Commentary

Are You For Real?: McCowns, Redman, Jackson

Updated: December 4, 2007, 3:02 PM ET
By Hector and Victor | ESPN.com

Hector and Victor have a new favorite pastime these days. I mean, yes, we still enjoy the glasses of whiskey by the fire as we reminisce over simpler days of one celebrity per birth name. But our current favorite pastime is Word Sandwich. We have no idea where it came from, or who invented it, but it's been hours of endless fun, as we try to give our brains a rest from the onslaught of Adrian Peterson, Anthony Gonzalez, and Feely/Feeley conundrums which constantly eat away at our gray matter.

Will this maddening name game ever end? Perhaps. But for now, we're reminded of our old friend, Don Music, who would regularly smash his head against the piano when he had trouble composing his songs. The only thing stopping us from doing this -- besides Word Sandwich, of course -- is the fact that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The most confusing situations we can see emerging over the next few weeks would include:

1. Mike Williams being activated for the Titans and joining Roydell Williams in the box score.
2. Sinorice Moss being released by the Giants and immediately picked up by the Patriots, joining Randy Moss in the receiving corps.

3. Marshall Faulk un-retiring and also being signed by the Patriots, giving them both Kevin and Marshall in their backfield.

4. Golden State's Stephen Jackson deciding he wants to play fullback, joining the Rams on a one-year deal, and creating running lanes for Steven Jackson.

5. And -- probably least likely -- both McCown brothers taking over starting roles and playing just well enough to merit another week of starti- … what? They did?? Seriously?

[Hector bangs head on piano, conveniently located next to his desk]

[Victor quietly pulls down "Word Sandwich" bookmark]

[Adam Monroe fails to release Shanti virus]

We might as well begin with the brothers McCown. Hector and Victor have composed this handy reference guide for our readers. Simply print this page, cut out the profiles, hold it close to your heart, make a wish, and carry it with you everywhere you go. Nothing will most likely happen, besides a few weeks of fantasy frustration, but you never know when a handy trivia bit about a McCown may come in handy (it is, after all, how Victor met his wife).

Victor: Um, that was Cade McNown trivia …

Hector: Damn!

The brothers McCown
(not to be confused with the Dostovevsky novel)
(or Cade McNown)

Luke
Age: 26
Has played for: Cleveland, Tampa Bay
Week 13: 29-37, 313 yards, 2 TD; 2 rushes, 34 yards
Older veteran who was injured and thus opened up a spot: Jeff Garcia
The alternative to this McCown: Bruce Gradkowski
Shortest interview ever: http://www.nflplayers.com/players/player.aspx?id=35674žion=qa
How to defeat him: Enter Jeff Gruden's dreams, suggest that Gradkowski is really the Fountain of Youth in human form, show proof by pointing out laughably loose interpretations of da Vinci paintings.

Josh
Age: 28
Has played for: Arizona, Detroit, Oakland
Week 13: 14-21, 141 yards, 3 TD; 4 rushes, 22 yards
Older veteran who was injured and thus opened up a spot: Daunte Culpepper
The alternative to this McCown: JaMarcus Russell
Mike Williams was that bad? In 2006, McCown passed Corey Bradford and Mike Williams on the depth chart as the third WR in Detroit.
How to defeat him: Time. Russell has already taken snaps (a la Kerry Collins and Vince Young in 2006; in a week, it could Russell's show).

For whatever reason, the more we try to separate the two, the more intertwined they become. It may end up being an impossible task at the end of the day, but we are here to help, not hurt, so we must ask: McCown boys, Are You For Real?

Hector: Isn't it rich? Aren't they a pair? Send in McCowns. You need some McCowns. Don't bother, they're here. Look, I'm all for giving a guy a chance, and these two both have earned the right to call themselves NFL quarterbacks. But backups at best they are. Josh is just holding down the fort for JaMarcus; and Luke, I may not be your father, but Jeff Garcia's your daddy. Capice?

Victor: That would be no and no. If you're still playing by next week, you're probably in the playoffs. And if you're that hard up for a QB (hey, random injuries do tend to happen, and waiver wires could be thin) I'd rather take my chances with JaMarcus Russell than either of the brothers McCown. If you have to go with one, go with Luke, since his job seems a wee bit more secure than Josh's.

In one short year, Redman has gone from "out of football" to "QB of the Austin Wranglers (on paper)" to "starting NFL quarterback." It would normally be one of those beautiful stories that ESPN highlights during a "SportsCenter," save for one tiny problem:

We're all too familiar with Chris Redman.

Fantasy players will remember Redman as the guy who couldn't hold off Kyle Boller during his years behind center in Baltimore. In fact, we'd wager that 70 percent of you reading this column believe Redman to still be a Raven; the two went hand in hand for so long (like Najeh Davenport and the Packers), that envisioning Redman in any uniform besides Baltimore's takes some getting used to.

But he is a Falcon now, brought in by his old college coach, Bobby Petrino, and Petrino leaned on Redman as a replacement for a historically ineffective Joey Harrington in Week 13. He was 16-for-24, with 172 yards, two touchdowns, and -- in the end -- one very costly interception. But this was all in the fourth quarter. So, on one side, we have Harrington, on the other, we have Redman and his old college coach, with a furious fourth-quarter comeback fresh in our memories. Which leads us to ask, Chris Redman, are you for real?

Hector: I've always preferred Method Man to Redman myself, but Chris may in fact be all the Falcons need to get by. He's no Michael Vick (not nearly gangsta enough!) but he certainly has more upside than piano aficionado Harrington. Comedian Eddie Izzard has a joke about going to his high school guidance counselor who asked him what he wanted to do for a career. He said he wanted to be an astronaut. The reply? You're British, scale it back a bit. Same goes for Falcons fans. The sky is definitely far higher than the limit. Enjoy your Chris Redman-level players. He's as real as you're going to get.

Victor: Wu-Tang reference! And an Eddie Izzard quote! Hector, I find this meatloaf rather shallow and pedantic. I can't see how this could be a major step back for the Falcons; at the very least, Redman knows Petrino's offensive schemes, and the coach did bring him in as a backup QB. I don't really know why it took so long to bring him into the rotation as Atlanta QB, but now that he's here, I'd say he's real enough to stick it out for the rest of the season.

With Marshawn Lynch and Anthony Thomas both out nursing injuries, the eyes of Orchard Park turned to Fred Jackson this past week, as Dick Jauron eschewed the rookie, Dwayne Wright, for the even more-unknown 2006 practice squadder. So what do we know about this enigmatic runner?

Well, he's not Green Bay running back Brandon Jackson. Nor is he Jacksonville RB Fred Taylor. He didn't play in the AFL, but he did participate in the United Indoor Football League, where he played two seasons with the Sioux City Bandits, and was named league co-MVP in 2005. He played for NFL Europa in 2006, and is a graduate of Coe College, a school that holds the distinction of having the shortest name of any American institution of higher education.

What else do we know about Fred Jackson? Well … uh … this:

Week 13: 16 rushes, 82 yards; four receptions, 69 yards.

… and that's about it. So, Fred, even though you've managed to slip through undetected, and you've beaten my giant (which means you're exceptionally strong) we still must ask: Are You for Real?

Hector: He's not real. Let's pretend for a minute that Marshawn Lynch was not coming back. He rushed for only 60 yards on 15 carries. (We're choosing to ignore the 22-yard scamper against the symbolic 10-man defense the Skins mounted on the opening play.) That's nice, but nothing special. Sure, the receptions help, but again, the only body of evidence we have to work with is a game against a defense in mourning, and a coach who has no grasp of how football works in 2007. Now, would I take a chance on him over a Samkon Gado? In a heartbeat. But I'm not cutting loose a Frank Gore or a Shaun Alexander and hoping Fred keeps me from the playoff junkyard. Not today.

Victor: Ehhhhhhhh. I'm not sure which way to lean on this one. If Lynch looks good to go, forget you've ever heard the name Fred Jackson. But if Lynch is going to be sitting out the rest of the season? I say why not. Yes, the stats were a bit padded by that run, but he still had 69 yards receiving, which translates into fantasy points in pretty much all leagues. It's hidden value (unless you search by "Last Week"), and that's what makes him annoyingly valuable to a team looking for a quick patch job for the loss of a Roy Williams-type this late in the season.