Monday, January 18, 2010

10 comments MMQB Review: NFC Dream Matchup and A Little Poignancy Edition

I had a terrible weekend picking games. I went a good old fashioned 0-4 the week after mocking Bill Simmons for going 0-4 last week. Of course I don't write columns giving out my gambling rules that are supposed to work either. Regardless we currently have Peter King's dream matchup of Minnesota v. New Orleans and could be on pace for a Peter King QB love-fest if Peyton Manning and Brett Favre meet in the Super Bowl. If that were to occur I think ESPN would stop showing all sporting events and run a loop of Brett Favre and Peyton Manning highlights 24 hours a day, only to be interrupted by SportsCenter at 11pm with up-to-the-minute interviews with each of them. Peter King, well he very well could lose his mind if this happens. First things first though, let's hear what interesting things Peter has to say about this past weekend's games.

Poignant weekend in a lot of ways, with the Canton-great careers of Kurt Warner and Ed Reed maybe coming to an end with bad losses, with the ageless Brett Favre Blanda-ing his way to the NFC Championship game, and with the most accurate kicker in NFL history taking the apple not once but twice in a crushing three-point loss to this year's Cinderella.

Nate Kaeding is the biggest choker among all NFL kickers. He gets the award for this year and the lifetime achievement award. Ready for some irony? Nate Kaeding was the AFC Pro Bowl kicker. The fact he missed three field goals in the game yesterday guaranteed he would be able to kick in the Pro Bowl since his team wouldn't appear in the Super Bowl the week after the Pro Bowl is scheduled.

Marty's boy, Brian, the precocious offensive coordinator of the Jets, had just done his part orchestrating an offense with a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back into an upset of the Chargers that left the locals just as deflated as they were in 2006.

Let's be fair. Schottenheimer offensive coordinating didn't have a whole lot to do with the victory over the Chargers. Not to take anything away from the Jets but it was mostly the defense that did most of the heavy lifting and the offense didn't screw anything up.

Four times Rivers went at Revis in 45 pass calls. One completion, for minus-four. One interception. You cannot play the position better than Revis played it Sunday. I don't care if you're Deion Sanders or Night Train Lane.

I personally believe Darrelle Revis deserved the Defensive Player of the Year award this year and he showed why this past week. Now I can't help but get excited at the idea of the Colts going at him, since you know he will be covering Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark at some point. You know they won't avoid him, so it is going to be an exciting matchup. Count me in as excited.

But the Saints clobbered Arizona in the first game of the weekend because Jabari Greer, their most athletic cornerback, is finally healthy after late-season hernia surgery, and bookend cornerback Tracy Porter feels fit after spraining his knee, and nickel back Randall Gay is healthy enough to give the Saints a threesome at corner against a top quarterback like Kurt Warner that gives New Orleans a fighting chance to play shutdown coverage.

Completely incorrect. The Saints clobbered Arizona because the Cardinals defense stinks and couldn't stop the Saints from scoring. The Cardinals had to start playing catch-up and scrap part of their game plan, which made the Saints secondary and defense look a little bit better than it actually is. I am telling you, I have little faith in the Saints defense. If they beat the Vikings this week I perhaps will change my mind, but the old formula of "get ahead early and force the other team to come back" has worked well for the Saints and made the defense look a little better than it may be.

Williams all week told them Kurt Warner must go down, and he must go down hard. "We had to put Kurt down early so he would play with a little fear,'' Williams said.

Which is true. Hit Warner early and he tends to get a little bit rattled. We've seen this a few times before and it's a great strategy. Of course first you have to hit Warner a few times hard, which isn't easy as quickly as he gets rid of the ball.

There can't be 10 throws in Favre's football life as good as the one he made to start the scoring in the rout of the Cowboys. He sets up, flings it deep down the right sideline for Sidney Rice in tight coverage, and Rice barely has to move his hands to catch it and score on a 46-yard touchdown toss.

Fantastic throw. Probably one of the best throws I have seen this year. I figured the Vikings would try to go deep early and stretch the Cowboys out. I didn't know it would work like it did. Favre made a great throw. There I have said one good thing about Brett Favre.

We're now through 17 games. Favre is having the kind of impact no one except maybe he (and I bet he'd tell you he never thought the year would be going this good) thought he'd have. In 17 games, he's at a remarkable plus-30 touchdown-to-interception differential -- 37 touchdowns, seven interceptions. The Vikings need him to play like this only twice more and they're world champions.

I just got a shiver at the prospect of Favre winning the Super Bowl this year.

Peter does go on to mention the Viking defense but it shouldn't surprise anyone he talked about Favre first and the great throw he made. I knew that would be what everyone talked about even though the Vikings defense absolutely ruined the Cowboys offensively. Really, I would give the Vikings defense a ton of credit more than I would give Favre, but we know that's not how the world works...especially Peter King's world.

I've got to give defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier a tremendous tip of the hat after the defense's six-sack, 19-pressure performance against Tony Romo.

There's your tip of the hat Leslie Frazier for giving Favre short fields and pretty much preventing the Cowboys from ever having a chance on offense. Really we all know it was Brett Favre who won the game, but the 3 points the Vikings gave up was decent as well.

Good notes by Charlie Casserly on the CBS pregame show, and Jay Glazer on FOX, about the flirtations of Tony Dungy with the Seahawks, telling the Seahawks he'd sleep on it when they asked about him becoming team president, and about Dungy saying he would have hired Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to be his coach in Seattle.

What? Why would you go out and hire a head coach who has been extremely successful and well-prepared as an assistant coach when you could get a guy who has failed as an NFL coach with a couple other teams? Don't you understand, Leslie Frazier has never been a head coach in the NFL before. This clearly makes him unqualified to ever be one.

1. I'm told late last week that Seattle president Tod Leiweke was in the horns of a dilemma: If Dungy was seriously interested in the job, he was going to have to decide who to hire -- Dungy and a head coach, or Pete Carroll and a front office.

Holy shit, is this really a hard decision? I have hinted Dungy may not be as good of a head coach as some seem to think he could be, but I think he would make a great personnel guy and it's obvious from his time in Tampa and Indianapolis (where he didn't have full say, but you know he had some say) that he is a pretty good judge of football players.

I'm choosing Dungy and his potential head coach, which would have been Leslie Frazier over Pete Carroll and a General Manager to be named later.

I'm hearing that after the Super Bowl, commissioner Roger Goodell will reinstate disgraced wide receiver Donte' Stallworth so that he'd be able to sign with any NFL team in 2010. Stallworth will be 29 this off-season, and there's no guarantee he'd get a job in the league,

Yes, there is a guarantee. It's the NFL and they sign guys who have been in jail for two years or players have killed ordinary citizens in traffic accidents while drunk. It's what the NFL does. Someone will sign Stallworth if he is in good shape.

Reed, 31, said after the game a nerve impingement in his neck may force him to retire. "You'll know soon enough,'' he said. That would be sad for football, because this is the best ball-hawking safety of our time (maybe ever),

Let's take a deep breath Peter. Ed Reed is a great safety but let's him retire first before we start calling him the best ball-hawking safety of our time or maybe ever. Of course after the "Derek Jeter is the greatest baseball player of my lifetime/the last 20 years fiasco" I would have to wonder what Peter means by "of our time." He may just mean Ed Reed is the greatest ball-hawking safety over the last 2 years. You never know with Peter.

If the past few days, I've spoken to sources on both sides of the labor talks, and I've come to the conclusion that it'll be an upset if there isn't a work stoppage that either delays or cancels the 2011 season.

If I read Peter's column every week in an attempt to mock it, he could at least try to pretend he has some good news for me in regards to this.

Many of us in the media have speculated about the chances for a lockout and predicted one is coming, but the total lack of progress over the nut issue in 11 bargaining sessions tells me unless there's a sea-change by one side or the other, you'd better savor the 2010 season because it could be the last football we see for a while.

I understand the economics and reasons behind a lockout, but when is a lockout ever good for the sport. Baseball essentially turned a blind eye to the Steroid Era in an attempt to make it back after the lockout and every other sport that has had a lockout seems to have had a difficult time making it back. Why go to this extreme? I know money is money but I think a lockout would be a step back for the NFL. It doesn't make long-term sense for the NFL.

The gall of Kiffin. The unmitigated, outrageous gall of this kid. And the idiocy of Tennessee apparently giving Kiffin -- when, let's be honest, what options did he have coming off his disastrous 5-15 run with the Raiders? -- an $800,000 buyout after one year of his contract. But I blame Kiffin far more.

How dare he take a job that is a step up from where he was currently coaching and then get paid more money as well! In our capitalist system, a person should have no right to try and do better for themselves!

One 7-6 season. After Tennessee rescued a tarnished Kiffin.

Yes, Kiffin was tarnished by being fired by Al Davis. Since Davis is such a wonderful judge of coaching talent, this is clearly a coaching death knell. I would like to tell Peter that Kiffin also rescued Tennessee because they had just fired their coach and it appeared no one wanted the job, but then they got an up-and-coming young coach to bring in his NFL decorated father and master recruiter Ed Oregeron. I found it to be a coup for Tennessee since really the job isn't as widely wanted as Vol fans and alumni seem to believe it is. So Kiffin and the Vols rescued each other.

After Tennessee's athletics department backed Kiffin through six secondary recruiting violations, and after Tennessee backed Kiffin in a potential violation of having campus "hostesses'' make "visits'' to recruits all over the southeast.

You would think Tennessee would be happy to get rid of Kiffin then.

That's where I'll draw the line in the moral sand. He has an obligation to Tennessee. That school gave Kiffin and his family a life-preserver when he was on the street.

I see this completely differently. I think Tennessee gave Kiffin a chance at redemption but he also gave Tennessee a football coach who had credibility and could recruit. I think it was a more symbiotic relationship.

Where's the decency? The maturity? The gratitude? The simple sense of even a pinch of loyalty?

If Peter had actually been out of his castle at SI and NBC at any point, he would know there is no loyalty on either side of the employer/employee relationship. Just like Tennessee could have fired him if they didn't like the job he did, he left when he got a better offer at a school he would prefer to coach at. In 2010, there is no job loyalty. A person could be fired or laid off for no good reason, so an employee has to look out for himself at all times, and it shows me how out of touch Peter is that he hasn't caught on to all of this.

Interesting column Friday on by Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno, son of Joe, railing about the state of college football. "This profession has lost touch with the reality of the world around us, and some coaches have lost touch with what the mission of our profession should be,'' Jay Paterno wrote.

This is easy for the son of the most entrenched head coach in college football to say. He's not getting fired anytime soon because his daddy is the head coach. Hell, Jay Paterno will get some respect for 5 years after his dad retires simply because of his last name. His father is the type of person who could rail against the system, but not every coach or assistant coach is entrenched at his university like Jay/Joe Paterno. I'm not defending Kiffin, just saying there is no loyalty on either side.

Why this differs from a coach who gets fired despite having a valid contract with his pro or college team. It does, because teams or schools have to pay a coach who gets fired what he's due under the terms of his contract. If he's got three years and $3 million left, the school has to fork it over.

If Peter knew enough about college football, he would know the Vols got a better head coach in Derek Dooley. Tennessee has mud on their face, but they have come out the better. I think Derek Dooley knows what he is doing.

Why this differs from the real world. Scores of you believe I'm a Pollyanna about this. I currently have a contract with Sports Illustrated, and another with NBC.

Absolutely, Peter is in a castle surrounded by money with a comfortable job.

If another media company came to me and offered me three times what I'm making, I wouldn't entertain the offer. I want to believe I'm like most Americans -- a contract's a contract.

That's fantastic, but in the real world (not in the Kiffin situation), a person doesn't make a ton of money like Peter (admittedly by his own admission) makes. So "a contract is a contract" is a wonderful guiding principle until you realize a person has a responsibility to do what is best for he and his/her family. Your employer won't do what is best for you, they will try to get away with paying you as little as possible, so you have to sometimes break a contract to help your bottom line because your employer would do the same to you if you were hurting their bottom line.

2. Indianapolis (15-2). Maybe we can throw Joe Montana into the argument, but in my 25 years covering the NFL I've not seen a quarterback handle the clock inside of two minutes better than Manning. At the end of the first half Saturday night, you saw Manning motion to the sideline, and to coach Jim Caldwell, to let him run one more play with seven seconds to go before attempting the field goal.

The one point that everyone seemed to miss here was that there should have been less than 7 seconds left in the half. The play before started with 9 seconds and took (by my count) a minimum of 4 seconds to run, but the clock never started. John Harbaugh rightly almost had a heart attack trying to point this out to the officials, who ignored him of course. The Colts got the benefit of a clock that didn't run off as much as it should have. They should not have been able to get off one more play.

Goats of the Week

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego, and Nate Kaeding, K, San Diego.

No freaking way should Philip Rivers be a goat in this game. He didn't play incredibly well, but he also wasn't the goat for the game. The Chargers would have put up 23 points if Kaeding had hit his three field goals and would have won the game if he had hit two of his field goals. He's the goat in my mind.

Rivers came up incredibly small in the biggest game of the year. I still have no idea who he was throwing the ball to on the vital, late-third-quarter interception by Jim Leonhard that set the Jets up for the go-ahead score early in the fourth.


HH said...

Is Peter a moron or am I just misreading what he's saying?

And the idiocy of Tennessee apparently giving Kiffin -- when, let's be honest, what options did he have coming off his disastrous 5-15 run with the Raiders? -- an $800,000 buyout after one year of his contract.

Lane Kiffin was the one who had to pay Tennessee to break his contract - Tennessee isn't paying Kiffin to leave. A clause permitting a coach to leave is pretty much standard in college coaching contracts (which is why Carroll, Kiffin, Dooley, Kelly, etc could all leave) and they are in the contract when it's signed. Peter is acting as if Tennessee decided a year into the contract to let Kiffin walk - they have no choice but to let him walk since his contract allows it. I hate you, Peter King.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, I don't know. I sort of read it that way as well. I am pretty sure Kiffin was the one who had to pay to buyout the contract. That makes sense.

There is a clause in probably every coach's contract offering them a buyout option if they want to go somewhere else. I vividly remember Rich Rodriguez had one. Kiffin is essentially opting out of his contract and Tennessee had to allow him to do it.

What also annoyed me was that Peter acted like Lane Kiffin had no other options when UT hired him, but he seemed to pretty much be their first choice. They wanted him and they got him, I don't think Kiffin was really desperate and no one was holding his time in Oakland against him. I also think he is over rating the UT job a little bit. Both sides did each other a favor.

I do think Peter is a moron because that buyout was obviously in his contract or he couldn't have taken the USC job.

rich said...

How is the "most accurate kicker in NFL history" shanking some field goals poignant? Was Vanderjak the most accurate kicker in NFL history before he self-destructed in the game where he missed a FG wide by about 20 yards? It's also not poignant if the same friggin' kicker had already missed three FGs in a game earlier in his relatively short career. So 1. It's happened before in the playoffs and 2. The same kicker has missed 3 FGs in a game too.

I've come to the conclusion that it'll be an upset if there isn't a work stoppage that either delays or cancels the 2011 season.

Okay, so a strike nearly crippled baseball before the Yankees started winning and all the power hitters started putting on shows. A strike killed hockey for a year and it's now on a second tier (maybe even third tier) tv station. Now if the NFL were to have a work stoppage I don't think it'd lose a ton of fans, but some of the teams would close up shop (probably a good thing), while others would have to have to cut/trade players to recoup operating costs (stadium lease) that they'll still have during a canceled season. If the owners (who make plenty off the NFL) and the players (who also make plenty off the NFL) can't reach an agreement, then they're not only incompetent, but functionally retarded.

The gall of Kiffin. The unmitigated, outrageous gall of this kid. And the idiocy of Tennessee apparently giving Kiffin -- when, let's be honest, what options did he have coming off his disastrous 5-15 run with the Raiders? -- an $800,000 buyout after one year of his contract. But I blame Kiffin far more. One 7-6 season. After Tennessee rescued a tarnished Kiffin.

The gall of Favre. The unmitigated, outrageous gall of this Wrangler wearing asshat. And the idiocy of the Jets apparently giving Favre -- when lets be honest, what other options did he have coming off a 9-7 season where he sucked the last 5 games and was hurt? -- cutting him from the team after one year on his new contract. One 9-7 season. After NY "rescued" a waffling Favre.

I knew Peter couldn't love Favre that much.

That's where I'll draw the line in the moral sand. He has an obligation to Tennessee. That school gave Kiffin and his family a life-preserver when he was on the street.

So Peter has no problem with what Favre did (retire twice in attempts to become a FA), but a coach leaving for a better job?! The outrage! He should have at least had the decency to retire first!

Martin said...

Where was Peter's outrage when Kiffin was fired from the raiders job and then denied his due contract money by the Crypt Keeper?

Life preserver my ass. Everybody in America knew Kiffin was an up and coming young coach. He did pretty good work with the Raiders, considering how much Davis was undermining him. Everybody but Peter knew that Kiffin was going to get a nice college job, and the Vols came calling. The guy had put away a couple million as Raiders head coach, he wasn't selling pencils on the street.

And no Peter, it's no different that a school fires a coach and still has to pay him. The coach fired the school, and paid them a buyout clause! If he was miserable, and NBC and sPorts Illustrated were making him do research, write accurate articles that didn't suck, and could only mention Favre once every other week...Peter would be taking that job with the other media company as fast as he could too. Lazy ass fat fuck.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think he was referring to this possibly being Ed Reed's last game. Peter loves nothing more than some summer long retirement speculation.

Poor Nate Kaeding. He has missed a few clutch kicks, I can't help but wonder what the hell his problem is.

I don't think the NFL will go out of business if they go on strike, and I know they have disagreements over money and who should get more of it...but I don't think it is worth a strike. There is going to be lost revenue, so I think if they can work it they should do it. A strike also hurt the NBA in 1998. I would avoid this if at all possible if I were the owners and players.

Great parallel to Favre. I am actually trying to lay off Favre as much as I can because I think I talk about him at least once a week...probably more. Great parallel I missed though.

Martin, there was no outrage when Davis fired him because it is understood the employer has a right to do that. LANE KIFFIN IS AN ASSHOLE, there is no doubt about that, but he is also a great recruiter and really could end up being a great coach.

I actually had written something about him for tomorrow, so I don't want to repeat myself too much, but he also didn't leave Tennessee in as bad of shape as people would want you to believe.

Tennessee jumped all over Kiffin after he was fired by the Raiders and Fulmer left. It's not like he was a charity case, he very well could have been their first choice.

It's weird because I read what KSK wrote about this (I do that after I write mine) and they made a similar point that Peter clearly doesn't understand the employer/employee relationship. I was actually a little surprised Kiffin took the job with UT last year honestly, it didn't seem like he was a East Coast type guy.

If SI and NBC didn't treat him well, he would bust out of his contract incredibly quickly and I don't doubt it.

KBilly said...

One problem I had with King's take on Kiffen is that he asks where's the loyalty andthankfulness on Kiffin's part...

If UT wanted loyalty, they'd have kept Fulmer. But UT didn't want that. UT wanted a hired gun. They got one. They had to KNOW that should the USC job open up that he'd want it. Nobody figured Carroll would leave now, so it bit them in the ass.

Hell, Kiffin is only 3 years removed from USC, so the junior and senior class are his recruits.

Martin said...

Great point Billy, I forgot to put that in my last post. Where was the loyalty to Fullmer? King has lost it, though I'm not sure he ever had it.

Bengoodfella said...

Yeah, great point Billy. Tennessee didn't have loyalty to Fulmer who "stepped down" as head coach, with pressure to do so of course.

You are so right that UT didn't want loyalty, they wanted someone who would be kind of aggressive and turn the program around. That's what they got and then he turned around and went to the school he coached at beginning his career.

Also, a good call on the recruits. Basically Peter doesn't get that there isn't loyalty by the coaches because the universities don't loyalty. Tommy Tuberville got fired after having a great record at Auburn, Frank Solich got fired after a 10 win season at Nebraska and there are other cases like that.

KentAllard said...

I only caught a bit of Minnesota - Dallas (just checking to see that a meteor wasn't going to strike the field) but every time I did, Romo was either fleeing for his life or getting cratered into the ground. Favre was great, I hate to admit, but the Minnesota defense made it impossible for Dallas to win. I've said it before, but it seems evident the biggest single factor determining whether a quarterback goes to the Pro Bowl or the unemployment line is how long he gets to throw. One second either way can change a QB from a hero to a goat, or vice versa.

I like Dungy as a personnel guy better than as a coach at this stage. But, I think he and Bill Cowher enjoy being the center of attention whenever a job comes open.

It's the cynic in me I'm sure, but i wonder if Donte Stallworth would be organizing a charity effort if he didn't need to rehabilitate his image.

Bengoodfella said...

Kent, Ray Edwards went insane in that game against the Cowboys. I am not sure even he knew he could play that well. I think there is a difference in quarterback ability but I also believe the time a QB has to throw plays a big part in how good he can be. Romo had no chance in that game. Favre played very well, there is no doubt about that, but the Vikings defense made the game in my mind.

Favre's throw to Rice was beautiful though.

I think Dungy and Cowher like the attention a little bit, but I think Cowher craves the attention and watching his price go up. There is a certain job he has his eye on and that's the one he is going to try and take apparently.

Don't be jaded, I believe Stallworth is only doing that to rehab his image to play football again. I bet this is true.