Wednesday, September 21, 2011

0 comments MMQB Review: This Charles Woodson Guy is Good Edition

A week after pronouncing Rex Grossman was underappreciated, and rightfully so, Peter King is back with MMQB and he is honoring Grossman this week with more uninspired, lukewarm compliments. We'll learn he doesn't think a team can win with Grossman at quarterback, unless he is wrong about this, in which case a team can win with Grossman at quarterback. We will also learn how to decide if you are watching a quality week of NFL football.

I think this is the first time I have posted a MMQB Review where Peter didn't mention Brett Favre once. That's a pretty big accomplishment, though it wouldn't shock me if Favre came out and said he is not interested in being the quarterback for the Colts this upcoming year unprompted and then Peter will have to comment on that. So I assume we'll hear from Favre soon. He hasn't been in the spotlight for a few months, he's due for an eruption soon. Let's see what Peter think he thinks about this past weekend of football.

I always judge the quality of the game day by the volume in our NBC viewing room,

I think there is no better way to judge the quality of the game day by the volume of the television in the NBC viewing room. The quality of the games on the field in determining the quality of the games on the field is so overrated. In fact, it is overappreciated, if not rightfully so. Using the volume of the television or the cheers in the NBC viewing room is where the true determination of a game’s quality should lie.

For a Sunday with only a couple of marquee matchups, the day was lots of fun.

Who knew the NFL could be fun to watch without Pittsburgh playing Baltimore every week or without an overly media-hyped game taking place? You mean football can be fun without a "Favre returns to Green Bay" storyline or a drummed-up "Will Matt Ryan get revenge on Indianapolis for the flat tire his family got when they were driving just outside of the city limits when Ryan was in grade school" storyline? My life is changed.

I'm going to get to the best story of the weekend in a moment, but I'm struck by how lucky the National Football League is. Here's the league, coming off a nightmare offseason, and you don't need DirecTV or the Red Zone Channel to be magnetized to the league. You can be watching the old-fashioned way and still have experienced a blazing start to the season.

That old fashioned way to watch the NFL? With Mike Florio, Mike Florio’s ego, and the rest of the NBC guys in the NBC viewing room. If you aren’t there, you don’t know how to judge the quality of an NFL game.

But I'll start with a story that, for better or worse, will feed into the Great American (NFL) Dream. It's the story of the man who won an NFL game on Sunday, Jesse Holley of the Cowboys, and the man who gave him the chance, Michael Irvin.

"After all my mess in life,'' Irvin told me late Sunday night, "God still used to me to influence somebody's life for the better. This is such an incredible story no one should believe it.''

But the television in the NBC viewing room says it is true, so I believe it!

Irvin and Spike TV had this idea three years ago: give every red-blooded American who thought he could play in the NFL a chance to.

This wasn’t a new idea by Spike TV and Irvin. The Browns did this a few years ago when they allowed Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn to compete for the starting quarterback job.

First, the interested contestants -- hundreds of players -- were thinned out at a scouting combine in Los Angeles. One of those, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Holley, a former basketball and football player of little renown at North Carolina, came from a job working security and selling cellphones in North Carolina.

Who says college athletes waste an opportunity to get a good education? Holley probably graduated with a "Security and Mobile Services" B.S. degree.

He'd been cut by both the Cincinnati Bengals and BC Lions of the Canadian Football League, and was moving on with his life when he heard of the opportunity with the TV show. "He was tall,'' Irvin said, "and I know the Cowboys like tall receivers.''

Of course there’s nothing wrong with Michael Irvin, who worked for ESPN radio at the time, actively attempting to help improve an NFL team while covering this same NFL team as an “analyst.” The same thing goes for Joe Morgan. Who cares that he covered the Cincinnati Reds as ESPN's top analyst while working for the Reds organization? What’s that? Bruce Feldman got permission to co-write a book that doesn’t speak highly of ESPN? To the gas chamber he must go!

As Holley said via a crackling cell from the Cowboy locker room Sunday: "All I ever wanted was a chance. I thank God for Michael Irvin giving it to me. I thank God for Mr. Jerry Jones giving it to me.''

Jerry Jones says you don’t need to be redundant. Either thank God or thank Jerry Jones. No need to do both, it’s all the same.

Often, that's pie in the sky. On Sunday, it was real for Holley. He caught his first two NFL passes in the fourth quarter. And when Miles Austin strained a hamstring late in the fourth quarter, Holley was in the lineup for overtime.

"I wasn't supposed to be the guy Tony [Romo] was going to on that play in overtime,'' Holley said.

Well, you weren't supposed to even be in the stadium now, were you?

No you weren’t Jesse Holley. You weren’t even supposed to be in the stadium, were you? Please hang up the phone now, Peter is done with your story because he has a text message from Peyton Manning about his neck injury, and frankly you sicken Peter.

What are the odds Gregg Easterbrook talks about Jesse Holley as unwanted/undrafted free agent making good in the NFL this week? 143%?

(I wrote this before TMQ came out, so I will leave this in here whether I am correct or not)

On Dallas' first possession of OT, when the safety over the top of him bit on play-action, Holley was the open man. Romo found him. Perfect throw, easy catch. If he hadn't showboated a little around the five-yard line, he'd have taken it in for a 78-yard touchdown.

Showboating by sticking your arm in the air. You sicken Peter AND the television in the NBC viewing room.

But this is why you root for the Bills: Their most important offensive players are everymen, and they can really play.

These guys are just like you and me…except they have NFL caliber skills when it comes to playing football, they are most likely in better shape and they earn more than 99% of all the people in the world for a year’s worth of work. Other than that, they could be your neighbor, if your neighbor was an outstanding college football player who is good enough to play in the NFL.

In New Orleans, the final score of the Saints' 30-13 victory over Chicago came on a Darren Sproles 12-yard touchdown catch. He ran down the right sideline and appeared to step out of bounds at the two-yard line with his right foot. Watching the game in the NBC viewing room,

Where else would you watch it? It’s the only way to know if that is a quality game you are watching or not.

As my NBC partner Mike Florio of said Sunday night, there's a danger here of the replay official having too much power. He's supposed to buzz down to the field when there's reasonable doubt about the on-field call on the scoring play. What is reasonable doubt?

Then Mike Florio made up a rumor that he heard the replay official punched a cancer patient in the face for no particular reason, made up a few self-deprecating jokes about having “gone corporate” as he counted his NBC paycheck and called it a day.

Reasonable doubt is when the replay official isn’t sure if the on-field call is correct or not. I’m not sure this is a tough question to answer or not. Maybe replay should be looked at it, but Peter wants to use a green light or red light system that frankly I could care less about.

2. The roof is caving in on the Chiefs. Has there been a playoff team in recent history (ever?) that's had the kind of player losses (tight end Tony Moeaki, safety Eric Berry, and now running back Jamaal Charles with a suspected torn ACL, to be confirmed by an MRI today) and the on-field losses of these Chiefs?

Yes. I can think of one off the bat. The 2004 Carolina Panthers team was coming off a Super Bowl loss and were decimated by injuries the following year. They had 11 guys in Injured Reserve after 8 games, including their best wide receiver, top two running backs, and their best defensive tackle. I am 100% proof positive the 2004 Panthers are not the playoff team from one year most hit with important injuries the next year. I am sure there have been other teams that have lost more players that are as important as these three players the Chiefs have lost. So yes Peter, other teams have lost better and more players than the Chiefs have. You just choose to pretend this isn't true for some reason.

5. Does anyone have any idea how valuable Charles Woodson is to Green Bay?

No Peter, you are the first one to realize how important Woodson is. Why doesn’t he have a Defensive Player of the Year trophy or made a Pro Bowl at this point? Someone recognize how important Charles Woodson is to the Packers!

To think he was unwanted by the Raiders! He was just allowed to be a free agent because they didn’t think he was any good at playing football anymore. It wasn’t a decision related to money or Woodson’s injury history at the time, but completely because the Raiders thought he now sucked at football. The Raiders haven’t won a Super Bowl since he left the team. It’s the Curse of Woodson!

(That was my impression of Gregg Easterbrook)

3. New York Jets (2-0). Shaky in Week 1, dominant in Week 2. But beware the Nick Mangold high ankle sprain.

I didn’t know the ankle sprain had an official sponsor now.

14. Dallas (1-1). The Cowboys are a MASH unit right now. But given the way the defense smothered Niners quarterback Alex Smith, they'll be in every game as long as they don't make mega-mistakes in the passing game.

They should also be in every game as long as they play the 49ers every week.

Defensive Players of the Week

Green Bay CB Charles Woodson.

Games like this one will make Woodson an even stronger candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

This makes sense because if a person is on the fence about whether Charles Woodson should be in the Hall of Fame or not, that one game where he intercepted a rookie quarterback twice and caused a fumble should impress the voters more than his overall playing resume through the other 150 games he played, just enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.

Philadelphia DE Trent Cole.

Maybe this year, now that the Eagles have all these stars, Cole will get the credit he deserves. He was dominant Sunday night, with one sack, two hits of Ryan, three additional tackles for loss and one pass batted down. And about 16 gee-whizzes from Cris Collinsworth in the NBC booth, justifiably.

Whoa, whoa. I thought Cole only got 12 gee-whizzes from Cris Collinsworth? (checks stats sheet) Wow, Cole did get 16 gee-whizzes and 2 golly-gees from Collinsworth. That’s almost on par with Peyton Manning’s 18 gee-whiz and 4 golly-gee performance in 2008. What a night for Cole!

In the fourth quarter eight days ago, Jets wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown against Dallas.

In the seven other quarters this year, Burress has no receptions.

I bet Eli Manning really regrets not campaigning for the Giants to sign Burress. Remember that one great catch Burress made in a preseason game? I wonder if Ian O’Connor is still freaking out over it?

d. Good for Warren Sapp, laying it on the line about how the Steeler D is too old. He showed a good piece of video Sunday on how Casey Hampton got pushed around in Week 1, and said plainly he thinks the Steelers are too old to be great anymore.

Good for the Steelers. They then responded to this criticism by pitching a shutout against the Seahawks.

e. You go, Mike Reiss. Way to be a TV guy!

Super duper job! You get 2 gee-whizzes from Cris Collinsworth for that performance.

k. Fred Jackson, you're trying to make C.J. Spiller redundant,

Spiller was redundant the day he was drafted. The Bills already had Fred Jackson at that point as well.

n. Dwight Freeney's pass-rush and mauling of Colt McCoy on one early Browns-Colts play -- past tackle Joe Thomas -- was textbook.

Kerry Collins’ quarterbacking performance? Not so much textbook.

o. Matt Forte's a slightly stronger Brian Westbrook.

p. As is LeSean McCoy. Two very good backs.

q. Pay Matt Forte, by the way, Jerry Angelo.

Was there a need for three separate entries for these three observations? Other than to kill space of course.

r. For years, I didn't think you could win with Rex Grossman. Too early to say definitively you can, but the first two games are a good start.

Peter believed you can’t win with Rex Grossman for years and years. He still doesn’t believe you can, but once he gets further proof a team can win with Rex Grossman he will start to believe you actually can win games with Grossman as the starting quarterback. I’m glad he mentioned this vital piece of information to us.

b. The overreaction to Brady joking about fans getting "lubed up'' for the Pats-Chargers game. As I said on our Friday night Versus show, watching Brady on video, he was clearly joking. To me, it's the PC police gone wild.

This from a guy who freaked the fuck out when “Gossip Girl” had a billboard with “OMFG” and an image he found slightly overly-sexual on it.

The outrage!

f. How strong a word can I muster up for the ugliness of the Jets' throwback uniforms, other than to call them throwup uniforms?

No more words needed. That’s one gee-whiz from Cris Collinsworth to you for that comment, Peter.

j. Uh, Marv Albert: You called the Browns "the Cavs'' in the second quarter.

Let’s just be thankful he probably wasn’t wearing women’s underwear while calling the game.

I do not see that changing this season, unless the Bengals choose to trade him before the Week 6 trading deadline. The only way that has a chance of happening is if a desperate team offers the Bengals a second-round pick for him. I don't see that happening, the way Palmer's played the last two years. No one knows if he's a premier player anymore.

No one knows if Palmer is even an above average quarterback anymore, much less premier quarterback.

b. I had never heard of Desmond Jennings before the last couple of weeks –

This doesn’t shock me in the least. Why would diehard baseball fan Peter King pay attention to one of the top prospects in baseball that just happens to play in the same division as his favorite team?

he's the Rays' leadoff hitter -- but in a four-game series, he did more damage to the Red Sox than Crawford did to the Rays in a season of games.


c. Today Boston has Kyle Weiland and John Lackey going in a day-night doubleheader against Baltimore. This has to be the first Boston-Baltimore doubleheader in what -- 20 years? 30? -- played at Fenway Park when the Orioles would have the pitching advantage, by far, in each game. And I don't even care who they've got throwing.

God, you’re irksome.

f. Thanks for meeting me for lunch, Peter Abraham. The Boston Globe Sox beat man is not only great at his job, but also an excellent storyteller in and out of print.

Maybe he should have told Peter a story about who Desmond Jennings is a few months ago?

Who is this Stephen Strasburg character? Whoever he is, he pitched well against the Red Sox! I only notice players when they perform well against my favorite team!

g. Last week, you made my podcast with Nnamdi Asomugha the number three sports and recreation podcast in the country on iTunes. This week, you made the Thomas Dimitroff podcast number one. Thanks many times over for your support. I truly appreciate it. I want your suggestion to make the podcast better. Send 'em along.

This is the “bragging about how much success I am having while pretending to want constructive criticism about how I can do my job even better when I really want to just let everyone know how popular I am” method of writing.

If it isn’t causing there to be a high volume of yelling in the NBC viewing room, the podcast must stink.