What I do here

My title is AFC South Blogger. I’m often more simply referred to as one of ESPN.com’s stable of NFL writers.

Many of you who follow me on a regular basis have a true sense of where I fit and what exactly I do here. But my mailbag regularly indicates that others do not.

Thus this post, which I will now be able to refer people back to when the subject comes up.

A good share of the critical feedback I get keys on my “bias,” and spells out how I fail to be an objective journalist.

Arne Wilson from parts unknown recently wrote “It is unprofessional for a journalist who is supposed to be objective to advocate for people the way that you have for [Jay] Cutler and Jeff Fisher.”

The reason for that is that I’m not here to be objective.

I am more often a commentator/analyst/columnist than I am a reporter, though that commentary, analysis and columnizing is often, and should be, based out of reporting.

ESPN.com doesn’t ask me to break news, though it is pleased if I do. On the occasions I have something, it’s usually commented on here. The actual news story gets handled by news editors and posted as a link in the NFL news section. I was hired because I have a strong reporting background and the personality that puts me in position to comment authoritatively.

My job, first and foremost, is to react to developments in the division and quickly tell you what they mean. Some things may not elicit much reaction. Others may set me on fire to the point where I need a trip to the gym because writing a rant isn’t cathartic enough.

You’re going to find opinion here. Please don’t be surprised when you do. Putting a comment on my opinion post noting that it’s opinionated isn’t super-revealing.

Hopefully, my post is a well-reasoned and spelled out opinion. Hopefully, I’m explaining why I’ve come to feel a certain way on a certain thing. Often it spurs a debate I try to participate in, in the comments section, via Twitter and on Facebook. An ESPN.com blogger with no rooting interest, I think, is more likely to be able to rely on reason while understanding that fans often react with emotion. Which is just fine.

The obvious example here is Vince Young. I watched him up close. I was frequently critical of him and spelled out why. I like my quarterbacks to be studious, hard-working, dependable, on time and to command the respect of their teammates and coaches. I don’t like them to feel entitled and to declare themselves elite, rather than doing whatever it takes to actually become so.

When he failed in those regards, a case against him built up. But when he shined I wrote about that too.

When he cursed out his coach this season in front of the team, that was the final straw for me. I thought he should have been cut then and I wrote that. It turns out his team reached the same conclusion down the road.

Does that make me biased against Young?

I think that’s far too simple, though it’s for you to decide, I suppose. But if you want to talk bias, then here’s a handy list for you to keep in mind:

  • I am biased against hopeful coach’s challenges and punts on fourth-and-short from the fringe of field-goal range.

  • I am biased against super-secrecy. I think teams can be honest about injuries without sacrificing competitive advantages. I think they can tell you about coaching candidates for a vacancy without it being akin to spilling state secrets. I think they should make their primary people available regularly during the offseason. I think they should be expected to have news conferences after practices, not before.

  • I am biased against not feeding the All-Pro running back until a defense proves it can stop him.

  • I am biased against coaches being too loyal to veterans. I am also against coaches putting guys in the doghouse and leaving them there too long when they are the best option.

  • I am biased against timeouts that allow the opposition to huddle and decide on plays that allow them to get in range of game-winning field goals.

  • I am biased against dumb. I am biased in favor of smart.