Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Has Some Red Sox-Related Thoughts Edition

A week after wondering when the Red Sox are going to sign a pitcher to compete with the Yankees. This week Peter is outraged to learn the Red Sox have to clear cap space to sign a pitcher. He's like a kid who has learned his parent's credit card has a spending limit. On more football-related topics, Peter informed us last week that Alex Smith is the real Tim Tebow. Then Alex Smith had a 46% completion percentage in the NFC Championship Game, a la Tim Tebow, so perhaps Peter King is right about that plus much more. Not true, says Peter King. No one knows anything, including Peter King himself. That's why gambling is bad, mmkay? This week Peter tells us football is unpredictable and you never know whose life will be ruined (possibly short-term or in the long-term) by the outcome of a football game. It's one of those things we love about the sport. Who will make a bad play on the field in an important game and get the honor of receiving death threats and the ire of a fan base? Step up, Kyle Williams and Billy Cundiff. It's your turn.

I laugh when people call me an idiot for my predictions.

I get this. Peter is paid to be an expert on the NFL, not make correct predictions. That being said, you would think these things go hand-in-hand a little closer than they do.

Sunday was a perfect example of why you shouldn't put a nickel down on big football games. Or any football games, really.

What Peter misses is part of the fun of gambling is not knowing what will happen. That's why it is called "gambling." So while I understand football games are unpredictable, the lack of surety in the outcome of the game is contained in what betting on football games is called...gambling.

1. Sterling Moore.

2. Billy Cundiff.

3. Kyle Williams.

4. Jacquian Williams.

Let's throw Lee Evans in there. I realize it was a good strip by Sterling Moore, but Evans had to hold on to that football in my opinion. Also, throw Joe Flacco on the list since he perhaps could have made a run for the first down on third down and used the Ravens timeout at that point instead of never using that timeout. I would even throw in John Harbaugh for not using a timeout to allow Cundiff more time to prepare for the kick. If Evans catches the ball, if Flacco runs for a first down, and if Harbaugh had used the timeout (especially since it is rumored Cundiff wasn't ready to kick when called upon to do so). I know Cundiff missed the chip shot, but there was more than just his miss that led to the Ravens loss.

But the Patriots and Giants are meeting in Super Bowl 46, a reunion of Super Bowl 42, because their 53 men are better -- at least more reliable -- than the teams they vanquished Sunday.

Deep. Just really deep.

Nice crowd the 49ers have on Twitter. One of their "fans'' tweeted to Williams (@KyleWilliams_10): "Jim Harbaugh, please give @KyleWilliams_10 the game ball. And make sure it explodes when he gets in his car.''

"I'm going to take what a few idiots on Twitter said and then make it seem like the entire fan base are crazed, homicidal maniacs. Hey, it's safer than gambling!"

It's only sports, people. Only sports.

We are getting lessons in perspective from Peter King. The same person who almost started a fight with a guy at a hotel because he cut in line for the elevator. Peter King. The same guy who eviscerated Hertz in MMQB for charging him $9 gallon (or something near that amount) to fill up a rental car with gas because Peter was too lazy to do it himself. Peter is right about having a perspective on sports, but this is the guy giving us perspective on sports. Peter has perspective on life, unless a hotel doesn't have coffee ready and brewed by 6am, in which case that hotel can go straight to hell.

It's 13 days early to say this is a team for the ages. But the Giants will be underdogs to New England again in the Super Bowl, just like they were four years ago when they won by a Velcro catch and three points. And if the Giants win, they'll go down as one of the most remarkable stories of our era. Imagine Coughlin and Manning beating Belichick and Brady three times in four years -- twice in the Super Bowl, the other time in Foxboro. It'd be extraordinary.

The Giants beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl is a big "if." A huge "if." Like I don't necessarily believe it will happen "if." I bet Ian O'Connor regrets his "The Giants should have signed Plaxico Burress" column now. Actually, sportswriters tend to have no shame when overreacting to one play or game, so he probably doesn't regret it.

In the championship game Sunday, I counted 23 pressures on Manning. This San Francisco defense deserves to be playing in a Super Bowl.

If only football wasn't a team game. Damn you, NFL rules that won't allow individual units on a team to go to the Super Bowl to compete against other individual units!

The two ends in the 3-4, Ray McDonald and Justin Smith, are every bit as impactful as the best ends the Steelers have had in their 3-4 prime, Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel.

Well, I personally didn't know the 49ers had as impactful defensive ends in a 3-4 defense like the Steelers have. If the Giants had known that I'm sure they would have allowed Kyle Williams five seconds to try and recover his own fumble in overtime...but only because the 49ers defense deserved to go to the Super Bowl. It is miserable to hear two defensive ends in a 3-4 defense aren't going to the Super Bowl and these ends are as impactful as two other defensive ends in a 3-4 defense who have won a Super Bowl. This will be the first time in NFL history quality individual players haven't made it to the Super Bowl.

How cruel is it for San Francisco that the Niners prepared for most every contingency during the season, Jim Harbaugh and GM Trent Baalke plugging most of the personnel holes they could. Who spends cap money and significant time on the backup punt returner?

Not really that cruel actually. It's the NFL, where injuries happen. The Patriots had a wide receiver playing cornerback against the Ravens. The Packers won the Super Bowl last year with multiple players on Injured Reserve. It wasn't cap money or significant time that hurt the 49ers, it was (a) Williams inability to do a basic thing like get the hell out of the way of a bouncing punt and (b) not properly secure the ball while running back a punt. Neither of these really had much to do with punt returning and had to do with basic football fundamentals. Williams has returned a few punts and kicks over the last two seasons with the 49ers. It isn't like he was picked up the week before the NFC Championship Game and thrown back there. Sure, he wasn't Ted Ginn but there is a reason you have backups.

What's cruel is having things out of your control that doesn't have much to do with play on the field bite you in the ass. Like if a team had the best defense in that franchise's history and then the starting and backup quarterback get hurt and that team has to start a rookie 5th round pick for the last several games of the season and in the playoffs. That's cruel. The starting punt returner getting hurt and his backup making two big mistakes, not from lack of experience, but from mistakes made concerning ball security, are simply a bad time for a bad couple of plays. You don't need experience to know to get out of the way of a punt and the ball being stripped is a matter of ball security.

Granted they were helped by The Tebow Factor, but New England's defense is getting well when it counts.

"Granted, I believe my own point about the Patriots defense getting better isn't true, but wouldn't it be cool if I just ignored my own conclusion and said the Patriots defense was playing better?"

Vince Wilfork was a monster Sunday, and what's helping him get free more than he has recently is the play of no-names like Kyle Love and Brandon Deaderick and Mark Anderson and Gerard Warren, who pushed the pile Sunday and only occasionally gave Ray Rice and Ricky Williams enough creases to run.

Not sure I would call Mark Anderson a no-name player and Gerard Warren was a Top 3 pick in the NFL Draft. He is only a no-name to some people because they may be surprised he is still in the NFL.

2. Should the replay assistant, Mark Burns, have stopped the game for a replay review on the Lee Evans catch/non-catch in the end zone with 27 seconds left?

I thought so.

I usually have no problem with booth replays in the last two minutes of a game, but this is a case where I wish the coach had control over whether to challenge the play or not. Peter and I are on the same page here. Why not review a potential scoring play that could give one of the teams the lead? This was a huge mistake in my opinion not to take another look at this play. Why not spend 2 minutes looking at the play since it would have such a huge impact on the game?

I just thought the gravity of the situation should have mandated a review. God knows the game is stopped for elbows hitting the ground and 12 inches of real estate on poor spots. "I'm surprised they didn't look at it,'' said John Harbaugh.

Again, usually I have no problem with replay being out of the hands of the coaches during the last two minutes of the game, but this is a case where I think there was no reason not to review it from the booth.

Now, for the many of you wanting to crucify Evans for the play: I don't. Should he have lock-gripped the ball to prevent stripping? Yes, of course. But New England cornerback Sterling Moore has a job to do there too, and that job is to chop down on the hands of Evans as soon as the ball is in his grasp.

No one is looking to crucify Lee Evans. If Billy Cundiff gets criticized for missing a field goal to tie the game, then I think Lee Evans should get criticized for having the game-winning touchdown stripped out of his hands. Moore may have made a great play, but a veteran wide receiver like Lee Evans knows if a ball hits his hands, he has to catch and secure that ball. Moore made a great play, but Evans should have had the ball in my opinion.

3. Why didn't Harbaugh call a timeout as the field-goal team came onto the field to try the tying kick -- and it appeared kicker Billy Cundiff was slow in getting on the field?

Harbaugh certainly should have. What was he saving it for? "That never occurred to me,'' said Harbaugh.

Harbaugh would have been better off not saying this. Really? It didn't occur to you to call a timeout to set up your kicker for more time before the game-tying kick in the AFC Championship Game? This amazed me. Again, especially if the rumor that Cundiff wasn't ready for the kick when he was being called upon. Yeah, I read that rumor on TMZ, but the information you get there is about as accurate as ESPN.com.

The Ravens were not getting the ball back and they could not stop the clock enough with one timeout if the Patriots got the ball. That timeout was just sitting there and served no purpose for the rest of the game unless Harbaugh was planning on trying an onside kick after the made field goal. You call the timeout because you have the timeout and there is no reason to make your kicker rush on the field when he can take his time to line his kick up. I really hope Harbaugh wasn't afraid he would be icing his kicker if he called a timeout. That seems silly to me.

"Look back on it now, maybe there was something we could have done. But in that situation, it didn't seem like we were rushed on the field.''

But you have a timeout to be used. Why not use it just to make sure your team is ready to execute the kick? I don't like the Ravens and I was screaming for them to call timeout there. I imagine I wasn't the only one.

Getting through this period will be difficult, obviously. And no one should pretend to tell a coach and his family how to mourn, or when to move. Those should be personal calls.

Not according to Gregg Easterbrook. He thinks the Packers should have forced Philbin to give up play calling duties and probably in some way blames Philbin for the Packers' loss to the Giants.

2. New England (15-3). The Patriots are going to their fifth Super Bowl in the last 11 seasons. If they win, they're immortal. If they lose, Eli Manning has their number.

If the Patriots lose, then Bill Simmons will consider it to be the worst loss in the history of the franchise. A loss so terrible that it will be mentioned on a monthly basis in Bill's columns in the desperate hopes of regaining the sympathy he garnered from readers before the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. The same sympathy he eventually lost when he became insufferable after that time. Bill may, and I am just speculating here, not talk about the Patriots Super Bowl 42 loss to the Giants for at least...wait for it...two months if the Giants beat the Patriots again. Probably not, but there's a chance Bill would stop talking about Super Bowl 42 for two months. I'm not sure what I want more. A Super Bowl victory for the Patriots so Bill won't tell us all how bad a loss in the Super Bowl would have been or a Patriots loss so Bill will be humbled a bit.

9. Detroit (10-7). End of the season shows Lions need to be in play for Jim Schwartz's old buddy Cortland Finnegan in free agency.

Or perhaps a linebacker as well. A running back that can stay healthy would also help.

13. Arizona (8-8). Got a long way to go to catch the Niners.

It is the NFL. Last year I am sure the Cardinals looked in better shape than the 49ers, who had a new coach, an iffy defense and no real quarterback. It's amazing how one season of success changes everyone's perception.

15. Miami (6-10). I like the Dolphins a little better today now that they're the leaders in the clubhouse for Matt Flynn.

A free agent quarterback who has played sparingly as a backup quarterback, played well in that limited amount of time and will probably go to a team with inferior offensive players. What could go wrong?

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson
, to Showtime, about the atmosphere fostered by Jets coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum, and the feud between quarterback Mark Sanchez and wideout Santonio Holmes:

-- "I've been around some locker rooms and quarterback-receiver situations and what-not, but it was as bad as I've been around. I think the players could no longer do anything about it.''

Regardless of whether Tomlinson is right about this or not, doesn't this make two out of two franchises that Tomlinson has criticized after leaving the team? I can't help but wonder if the next franchise he signs with will keep this in mind.

Then Peter lists other comments that Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson had made and said their mouths rested on the weekends, as if he was tired of hearing them talk. Peter is obviously not understanding the idea the guys keep talking because the media is there to listen to them and report on it. For a guy who presumably wants the Jets to quit talking, Peter sure spends a lot of time in MMQB talking about what the Jets' head coach, players and owner have to say.

1. I think this is what I liked about championship weekend:

h. New England corner Sterling Moore, whose rags-to-riches story will be a good one at the Super Bowl.

I can't wait for TMQ when Gregg points out Sterling Moore was an undrafted free agent and knocked the ball out of the hands of Lee Evans, a glory boy first round pick.

k. Victor Cruz, who demolished Carlos Rogers in an eight-catch first half.

Yet, in the second half it seemed Rogers played better coverage on Cruz and Cruz only caught two more passes. Peter doesn't mention this of course.

n. Good to see Peyton Manning at Candlestick to support his little brother.

What else does he have to do? Where else would you expect Peyton to be? His brother is playing in the NFC Championship Game after all.

g. San Francisco's inability to replace a punt returner. I mean, how valuable does Ted Ginn Jr., look this morning? Had he played, there's a very good chance a different team is going to Indianapolis next week.

Oh my God, let it go. I think Peter is more distraught than some 49ers fans. He keeps writing about how the 49ers defense deserved to go to the Super Bowl, then named individual players who deserved to go to the Super Bowl, and keeps bringing up how the 49ers didn't have a backup punt returner. They did. His name was Kyle Williams and he had a bad game. It sucks, but them's the breaks. I really believe Peter is taking this loss harder than 49ers fans.

h. I feel for Kyle Williams, but I can't imagine Jim Harbaugh keeping a guy he can't trust next year.

What happened to all that positive technique coaching that Gregg Easterbrook was talking about last week? I don't know very much about the 49ers personnel needs, but I don't know if Harbaugh will get rid of Williams any more than he would make sure he has a quality backup punt returner that isn't Kyle Williams.

8. I think it sure feels like Chip Kelly's beating the posse out of Eugene if he takes the Tampa Bay job. After it seemed like he'd be leaving Oregon for the NFL, Kelly may have had a change of heart about joining the Bucs. If he does turn down the job, I'm told part of the reason is that the news of Kelly's possible departure leaked, killing his recruiting efforts.

Peter needs this sentence edited very badly. It's clear Peter wrote the first part,

I think it sure feels like Chip Kelly's beating the posse out of Eugene if he takes the Tampa Bay job.

before Chip Kelly changed his mind. Then Peter wrote this,

After it seemed like he'd be leaving Oregon for the NFL, Kelly may have had a change of heart about joining the Bucs.

which he obviously wrote after Chip Kelly decided to stay in Oregon.

But then Peter left this sentence in MMQB,

If he does turn down the job, I'm told part of the reason is that the news of Kelly's possible departure leaked, killing his recruiting efforts.

Which also seems like it was written after Kelly announced he was staying at Oregon. Why have that first sentence? The one about beating the posse out of Oregon. It feels out of place to me. Very weird string of thoughts in my opinion. I know it is hard to stay up-to-date while writing MMQB, but it was announced Kelly was staying at Oregon when MMQB got posted.

b. Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for Clayton Mortensen, a bottom-of-the-rotation candidate. Stupid, stupid, stupid trade. Did GM Ben Cherington watch the end of the Red Sox season, when Scutaro played hurt and played brilliantly -- the best player on the team over the last two weeks (when the team was dying and drinking) other than Jacoby Ellsbury, at a time when too many big-money players stunk up the joint?

More importantly, as we will find out later this week, Nick Cafardo will miss the enormous amount of grit Scutaro gave to the Red Sox lineup. What a terrible trade to get rid of such grit and heart in a trade. Clearly, this means the Red Sox are stuck with the overpaid assholes they have now and will never make the playoffs ever again. You can't trade grit and heart and expect not to be repaid with bad karma. Of course, if Mortensen turns out to be a decent player Peter will forget about his criticism of this trade.

All I heard after the deal was the Red Sox were clearing salary space to pick up Roy Oswalt. Oswalt turns 35 this year. He broke down last year, when he went 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA and missed 12 starts. Wait: The Boston Red Sox have to clear salary space? What?

Can't the Red Sox just continue to outspend every other team? This team that has some sense of a budget isn't the gritty, gutsy, blue collar team Peter King has come to know and love. What is Cherington trying to do with clear salary space? Develop players and make moves to strengthen the exact same pitching staff Peter bitched about not being strong enough last week? (Yes, Peter complained last week in MMQB the Red Sox staff wasn't strong enough, this week space is being cleared to sign a pitcher and Peter still isn't happy) Why would the Red Sox want to develop a plan to compete that doesn't include finding ways to spend more money right now?

If the Red Sox stop spending money or hold payroll at the same level, look for Bill Simmons to disown the team for a few years because they are being misers and then eventually jump back on the bandwagon once the team starts winning again.

Scutaro's not the centerpiece of a World Series winner, but he's the kind of rub-some-dirt-on-whatever-hurts gamer with good talent.

Thanks Nick Cafardo (I can't wait to post that one).

He obviously was undervalued by a team that now seems to value more the guys who drink in the clubhouse in the seventh inning than those scratching and clawing to try to win games.

Regardless of whether this was a good trade or not, this is just pure stupidity being written on Peter's laptop right now. Every team has had players who drink in the clubhouse and the public's perception of this depends entirely on whether that team is winning or not. The Red Sox collapsed last year so naturally the media clings to the idea fried chicken and beer caused the Red Sox pitchers to pitch poorly in October.

h. Coffeenerdness: Tried a latte at Blue Bottle Coffee in the San Francisco Ferry building Saturday -- and it was worth the 15-minute wait in line.

"How dare other people want coffee at the same time I do and cause me to wait in line to feed my addiction!"

j. Wish my father were around to see these Giants. He'd love Coughlin.

But he wouldn't love those cheapskate Red Sox who have to "clear salary cap space" now in order to sign players. Life is so unfair.


rich said...

Who spends cap money and significant time on the backup punt returner?

The Giants have used three punt returners this year: Hixon (injured), Blackmon (sucked) and Ross. Two of those start(ed) at other positions, so it's not really a "cap" issue.

Since Ginn, jr. is also a WR, it might not have been the worst idea to give a guy some punts during practice.

The Patriots are going to their fifth Super Bowl in the last 11 seasons. If they win, they're immortal. If they lose, Eli Manning has their number.

I'm pretty sure that 5 SB appearances in 11 years is pretty awesome, even if they lose this upcoming one. 3 SB wins and 5 appearances in 11 years is nothing short of amazing.

So no, regardless of winning or losing both teams have won this year. The Giants proved that they're still a good team and the Patriots are establishing one of the greatest runs in NFL history.

I like the Dolphins a little better today now that they're the leaders in the clubhouse for Matt Flynn.

He's attempted an incredible 132 passes in his NFL career. Before the last game of the season, basically no one was talking about him, but now magically he's got a "clubhouse"?

I mean, how valuable does Ted Ginn Jr., look this morning? Had he played, there's a very good chance a different team is going to Indianapolis next week.

Had Terrell Thomas been playing, he likely would have been on Vernon Davis and the game would have looked much differently too. Oh and if he's playing, Ross sits and that stupid illegal hands to the face penalty on 3rd and 19 doesn't happen.

Maybe I'm being bitter as a Giants fan, but you can point to guys on both sides that could have changed the game.

Oh and lets not forget that Williams had two nice returns that put the offense within 30 or so yards of kicking a FG and the offense stalled.

Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for Clayton Mortensen, a bottom-of-the-rotation candidate. Stupid, stupid, stupid trade.

The Red Sox scored the most runs of anyone in the majors last year. Trading a 35 year old Scutaro (who is at best, okay) for a 26 year old pitcher is a good deal.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I think that's a good point and I am betting Kyle Williams is the guy who took those punts in practice. I am betting Williams took punts in practice, but just had a bad game.

Yeah, 3-2 in Super Bowls over 11 years isn't so bad. It's very good. Also, in the NFL there is so much turnover from year to year I just find it hard to believe Eli Manning has their number. They are just two different teams from two years ago.

I really like Matt Flynn as a quarterback and enjoyed watching him at LSU. I think he will find going to Miami is going to be different from being in Green Bay. I'm afraid he'll get paid a ton of money and have more pressure on him than he probably should have.

Peter was pretty broken up about the 49ers losing. I think he was playing it off b/c as you can tell from the last sentence his father grew up a NYG fan. Maybe he was sort of overdoing the whole "the 49ers deserve to be there" thing because he roots in his heart a bit for the Giants...if that makes sense.

Either way, Gregg Easterbrook does the same thing in his TMQ. If one or two plays go a different way then everything changes in the NFL during the season. So this goes for a lot of things. That's partly why I don't like "what if's."

What Peter, the huge massive Red Sox fan he is, doesn't realize is this leads the way for Jose Iglesias to take over at SS. Not that you have to pay attention to a team's farm system to be a big fan, this is something a huge massive Red Sox fan would know. Who Iglesias is, and whether he is ready for the majors.

Also, Mortenson isn't a bad haul for a 36 year old utility player coming off one of his best years. It's not great, but not terrible.