Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Dust Off the Face-Sharpening Jokes

Maybe now that Adam Archuleta is a Chicago Bear, I'll get a better look at him and the joke about him getting his face sharpened won't strike me as funny anymore.

Maybe I'll be less specific and just throw a bitter "Nice tackle, pretty boy" at him.

Whereas with Maria Shriver, the face-sharpening bit is surely fitting and no mercy is due when you chose to be Mrs. Schwarzenegger and you're other-worldly skeletal.

Anyhoo, the Archuleta signing reminds me of the old joke from the racetrack, when the horse you decided to bet on doesn't seem so hot and the tote board says it's paying a lousy price. You walk to the window real slow and, if luck is on your side, you'll get shut out of the race and put the money back in your pocket.

The Bears were headed to the window last offseason with a big bankroll in hand to sign Archuleta, who was one of Lovie Smith's guys when he appeared in the Super Bowl as a Ram.

However, a very funny thing happened along the way: the mighty Redskins ran to the teller and plunked down $30 million for 6 years, with $10 million guaranteed, to sign Archuleta.

One year and a million irate, profanity-riddled posts on Redskins messages boards later, Archuleta joins the Bears for an orange-tag price of 3 years, $8.1 million. For their troubles, the Redskins end this particular embarrassing chapter and receive a 6th round pick (which could become a 5th if Archuleta outplays all expectations).

The more apt racetrack analogy would be that the Bears chose not to bet on Archuleta in his last race when he was paying 40 cents on the dollar. Wearing the Redskins silks, Archuleta broke cleanly, faded to the back of the pack, and was vanned off. Pending examination by the Bears' vet, they'll play him in his next race at much better odds, and with much lower expectations.

At least I hope the expectations are low. This offseason, backup safeties Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell departed. Neither was an impact player, but someone has to play some backup safety and specialty teams, and Archuleta's a decent fit for that. He obviously knows Lovie Smith's defense, so that should put him a step ahead of a mid-round rookie safety they were expected to draft for this role.

Some are going as far as saying that Archuleta is the "perfect fit" for the Lovie Smith defense, but I don't follow that line of thinking. The Cover Two is largely about safeties playing deep coverage and not letting any receivers past them. Bad safety play in the Cover Two results in long, uncontested TDs a la Reggie Wayne's backbreaker in the Super Bowl.

Archuleta's skill set isn't much different than what we've seen from Chris Harris. I'll be extremely disturbed if he's not more skilled than Harris, but their strengths and weaknesses are largely the same.

As we like to say nowadays, Archuleta is who you think he is, when you hear that he's a 6'0", 223 lb safety. He's built like a mini-Linebacker and that was his role in St. Louis. And as you'd expect from a mini-Linebacker, you're going to get more stout run support and less coverage ability than you would expect from a typical safety. The lack of coverage ability, after all, is what landed him on Joe Gibbs's bench quickly and permanently.

A few other quick getting-to-know-you facts about the new guy:

-- Archuleta doesn't have much of a nickname. He's been called Arch, which made more sense in St. Louis. He was called Arch Deluxe, when McDonald's had a sandwich called that. Redskins fans may have stopped caring early enough to bother.

-- Archuleta's a big-time concussion guy. What does it feel like to get a concussion, Adam?

"Yeah, that's a cool feeling (laughs). OK, not really. It's kind of scary. It's wild, though. You wake up, but you really don't know what's going on. It feels sort of like a dream world, but no matter what anybody tells you, you don't believe them, so you ask the same question over and over again. Like when I had a concussion, I was on the sidelines asking my teammates, "Who's winning?" and "What's the score?" maybe 10 or 12 times, and I would not believe what they said even though they were telling the truth and pointing to the scoreboard. It just didn't register.

You just kind of have this disposition where you don't really care about stuff. Like everything's kind of floating by, you're really nonchalant about things. It's literally like having things go in one ear and out the other. You don't have any short-term memory at all."

-- Archuleta calls himself "the most relaxed guy on the planet" but that may be the concussions talking.

I see Archuleta filling Todd Johnson's shoes nicely. A frustrating amount of missed tackles and too-late coverages, along with some eye-popping hits. We can hope Archuleta's aim is better and a higher percentage of those are jacking up the opposition, where Johnson preferred laying the best lumber on Peanut Tillman's head.


Maria = Skeletor said...



He-Man ruled, despite the nipples.

freen said...

Q: Why isn't Archuleta on the field?

A: One of the luxury boxes ran out of cold cuts.