Friday, December 24, 2010

3 comments MMQB Review: It's A Christmas Miracle Edition

This week in MMQB Peter King tells us all what they do in the control room of the NBC studios and fills us in on the action from the weekend (he does this every week, I realize this isn't huge news). It's the same old Peter King, that's what we love about him. No matter what, he doesn't change how he writes, regardless of whether we would like for him to do so or not.

We yell a lot in the fifth-floor Rockefeller Center viewing room of NBC's Football Night in America.

"Taylor Swift turned 21 years old!" (high-fives Tony Dungy)

"Just a few more years until Dakota Fanning is legal!" (high-fives Rodney Harrison)

Oh, Rodney Harrison yells, often at big hits.

"What a great hit, that guy got his bell rung!" (then remembers he is supposed to be against big hits now because he changed his mind AFTER he retired about big hits)

Tony Dungy even yells a time or two per Sunday.

(Watching a commercial for a documentary on Mother Teresa) "I'm better than her! She's nowhere near as pious as I am! That uppity-bitch has got nothing on the Dung-man!"

(looks around the room hoping no one heard him)

I yell more than I ever did in a press box, where yelling is verboten.

"Where are my nachos at? I just had them here! Who the fuck ate my nachos? Show yourself or face the wrath of Peter King! I had three bags of nachos here just a few minutes ago! I will write about you in MMQB if I don't get my nachos back!"

(Peter then remembers he ate all three bags. He then begins staring at a complete stranger in an office building across the street for six hours and begins writing about how it is so weird this guy sat in his office for six hours just staring at his computer and talking on the phone, while ignoring the fact it is weird he is staring at this person for six hours)

The 49ers (5-9) could actually win the NFC West, and if they do, let us pray we finally see the league make a sensible rule of not guaranteeing a division winner a home playoff game. It's possible a 12-4 Saints team could travel to play a seven-win NFC West winner. Bah humbug.

Yes, because when I am spending my time praying one of the first thoughts in my mind is first and foremost how screwed up the NFL playoff system is. I agree with Peter about this issue, but I leave football-related prayer for more important things like Jimmy Clausen actually completing a difficult pass or Brett Favre retiring.

This drive ended with a sharp, short 13-yard TD strike to Jeremy Maclin ... 31-31, 1:16 left ... Giants stalled again. Fourth-and-17 at the Giant 29. Fourteen seconds to go. They'd have to punt. Back went Jackson. Coughlin told his rookie punter, Matt Dodge, that the kick had to go out of bounds. The most Philadelphia should be able to do, Coughlin thought, was run one final play. A huge longshot.

Punting out of bounds just seems like something that is really simple to do in this situation...apparently not.

And hiring Bill Cowher. I don't see it. Not really the Giants' style to break the bank for a coach most in the organization don't see as being altogether different from Coughlin.

But that was one hell of a loss for New York, the kind that could carry over to the next Biggest Game of the Year, Sunday at Green Bay.

I hope not, but that's a tough way to lose. I think it is interesting Peter King doesn't think the Giants would hire Cowher because he is too much like Tom Coughlin. Peter follows up on this in a minute by talking about a different team and Bill Cowher, but you'll see there's a thin line apparently between a team not wanting to hire a coach like their current one and being too cheap to hire Cowher.

We all know John Fox and his $6 million salary will be gone from Carolina at the end of the season. And the Panthers will look elsewhere for a coach. But it'll be a much less expensive coach. So scratch Cowher, who now splits his time between Raleigh and New York, because he won't be involved.

So the Panthers are too cheap to hire Cowher despite the fact he is similar to John Fox in that they were both defensive coaches, have a background with the Steelers and are generally viewed as player's coaches?

The Panthers won't hire a much less expensive coach because the Panthers don't want to pay for a less expensive coach, a less expensive coach will probably be chosen because a more expensive coach doesn't definitely lead to team success. Scratch Cowher off the list because no matter how much the media would love to frame the storyline of Bill Cowher playing so "close" to where he lives part-time (if you consider 180 miles "close"), he isn't coming to Carolina to coach and was never coming to Carolina to coach. This is a pure media creation because it "makes sense" to them. The media has even made mention of Marty Schottenheimer coaching here in Carolina...because he lives close to the area. When things "make sense" to the sports media, they start rumors.

Jerry Richardson doesn't believe coaches are worth that much money.

This isn't true. There have been three coaches in the history of the team. He gave two of them lucrative extensions and paid a lot of money to bring in George Seifert. The bottom line is that John Fox hasn't ever made back-to-back playoffs. I know there are other factors that go into him not having ever achieved this but that's the bottom line. Coaches who can't make back-to-back playoffs aren't worth $6 million per year to (Panthers owner) Jerry Richardson. He isn't being cheap, it is not that he doesn't think coaches are worth this much money, and this isn't a direct indication of his future feelings (money-wise) about head coaches. It is simply he doesn't want to give John Fox a raise from $6 million per year. It is easy as that. Richardson feels he can do better than Fox at a lower price. So the idea the Panthers are a cheap team overall is just not true. Again, rather than actually find this out it is easier to paint a team Peter doesn't follow closely as cheap.

Richardson and GM Marty Hurney are likely to look at the models of Mike Smith (Atlanta), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh) and John Harbaugh (Baltimore) for their next man.

Those aren't bad models to follow...yet the Panthers are being framed by Peter King as being "cheap." I think a lot of teams wouldn't mind being seen as cheap if they could follow the model of the Ravens, Falcons and Steelers and be effective at it.

Tim Tebow knew he'd be a little nervous -- well, maybe a lot nervous -- Saturday night after going over his playsheet twice with Denver quarterback coach Ben (Brother of Josh) McDaniels. So he took an Ambien.

I don't believe Tim Tebow would even take an Aspirin. Clearly, this is not a factual statement. There's no way Tim would use a drug of any kind. Simply being around himself is a drug enough for Tebow.

I watched the Tebow highlights -- and a couple of lowlights -- in the 39-23 loss against Oakland, and this is what I saw in his performance (8 of 16, 138 yards, one touchdown, no picks; eight rushes for 78 yards and a touchdown):

I thought Denver did a great job of putting Tebow in a position to succeed and I thought Tebow did a good job at quarterback. Does this mean he will be an NFL starter? Eh...possibly not, but it was a good debut. What little I saw during the game pretty much backed up my opinion that Kyle Orton should be the starter when he is healthy.

His touchdown run -- from 40 yards out -- was odd. "A play was called that I hadn't repped,'' he said. (Strange that the Broncos would call a play, even on a long down-and-distance, that Tebow had never practiced.) The play was supposed to be a draw to Correll Buckhalter, but Tebow thought it was a quarterback draw. So he ran it -- and Buckhalter put a nice block on safety Tyvon Branch downfield, helping Tebow score.

These are the type of things I have questions about whether Tebow will be able to repeat when teams look at his tendencies and are able to gameplan for him.

But without McDaniels, and assuming Ben McDaniels is gone after the season when a new staff takes over, Tebow may have to adapt to a new style. He's still very much a work in progress.

Exactly. Tebow has a definite shot with his leadership abilities to be a great NFL quarterback, but it isn't quite his time right now. I still believe that to be true. If he gets a good quarterback coach who is willing to give him time, then he will have a chance to succeed in the NFL.

Shanahan told me McNabb, who was the number two quarterback Sunday, will be third in the final two games while he gives Grossman and -- he hopes -- John Beck a chance to show themselves. "Nothing Rex did today surprises me,'' Shanahan said. "And I think John Beck's got an excellent future. I'm looking at the long-term. I've got to look out for what's best for this team for the long-term, so I want to see what we have with Rex and John Beck. I feel like I know where I am with Donovan.''

I don't care what Rex Grossman did yesterday. His history shows that he isn't a viable NFL starter. Of course if the quarterback genius Mike Shanahan gets a hold of him he may just turn out to be super great. We all see what Shanahan did for McNabb this year. In my opinion, there is a term used for a team that is relying on Rex Grossman or John Beck to be their starter in the long-term future. Fucked. In the short term? Intermittently fucked.

Here's where they are with Grossman: In the previous four meetings with Dallas, Washington totaled 20 points. On Sunday, they scored 30. Progress, perhaps, but with a lot of pain.

The Redskins were down 20 points at one point, so it is not like Grossman was facing tough coverages during the game. It's not that Grossman can't throw the ball, it is his decision-making. He brought Washington back, and I give him credit for that, but I think Grossman is a great backup.

What really got my goat this year was when the list of 26 that we've got to whittle down to 15 finalists was disclosed, Ron Wolf's name wasn't on the list. That's ridiculous.

He's one of the best personnel evaluators ever, with the moxie to make some of the biggest decisions in recent NFL history. He landed in moribund Green Bay in 1991, hired Mike Holmgren as head coach, traded for Brett Favre, signed Reggie White in free agency when no one thought any player of consequence would come to a bad team in a tiny city, and piloted the team to two Super Bowl appearances in the '90s. He's personally responsible for making the Packers relevant again, and one of his former minions, Ted Thompson, lords over the team today -- and, taught guts by Wolf, had the stones to choose Aaron Rodgers over a waffling Favre in 2008.

I'm not against Ron Wolf's candidacy, but I am not sure how much of Ted Thompson's success we should attribute to Wolf. General Managers usually don't have "trees" and I think much of Thompson's success was on his own. I'm not sure if Wolf should be in the Hall of Fame or not, but I think one of the most irritating parts of the Hall of Fame process in nearly every sport is the insistence by some people that no "worthy" people be left out. The Hall of Fame is an exclusive place and when there is voting for an exclusive honor sometimes quality people tend to get left out.

Not fair. I think Ron Wolf deserves a bust between Wilson (Ralph) and Woodson (Rod) in the main hall of the Hall. The three options to fix the contributor dilemma:

1. Take one of the two Seniors slots and give it annually to a non-head coaching contributor to the game, which wouldn't mean a contributor wouldn't get in every year, but rather that one contributor's case would be heard every year.

2. Take one of the two Seniors slots every other year and give it annually to a contributor.

3. Take the two non-modern-era-candidate slots and make them fit for all other candidates -- seniors, scouts, etc.

I don't say this to dilute the Senior pool.

Yet every option that was presented by Peter ends up diluting the Senior pool. The Seniors slots are for people like Floyd Little who didn't seem to have very good numbers using today's measuring stick, but at the time was a quality football player. I don't think Peter King will have much success essentially taking spots away from these Seniors.

1. New England (12-2). One win -- either at Buffalo or home with Miami -- stands in the way of the Patriots clinching home-field through the AFC playoffs and not playing a meaningful game until Jan. 15-16.

Which begs the question, will Bill Belichick play his starters in these meaningless games? Especially after Welker busted his knee in a meaningless game against the Texans last year before the playoffs.

2. Atlanta (12-2).

What made Peter give Atlanta some respect I wonder? A victory over Seattle? Really? That victory over Seattle finally convinced Peter the Falcons were better than the Saints, while the Saints lost to a quality opponent in the Ravens and lost spots in the Fine Fifteen? Dartboards and a blindfold would be a better determinant of the Fine Fifteen.

14. New York Giants (9-5). Yeah, they're better than 14th in the NFL. But any team that gives up 28 points in eight minutes in what was essentially an NFC East title game ... sorry.

If the Giants were better than the 14th best team in the NFL wouldn't Peter rank them better than that? That is the point of a Fine Fifteen isn't it?

Goat of the Week

Matt Dodge, P, New York Giants.

On the dumbest play of a mind-bending loss, Dodge, with 14 seconds left in a 31-31 tie, punted the ball to the best return man in the game (sorry, Devin Hester, but DeSean Jackson's taken over) instead of angling the ball out of bounds. Jackson ran it back for that touchdown. Now, instead of being in the driver's seat for a first-round bye and playing the divisional round game at home, the Giants will have to struggle to be the sixth seed, which will necessitate an all-road journey to the Super Bowl ... if they even make the playoffs.

We all know there is no way a Tom Coughlin-coached team could win three games on the road and then make and win the Super Bowl. That could never happen.

g. Marcedes Lewis. What hands!

Peter King. Athlete!

h. Lance Moore! What feet!

Really? Peter's going to keep doing this?

i. Armenti Edwards, inactive. Good thing the Panthers traded the 33rd pick in the 2011 draft for that guy.

First off, it is ARMANTI Edwards, so this criticism is a huge fail in the very beginning. It is hard to find criticism of a player worthwhile when the writer doesn't find it worthwhile to spell the player's name correctly.

If he is going to criticize Edwards and the Panthers wouldn't you think he would check into this one just a little bit? Putting criticism of a player/team in a national column would seem to require an actual knowledge of why that player was inactive. He seemed to have some sort of flu bug that was going around, so that's why he was inactive, because he was sick. It would have been simple for Peter King to find this out and not infer it is due to a lack of talent on Edwards' part.

Right now, it looks like a busted pick, but John Fox refuses to play Edwards because he believes in only activating 3-4 wide receivers every Sunday and Edwards has the least experience of any of the receivers in front of him, so he is inactive. He is a victim of a numbers game. Next year if Edwards sucks then I will be glad to say it was a busted pick.

3. I think I have one hope for the postseason -- that a 12-win wild card team in the NFC plays its first playoff game at a seven-win NFC West champion. Maybe then we'll realize the absurdity of guaranteeing a division winner a home playoff game. A division winner deserves a playoff spot for sure. But the playoff seedings should be based solely on record.

I agree with Peter King on this issue. I think the team with the most wins during the regular season should get the home playoff game. If both teams have the same amount of wins then the team that won their division should get the home game.

I know it isn't the same thing but I don't remember a huge amount of outrage when an 11 win Falcons team coming out of a strong NFC South had to go on the road to play a 9-7 Cardinals team out of a weak NFC West during the 2008 playoffs. Sure, the Cardinals went on to play in the Super Bowl, but no one knew they would do that at the time. I don't recall the outrage at that point and based on records, the Falcons had a clear claim to a home game in 2008.

At the league meetings in Fort Worth the other day, Giants president John Mara, a member of the Competition Committee, said a proposal to seed the playoffs on record only would likely be considered in the offseason, "but I don't hold out much hope it'll change.'' I applaud Mara for swimming against the tide and saying: "If you win 10 or 11, you shouldn't go on the road to face a team that wins seven or eight.''

Well, as part of a team in the NFC East John Mara has a stake in whether this rule gets changed or not because his Giants team could easily be one of the teams getting screwed over for a home game in the playoffs. The Giants are a good team in a difficult division. If this were an NFC West owner wanting to do this then I would be more impressed.

a. What is it about the human brain that allows you to hear a song for the first time in, oh, 20 years, and after five or six seconds, know every word to the song? Or is it just my brain that does this? Had the car radio on Sirius 60s on 6, and the first few bars of a song I used to love in sixth grade, "Spooky,'' comes on. And right away, I blurt out with the music, "In the cool of the evening when everything is getting' kinda groovy, I call you up and ask you if you'd like to go with me and see a movie ... '' I wish some smart brain student could tell me how that happens -- and then how I cannot remember a factoid from last week's NFL games.

Great. I'm glad our NFL expert can't remember what happened in last week's NFL games. That's heartening to hear. I'll have to remember Peter's admitting that he can't remember what happened in the NFL last week. I guess that would explain why he thinks we want to hear anything at all about Brett Favre. He can't remember we hate Favre.

h. So proud of my niece, South Windsor (Conn.) High violinist Laila King, after seeing her in the school's 2010 Winter Orchestra Concert Thursday night. What beautiful music. Laila's the daughter of my brother who died last summer, and as the family sat with Caroline during the concert, all I could think of was how proud her dad would have been to see her on stage, as a sophomore with mostly older kids, playing such sweet music. Great job, Laila.

i. As if Laila King reads "Monday Morning Quarterback.''

As if any of the people Peter gives a shout-out to in MMQB actually read it. I'm pretty sure Peter criticizes or compliments inanimate objects in MMQB sometimes. So he would have to cut down a lot of his shout-outs if a prerequisite for giving a shout-out is if the person actually read MMQB.

So here's more on the legend of Joe Webb, the aforementioned 199th pick in the 2010 draft, who gets his first NFL start tonight, against the Bears, on the Monday Night Football stage.

Hell no! Not if Brett Favre had anything to do with it. It doesn't matter to Favre that Webb's entire family was watching his debut on Monday Night Football, Favre pronounced himself out and then later decided that the pain of not being in the spotlight was greater than the pain of whatever injury he believes he has this week. Brett Favre will NOT give up the spotlight!

He said the best advice he got about tonight was the simplest, from Brett Favre. Just be you. Just play the way you play.

"Oh, and don't expect to start on Monday Night Football because I will rip that dream away from you."

What a difference a few hours makes. In the morning, Peter's hero, Brett Favre wasn't starting and then he did start against Chicago and he banged his little head, so he may be out this week (cue dramatic music). $100 says Favre starts again next week. Actually, I wouldn't doubt if the Vikings rule Favre as inactive for the game on Sunday and then he starts anyway. The NFL probably wouldn't do anything about it.


ivn said...

Punting out of bounds just seems like something that is really simple to do in this situation...apparently not.

Chris Kluwe chewed out PK over Twitter for oversimplifying directional punting.

similarly, I can't say I agree with Dodge as being the goat of the week. yeah, he made a bad play but everyone who's seen the Giants this season knows he's an overmatched rookie...he should have never been in that situation. the defense was awful, the offense was awful, the coaching was awful (how can you be THAT unprepared for an onside kick in that situation?), and on that last punt return the Giants coverage team pretty much lined up in single file to try to tackle Jackson. but right, it's all the punter's fault.

I agree with Peter King on this issue. I think the team with the most wins during the regular season should get the home playoff game. If both teams have the same amount of wins then the team that won their division should get the home game.

to be fair, this would be the first time in NFL history that a sub-.500 team wins its division. do we really need to freak out and change the rules over something that's happened once in 90 years?

h. Lance Moore! What feet!

this portion of the column ghost-written by Rex Ryan.


Bengoodfella said...

Ivn, I didn't know Kluwe chewed him out over Twitter a/b this. Where have I been?

The few Giants fans I have talked to hate Dodge, but it was a team fail in my book, beginning with the kick not being out of bounds.

I don't want to change all of the rules just for this year. I have generally always felt this way and this year is an extreme example. I think the team with the highest winning % should get the home playoff game.

your favourite sun said...

Let's remember that it's only been a few years that we've had so many divisions, too. For most of those first 90 years there were only one or two divisions in the entire league, then post-merger it was six until it became eight a few years ago. So it wasn't an issue before because the alignment was quite different; it stands to reason that with such a shift in the alignment of the divisions, a shift in the playoff approach could/should follow.