Luke Waltons Forehead presented by the Sports Dude.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 at 3:21 PM

Joey Harrington - his career as a cliche'.

So, here you have it, Joey Harrington the nice guy off the field versus Joey Harrington the lousy QB on the field, what do you do? Do you keep giving the guy chance after blown chance, opportunity after missed opportunity, or do you simply just wash your hands of it and say enough is enough? I mean at what point does “niceness” and “this guy really cares about winning” just get thrown out the window for the simple fact that “we dropped the ball on this guy, he really is just a bust?” Look, I know that I have never been a Joey backer and I hope the majority of you out there are now seeing why, but I really wanted him to do decent this year. The sad thing is that is all we needed for him to be, decent, and he has not even come close to that! The reason why I was simply asking for decent is because now it means a wasted first round pick and another “fresh start” at what has become a never ending QB carousel for the Lions.

Look, for those of you that may not have realized this, I bleed maize and blue and there is a reason I bring this up. My father in law, bless his ever aching heart, is the same way about the Lions, he bleeds Honolulu Blue. Point being I remember on that day a few years backs his joy and merriment when the Lions drafted one Joseph Harrington, the Lions savior and QB of the future! Even to this day I still bring it up to him, kind of like rubbing salt in an already gashing wound, that I knew then drafting him was a mistake. I pointed out the fact that he came from a conference that plays defense, especially in the secondary, like some form of swiss cheese. I remember pointing out to him that for all those flashy numbers he put up in college were against some of the worst defenses ever known to college athletics. Come on people, do you really think that the Pac-10’s bread and butter is their defensive prowess? Hell no, look at USC, it is for its run and gun, spread offense and reckless abandon! I mean, look at the guy who was QB before Joey Harrington at Oregon, does Akili Smith ring a bell? The point is Joey had bust written all over him before he even took a snap in the NFL. By the way, and off track a little here but it goes along with my ripping of the Pac-10, if any of you think Matt Leinart is going to be a good QB in the pros, you are fooled once again. That guy is not going to be anything in the NFL and will follow the paths of Tim Couch, David Carr, Gino Toretta, Akili Smith, Jason White, Andre Ware and now one Joseph Harrington. I’m sorry, I have said it before and I will say it again, if you have inflated numbers in college against deflated defenses you are not going to have a very good chance of making it in the NFL. Some do, and please see Carson Palmer in Cincy for an example, but even in college scouts questioned Joey’s precision and efficiency.

The next point is this whole thing about how he is such a nice guy and how he cares so much and how he is trying. Look, people who know me will say I am one of the nicest guys in the world, yes they honestly do! But just because I am a nice guy doesn’t mean I am going to be successful, even decent, at everything I do. Crap, just because I am a nice guy doesn’t mean I can walk into an airport and say “Hey, I am a nice guy, can I go fly that plane over there? I mean, I played this video game once and was good at that, so I should be able to fly that 747. Oh, by the way, did I mention I am a nice guy?” I have no idea how to fly a plane, how to be a chemical engineer, or how to play an NFL QB (although I do play a mean game of Madden!) and just because I am a nice guy, a sweetheart, doesn’t mean that I should be given a chance to do so. The problem with Joey is that he has not been given only one chance; he is on about his fourth or fifth chance here people! All the niceness in the world, all the charity in the Metro Area, all the “Blue Skies” aside it does not transcend into winning on the football field, leading a team to victory and getting them to some meaningful games in January! This is not a personal attack on Joey, if he is the same guy he shows us publicly as he is privately that is great, he really does seem like a nice guy. But I could care less if he was an asshole, as long as he is winning games then so be it! Not that I necessarily want an asshole or cancer on a team I root for, but at the end of the day the results on the football field are what matters most. That is why I hate all these people who say that “Joey doesn’t fit the blue collar mentality of this sports town that is why he is booed”, that to me is just total bullshit. The guy is booed because he is last in the NFL in QB rating, because he is 16-33 as a starter and because he sucks! I guarantee you that if this guy was winning there wouldn’t be boos because he is nice, because he plays piano, it has nothing to do with his “niceness” that causes the boos! The niceness is not what is getting booed here people, it is the level at which he plays and that level is found somewhere at the bottom of a landfill. So people please stop “pimping” him as a nice guy who is not getting a fair shake, or saying that he is only getting booed because he plays piano, I promise those things would be overlooked if he were winning. Jamaal Lewis gets busted for selling drugs, Ray Lewis goes on trial for murder, those guys are clearly assholes and their issues are overlooked because they are successful NFL players. The bottom line is he is not winning and, nice or not, results are what we want and with him we are definitely not getting any.

I would also like to bring up the people out there that keep saying that he has never had talent around him, an offensive line around him, or a scheme to benefit him. Those are excuses and after four years of saying those things they need to stop. There are plenty of pieces around him to make something work, but the bottom line is he is not getting it done on the field or, more importantly, in the huddle. The offensive line this year has not played up to potential, I will give you that, Raiola is an undersized center and Backus is having the worst year of his career. But even last year when the offensive line was gelling, even when it was playing well he was mediocre at best. The past two years he has had a decent core of receivers to throw to, Roy Williams, Mike Williams, Marcus Pollard, Kevin Johnson, but he still has a problem getting the ball to them in stride. For every one good pass he throws it seems that there are another six or seven that leave you scratching your head and saying “how could he miss that throw?” His constant check downs, his misreads, his errant passes, the list goes on and on. “Well, what about the dropped passes” is one of the questions that you Joey supporters like to throw out there. Did any of you ever think that those passes are dropped simply because the receivers are surprised that he actually put one where it belongs? I mean if I were a receiver and I constantly had to stretch out for a pass, go behind me for a pass or leap three feet in the air to make a catch, it might catch me off guard if my QB suddenly put one right on the numbers. Yes I know receivers at this level are suppose to catch a pass if it hits them anywhere in the hands, but if your hands were always going way in front, way in back or down towards the ground, one that was actual put where it is supposed to be may catch you off guard as well. He has lost the trust of the offense, the defensive players are now even jumping on him, there just is no more this guy can do. Niceness only gets you so far, it is time skills were taken into consideration as well.

“Fine there sports dude, but what about the offensive scheme, the coach and his lack of trust in the QB, shouldn’t that be taken into consideration?” Sure they should and I do not doubt that these are things that affect Joey as well, but do you really expect Mooch to suddenly change? I like Mooch, I really do, and I think given the opportunity to do things with this offense with a QB he can trust might actually turn into some winning football in these parts. Joey has had four years to grasp the offense and he has shown little or no progression in it at all, in fact it has been just the opposite. I mean after four years, don’t you think he should grasp some of it even decently (which is all we need!) as opposed to the constant downward spiral he is in? There has been no advancement and all I keep hearing is how this is a “dummied down” version of the offense that they run. Four years and this is a dummied down version, three years of it with Mooch? What the hell else can we do for this guy, start calling pop warner plays? Street football plays? There is no way this guy can succeed in this scheme and I doubt, for that matter, he will ever succeed anywhere in this league as a starter. I also don’t want to hear anymore about the lack of talent and support around him, it is a lame ass excuse at best. There is a little known guy in New England by the name of Tom Brady, have any of you ever heard of him? You know, the QB who until last year never had a real running game but still won two Super Bowls before Corey Dillon came along. You know the guy who has now won three Super Bowls with a bunch of #2 and #3 receivers, at best, that he is throwing to week in and week out. A guy who came in for an injured Drew Bledsoe and took the Patriots to the Super Bowl in his first year as a starter, HIS FIRST YEAR AS A STARTER! Do you really think Belichick dummied down his offense for Tom Brady to the point where a first grader could understand it? I am not a fool, I am sure there were some things removed for Brady’s sake, but not to the point where it was dummied down, maybe more likely watered down. The point is even a decent QB with minimal skills can succeed and Joey is clearly neither of those things.

So where does this leave us now? I hinted at it on Monday and I will say it here again, it comes down to signing a decent veteran in the off season (Jon Kitna or maybe retaining Garcia if he has two years left in the tank, which I doubt!) and sitting Orlovsky and telling him to simply watch and learn. It is apparent the Lions are high on Orlovsky and from what I saw in the preseason it seems he has the makings of a decent QB which is again all we need. Make no mistake about it, the Joey Harrington soap opera has officially run its course and will be cancelled as soon as humanly possible. In other words whenever one Jeff Garcia is deemed fit enough to go back under center. It could be this weekend at Cleveland, but something tells me the Lions will just ride out the storm this Sunday and give Garcia one extra week. But come October 30th the Lions will reshape their roster, moving Garcia into the starting line up, promoting Orlovsky to #2 on the depth chart and relocating Joey to the sidelines where he belongs, getting towels and Gatorades for his team mates and holding a clipboard. Is that the long term answer? No, it really is not, it is a sad ending to a story that never should have taken place. Garcia should at least have enough left in the tank to help the Lions win the weak division they are in, but will do little for their never ending saga at finding a “QB for the future.” Maybe with Orlovsky they won’t make the same mistakes and I hope for all of us people who are still willing to call ourselves Lions fans they won’t. The only thing that is certain in all of this is the old cliché “nice guys always finish last.” In Joey’s case he clearly is a nice guy and undoubtedly is going to finish his career here last on that depth chart. Later – the sports dude.

Anonymous Evan said...

There's no way to disagree with anything you're saying. And at this point, I don't think anyone will disagree that he should be going.


(1) Starting Garcia is a disservice to Detroit. If he plays well for 3 games, that's the worst thing that could happen because it justifies bringing him back next year, and HE IS GOING TO BE AWFUL. Steve Young and Joe Montana are the only QBs ever that are smart enough, accurate enough, evasive enough, and with enough arm to run Mooch's conservative-but-occasionally-get-one-big-play offense. Garcia will suck. Why not just let Harrington finish out the year, cut him loose, and start over?

(2) Joey playing bad just not justify treating him -- and only him -- like a leper. Poor behavior on the part of fans is never justified, and exclusively riding one player for a poor performance when 11 players are giving bad performances is just classess in my mind.

And that's all it really boils down to for me.  


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