Wednesday, May 11, 2011

8 comments MMQB Review: Tender, Juicy NFL Nuggets Edition

I haven't covered MMQB in a few months or so after having done MMQB every single week for probably two years. I enjoyed doing it, but it was hard to write and post it Monday morning. I figured I may as well check back up with Peter and see what is on his mind during the lockout. As I expected, he is developing a new white quarterback crush (Jake Locker---he's like a younger, sexier version of Brett Favre for Peter) and handing out NFL nuggets for us all to chew on and spit into the trash. The lockout hasn't been good for Peter's MMQB. I can feel him stretching for things to discuss.

Many of you have written or tweeted to ask whether I'll be covering more of the labor stuff in this space over the next month or so, while the NFL and its players joust verbally and make their case in a St. Louis courtroom. My answer is simple: I'm going to write about football as much as possible, as long as it is relevant, along with some labor and the other cornucopia of stuff you read here.

"I gotta kill space people and complaints about free coffee, having to travel with the public and oh yeah, football related items, can only cover so much space."

We're just lucky Peter isn't using MMQB as his public diary to bitch about the Red Sox and how inconvenient it is to travel among other humans who aren't refined and perfect as Peter himself is.

I'll write labor when it seems important, and when I think you'll care. I get the feeling it alternately angers and bores you, from the feedback you send me.

Anytime Peter says something like this you know the next thing he types will be about the lockout or whatever topic he says we don't want to hear about. It is how he works.

That said, on Sunday, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reported he's hearing "initial rumblings'' that if the league loses its appeal to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and is forced to open its doors for business sometime this summer, the owners may completely shut down business operations until the players cave and agree to a labor deal.

And...........there we go.

For now, there's the residue of one of the most interesting drafts in years to discuss, an email from Mike McGuire, a sports connection to a California pulpit. Thought that might get your interest.

Nope, it didn't.

If I were Jake Locker, I'd be ready for Accuracyball in training camp.

Well, I think ol' Jake will be just fine as long as he has his hunting dog and packs some extra guts and grit into his camouflage bag he will carry to training camp. Jake don't need no accuracy, he has that something special other quarterbacks in this draft don't have. I'm still searching for what that is, but I have heard repeatedly he has it...whatever IT is.

I'm thinking back to the three years Chris Palmer -- Tennessee's new offensive coordinator under coach Mike Munchak -- coached Eli Manning with the Giants, 2007 through 2009. When Palmer arrived, Manning had completed three seasons in the NFL. Three inaccurate seasons, with a completion percentage of just 54.0.

Manning's final season without Palmer he had a completion percentage of 57.7%. It dipped the year after Palmer came to New York to 56.1%. I don't know if this means anything, but I thought I would mention it.

Palmer set up flags at different distances and had Manning throw quickly to try to hit the flags. Maybe it was play-calling, maybe it was simple NFL maturations, and maybe a little bit was the flags, but in Palmer's three years with Manning, his completion rate rose from 56.1 in 2007 to 60.3 and 62.3 the following two years.

It was obviously the flags that helped Manning's completion percentage out. Which explains exactly why his completion percentage decreased slightly for one year upon using the flags in practice and then shot up after that. It had nothing to do with Manning's receivers or his maturation. It was the flags---even just slightly. I don't have a problem with the "flags" argument overall, I have a problem with any type of Locker-Eli Manning comparison from college to the NFL. Peter ignores Manning's completion percentage in college (60.8&) as a reference point as to where Manning started off, accuracy wise, in the NFL.

What a lazy comparison. Locker is a fairly inaccurate quarterback and has been pretty much his entire time at Washington. We can all argue about WHY Locker was fairly inaccurate, it doesn't matter too much. So Peter compares Locker to Eli Manning as a guy who can have his accuracy improved in the NFL using flags to throw the ball to, just like Eli's accuracy improved doing this. What Peter fails to think about is what kind of passer Manning was coming out of college. The three full seasons Eli played quarterback at Ol' Miss his completion percentage was 63.5%, 58.0%, and 62.0%. So he was already an accurate passer coming out of college, so the flags helped him get back to where he was in college potentially. Locker's top completion percentage in college for a full season was 58.2%. So this isn't a great comparison because the quarterbacks were starting at different points in regard to completion percentage upon entering the NFL. Manning re-learned to be accurate while Locker has to learn to be accurate.

I asked Reinfeldt how a quarterback who was a 54-percent passer in college could be fixed in the NFL. The perception, of course, is that accuracy is usually difficult to improve, particularly when the pass-rush and secondary are better at the next level.

"I think there are things you can do to improve,'' he said. "That's one of the things we studied. Jay Cutler went from 57 in college to 61 [percent completion]. Brett Favre went from 53 to 63; Mark Brunell from 52 to 59.

Yes, accuracy can be improved. I'm not arguing Locker can't improve this or he won't improve his accuracy. I will say Mark Brunell had a completion percentage of 46.6% his sophomore year at Washington, which seemed to hold his average overall completion percentage down in college and Jay Cutler was a 59.1% and 61.0% passer over his last two years at Vanderbilt. So that leaves the lazy comparison of Locker to Favre. It is who Locker gets compared to on a regular basis and it has grown a bit tiresome for me. Sure, maybe Locker can develop into another Favre player, but it is one of those quarterback comparisons or projections that annoys me. There are others, as those who decide to keep reading this post will see.

The 49ers had pick number 45 and wanted Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As I wrote in SI this week, San Francisco offered to give New England third-round picks this year and next to move from 45 to 33 to get Kaepernick; New England wanted a two and a three. Too rich for 49er GM Trent Baalke's blood. So Baalke let the pick pass, even though he knew it might cost him Kaepernick, because Oakland was trying to move up for him too. New England ended up making the pick (cornerback Ras-I Dowling), and the 49ers turned their attention to the pick following Cincinnati's --Denver, at 36. Baalke offered fourth- and fifth-round picks this year. Denver accepted. The 49ers got Kaepernick, and instead of paying a two and a three for him, they paid a four and a five.

It has gotten to the point in MMQB where Peter King is repeating stories he has already told the subscribers of Sports Illustrated. Sure, not everyone who reads MMQB gets Sports Illustrated, but I still think it is lazy.

Moral of the story? There are two. Don't panic for any player, particularly one you're not positive will turn into a cornerstone player for you.

So the 49ers and Bengals are not sure Kaepernick and Dalton will be franchise cornerstones for them and that is why they didn't panic? Is that what Peter is saying? Also, while the 49ers and Bengals did a good job of not going in a panic to get either quarterback, neither quarterback (unless you listened to the "experts," specifically Peter King) were projected to go in the 1st round. So neither franchise probably got in a panic because they knew there was a good chance the quarterbacks would land to them. Even then, while the 49ers didn't panic to get Kaepernick, they did trade up to get him.

I believe we're going to look back on this draft in five years and think one of the most compelling stories was Ryan Mallett. Think of it. In a year when there's a major premium on rookies being NFL-ready (with the lockout obviously preventing rookies from training to play right away), the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft was picked 74th

Is Mallett the most NFL-ready quarterback? I'm just wondering what kind of proof or verification Peter King has for this statement, other than his opinion he is passing off as a fact. Mallett ran a pro-style offense at Arkansas, but that doesn't mean he is the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft. Guess who ran a pro-style offense in college, was considered someone who could make an easy transition and was drafted in 2010? Jimmy Clausen. How'd that turn out so far? So if I were Peter King I would be wary of just blindly saying Ryan Mallett is the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft simply because he played in a pro-style offense in college. More goes into being ready for the NFL than the type of offense a quarterback played in college.

That isn't to say he's going to be a great pro. Who knows if he will be? But the value at 74 for a player of his stature is pretty hard to ignore.

I wonder if this pick made Peter King break out with his Troy Brown Patriots jersey due to bursting with pride at the value of this pick?

Now Peter gives more information about why this was such a great pick for the Patriots. We all know he can't go an entire MMQB without a chart or some long discussion about the Patriots. The value of a player like Mallett is hard to ignore, but there has to be a reason the other teams passed on him repeatedly.

Aaron Schatz of FootballOutsiders.com made this point: With the increased emphasis on concussion awareness, imagine if Tom Brady gets one in the next two or three years and has to sit out a week. I'd feel better having a trained Ryan Mallett on my bench competing with Brian Hoyer to play rather than just Hoyer.

What a great move by the Patriots! They are probably the only team in the NFL smart enough to try and find a competent backup quarterback through the draft. This seems like common sense, do we really need to really on an expert like Aaron Schatz to say it is a good idea to upgrade the backup quarterback position?

So Ryan Mallett doesn't just have value as a player the Patriots can develop and possibly spin off for a first-round draft pick three years from now. He also has value because he gives the Patriots a stronger backup quarterback in case Brady takes an unfortunate hard hit at midseason.''

So the Patriots may have drafted a quarterback not just for trade purposes, but to actually use him as the backup quarterback? Do other NFL teams know this is possible? This is exactly why I read MMQB every week, to read information on how the Patriots are revolutionizing the NFL and the world with the idea of drafting a quarterback to use as a competent backup.

One: His offense at Arkansas has much in common with what the Patriots will run in New England -- thanks to college coach Bobby Petrino. "I grew up in Jacksonville with Tom Coughlin," Petrino told Rapoport, "which ties back to [Bill] Parcells. Like, I heard [Tom] Brady call the play on TV: '136 Dual Y Choice.' That's the exact same way we would call that play. So, there's certain things that are going to be real easy carry-over, because of the system we use. And he had responsibilities in protections, which obviously in the NFL, you have to do. We did protections very similar to the way he'll do it there."

Two: He got coached hard by Petrino, and he'll get coached hard by the Patriots. "I don't think he'll be shocked at how he has to prepare,'' Petrino said.

Hold on a second...Tom Brady called the play "136 Dual Y Choice?" I thought all NFL plays had the verbiage like "flip right, double-X, Jet, 36 counter, naked waggle, X-7, X-quarter," isn't that what Jon Gruden seemed to make everyone think when working with Cam Newton? Just like Gruden made it seem to Blaine Gabbert in his ESPN interview with him that NFL teams don't pass from the shotgun very often (he essentially called Gabbert a wimp for passing from the shotgun), though this clearly isn't true. So I don't believe there is a play call like "136 Dual Y Choice" because NFL plays are too hard for a moron like Cam Newton to figure out. Next thing you will tell me, it will be revealed Jon Gruden never developed a quarterback in the NFL.

The play Brady called was probably "136 Dual Y Choice naked waggle, X-14, Y-17, slide right, slide left, 32 dual XYZ, fly right, fly left, flyup, protect left, fake right, triple-G in your face, dual action Z" that Tom Brady called. You know, because according to Jon Gruden there aren't NFL plays with short names like "136 Dual Y Choice."

But yes, as Peter King was saying, it seems that Ryan Mallett is prepared for the NFL and probably, just maybe, is the greatest quarterback in New England. Better than that sissy bum Tom Brady.

Postscript to the Eagles-Patriots trade: Andy Reid and Bill Belichick had that weird trade on draft day, New England trading the 193rd overall choice to Philly for pick number 194. They did it, Reid said, to keep a long streak alive of consecutive years of trades between the two teams. Well, it's a good story, and it seemed the two teams were always trading ... but it's not true.

Peter printed this fact as true in Sports Illustrated this past week. It seems he did his research after writing it for the magazine. Nice.

I met the veteran San Francisco Chronicle football beat writer, who covered the Niners and Raiders at different points, at the San Francisco draft last weekend. It was the last football assignment for White, who now is on a God assignment.

He is now writing Brett Favre's biography. This is doing God's work in the eyes of Peter King.

Fifteen.

That's how many brains the Boston University doctors studying brain tissue donated for research for football-related damage have examined, the latest being former Bears great Dave Duerson. He became the 14th former player to test positive for the toxic protein tau, which chokes off cellular life in the brain.

That reminds me of something I was told by Dr. Ann McKee, the leading neuropathologist in the BU group, who I met last fall in her office at the New England Veteran Administration. "We need more brains to study,'' she said. "Lots more.''

Can we wait for NFL veterans with concussion problems to pass away first? No? Fair enough then.

That's why every team this fall, whenever the labor strife is finished, owes it to the future of the game to urge every player to agree today to allow his brain to be studied after death for a similar condition -- no matter what mental or physical condition the player is in at the time of death.

This obviously makes sense, because asking NFL players in their 20's and 30's to donate their brains to science when they die in (hopefully their life will be this long) 40 or 50 more years at a minimum is going to help to solve the concussion problem in a half-century or so, when the research needs to be done now. Great thinking Peter. Why don't you just tell all the players to use the same helmet Aaron Rodgers uses? That helmet according to Gregg Easterbrook will NEVER allow a player to have a concussion. Good luck finding out from Easterbrook what type of helmet Rodgers uses.

And NFL alumni should hear the same plea from the Players Association and the league.

That's a better idea. The problem I see is the following...I would submit the concussion problem seems to be a much worse problem among NFL players over the last 20 years. I am not sure why there are more cases I am personally aware of during that period, possibly simply because of increased concussion awareness, but really this concussion research needs to be done now. So these players who were in the NFL over the last 20 years and played long enough to experience significant long-term effects probably are mostly going to live for another 20 more years. Maybe older players had concussions, they just weren't reported as much, but it is the newer players in the NFL today, those who will live for a few more decades, I think we can learn the most from. That's a problem as I see it.

You may know that most teams have ESPN and NFL Network on in their draft rooms during the draft, with the sound of one or the other on during the dead periods when the teams are not picking. Maybe they can find out a clue about what other teams are doing, maybe they can be entertained when they're bored.

I swear to God, there is no reason the GM of my favorite team should ever be bored during the draft. I really hope teams use NFL Network to keep updated on what other teams are doing, not because that team is bored.

When the Seahawks chose Alabama tackle James Carpenter in the first round of the draft -- an upset; many teams had second-round grades on him -- the chatter on both channels had analysts questioning the pick. Whether the analysts turn out to be right or wrong, that's not a popular thing to hear when you've just made a pick that's been 11 months of scouting in the making.

So the Seahawks muted both channels and put on Pandora, the personalized Internet radio thing, and soon had Reggae music filling the draft room.

I have two thoughts here:

1. Why does Peter have to tell us Pandora is "the personalized Internet radio thing?" Are there people who don't know what Pandora is? I guess so.

2. Were the Seahawks really not aware other teams had a second round grade on Carpenter? I am really wondering, not criticizing the Seahawks. I find it hard to believe a team would draft a player in the first round and not be aware the player was picked higher than most teams had that player. If the Seahawks drafted the player, what does it matter anyway if they hear analysts bashing the pick? I don't know why they wouldn't want to hear that if they are secure in their choice. Of course if Carpenter ends up being a great pick the talking heads on NFL Network and ESPN will never say they were wrong, so that could potentially irritate the Seahawks war room.

"Cam Newton will be the most scrutinized player in years. The experiment is on. If Newton is successful, the NFL will fundamentally change.''

-- New tweeter
@CollinsworthNBC, NBC's Cris Collinsworth, on ... well, you can figure it out. Good observation.

No, the NFL will not fundamentally change. The NFL didn't fundamentally change when Mike Vick, Dante Culpepper, Tim Tebow or any other scrambling/throwing quarterback entered the league. Newton ran the ball a lot at Auburn because that is a strength of his and they wanted to win games. Cam Newton is going to have to throw the ball to be successful in the NFL, he isn't going to change the league if he is successful because he has a skill set other quarterbacks may not have, just like quarterbacks who are experts at reading defenses have a skill other quarterbacks don't have.

Newton isn't going to come in and revolutionize the position. He will come in and learn to read NFL defenses and pass the ball against NFL defenses just like any other rookie quarterback. Maybe he will succeed, maybe he will fail. Yes, Newton will be scrutinized, but I don't see the NFL fundamentally changing because to be successful in the NFL, Cam Newton will have to change some as well.

2. I think what's clear after Rashard Mendenhall and the bin Laden/Twitter dustup is that some things are not meant to be said in 140 characters. Mendenhall is not a dolt. But he can sound like one -- we all can -- in the 140-letter bursts that are the max on Twitter. What he said last week, in three tweets,

You gotta love Peter King. He says 140 words isn't enough to get your thoughts across, then says Rashard Mendenhall wrote three Tweets. So is 420 words enough, Peter? How many words is enough? More importantly, why do we give a shit about what Mendenhall thinks about Osama bin Laden and 9/11? I think people just want to be offended sometimes. I will care about Rashard Mendenhall's thoughts on 9/11 when I care about what 99% of athletes think about anything not sports-related.

in three tweets, is that he didn't like celebrating a man's death, he didn't think it was fair to judge bin Laden without knowing him, and he questioned whether aircraft alone were to blame for the downing of the Twin Towers.

To think that people in this country -- those who lost loved ones, those who had family or friends sent overseas to fight al Queda -- wouldn't respond angrily to 140-character opinions, which, right or wrong, appeared almost cavalier in their presentation, is not very thoughtful.

Obviously these were stupid comments. Some comments are so stupid you just have to ignore them. I think these comments were of this type.

I think before we consign Wade Phillips to coaching hell for even thinking of switching Mario Williams from defensive end to outside linebacker in his new Houston 3-4 defense, let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Williams had been very good, but not all-world, in his first five seasons as a 4-3 end, averaging 9.6 sacks a year. Phillips thinks Williams, playing the same spot DeMarcus Ware played in Dallas, can have the kind of impact Ware had.

Time will tell if he's right, because Ware's a 250-pound edge-rusher, and Williams, who weighs 282 right now and will try to slim down to 265-ish for his new role, hasn't played with his hand off the ground much in the NFL. But to think this is a revolutionary move ... as Jimmy Johnson would say, puh-leeze. And Williams wasn't exactly Bruce Smith as a defensive end.

Mario Williams wasn't exactly Bruce Smith at defensive end. Bruce Smith is a Hall of Fame player who averaged 11.5 sacks over his first 5 seasons. Mario Williams averaged 9.6 sacks over his first 5 seasons. So it isn't like Williams was that far below what Smith did early in his career. I'm not saying it is a stupid move to put Williams at linebacker, but the Texans are still taking one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and moving his position.

Sacks in the past five years, by the way: Ware 72, Williams 48.

This is just lazy on Peter's part. What does this even mean? I don't get how Williams and Ware are comparable, other than the fact Peter and Wade Phillips are seemingly comparing the two players. Ware is better at sacking the quarterback than Mario Williams. It doesn't mean when Williams moves to linebacker he will be able to excel at the same level DeMarcus Ware has. I know what Peter wants to mean, that it is possible for a defensive end to play linebacker in a 3-4, but these two are only comparable in that they were both defensive ends in college.

8. I think Rex Grossman will take the first snap of the 2011 season for the Redskins.

Bears fans are praying for you Redskins fans.

d. A Red Sox follower who would rather fold laundry for six hours than watch Matsuzaka pitch for three.

I would think Peter King would love to watch Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch for three hours. That most likely means he is pitching a great game or at least a complete game.

g. On one thing, though, I agree with Rashard Mendenhall: I am not taking to the streets to celebrate anyone's death. I support it, but I'm not hootin' and hollerin' over it.

What if the death was Daisuke Matsuzaka? He was never a true Red Sox anyway!

You're free to note the death however you wish; it's your personal choice, which I support.

Thanks Peter. Thanks for giving everyone permission to note the death of Osama bin Laden however they should choose to. I feel like a great weight has been lifted off of me now that the great Peter King has given us all permission to celebrate how we see fit.

j. Ten years ago we never heard of oblique injuries. Now there must be 20 baseball players on the DL with them.

Tom Powers would say this is just the players being super-pussies and not wanting to get out on the field and play with injuries like real men do. Unless that real man is really injured, in which case he should probably not even try to play. Unless he isn't really injured, as judged by Tom Powers, in which case he is a super-pussy and shouldn't play.

k. Will Ferrell's great. No matter what happens on The Office, I'll think he's great. But he's a bad fit on the show. His character is forced and unfunny.

l. Someone had to say it.

How noble and brave of someone to say it. Peter King: He is the Speaker of Truths only those who have watched and review the show will dare to say.

o. It's wedding week for publicist extraordinaire Karen Dmochowsky and SI's Gene Menez. Good luck to two people who deserve the best.

They are two people who probably deserve more than a congratulations in a public fashion where everyone can read. Congratulations Karen and Gene, you don't get a wedding present because as your present you got the honorable Peter King to write your name in his weekly MMQB! It's 100 times better than the discount blender he was going to purchase you!

8 comments:

HH said...

Just a quick comment about the playcall. "136 Dual Y Choice" is actually a legitimate playcall, if we're talking solely about the receivers. The reason that playcalls are so long is because you add the adjustments for formation, protection and snap count, but these are only adjustments. The play has a default protection and formation [snap count you presumably always include], so if you aren't changing them, there's usually no need to say them. Many QBs do anyway so that the linemen and backs know what's expected of them, but it's not strictly necessary. If added, that would be something like "Dual Y 136 Choice, 50 Roger, 26 Larry, on 2" which then translates to:

Dual Y = 2 receivers lining up in the slot; because he didn't call trips, it means two receivers on one side, and one on the other, though the sole receiver is lined up in the slot and not wide.

136 = routes 1, 3, and 6 on the passing tree - short out, deep out, and post, if I remember correctly

Choice = there no primary receiver on the play [although if the pre-snap read shows something, one would be audibled]

50 Roger = linemen block down to the right

26 Larry = the back blocks left

On 2 = On 2.

HH said...

I would think Peter King would love to watch Daisuke Matsuzaka pitch for three hours. That most likely means he is pitching a great game or at least a complete game.

Actually, three hours is at most 5 innings of a Red Sox game. 3 if are playing the Yankees.

ivn said...

Peter King loves judging players in the front seven by sack totals. This makes sense, because Peter King is fucking lazy.

Martin F. said...

I'm not sure where he gets his information about the brains, but the guy who helped start the study was on a Simmons podcast a few weeks ago, and he said they have plenty of brains. They have more brains then they need right now, I think he said about 80. What they need is money to hire more people to study them, and/or to study more at one time, increasing the speed of the process. Also, they need more non-NFL brains, like from hockey players and people who played only high school football but had one concussion. I have a little more faith in him than in Peter.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, I thought about using that joke, but I'm glad you used it. My attempt at the joke failed when I wrote it. 3 hours of a Boston-NYY game just covers the first couple innings...or one inning if a man gets on base and Pettitte was pitching.

Ivn, I can't say it any better. Sacks are great numbers but they can be overrated since quarterback pressures often cause fumbles, interceptions, ill-advised throws...

Martin, I need to listen to Simmons's podcast. I didn't know that. That's a GREAT idea to use brains from other sports as well for the sake of comparison. I really hope they have enough brains because if they are waiting on the current class of player to die they will be waiting a while. I feel like players today hit harder and while brains from the older generation will still be helpful, guys from Duerson's generation still have a pretty long life ahead of them.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, I don't doubt it is a real play call. I was trying to be sarcastic b/c Jon Gruden rattled off a super long play call to Cam Newton and then everyone jumped on the "Cam Newton is stupid" train.

It is true the play calls are longer in the NFL than in college, but Gruden didn't make it clear the play call he used was for adjustments to the offensive line and the backs. He just said it was a play call like there weren't adjustments in there and that was what the typical default play call was. That's what I got.

So you are right, I was just taking time out to mock Jon Gruden b/c the Patriots (who are a successful offense) didn't use a super-long play call.

Martin F. said...

The problem with Simmons podcasts is that about 1/3 of them are just crap he does to entertain himself. He does a reality tv one about once every other month that bores me to tears. Then he'll do one with a gambling expert for 30 minutes and one of his friends yakking about whatever sport the 2 of them like,(some like basketball, some like baseball)for another 30 minutes. I listen to most of them but have learned how to weed out the ones I have no interest in.

That said, he has pretty good football podcasts with the Aaronn Schatz from Football Outsiders, Michael Lombardi from NFL Network, among others. His baseball ones with Buster Olney, Keith Law and Matthew Berry are good too. The basketball ones, eh, since they tend to be Celtic specific too often. Though the ones with David Stern on their saying things like "The NBA lost $300 million dollars last year" and expect major concessions from the players while he still insists on funding the WNBA is pretty funny.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, I couldn't listen to Simmons' podcasts because I would want to write about them. Not to mention, the very reasons you included.

I think his better podcasts are when he has a better guest who can keep him under control and focused on what he needs to talk about.

If I were the NBA players I would point out the problem with funding the WNBA while complaining the NBA teams don't have money.