Wednesday, February 1, 2012

6 comments MMQB Review: It's the Exact Same Super Bowl, Even If It Isn't the Exact Same Super Bowl Edition

The first weekend without the NFL went off without a hitch. I don't count the abomination called the "Pro Bowl" as any form of football. It's like a bad arena football league game. So no, I didn't watch much of it. Peter King, the Red Sox fan who wants the Red Sox to do something to keep up with the Yankees as long as it doesn't mean cutting the payroll, begins Super Bowl hype week with some Super Bowl hype. Peter wants us all to know that no matter how much the Patriots and Giants try to fool us into only focusing on the game, he refuses to do that. This Super Bowl is about much more than just a football game, it is about how many similarities between this Super Bowl and the Super Bowl four years ago there really are. It's the exact same game! This has been the media's major storyline over the first week and if what Peter writes in MMQB is any indication this will be the major storyline all to a really important and exciting football game on Sunday of course. First comes storyline about how similar these two teams are and then comes the game. Storylines always win.

Lots going on as we draw nearer to The Rematch Bowl of Super Bowl 46. (That's right, I'm not a big Roman numeral guy.)

Yeah, fuck the Romans. They thought they were so smart with their vast empire, strong armies and numerals.

The most compelling player in the 2012 draft hits our consciousness.

I get annoyed by this every year when it comes time for the NFL Draft. The media anoints some player as the most interesting or most compelling player. It's just dumb to me, but I also realize it will never stop.

First, a word about how both teams are going to spin this as a totally different game than the one four years ago, with each team having so many new players and each team in a totally different place.

Sure, because nearly everything is different about this Super Bowl the Giants and Patriots will insist this is a different game. Peter King isn't going to let the truth ruin his storyline though, dammit. If anything this is the same game as these two teams played earlier in the year, but I don't find the two Super Bowl four years apart to be similar.

Yes, one word: bunk.

If you think the mainstream media will let go of a storyline for the Super Bowl even though it isn't necessarily true, then you must not know the mainstream media very well.

Players on the two teams back for The Rematch Bowl: 23.

That's about 22% of the same roster. That's not a whole lot of the same players.

Owners back for the The Rematch Bowl: All (Kraft, Mara/Tisch).

Owners don't change too often, so this isn't a shock.

Head coaches back for The Rematch Bowl: Both (Belichick, Coughlin).

Head coaches of teams that made the Super Bowl four years ago generally will still be with the same team. Not all the time, but generally. We're really stretching it here for similarities.

Starting quarterbacks back for The Rematch Bowl: Both (Brady, Manning).

Teams keep franchise quarterbacks that win Super Bowls. Again, this is a general rule.

Left tackles back for The Rematch Bowl: Both (Light, Diehl).

Key defensive linemen back for The Rematch Bowl: All (Wilfork, Tuck, Umenyiora).

22% of the rosters are the same. Stop bringing back redundant statistical information to make your point of view seem more persuasive. Nearly the entire receiving corps of both teams are different and the offensive lines are nearly completely different. It's not the same game from four years ago.

Ventrone brothers on the New England roster for the first game and the sequel: Two (Ray for the first, Ross for this one).

Very much still stretching this comparison.

I guess I don't understand why this is important. Why is it important for this to be the exact same Super Bowl? What knowledge can we acquire from the idea this is the same game? Does this help us figure out the eventual outcome of the game? No. Does it tell us what each team's strategy may end up being during this game? No, because the Patriots are more tight-end oriented on offense now as opposed to being wide-receiver oriented during the Super Bowl four years ago. Why is Peter trying so hard to frame this as the same Super Bowl from four years ago?

Anyway, the Ventrone thing just caps it off. This is the same game!

But why are you trying so hard to show this is the same game? It doesn't make the Super Bowl matchup any more exciting nor does it tell us the probable outcome of the game.

It's going to be a fun week, particularly in eight states in the upper right-hand corner of your United States map.

At least Peter isn't making the Super Bowl only a regional game or anything like that. The rest of us will fast forward through the game and skip to the commercials. The rest of the United States has pretty much accepted a New England-New York championship game would get a ton of outrageous coverage.

Manning might be fine and ready to play football in 2012, and maybe even a year or two beyond that. Or he might wake up on March 1 and not feel fit enough, and get his release from the Colts, and then spend more time rehabbing, trying to get fit enough and strong enough in the neck and arm to play this year. Or he might say, with new twins in the house, it's all not worth the risk.

So what Peter is exclusively reporting is that Peyton Manning may or may not play this year. You don't have to thank Peter King for this information, that look on your face is thanks enough.

Instead of Mike Florio speculating monthly if some team might take leave of its senses and try to lure Favre out of retirement, could make a cottage industry of The Race for Manning. Jets? Dolphins? Cards? 'Skins? The golf course in Chattanooga? Who knows?

The cross-promotion between Pro Football Talk and MMQB nauseates me at times. I know Peter works for NBC Sports part-time and PFT is owned by NBC Sports, but it still makes Peter seem like a corporate shill.

I know it's too much to ask, waiting for the story to actually develop.

Notice how Peter shills for PFT, then says it is "too much to ask" to let the story play out. Is he too mindless to realize the very site he just shilled for is going to be a site that will not let the story develop and will insist on speculating every turn along the way? I know Peter isn't stupid, but his pathetic pleas to let stories play out and his comments in the past about "let's not talk about this subject" (especially about Brett Favre) while talking about that very subject lowers my opinion of him.

He's in the business of speculating before a story develops. That's essentially what his readers want from him. Peter's readers want him to tell them what he believes will happen based on his (supposed) in-depth knowledge. In fact, Peter will be on television reporting every twist and turn of the Manning saga. Yet, he tells his readers to let the story play out, continuously acting as if he is just a lone boat in this ocean of speculation forced to keep up with the current or drown when he is the one helping to beat the drum of speculation that keeps the currents moving.

As far as Peter and PFT shilling for each other, PFT's Monday "Rumor Mill" often features topics from MMQB summarized and commented upon. I know this goes on and it isn't a big deal, but I do enjoy how Peter expresses his distaste for stories not being allowed to develop, followed by a mention of a site that has an entire "Rumor Mill" section set up purely for this type of informed/uninformed speculation.

Let the arm strength come back, if it will. Give it time. I don't think we can know anything definitive until Manning gives the process that time, and he sits down with owner Jim Irsay in late February or early March and tells him exactly where he is physically.

Fine, then let's see if Peter King stays off this topic and adheres to Manning's wishes. We all know he won't. In fact, Peter waits to start speculating until the very next paragraph. Peter did through the many, many Brett Favre sagas. He would write, "let's not talk about Brett Favre or where he may end up playing" and then mention him 3-4 times in his column.

What'll happen then? I don't know. The other day, Manning family friend Gil Brandt, the longtime NFL personnel guru, was dubious about Manning's future when he appeared on my podcast. "My gut feeling,'' said Brandt, "is that we've probably seen the last of Peyton.''

One more point: I talked to Colts owner Irsay over the weekend, and he insisted, contrary to an report that he decided "weeks ago'' to part ways with Manning, that he hasn't done any such thing. "There has been no decision,'' Irsay told me. "This thing is still up in the air. I guarantee you I have not made the decision."

My gut is Manning's probably done here. And only time will tell if he'll play anywhere. It's just not anything we can know now.

Peter King just a few paragraphs ago:

I know it's too much to ask, waiting for the story to actually develop.

Especially when the person doing the asking is doing the speculating and not allowing the story to develop. Peter does this consistently. He wants everyone else not to speculate, but has no problem speculating on a player/coach and his future in MMQB. Peter's own rules don't apply to Peter. I'm not saying Peter should wait for the story to develop, but he requests the story be given time and then immediately starts speculating.

Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, who just finished playing in his last college football game, the Senior Bowl, is 48 days older than Aaron Rodgers -- both 28.

And last week in Mobile, every team that talked to him was fixated -- rightfully -- on his age. "I'd say it's in the upper 20s, the teams that have talked to me,'' he said when we spoke on Friday. "And I'll tell you pretty much word for word what I told them about the age thing. There are pros and cons to being 28 and being an NFL prospect. The only con is I can't have a 20-year career, or as long a career as some of the younger guys at my position. The pros are maturity and experience ... I've already been a professional in one sport, and I grew tremendously from that. Nothing really fazes me. What you see is what you get.

I like Brandon Weeden, but I am not sure if an NFL team should use a 2nd round pick on him. It is so hard to get past the age issue. Yes, Weeden has experience, but he doesn't have more experience playing quarterback in the NFL than any other college quarterback. The whole "I've played baseball and have maturity" issue didn't really work out for Chris Weinke or Drew Henson either. Maturity and experience are great, but playing quarterback in the NFL requires a whole new type of maturity and experience.

I don't know enough about Weeden to hazard a guess, yet, where he'll go in the draft. But let's say you're a team with a quarterback need in the second round. Washington, Miami and Seattle all pick between 39 and 45, and all could be sniffing for a passer...Weeden is healthy and bright and as ready to play in the NFL as Mark Sanchez, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton have been in recent years, or nearly as ready.

The issue shouldn't be the comparison of Weeden to Dalton/Newton/Sanchez, it is the comparison to other college quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. Do you take Weeden over younger, slightly less "ready" quarterbacks in the 2012 Draft? I'm not saying you avoid taking Weeden, but if you think he is "nearly" as ready as Sanchez, Dalton or Newton you also have to understand Sanchez is three years into his career and hasn't seem to got it all figured out yet. Sanchez is 25 years old, which means he has three years experience and is three years younger than Weeden. In regard to Dalton and Newton, both have a lot of room for growth and will probably start to hit their peak in their third NFL season. If Weeden follows that same progression and hits his peak during his third year he will be 31 years old. I'm just saying Weeden has to hit the ground running and if a team think he can do that then they should draft him.

Or will you say you can't take that risk for a player who's older than Aaron Rodgers right now? That'll be the dilemma of this draft for teams that don't get a quarterback in free agency or at the top of the first round.

I would say take him in the second round, but also realize this is a "now" pick and he won't have a ton of time to mature into an NFL quarterback. Remember, as Weeden himself said he has matured already. He's worth taking a risk on, but I don't really believe he has more experience than other quarterbacks available who are younger. Weeden has played baseball professionally and will still be a rookie quarterback in the NFL, just like any other rookie starting quarterback.

Greg Schiano wants Butch Davis on his staff.

Yes, this does pass as news in the week between the NFC/AFC Championship Games and the Super Bowl.

I like the Schiano hire.

Wait, someone in the media likes the Schiano hire? Just amazing. This is completely new information.

Not to ignore the others, but having lived in New Jersey when Schiano took over one of the worst teams in any sport in the country (that's no exaggeration), I witnessed the job he did making Rutgers competitive nationally.

Well, Schiano was a fantastic hire since he helped a college close to Peter become competitive nationally.

In the last few days, I've heard people say, "Well, he never won the Big East at Rutgers. Dumb hire.'' Time will tell.

I love how Peter frames the two views on this hire in the "very good hire" camp and the "dumb hire" camp. Apparently there is no inbetween...except for me of course. I'm sort of inbetween on this hire. I'm always suspicious of college coaches who come to the NFL, Jim Harbaugh included. I'm on the fence on this hire, but I guess we will see. Schiano may be a great NFL coach and he certainly has a young team (much like a college team) to work with. Still, it is an adjustment from college to the NFL.

He's not sure how he got so close to Bill Belichick, but Belichick helped him get this job. He called Tampa Bay GM Mark Dominik, who led the Bucs' long search, and told Dominik how NFL-ready he thought Schiano was.

And we all know how no friends/co-workers of Bill Belichick have failed at being a head coach in the NFL. I do have to admit Schiano's hiring is much better than the prospective Chip Kelly hiring by the Bucs. That would have failed miserably in my opinion.

"Thursday was one of the most exciting days of my life, getting this job, and also one of the saddest, because I missed Joe's service,'' he said. "I learned so much from Joe. Like, 'The only bad decision is indecision.' I can't tell you how significant a statement that is.''

I also can't tell you how ironic of a statement that is as well.

Mike Mayock will find a beer and a beach today in Hawaii. And he'll try to think about something other than football for a few minutes.

It sucks when your job is to travel around the country and cover football on television and then you are expected to travel around the country and cover football on television.

It is clear Mike Mayock had a busy couple of weeks, but this is what he signed up for.

He spent a week in Tampa, beginning two weeks ago, for the East-West college all-star game, doing the game telecast for NFL Network.

A week in Tampa? How did he survive?

Last week, he was in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, on NFL Network Saturday afternoon. Right after the game Saturday, he buzzed to the Mobile airport and flew to Los Angeles, getting in before midnight and checking into an airport hotel. He had a 5 a.m. wakeup call and 7:30 a.m. flight to Honolulu. By 12:30 Honolulu time, Mayock was on the field for warmups prior to the Pro Bowl.

Let's be honest, there are many, many place it would suck to have to wake up at 5am to fly to and Hawaii is not one of them. Flying an early flight to Hawaii is something newlyweds their honeymoon or to take a family vacation. They usually are excited to do this. It is something that is fun and relaxing, because they are going to Hawaii. Yet, Peter acts like Mayock was going to the Arctic Circle to call a football game.

He did the Pro Bowl game on NBC, then went back to his hotel. He said he was tired, but happy.

Because he was in Hawaii.

More of a good thing was his theory. Same with Mayock. He'll get a couple of days off, then fly to Indianapolis for a Thursday night NFL Network show.

So here are the trips Peter is complaining on behalf of Mike Mayock about having to take...Spending a week in Tampa to call one game. One game. Then he flew to Alabama to call a game one week later. One game in one week. Then he had to wake up early to get to Hawaii to call another game and now he will spend a few days in Hawaii. If you don't mind traveling for your job, this isn't a bad gig.

Grossi, a longtime Browns beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, sent out a tweet he meant to keep private for one friend, except that it went to all of his followers last week, and the tweet called Browns owner Randy Lerner a "pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.'' Once Grossi saw the damage, he called his editor to inform him, then called Lerner and club president Mike Holmgren, ostensibly to apologize. They wouldn't take Grossi's calls. The paper took him off the Browns beat.

Very stupid. It is ridiculous for the newspaper to cater to what a team they are supposed to cover wants. It isn't unexpected, but it is still stupid.

The paper's reader representative, Ted Diadiun, wrote a column explaining why Grossi got yanked. "[Managing editor Thom] Fladung was still left with a problem: His Browns reporter had revealed to the world his utter disdain for the owner of the team he was covering. How would the paper's readers be able to have faith in the objectivity in his reports following that? 'In another area, it would be an obvious call,' said Fladung. 'What if the reporter covering City Hall called the mayor pathetic and irrelevant?

The problem is there was no proof of a bias against Lerner in Tony Grossi's writing. You can throw out "what if" scenarios all you want, but there is a difference in accidentally Tweeting something to your followers and stating your opinion in a column. So while I can see this point of view, beat writers aren't paid to follow the NFL team's company line and become a mouthpiece for the team. So I get that if Grossi had come out in an article and said these same things about Lerner how the paper may be more inclined to remove him from the Browns beat. This wasn't the case though. I find it interesting Grossi could probably write an entire article being critical of Mike Holmgren and the job he has done as the Browns GM without having to worry about job security, but once he says something critical about the owner, he loses the Browns beat.

I am not bothered by Grossi thinking and expressing that Lerner is irrelevant. If Grossi showed in his copy some bias against the Browns, he should be moved off the beat.

I think I agree with Peter's opinion of this.

a. I see George Steinbrenner's been reincarnated in Detroit.

Come on, Peter. One week Peter complains the Red Sox don't have enough starting pitching. The next week Peter complains the Red Sox made a trade in order to keep or lower their current payroll costs in an attempt to sign a starting pitcher. Peter is ashamed and angry the Red Sox had to do this. Finally, this week Peter calls the Tigers owner George Steinbrenner reincarnated because he dared to spend money to improve the Tigers. Apparently Peter believes no other MLB team is allowed to sign expensive free agents outside of his favorite team.

e. Yes, I plan to hit St. Elmo's.

I don't know what the hell this is, but I do know I am resting easier now.

k. Have a fun week. And don't let the hype get you down.

We will all be sure to ignore any coverage of the Super Bowl if we want to avoid the hype from getting us down.


jacktotherack said...

"Lots going on as we draw nearer to The Rematch Bowl of Super Bowl 46. (That's right, I'm not a big Roman numeral guy.)"

Peter's writing makes my head hurt. Am I the only who reads that as this is a rematch of Super Bowl 46, a game that is yet to be played?

Rich said...

Anyway, the Ventrone thing just caps it off. This is the same game!

Except for (and these are just the new Giants starters):

David Baas
Hakeem Nicks
Victor Cruz
Mario Manningham
William Boothe/William Beatty
Jake Ballard
Michael Boley
Antrel Rolle
Kenny Phillips
JacQuan Williams
Chris Canty
Rocky Bernard/Linval Joseph
Jason Pierre-Paul

More of a good thing was his theory. Same with Mayock. He'll get a couple of days off,

This man is a soldier. A week in Tampa, some time in Hawaii followed by a few days off before going to Indy? I don't know how he survives.

I love how Peter uses his "article" to passive aggressively bitch about how awful his job is. Yes, it must suck to work 20 weeks a year, travel to some very nice places for free and "only" have a few days off between trips while making six figures.

And like Jack said, Peter, it was Super Bowl 42 that cost the Patriots 19-0. Super Bowl 46 is happening on Sunday. Guess it's all that travel time that kept him from double checking that "factoid."

ivn said...

I don't count the abomination called the "Pro Bowl" as any form of football. It's like a bad arena football league game.

Don't tell that to Aaron Rodgers!

The paper's reader representative, Ted Diadiun, wrote a column explaining why Grossi got yanked. "[Managing editor Thom] Fladung was still left with a problem: His Browns reporter had revealed to the world his utter disdain for the owner of the team he was covering. How would the paper's readers be able to have faith in the objectivity in his reports following that? 'In another area, it would be an obvious call,' said Fladung. 'What if the reporter covering City Hall called the mayor pathetic and irrelevant?

"We can't have our reporters being critical of people in power," Fladuing added. "We've always been at war with the Pittsburgh Steelers."

Also, I love this:
How would the paper's readers be able to have faith in the objectivity in his reports following that?
as if most Cleveland Browns fans didn't have the exact same opinion of Lerner that this reporter did. Everything's hunky-dory with the franchise that is 0-1 in the playoffs since being reincarnated in 1999. Tell us more about how Pat Shurmur and Colt McCoy are totally the future.

Anyway, the Ventrone thing just caps it off. This is the same game!

Isn't Wilfork the only player left from the Patriots defense that started Super Bowl XLII? and how their offense is way different? from being 4- or 5- wide shotgun looking deep for Moss and Stallworth to running a lot of two-TE (for obvious reasons) sets.

I thought that Peter was being sarcastic, but then he finished that section with a quote from Osi Umenyiora that implies he's being serious so I don't know.

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I did notice that. I left it out b/c I wasn't sure if he was emphasizing Super Bowl 46 was a Rematch Bowl...or it was an actual Rematch of Super Bowl 46. Either way, it is sentence structure that make my sentences look clear and easy to read.

Rich, I don't get the point of the whole "its the same game" theory. What does it mean to be the same game? Does it really mean anything at all? It just seems like a sort of interesting point that isn't entirely accurate, not that interesting, and really doesn't tell us much about the upcoming game.

I know it sucks for Mayock to travel all around and cover football games, but he covered three football games in three weeks, followed by a couple of days in Hawaii and then back to his job at NFL Network. He signed up for this and it isn't like the Pro Bowl is tough gig to call anyway. I'm sure there aren't many pre-game interviews or any other in-depth study required to call the game.

I think it is passive-aggressive bitching on the part of Peter. One of the reasons I never went into any type of sportswriting/broadcasting (not that I could do it well, I am just saying I never even pursued it) is that I don't like traveling all the time. So I have little patience for someone who does the job and then passive-aggressively complains about the travel involved.

Ivn, I didn't even watch the Pro Bowl. I heard later Cam Newton played terribly and it bothered me 0%. I'm not a big fan of the MLB All-Star Game, but for those who complain about its irrelevance I point those people to the Pro Bowl. At least the MLB ASG is a competitive game and not a half-assed flag football event.

Those are two really good points about Randy Lerner. I honestly don't know much about Randy Lerner, so I didn't want to criticize him without cause, but this is a team that has won 9 games or more twice since 1999. Someone HAD to say Lerner sucks because all of the indications are there.

I really have a soft spot for NFL beat reporters that tell the fans really what goes on. I realize it can cut off access to the team, but I want a beat reporter that will simply say "Lerner sucks" or something to that effect. It's being honest w/ the fans. It is so irritating that the Browns don't want criticism of the team so the fans keep buying tickets, memorabilia, and spending money on a team that hasn't given them anything back since 1999. If Lerner doesn't want people to think he sucks, then prove you don't. You can't treat people like they are stupid and expect them to fill your stadium out of loyalty.

I think Peter is being serious. I think Wilfork is the only defensive player and on offense the only starter back from 2007 (I think) is Brady, Connolly, Mankins, and Light.

It's not the same game.

Justin Zeth said...

Pretty much says it all.

Bengoodfella said...

I'm surprised Randy Lerner hasn't taken his season tickets away yet. You can't criticize his team and expect to get to a part of what he's building!