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Thomas Dimitrov & Eric Eager, SumerSports

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
February 7, 2023 7:10 pm

Thomas Dimitrov & Eric Eager, SumerSports

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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February 7, 2023 7:10 pm

Former NFL Executive Thomas Dimitrov and Football Analytics analyst Eric Eager join the show to discuss modern team building in the NFL, the application of analytics to football and some of the biggest offseason questions

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The biggest game of the year, the Super Bowl, is on Odyssey.

And Westwood One brings it to you, streaming live for free, Sunday, February 12th on the Odyssey app. The Eagles have been the NFC's best team. Touchdown, Travis Kelce! It's the Eagles versus the Chiefs.

The Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles, are going to the Super Bowl again. Catch all the action from Westwood One. Your Super Bowl, your Odyssey. Get in the game and download the free Odyssey app today. The biggest game of the year, the Super Bowl, is on Odyssey.

And Westwood One brings it to you, streaming live for free, Sunday, February 12th on the Odyssey app. The Eagles have been the NFC's best team. Touchdown, Travis Kelce! It's the Eagles versus the Chiefs.

The Kansas City Chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles, are going to the Super Bowl again. Catch all the action from Westwood One. Your Super Bowl, your Odyssey.

Get in the game and download the free Odyssey app today. Alrighty, back inside the Phoenix Convention Center. This is that Gelb show on Radio Road, day number two. We're here all the way through Friday, Monday through Friday, 6 to 10 p.m. Eastern, 3 to 7 p.m. Pacific.

And now joining us is the former general manager of the Atlanta Falcons and Thomas Dimitrov, along with Eric Eger, who is the VP of Research and Development for Sumer Sports. Gentlemen, appreciate the time. How we doing? We're good.

Can't wait to be here with you. So, I want to start you guys off because this fascinates me with all the data that you have. Because for me, I think one of the biggest problems in the NFL right now, and this is something that you had to figure out when you were a GM, is do you have the franchise quarterback or not? And there's a lot of guys that get paid great money but aren't great players at the quarterback position. Like, what's the data that you guys look at to kind of determine if you have a franchise quarterback or not? Yeah, I mean, yeah, it's a really good question because I've always said, you know, actually I haven't always said this.

This is something we learned, you know. And it's like, everybody says that finding a good quarterback's the hard problem, but I actually don't think it's a hard problem. The hard problem is when you have a guy like Jalen Hurts, who's really good at building on a surplus value when he's on a rookie deal, is that guy going to be a surplus when you pay him $45 million and you have to take away some of the things that make him so great? That's the hardest problem in football. So, you know, when we look at analytics, you've got to have a measure for what's the value of a player, right?

You have to look at either wins above replacement or points above replacement or how many dollars he's worth. And then you have to subtract what it costs. And the cost equation is not always the easiest. Sometimes you can get a guy, you know, for cheap one year, but it's backloaded, right? So it hurts your roster building in future years. Sometimes the guy's expensive, like Jimmy G was early on in the Niners, but it's front-loaded.

So it's actually easier to build around him. And you really just have to say, okay, what does this guy produce on the field? What's his football value? And then what is his, you know, what's he cost?

And that's kind of his net value. There are, of course, other elements that we talk about often as GMs and team builders, right? There are just so many elements to that quarterback position that are complicated, right? At many levels, not just the metric tree that we're evaluating that player. It's about how, you know, it's about leadership elements that you can't necessarily measure.

We're in the process of working on that, right? The idea of, you know, whether it's the discipline, whether it's the passion for the game, whether it's the true intelligence, the anticipatory elements of this quarterback. There are so many parts of a quarterback that make your organization go round and round.

And if you hit on them, fantastic. Eric and I were talking about this. Matt Ryan, when I look back on Matt Ryan, we hit on him. He was, I always say, he was an incremental player, an incremental leader.

He kept growing and growing. We had, what, how many, three or four contracts by the time when we got to that $30 million contract. I remember Eric and I have known each other for quite a while and we were talking about that $30 million. Remember, that was the biggest one at the time.

People were like throwing darts at us on it. And I said, hey, within two months, this is a non-issue, you know, so and it kind of was. And yet you and I both know that and Julio Jones together, that's an expensive duo. Well, look at, for example, Dak Prescott, $40 million a year. These new contracts, $48, $50, $52 million for a quarterback. Kyler Murray costs $46 million a year and that's a guy who... He's not worth it.

I'll just say it. He's a very good quarterback. Maybe one day he could be great, but I don't think I'm winning a Super Bowl in the next five years with Kyler Murray. Well, I mean, you made one playoff appearance with him on a rookie deal.

Like that's, it's so hard because again, like we think about, that's what's so fascinating about what we're doing. That's what makes Sumer Sports such a delightful place for us to be right now, which is it's multifaceted, like whether or not Kyler Murray is a good quarterback is really not the question, right? Like if you pay him $1 million, I can make him a good quarterback, right? If you pay him $100 million, there's not anything I can do to make him a good enough quarterback. And so, like, I think it's the year you have the two parameters, how good are they on the field? And that is dependent upon what you build around him.

And then, of course, how much do they cost? And the costs are just so hard in the NFL now because you have the rookie wage scale. And then you have the fact that there is not a middle-class quarterback contract. There is not a quarterback right now who makes like $25 to $35 million. Well, a guy like, for example, Daniel Jones and Geno Smith, how the heck, you have to bring them back. But if I'm paying them $35, $36 million a year, it better be the Kirk Cousins deal where it's three years, even though it's fully guaranteed, but at least there's a path to get out of it.

But even that one, though, there is not a path to get out of it because like that's, you know, the Vikings. But it's better than giving a four or five-year deal. I disagree. So like my... Okay.

Interesting. So the thing is, is like when Derek Carr signed his big deal, those years give you enough flexibility to sort of move the money around. Let's say it's a good year for your team and you can sort of, you can pay the, in my opinion, Thomas might disagree, the biggest move that any team made in the NFL this year was the Chiefs paying out all of Patrick Mahomes' roster bonus, right?

And not having, paying all that now and not having to spread it out over the future. But when you have a guy that's on a five-year deal, you can kind of say, oh, we're a little weaker this year. Let's just pay all of his bonuses now.

Let's, let's bleed out for a year. And then next year he's, he's on a surplus. You know, when you have a five-year deal, A, the cap goes up enough during those years where eventually he's cheap. Cousins was always on three-year deals and they were always all guaranteed. And they were always at top of market where you're a year and a half into all those deals. And he's already playing for the next contract and he's coming in at that next contract at the market rate all three times. And so you never had a chance with Cousins to see the window much more than a year and a half into the future because he was being paid at top of market. He was guaranteed.

And if, if he did well, you had no control over him because he was going right back to the table to get another contract. So I think that that actually, that we got, when the Vikings first signed that, I think a lot of people like, oh, it's actually not that much of a risk. It's too short.

It's short. So that's great. But in fact, Cousins kind of played so well, but not well enough to where it was kind of like these like continuous handcuffs every year. Eric Eager here with us along with Thomas Dimitrov. So you've been in some of these negotiations. What's going on with Lamar Jackson? Because at first I think it's the Ravens not wanting him, then it's him not wanting the Ravens. I have no clue what the heck is going on here.

I don't think he's signing it. Kevin Matt talks with Matt Hardy. There's nothing like a wrestling fan, you know, for better or for worse. How do you handle that though? We're talking about people talking about your family, what they don't know about your family or your brother or you. How does one handle that from a day to day basis?

Something I joke about with the young bucks all the time. I said, if you would vanity search Matt Hardy on Twitter, I said, after you got through a hundred replies, you'd want to quit the business and never, never be seen again. It's just, you just learn to deal with it. You know what I mean? It's the Kick Rocks Wrestling Podcast with Evan T. Mack.

Subscribe now on the Odyssey app or wherever you get your podcasts. Long term deal with them. I, that's what I don't think. I think it's a tough. It's tough to go in there in that negotiation when you're not fully committed to each other.

And look, it seems as though they're agitated with him. First, he doesn't have an agent, right? That job, that deal would have been done, I don't know, would have been done, I don't know how long ago, weeks, months ago, whatever it would be in my mind. I can't imagine going into a negotiation with someone who really doesn't have a feel for it. Plus, there's just other things going on with that quarterback when you're talking about, is he talented? Yes. Does he have this creativity and versatility element to him that I think would be really interesting? Do you want to build a team around that moving forward for how many years?

Again, five years at 50 something million. Is that what we're projecting? And wanting it to be fully guaranteed, which is? Yeah. That, I think, look, I think Eric DeCosta is a really, really smart GM.

He definitely aspired, you know, just his approach. But what you just said, do we give the Ravens? Because the Ravens are one of the more well-respected organizations in the league.

I feel like they get the benefit of the doubt here. But then I could also argue, they never got Lamar a number one wide receiver. I know that's not the main point of their offense.

Well, they just traded a high-end pick and a $20 million APY deal to a linebacker, which I think a lot of people would say, you know, is not necessarily analytically sound. I know. But I love that move. We've talked about it. I mean, Roquan's a great player.

I love him. They haven't had anyone since Ray Lewis, right? In my mind. Yeah, but you also look at that contract in conjunction with how they've acted with Lamar. And you're saying, you know, this has been a team that pinched pennies on CJ Mosley, pinched pennies on Yannick Ngakwe after a trade, let Matthew Judong go. I think it speaks volumes, though. I think it speaks volumes. But then, but what does it say to Lamar where you're saying every guy that has won, you know, they traded Orlando Brown, right? And now it's like, well, this one we're going to pay top dollar to before we pay our quarterback? I think that's a signal.

You know what it says to me? They're trying to win games 20 to 17, and they think the quarterback doesn't matter. And I know that you, for the defense, I get how great, you always need a great defense, even that crazy Patriot Eagle Super Bowl.

Brandon Gray made the biggest play of the game. If you're trying to win 20 to 17 week in and week out in the NFL in 2023, God bless you. You're not winning a Super Bowl. Yeah, the quarterback better be making a million and a half dollars.

He can't be making 45 to 50. I think they wanted Huntley to go, if he didn't tend to be Air Jordan at the three yard line and put the ball out, which is crazy to me, and if he would have won, I think they would have been, he was, he was a guy that, you know, when all the analytical models that we had at PFF really liked him. And it was funny, like the Ravens kind of drafted the same way we did. Like they all, they liked Huntley.

I'm like, oh, that's a good signal that we were doing the right thing. But I agree. I think if you want to win that way, and that is zigging when everybody's zagging and that's part of being an analytical place, you can't pay the quarterback 50. And guys like Derek Carr, I know we talked about Geno Smith, Daniel Jones, but Derek Carr, I don't think he's a great quarterback. You look at a Jimmy G, he's solid, but every other year the guy gets hurt. And those guys are, there's always a demand and teams go crazy.

They overpay, but then you have teams like, look at the commanders. What the heck were they thinking last year, trading up what they did for Carson Wentz? Yeah. I mean, to me, the Carson Wentz thing is trying to figure out, does he, what does he have in the tank and why did he fail at the other places? Right.

I mean, to me, I don't know. That's a really, that's where somebody like Tom, like that's why when we, when we build what we're building at Sumer, we couldn't do it without somebody like Thomas. Because like, for me, like the analytical models, all like Wentz coming out of North Dakota state, they all like, he's got a great arm. He's got, you know, I was in Philly. It was great.

And great deal. Wonderful. 2019. He threw for 4,000 yards without a 500 yard receiver on his whole team. Like he had great statistics, but like it probably takes somebody like Thomas or the head coach looking at the guy in the eye and being like, he lost it somewhere. Right. And that's, you know, that's not something my models can say.

Yeah, go ahead. No, I was just going to say, because we were talking a little bit earlier, that whole idea, you know, will the backup quarterback now with the pretty situation, what they've done and there aren't that many coaches that can do, whether you like Kyle Shanahan or not. I mean, he does special things with quarterbacks that aren't, you know, they're, they're more middling quarterbacks, but is that going to, is that going to ramp up the price for even the backup quarterbacks now realizing how important that we've always realized it was important. And I was very fortunate and we were in Atlanta, Matt Ryan won it and a half games. He missed in his entire career, 14 years, but I've seen more and more of these injuries coming around. And, and I thank God that we were not in a situation that we had 65 quarterbacks play this year, which is the record for a non-strike season, 65 start a game by the way, you think Tyler Huntley's agent walks in and says, I made a pro ball in negotiations.

No, I don't think so. The Bengals had to play three Pro Bowl quarterbacks in the playoffs this year. The Pro Bowl is such a joke these days. We used to look at the Pro Bowl like, Oh, give me a break.

No, no one. They, they did. Agents tried to do it, but for us it, it didn't matter.

Yeah. But you have seven guys miss out. Like I love Mac Jones, but Mac Jones last year making the Pro Bowl was a joke.

So real quick, they got 30 seconds left. Just tell people what they need to know about sumer sports. So look from my perspective, look, if you took 32 GMs right now and they came in and put their hands up and they said to me, we would, we would all agree, it's not an exact science to put together a team and to evaluate players and hit in the draft and hit in free agency. It's just not, there is so much data out there. Not utilized, utilize the data, augment the GM and the team builder with the data, along with being a very good football person. And you have a chance to make your decisions more exact and more, more perfect.

Not, not perfect. Of course, that is a big thing. Too many people in football right now are worried about that. They don't need to be worried about Thomas Dimitrov, Eric Eger, gentlemen, thanks so much. Fascinating concept. Assume your sports. Thank you.

Thank you. The biggest game of the year. The Superbowl is on Odyssey and Westwood one brings it to you streaming live for free Sunday, February 12th on the Odyssey app. The Eagles have been the NFC best team, Travis Kelce, the Eagles versus the chiefs, the Kansas city chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Superbowl again, catch all the action from Westwood one, your Superbowl, your Odyssey, get in the game and download the free Odyssey app today. The biggest game of the year, the Superbowl is on Odyssey and Westwood one brings it to you streaming live for free Sunday, February 12th on the Odyssey app. The Eagles have been the NFC best team, Travis Kelce, it's the Eagles versus the chiefs, the Kansas city chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Superbowl again, catch all the action from Westwood one, your Superbowl, your Odyssey, get in the game and download the free Odyssey app today. The biggest game of the year, the Superbowl is on Odyssey and Westwood one brings it to you streaming live for free Sunday, February 12th on the Odyssey app. The Eagles have been the NFC best team, touchdown Travis Kelce, it's the Eagles versus the Chiefs, the Kansas city chiefs, the Philadelphia Eagles are going to the Superbowl again, catch all the action from Westwood one, your Superbowl, your Odyssey, get in the game and download the free Odyssey app today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-07 20:24:21 / 2023-02-07 20:32:18 / 8

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