I have been following the Republican Party candidates for 2011 Presidential nomination for a while now. It’s been an interesting race. We’ve seen the rise and fall of Michelle Bachman, the emergence of fringe candidates Herman Cain, Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry, and seasoned political veterans like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney throw their hat in the ring.
The group of possible nominees is eclectic and much more diverse than normal for the GOP and presents a myriad of options on all policy issues. We have Tea Party backed nominees, an African-American business man, two Mormons and a Texan. The closer I followed the campaign trail the more I became intrigued with this idea; it became increasingly apparent to me that using sports descriptions, more particularly football positions, to describe the roughly half a dozen serious candidates for the GOP nomination would be a great idea. Football positions have inherent characteristics and so do too the Republican nominees.
Also tying in the NFL with the Republican field is the state of parity that both are currently found in. The NFL always strives for parity and this year it seems like there are almost no teams that are head and shoulders above the rest. Outside of the Green Bay Packers, I find it hard to argue that any team is the odds on favorite to win their division, let alone the Super Bowl. And with the ever-shifting opinions of national, state and local polls, the Republican Party is finding itself in much the same way; lacking a clear cut front runner.
So in order to make this comparison more analogous I chose to focus on the offensive side of the ball. For the most part we tend to focus on the stats, characteristics and ranking of offensive players and this should make these comparisons easier to make. For each candidate I will place them at a position that fits their attributes and describe their best/worst case scenario in terms of current NFL players and their stats. I chose to only include starters in the possible worse/best case scenario because attempting to include anyone on the bench became much too daunting and much too involved with NFL rosters and not the candidates themselves.
I think most people will not argue with the offensive positions I have chose to categorize the candidates into, they are as follows: quarterback, offensive tackle, running back, center and tight end. It is obvious to anyone who watches football that each position carries an inherent level of importance to the success of an offense. For example the quarterback position is generally considered to be most important as no offense succeeds without a legitimate quarterback. But does a quarterback have to be the best player on the team for an offense to succeed, absolutely not. “Quarterback” types are more likely to have a bigger impact because they touch the ball every play and make a lot of game-altering decisions, but running backs, line man and tight ends too can make the biggest impact on the game and be the best players on their respective teams depending upon the personnel around them. The quarterback on this list has the best shot at the nomination because of his high notoriety and the fact that he is in every discussion regarding the 2012 race (aka he touches the ball every play) but by no means is he the only viable candidate. Much in the same way that a good quarterback does not automatically equate to a good offense, leading the polls right now does not equate to a presidential nomination.
And Now Our GOP Offensive Personnel:
-Quarterback: Mitt Romney
Best player scenario: Tom Brady. Much like his good-looking New England counterpart with sweet hair, Romney has a great shot at a Super bowl championship (Presidential nomination) this year. And much like the Patriots of the previous two years, Romney couldn’t get past the first game of the playoffs in the 2008 presidential race. This year he reignites the momentum from MVP years past, throws for 4800 passing yards, 42 TDs and 7 INTs and relies on his natural camera appeal, good looks, solid experience and surprising humor to lock himself and his team into a nomination.
Worst player scenario: Jay Cutler. They both share a full head of hair and a strong chin. They could also be called backstabbers as Cutler enjoys throwing his teammates and coaches under the bus almost as much as Romney enjoys changing policy positions when it suits him. If Romney gets called out on this too much and can’t combat it with some surprising wins and strong offensive numbers he massively underachieves and is not a viable candidate as the playoffs approach. This seems eerily familiar as to what could happen to Cutler and the Bears this year. Worst case scenario, against a strong field (Read: NFC North) Romney puts up terrible numbers, 2900 passing yards, 18 TDs, 16 INTs and a 6-10 record.
-Running Back: Rick Perry
Best Player scenario: Arian Foster 2010. Much like his Texan counterpart, Rick Perry could burst onto the national scene, have a monster year and lead the league in rushing. He’s good-looking, appeals to the Conservative right base and Tea Party constituents. He can appeal in much the same way Arian Foster did to fantasy owners last year to the count of 1616 rushing yards, 604 rushing yards and 18 total TDs. If Perry uses a good offensive line (his Southern appeal and possible wins in early primaries) to his advantage, look for him to put up some big fantasy numbers on his way to the nomination.
Worst case scenario: Marshawn Lynch. Everyone remembers Lynch’s epic, tackle-destroying run against the Saints in last year’s playoffs. What has he done after that? After that, through 3 games he has rushed for 117 yards and doesn’t look to be improving. This could be the fate for Perry if he is not careful moving forward. Much like Lynch, (Lynch’s career in Buffalo and Perry’s career in Texas) both had decent starts to their careers. Unless the only things that Perry wants to be remembered for are decent early career numbers and flash in the pan stints in their current endeavors (mirroring Lynch’s time in Buffalo and miraculous playoff effort game against the Saints), Perry should continue to push the issue against Romney and cater to his conservative base. Worst case scenario: 750 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving and 6 combined TDs and team Perry is out of playoff contention by week 10 due toa lack of talent and resolve.
-Wide Receiver: Michelle Bachmann
Best Player scenario: Chad Ochocinco 2005-2007. If there is one thing we have found out about Michelle Bachmann it is this she won’t shut up. And as long as she keeps talking she’s going to keep saying controversial. Sound familiar? Wide receivers tend to be the divas of the NFL. They start the play away from the ball and need someone to get them the ball in the right place to be effective. Michelle Bachmann is a wide receiver. She need the Tea Party (her quarterback) to continue to play well and get her the ball at the right times in order for her to succeed. As long as that is happening, a lot of the crazy, ridiculous things that wide receivers say get overlooked. Much like Chad Johnson (Ochocinco), if Bachmann performs in the polls most of her ridiculous antics will get overlooked. Best case scenario stats: 97 receptions, 1432 receiving yards and 10 TDs. But much like the Chad Johnson led Bengals; I can’t see Bachmann getting out of the second round of the playoffs.
Worst Player scenario: Steve Smith 2010. When you don’t have support, life as a receiver is tough. When you don’t get the ball in right places, life as a receiver is tough. Ask Steve Smith last year. No offensive line, no running back and no QB to get him the ball. This could be Bachmann’s fate if she continues to say ridiculous things; things like Obama leads a “gangster” government and that our forefathers helped free slaves (when in fact they owned them). If her miss-worded quotes continue and the Tea Party is not able to get her the ball she’s likely to have a terrible showing as the season progresses. Worst case scenario stats: 40 receptions, 501 yards and 2 TDs.
-Wide Receiver: Newt Gingrich
Best Case scenario: Terrell Owens 2010. Terrell Owens and Newt Gingrich seem to be a match made in heaven. Newt has had success in past as Speaker of the House and is looking to rekindle that political power once again. TO had great seasons in San Francisco and Philadelphia and is hoping to return this year after his ACL tear. Both have had chaotic personal lives and both have absolutely no shot of legitimately playing this season. I could see Gingrich with a respectable season much like TO quietly had in Cincinnati last year; 72 receptions, 983 yards and 9 TDs. But are either one of these guys actually relevant, no.
Worst player scenario: Roy Williams 2010. Roy Williams had 37 receptions, 530 yards and 5 TDs on a Dallas team that despite losing Romo for the season still scored a lot of points in the second half of the season. That’s a terrible season for a supposed superstar. Could this be the trajectory Newt is most likely to follow? It seems possible. Republicans underwhelmed by his checkered political and personal history could choose to ignore Gingrich no matter how loud he yells and subject him to a statistical season much like Williams’ last year.
-Center: Ron Paul
Best case scenario: Nick Mangold. Well minus the long flowing locks, but everything else about being a center seems to perfectly describe Paul. He’s stout on his experience and his policies (run and pass blocking), is very intelligent (as center have to be because they often call the protection changes for the offensive line) and often over-looked. The center is one of the most important parts of a good offense and much like Ron Paul, is consistently overlooked. And in fact, according to Paul and his followers, the media is purposefully ignoring him despite his strong debate performances. I see Paul as Nick Mangold in the ground and pound year of 2010 and dominating opposing defensive tackles. Could the Jets win a championship that year… no, but they got surprisingly close.
Worse case scenario: John Sullivan, Max Unger. You’re thinking to yourself…who? These are the starting centers for the Vikings and the Seahawks, both teams with horrible o-lines right now. Adrian Peterson hides some of Minnesota’s deficiencies but they are there. Much the same way many conservative voters may view Ron Paul’s isolationist, anti-military industrial complex mentality. If these policies don’t resonate with the conservative base, look for Ron Paul’s results to be similar to Seattle’s running game; nonexistent.
Offensive Tackle: Jon Huntsman
Best case scenario: Joe Thomas. Widely regarded as one of the best 2-3 tackles in the game Joe Thomas has been a horse for Cleveland since his draft day. Much like Jon Huntsman, Thomas has produced every year. Huntsman as the governor of Utah and the ambassador to China has delivered steady results. He is middle enough to grab votes from independents and conservative leaning democrats fed up with Obama. But much like Joe Thomas, coming from a small market, on teams not paid attention to by the national media (Utah and his ambassador position); can Huntsman become relevant enough for the 2012 campaign?
Worst case scenario: J’marcus Webb. The bane of Jay Cutler’s existence, Webb’s inability to keep pass rushers from violently planting Jay Cutler into the turf, has caused nothing but headaches in Chicago. Huntsman could be relegated to Webblike duty if he cannot win voters on a national stage and if his more centralized view points and Mormon faith prove hindrances in providing protection for a presidential candidacy. Huntsman must be aggressive, make a name for himself and dramatically defeat his counterparts in upcoming debates. Without good pass blocking and the ability to get the ball down the field, the sacks Huntsman lack of conservative/national appeal would allow his GOP presidential nomination drive to stall
Tight End: Herman Cain
Best Case scenario: Vernon Davis. You can see this right? An improving player. When he first started out you thought he was gonna be a bust, then he got the right coach (for Cain it was Tea Party support) and began to turn into a legitimate player. Sure his lack of any political experience hurts him, much in the same way playing with Alex Smith has hurt Davis, but he seems determined to overcome this. A month ago I would have said Cain’s ceiling was John Carlson/Anthony Fasano status (former golden domers who put up decent fantasy numbers). Now he can be a top tier candidate but can’t actually win. His extremist views on gays and Muslims keep him from capturing any middle votes and will most likely scare off most Republican Party candidates but hey he might still have a nice season. Best case scenario stats: 55 receptions, 900 yards and 6 TDs, very respectable numbers.
Worst case scenario: Lance Kendricks. He is the starting tight end for the 0-3 St. Louis Rams. He’s a rookie and has 8 receptions, 102 yards and a bunch of drops through 4 games on a winless team. This could Cain’s fate if people realize he has no experience and stands on a seemingly disguised racist and homophobic platform. I’m kinda hoping this is what happens and Cain gets about as much attention as the winless Rams have. Go Lance Kendricks. Worst case scenario stats: 22 catches, 344 yards, 1 TD.
In our best case scenario the Republican Party would field a team with Tom Brady at QB, handing off to Arian Foster. Brady would be able to throw to TO, Chad Ochocinco and Vernon Davis and be protected by Nick Mangold and Joe Thomas. That’s a pretty legit team. And I think most people would be pretty stoked to have a fantasy team with those first 5 guys in their statistically best years. But, God-forbid for the conservatives in this country, that we have a bunch of worse case scenarios and the field is defeated by a weak Obama. A worst case scenario team would include Jay Cutler, Marshwyn Lynch, the 2010 versions of Steve Smith and Roy Williams and Lance Kendricks at skill positions. With Max Unger and J’Marcus Webb anchoring this team’s offensive line we can see how poorly this season could go for the Republican team. Jay Cutler is horrible without a strong o-line. Lynch provides no real assistance and the Republican receiving “threats” lack the skills to separate themselves and get open. If this happens the Right should be scared, very scared.
This upcoming election should be a good one with what is a very polarized country. And that is what this personnel description has given us, polarity. We have best versus worse, Brady versus Cutler, Foster versus Lynch, Right versus Left and Republican versus Democrats. If you’re pulling for the Republican Party hope for Brady and pray to God you don’t nominate Cutler.