Monday, October 12, 2015

0 comments Advanced Statistics Loses Again to Team Chemistry

I am always amused at articles that say, "There is no way Sabermetrics can say whether a team will have chemistry or not," as if there is a way to measure chemistry and it's only Sabermetrics or advanced statistics that come up short in an attempt to quantify team chemistry. Chemistry can't be measured all, so there is no telling if a team will have it or not until that team plays together. Bob Nightengale writes an article about how chemistry in baseball still matters. It's still real to him, dammit!

As always, there are the "numbers can't measure chemistry!" quotes from players, as if it's news that something which can't be measured can't actually be measured. Chemistry matters, sure, but anyone claiming they know how to create chemistry between players on a team is lying. But yeah, it's only advanced metrics that fall short in measuring how much chemistry a team has. Teams never know if they will have chemistry until practice or games actually start.

In a sport where the desire to quantify every movement only grows with each season, it is a sabermetric aficionado’s worst nightmare.

Sunlight and not being able to use a computer. The worst of all worlds.

You can’t measure it. You can’t define it. You can’t put a number on it.

So it's the worst nightmare of pretty much any coach, GM, or owner because there is no way to know what the result will be. 

We’re talking about clubhouse chemistry, and the culture that can raise a major league team to extraordinary heights without having the biggest payroll or most talent.

How to get it? Nobody fucking knows. What is known is that Sabermetricians can't measure it and that means Sabermetrics are useless. Sure, traditional statistical metrics can't measure it either, but who cares and let's all move on now. 

“It’s really undervalued,’’ St. Louis Cardinals veteran starter John Lackey told USA TODAY Sports, “especially in today’s world with all of the numbers guys.”

It's undervalued because there is no way to tangibly get chemistry and it can't be measured by any metric. So there is no way to value chemistry, hence it is undervalued. It's like anyone who enjoys working with the people they work with. It's not undervalued to enjoy the people you work with, but it's something that either happens or doesn't when working with a group of people. You can hire individuals who you think will fit in, but you never know for sure if a new hire will like his/her co-workers. This is as opposed to knowing when you hire someone who has a Masters Degree in Accounting, it's a safe assumption that he/she does actually know something tangible about Accounting that could help the organization. 

We can put all kinds of numbers on players’ talent, from RBI to WAR, to ERA to FIP, but when it comes to the heart and soul of a clubhouse, there remains no measuring stick.

Because there can't be. Chemistry is intangible. Assigning specific importance to chemistry is fine, but emphasizing how statistics can't measure it is shockingly obvious. Hustle and grit can't be measured either, which pleases many old-school sportswriters and professional athletes when they prepare to write a column about a gritty, white player whose heart is bigger than his talent level.

“The numbers guys can’t quantify that one,’’ Lackey said, “so they don’t want to believe in it.’’

Okay Piggy, nobody said those who used advanced statistics don't want to believe in chemistry. In fact, Alex Anthopoulos is a noted user of advanced statistics and he is quoted in this article many times about the importance of chemistry. So you know, John Lackey should probably focus a little bit more on pitching and a little bit less on trying to believe he understands the position of Sabermetricians regarding team chemistry. 

You want to know what chemistry and culture is about, peek inside the San Francisco Giants’ clubhouse. They’ve won three of the last five World Series. Maybe they’ve had the best manager in Bruce Bochy, and GM too in Brian Sabean, but never have they had the best talent.

The team with the most talent doesn't always win the World Series, but attributing the difference in the team with the most perceived talent and teams with lesser perceived talent simply to chemistry is probably an oversimplification.  

“Come on, how to do you put a number on a guy like (Chicago Cubs backup catcher David Ross) and what he brings to the clubhouse? This guy hit (.184) last year, and he got multiple two-years deals on the table. Why is that?’’

Because he's a veteran clubhouse presence who has experience working with pitching staffs and he isn't going to be expensive. 

Indeed, you step into the Cubs’ clubhouse these days, and no one is talking about Ross’ .186 batting average and seven RBI. They’re too busy raving about his powerful influence on a club featuring four rookies in the everyday lineup.

David Ross does more for team chemistry than the Cubs starting catcher, yet David Ross isn't the starting catcher. Why is that? Oh wait, that's right. This discussion of chemistry is supposed to entirely ignore talent. Ross had less than 400 at-bats over the last three years (as of the time this column was written), since he's so valuable in the clubhouse, then why do you suppose he's not in the starting lineup everyday? Probably because catchers with greater talent are getting the majority of the at-bats.

Chemistry is important. Absolutely. John Lackey should also realize that David Ross doesn't need to be on the field to help his team, while those players who do have skills that can be quantified are the ones getting the majority of the at-bats. So the whole "they can't quantify chemistry" argument has merit as long as those players whose contribution can be quantified aren't having their substantial impact on the team's success ignored.

“He means so much to every single person in here,’’ Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said.

Go ahead, try to put a number on that.

$2.5 million this year. That's his salary. That's the number on how much his contribution means to the Cubs. 

If you go by the numbers, the Royals were supposed to win just 72 games this year, according to Baseball Prospectus’ projection system, PECOTA. 

PECOTA is wrong again this year. They had the Royals at 80-82. Though it's important to know the Royals play in the only division in the majors where only one team has a positive run differential (the Royals), so there is a case to be made that the Royals are going to beat the PECOTA projections handily, but they are also in a weak division. It doesn't take anything away from them, but these are "projections" not "certainties based on data and information that is never wrong."

The Cardinals, who have had more injuries to key players than any team, shouldn’t be leading their division, let alone be on pace to eclipse 100 victories, if you go strictly by sheer talent.

I would completely and utterly disagree. The Cardinals, even prior to the season had one of the strongest and deepest pitching staffs in the majors. It is discussed at length how the Cardinals have great minor league depth (THE CARDINALS WAY!) and when injuries occur they can survive them easier than most MLB teams. If a person is going to be so ridiculous as to look to individual talent on a baseball team rather than the depth of talent on a team's roster, then obviously a team with few players who have a high level of individual talent would be misjudged. Teams should not be judged by sheer talent on the roster though. Teams should be judged by talent at each spot on the roster and the depth of that talent on the roster. The Cardinals have talent at each spot on the roster and they have depth. Going by sheer talent is a dumb way to evaluate a team in the first place. 

“People that don’t understand what team chemistry means don’t work in baseball,’’ Toronto Blue Jays ace David Price said.

Right, everyone knows a team needs good chemistry to help them be successful. A team also needs talent. Teams that win titles have both. To indicate advanced statistics are useless because it can't measure a team's chemistry is to make it an "either/or" argument and entirely miss the point. I don't expect much else from baseball players though. They are traditionally stuck in the past and not open to new ideas. 

“You look at the Giants, and they’re not more talented than everyone else every year, but they’re so close, and together. The Cardinals are the same way. They definitely have talent, but they’re no more talented than a lot of the teams they’re beating every day.

I would absolutely disagree with this. How come the Giants' team chemistry doesn't allow them to win the World Series during odd-numbered years? Does the team just forget about their chemistry in those years or something?

And as I stated before, it has been discussed at-length in multiple publications how the Cardinals have great organizational depth, so I would argue they are more talented than the teams they are beating every day.

“The Cardinals are unbelievable. They lose their ace (Adam Wainwright). They lose their No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in (Matt) Adams and (Matt Holliday). And they’re still winning. They’re just unreal.

Again, the Cardinals were very deep in the starting rotation prior to the start of the season. There is a reason they could afford to trade Shelby Miller. The media always wants it both ways. They want to talk about how great the Cardinals are at producing players through their minor league system, while also claiming the team has lesser talent than other teams. 

The Blue Jays placed more emphasis on a player’s character than any time in GM Alex Anthopoulos’ tenure. He shipped out the guy who didn’t fit in. He chose character over talent. There’s a reason why 42-year-old LaTroy Hawkins is now in the Blue Jays’ bullpen instead of Jonathan Papelbon.

Well yeah, nobody likes Jonathan Papelbon. I do like how Nightengale is using Anthopoulos as the example of a GM who loves chemistry, since he is a GM who has in the past emphasized Sabermetrics. It's almost like a team has to have talent AND chemistry. That couldn't be true though. 

“We really, really, emphasized that,’’ Anthopoulos said, “more than we ever have.

Yes, they went against having talent for chemistry by trading for Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. What rebels they are to favor chemistry over talent in these cases. They traded for one of the best players at shortstop, third base and pitcher for the chemistry it gave the team, while blatantly ignoring whether these guys are talented or not.

“Every team goes through ups and downs, and I think with a better clubhouse and with better character, that allows you to handle the downs a lot. That’s the separator. So rather than the floor caving in on you, you stay afloat.

“We’ll find out if it works.’’

Obviously you can't throw a team together that hates each other or won't complement each other. That much is obvious. Winning creates chemistry and so figuring out how a team can win (find some talented players is always a good start) is important too. 

Certainly, adding a guy like Price at the trade deadline, and having MVP favorite Josh Donaldson the entire season, may have something to do with the Blue Jays’ success, too.

Nah, I'm sure the fact they are two of the best at their position in terms of skill level has nothing to do with the Blue Jays' success. 

Yet, manager John Gibbons can’t stop raving about Donaldson’s leadership skills, and Price is revered throughout the game.

What helps Donaldson be a leader? The fact he's also a really good baseball player. Players who are good at baseball can naturally set a good example for the rest of the team to follow. 

“We were looking for a special type of player, even if it meant passing on some talent,’’ Anthopoulos said, “making sure every player we acquired fit.

“I think it’s important David Price fit into in the clubhouse, but let’s don’t forget he’s got a (2.40) ERA, too.’’

Irrelevant. Don't try to measure David Price's chemistry by putting it in terms of his ERA. 

Sure, you’ve got to have talent to win, but talent alone doesn’t guarantee a thing. If the standings were based strictly on talent, you think the Washington Nationals would be trailing the New York Mets by five games?

If the Nationals had the hitting that the Blue Jays have, do you think they would be trailing the Mets by five games? The Blue Jays have scored more than 150 more runs than the Nationals. But I'm sure that's all chemistry-based run scoring. 

“If you have good clubhouse chemistry, you going to win,’’ New York Yankees veteran starter CC Sabathia said. “It’s not something you can fake. It’s real.

“You look at the Giants. Those guys love each other, and they win. They get a guy like Peavy. You see what (Tim) Hudson has meant for them. It’s the real thing.’’

I would have to again ask why the Giants can't seem to win the World Series during odd numbered years with a roster that doesn't change dramatically. Is their chemistry just forgotten during certain years? 

Sure, numbers are fine for fantasy leagues, but if you want to truly define a player’s value, or recognize the importance significance of clubhouse culture, it’s time to wake up and embrace character, too.

I think most people recognize the value of character and embrace this value. The fact statistics are used to evaluate players doesn't mean clubhouse culture is ignored.

“I think we’re losing part of our game because so many of these people in charge don’t have the scouting background or playing background,’’ Peavy said.

One minute David Price says people who don't understand how chemistry works don't work in baseball and the next minute Jake Peavy says there are some who work in baseball who don't understand chemistry. By the way, the Giants use analytics. I wouldn't be surprised if Jake Peavy didn't know this and just thought the Giants had hired nerds so there would be someone around to give a swirlie to, because giving swirlies to nerds is a well-known way to help a team's chemistry.

“You can have all of the education you want, and break down every number you want, but unless you get to know what’s inside a player, you really don’t know the player.’’

Yes, probably. But when scouting high school or college baseball players it is nearly impossible to know how their personality will fit into that MLB team's personality and clubhouse culture 2-6 years from now. What is possible to project is that player's talent. It doesn't mean talent is the end-all, but it does explain why players aren't drafted based on chemistry instead of perceived talent. 

The Royals certainly noticed the tepid external expectations. Public relations director Mike Swanson, in his recent pre-game notes, reminded everyone of Baseball Prospectus’ projected 72-90 record.

“Fortunately, games are won on a field and not on paper,’’ Swanson wrote in the Royals’ notes distributed to the media, “thus a computer ‘time out’ might be appropriate for some.”

Hilarious. Swanson may be forgetting the Royals were one failed rally away from being knocked out of the idiotic Wild Card game. Yep, talent had something to do with the Royals going to the World Series.

“We had our Moneyball movie, and they didn’t even win,’’ Peavy said of the Oakland Athletics. “How about let’s make a movie about the good ol’ fashioned baseball people, and how they judge team chemistry, and put together guys that fit in.

Great idea. I get the feeling Jake Peavy isn't a threat to appear on "Jeopardy" any time soon. Unless the topic is "Good ol' fashioned baseball people" I'm thinking he's probably better at throwing a ball than he is a-thinkin' with his head. 

“How about a movie about a team that actually wins in the end?’’

I believe that movie was made 25 years ago and it is called "Major League." Or maybe it is called "The Natural," "Bad News Bears," "Angels in the Outfield," "Little Big League," "Rookie of the Year," or one of the dozens of baseball movies made about a team that actually wins in the end. Great point, Jake Peavy.

There should be a movie called "Chemistry" where a team of baseball players who don't have the talent to play in the majors are all traded to the same team, then win the World Series because they all get along so well. Jake Peavy would love this.

You can't measure team chemistry, so maybe someone should create a dating website for baseball players so GM's can know which players will have the most in common and therefore enjoy spending time with each other. It can be like for athletes. Or is that too much like trying to measure chemistry? Maybe other MLB teams should try to create the chemistry the Blue Jays have by trading for three great players and seeing if that helps them win more games. I don't know, getting really talented players could work to help a team win more games.

Friday, October 9, 2015

4 comments Gregg Easterbrook Warns of The Dangers of Gambling

Gregg Easterbrook talked about, stop me if you have heard this one before, how NFL coaches are too conservative and should go for it on fourth down in last week's TMQ. He also continued to write "N.F.L." because I know that he knows it annoys me. This week Gregg takes on fantasy football and alerts his readers to the fact these gambling sites are, and pleased don't be too shocked, not not-for-profit and they are probably going to end up taking your money. Apparently these Internet sites that feature fantasy football are actually businesses and it's set up to where suckers spend money on the sites, but don't end up winning money. I know, I was shocked after seeing the commercials that promised me I could make from $300 to $100 billion (okay, not that much) betting on fantasy sports. I thought these sites like DraftKings and FanDuel were only set up to make me rich. Thank God that Gregg is here to set the record straight.

A decade ago, I worked in a big building in downtown Washington. Every Thursday during N.F.L. season, a smiling guy would come around to distribute sheets for the office football pool. You’d make your picks, hand the guy $5 and not win. Neither would anyone else you knew.

Based on having read TMQ for a better part of a decade, I think a good guess as to why neither Gregg nor his co-workers won is because they are terrible at gambling and generally don't understand football. Also, if you know you are going to lose then why are you gambling? Don't complain if you kept handing the guy your money.

The next Thursday the guy would be back with another sheet. At the bottom was an entry for who, supposedly, won the previous week — but names at the bottom were always smudged and illegible.

Fool Gregg once, shame on you. Fool Gregg repeatedly over a several week span, just keep doing it since he's probably not going to catch on. But rest assured, when does catch on he will lecture his TMQ readers about the dangers of gambling as if they are as naive and gullible as he was.

After a while it dawned on me that I never met anyone in the building who received the pool money.

It took you a while to figure it out? This must have been a really big building with a lot of employees participating in this pool. Maybe I'm a control freak, but I don't tend to give money to "the guy" and I generally like to know the person who won the pool of money. This is especially true if I work in a huge building where I don't know very many of the other people who work in the building.

We all see where this story is going of course. Because Gregg, a person who considers himself to be very intelligent, got scammed by people pretending he can win money then that means people who are not as smart as Gregg are even more susceptible to the dangers of gambling. Gregg is SO SMART and everyone else is SO DUMB. They stand no chance.

I thought of the smiling guy Monday, when FanDuel and DraftKings defended their integrity after accusations of what amounts to insider trading. I always wondered if that office pool could be trusted. Perhaps now we should wonder the same about DraftKings and FanDuel.

No, it can't totally be trusted. It's not a charity. It's an opportunity to separate you from your money and put your money in the pocket of someone else. It's gambling where the company accepting the money is making money. Hence, more people will lose than win. It's like any other gambling venture. There's no mystery behind it. They want to lure you in with the prospect of making money when most people don't make money.

NFL Network’s highlights channel is now “N.F.L. RedZone Presented by DraftKings.” ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” now has a “FanDuel Chalk Talk” segment.

This season, fans can sip cocktails and place wagers at FanDuel or DraftKings lounges in pro football stadiums.

It's shocking that the NFL has partnered with two companies willing to give them money in order to advertise their product, which is a product based on the performance of NFL players. How dare the NFL promote gambling for money. I'm shocked they would do this. Usually the NFL is so sure to stay on the morally correct side of social issues. 

As of Sunday, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning were, in a sense, endorsing Internet gambling: DraftKings just signed a deal with the N.F.L. Players Association, giving the union a fee in return for use of pro football players’ images in the company’s ads. Washington-area Metro buses now bear DraftKings side banners.

These players are not endorsing gambling. The NFLPA is endorsing gambling and these three players are simply members of the NFLPA. I guess Rodgers, Luck and Manning could choose not to be a member of the NFLPA as a result, but I'm sure their image has been used for reasons much more nefarious than Internet gambling. These three quarterbacks are, in a sense, endorsing Internet gambling in the same way that Gregg Easterbrook is, in a sense, endorsing plagiarism because he works at the same newspaper that Jayson Blair worked for. These three quarterbacks are, in a sense, endorsing Internet gambling in the same way that Gregg Easterbrook supports women bringing spousal abuse on themselves because he used to work at ESPN with Stephen A. Smith. 

Both ventures have extensive Fortune 500 support: back to that in a moment. First, the glitz. FanDuel: “$75 million paid out every week!” DraftKings: “$1 billion in prizes in 2015!” FanDuel vows to distribute $2 billion in winnings during the N.F.L. season; DraftKings vows a weekly $1 million grand prize.

Promises of big winnings made in order to draw more people in to get more people to get involved with weekly fantasy sports. DraftKings and FanDuel aren't charities, so any reasonable person knows they are making money in the same way a casino makes money. Somebody has to lose. 

In a FanDuel television ad, a man — viewers have no idea whether he’s an actor — says to the camera, “Every single week I can win money on Fan Duel!” Can is quite a fudge word: Statements of this nature would not pass scrutiny in breakfast-cereal advertising.

But the use of the word "can" would pass scrutiny in TMQ, because Peter uses some form of this word all the time in order to fudge the truth just a little bit. How many times has Gregg written something like, "Continued use of punting on fourth down could result in the Football Gods being angered and Team X not making the playoffs."

Of all the people to criticize the use of words like "can" or "could" it's Gregg Easterbrook who chooses to do so. He very well could be a bit of a hypocrite, given how many qualifying statements he has made in his TMQ in the past, present and could be future.

I asked both companies for the names of big winners. Sabrina Macias, head of corporate communications for DraftKings, suggested David Gomes, a 2014 big winner; it’s him celebrating in the DraftKings ad. When I asked for more names, Macias said, “We have had 20 winners of $1 million prizes.” She promised to get back to me with a list of those names, and never did.

Emily Bass, public relations manager for FanDuel, suggested Scott Hanson, “Scott H.,” a 2014 big winner. When I asked for more names, Bass said her company has “a huge number” of big winners. She promised to get back to me with a list of names, and never did.

There is also a sense of privacy in whose information FanDuel and DraftKings can just hand out to whoever asks for it. Gregg knows this of course, but doesn't seem to really give a shit. The fact these two companies won't just hand out a person's information is seen as another strike against their transparency and not as an example of how they are committed to keeping the information of those who participate confidential. It can be both of course. Both companies can lack transparency and still protect the identity of those who play online fantasy sports. 

Naturally, many who win lawfully at gambling would prefer their identities not be disseminated.

Naturally, many people who win or lose at gambling would prefer their identities not be disseminated. Naturally, people don't want some half-assed football journalist finding out how much they have won or lost on gambling. 

Thus neither company offers anything, beyond its say-so, backing up the advertising. What about the experiences of David Gomes and Scott Hanson?

I mean, this is pretty much how gambling works. I don't know if I could find out everyone who won money in the North Carolina State Lottery or go to a casino in Las Vegas and get a list of people who won $1 million or more over the last 12 months. Maybe I could, but my expectation would be that I could not. 

Gomes, 25, grew up in Boston, is studying to be a physician assistant, and reports that he wisely saved the after-tax portion of his $1 million prize. His big payday came last season, from selecting New England’s Jonas Gray for a fantasy team days before the undrafted free agent ran for a surprising 201 yards and four touchdowns against Indianapolis.

Then he ran for 210 yards and 1 touchdown over the rest of the season. But Gomes will insist this was NOT luck. Not at all. It's his discerning eye that helped him win $1 million. 

“Sure there was luck involved, but this wasn’t just a wild guess,” Gomes said. “Gray caught my eye in training camp, and the Colts were weak against the rush in 2014. So it was a calculated risk.

Gray "caught his eye" in training camp and then I'm sure Gomes was more impressed by Gray's performance on the practice squad. It may not have been a wild guess, but Gray had a grand total of 32 carries prior to the Colts game. So there was more than "some" luck involved if we are being honest. 

With online fantasy sports, yes it’s gambling, but you watch the games and know for sure whether your choices were good or not. This is more honest to the public than lotteries based on random numbers.”

As much as I abhor the FanDuel and DraftKings advertising that is everywhere, I can agree with this to an extent. I see where a person could believe this to be true, because it feels like you have more control when you choose specific players to play each week. Compared to choosing numbers in a lottery, it feels like you choose players who you can then follow and grade yourself on how you did. The issue comes in when a person doesn't know what players the other competitors have chosen. So online fantasy sports is more honest in that it's more transparent on how your team is graded, but it's not transparent when it comes to the players the other competitors chose. It's gambling. The house always wins.

Hanson lives in Pasadena, Calif., was an elementary schoolteacher for a while, worked as a sports analyst for the analytics website ProFootballFocus, and this year is playing daily fantasy sports full-time. Hanson’s insight late in the 2014 season was to select little-known Cincinnati tailback Jeremy Hill when the Bengals were facing the Browns and the erratic rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel.

"Little known Cincinnati Jeremy Hill." Jeremy Hill was a second round pick by the Bengals and was considered to be a sleeper in 2014 fantasy sports or a great handcuff for Gio Bernard. He wasn't really "little known." He was known and drafted in any fantasy league deeper than 8 teams with 2 RB's and 3 FLEX spots. But whatever, Gregg. Whatever.

“FanDuel and DraftKings are more like stock investing than you’d probably expect, including the need to diversify,” Hanson said. “Don’t wager a lot unless you really know what you are doing. If you’re just in it for some fun, don’t spend more than $20.”

Hey, there is some fucking logic. If you don't want to lose a lot of money, don't gamble. Therein lies the moral to this story, except that won't cover enough column space, even in a much smaller TMQ. So Gregg has to go on and on about how online fantasy sports (which I don't play and won't be playing because I like my money) take money away from people while misleading them into believing they have a chance to win. A fool and his money soon go separate ways, so yes, they do take money from players, but those playing know the risks. Don't bet a lot of money if you don't want to lose a lot of money. 

Gomes and Hanson converted their smarts into winnings — though both say they are down so far this season.

The. House. Always. Wins. Always. 

FanDuel and DraftKings are run by plucky entrepreneurs, the type of people society rightly admires. On the flip side, both enterprises are using national television, and the imprimatur of the highly subsidized N.F.L., to make incredible promises while leaving the public no way of knowing whether the claims are true — and while tempting the unsophisticated to throw their money out the window.

Ah yes, "the unsophisticated." That's all Gregg is doing. He's looking out for those who can't look out for themselves. I understand in part. People look at those ads and think, "I can win money TOO! I can be a millionaire and all I have to do is play!" These people are either idiots or degenerate gamblers. If they are idiots, there is no helping them and they will most likely walk out into traffic or do something stupid to permanently end their stupidity. If they are degenerate gamblers then their loved ones need to find them some help. Why is it Gregg's business or concern these people spend their money gambling? 

These ads will always make it seem like more people win than actually do. I'm not a smart person, but I know there will always be 2-3 examples of winners in the commercials, as opposed to the 1000-2000 examples of the losers, because FanDuel and DraftKings want to make money. People participate if they think they are going to win. People who think they are going to win at gambling are most likely wrong. That is why I don't gamble. Even those who do gamble probably know they won't win every time. I know Gregg is deeply worried about society and "the unsophisticated" but even many of the unsophisticated know they aren't going to always win.

David Brooks contends that most gambling targets those who can’t afford to lose. Neil Irwin of The Upshot, in contrast, thinks that legalizing wagering on point spreads would improve the situation for small-money players.

The business model of FanDuel and DraftKings — and others entering the market — makes sense only if most players lose money.

This is logical because the money that needs to be handed out has to come from the losers. These winners are also "the unsophisticated," which further encourages other unsophisticated people to participate because Bill down the street doesn't know shit about fantasy sports and he won $1500 last week. It's been this way for years and there is probably no changing it. 

DraftKings and FanDuel seduce men and women into a dream of instant wealth. A handful do achieve instant wealth; for most, this dream only worsens inequality. And should the N.F.L., which draws about $1 billion annually in taxpayers’ money, be encouraging average people to gamble even more — that is, to lose even more?

They encourage average people to spend $100 on a uniform, have them spend $7 on a bottle water, $5 for nachos and as much as humanly possible in order to get a ticket to a football game for the privilege of spending $7 on a bottled water, so why wouldn't they encourage average people to gamble more? I'm sure that's their point of view. It's a good way to gain synergy between fantasy sports and the NFL. Fans bet on NFL players and have the chance to win money.

I'm not defending FanDuel and DraftKings, but many, many people go to Las Vegas or Atlantic City every year to gamble and end up losing money. If the NFL feels it is morally correct to be involved with online fantasy sports then that is the decision of the league. It's not less morally incorrect than for the NFL to have an official beer or for Joe Girardi to talk about C.C. Sabathia going to rehab in front of a Budweiser sign. Gregg is under the assumption that anyone who participates in online fantasy sports are stupid and have no idea what they are getting themselves into. I know people who do online fantasy sports and they aren't all stupid. They know they probably won't win, but do it for the fun they can have. Maybe they win money, maybe they won't.

Professional sports leagues like the N.B.A. and M.L.B., and individual N.F.L. teams including the Cowboys seem to see a chance to seize the vigorish now collected by bookies and Las Vegas.

It annoys the shit out of me how Gregg puts periods between "N" "F" and "L" and between "M" "L" and "B." I will try to re-focus though. 

“Just pick your game, pick your team and pick up your winnings,” a DraftKings ad declares. 

Anyone with a brain knows it's not that easy. Just in the same way anyone with a brain knows that delicious cheeseburger the model is biting into in the Hardees commercials doesn't come with the model and the burger will be flattened to the point it's almost impossible to tell all the ingredients apart. Just in the same way a child knows if they buy Frosted Flakes, Tony the Tiger isn't actually going to show up and start playing soccer with him/her. It's advertising that is being used to encourage the purchase of a product. Much in the same way Gregg doesn't understand advertising for a Christmas stage show in November isn't "creep," but is instead an attempt to sell tickets far advance in the hopes of selling out, he doesn't understand that many "unsophisticated" people understand how advertising works. Yet, they still participate in online fantasy sports because it is fun.

But set the phoniness aside: DraftKings and FanDuel wouldn’t make business sense to Comcast, Fox, Google, Time Warner and pro sports owners unless the websites allow participants quickly and conveniently to use their smartphones to lose money.

Right, nobody wants to play any online fantasy sport "for fun" and it should be a huge pain in the ass to play that online fantasy sport. Because these online fantasy sports are for fun, using the sites is made convenient so it's more fun and less frustrating. 

In other football news, what to make of the 4-0 contenders?

If only the NFL season didn't stop after Week 4 with no resolution as to which of these 4-0 contenders will stand the test of the season and which will not. Alas, Gregg is only left to speculate.

Cincinnati is playing really well, and on a 16-2-1 home streak in the regular season. But the Bengals are also on an 0-3 playoff home streak; Andy Dalton has never quarterbacked a playoff win; and Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the postseason. The last time Cincinnati was victorious in the playoffs, Dan Quayle was vice president. Bengals, call back when you win a contest in January.

So what to make of the Bengals is that Gregg has absolutely no fucking clue what to make of the Bengals and he's going to need to see the rest of the NFL season before he can declare the Bengals as pretenders or contenders. Why even bring up the Bengals if Gregg isn't willing to give his opinion on what to make of them? Though, this is in-line with how Gregg pretty much evaluates anything. He waits until there is resolution and then declares something as being a good or bad idea. He'll make up lies about the reasons why it was good or bad at that point.

"I know I say teams should go for it on fourth down because it shows a commitment to winning, but here is why this fourth down attempt didn't end up helping Team X win the game."

Carolina, a losing team in 2014, is 4-0 so far in 2015. But the victories are over second-echelon teams that are a combined 4-12. Panthers, call back when you beat a winning team.

I can agree with this, but these teams would have been 8-8 if the Panthers had lost to them. There is such a small sample size that the Panthers beating these four teams skews the combined record of the teams they have beaten. 

Atlanta has a signature victory at Dallas, a much-improved offensive line and a much-improved defense. Falcons faithful should be guardedly optimistic.

The Falcons have beaten four teams who are a combined 6-10. So I guess those two extra victories are really, really impressive to Gregg to where the Falcons haven't played a second-echelon schedule. 

Denver began in plodding fashion; Peyton Manning now seems to be picking up the bootleg offense of Gary Kubiak. Below the radar: The Broncos’ secondary has allowed only two touchdown passes.


Stat That Must Mean Something. Only three of the N.F.L.’s top 10 rushing teams have winning records.

It could mean four of these teams have quarterbacks who are known for running with the football. It could mean only two of the NFL's worst 10 rushing teams have winning records, which is some research that Gregg is lazy to do. It could mean a balanced offense is a great way to win games. 

’Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed at All. Trailing Indianapolis, 3-0, the Jaguars faced third-and-goal on the Colts’ 2 and went incompletion, field goal. Jacksonville entered having lost five straight to Indianapolis — half-measures won’t change that! The Jaguars went on to lose in overtime.

And of course they went on to lose in overtime because of this one play where the Jaguars went for a field goal as opposed to a touchdown. There is an obvious correlation there. They averaged 5.1 yards per rush on the day, so the Jaguars would have run the ball in the end zone with 3.1 yards to spare from the two-yard line. So ignore the fact the Jaguars kicker missed two field goals in the game, that's irrelevant to whether they would have won the game, but focus instead on their decision to go for a field goal instead of a touchdown. THAT is why the Jaguars didn't beat the Colts. 

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! Steelers leading, 20-17, with 29 seconds showing, Baltimore faced third-and-10 on its 48. Getting a sack is a nice outcome for Pittsburgh, but what matters more is two incomplete passes. Instead it’s a double defensive back blitz: 20-yard completion, Baltimore kicks a field goal to force overtime and wins in the fifth quarter. Good quarterbacks want to be blitzed on third-and-long, because it ensures single-coverage downfield.

And if the Steelers just rush four and give Joe Flacco time to throw the ball, there is no way he completes a pass to get them into field goal range. That's what Gregg wants his readers to believe. This is the assumption Gregg is working under. Also, I don't know if there is such a thing as a "double defensive back blitz." Maybe there is, it sounds like it was a corner and/or safety blitz. 
And no, blitzing on third-and-long doesn't ensure single-coverage downfield. The Steelers could blitz six defenders and then still have the receivers downfield doubled with a safety/linebacker and a cornerback. It's entirely possible. But of course Gregg makes these blanket statements and just expects his readers to believe them. Why wouldn't they? He only speaks the truth.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! (Team Edition). Last season the Bills employed a highly disciplined defense that almost never blitzed, and finished fourth over all on defense against points, first against touchdown passes. The analytical Jim Schwartz ran this successful defense. In comes the boastful Rex Ryan with a blitz-happy approach and no discipline. The Bills have dropped to 22nd over all on defense and 30th against touchdown passes.

Could this be as a result of the Bills having played the Patriots, Giants, Colts, and Dolphins? The Patriots are #1 in the NFL in passing yards right now. Also, Gregg is cherry-picking his data. The Bills' defense is 3rd in rushing yards against, 14th in points per game allowed and 9th in third down percentage against. 

Facing fourth-and-1, the Bills lined up to go for it. Tyrod Taylor tried a hard count to draw the Giants offside. The Bills jumped offside.

No Gregg, when the offense jumps like this it is called a "false start." The defense is who goes offsides, not the offense. 

Didn’t You Used to Be the 49ers? After the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons, the 49ers made the N.F.C. title game, once reaching the Super Bowl and goal-to-go for victory. In 2014 they tailed off, and in 2015 are awful. Santa Clara has been outscored by a league-worst 62 points.

I'm sure Gregg believes this is all because they moved to that new stadium in Santa Clara and not because they fired Jim Harbaugh. What would getting rid of the best coach the 49ers had in 20 years have anything to do with the 49ers current struggles? 

Dawn of the Notcronym. Last week I noted that KFC no longer stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and NPR no longer stands for National Public Radio: “Contemporary short-attention-span names like KFC are not acronyms, because the letters don’t stand for anything. We live in an age when not standing for anything is seen as a plus.” Then I asked readers what term should be used for constructions such as SAT or 3M, which appear to be acronyms but aren’t because they do not represent words.

One would think now that TMQ has been shortened then Gregg could cut any content that doesn't have to do with football or the NFL. Instead, TMQ can still be found to have the same filler. 

Jeff Wilson of Front Royal, Va., proposed noncronym. Ross Stinemetz of Kansas City, Mo., suggested slackronym. Morris Bird of San Gabriel, Calif., came up with noniker. Jeff Williams of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., suggested jargonon.

I suggest these people get a life and stop emailing their ideas to Gregg Easterbrook. 

Jim Kelly of Ann Arbor, Mich., wrote: “Perhaps we can call them Trumans in honor of our 33rd president, whose middle name, S, was simply a letter, signifying nothing.”

Or you could just not talk about these acronyms that don't mean anything at all and focus on writing about football so I can make fun of the fact you think you are know what you are talking when you really don't.

Chip Kelly Skedaddle Watch. Chip Kelly lived a dreamlike existence in Eugene, Ore., a glorious place where he was revered by students, alumni and local media, and won game after game by huge margins. In the N.F.L., Kelly’s Eagles (1-3) are struggling, and the media knives soon will be pointed at his back.

"Soon" be pointed at Chip Kelly's back? Where the fuck has Gregg Easterbrook been over the past two weeks? The knives have been sharpened and pointed already. The media is just waiting to pounce. It sounds like Gregg lives his own dreamlike existence if he doesn't know that the media is already all over Chip Kelly for the Eagles' failings.

When Kelly came to the N.F.L., he was one step ahead of the posse that imposed a show-cause penalty on him for recruiting violations. But that punishment has expired. How long till Kelly skedaddles back to the comfort of a football-factory situation?

Kelly coaches for football-factories until it is convenient for Gregg to point out that offensive innovations don't occur at football-factories, while citing Chip Kelly's innovations at the non-football-factory University of New Hampshire as evidence of this. Kelly coaches at football-factories until Gregg has a different point to prove. 
And Kelly probably will go back to college football if he fails in the NFL, just in the same way TMQ went back to another non-sports website after Gregg didn't have his contract renewed by ESPN. It's okay for Gregg to fall back on what he knows when he fails, but when Chip Kelly does that then it means he is open to derision from Gregg.

Steelers and Ravens Combine to Go 1 for 6 on Fourth Down. 

So based on the knowledge Gregg has previously passed on, this means that both teams won the game because both coaches showed their team that they were super-serious about winning the game? Right, that's how it works? 

Baltimore at Pittsburgh was Armageddon for the go-for-it crowd, which includes this column: In overtime Pittsburgh went for it twice on fourth-and-short, was stopped both times, and lost.

But I'm sure Gregg has a bullshit explanation for why Mike Tomlin was aggressive and told his team he was playing to win the game and the Steelers still lost. Even when Gregg's assertions are proven to be incorrect, it's never that his assertion is incorrect, there is always a bullshit reason given as to why his assertion is correct all the time but just not this time. 

Then again Baltimore went for it twice on fourth-and-short, was stopped both times, and won. On a windy night at Heinz Field, the toughest N.F.L. stadium for place-kickers, both defenses expected fourth-and-short tries and were primed to stop them.

Oh, okay. So the defenses were primed to stop the running game on fourth down and THAT is why these conversions didn't work? I figured there was a bullshit reason, but now I know that reason. The Ravens averaged 4.9 yards per carry and Steelers averaged 5.1 yards per carry on the night. So why weren't the defenses primed to stop the run for the rest of the game and primed up only on short down situations where the wind wouldn't be as much of a factor due to the increased odds of the Ravens throwing a short pass? I only ask because if the reason these conversions didn't work is because both teams were primed to stop the run, it certainly doesn't show in the box score. A short passing play on fourth-and-short is more likely than a long passing play, due to the small amount of yardage needed, and a short passing play wouldn't be affected by the wind. So neither defense was primed to stop the run on the night, except in situations when a short passing play to get the first down was more likely? That's your bullshit reasoning?

Or maybe Pittsburgh’s problem is that it did not go for it enough! Here is the 4th Down Bot’s live analysis of why the Steelers should have gone for it on fourth-and-2 in the first quarter, rather than settling for a field-goal attempt.

Oh good, more bullshit. It turns out there are a specific number of fourth down attempts required for a team to be sufficiently inspired to win the game. I never knew this, mostly because Gregg has not mentioned it until now. 

Buffalo opened with three of four at home, badly needing to finish the first month at least 3-1. Come November, the Bills face a grueling five of six on the road. By Thanksgiving, Rex Ryan may have moved on to boasting about the 2016 season.

Gregg is fixated with coaches who have confidence and I'm not sure why. Rex Ryan likes to boast, but it's just part of how he runs his team. He likes building confidence. 

Red Planet Note. The hit movie “The Martian” is causing commentators to wonder why there are no Mars missions in the planning stage. The NASA administrator Charles Bolden maintains people will stand on Mars in around 20 years. That’s like saying “By the 2030s, Congress will enact the annual budget bills on time.”

The spacecraft would weigh 4,000 tons at departure from low-Earth orbit. The cost of placing 4,000 tons into orbit would be about $1 trillion. That’s just delivery cost: spacecraft extra. Until such time as there may be the propulsion breakthrough, Mars-mission talk is political blather.

It was speculated last week in the comments that the "Times" insisted Gregg leave out political and non-football-related topics. Well, I guess not. That's very unfortunate. It's sad that Gregg still has to include filler in TMQ when it's already been shortened. 

Would Thomas Jefferson Have Played FanDuel? A bit of context for this week’s column is that casting lots has always been part of human nature. In Greek mythology, the gods threw dice to determine jurisdiction over Earth. Ancient pottery depicts wagering on animal fights and other forms of betting.

(Gregg Easterbrook earlier in this column) "It is morally wrong for the N.F.L. to be encouraging unsophisticated people to gamble their money away with the illusion of winning more money. How could the N.F.L. take part in such debauchery and tempt people to throw their money out the window? Shame on them!" 

(Gregg Easterbrook now) "Humans have been gambling since the beginning, even in mythology. In fact, even one of the United States Presidents liked to gamble a lot. He didn't run up any debts or anything like that so let's ignore this as any type of evidence that the N.F.L. isn't doing anything morally incorrect by encouraging gambling when Thomas Jefferson liked to gamble."

In his terrific 2007 book “Twilight at Monticello,” Alan Pell Crawford writes that during Thomas Jefferson’s youth, the future author of the Declaration of Independence struggled against the urge to wager. Jefferson found that in Williamsburg, then the decadent city of Virginia, men “entertained themselves in raucous fashion, playing cards, dice and billiards, often for high stakes.” Rest assured, Jefferson kept his mind focused on higher matters: He “did not run up gambling debts, and there are no reports of drunkenness or debauchery.”

Gregg is hoping his "unsophisticated" readers don't notice that "not running up debts" doesn't necessarily mean that Thomas Jefferson won every time he played. Like those who participate in FanDuel, Jefferson lost, but would always pay what he owed. So Jefferson gambled on high stakes, but always paid his debts. You know, sort of like participants in weekly online fantasy sports do when they lose and the money comes out of their checking account. 

Buck-Buck-Brawkkkkkk. Florida led heavily favored and third-ranked Ole Miss, 25-0, in the third quarter when Ole Miss reached fourth-and-goal on the Florida 5 — and kicked. Options for University of Mississippi Coach Hugh Freeze at that juncture: try for the touchdown or concede the game. Kicking proved the latter, Florida winning, 38-10. Doing the “safe” thing by kicking is so deeply ingrained in coaches’ heads that even a four-score deficit in the second half did not seem to Freeze reason to go for it.

I can't really defend this, but sometimes coaches like to give their players confidence by putting points on the board. This may not have been about making the "safe" play, but ensuring his team wasn't shut out for the sake of the team's confidence. 

The Football Gods Chortled. Since firing Lovie Smith after a 10-6 season, the Bears are 14-22. 

Gregg Easterbrook is a master at misleading his readers and selectively providing information to his readers. Ever since firing Lovie Smith the Bears are 14-22? Well, ever since he was fired by the Bears, Lovie Smith's record is 3-17. I don't play online fantasy sports and Gregg may consider me to be "unsophisticated" but that's a winning percentage below that of the Bears since they fired Smith. Of course Gregg leaves Smith's record with the Buccaneers since being fired by the Bears out of the discussion. It doesn't prove his point. Gregg wants to only include information that proves the point he wants to prove and doesn't give a shit if he's trying to mislead his readers in the process of trying to prove his point. It seems like the Football Gods are chortling at Lovie Smith too. I wish the Football Gods would smite Gregg Easterbrook. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

3 comments MMQB Review: Peter Doesn't Think the NFL Should Stretch Deflategate Into 2016, Even Though He Suggested Multiple Times the NFL Should Do Just That Edition

Last week Peter King talked about how Andy Dalton is playing well in the regular season this year and how this may mean something for the playoffs or it may not mean anything at all. One thing it does mean is that Andy Dalton is playing well, but it doesn't mean Peter will get off Dalton's ass about not playing well in the playoffs until the Bengals actually make it back to the playoffs and Dalton plays at a high level. Because Dalton is the only young quarterback who hasn't played in the playoffs and all. I'm not going to go overboard making excuses for Dalton, but he didn't exactly have a lot of offensive weapons against the Colts in the playoffs last season. This week, Peter hands out awards from the first quarter of the season, talks about how screwed the Ravens are at the wide receiver position (it turns out even they can't continuously replace players they lose in free agency), has a travel note where someone else did the traveling, and because he likes craft beers he's amazed that craft beers only make up 8% of the United States beer market. I'll file this under, "I'm amazed that everyone doesn't like the things that I like," which is very typical Peter King way of thinking.

The football season always flies. (Easy for someone writing on a laptop, not tackling someone, to say.) But we’re already through 24 percent of the regular season, and this column will focus on some truths—bitter, euphoric, surprising, real—and some consequences after four intriguing weekends. 

I'm going to write the same shit I always do. We are still only 25% of the way through the season. There are still no truths. Last year at this time, Tom Brady's eulogy was still being written. Two years ago the Chiefs and the Broncos were going to meet at the midpoint of the season with both teams undefeated. Even four weeks into the season the truths still aren't truths yet.

New England is the best team in the league. Tom Brady has come back with a vengeance, and I’d be surprised if they finish worse than 14-2. Toughest games left: Jets in October, Broncos in November, Jets in December. 

In November, Peter will probably write something like "Nobody knew it in early October, but the Patriots game against Team X has suddenly become an important game" as if nothing can change over the next month. 

In the NFC, Green Bay is the best. Four wins by at least eight points, a quarterback who will never throw an interception the rest of his life, and a sneaky good defense averaging 4.3 sacks a game. 

There could very well be a correlation there. Green Bay is beating teams by a large margin, which means teams are passing the ball against the Packers, which means the Packers defense doesn't have to necessarily defend against the run and can pin their ears back and rush the passer. Hence, the Packers defense could average 4.3 sacks a game because they are beating teams by a lot and don't have to defend the run. 

While we’re at it, here’s the First Quarter MVP ballot.

1. Tom Brady, QB, New England. No franchise wideout, and running backs Bill Belichick picked out of a hat.

2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay. Value increased by playing so well without Jordy Nelson.

3. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Denver. Reborn under Wade Phillips. Watt-like impact, with so much help from his mates.

4. Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati. Stop laughing. Average yards per pass play: Dalton 10.2, Rodgers 8.1.

5. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta. Classic case of “makes everyone around him better.” 

I think another NFC South quarterback is missing from this list (which I don't care about individual awards, just pointing out my belief), especially if a player's value increases by not having his best receiver healthy. I'd say this other NFC South quarterback makes the  people around him better too.

PATs missed in 256 games last year: eight. PATs missed in 62 games this year, with the scrimmage line moved back 13 yards: 17. This was a particularly brutal weekend, with 10 kicks missed from 40 yards and in (six field goals, four extra points). Missing two on Thursday night cost Josh Scobee his job in Pittsburgh, and don’t be surprised to see rookie Kyle Brindza, who missed five in the past two Bucs games, walk the plank in Tampa.

That's terrible. "Walk the plank in Tampa." Also, never stop reminding your readers every week as often as possible the new PAT rule is totally working.

I think the trend has to do with the youth at the position—12 of 32 teams are using kickers in their first years with their teams—and the mental game the longer PAT has forced kickers to deal with.

Maybe there is a mental game with the longer PAT, but a 33-yard attempt isn't exactly tough for an NFL kicker to hit.

Joe Philbin’s got to go. One of the nicest coaches I’ve ever met, with a team that’s killing him. Count the ways: Outscored 37-3 in first quarters this year, a defensive front making a jillion dollars with one measly sack in four games, a quarterback playing tentatively, and losses by a combined 40 the past eight days to the two division teams—the Bills and Jets—their owner was counting on Miami to have vaulted past. 

It's almost like giving franchise QB money to a defensive tackle wasn't the best idea or something. Maybe Tannehill needs another upgrade on the offensive line, because the Dolphins have done what they could go surround him with offensive weapons at tight end and wide receiver.

The Eagles have (crash-) landed. Chip Kelly overestimated a few things and/or people: Sam Bradford’s ability to resume his career at a high level after two bad knee injuries,

(Bengoodfella sadly looks at himself in the mirror for choosing the Eagles in the Super Bowl).

Yet another brilliant personnel move by Jeff Fisher. The Rams know what they are doing. Watch out Los Angeles, you are getting a team on the rise!

the ability of ex-Seahawk Byron Maxwell to be a shutdown cornerback for $10.5 million a year.

Spending a lot of money in free agency is just dumb in general. It's how guys get overpaid. I get the urge to spend, but spending a lot of money in free agency just doesn't seem like a smart way to build a winning team.

Pretty weird to see Peyton Manning rated 25th in the league, with six touchdowns and five interceptions. His arm’s not what it was even last October. But the Broncos are 4-0, and Manning finds a way to throw enough completions. He’ll be favored, incredibly, to enter November 6-0 with the Raiders, Browns and the bye coming the rest of this month. 

That defense is pretty good though, which helps. How funny would it be if the Broncos won the Super Bowl in a year where Manning isn't close to being his dominant self?

Adrian Peterson, at 30, looks like Adrian Peterson, at 23. See him burst through the stout Denver front and sprint for an uncontested TD Sunday? His 372 rushing yards lead the league. This is a bit of a surprise: He’s won only two rushing titles, in 2008 and 2012, in seven full seasons. My guess is Peterson is pretty well aware of that, and wants to make it about seven before he retires.

Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that Peterson "admitted" he didn't feel like he felt when he was younger? Things change quickly.

Deflategate is out of sight, out of mind, sort of … except the league will continue to press its case to suspend Tom Brady for four games, only this time the case will be heard in 2016. The logical sentiment is to say, “Drop it.” Goodell and the league won’t do it, because so many teams around the league think Brady did something. But the league hasn’t proven its case. And stretching the battle into 2016 is not going to find the league more answers. 

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait...Peter writes "stretching the battle into 2016 is not going to find the league more answers"? This is something he truly believes? At the beginning of this NFL season, Peter's suggestion to Roger Goodell and the NFL was to let Brady play this entire 2015 season, measure the inflation of each ball during games to get the average deflation in cold weather and then rule on Brady's playing status for the 2016 season based on these results.

Peter King believed the resolution to the Patriots deflating footballs was to stretch the battle into 2016. That WAS his solution. Now, he believes the NFL hasn't proven it's case and should just end the fight now. How can Peter write the NFL shouldn't stretch the battle into 2016 when he thought the NFL SHOULD stretch the battle into 2016 in order to properly resolve whether Tom Brady should be suspended for four games or not?

Four most surprising teams (good):

1. Atlanta (4-0). A year and a half ago, no one in Atlanta had heard of Devonta Freeman and Dan Quinn. Times change.

False. People knew who Dan Quinn was because he was the defensive coordinator for one of the greatest defenses in NFL history that just won a Super Bowl. But yeah, go ahead and re-write history in order to further your own short terms narratives. Whatever works for you.

4. New England (3-0). Not because they’re here and they’re good … but because they’re hammering teams as they did in 2007, and Tom Brady is quarterbacking like he did in 2007. 

But again, Peter is not comparing the 2015 Patriots to the 2007 Patriots because it's way too early to do something silly like that. Peter doesn't want to compare the two teams, but he's going to go ahead and do it.

• Four most disappointing teams:

2. Kansas City (1-3). In the last three games, the Chiefs are surrendering 35 points a game.

4. Miami (1-3). Here because of apparent utter hopelessness.

I guess this depends on your definition of "disappointing." Alex Smith is great managing a game (I know, that's mean to say and I shouldn't say it), while I didn't expect the Dolphins to do too much this year.

Now we know why Gurley went 10th

I'm not smart at all, but I knew why already. He's a stud. You know what I'm going to say about the Rams. Team on the rise! Give Jeff Fisher that contract extension and it's all downhill from there. I mean, uphill, it's all uphill. Wait, if it is "downhill" then that means things are bad, right? But going "uphill" means things are more difficult. Now I'm confused. Just give Jeff Fisher a contract extension.

“I got one game ball!” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said in the Rams’ locker room. “Where’s 30? Thirty! Come up!”

Fisher handed Gurley, No. 30, the football.

“This is just the beginning,” Fisher said.


(The Rams pack up their bags and leave for Los Angeles)

Afterward, what everyone was marveling about was the eight yards Gurley didn’t gain...

Gurley took a handoff from Nick Foles and darted left, through some traffic around left end and down the field. He didn’t need an escort. He broke into the clear past some exhausted but pursuing Cardinals, and as he galloped down the left sideline—looking so much like the man he was compared to a hundred times pre-draft, Peterson—teammate Tavon Austin started waving him downfield toward his first NFL touchdown. A Cardinal safety, Tony Jefferson, was all that stood between him and the touchdown.

Then Gurley slowed a bit. He didn’t appear hurt, but maybe he tweaked something as he slowed some more and lowered himself to the ground inside the 10, falling at the 8-yard line.

Did he die? Did he have a heart attack? Had I never watched a game of football in my life, these might be questions I would ponder. Alas, the answer is more obvious than Peter thinks.

He wasn’t hurt. 


Before the play, Gurley knew Arizona had no timeouts left, and he knew if he could get the first down and kill some clock, the Rams would be able to run the clock out without Arizona touching the ball again. If he scored with 65 seconds to play, what would happen if the Rams missed the extra point? They’d have an eight-point lead, and would be kicking to one of the most explosive offenses in football. Lying down inside the 10? A no-brainer.

Apparently it wasn't a no-brainer, because Peter just got done writing some dramatics surrounding exactly why Gurley hit the ground inside the 10-yard line. It's a no-brainer, but Peter wants to be a drama queen and act like Gurley was hurt when he hit the ground.

Gurley shouldn’t get a medal for that. He should get some appreciation for making the smart play in that situation.

Plus, Peter would like to drum up a little drama about Gurley allowing the Rams to run the clock out rather than scoring. It's a no-brainer and he shouldn't get a medal, but Peter extends this story out further than it should be extended and said people were marveling at Gurley for having the presence of mind to hit the ground. But really, IT'S NO BIG DEAL!

After his debut—six carries, nine yards last week—Gurley was hearing from those around the team that he’ll be fine, don’t worry, better days are ahead. He knew it. The lack of impact wasn’t a big deal to him. “Listen,” he said to one team employee, “nobody’s gonna remember my first four games. What’d Adrian Peterson do his first four games?”

Peterson, in his first four games in 2007: 76 carries, 383 yards.

Gurley’s right: No one remembers. But for the record, Gurley’s got 228 yards to get in the next two games if he wants to catch up. I doubt he's too concerned with chasing yards like that—he gave up eight, and a touchdown, that he could have had pretty easily in his coming-out party.

It's his second NFL game. Let's just take a step back. He's probably going to be great, but let's simmer down a bit based on one week's production. 

The last hurrah for Hasselbeck—unless, of course, there’s another

This is the last time this thing occurs, unless it occurs again.

Top notch writing here.

Until Sunday in Indianapolis, Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hadn’t started an NFL game since Nov. 4, 2012, when he quarterbacked Tennessee to a bit of an ignominious loss—51-20 at home to Chicago. Sunday’s start, against Jacksonville, was a little different. He was keeping the seat warm for Andrew Luck while the young phenom sat out the game with a shoulder injury that made it painful for him to throw.

Plus, the Colts were playing Jacksonville at home. So you know, that shoulder thing was pretty painful for Luck. But, I mean, if there is a game for him to miss...

That’s a span of 1,064 days between starts, if my math is correct. A local reporter actually asked Hasselbeck about whether he’d be ready to play Thursday night at Houston if needed, and told him it’d been 1,062 days between starts. When I asked him the same question Sunday night, Hasselbeck gave me the same answer: “It might be another 1,062, 1,064, whatever days, till I’m ready again. This isn’t easy.”

Yeah, Hasselbeck will be very much retired before he gets a chance to start again after a 1,064 day break between starts. 

Hasselbeck had his 40th birthday 10 days ago, and he knows he’ll have only three days to be ready if Luck’s not ready to go. “Everyone in our locker room, and everyone in the state of Indiana, hopes he’s ready to go,” Hasselbeck said. “Everyone expects him to be ready, including me. I’ll probably be playing scout team quarterback again this week.”

Hopefully he can do an impression of Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett to get the Colts defense prepared. I mean, maybe Hasselbeck can pretend to be limited in his ability to throw the football well and make a few bad passes in practice to get the Colts defense prepared.

Both are pocket guys, but Luck, certainly, can move around the backfield more at this stage of his career than Hasselbeck can.

And the comparisons between Matt Hasselbeck and Andrew Luck begin and end with "They are both white and are pocket guys." Other than those two things, they are totally separate players. So yes, considering Hasselbeck is old and Andrew Luck is young, it's not surprising Luck moves around in the pocket better. 

“It was really fun running out of the tunnel,” Matt Hasselbeck said. “I was so jacked up. I felt like William Wallace in Braveheart. I sort of lost my composure, and the first two passes I threw were waaaaay off-target.

Hopefully Matt Hasselbeck ran out of the locker room with pants on, which isn't something the real William Wallace would have done. He would have had nothing on under his kilt/whatever the fuck it is you want to call it.

And suuuuuuuuuuuure, that's why your first two passes were way off-target. Blake Bortles thought they were accurate and even wrote down in his diary that he needs to learn to throw the ball like you threw your first two passes.

The only other problem: In Seattle and Tennessee, the quarterback always entered the huddle next to the left tackle. In Indianapolis, the quarterback enters the huddle always so that he is on the side of the Colts’ sideline. “Get in the right place!” Hasselbeck was told a few times.

What? Hasselbeck was forced to play football that counts, wear pants AND he had to remember to enter the huddle from the right side of the huddle? Man, life as a backup quarterback is tougher than it sounds. You have to remember the playbook and remember which way to enter the huddle. I mean, at the same time you have to remember these things?

Questions about the league’s international zeal

… with Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president/international, after the Jets-Dolphins game at Wembley Stadium Sunday.

Peter writes about games overseas, all I read is "One of 8 home games per year taken away (preseason doesn't count and if you say it does then shame on you) from football fans in a certain city so the NFL can try to expand on the backs of American football fans."

I don't mind overseas games, but NFL fans only get 8 home games a year. It annoys me one is lost in a desperate attempt to gain more exposure for the NFL overseas. Apparently it's okay to take American football fans for granted.

The MMQB: The owners meet this week in New York. Will you announce your schedule of games for next year—and will that include a game somewhere other than London?

Waller: We aren’t ready to announce the schedule quite yet. Our current agreement with the owners expires in 2016 for international games, so we’re going to ask them this week for an extension of the current agreement through 2025. On top of that, we’ll be asking for a resolution to allow the International Committee the ability to schedule games in other countries without going back to owners for approval.

At some point with the obvious goal being that the Jacksonville Jaguars will play in London, but fans in Jacksonville will be paying for season tickets to see the Jags play, except they never actually get to see them play. The NFL isn't a monster, they won't force Jags fans to pay for preseason games of course. Otherwise, the goal is for fans in the United States to pay for season tickets in order to see an NFL team play that plays their home games in a different country. 

The MMQB: Germany, Mexico and Brazil, among other countries, have been mentioned. Any decisions?

Waller: Those are all good candidates. We have visited those places. Germany is helped by the infrastructure from the World Cup [Germany hosted in 2006], and Brazil is helped by the too. Brazil also has excellent facilities with the Olympics being there [in 2016]. Both of those places have world-class stadiums. There is probably a little more work to be done at Azteca Stadium [in Mexico City], which needs some work done on locker rooms and other facilities. The level of interest [outside of England] is exceptionally high.

The interest is high for a couple of games a year. Is the interest outside of England exceptionally high to see ten games that one team plays? Is the interest high enough for fans in other countries to pay for merchandise for that team and support that team when it's a shitty team? 

The MMQB: People around the league I speak to seem really hesitant about putting a franchise in London for a lot of the logistical reasons you’d expect. What’s your gut feeling about the future in Europe—a team or teams there, or a series of games every year?

Waller: I think the nervousness about putting a team there is that you can’t really test it out first—you’ve just got to do it, and then you make it work. Our appeal as a league is that all 32 teams can win. All 32 teams, every year, have a chance.

(Cleveland Browns fans stare down and kick at the dirt for a few seconds and then look up sadly, saying, "Do we have a chance every year? Has this been proven for us?")

When we first put regular-season games here, there was a lot of skepticism about whether this was sustainable. But now [including this year, 13 of 14 Wembley games have been sellouts], whether we put a team in the U.K. is now a legitimate conversation and not the pipe dream it was in 2007.

Yeah, it's your pipe dream. I don't care if there is an NFL team in another city in the United States ever again, much less would I care if the NFL had an international team. This is the NFL's dream, I'm betting not the dream of fans. 

Intriguing Team of the Week

Smart teams survey their situation every week and understand that their roster is a living being. Take the Ravens over the weekend. Baltimore was given life by the Steelers (and Josh Scobee) Thursday night, and the Ravens, even with the lowly mark of 1-3 at the one-quarter mark of the season, know they’re very much alive in a flawed AFC.

This is unlike NFL, which is totally flawless. Naturally. Of course. Sometimes I think Peter just writes words and doesn't think about what he's writing. 

One problem: Baltimore’s group of receivers is decimated, even after the trade of a seventh-round pick in 2018 Saturday for St. Louis wideout Chris Givens.

What? Chris Givens wasn't the cure-all for the Ravens receiving woes? He probably isn't going to thrive now that he's not with the Rams anymore. That Jeff Fisher sure knows how to get the best out of his players. Look at what type of player Tood Gurley has become. 

the Ravens might have to use some of their draft capital—or maybe even a relatively superfluous good player—to get another receiver before the Nov. 3 trading deadline. In fact, much sooner than that, probably. It’s not that GM Ozzie Newsome would be in panic mode. It’s more like realism mode.

And the difference in "panic mode" and "realism mode" is your perspective. Trading draft picks for players in the middle of the season is realistic, but it's also a bit of a panic move knowing that Joe Flacco has to have some receivers to throw to. Panic and realism can go hand-in-hand, depending on how the person doing the writing wants to portray it. 

Four reasons why I would not be remotely surprised if the Ravens’ weekend trade is not their last deal for a receiver this month:

1. Because they don't have very many good receivers healthy.

2. They don't have healthy wide receivers.

3. Joe Flacco has to throw the ball to someone.

4. The Ravens lack healthy wide receivers with NFL experience.

1. Baltimore’s not afraid. The Ravens have made nine player trades in the past 29 months, including the deal for starting tackle Eugene Monroe two years ago this weekend. If they’ve got a hole, the way they still do at wide receiver, they usually try to fill it, even during the season.

Baltimore is afraid. They are afraid they don't have experienced NFL wide receivers on the roster. It's not about being afraid or not being afraid. The Ravens need to find experienced wide receivers right now. It's either find some veterans that aren't currently employed (and probably for good reason) or make a trade. 

4. Look at Baltimore’s draft depth they can deal from in 2016. The Ravens, if compensatory pick projections are correct, have four fourth-round picks in the 2016 draft.

And when have compensatory pick projections ever been wrong? 

Four of those should be Compensatory Picks for lost unrestricted free agents—in the fourth, fourth and fifth rounds, and one other undisclosed round depending on the performance of quarterback Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo. (The other fourth-rounder came in a package from Denver in exchange for center Gino Gradkowski in the off-season.)

Of those four picks, only two of them can be traded. And really, the problem isn't having draft picks to go trade for a receiver, but to find a quality receiver whose team is willing to trade him. It doesn't happen too often, even if the Ravens are dangling a fourth round pick in return. 

So what does Baltimore do? Look for a forward-thinking GM with receiver depth, or in selling mode. Chicago GM Ryan Pace, with wideout Eddie Royal. Seattle GM John Schneider, with Ricardo Lockette. Washington GM Scot McCloughan, with Andre Roberts (a surprise inactive Sunday because of two recent drops).

Here is another issue I'm not sure that Peter has thought of. Would the Ravens really trade a fourth round pick for any of these three receivers? I would think not, but I could be wrong. Maybe they could finagle a trade that involves a fourth round pick, but I wouldn't give a fourth round pick for any of these receivers, even if I expected to get other compensatory picks in the fourth round.

“No. Not at all. I’m worried about getting this team straightened out, fixed.”

—Miami coach Joe Philbin, asked if he was concerned about getting fired in the bye week after his team started 1-3.

Joe Philbin wasn't worried because he knew he was being fired and he's still getting paid for not coaching the Dolphins. It's not like he can't find a coordinator position somewhere. 

“We give you scholarships, we give you stipends and meals and a place to live! We give you nice uniforms! I can’t give you guts, and I can’t give you heart! Tonight, it was BYOG! Bring your own guts, and they brought some guts and some heart!”

—Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney, in a barely audible-above-the-din ESPN on-field interview after Clemson 24, Notre Dame 22.

I pretty much hate how Dabo says "we give you scholarships, we give you stipends and meals and a place to live." Actually these players EARNED the scholarships and the value of the stipends, meals and place to live pales in comparison to the amount of income the school makes on the back of these players. So go fuck yourself, Dabo Sweeney. Don't act like the players are all charity cases and the school is doing them the favor. 


Todd Gurley, running back, St. Louis. After Gurley’s inauspicious debut last week, coach Jeff Fisher said that trained eyes could see he was close to breaking some of his runs. Fisher evidently knew what he was talking about.

Yes, Fisher clearly knew what he was talking about when he said the #10 pick in the draft at a position that doesn't have a big learning curve was a good football player. Just another brilliant move by Fisher. Yes, "trained eyes" could see Gurley was close to breaking some runs. Those trained eyes that saw him play in college, knew Gurley was coming off major knee surgery and had only appeared in one NFL game so far. 

He ran 19 times for 146 yards, and did the smart thing on the final insurance drive, going to the ground instead of running into the end zone. Gurley knew the Cardinals wouldn’t get to touch the ball again if he played it that way.

But again, this was a no-brainer play that doesn't deserve a medal. Naturally, Peter brings it up again and awards Gurley "Offensive Player of the Week" partly because of this play. 

For one day at least, it looks like a brilliant pick.

Which could be said about any number of NFL players. Todd Gurley was the best player in this draft for my money, so his success will be no shock to me. Of course, anything good a Rams draft pick does is going to be excessively drooled over by Peter. Gurley is a stud, no doubt, but Peter is also going to remind us of Gurley's skills as often as possible. He does this due to his connections to the Rams organization. 


T.J. Ward, strong safety, Denver. A great pass rush needs not just a speedy front seven but also the ability of players in the secondary to make the occasional impactful blitz. That’s one of the reasons GM John Elway imported Ward from Cleveland a year and a half ago, and it really showed at the key moment of Sunday’s 23-20 survival test at home against Minnesota.

Regarding my comments about free agency earlier in this post, it's not true for every single defender. There can be quality found. Still, Ward didn't sign a huge contract with the Broncos (4 years $23 million), so I wouldn't really count him as a big free agent signing. He's just a really good free agent signing. 


Cairo Santos, kicker, Kansas City.

Justin Tucker, kicker, Baltimore. Tucker scored the last nine points of a game the Ravens needed desperately, and he did it in a stadium that is notoriously rough for kickers.

Peter talks about how NFL kickers are struggling this year and then names two kickers as his "Special Teams Players of the Week."

Peter even put a fine point on it in this MMQB about how bad the field goal kicking has been in the NFL this year. Except, as Bill Barnwell shows, this isn't exactly true. When faced with this evidence, Peter just ignored it and continued thinking what he wanted to think.

I guess that's settled then.

It was supposed to take Jim Harbaugh a while—or, at least longer than five games—to turn around the Michigan football fortunes.

• Michigan, 2014: 5-7. Average score: Opponents 22.4, Michigan 20.9

• Michigan, 2015: 4-1. Average score: Michigan 27.8, Opponents 7.6.

Was it supposed to take a long time for Jim Harbaugh to turn Michigan around? There was never a question of whether Jim Harbaugh could coach or not. The question is whether he can stick around in one place long enough to not irritate his players and management. 

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Atlanta has the most advantageous remaining schedule of any team in the NFL. The Falcons do not play a team with a current winning record for the next nine weeks, and only one of their remaining foes (Carolina, twice) has a winning record this morning. The Atlanta slate:

Week 5: Washington (2-2)
Week 6: at New Orleans (1-3)
Week 7: at Tennessee (1-2)
Week 8: Tampa Bay (1-3)
Week 9: at San Francisco (1-3)
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: Indianapolis (2-2)
Week 12: Minnesota (2-2)
Week 13: at Tampa Bay (1-3)
Week 14: at Carolina (4-0)
Week 15: at Jacksonville (1-3)
Week 16: Carolina (4-0).
Week 17: New Orleans (1-3)

Two things that annoy me about this, while admitting this statistic is certainly currently true.

1. These records can change drastically over the next few weeks. That Carolina 4-0 record could be 5-7 when the teams meet in Week 14. The Colts could be 7-2 when the Falcons meet them in Week 11 or the Saints could be 12-3 when the teams meet in Week 17. Records change over the year. So the schedule could be this easy or it could be more difficult than this. Maybe the Falcons from Week 11-Week 17 have to play a 7-2 Colts team, a 7-3 Vikings team, a 8-3 Panthers team and a 12-3 Saints team. Who knows?

2. Even if the Falcons have the most advantageous schedule now, even if the schedule stays this easy, this doesn't mean another NFL team doesn't end up with the most advantageous schedule over the last 13 weeks of the season.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

This will be Ross Tucker’s travel note of the week, seeing as I did not travel anywhere in the past seven days.

Of course, because the only thing more interesting than hearing about someone else's travel experience is hearing someone else talk about another person's travel experience.


Tucker is the second-most famous person from Wyomissing, Pa.

Chad Henne is pissed he's not as famous as Ross Tucker. 

The first is Taylor Swift. And the night before the football game, lo and behold, Swift was playing Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Tucker knows Taylor Swift’s father, and texted him, and they met up. Scott Swift gave Tucker and his wife tickets and backstage passes, and they met Taylor Swift before the show.

Because after the show Taylor Swift had to drink the blood of pigs, as her deal with the Devil requires her to do nightly at exactly 11:15pm. 

1. Twitter followers for the two Wyomissing natives, as of 6 p.m. Saturday:

• Taylor Swift: 64,289,150.

• Ross Tucker: 141,058.

Still plenty of time to catch up, Ross. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.

And apparently Taylor Swift, who is like 14 years old or something, is going to die soon? Or is Peter threatening Taylor Swift's life in an effort to make Ross Tucker the most famous person from Wyomissing, Pa? Peter will murder Taylor Swift, grind her body up in an oversized blender and then use the resulting liquid to make an absolutely delicious Belgian White Ale.

There is nothing explicable about Andy Benoit. Everything, including his success, has been inexplicable. I don't understand why anyone would listen to his opinions or why I should even consider his opinions. He watches a lot of tape, but I'm confused as to what makes him more qualified for his job compared to any other football writer who watches a lot of tape. I don't get it and may never get it.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 4:

a. Devonta Freeman. What burst and power.

And to think, he's not at all supposed to be a full-time running back for the Falcons. The Falcons were all like, "We will draft him in the fourth round, but don't expect him to do much for us."

b. The fight of the Rams.

Peter King is doing all he can to give Jeff Fisher credit without making it obvious he is trying very hard to give Jeff Fisher credit. Very covert of him. I'm not falling for it. The Rams can be a good team. Jeff Fisher isn't a very good coach, especially for how much he is paid compared to what he has delivered.

l. The vanquished Carson Palmer with this line on the Rams’ defense, which was formidable: “Very good front, very good defense. They do just enough to keep you on your toes every snap.”

I would present this without comment, but that's not my style. I mean, keep doing your thing Peter. No one is noticing, I'm sure. Doing "just enough" is pretty much the mantra for the entire Jeff Fisher era in St. Louis and Tennessee. Doing "just enough" to not get fired. Doing "just enough" to keep the team somewhat competitive. Doing "just enough" to make no one notice your career coaching record isn't that impressive. 

m. The Baltimore personnel department, with undrafted free agent James Hurst doing a good job—including a crushing block on Cameron Heyward on a first-half third-and-1 conversion in Pittsburgh—and 2013 fifth-rounder Ricky Wagner, the right tackle, saving a touchdown on a Steeler interception return.

Maybe the Ravens should trade one of these guys for a wide receiver...

o. Justin Forsett looking like the 2014 Justin Forsett: 27 carries, 150 yards.

But Forsett didn't make the brilliant play that was a no-brainer of lying down in the field of play so the clock keeps running and the opposing team can't get the ball back on offense, so he doesn't merit much of a mention except a sentence. Gurley falling to the ground inbounds wasn't that great of a play in the opinion of Peter King, but he'll keep talking about it anyway. 

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 4:

a. Kickers.

It's not as bad as you are making it out to be, Peter. Even if you don't want to pay attention to the reality, at least try to acknowledge reality says something you don't personally believe to be true. 

d. Ndamukong Suh. Check out when Jets running back Chris Ivory muscled through Suh at the line of scrimmage in the second quarter and ran for a gain of 17 … and watch Suh jogging after him, not sprinting.

It's almost like paying franchise quarterback money for a defensive tackle, especially when you already have a quarterback you consider to be a franchise quarterback and you have to pay him too, isn't the best of ideas. 

i. There’s a reason Caleb Sturgis was unemployed. In his first game as an Eagle, Sturgis hooked a 33-yard field goal wide left as the clock ran out in the first half, Philly trailing 13-0. Thirty-three yards. That’s the distance of an extra point now.


o. I guess “Tyrod Taylor: A Football Life” is on hold by NFL Network.

Yes Peter, let's mock people for getting all excited about a player after he had a few good games. That would be a perfect thing to do if you had absolutely zero self-awareness isn't it? 

p. Trying to read Bill O’Brien’s mind. My best guess would be: “Perhaps I made a mistake, yanking Hoyer five games too soon.”

q. I mean, Brian Hoyer’s warming up and it’s 35-0 Atlanta, and O’Brien keeps Ryan Mallett in for the next series.

It's like being around Tom Brady made it seem like Bill O'Brien was more ready to be a head coach than he really was. That could never happen though, could it Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, and Eric Mangini? 

4. I think I love the three 9:30 a.m. ET starts this year. The next two London games are at that time—Buffalo-Jacksonville Oct. 25 (live-streamed around the world in all but the home markets), and Detroit-Kansas City Nov. 1. It’s like a free game to watch. But you know what I loved? That 11:35 p.m. ET San Diego-Oakland game a couple of years ago, giving the West Coast a real prime time game—and giving the nocturnal fans on the East Coast one last bite of the apple before Monday morning. It’s not likely to ever return, though, because the national ratings for the game aren’t as good late at night as they would be at other times of the day.

That's a great idea, Peter. Those late games that NFL fans weren't able/didn't choose to watch, the NFL should do more of those games for a specific subset of people. Sure, the East Coast can normally watch these 11:35pm games if they wanted to at an earlier time of the day, but what's the fun in that? 

5. I think, for $114 million, Ndamukong Suh could make more of an effort to help the Dolphins get out of the rut, both on an off the field. On the field: According to Pro Football Focus, he’s been on the field for 129 passing downs, and gotten zero sacks and one quarterback hit in four games.

Pretty soon I'm going to start researching to see if Ndamukong Suh ever did anything to hurt Greg Schiano's career advancement. I mean, Peter has reason to criticize Suh, but it's getting ridiculous. Is Suh the new Josh Freeman? 

7. I think this is what I hear from a longtime NFL scout who has been to Columbus, Ohio, in the first month of the college football season: “Depending on who comes out, they could have eight first-round draft picks. I honestly believe that could be the most talented college team I have ever scouted.” Maybe not if the guy watched Ohio State 34, Indiana 27 on Saturday.

Because this Ohio State team would be the first college team to underachieve with a massive amount of NFL talent on the roster. For example, how did the 2012 Clemson Tigers lose two games when they had a roster of:

Stephone Anthony
Vic Beasley
Taj Boyd
Bashaud Breeland
Martavis Bryant
Chandler Catanzaro
Corey Crawford
Andre Ellington
Dalton Freeman
DeAndre Hopkins
Grady Jarrett
Garry Peters
Brandon Thomas
Sammy Watkins

That doesn't include the 2011 Tigers team that also had Dwayne Allen on it and lost four games. Sometimes talent doesn't mean a team goes perfect or looks great every week. They are college students.

8. I think Mike Mayock made a great point to Rich Eisen the other day about the reaction of the NFL if, say, LSU back Leonard Fournette skipped a year of college football so as not to get hurt before his NFL career began. That’s a thought making the media rounds—that Fournette, not eligible for the draft until 2017, is so good he shouldn’t risk injury in 2016, and simply spend the year training to be an NFL player in ’17. Said Mayock: “I feel very, very, very strongly that for every Leonard Fournette who may be ready, there’s 100 kids who think they’re ready and they’re not. Most [19-year-olds] … are not men yet—physically, emotionally, psychologically.”

It's a great point in theory, but these same kids don't have to wait for Leonard Fournette to take a year off in order to choose to take a year off themselves. Regardless of what Fournette does, these kids who think they are ready and aren't could still take a year off and get ready for the NFL. It's not like they have to wait for Fournette to do it. I think Myles Jack proves this point perfectly. No one had a clue he would declare for the NFL Draft before he did.

10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:

Then Peter has four thoughts about gun violence, all under different letters in the alphabet in his outline. I really think these thoughts should all be under one letter in his outline, since they are all a part of one line of thought.

f. When I tweeted about this the other night, I got hit with a swarm of, “Give us a plan, genius. What’s your suggestion to stop all the shootings?” I don’t have a plan. It’s not my bailiwick. It’s like this: There’s global warming, and it’s not my field, but I sure want the leaders of the world to do something about it.

And congrats again to the Pope for giving his opinion on things that matter which Peter agrees with and Peter will ignore the Pope's opinion on things that Peter doesn't agree with. 

With the gun violence, it seems like we should make it harder for sick people to get guns; the man who killed in Oregon, Christopher Harper-Mercer, had six guns with him when he laid siege to Umpqua Community College, and seven more were found in his home. Are we as a society fine with that? I know I’m not.

I'm fine with him having 13 guns in his house. I am not fine with him being a crazy person who used those guns to kill people. Therein lies the problem. Who is crazy and who is not crazy? I think the test to determine who can own guns and who can't should be based on who owns music by Maroon 5 and Florida-Georgia Line. That's just me. 

k. Max Scherzer. Wow is about all you can say. Nine innings, no hits, no walks, 17 strikeouts. Two no-nos in one year. And look at his totals in those two games: 18 innings, no hits, no walks, 27 strikeouts. No walks. Two perfect games spoiled by a very, very shaky hit-by-pitch against Pittsburgh and a throwing error on a routine grounder by third baseman Yunel Escobar.

If you are keeping count, which I am, that's three straight Paper World Series titles for the Nationals and two Paper Perfect Games for Max Scherzer this year. The Paper hardware this Nationals team has is ridiculous. 

m. I’m really old. But what can I say? Baseball and football are the two games I grew up with, and when each is finished for the year, I know how much I’ll miss them.

You don't have to be old to miss these things, Peter. Everything doesn't revolve around you and your age. You can be young and miss baseball. Also, baseball isn't done. If you were such a big fan of the sport then perhaps you would enjoy the postseason baseball has. I mean, that is where history tends to be made. 

o. Said it last week, so I’ll use just one sentence for emphasis: The fact that the teams with the second-best and third-best records in baseball—the Pirates (98-64) and the Chicago Cubs (97-65)—are meeting in a sudden-death wild-card playoff game this week instead of a real series is just stupid, and blatantly unfair to two of the three best teams in baseball.

I'll say it again, at no other point in the history of MLB would these two teams even have a chance to meet for even a one game Wild Card playoff. So it can be unfair, but prior to the second Wild Card coming along, the Cubs would have been out of the playoffs entirely. So baseball has always been unfair in this way and I have no idea what Peter is bitching about. In 1993, a 103 win San Francisco team missed the playoffs entirely. A big fan of baseball like Peter might remember this.

u. Coffeenerdness: You know you’ve lived in your Manhattan neighborhood for a long time (four years this month for us)

Peter mentions how long he has lived in Manhattan almost as often as he mentions that he runs in Central Park. If I wasn't reminded weekly, then I might have a chance to forget. 

and frequented the same Starbucks for a long time when you walk in on a Saturday morning, as I did two days ago, and there’s a long line, and you just wait to get to the head of the line and there, the  barista/register person says, “Here you go, Peter—your drink,” and scans my phone for payment. Never even had to order it! Thanks for the great service, people.

Peter loves it when people cater to him. That's great service, you know. When you make Peter King feel as special as Peter believes he should feel, you have done something right. Kudos, Starbucks. You know Peter is special and finally someone acknowledges it through actions.

v. Beernerdness: For a beer note this week, instead of picking a beer to highlight, I’ll pick a Boston Globe story to illustrate how difficult it is becoming to actually pick a beer to drink. I mean, it’s amazing that craft beer is only 8 percent of the United States beer market. Seems like it's 28 percent.

It is shocking that those things which Peter enjoys aren't also enjoyed by the rest of the population. Peter King thought his interests were representative of the United States population as a whole, but he was shockingly wrong. Who knew that just because Peter likes craft beer, everyone else doesn't like craft beer too?

It's amazing that people with less expendable income than Peter would choose to drink beer that costs 40-50% less than craft beer costs. This is your weekly reminder that Peter is not in touch with what the rest of the United States thinks. I like craft beer too, but I recognize it's fucking expensive and just because I choose to spend $15.99 on a 12 pack of beer doesn't mean I am representative of 28% of the United States population.

x. I guess the moral of the story in Athens, Ga., on Saturday was this: It’s probably never a good idea to make Alabama the underdog.

(Insert joke about Georgia football as it relates to the Crimson Tide being underdogs and the Georgia mascot being a bulldog in here) 

The Adieu Haiku

Kickers. Tough life. But
Steeler fans say to Scobee:

Yeah dude, you had one job. Much like the one job Peter has in MMQB about reporting on NFL news accurately using the sources he has built up through his 25 year career. Yet somehow, on two of the two biggest non-directly football-related stories over the past year, Peter's sources have lied to him twice. Dude, you had one job. Make sure your sources tell you the truth so you can disseminate accurate information.