JACKSONVILLE FL - NOVEMBER 21: Vince Manuwai #67 of the Jacksonville Jaguars stretches during a game agaisnt the Cleveland Browns at EverBank Field on November 21 2010 in Jacksonville Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
If you want to be regularly humbled, try blogging about the Atlanta Falcons.
Earlier this off-season, I predicted that Lofa Tatupu would be the team's starting middle linebacker as of Week 1, and also predicted that Vince Manuwai would win a starting job. The logic behind those predictions was sound enough—while both had been out of football for a year, they were traditionally terrific players at positions of relative need—and I felt confident that the veterans would win out. Right guard looks like a muddle, after all.
Thanks to injury and a surprising release today, I was wrong on both counts.
It's not hard to read between the lines of Mike Smith's comments and get that Manuwai was out of shape, ineffective or both. The Falcons have a myriad of options at the position, and for Manuwai to be released after Joe Hawley and Garrett Reynolds struggled so mightily in 2011, all of those options must have seemed more attractive than he did. That's such a stinging evaluation of his current ability that it's safe to wonder if his career didn't just end. Poor guy.
It's a reminder that prediction is a fool's craft, for one thing. It's also a reminder that a guy who comes back from a year out of football probably shouldn't be counted on for an awful lot, a lesson that I have now learned twice in a week. Forgive me if I got any of you hyped over two players who won't have any role with the 2012 Falcons.
Back to Manuwai, however. With him out of the picture, the Falcons still have five dudes competing for the starting job at right guard, between Peter Konz, Hawley, Reynolds, Mike Johnson and Andrew Jackson. That's not even including UDFA Phillipkeith Manley, whose awesome name probably won't save him from a roster cut down the line. If you believe that Konz might win the center job outright, you still have a legitimately competitive position.
Ultimately, this had to have been a football decision. Given that Manuwai was the kind of guy Mike Smith seems magnetized to (veteran, former Jaguar, road-grading type), we can safely assume it was the right kind of football decision, as well.
I'll leave the predictions on who might win that job to the rest of you. I think I've done enough damage on that front.