Tuesday, November 22, 2011

3 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Is a D-List Celebrity Edition

I completely forgot to give MMQB Review a title last week. We'll just let it stand as the unnamed version of MMQB which years later will be given a name, sort of like Led Zeppelin's Zoso...except last week's MMQB without the good music, interesting back story to the eventual album title, slightly bizarre cover art, and it being really not like it at all. This week it is all about being thankful for what you have. I personally have a shitty defense, rookie quarterback, rookie coaches who can't seem to understand running the ball is the key to keeping the shitty defense off the field and an overall sense of sadness about my team. So I'm thankful the season is almost over and I can move on to being bitter about one of my other favorite sports teams. Not Peter though! He's thankful for food and football. Food and Aaron Rodgers. Food and quality games on Thanksgiving. Food and random shout outs to people he knows but is too lazy to email a congratulations or other comment to. Have I mentioned Peter is a celebrity now? I didn't? Well, I just did.

I love Thanksgiving. Always have. It's the food mostly, and seeing family I haven't seen in a while.

Which, depending on exactly how hungry Peter King gets and how much alcohol he drinks, the family could end up being food as well. A few beers into the day and Cousin Carl suddenly looks like a turkey leg.

Football's always been a part of it, but never the central part. This year might be different. This week, I'm going to politely have to say, "Uh, I need to watch 10 hours of football on Thanksgiving.''

It's good to know a guy who gets paid to cover pro football doesn't watch pro football one of the few days he has a chance to see all of the available games. In Peter's defense, it is hard to spend time with your family and pay attention (traditionally) to the Lions game. Usually the Lions game is pretty boring.

The TV's going off at some point, and it'll be off for a couple of hours at least, as it should be. But the one thing that's happened in the last month is that every game Thursday is now incredibly relevant.

I would argue every NFL game is relevant to fans of each team playing those games, but that's just me.

By my imprecise calculations, the last time the Lions played a game with a better combined record on Thanksgiving was 1962, when the 10-0 Packers came to Tiger Stadium on a windy and chilly day to play the 8-2 Lions.

Back to the future: Detroit scored 49 and won for the second time in six weeks Sunday, and with the Bears on their heels, the Lions will be playing this one like a playoff game.

The Lions are treating this game like a playoff game...so the Lions are going to pretend their season is over and be at home watching the game?

8:20 p.m.: San Francisco (9-1) at Baltimore (7-3). "Forget the brother thing -- this is going to be a really good game,'' said Ravens coach John Harbaugh after Baltimore survived the Bengals Sunday.

I can't wait to watch this game. Oh yeah, I can't watch it because Time Warner Cable doesn't have NFL Network. Fuck you again, Time Warner Cable.

The NFL never thought last spring when making this schedule that the league would be leaving only the leftovers for the 12 Sunday games. That's what's happened. Only one of next Sunday's games (Chicago at Oakland) pairs two teams with winning records.

What's the point of even having Sunday games this year? If there aren't winning teams playing does anyone even care to watch the games? It's not like NFL fans like watching their favorite team play or anything.

(Note to fantasy owners...pick up any available Colts running back and Dallas Clark this week. You will thank me later)

Eleven stories for Week 11

Get it? Symmetry!

1. Jay Cutler. Now this is weird. Really weird.

I know. I can't decide if he is back with Kristen Calivarrriririri either. I would learn to spell her name correctly, but my lack of interest in spelling her name correctly is intended to reflect my lack of interest in anything involving her.

Early in the fourth quarter of Chicago's 31-20 win over the Chargers, Cutler threw an interception to Antoine Cason. Trying to tackle Cason near the sideline, Cutler flailed at him while being blocked, and his right hand slammed on the ground. When Cutler got up, he looked at his hand and flexed it a couple of times.

Dear Gregg Easterbrook,

You complain quarterbacks don't go running after a player who has intercepted a pass with incredible amounts of vigor. This is part of the reason why they don't. Injuries happen and quarterbacks are traditionally shitty tacklers.


Cutler greeted some Chargers on the field as he normally does with foes after game. Nothing said about a sore thumb. A Bears' PR man escorted Cutler to talk with NBC Sports' Alex Flanagan. Nothing said about a sore thumb. Cutler showered and did his local press conference. Nothing said about a sore thumb. Coach Lovie Smith did his press conference. Nothing said about a sore thumb for Cutler.

The Bears didn't know anything about the injury at that point and Cutler finished the game. Once the Bears knew for sure Cutler had a thumb injury and knew more about how severe it may be, they announced the injury. How is this more weird than the Patriots (or another team, it's just the Pats are more well-known for this) not even acknowledging a player is injured until/unless they are required to?

I asked two reporters who saw Cutler after the game, and neither said he was flexing or holding his hand in any way that would make you think he was hurt.

Cutler probably wasn't even hurt! He's a pussy!

If this were Brett Favre, Peter would laud Favre for playing through pain, and later in the week Favre would send out x-rays of his injury to every possible available media outlet. Then we would get to hear what a warrior Favre is. This doesn't happen for Cutler.

Luckily for the Dolphins, there's going to be a very deep pool of quarterbacks in the April draft. If Saturday night showed us anything -- with USC's Matt Barkley shredding Oregon in Eugene, and Robert Griffin III and Landry Jones playing lights out on downfield throws in Baylor's win over Oklahoma, it's that quarterback life doesn't begin and end with Luck in college football this year.

I'm not sure this one week of college football can teach us this lesson. Those who watch college football on a weekly basis have probably known this for a few weeks. I personally really like Matt Barkley, but that probably means he will suck in the NFL.

9. The toll of the lockout. As one club executive said to me this week: "The lockout has certainly had an impact on this season, but no one can describe what it is. It's just added more confusion than ever. Why is San Francisco good, with a new coaching staff? Why is Cincinnati good, with a new offense and a rookie quarterback playing? Why is there no consistency? The lockout's just made the league more confusing than ever.''

What madness! It's almost like there isn't one narrative that can be used to explain how each NFL season progresses and to explain which teams are good or aren't good on a yearly basis. The media thinks this is impossible though, so they will continue to search for a narrative or a reason to explain why the season progresses like it does, rather than accept that the NFL season is essentially random and trying to explain why and what will happen is futile.

The cogent points you need to know about Peyton Manning's contract, and how it impacts the 2012 draft plans of the Indianapolis Colts:

Remember how last week I said I wanted to see the Colts draft Luck, but then also acknowledged I will quickly tire of the discussions of Luck v. Manning? Careful what you wish for because Peter starts some of this discussion right now.

1. Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, together, would count $21.2 million against the 2012 salary cap, which is not prohibitive. The 2012 cap number for each team will be approximately $121 million.

This means the Colts, who have to make hard decisions on veteran producers who will be unrestricted free agents next March -- like Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis and Jeff Saturday (combined 2011 cap number: $17.94 million) -- will certainly be able to clear the money to keep Manning and draft his heir. In case you doubt the Colts' willingness to clear the decks, keep this in mind: In 2006, then-GM Bill Polian ignored the fan howlings and let Edgerrin James walk in free agency;

And we all know the Colts running game has just flourished (much like James did in Arizona) since James left. I love it when Bill Polian gets credit for moves that weren't necessarily good moves, but Manning's skill level covers up for this. The media can't get enough of Polian's "genius" despite the fact this 0-10 Colts team has his fingerprints all over it. He set up the expansion 1995 Panthers to win for 2-3 seasons and then collapse into mediocrity by signing aging veterans and not drafting well. Then while knowing he wasn't long for the city, he skipped town for the Colts job, where he attached himself to the Peyton Manning bus. I don't think Polian stinks as a GM, but he gets a lot of credit where I'm not sure he deserves it. I can see he did a pretty good job in Buffalo, but he built the early Panthers the wrong way, and it has become quite clear the Colts have major personnel deficiencies. Peter won't attribute those deficiencies to Bill Polian though.

he drafted Joseph Addai in the first round the next year, and the Colts won their only Super Bowl of the Manning Era that season.

Then Polian drafted Donald Brown, who hasn't worked out, but let's not mention that. A franchise quarterback makes everyone look better. Peter attributes the drafting of Addai to the Colts winning a Super Bowl, yet Dominic Rhodes had the better Super Bowl performance.

2. The Colts can't trade Manning before his huge $28 million option bonus is due. The bonus is payable several days before the start of the 2012 league year, traditionally around March 1. Trades can't be made until the league year begins. So if Manning and his agent, Tom Condon, don't agree to extend the deadline for payment of the option, the Colts will have to let him go for nothing or exercise the option and pay him huge money ... and perhaps not know for sure if he's going to be whole with his neck injury for 2012.

I don't see why Condon would extend the deadline. At this point, the Colts will essentially be dropping Manning to draft a rookie, which can't sit well with Manning. Why do the Colts a favor and make this decision easier on them? Also, why would Condon get a late start on the free agent market for his client if he can prevent doing this? It doesn't make sense to extend the deadline to April 1 and then if Manning gets cut Condon then has a shorter amount of time to get Manning good money on the free agent market. The deadline was set at March 1 for a reason and I don't see why Condon would back off it so the Colts have more time to make a decision.

5. Luck's a ridiculous bargain, whoever gets him. Just think: Manning will make $28 million in late February if the Colts exercise his option, with no guarantee that he'll play one play for them. Luck will make $23 million for the next four years, max. And Manning, if kept and active in 2012, will make $12 million more in 2012 than Luck makes in four years.

$23 million over four years? What a great deal for a Hall of Fame quarterback.

Bottom line: The cap hit for keeping Manning and drafting Luck would be quite tolerable, but there's significant motivation for the Colts to have hard proof that Manning can play by February. It's almost inconceivable to think if he were still struggling physically come early February that the Colts would shell out $35 million to keep a 36-year-old player whose health they aren't sure about.

Plus, why keep Manning on the roster when the Colts can draft another quarterback which will cover up for Bill Polian's personnel deficiencies for another decade?

6. New England (6-3). Had a good conversation with Andre Carter the other day, in the wake of his 4.5-sack game against the Jets. If he's not careful, he's going to make me look stupid for bashing Bill Belichick for not drafting pass-rush help last April. Look out tonight, Tyler Palko.

Carter has 8.5 sacks this year. 4.5 sacks are in one game. I think reading too much into one performance and no longer believing the Patriots need pass-rush help because Carter's performance last week is a bit hasty.

Offensive Players of the Week

Philadelphia QB Vince Young. First start since a year ago today, and didn't you miss that little Flipper-style delivery? He didn't win this august award because of his numbers for 60 minutes -- 23 of 36, 258 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, a 69.0 passer rating -- but rather for his numbers on one drive in the fourth quarter.

So Peter is giving Vince Young the "Offensive Player of the Week" award due to one drive, despite Young's other mediocre numbers. What great plays did Young make to deserve this award?

Young, with the game tied at 10, took the ball at his 20 and kept it for 18 plays and 80 yards, finishing it with an eight-yard touchdown pass to an all-alone Riley Cooper.

He threw to a wide open receiver for a touchdown. Okay, Young had a pretty good drive, but to win a weekly award based on one drive and ignoring the rest of Young's play? Not very good. I guess Young just wins games and that's why he deserves the award.

Tennessee RB Chris Johnson. The scene: 5-4 Titans at 5-4 Falcons. Playoff fate on the line. Titans fight through the second half to get to within six, 23-17. This is what Tennessee's jillion-dollar back, Johnson, contributed in the second half while the Titans played for their playoff lives: three carries, one yard ... one reception, five yards.

I know Johnson was bad, but to fair to him, he only got three carries in the second half as the Titans tried to catch up to the Falcons. I'm not sure what is expected of him in the 2nd half with only three carries.

MVP Watch

1. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay. Best quarterback in the league. Undefeated team. This one's not hard, folks.

It's not hard to put Rodgers as the MVP assuming the MVP is supposed to go to the best quarterback in the NFL on the best team in the NFL. I'm not saying Peter is wrong, but the MVP is supposed to go to the most valuable player, not just a quarterback on a really good team. So while I feel Peter is correct, his criteria to win the award feels wrong to me.

New York: the town where D-list celebrities feel so special.

Here's the part of the column where Peter tells us what people who recognize him on the streets say to him. I guess Peter King considers himself a celebrity on the D-list. I think what is interesting is Peter considers himself a celebrity, instead of a sports celebrity. No, he's not full of himself. He's just more important than you will ever know.

I always love it when a person tells us how many people recognize him/her. We know. You are on television and get recognized. I'm not sure what importance to a football column this has.

a. Now this is good reporting: Mike Klis of the Denver Post, midway through Oklahoma-Baylor Saturday night, had Broncos president John Elway and GM Brian Xanders in the house scouting. Interesting that both teams have first-round-caliber passers, Landry Jones and Robert Griffin III.

Interesting that if Tebow continues to win games the Broncos will be destroyed by the fans and Broncos media for drafting a quarterback in the 1st round with Tebow as the successful starter for 2011.

a. I'm a fan of Jon Gruden's analysis most of the time, but he loses me when he says that Greg Jennings "is the most feared deep-ball receiver in the NFL.'' Most complete receiver, he's in the argument. Most feared going deep? Stop.

Jon Gruden thinks whatever player/team he is talking about at that very point in time is the very best at something. Whatever running back he is currently talking about is the absolute best at something. Gruden's analysis can be very good, but I cringe a lot when he is talking a player up.

d. Buyer's remorse. Ryan Fitzpatrick.

You mean the rest of Fitzpatrick's career prior to this year is his actual worth and not the short sample size at the beginning of this season? I'm shocked. Gregg Easterbrook wondered a few weeks ago why the Bills don't take care of Fred Jackson. I'm guessing part of the reason is they want to see how Jackson performs the entire year, which is probably what they should have done with Ryan Fitzpatrick in retrospect.

3. I think I'd disagree with you who ripped the Jets for sending eight rushers in a heavy blitz on the 20-yard touchdown run by Tim Tebow that won the game the other night. It wasn't a dumb call.

As you can probably tell from reading my TMQ de-construction on a weekly basis, I'm not a huge fan of criticizing play calls, but I don't know if I blitz Tebow in this situation with eight guys. I feel like blitzing six guys and keeping a spy on Tebow when he starts running would have been sufficient. I just think you put some pressure on Tebow, try not to let him run and then force him to make a quick throw. Of course, I am not a defensive coordinator so what do I know?

5. I think now I know why so many coaches are so angry over the miking of a center or guard to get more of an on-field feel to the games we watch. On the decisive Denver drive in the fourth quarter Thursday night, Tebow threw a quick nine-yard out pattern to Demaryius Thomas on the left sideline, giving the Broncos second-and-one at the Denver 37.

You can hear Tebow, barely, saying, "Same play. Same play on one.'' At least that's what it sounds like. And Tebow goes to the line in the same shotgun formation, takes the snap, and throws way short on exactly the same route to Thomas on the left sideline.

Ladies and gentleman, a John Fox offense! This isn't a running play the Broncos are running again, but the exact same passing play.

I was stunned. I mean, what's to stop coaches upstairs from plugging into the game telecasts, straining to listen to the play call in the huddle, and then relaying information down to the sidelines? If a quarterback, 12 to 15 seconds before he snaps the ball, says, "Same play'' in the huddle, isn't that information a defense could use, assuming the info could be transmitted to at least someone on that defense before the snap of the ball?

To be fair, the Broncos offense probably isn't that difficult to decipher anyway. A defense, even knowing what play is coming up, has to be able to stop that play. Still, I do see what Peter is saying.

c. Toledo's averaging 54.5 points per game in its last four.

The basketball tea---

The football team, I'm talking about.

What? That's so crazy and unexpected! Peter, you really tricked me into believing you were talking about the basketball team.

e. Boston Globe maestro Dan Shaughnessy

This is how you lose credibility quickly...calling Dan Shaughnessy a maestro.

Shaughnessy's right. The Sox should have insisted on Matt Garza or forced Epstein to sit for the season.

Matt Garza? Is Peter that delusional to believe the Cubs would give the Red Sox Matt Garza in return for Theo Epstein? His delusions aside, I love how Peter is saying the Red Sox should have held out for more compensation now. You didn't hear him saying this nearly a month ago, did you? It's so much easier to criticize in retrospect isn't it?

I still like the idea the Cubs would have been willing to send Garza to Boston even if the Red Sox held out for my compensation before allowing him to work for the Cubs. I'm not sure this was happening regardless.

Maybe the Red Sox should have requested compensation before allowing Epstein to go to the Cubs, but I didn't hear Peter saying that at the time. The idea the Red Sox could actually get Garza for Epstein seems crazy to me. Who am I to disagree with a D-list celebrity though?


jacktotherack said...

"I was stunned. I mean, what's to stop coaches upstairs from plugging into the game telecasts, straining to listen to the play call in the huddle, and then relaying information down to the sidelines? If a quarterback, 12 to 15 seconds before he snaps the ball, says, "Same play'' in the huddle, isn't that information a defense could use, assuming the info could be transmitted to at least someone on that defense before the snap of the ball?"

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there a 7 second delay between the live action and the actual broadcast, so this would render Peter's entire point here moot?

Also I am willing to bet coaches upstairs are prohibited from watching the game telecasts for reasons similar to the ones Peter brings up, but I'm not sure. You would think Peter, seeing that he is the highest piad NFL writer in the country, would take the time to look this up instead of posing the question to his readership. But alas, Peter would rather give shoutouts to Mike Bowers, bitch about coffee and room service, and write about the Red Sox.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I don't know if there is a 7 second delay or not. If that is true, which I could easily see that it is, it would render his point moot. I think something like this would be interesting to have found out, rather than have it posed as a question to Peter's readership.

Alas, we do get Peter's beer and coffee of choice every week so there isn't much room left for too much investigative information on the NFL.

Ceska said...

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