Thursday, December 18, 2014

1 comments Bill Simmons Still Doing Friday Mailbags; Still Requiring Reader Participation to Churn a Column Out

I used to complain that Bill Simmons did too many mailbags that were lazy excuses for not writing a column. It's gotten to the point now that Bill's mailbags ARE his columns. Bill's Friday NFL picks column is pretty just a mailbag with some YouTube clips thrown in there. Take a look at Bill's column archives. The number of mailbags in there is endless. That's the current state of Bill's writing. Maybe when he goes to work for another company then he will be more inspired to write. Probably not. Not when he has readers voracious to appear in his mailbag and crave his acceptance. Why go out of his comfort zone when coasting gets the job done and ensures the happiness of Bill's readers? As usual, I will be making fun of some of Bill's readers too because I'm just mean like that, and most likely, they don't exist anyway. Not that Bill would make up questions of course.

We split Friday’s column into two parts. If you missed my piece about Chainsaw Dan Snyder and the Deadskins, click here. Here are the Week 15 picks.

And yes, after complaining that Bill didn't write columns, I will acknowledge he did write a column on Daniel Snyder. He included five comments from readers that he basically bounced the entire column off of, so I'm not quite giving him credit for that yet. He still can't seem to put out a column where his readers don't contribute in some way.

RAMS (-5.5) over Cards
 

I stand by this now-ridiculous pick. The Cards scored 12 points and played Ryan Lindley for 30 percent of the game — what more could you want? Way to kick a field goal down nine on fourth-and-goal from the 2 with six minutes left, Jeff Fisher. No wonder you haven’t won a playoff game in 11 years.

Well, he is Jeff "8-8" Fisher. I'm glad others are noticing that Fisher might be a little bit overrated as a coach, though it does not make me happy that person noticing is Bill Simmons. I'm sure Simmons will write an entire column about Fisher and claim to be the first person who noticed just how average to mediocre Fisher has been for the last decade or so. At that point, my blood will boil and I will die.

Anyway, the Cards have scored 64 points total in their last five games, so Vegas is currently insulting them with 20-to-1 Super Bowl odds. Repeat: An 11-3 team has 20-1 Super Bowl odds. That’s the best “Nobody Believes In Us” factoid in a couple of years. Remember, the Cardinals ARE undefeated at home. And they ARE a Week 16 home victory over Seattle and a Week 17 road victory over the floundering 49ers away from NEVER LEAVING ARIZONA FOR THE ENTIRE PLAYOFFS. So why wouldn’t you throw down $100 on the Cards at 20-to-1?

Bill Simmons, gambling savant who isn't a gambling savant, yet pretends like he knows something about gambling few else know.

Q: WE WANT FAVRE! WE WANT FAVRE! WE WANT FAVRE! WE WANT FAVRE! Why not go for it if your Arizona GM Steve Keim? You know you aren’t getting anywhere in the playoffs with a hobbled Drew Stanton or Ryan Lindley. Hopeful President Elect Bruce Arians needs to show his power if he wants the Democratic nomination come 2016. Bring back Favre. Call up Ed Werder right now.
 

—Jackson, Glendale, AZ

BS: Oh wait, THAT is why the Cards are 20-1. Because I read that email and thought, He’s right, they should totally sign Brett Favre.

Nope, that's a sign you are being an idiot.

Q: The final act of your “4th & God” movie is ready to be written! (And you know Roger Goodell would LOVE for ESPN to focus on the wholesome Tim Tebow and not anything else from the past 12 months). Tim Tebow, out of football and humbled by taking a TV job gets the call from Kurt Warner (the original inspiration for the don’t bet against God & Puppies theory) to tell him to do the job he couldn’t finish. That’s right, take the playoff bound Arizona Cardinals to a Super Bowl Victory. This is the chills moment of the movie!
 

—Ron Wade, Plymouth Township

I really feel bad for people who write into Bill and want to interact with him or share their super-original thoughts with him. It makes me feel bad for them craving his acceptance and idolizing him so much.

Q: Do you think JJ Watt ever does that cat interview? Yeah, better bring that Thunderdome line up against Gronk. Watt -5000.  

—Justin, Houston

BS: (Belichick voice.) We’re on to Miami.

Bill has five questions where he answers them "We're on to Miami." Five questions and they aren't short either. The man is just killing space in this column.

Q: What’s the over/under for number of kittens Gronk accidentally murdered Lenny-style during that espnmag photohoot? My friends and I guessed anywhere from 7 to “so many that they ran out and had to photoshop some in,” but we’d love your input, too.
 

—Cara, Weymouth, MA

BS: (Belichick voice.) We’re on to Miami.

See, it gets funnier every time!

Q: Have you noticed that Ryan Tannehill and Alex Smith are essentially the same player? If you watched the Dolphins-Ravens game, you saw one of the worst secondaries in the NFL completely unafraid that Ryan Tannehill could beat them downfield and jumping every short and intermediate passing route. Remind you of anyone? I can’t wait for the Dolphins to lock Tannehill up for the next 10 years so we can waste away in mediocrity. 19th pick in the draft, here we come!
 

—Justin, Miami

Have you noticed this isn't a very good comparison? Alex Smith's career record for passing yards in a season is 3,313 yards, while Tannehill has more than that in two of his first three seasons, only missing by 19 yards during his rookie season from tying Smith's career high. Tannehill has 22 TD passes this year (24 last year) and Smith has passed 20 TD's just once in his career. But in truth, yards per completion and yards per pass attempt show that Tannehill dinks and dunks the ball around the field. I don't know though, I don't see the Alex Smith comparison. It seems like Tannehill is much better at dinking and dunking, maybe it's because he throws the ball more so his numbers are better than Smith's. Of course, Smith has Jamaal Charles and a decent offensive line, while Ryan Tannehill does not have Jamaal Charles and hasn't had very good offensive lines. It's hard to throw the ball downfield when you don't have time to throw the ball downfield.

So I reject Tannehill as Alex Smith, due to Tannehill not having the same offensive line and running game that Smith has.

Steelers (-2) over FALCONS
 

Everything you need to know about the pass-friendly rules in 2014: This is Ben Roethlisberger’s 11th NFL season. He’s 32 years old. He has thrown for 4,000 yards only four times, and he has topped 30 touchdown passes only once. He’s never come within 670 yards of a 5,000-yard season, and he’s never thrown 33 TD passes. This season, he’s on pace to come within a hair of 5,000 yards and throw 36 TDs … and that’s without including this Sunday’s “I’m playing Atlanta’s atrocious defense!!!” bump.

While Bill has a point here about pass-friendly rules, it also helps that Roethlisberger has his best pass-catching running back and maybe his best receiver on the same team at the same time. Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell are on pace to put up about 2,600 yards between them. Throw in the reliable Heath Miller and the investment in Wheaton and Bryant, then you can see why Roethlisberger has become more successful throwing the football this year. Bill has a point, but Roethlisberger's yardage isn't chalked up entirely to the pass-friendly rules.

Q: Aren’t you intrigued by the potential of a Mike Smith-Jim Caldwell rematch in Round One?

BS: If Smith-Caldwell happens, Jalen and I might have to do a special Grantland Live postgame studio show on the Grantland Network just to rehash what happened.

That's just a brief, ever-not-subtle plug for Grantland Network and "Grantland Live" from Bill Simmons. He has to pimp Grantland's other material in his column in some fashion. Synergy is important, especially when given the chance to use his readers as a way to spin off other Grantland products.

Jalen, were you surprised when you kicked a field goal down four with three seconds left?

Sadly, many sad and lonely people would listen to this "Grantland Live" to hear Jalen Rose and Bill Simmons discuss this topic.

Deadskins (+7) over GIANTS Raiders (+10) over CHIEFS Bucs (+3.5) over PANTHERS
Not even Cam Newton’s Ewing Theory potential can get me excited about any of these three games.

Well, then definitely ignore them. I know these games don't have the drama that a Patriots-Dolphins matchup has. That's some super-intriguing football right there.

Q: You called this year’s Chiefs the worst WR crew of this century. Don’t the 2009 Browns hold that title? Leading WR: Mohamed Massaquoi: 34 rec, 624 yards, 3 TDs. Second WR: Chansi Stuckey: 19 rec, 198 yards, 1 TD. It only gets worse. Check it out.
 

—Matt G., Cleveland BS: And they had Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson throwing it to them!

Hey, watch the Derek Anderson comments. He's 2-0 this year. The best part is Brady Quinn called the Bucs-Panthers game on Sunday and I couldn't help but think of that 2009 Browns team. I would bet that Brady Quinn was sitting in the broadcast booth just thinking about how if Derek Anderson can be a backup quarterback that maybe he himself should give a comeback a try.

Yet another reason I am rooting for Johnny Football to work out. Come on, Johnny! The world is more fun when you‘re playing football well. It’s just a fact. My Not-Quite-An-Upset Special: Browns 30, Bengals 10.

Or not.

Texans (+7) over COLTS
And here’s your legitimate Upset Special: Texans 30, Colts 24, J.J. Watt MVP Campaign +1.

This is the legitimate Upset Special, not to be confused with the Not-Quite-An-Upset Special of course. Either way, neither one worked out. By the way, Bill was 75-75-1 going into this week. So he basically would have been better off simply not making picks or throwing darts at a dartboard, yet he constantly pushes his "gambling theories" on readers based on rules he made up that only pertain to this specific NFL season.

Q: You missed the mark in your Week 15 column. An action flick starring JJ Watt has to be called Mega Watt. Seriously, ESPN pays you for this?
 

—RK, Washington DC

BS: I didn’t miss the mark! Hollywood never comes up with the right title for an action movie; it’s always 30 percent off and it never totally achieves its potential. Mega Watt was the obvious pick. But Hollywood would have screwed it up and gone with Power Wattage. Here, I’ll let Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal explain in this recently hacked email exchange.

After reading this fake exchange between Rudin and Pascal, I can't imagine why Bill Simmons didn't stick around on Jimmy Kimmel's show as one of his writers. I mean, this is just some hilarious shit.

RUDIN: Did you read the Simmons column? I liked his idea for the J.J. Watt action movie.
PASCAL: I don’t know who Simmons is. Gene Simmons?
RUDIN: Bill Simmons? You’re seriously a studio executive and you don’t read Grantland?

The "seriously" should be behind the word "you" not "You're" me thinks.

Yes, the guy whose grammar and sentence structure is a partial birth abortion of the English language just corrected someone's grammar and sentence structure. Let's not focus on my issues, but instead on Bill's mistakes.

PASCAL: Don’t talk to me that way!

RUDIN: Next time you send me an email with an exclamation point, I will ram it down your throat.
PASCAL: Don’t you fucking threaten me!

RUDIN: You are the dumbest person in Hollywood! YOU COULDN’T MAKE A CUP OF COFFEE!!!
PASCAL: Why r u punishing me?

Are you entertained by this? Great. That's the sum total of Bill's little skit. I'm still waiting for the punchline. Of course, knowing Bill this whole skit is probably just some inside Hollywood talk that is intended for him and about 10 other people who read his columns. Bill would swing his dick around like that and make an inside joke in his column read by thousands, when only 10 people would get the joke. I can't imagine why he's still not writing punchlines for Kimmel.

Q: A useful tiebreaker for an MVP vote with no runaway candidate: who would we want to get the inevitable invitation to host SNL after the season?

Two things:

1. This is a dumb idea. Or as Bill would write it, this is "legitimately" a dumb idea. Which of course means that Bill is going to love this idea.

2. The "inevitable" invitation to host "SNL"? Here is a list of NFL MVP's. How many have hosted "SNL" again? There is Eli and Peyton and then...ummm...there is Tom Brady. So yeah, "it's an inevitable invitation" that only a few MVP's have received.

Is there anyone you’d rather see than J.J. Watt or Aaron Rodgers?

Steve Smith. I think he would be fun. Rob Gronkowski.

BS: I love this wrinkle.

Of course you do. It's an idea where a sports award will be chosen based on that player's ability to be a part of pop culture. It's a mix of everything ridiculous and inane about Bill's ideas.

Every year, the NFL MVP has to be a REALISTIC choice to host SNL right after the Super Bowl. (That means we’re down to a three-team race: Watt, Rodgers and Gronk.)

I guess Tom Brady isn't in the MVP race then. After all, he has already hosted "SNL" so he wouldn't be a logical choice.

BILLS (+6) over Packers
 

It’s too much of an Aaron Rodgers love-fest right now. Even Grantland’s Robert Mays, a die-hard Bears fan, did everything short of reenacting Scotty J.’s “Can I kiss you on the mouth?” scene from Boogie Nights when he discussed Rodgers in the office yesterday.

Oh, a "Boogie Nights" reference...

Isn’t he due to get banged around by an excellent defense in cold weather for four quarters, get sacked a few times, throw a tipped pick or two, maybe even fumble a shotgun snap?

Bill nailed this pick. While remembering he nailed this one, keep in mind that both of his upset specials didn't end up working out and he was .500 for the year when writing this column.

RAVENS (-14) over Jaguars

Q: Based on your criteria for LVU (“Least Valuable Unit”), shouldn’t 2014’s winner be the Ravens secondary? Keep in mind they’re solid front 7 — how good would this team be with an average secondary, especially at the end of games? If not for their secondary, they’d be sitting at 9-3, leading the division and fighting for a bye. Instead they’re fighting to make the playoffs.

—Sam, Boulder

You mean the Ravens secondary that just put it's 5th DB on Injured Reserve this season? That LVU? How would the Broncos do if they had lost five DB's this season? How would any NFL team do if they had lost so many members of the secondary? So let's worry more about getting informed and worry less about writing "if not for their secondary..." in an effort to get in Bill's mailbag and justify your existence by writing about LVU's.

BS: I’m still backing Kansas City’s receivers. When you’re running four-yard outs in a one-minute drill situation down by three in a must-win game, you know your receivers are an out-and-out travesty. Besides, Baltimore’s secondary might not come back to haunt the Ravens until Round 2! They finish the season with Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Johnny Manziel — none of those guys is torching them. If they win the AFC North, they’re hosting a no. 5 seed or a no. 6 seed in Round 1 — that’s either Phil Rivers (trouble),

Really? No mention of the injuries to the Ravens' secondary? I think this merits a huge mention, but whatever. It's not like Bill should write a weekly NFL picks column and actually be informed about the games he is picking. Also, it's not "Phil Rivers." That's just dumb sounding.

Q: Jim Nantz just previewed next week’s Thursday night game between the Jags and Titans and Phil Simms responded with “I’m really looking forward to it.” No laughter, he seemed dead serious.

—Mike, Santa Monica

BS: That’s reason no. 547 why CBS needs to demote Simms next spring and replace him with Rex Ryan. Sports fans should be allowed to vote every year on secretly important things like “Who’s our no. 1 NFL color analyst for the three major networks?” If that CBS vote were “Rex or Simms,” I think Rex carries 96.7 percent of the vote. But major networks and local cable networks are abjectly terrified of ever demoting a lead play-by-play or color announcer.

Part of the reason networks don't do this is because of silly little things like contracts and the fact the public is fickle and would just vote out whatever announcer they just voted for the previous year. Phil Simms gets paid like the #1 color analyst for CBS. If Rex Ryan is promoted to that spot then he is going to want to be paid like the #1 color analyst for CBS. These guys don't work on year-to-year contracts, so at some point CBS would be paying 2-3 guys to be the #1 color analyst for them. That's one reason they don't do this. I would think that someone who has worked in television could understand this.

CHARGERS (+4.5) over Broncos
 

According to Mike Sando, only Brian Hoyer (nine) and Andy Dalton (nine) have thrown more picks than Peyton Manning (eight) since Week 9. Also, this feels like a cross between a Kitchen Sink Game and a Phil Rivers Doing Phil Rivers Stuff Game for the Chargers 

What's with the "Phil Rivers" thing?

… and if you’re the Broncos, do you REALLY need this game? Aren’t they locked into a no. 2 seed? 

Yes, because if there is anything that the public knows about Peyton Manning it's that he will intentionally not try hard to win a football game because he already has the no. 2 seed locked up in the AFC. Besides the fact that Bill's prediction ended up being wrong, does Bill really think the Broncos would just not try to win this game?

Q: You made a “Worst coach to appear in the Superbowl” list without Jim Caldwell? I am giving you the Jim Caldwell/Art Shell look right now.
 

—Ryan Jacobs, Nashville
BS: I had to cross him off because he’s nine games over .500 for his career (35-26). Believe me … it hurt.

You can still put him on the list if you would like. Don't let his career record stop you from doing this.

Q: I can’t believe you ran a mailbag answer looking at the worst coaches to make a Super Bowl and didn’t mention Jim Caldwell. People legitimately wondered if the Colts had installed a mannequin on the sidelines. 

One of the annoying trends that I blame Bill Simmons for is the use of "legitimate" in situations where it is not at all required. Of course, Bill's lemming readers start doing this as well. People didn't just "wonder" if the Colts installed a mannequin on the sidelines (how do you install a mannequin? Can't you just place a mannequin on the sidelines with no installation necessary?), they "legitimately wondered" if the Colts installed a mannequin. If you know the difference, then you are a much smarter person than me.

BS: Looks like the perfect time to break out Week 15’s Shakey’s Pizza Watch:...RG3 unexpectedly turning into the MGMT of football (great debut album, and then the wheels came off);

This is a forced reference, and much like a joke that needs to be explained, if Bill has to explain the reference then it's not a good reference. The point of saying RG3 is "the MGMT of football" is to avoid saying "RG3 had a great debut but then the wheels came off." Naturally, Bill uses the reference and then explains it. It's legitimately counterproductive to use the reference and then explain it, as well as legitimately ruins the purpose of using the reference in the first place.

Goodell’s now-documented performance during the Rice appeal hearing; the fact that we have to carefully write headlines like “Transcript shows inconsistencies in Goodell’s testimony on Rice matter.”

When Bill leaves ESPN, the first thing he publishes is his column about Roger Goodell. I know it's written already, he just has to publish it.

SEAHAWKS (-10) over 49ers
 

They can’t make that Seahawks line high enough. Kaepernick is a broken man — even Mischa Barton didn’t flame out this fast.

See? While this is a Mischa Barton reference, it's a reference that doesn't require an explanation. This is legitimately how it is supposed to work when making a reference.

Q: What would be more fun: Harbaugh going to Oakland, making a beast out of Carr (who’s been really promising) and taking the Raiders to the playoffs? Or him going to the Jets, drafting Mariota and laying waste to the AFC East?

—Ibrahim, João Pessoa, Brazil

Harbaugh isn't laying waste to the AFC East with Brady and Belichick still alive and working for the Patriots.

BS: What about Harbaugh going to Michigan just a few weeks after there was so much action on a “Harbaugh goes to Michigan bet” that a gambling site actually had to PULL THAT BET?

They pulled the bet not just because there was so much action on Harbaugh going to Michigan, but because they were afraid someone had insider information and was making that bet. So it was as much about insider information as it was about Harbaugh going to Michigan being a real thing that could happen.

Saints (-3) over BEARS

Q: You mentioned Bill Simmons Road in your last column, which made me giggle uncontrollably in the middle of class, leading my professor to stare awkwardly as I played it off.

You are a very sad person if this is true. How did you play giggling uncontrollably in the middle of the class off?

"Oh no professor, I wasn't laughing at you, but I have daddy issues and I need a 40+ year old man to be my role model in life so I read Bill Simmons' column every week in the hopes that one day he will answer one of my emails and justify my existence. I was just laughing at something he wrote because he's the cool dad that I have always wanted to have in my life."

As a longtime resident of Colleyville, TX I can honestly say that Bill Simmons Road gets little traffic. It’s one of the few roads in town where there are no streetlights and houses are spread far apart, which made it an incredibly convenient place to get down with girls in the backseat of my car when I was in high school.

If you laugh uncontrollably in the middle of the class at something Bill Simmons has written then the odds of you getting down in the backseat of a car in any form other than dancing with a girl who has you in the friend zone in the back of a pickup truck are not high. Not trying to be rude, just a little realistic. Plus, given that I'm not sure Bill's reader questions come from real people, I'm guessing Timothy from Colleyville isn't a real person. I've just been mean to a figment of Bill's imagination.

In fact, many a sexscapade was had on Bill Simmons road by my friends, classmates, and other town residents. Congratulations on sharing that legacy. Come visit Bill Simmons Road sometime, although I suggest seeing it during the daytime in order to avoid seeing more than you bargained for.
 

–Timmy J., Colleyville

I shouldn't be mean to someone I don't know. I just feel pity. It's odd to hear a grown person idolize a middle-aged sportswriter as much as some of Bill's lemmings idolize him. Why write in to Bill and talk about this? Other than to be in his mailbag of course.

BS: Good Lord, we’re in range.

Bill has been using the same joke at the end of every mailbag (which means lately it's been at the end of everything Bill writes) for the last 15 years now and in no way is that pathetic.

Q: Just wanted to let you know that every Tuesday and Thursday evening of my junior year in high school I would drive my car to the top of the hill on Bill Simmons Road and get some action from my girlfriend.

Okay, slugger. It sounds great to brag about it in an email to a middle-aged man.

(Again, I doubt this guy exists, so I'm being snarky to a figment of Bill's imagination)

I hope for her sake her Dad doesn’t read this column, not like I give a damn though.
 

—Tanner, Colleyville

Right, because you are a rebel like that. You don't care if her dad reads this column because what's he going to you? You'd be all like, "'Sup bro? You got something you wanna say to me? I 'got action' from your daughter and won't apologize for it. Come get some of me old man who is probably the same age as the guy I just wrote to bragging about getting some action from your daughter."

BS: Yup, these are my readers.

Yes. They are your readers. You make each other look bad sometimes...if they even exist.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

7 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Thinks "JFF" Stands for "Johnny F--king Failure"

Don't ask why I curse all the time in my posts but won't curse in my titles. I don't know. 

Peter King wondered last week if J.J. Watt could be the NFL MVP since he plays defense AND is on a team that may not make the playoffs. Everyone knows if you play defense on a losing team there is no way you can be the most valuable player in the NFL. It's impossible. Peter also started what I am assuming will be at least monthly assault on Jadeveon Clowney for underperforming during his rookie season due to injuries, though I don't recall Peter going at Luke Joeckel for playing in only five games in his rookie season with the Jaguars. This week Peter talks about how the type of dramatic, unpredictable football games can only happen in the NFL, talks about the winners and losers from this past week, and haughtily recommends the best wine under $25. It's funny, 97% of the wine purchased is for $10 or less and Peter recommends the best wine under $25, like that's the cheap wine that he wants to recommend to his readers. Ah yes, how the other half lives.

The Season That Went Too Fast
 

A Pro Football Book in Twenty-One Chapters

Chapter Fifteen
 
“Only in AMERICA!” Don King used to bellow, and some story about a long-shot palooka who toiled his way from Loserville to Las Vegas and into a championship fight would spill out of King’s mouth, the drama making it Must-Pay TV. Or so the legendary boxing promoter hoped.

Every single season football writers talk about what a WILD AND CRAZY SEASON THIS HAS BEEN, as if this doesn't happen every season. The NFL is unpredictable and every season is crazy in it's own way. Talking about how this season is an "Only in the NFL!" season is pretty standard. Craziness and unpredictability is the standard. So I do wish sportswriters would stop being surprised when unexpected things happen.

Weren’t we all thinking a few days ago that the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC would lead through Green Bay?

Nope. I had Seattle and Philadelphia as the two best teams in the NFC during the preseason and wasn't moving from that simply because a new and shiny team caught my attention. Life is really very simple when not making knee-jerk reactions.

I asked a friend of mine who gambles a lot: If Seattle and Green Bay met in the playoffs, with neither team changing appreciably between now and then, what would be the difference in the spread if the game were played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle versus Lambeau Field in Green Bay. He thought for a minute, then said: “Packers by five at Lambeau. Seahawks by seven in Seattle.”

I don't gamble, but that spread in Seattle seems high, even knowing the Seahawks beat the Packers handily at home in the first game of the season.

And this is why every chapter in The Season That Went Too Fast has some Grisham in it, 
 
By "some Grisham" Peter means "going to bat for pedophiles who like child porn"?

some element you never, ever expected:

Every NFL season has an element "we" would never expect. Every season.

Buffalo 21, Green Bay 13. Marcus Thigpen and Bacarri Rambo, men no one in Wisconsin had heard of at noon Sunday, playing the big roles in sending the Packers trudging back to the Tundra.

Considering Thigpen went to Indiana University, I think fans in Wisconsin probably have heard of him. But of course, if the great Peter King hasn't heard of these players then obviously no one else has either.

Seattle 17, San Francisco 7. Which figured. So now it could be setting up for the playoff road to go through Seattle.

Predictability would be different.

Only in the NFL!

Let's marvel every NFL season at how unpredictable the NFL season is!

Week 15 winners
 
Detroit. Another day, another dogfight for a confusing offense, another win (Lions 16, Vikes 14). The Lions have been held under 275 yards four times in the past 10 games. But they’ve survived, and they’ll be in the playoffs with two more wins.

I bashed the Lions' hiring of Jim Caldwell and I really don't know if I'm wrong. Next season at this time I think I will know if I'm wrong or not. Two seasons under Caldwell should be a decent way of determining if I was wrong about him. Considering the Lions haven't been an offensive juggernaut this year at times, I feel pretty good about my initial feeling on Caldwell. Of course, he does have meals with his players, so that counts for something.

Dallas. Imagine if the Cowboys lost at Philadelphia.

I can't imagine this. The results are too terrible for the human mind to wrap itself around.

The loser of the NFC East showdown for first place would face a serious chance of not making the playoffs. Jerry Jones hasn’t re-signed coach Jason Garrett yet, and with Indianapolis and Andrew Luck coming to town this week, finishing 10-6 and out of the playoffs would have been a real possibility. (It’s still no lock Dallas will make it, because finishing tied with Philadelphia at 11-5 would give the division to the Eagles on the basis of Philadelphia’s better division record.) It’s highly likely Garrett will continue—Jones loves him and thinks he’s got the perfect temperament to be the long-term coach—but another crushing loss in a division title game for the fourth year in a row would have left ownership grasping for answers. Would Jones have considered a run at a Sean Payton or a John Harbaugh? 

Sean Payton, yes? John Harbaugh? I'm pretty sure the Ravens aren't letting Harbaugh go after the season. Though if Peter has heard there will be shakeups on the Ravens' roster, and much like he thought they wouldn't re-sign Joe Flacco two years ago, this leads him to think the Ravens will get rid of John Harbaugh.

Now Jim Harbaugh? Yes, do it. I want to see Jerry Jones work with Jim Harbaugh. This has to happen.

Doubtful, but the 38-27 win, Garrett’s biggest in his five-year tenure,

Not that Peter is being knee-jerk of course.

The AFC North. “This is the craziest division I have ever seen,” Terrell Suggs said from Baltimore Sunday.

(Bengoodfella dies of hyperbole-related symptoms)

Carolina. Derek Anderson is 2-0 against Tampa Bay this year, and that’s what has Carolina in first place in the NFC South at 5-8-1.

Skinniest kids at fat camp, people! In your face rest of the NFC South!

New Orleans re-takes first in the moribund division with a win at Chicago tonight (hardly the surest thing),

And they did.

Who will quarterback Carolina against Cleveland at home, then in the finale at Atlanta?

I DON'T KNOW! I CAN'T HANDLE THE DRAMA!

There are two options, either Cam Newton or Derek Anderson, but who knows what will happen? The NFL is SO unpredictable. It could be Steve Beuerlein! The point is, Peter doesn't know right now! It's too early to tell.

Marcus Mariota. The Jets won, meaning he doesn’t have to think of going to the vortex of pain and tabloid embarrassment that has eaten alive so many young quarterbacks. And the Bucs lost, meaning Tampa Bay is number one in line for Mariota, the Heisman winner and by far safest quarterback prospect.

Peter King, NFL Draft Scout M.D.

No one is saying it’s a cinch, but Tampa Bay—with two very good receivers, a good young tight end, a smart front office and a stay-the-course coach in Lovie Smith—gives a young quarterback as good a chance as anywhere to be able to reach his potential.

Greg Schiano would have had the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl this season if it weren't for that meddling Josh Freeman who screwed everything up.

Week 15 Losers

Green Bay. One ugly afternoon took the Packers from the two seed in the NFC to six. And it won’t be easy to get back up there. Wins in the next two games would do it, but beating Detroit at home in Week 17 means beating the team that has beaten you by 30 and 12 in your last two meetings. That last game could leave Green Bay battered, without a bye and on the road for the playoffs.

Which is the exact road they used to win the Super Bowl several years ago. Wait, am I not supposed to talk about real life and instead go into a panic about what terrible shape the Packers could be in? Gotcha.

THE PACKERS LOST! HOW WILL THEY EVER RECOVER? WHAT IF THEY HAVE TO GO ON THE ROAD IN THE PLAYOFFS? THEY'LL NEVER WIN A SUPER BOWL THAT WAY! EVERYBODY STAY CALM AND PANIC!

It's like Peter can't remember what happened just a few short years ago. Sure, the Packers want homefield advantage, but it's not like they haven't won a Super Bowl by winning on the road in the playoffs.

In all likelihood, Green Bay making the Super Bowl now depends on winning the last two and then winning at an unfriendly place like Seattle or Arizona for all the NFC marbles.

They have Aaron Rodgers. I'm not worried.

Joe Philbin. His Dolphins collapsed down the stretch last year, scoring seven points total in season-ending losses to the Bills and Jets. This year Miami has lost three of the last four, including Sunday’s no-show 41-13 loss at New England that gave the Patriots the AFC East title, again. Miami’s playoff hopes are on life support at 7-7, a month after being in the hunt at 6-4. Now the drumbeat will grow louder that owner Stephen Ross will go hard

That's disgusting Peter. This is a family column.

after Jim Harbaugh again, and is there any doubt he’d pay the compensation to San Francisco to get Harbaugh?

Oh, nevermind. Much like Peter shouldn't make knee-jerk reactions after one game, I should finish the sentence that Peter has written.

Hey, since the Cowboys may go after John Harbaugh, perhaps the Dolphins should give him a look-see too. Or the Dolphins could just go after the one that got away a few years ago, Jeff Fisher.

Johnny Manziel and hope in Cleveland. All along, Manziel held out the prospect of the big surprise, the quarterback to ride in on the steed to save the franchise. Now everyone in Cleveland is thinking, “We should have listened to Merril Hoge.” 

Manziel may be terrible, but give the guy more than one start to prove it. Geez, what's with the knee-jerk reactions and overreactions in MMQB over this past year? Maybe Peter always wrote like this and I just forgot, but he's got a severe case of overreacting this season. A team has a good/bad game and Peter either puts that team in the Super Bowl or as receiving a Top 10 pick. Give Manziel another few starts and an entire another offseason of work in the Browns' offense.

Pettine was heartbroken, which I am sure mirrored the emotion of his city. It’s another wait-till-next-year situation in Cleveland, and a cautionary tale for Manziel: Get to work. Nothing is going to be handed to you. Become a student of the game. It’s too early to write Manziel off. (Really? One game is too soon?)

Peter, you say one game is too early to write Manziel off, but you also just wrote "Now everyone in Cleveland is thinking, 'We should have listened to Merril Hoge.'" Manziel may be terrible, but one game isn't going to be the determination and saying "hope" in Cleveland is the loser in this situation is beginning to write Manziel off too early.

There will at least be a Manning-Brady XVII.

Oh thank God. I can put off jumping into a volcano for another year because I have something to live for now.

The Seattle Effect. “It’ll be interesting to see how Philadelphia comes out of the Seattle game physically,’’ said one Dallas Cowboy last week, before his team’s trip to Philadelphia for the Sunday night game. This player remembered how physically spent the Cowboys were after playing Settle earlier in the year,

I need an editor here, STAT!

The Eagles are the eighth team in a row to lose the week after playing Seattle; Philadelphia, San Francisco, Arizona, Kansas City, the New York Giants, Oakland, Carolina and St. Louis all lost the week after playing the Seahawks.

Gregg Easterbrook is totally stealing this fact for the next TMQ.

Why players want to play for Bruce Arians. The Arizona coach said this to Ryan Lindley, the backup to the backup, when No. 2 quarterback Drew Stanton went down with a knee injury Thursday night at St. Louis: “I trust you. Don’t be a game manager. Be a game winner.” Lindley didn’t play particularly well—he completed four of 10 passes in the 12-6 Arizona win—but a win’s a win,

Which is what is said when a team wins a game despite having shitty quarterback play. Yes, I'm still hating on the Cardinals' quarterback situation. Sportswriters always have to have a narrative or reason handy for why a team won and when they have no idea (it was the Cardinals' defense) they just chalk it up to nothing. A win is a win and let's give credit for Ryan Lindley for not fucking it up.

With Stanton likely out for this week and two or three more with strained knee ligaments, the Cardinals seem likely to go with Lindley, and maybe with a package of plays for the rookie quarterback who is more mobile, Logan Thomas. “We’ll figure something out,’’ said Arians. “We’ll just keep on swinging, scratching out points.” Worked pretty well so far.

But can the Cardinals win a Super Bowl with Ryan Lindley and Logan Thomas? That's all I want to know. Someone ask Bruce Arians this question.

Not a great week for the top candidates, but I’m not changing much from last week—just subbing Andrew Luck for DeMarco Murray.
 
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay. First mulligan since Week 3 at Detroit. I’m sticking with the best player in football as the most valuable.
 
2. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston. Now with 16.5 sacks, five in the past two weeks. Just unstoppable.

J.J. Watt will never be #1 in Peter's MVP standings. Even after last week when Peter tried to lay out a reason why Watt could win MVP, Peter lacks the intestinal fortitude to actually put Watt as his MVP. It's a bold cowardice. He gives Watt a ribbon by putting him #2, but I'll be shocked, shocked, shocked if Watt ever ends up #1 by the end of the season in Peter's MVP rankings. You know what, the Cardinals will win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton as their quarterback before Peter King has J.J. Watt as his MVP.

Chris Harris Jr.: The Player You Need to Know This Week

Harris, who quietly has become one of the best cornerbacks in football, signed a five-year, $42.5-million contract with the Broncos late Friday,

Thank God I have been alerted to Chris Harris Jr. this week. I personally don't know any NFL players until Peter acknowledges their existence to me.


Year LCB RCB Slot CB Safety Total snaps Pro Football Focus CB rank
2011 41 14 463 54 572 19
2012 137 149 610 121 1,017 4
2013 252 80 642 112 1,086 10
2014 24 439 309 61 833 1
TOTAL 454 682 2,024 348 3,508 2


What makes the contract, and Harris’ play this season, all the more impressive is that eight months before opening day this fall, he wrecked his knee. In the divisional playoff game against San Diego, Harris tore the ACL in his left knee. Amazingly, 31 weeks after the Feb. 6 surgery, he suited up and played 39 of 76 snaps in the Denver season-opener. By October, he was an every-down player again.

It's amazing how medical advances have helped the human body recover so quickly from ACL tears isn't it? I say this with the slightest bit of sarcasm along with absolute zero knowledge of medicine and whether it is possible for the human body to recover from an injury in 8 months that used to take 12 months to recover from.

Getting a young cover corner for his prime seasons, and having him locked up through 2019 is a smart move by Elway. For Harris, a veteran of one knee surgery already, he gets less than he could have gotten had he ever hit the market in March … but he gets to play without worry of injury the rest of this year, and he gets to stay in Denver, where the defense fits him. 

Coming off an ACL surgery, I would personally have taken the contract. Maybe I'm not bold enough, but after having rehabbed a major knee injury, I think I'd want to get paid now just in case it happens again.

Four points to make in the wake of the new Personal Conduct Policy, the denial of the Adrian Peterson appeal, the future of football in Los Angeles, and the relationship between the players and owners:

The league hopes to hire what it is calling a special counsel for investigations and conduct to lord over the process of this new personal conduct policy. This person, likely a former judge, former prosecutor or former top law-enforcement official, will have a staff to judge early on whether a player should be taken off the field while an investigation is happening. But the process will still be fraught with difficulty. There will be false accusations, stale accusations, accusations not made that should have been made because of threats against spouses or partners. What happens during the season when a potentially serious accusation is made, and the special counsel has to decide if the player should be taken off the field immediately or allowed to play in a game that week?

It's a decent point from Peter. I think this special counsel will just err on the side of caution and remove the player from the field. These are the types of things that happen when over-correction occurs. Goodell wants to prove he cares, so he sets up a labyrinth system of checks to make sure players don't play while being accused of a crime as proof of his caring. All he's doing is taking the burden off him and placing it on someone else. That's my view.

I think Adrian Peterson should have been reinstated. When the arbitrator in the Peterson case, Harold Henderson, issued his ruling upholding Peterson’s ban Friday, a few things were given short shrift. Before this season, the suspension for domestic or family violence was never longer than two games and most often a fine or one game. Peterson is 29 years old. He will miss at least 15 games (with most of them treated as paid leave), and those are games he can never get back. He’s not like a 29-year-old teacher who can miss three months and get right back to teaching.

Yes, poor Adrian Peterson. How's he expected to make enough money to survive if he can't play football? I get that Peterson's penalty is probably too severe, but to compare Peterson to a teacher like he doesn't have enough money earned over his career to retire right now is just typical Peter King-type thinking. Yes, a teacher can get right back to teaching, but Adrian Peterson has to work hard and maybe he'll catch on with an NFL team. If this doesn't happen then he'll just go about his life with enough money to go about his life and not have to worry about working. You know, the exact opposite of what would happen to a 29 year old teacher.

It strikes me as excessive. Now: Peterson didn’t do himself any favors. He should have pled his case in the appeals process if he truly wanted to play this year. I still don’t understand why he didn’t.

Probably the same reason he beat the shit out of his kid with a switch after suffering the death of a child from a beating last season.

Regarding Los Angeles… “There’s a schism about what to do in Los Angeles,’’ said one source with knowledge of L.A. effort. “The big issue is not only whether it should be one or two teams, and where the team or teams will be, but also which franchise should get the first shot? There is sentiment that [Rams owner] Stan Kroenke shouldn’t have the first shot. The Raiders are in horrible shape. The Chargers have a terrible stadium. In St. Louis, the city is trying at least to find a solution.”

I think there should be a television show where these three teams compete to play in Los Angeles. They can each argue about how badly they are being treated by their respective cities and then a winner will be chosen by the viewing public. I like how because the Raiders are in terrible shape, this means they should get one of the first shots at playing in Los Angeles.

THE FINE FIFTEEN

1. New England (11-3). Dominating performance puts them first. Winners of nine of 10, with the narrow loss at Green Bay the only blemish. Sign of a Ridiculously Good Franchise Dept.: The Patriots won their 11th AFC East title in the past 12 seasons on Sunday.

Is the Patriot Way still working? Once the Patriots lose another football game or in the playoffs, I can't wait for this question to get asked once again.

3. Green Bay (10-4). Not to rain on the Super Bowl parade or anything, but that was the first grim performance by Aaron Rodgers in, like, forever.

So, like, that obviously means it's a sign of things to come and not an anomaly, right? Aaron Rodgers had a grim performance so that must mean the rest of his performances will be equally as grim this season. Logically.

At all. Green Bay at Tampa Bay on Sunday. Rodgers has played there twice, in 2008 and 2009. Lost twice. Completed 50 percent of his throws in the two games, with four touchdowns and six picks, and a 54.6 rating at the Pirate Ship.

And I'm sure it's the stadium and not the team that was the issue for Rodgers when he played there five and six seasons ago. Because the Buccaneers current defense directly resembles the defense they had in 2008 and 2009.

7. Detroit (10-4). Another touchdown catch for Golden Tate in the 16-14 win over Minnesota. Tate has been a total surprise. He’s going to end up with 100 receptions. (He has 91 now.) Imagine this: Tate has more catches per game, on average (6.5), than Calvin Johnson (5.6)—and that accounts for Johnson missing three games with injury. Divide Johnson’s 61 catches by 11, and Tate’s 91 catches by 14, and Tate’s been more productive per game.

Thank you for teaching your readers how to do basic division in order to get an average, Peter. God knows most of America would be lost if you weren't here to provide statistics and then explain how you arrived at those statistics. I know I read that Tate had more catches per game than Johnson on average and was all like, "HOW ON EARTH DID THIS NUMBERS WIZARD MAKE THESE MEANINGFUL STATISTICS POPULATE AS IF OUT OF THIN AIR?" Then Peter explained how to divide and it made complete sense to me.

9. Philadelphia (9-5). Bradley Cooper sure looked sad sitting in Jeffrey Lurie’s box, his beloved Philadelphia Silverliningplaybooks down 21-7 to the Cowboys in the second quarter. Cooper was dancing in the second half, but Mark Sanchez just couldn’t make enough plays to win this one.

Am I reading "US Weekly for Teens" now?

"Bradley Cooper was sad because the Eagles were losing. Spies for 'US Weekly for Teens' say that Cooper danced at one point during the game, but Hayden Panettiere's ex-boyfriend just couldn't pull the Eagles through and keep Cooper dancing. Observers said that Cooper looked to be having a good time and took pictures with fans."

10. Cincinnati (9-4-1). No idea how I rate the Bengals two slots higher than Pittsburgh, which beat Cincinnati by 21 in Ohio last week. It’s just about a week-to-week coin flip right now.

Peter King's Fine Fifteen rankings everyone! They mean nothing, but Peter still feels the need to write them every week. This column isn't going to bloat itself you know.

14. Kansas City (8-6). Broke a three-game skid with a rout of the Raiders. One of the strangest stats in recent history—a team can be 8-6 in this era of football with no touchdowns caught by a wideout—has surprisingly not crippled the Chiefs, though Dwayne Bowe’s ho-hum season is a major surprise.

Bowe's ho-hum season is a surprise with a quarterback who can't throw a touchdown to a receiver as the one tossing him the pigskin? Otherwise, is Bowe's season a surprise? He hasn't exceeded 1,000 yards receiving since 2011.

Coaches of the Week

Bruce Arians, head coach, Arizona. Not to make these awards a clean Cardinal sweep, but to have the Arizona Cardinals tied for the best record in the NFL after 15 weeks, with Drew Stanton and Ryan Lindley playing quarterback, and hanging in to beat a St. Louis team that had won the previous two games by shutout … well, you can see why Arians is so revered inside the Cardinals’ building and outside the building by a growing legion of fans.

Coach of the Year should be Arians' for the taking. Of course I have to piss on this win a little bit. The Cardinals only had 274 yards of offense and the Rams didn't exactly light up the scoreboard either. Six of the points the Cardinals scored were the result of a fumble by the Rams and a 36-yard pass interference call that put the Cardinals right in field goal range. I'm not taking anything away from them, but the Cardinals had to settle for field goals all night. I'm very worried about them in the playoffs if they don't score touchdowns.

My point is that the Cardinals are averaging 12.8 points and 289 yards per game (If I were Peter King, I would explain to you how I got an average) in the five games since Carson Palmer went down for the season. The 289 yards per game would put the Cardinals at 31st in the NFL in total offense, just above the Raiders, and 12.8 points per game would put them 32nd in the NFL in scoring per game. That's not going to win a Super Bowl, especially with a banged-up defense. Arians deserves Coach of the Year, but the Cardinals are in deep shit if they can't muster up more offense.

Goat of the Week

Johnny Manziel, quarterback, Cleveland.

I'm not going to defend Manziel's performance, but this seems a little unfair. It was his first start in the NFL and he went against a reasonably good Bengals defense. Calling him a "goat" seems like the type of knee-jerk conclusion that Peter warns his readers against reaching.

First time in memory I had Goat of the Week locked at 2:23 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Remember this is the same guy who wrote it was too early to write Manziel off. It took Peter less than an hour and a half into the Week 15 games to decide who the "Goat of the Week" will be.

This game showed many things, among them that Manziel had better start spending a lot more time studying his craft. The entire game had the feel of fool’s gold, with the Browns, for the moment, feeling fooled by Manziel in his first NFL start. He was 10 of 18 for 80 yards, with no touchdowns and two picks, a 27.3 rating … with just 13 yards rushing on five scrambles. An awful opener for the 22nd pick in the 2014 draft.

Of course if the Browns had won the game then "a win is a win" and Manziel would be praised for doing something right. It doesn't matter really. It was one game and there is a reason the Browns didn't have Manziel start the season at quarterback.

For the Baltimore Ravens to be 9-5 this morning, and for the franchise to be in position to win its third AFC North title in four years, is a pretty amazing thing, considering 17 of the 22 starters from the team that won the Super Bowl 22 months ago are new.

I'm still laughing at the "changes" being alluded to by the Ravens organization after winning the Super Bowl which Peter took to believe the Ravens may not be interested in re-signing Joe Flacco. I think everyone except Peter knew this meant the team would part ways with older players and start over at several positions on the roster. But now, Peter is all like, "LOOK AT HOW THE RAVENS TURNED THEIR ROSTER OVER!" as if this weren't the plan the Ravens had all along. Kudos to the Ravens for making it work so far, but I still chuckle a bit at Peter's misunderstanding of what these changes and difficult decisions really meant.

Super Bowl XLVII Starters2014 Week 14 Starters
OFFENSE
Torrey SmithWRTorrey Smith
Anquan BoldinWRMarlon Brown
Jacoby JonesWRSteve Smith
Bryant McKinnieTEugene Monroe
Kelechi OsemeleGKelechi Osemele
Matt BirkCJeremy Zuttah
Marshal YandaGMarshal Yanda
Michael OherTRick Wagner
Joe FlaccoQBJoe Flacco
Ray RiceRBJustin Forsett
Vonta LeachFB/TEOwen Daniels
DEFENSE
Terrell SuggsRusherTerrell Suggs
Haloti NgataDLElvis Dumervil
Arthur JonesDLChris Canty
Ma’ake KemoeatuDLBrandon Williams
Dannell EllerbeLBC.J. Mosley
Ray LewisLBDaryl Smith
Courtney UpshawLB/SJeromy Miles
Corey GrahamCBAsa Jackson
Cary WilliamsCBLardarius Webb
Ed ReedFSWill Hill
Bernard PollardSSMatt Elam

The Ravens saw a chance with the retirement of veterans like Ray Lewis and the pending free agency of Ed Reed to remake the team. They have done a really good job so far. But still, I chuckle at what Peter thought the remaking of the Ravens' roster meant.


I don't know why Peter felt this should be considered a "Tweet of the Week." It doesn't make sense, because Rambo is a fictional ex-Vietnam vet who killed people in movies trying to save others, while Bacarri Rambo is a football player. It just doesn't make sense AND seems to lack a little funny.

TEN THINGS I THINK I THINK

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 15:

b. Detroit safety Glover Quin, the Pro Bowl protester, with a vital interception of Teddy Bridgewater.

c. And a beautiful interception by Darius Slay, also off Bridgewater.

Mike Mayock was right! Teddy Bridgewater just absolutely sucks.

f. Eight sacks by the Ravens. Timmy Jernigan, Pernell McPhee … you have officially been introduced to America.

Yep, I knew who they were prior to this introduction when they were attending Mississippi State and Florida State. But now that Peter has mentioned them and helped introduce them to America, I guess they officially now exist.

s. Josh McCown making it a game, late, in Carolina.

I don't understand what this means. Tampa Bay scored 10 points in the first half and 7 in the second half. I guess that Peter likes how Josh McCown ran the final drive of the game for the Buccaneers when Carolina was happy to watch the Buccaneers eat clock up while trying to score. If anything, Peter should like McCown's scrambling ability for the touchdown. Maybe THAT is what Peter is referring to here.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 15:

a. Johnny Football.

You don't say? Why hasn't Peter mentioned this in MMQB before now?

i. For his talent, Andrew Luck makes some dumb throws.

Skip Bayless wants to know why Peter King is putting Andrew Luck in the Hall of Fame already? Because one time in a bowl game, Brandon Weeden played as well as Andrew Luck did. So there's that and it definitely means something.

Nobody is supposed to talk about Andrew Luck making dumb throws. It's against the rules, plus he has 38 touchdown passes this year, so that sort of overshadows the bad throws.

l. Here’s the deal, Bucs: You put either the entire throwback uniform on, or the modern one. You can’t mix them. Orange socks do not go with a red and white uniform.

Peter King, Fashion Maven M.D.

3. I think I have a difficult question for you in the Bay Area to answer this morning: Which 36th overall pick in the draft would you rather build your franchise around: Colin Kaepernick (2011) or Derek Carr (2014)? I think there would have been no question about that in August. Slam dunk. But with Kaepernick’s maturation as a player put in serious questions this season, now it’s a contest.

I wonder how Ron Jaworski feels about Colin Kaepernick now? I'm not sure I wouldn't choose Kaepernick to be the quarterback I build the franchise around. I will have to see more about David Carr. That's the fun part about questions like this. They can change from year-to-year...or month-to-month as the case may be with Peter.

4. I think when we hear about knee surgeries, we just assume that players go in and have the surgery done and in seven or eight months they’ll be as good as new...As concerning, or more so, is the microfracture surgery for Houston rookie pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney. Microfracture is no slam-dunk, especially for a speed rusher.

I'm telling you, Jadeveon Clowney is well on his way to being Josh Freeman'd by Peter King. It's starting already. He's calling Clowney a "speed rusher" and is preparing for him to never be the same again after microfracture surgery.

Indianapolis tackle Gosder Cherilus, who has had the surgery, told the Indianapolis Star of Clowney: “He’s screwed. His game is all about explosion. That’s a problem. I’m out there dancing. I’m an offensive lineman. That’s a different ballgame. He’s screwed. I’m just being honest.” The Texans have to be concerned about whether Clowney can come back to be the same player, regardless what they say publicly.

No Peter, I bet the Texans aren't concerned at all about their top pick needing major knee surgery. They probably are laughing about it right now and making jokes to each other about the situation.

Peter is getting ready for Clowney to be a bust as the #1 overall draft pick. I can feel it in my bones.

9. I think this is why the crown-of-the-helmet-into-Russell Wilson was called Sunday, giving the Seahawks a fresh set of downs at a critical time late in their win over the Niners: Prohibited contact against a defenseless player, which includes a player in the act of passing or just after releasing a pass, came into play on this call. Wilson, in this case, was a defenseless player.

I don't know. The NFL does a lot to protect quarterbacks and I get the point, but sometimes it annoys me. Derek Anderson got a hand to the facemask on Sunday and a penalty was called. He was hit in the face, but it certainly didn't seem like it hurt or put his health in danger. So in the situation Peter is describing, it seemed pretty close to a penalty on the 49ers defender, but it's nearly impossible to tell for sure.

According to strict interpretation of the rules: “Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the top/crown or forehead/”hairline” parts of the helmet against any part of the defenseless player’s body” is illegal. The officials ruled Wilson was struck with the helmet either at the hairline or crown level. It’s close, very close. I watched the replay at least 10 times and it’s hard to tell if the helmet was in the right position or not.

Maybe the NFL should make penalties like this reviewable since it had an impact on the game. Hell, just make everything reviewable.

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

g. Re the SONY hack: I have changed my email password six times in the last week. And I believe it doesn’t matter.

Wouldn't it be fun to read emails that are leaked from Peter King's inbox? I'm sure there is some haughty and uppity shit that he leaves out of MMQB, but he shared with friends and family. I imagine Peter has some email screeds about people who take too long to order at Starbucks or wonder why everyone slows down to look at Christmas lights. Those leaked emails would be interesting to read. I wonder how many he gets from Brett Favre in a given month?

h. Really bright to skip your team’s fan festival, Bryce Harper, because of a contract dispute. That scores lots of points with fans.

Welp, he got a two year contract extension and they love him again.

i. The Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year event last Tuesday was memorable.

Naming Madison Bumgarner "Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year" is a very "Sports Illustrated" thing for them to do.

k. Coffeenerdness: Here’s what I don’t get when I bring my reusable grande cup into Starbucks and ask for a triple grande macchiato:

Seriously, imagine the shit that Peter King writes which he doesn't share with the general public. It probably makes inconsequential bitching like what you are about to read look like a major conflict that must immediately be resolved.

Most baristas take a small cup, brew the three shots of espresso, pour them on top of the foamed milk, then throw the little cup away. Not using the normal espresso shot glasses sort of defeats the purpose of using the same grande cup over and over, right?

Yes, it might defeat the purpose. Wouldn't the barista have to constantly wash the espresso shot glasses over and over after using them though? Wouldn't this require wasting water to do AND it could also cause there to be a backup during peak times because Starbucks doesn't have a hundred espresso shot glasses they can use for this purpose?

I think Peter should take this issue up with Starbucks. I'm sure they will put it at the top of their priority list.

l. Beernerdness: Don’t have a new beer for you this week, but I will throw in my vote for the best $25-or-under Cabernet Sauvignon out there: Simi Alexander Valley Cab.

The best $25-or-under Cabernet Sauvignon, huh? It's for those middle class people who read Peter's column that may not want to spend more than $25 on a bottle of wine. After all, Peter hears that some people in the United States have a budget they stick to, so they have to go for the cheaper wines, like something under $25.

I simply love that Peter recommends a wine under $25. I can't figure out if he thinks that this is a "budget" wine or what. Seriously, 97% of the wine sold is under $10 and Peter is giving tips for $25-and-under wines. I'm not sure when the last time he lived in the real world was.

o. Perfect metaphor for the New York Mets: While much of the rest of baseball made mega moves at the winter meetings last week, the Mets signed a platoon outfielder (maybe) who batted .212 for Toronto and Philadelphia last year, John Mayberry.

Remember the big moves the Royals and Giants made last year prior to and during the winter meetings? Oh, you don't? It's probably because this isn't the best way to determine which team will have success during the upcoming season.

p. Re the Red Sox: I have tremendous respect for Jon Lester, and gratitude for what he has done for the franchise. But I’m very much on board with not paying a pitcher who will be 31 in January $26 million a year for six years … I do not support paying Cole Hamels $22 million a year for the next five years plus the surrender of two prime prospects … I’d wait for a Johnny Cueto type in free agency next year, when the pitching crop will be richer, or at the trading deadline this year

How much money does Peter think Johnny Cueto is going to try and get in free agency? He'll be 29 years old when he signs his next contract and he's made 30+ career starts in five of his seven seasons, plus statistically he's only improving. How much money does Peter think Cueto is going to fetch if he has another season like his 2014 season? I'm guessing he's going to try and get somewhere around $22 million per year.

Who I Like Tonight

Chicago 24, New Orleans 20. Though I have no idea why.

Thanks for contributing.

The Adieu Haiku
Aaron Kromer blabs. Cutler forgives. So he says.
Forget? No way, Jay.


Why should Cutler forget? Sure, the Bears may regret that contract extension, but to have his offensive coordinator be the source for this report? That's bullshit and something close to career suicide. Fortunately for Kromer, it happened to Jay Cutler so the media isn't going to go to bat for him. If this happens to a more well-liked quarterback you can bet it would be more than a footnote in Peter's Adieu Haiku. Peter would go all-in on Kromer if he was the source bashing a quarterback that Peter and the media really likes. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

5 comments Bill Plaschke Lectures the Philadelphia 76ers About Their Lack of Integrity

Bill Plaschke is not happy with the Philadelphia 76ers and their feeble attempts at putting an NBA-quality team on the court. In fact, he thinks the only thing the Sixers succeed at is not succeeding and this offends his sensibilities. He thinks it is disgraceful that the Sixers lose games to get a high draft pick. Of course, Bill didn't think it was disgraceful when he claimed the Lakers "deserved" a higher draft position than 7th in the 2014 NBA Draft. Bill doesn't see why the Sixers drafted Joel Embiid, though he had no issue with the Lakers drafting Embiid, and was in fact upset the Lakers didn't get the chance to get the big man from Kansas. Plaschke is tired of the Sixers tanking, and much more importantly, he is now writing actual paragraphs instead of one sentence paragraphs.

The most disgraceful team in the NBA is on the verge of a milestone, 

And congratulations to the Knicks and James Dolan for continuing to sell Knicks fans on supporting the team when the Knicks organization has consistently shown they don't necessarily deserve it.

A collection of mostly playground talent that was specifically built to lose games — at the expense of competitive integrity and their longtime fans — is actually not losing a game.

My feelings about the Sixers is that I feel very bad for their fans. The team has taken a long-term rebuilding approach that essentially tears the team down only to build it back up. I'm not sure I could be that patient if I were a Sixers fan. But still, the intent of building a strong core is taking shape. Young players are getting playing time, but the team still lacks that superstar player (in my opinion). That's been the biggest issue for the Sixers and that's why they continue to rebuild. There does seem to be a plan. Unfortunately, part of the plan right now is building around two guys taking 30 shots per game who can't even hit 43% of their shots and relying on players better off being on the bench to start, but they have their own and the Heat's Top 10 protected pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. They will have their pick of big men to choose from in the draft, which means they can trade Embiid or Noel, or even trade their draft pick for an established star if they chose to do that. Either way, they are accumulating assets. It may not work or it might work.

Rather than pretend they aren't rebuilding, the Sixers are gathering and evaluating talent. There are obvious risks, like young players who are developing big habits (which I think is happening to a few Sixers players) and a losing environment being nurtured. That's where a good head coach comes in to prevent this from happening. We'll see. It's a long-term plan, but I think it doesn't lack integrity. What lacks integrity more? Admitting that your team isn't going to be competitive, or blowing smoke up the fans' asses about the competitiveness of the team while making short-term moves that keep this illusion up while sacrificing long-term competitiveness? There are NBA teams misleading their fans at the expense of the team's long-term health, no doubt. Doesn't that lack some sense of integrity? At least Sixers fans know what they are getting. I'm not necessarily a fan of tanking, but I think it sure beats pretending to field a competitive team and keeping a team mired in mediocrity because management is unable to face the truth.

When the night's mess mercifully ends, the Philadelphia 76ers have missed 50 shots, committed 18 turnovers, yet achieved their first victory in 18 games this season with an 85-77 decision over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"The Sixers have done it!" cries Zumoff.

Who says cheaters never win?

Who said the Sixers are cheaters? How is losing basketball games intentionally cheating? Oh, so trying to get a high draft pick is cheating? Then what is whining about a team not getting a high enough draft pick considered? From Plaschke's whiny post-NBA lottery article:

There should be a rule against giving another No. 1 overall pick to a team that spent last year's No. 1 overall pick on somebody who averaged two baskets per game. Does even Anthony Bennett remember Anthony Bennett?

The Lakers deserved better. They at least deserved to pick where they had finished. 

They should have been rewarded for their injuries, their incompetence, their dysfunction, and the fact that they somehow talked Mike D'Antoni into leaving town.

Heck, if the league was smart, it would have helped the Lakers move into the top three. Considering a new rumored NBA scheme surfaces about every month, why couldn't one have popped up now?

The Sixers lack integrity when they try to get a high draft pick, while if the Lakers are awarded a high draft pick then it's merely for the sake of the NBA's own good.

They have the scrawny appearance of a junior varsity team. They play with the wildness of a pickup team.

They stumble into an offense that usually devolves into a game of one-on-one and often ends with a wild brick off the backboard.

When Plaschke wrote this column, the Sixers were 29th in field goal percentage, while the Lakers were shooting the lights out in 23rd place in field goal percentage. As far as the offense stumbling into a game of one-on-one, the Sixers and the Lakers were tied for 21st in the NBA in assists per game. Not that Bill Plaschke has never taken the opportunity to bash the Lakers, but he's basing a lack of integrity from the Sixers on issues that the Lakers themselves face.

If they're not gunning it, they are kicking it out of bounds or throwing it into the stands, after which they cruise back on defense and watch the other guys rush in for uncontested layups.

The Lakers were 30th in the NBA in opponents' points per game and the Sixers were 26th. The Lakers were also 30th in opponents' points per shot, while the Sixers were 28th. The Lakers were 29th in opponents' field goal percentage, while the Sixers were 24th.

My point is that while Bill Plaschke is correct the Sixers are not winning games or playing well, he's not mentioning the Lakers are putting a team on the court built for now and they aren't exactly playing well either.

"They play that bad and we still lose?" Corey Brewer said. "We have to look at ourselves, man. It's tough. We can't lose that game, period."

The team that needs to look in the mirror is the 76ers, who are making a mockery of the NBA and its draft lottery,

Of course it's not a mockery for the Lakers to be hugely successful over a long period of time, have a down year, and then Bill Plaschke throw a fit that they weren't allowed to make a mockery of the NBA lottery during their one down year.

openly sacrificing an entire season while gambling they will be rewarded with high draft picks and future stars.

Again, not to create a strawman argument, but isn't openly sacrificing a season for high draft picks with a long-term plan better than tricking fans by spending money on players who can't help the team win in the short-term or the long-term?

It's what the Lakers could have done, but the notion of losing intentionally went against the ideals that have defined their championship legacy.

This from the sportswriter who wishes the Lakers had gotten a higher draft pick in the last NBA Draft lottery. I laugh at the idea the Lakers hold the moral high ground due to a "championship legacy" considering they are paying Carlos Boozer, Jeremy Lin, Wayne Ellington, and Steve Nash a combined $23.9 million this year. Jordan Hill is playing well, so I won't criticize them for the $9 million that he is making this year.

I'm afraid that Bill Plaschke is getting "defining their championship legacy" with "not being gutsy enough to fully commit to a rebuilding plan and wanting to fool their fans into believing they are fielding a competitive team." The Lakers are on the hook for $47 million next year as well, but no, it's the championship legacy that is keeping them from tanking and not a fear of actually committing to a rebuilding job. They'll just find some free agents to sign and everything will be fine. Right? THAT WILL HAPPEN, RIGHT?

The 76ers apparently have no such ideals, no such respect for their legacy, and thus have descended into madness.

Eh, since Bill made the direct comparison...is it not respecting their legacy for the Sixers to field a bad team that will get a high draft pick in an effort to hit the "reboot" button on the franchise? Or is it recognition if they spent money extending players like Thaddeus Young then it would just be spending money in an effort to create the illusion of winning times being dead ahead? The Sixers plan may fail, but they also have $43.9 million committed to salaries over the next three years. I personally believe madness is overpaying a franchise icon (like Kobe) and then pretending they are going to field a competitive team around him just to avoid the appearance the team is rebuilding.

One night they lost to Toronto by 32 points. A couple of nights later, they lost to Dallas by 53 points — a game the Mavericks would have won had they not scored in the second half. The rest of the league quickly got the message and most teams have stopped taking them seriously.

It's pretty bad. I won't deny that.

"It's a team you feel like you're not supposed to lose to, no offense to them," the Mavericks' Chandler Parsons told reporters.

When is the last time you heard a professional athlete talk about an opposing team in such open, matter-of-fact dismissive terms? It's as if the rest of the NBA has decided, if the 76ers organization doesn't respect itself, why should anyone else?

Possibly, but who really cares what the rest of the NBA thinks? The rest of the NBA doesn't give a shit if the Sixers are a competitive team in five years or not. So what the rest of the NBA thinks is irrelevant if the Sixers believe in their plan. Plus, other NBA teams should be thrilled the Sixers aren't very good because it means it's easier for them to win more games.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for the fact that they never once quit on themselves," their relentlessly positive coach, Brett Brown, said afterward.

Brett Brown has to be relentlessly positive. It sort of comes with the territory when coaching a team that has lost as many games as the Sixers have.

He's right. Even though last season's rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, former first-round pick Nerlens Noel and second-rounder KJ McDaniels are their only potential impact players, the team still plays hard. And Brown, a Gregg Popovich disciple, is considered a rising star.

It is the 76ers front office — managing owner Josh Harris, Chief Executive Scott O'Neil and General Manager Sam Hinkie — which has shamelessly given up.

Now I'm confused. Hinkie has put together a team of three potential impact players and a rising star coach, but he's given up? I won't argue that these three guys have put a great product on the court, yet Hinkie seems to be finding some sort of talent in the draft doesn't he?

The team was awful last season, losing a record-tying 26 consecutive games while finishing with just 19 wins. But then management decided to sink even lower, deplete even further, lose even more.

Which ruins the Sixers integrity because they are not claiming to be putting together a playoff team, while nothing can ruin the integrity of the NBA teams pretending to win while knowing they won't be putting a quality product on the court. Crappy teams like Charlotte, Minnesota, New York, and the Lakers who aren't putting a quality product on the court have integrity obviously. James Dolan drips integrity.

With the third pick of last spring's draft, they chose Kansas center Joel Embiid even though they knew he might not play this season because of foot problems. 

Is that the same Joel Embiid that Bill Plaschke was bemoaning couldn't play for the Lakers? It seems to be:

Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Dante Exum are guys who could have immediately made the sort of impact that would make the Lakers fun again. 

None of them is expected to be around at No. 7, which is a location currently occupied on draft boards by guys like Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart, none of whom will immediately make a well-coiffed courtside head spin.

So it's foolish for the Sixers to have drafted Embiid at #3, but Plaschke is upset the Lakers didn't get a good chance to draft Embiid in that spot? Funny how Plaschke's opinion changes depending on what he is looking to prove.

Oh, and the Lakers drafted Julius Randle after he reportedly foot surgery. Unfortunately, Randle then broke his right leg in the first game of the season. I wonder where Bill's outrage at the Lakers drafting an injured player is? He thinks the Sixers shouldn't have drafted Embiid because he was injured, so I wonder if the same goes for the Lakers drafting Randle? Bill is the authority on integrity, so I would like to hear his take on this.

Their other first-round pick was Daro Saric, a Croatian player who had already signed a three-year contract to play in Turkey.

Saric is 20 years old. He also won the Euroleague MVP for November. Saric is planning on coming to the United States to play in two seasons, so it isn't like he has to spend all three years in Turkey. The Sixers aren't the first team to draft an overseas player high in the draft, then wait on him to come to the United States. What's the benefit of Saric playing in the United States now?

You know how teams are criticized for being under the salary cap ceiling? The 76ers are $20 million under the salary cap floor, with a payroll of around $38 million. That's about as much as the Clippers pay Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

You know Bill, I think you are proving the point behind the Sixers long-term plan. If they don't have $38 million wrapped up in two players then that means they have payroll flexibility. Would Plaschke think the Sixers have more integrity if they had won 1 game and had $38 million spent on two players? Would that make him feel better about the Sixers intentions of winning basketball games?

"If they win 15 games they will have overachieved to the highest level," Detroit Coach Stan Van Gundy said.

The Pistons had won two more games than the Sixers when Bill wrote this column.

On game nights, one longtime worker at the train station near Wells Fargo Arena has fists full of tickets handed to him by angry fans who ask him to give them away. The 76ers attendance is second-worst in the league.

Obviously losing games isn't going to draw a huge crowd to Sixers games. You know what does draw huge crowds? Winning basketball games, which is the end goal for Sam Hinkie. He's going about it in a slow and deliberate way, which apparently makes Bill Plaschke question the 76ers' integrity. 

And the scorn is rising even from longtime Philly stalwarts such as Larry Brown, who led the 76ers to their last NBA Finals appearance against the Lakers in 2001.

"I hate what's going on in Philly," Brown, who coaches Southern Methodist University, told the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this season. "It makes me sick to my stomach."

During an ensuing interview on Philadelphia's SportsRadio 94WIP radio, O'Neil ripped Brown for not winning at SMU,

Intentionally tanking is not a very well-regarded strategy. I don't particularly like it, but I really, really am not sure increasing payroll and providing the illusion of winning is the direction the Sixers should go.

then explained his team's strategy with, "These building programs, they take a little time … the plan is the plan is the plan."

The 76ers did not respond to interview requests for this story, but surely even they understand that this plan is not guaranteed.

Of course 76ers understand this plan is not guaranteed. No plan is ever guaranteed. What a stupid comment. Surely every team in the NBA understands their respective plan to field a competitive team isn't guaranteed. Or does Plaschke's Lakers think building around Nick Young, Kobe Bryant, Ed Davis, Julius Randle and Carlos Boozer is their best long-term plan? I doubt it.

The worst team in basketball has only a 25% chance of getting the first pick in the draft. Since the lottery system began in 1985, only four times has a team with the worst record received the first pick. So do the 76ers have to be this bad?

Oh, ok. It would show more integrity if the Sixers planned to be bad, but not too bad to where they lose too many games. I'd love to know the threshold for which Plaschke thinks the Sixers should aim in order to win enough games to keep their integrity intact, while also making sure they have a good shot at a high draft pick. Because again, giving the illusion of winning is what shows the most integrity.

Kenneth Shropshire, a Los Angeles Dorsey High graduate who is a sports business professor at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton school of business, says the plan is so unique, it's difficult to judge.

"Those guys are pretty sophisticated, smart guys, turnaround guys, and you want to think they stepped back and really thought of this," he said. "But I've never heard of anybody directly attempting a strategy like this before."

Because most sports franchises don't have the balls and patience to do this. I wouldn't necessarily rebuild a team in the way the Sixers are doing, but that certainly doesn't mean it is a bad strategy. I don't think some of the strategies other NBA teams are using are great strategies either. The Sixers are taking reducing payroll and building around young players to an extreme, that's for sure.

Shropshire quietly sighed, a sound heard frequently around the 76ers these days. "Whatever it is, it's still gonna take forever … unless Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is in that next draft," he said.

There's no Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but there is a poor man's Tim Duncananother great shot blocker who played at Kentucky, an excellent rebounding PF/C, a poor man's Kawhi Leonard, and a natural point guard with good size.

There is a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a draft about once a decade, so I wouldn't expect there to be one in the 2015 NBA Draft. I doubt the Sixers are expecting to grab a Hall of Famer out of the draft come June.

Zumoff, the television broadcaster, offered his own explanation of the team's strategy, and why fans are buying it.

"They've seen the ham and egg approach, you patch and fill and make a trade, and you end up with another No. 15 draft pick," he said. "They get the fact that you have to tear it down to studs and start over in order to grow a team like a San Antonio or Oklahoma City."

Yes, and that's part of the issue. If the Sixers aren't going to be very good, they think they should just be very, very not good. Here are some of the players taken by teams in front of the Sixers over the past few years:

2012: Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard. The 76ers drafted 15th.

2011: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard. The 76ers drafted 16th.

2010: John Wall. The 76ers drafted 2nd (they blew this draft).

2009: Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez. The 76ers drafted 16th.

My point is they know they have a shot at drafting elite talent if they don't win games. If they pretend they want to win games in a weak Eastern Conference they may fuck around and accidentally win too many games. They will have their integrity, but also a pick between 10-20 in the first round. The Sixers have gone to great lengths to ensure this doesn't happen.

The NBA is growing increasingly pale watching this remodel, but a league which had the power to keep Chris Paul from joining the Lakers claims it can do nothing to make the 76ers try harder. Its answer is to change the lottery system and give equal first-pick chances to the league's four worst teams.

That's fine if the NBA wants lottery reform. The Sixers would still have a good chance of getting the first pick in the draft. The Jazz were the team that lost the 4th most games in the NBA last year and they won 25 games. It's not like they were fielding an excellent team or anything.

That would be a huge and deserved loss for the Philadelphia 76ers. But that's OK. 

Yes, that would be fine. The Sixers are currently playing within the rules and it doesn't show a lack of integrity that they aren't choosing to give the illusion of fielding a good team by signing a few expensive players and tricking their fans long enough to give them hope.

Losing has become their legacy, their corporate culture. And they're certainly used to it.

Strong words coming from a sportswriters who writes about an NBA team that had won five games when he posted this column. I don't think anybody really likes tanking, but I find the method by which the Sixers are rebuilding to have more integrity than how the Knicks have an $88 million payroll to justify the four victories they had when Bill wrote this column. The Knicks aren't rebuilding, so maybe they are off the hook in Plaschke's mind, because they have the integrity to just put a shitty product on the court and watch the fans pay for that shitty product. At least the Sixers have enough honesty to rebuild and make it known they are rebuilding.