Mark Bradley is one of my favorite sportswriters. He is a writer for the AJC and writes about sports (obviously) for the paper. I happened to notice he had something not-nice to say about my favorite NFL team that I disagreed with and it can be tied into Peter King's MMQB for last week when Peter ranked all of the NFL teams. I will also cover Peter's mailbag for this week, but first I will let Mark Bradley have his say about the Falcons spot in Peter's arbitrary rankings.
Mark Bradley is one of the few writers I follow in Twitter and has been seen on this blog a couple of times, but usually in a positive manner than usually seen for a sportswriter. He is also (full disclosure) the only major sportswriter to have linked this blog on his blog at the AJC, which I am eternally grateful to him for doing. It may sound hypocritical for a blogger who criticizes the sportswriting media to be happy he got linked on a sportswriter's site, but it is a sportswriter I enjoy reading so it was exciting to see he had this blog linked. Obviously this doesn't mean he is excluded from having his work seen here, but the fact he doesn't like Brett Favre too much doesn't hurt him in my eyes.
Anyway, time to disagree with him a bit (and also turn into a homer) and then on to Peter King's Tuesday mailbag briefly.
In his newest power rankings, Mr. King ranks the Falcons 16th in a 32-team league, which would be the utter definition of mediocrity. He also sees the Falcons as the third-best team in the four-team NFC South, behind both New Orleans (No. 5) and Carolina (No. 8).
(Loses all ability to be humble) Since I did predict the entire finishing order of the NFC South correctly last year, I feel like I can do so this year as well...just not right now. I am not a crazy person like Peter King and think I can do a power poll almost 4 months in advance. I see Atlanta and Carolina pretty closely matched and I see New Orleans taking a bit of a dive this year.
That’s correct. He has the Panthers, who historically are the NFL most’s overrated bunch, eight spots ahead of the Falcons.
There is the comment. I think he is referring to the Panthers being predicted by Sports Illustrated to make or win the Super Bowl twice in the 2000's when this did not occur. This makes them overrated I guess. I disagree, I think the Panthers have been properly rated. Other than the two instances in Sports Illustrated I can't think of too many times when great things were predicted for the Panthers. They haven't even been in existence as a franchise long enough to be overrated.
Mr. King believes dumping Jake Delhomme and will propel Carolina onward and upward, which it might. But still: A team with an unproven quarterback (Matt Moore)
Moore has a career record of 6-2 as a starter. The Panthers were 4-7 under Jake Delhomme and 4-1 under Matt Moore last year. Moore also played during a period when both starting offensive tackles were on IR. He had less to work with by the end of the year then Delhomme did at the beginning of the year. Last year, and most likely this year, they would be a better team with Moore over Jake Delhomme. Hell, they'd be a better team with anyone over Delhomme, but Moore was the guy who got the job and did the job fairly well.
and a potential lame duck of a head coach (John Fox) is going to jump above the Falcons, who with all their injuries still finished a game ahead of the Panthers in 2009?
I am not going to defend Peter King's rankings or say the Panthers are going to be better than the Falcons this year, but the Panthers had their share of injuries as well. They had both offensive tackles miss a good portion of the year, they lost their second-best linebacker for the year (Thomas Davis), lost their fullback (which is important for a team that runs the ball a lot) for a few games, and had nearly every single defensive tackle on the roster at beginning of the year (and a few they signed to replace those guys) end up on IR as well. So they had their share of injuries. As bad as the Falcons had injuries on defense? Definitely not, but it isn't as far off as one would think.
(Oh, yes. One thing more. Julius Peppers no longer plays for Carolina.)
Which means there will be two defensive ends on the team who play the ENTIRE 16 game schedule this year. Not one DE who plays 8-10 games while the other DE plays all 16 games.
The point here isn’t to argue with the esteemed PK but to note his reasons for not loving the Falcons. Quoth Mr. King:
Peter's reasoning probably sucks, but I still don't see how this definitively says the Falcons are going to be 1st/2nd in the division even if Peter is wrong.
The Falcons are healthier, and better. I just think there are two teams in the division better right now — unless Matt Ryan has a Drew Brees-type year. I don’t think he has one of those in him … yet. Not many quarterbacks do.
And I can’t understand how Carolina minus Peppers is a more enticing team than the Falcons plus Robinson.
Really, the argument Mark Bradley has should be with the Saints ranking, not with where the Panthers are in Peter's rankings. The Saints are due for a fall this year in my mind and I think they are overranked. I know they won the Super Bowl, but I still have questions about how they will fare this upcoming year. The defense still doesn't impress me...of course they did seem to do fine last year.
Though don't know for absolute sure how Carolina is more enticing to Peter King than the Falcons either, I don't think it has to do with Julius Peppers' absence. The Panthers actually weren't a terrible team last year (outside of the quarterback position), so I think they could be better than the Falcons this year. Of course, the Panthers cut or traded nearly every veteran on the team this offseason. They cut Nai'l Diggs, Damione Lewis, Chris Harris, Maake Kemoeatu, and Brad Hoover. If you were over 28 years old (and weren't Steve Smith or John Kasay), they cut you. The absence of Peppers isn't the Panther's problem, it is the youth of the team. Except on the offensive line, they are a fairly young team. That's somewhat of a drawback to choosing them as the NFC South winner.
Still, I think a case could be made the Panthers underachieved last year and could be the best team in the NFC South with a good quarterback.
But reasonable folks can, I submit, disagree reasonably. And I guess that’s what I’m doing here. Because I think the 2010 Falcons will be really, really good. Division-winning good.
Maybe they can be division-winning good, but I don't see them as a surer shot than the Panthers at this point simply because the Panthers don't have Julius Peppers and start a quarterback (whoever it is) that isn't Jake Delhomme.
Also, John Fox is coaching for a contract. He is a Top 10 coach anyway, so he will try to do a great job with the Carolina team this year. I don't think Atlanta is clearly that much better than Carolina at this point.
On to some of the choice parts of Peter's mailbag for this week.
There's not a lot of clarity in the wake of the American Needle decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
It's good to see the Supreme Court came to the rational decision that the NFL is 32 independent teams and not one business. Each team in the NFL isn't a division of the NFL, but a separate entity that is independently held and independently run and operated. I don't know how any court could see this isn't true.
Except for one thing: I don't see it pushing the two sides to the bargaining table to quicken the process toward a labor deal when the current one runs out following the 2011 NFL Draft.
Of course not. Why start to work towards a labor deal now and spare the public 10 more months of posturing by either side until they eventually come to the same deal they would have struck in July 2010, but didn't want to be seen as "giving in" at that point in time?
I have always been fascinated by how each side in a lockout seems to think the longer they hold out, the more it looks like they are driving a harder bargain rather than just being stubborn. A deal is going to get done, but if either side helps to get it done too quickly it will look like they gave in too quickly as well. This happens a lot in Congress as well, which is why there is so much gridlock there.
Though the 9-0 decision could pave the way for the players to eventually decertify and attack the bargaining process in a different way (such a decertification would mean the players could claim not to be a union,
On this issue, I can understand the reasoning of both sides of the argument. I could see how the players could claim to not be a union. General Motors (or what is left of it) doesn't form a union with Toyota just because they both sell cars, so each team in the NFL could claim to be their own business and say they can't unionize together. In essence the Supreme Court said each team is their own business playing under the heading of the NFL though, so I could also see how each team in the NFL could unionize since they are playing under the heading of the NFL. I see it both ways.
Regardless, not shockingly this won't do anything positive for the lockout that will happen next year.
and that has tended to force both sides to the bargaining table in the past) there's little evidence the league will move aggressively to make concessions to try to forge any real progress in the stalled talks.
Can talks be stalled if there haven't been very serious talks in the first place?
I've said this for the past year, and I'm sure I'll say it for the next nine months: These labor deals always come together (or not) at the 11th hour, and I don't expect real progress 'til next spring at the earliest.
Because what's the fun in agreeing with each other and passing up the chance to not enjoy the 2010 season since there is a looming lockout that puts the 2011 season in jeopardy? It's more fun for the Player's union and the NFL to cause the fans of the NFL to believe the league will shut down for 2011. Watching fans of the NFL get depressed over the potential of not having a 2011 season seems to be something the union and NFL get off on...or more likely don't care about.
Onto Peter's email...
From Eric Moore of Anchorage: "Follow me for a sec:
This is good, I promise, let's follow Eric on this.
Roger Clemens: Sure-fire Hall of Famer, kept retiring, waffling and coming back late at the end of his career. Surprisingly productive seasons after he seemingly had lost a step. Turned out, at least to my way of thinking, he was avoiding the MLB drug testing program by being retired in the offseason.
Off the bat, it is pretty clear Eric is just shooting in the dark here because I am pretty sure Clemens never filed retirement papers, which makes him subject to MLB drug tests. I don't think he could have avoided them, but someone correct me if I am wrong. Still, we all know Clemens used PEDs in some form, even though he denies it.
Yes...yes...keep going Eric.
Sure-fire Hall of Famer, kept retiring, waffling and coming back late at the end of his career. Surprisingly productive seasons after he seemingly had lost a step. ...
If there is one way to get on Peter's bad side, it is to talk negatively about Brett Favre. If there is a way to get on Peter's bad side and get a public scolding, it is to accuse Favre in any way of cheating. Sure, his great season last year really doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense considering how old he is, especially considering I am not sure how much "working out" he was doing in Mississippi over the summer. Does throwing a football to high school kids count as "working out?"
I don't believe Favre would use PEDs. We can all justify Favre's year by saying he just keeps himself in really good physical shape just like those older baseball players who hit the ball well later in their career like Barry Bonds...wait, nevermind. It is not like Favre has a history of using drugs either. Wait, ignore that...um, let's allow Eric to dig himself a bigger hole with Peter.
I know you can't just throw out accusations against players with no evidence, but I just think a lot of fans are frustrated and fed up with the total shock displayed by talking heads when news comes out about an athlete's positive test or association with a tainted doctor. We've already been talking amongst ourselves about this stuff, so it just gets so tiresome when professionals act like they can't believe it.
Peter is shocked that Eric is angry that Peter gets shocked when an athlete tests positive for a PED. He is shocked and angered. He doesn't know these athletes like Peter does and if he did then he would know how shocking these revelations can be.
Maybe we turned a corner with the Brian Cushing thing, or maybe he was just a rookie and easy to shove under a bus.''
He was a rookie and easy to shove under the bus. There is no way the writers would take an MVP award away from a quarterback like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning if it was found out their entire receiving corp used PEDs and I don't believe the AP would take away an MVP from certain other players in the league. Brian Cushing was a rookie and he hasn't done enough interviews and kissed enough ass to be beloved quite yet.
Let's just say Eric is going to get publicly scolded by Peter now.
Do I think Brett Favre used PEDs during his career? No, I don't. I am naive to think that I am wrong? No, I am not. Favre had a pretty good last year and I believe he is egotistical enough to believe that using any type of PED was for the purpose of helping him and helping his team and this is how he would justify it. Honestly, after the Steroid Era of baseball we pretty much have to suspect any older player that puts up incredible numbers in every sport of possibly using some sort of PED. It just has to happen that way since the public has been burned a few times in regards to MLB players using PEDs to extend their career.
This is very true. He can get drug-tested at any point, so that is Favre's defense for any accusations.
Modern athletes are unfortunately suspected if they perform well at an older age, because there has been reason to suspect these athletes in the past based on baseball's Steroid Era. It's a stigma Olympians face and nearly every athlete that excels at his sport has to face, except in the NFL for some reason. It may due to the public just assuming NFL players throw all sorts of crap in their body in order to play well.
From Rob Martin of Houston: "Regarding Marc Bulger, if not the Cardinals, then where do you think he would best fit?''
From Brad Bourbina of Pittsburg, Kan.: "What are the players' thoughts on the Super Bowl being played in New Jersey? I've heard a lot of opinions from analysts, radio talkers and former players, but what do the Mannings and Favres (ok, maybe not him) think? I always got the impression the players and coaches saw Super Bowl week as something of a "reward" for getting this far and treated it like a vacation (preparation for the biggest game of the year aside).''
PK: I don't think players will be pleased. I haven't spoken to any of them about it, but usually players want to do things in warm climes -- golf, the beach -- in their free time. Now, some of them will be excited, I'm sure, to go clubbing in Manhattan on Monday night and Tuesday night,