the starting job. Wouldn’t want any kids rushing out to purchase the jersey of a backup QB. Now, should he put that mouthpiece on Ebay, that would be a different story.

Chest Bump to EDSBS