Monday, March 26, 2012

3 comments Mark Kriegel Disapproves of Peyton Manning's Choice to Sign with Denver

For be it for me to feel bad for pro athletes, but there are times I become convinced they just can't win no matter what they do. Many bashed LeBron James for taking his talents to South Beach when he got the opportunity for free agency. He wanted to win an NBA Title, so we knocked him for calling in help from other stars in order to win an NBA Title, and then criticized him for not trying to win a title on his own in Cleveland. Then when Peyton Manning becomes a free agent we have writers like Mark Kriegel who criticize him for not going to a team that is closer to winning a Super Bowl. Kriegel even criticizes Manning for wanting to win the Super Bowl himself (as if the NFL isn't a team game), but then he also previously criticized James for teaming up with Wade and Bosh. Manning chose the wrong team by signing with a team Mark Kriegel felt wasn't close enough to winning a Super Bowl, but LeBron James had hubris for signing with a team he felt gave him the best chance to win an NBA Title? Kriegel can't have it both ways. He can't criticize one player for do whatever it took to chase a ring, but criticizing another player for not chasing a ring efficiently enough.

I am sure Rick Reilly is happy, because he wanted Manning to go to the Broncos. Even if Reilly's analysis was a little bit off, I think Denver isn't a terrible place for Manning to be. Manning really didn't have any terrible choices, other than Miami of course. Mark Kriegel disagrees.

At the heart of each NFL franchise is a heartless machine, flawed but merciless, aspiring to completely rational prognostication.

So, so very deep.

Tim Tebow rejuvenated a franchise. The fans loved him. Sure. But they’ll get over it.

Alex Smith got the 49ers further than they had been in 14 years. Yes. So?

Well, Alex Smith got the 49ers further than they had been in 14 years, but a lot of that had to do with the 49ers excellent defense. That's probably part of the reason the 49ers were looking to upgrade at the quarterback position this offseason. This excellent defense is also the reason Mark Kriegel thought Manning should have signed with the 49ers.

Neither flesh nor feeling is supposed to enter the equation. It’s a cost-benefit analysis. The question is not what you’ve done lately. It’s what will you do tomorrow?

This just in: Sports are a performance-based industry. Players are judged and evaluated on whether they perform at a high-level or not. Mount your horse and spread the word to the masses!

In that respect, as a football brain, the mind of Peyton Manning is without equal.

He's like the Albert Einstein of the NFL. Or, as Bill Simmons would say and everyone else would disagree with, Manning is the Malcolm Gladwell of the NFL.

His gift for anticipation, while imperfect, remains superior to any computer program.

Mostly because computer programs aren't often seen playing quarterback in the NFL. Or are they?

(Bengoodfella puts his laptop on a field with a football on top of it and starts running wide receiver routes. Nothing happens.)

Yep, it turns out computer programs aren't very good at anticipation and in terms of playing quarterback in the NFL, computer programs appear to be inferior to humans.

(Though anyone who has played Madden when the computer is in "Fuck you, you aren't winning" mode knows that computer program is unbeatable and superior to even the best NFL quarterback.)

Still, the Broncos? I don’t get it.

Other than they have a very good head coach, have an increasingly good defense, a great offensive line and won a playoff game last year with a running back at quarterback? Yeah, why would a quarterback want to join a team with any of these attributes?

He can rationalize all he wants. But at some level, there’s an element of hubris at work here.

He is an athlete. They run on hubris. Most elite athletes are told from the time they are in junior high how talented they are. A life without hubris is a life they don't recognize.

I like how Mark Kriegel states that LeBron James has hubris for going to Miami and joining up with other stars in order to win an NBA Title, and then states Peyton Manning has hubris for going to an NFL team that Mark Kriegel doesn't see as acceptable or close to winning a Super Bowl. It's all hubris. If a player chooses to become a free agency, there is an element of hubris because that player is saying he can do better away from his former teammates. If a player forgoes free agency and re-signs with his current then there is an element of hubris because he is saying there isn't another NFL team that is closer to winning a title than the one he is currently playing for.

In Mark Kriegel's world, everything has an element of hubris.

"Oh, you just passed me in the left lane. I guess you are saying your car is faster than my car. There is an element of hubris here."

"Look at that family's hubris! They are going to McDonald's while we are eating at Chili's. They think McDonald's tastes exactly like Chili's does, just at a lower price. What a bunch of egotistical assholes."

"What's that Fido? You want to chase a stick? I think you are letting hubris take control. You don't believe I can throw a stick far enough to where you couldn't find it. Go straight to Hell!" (immediately has Fido put to asleep)

It’s spectacular, really, the most admirable sort of arrogance, a Sinatra lyric come to life. Peyton Manning will do it his way, or, in terms of his football mortality, die trying.

I can't believe his ego either. Where does Manning get off CHOOSING where he should play after becoming a free agent? Who does he think he is? One of the best quarterbacks of all-time? Does Manning think he is so great that a team could go from making the playoffs for a decade with him as quarterback to only winning two games because he got injured and isn't that team's quarterback anymore? The ego on this guy, thinking he makes such a huge difference on an NFL team.

Consider LeBron James’ Decision, as it became a touchstone for fans of all sports. Much of what makes James and the Heat so unsympathetic is the idea that the most talented basketball player on the planet still had to stack the deck.

And yet, when a player doesn't stack the deck he gets criticized for not going to the "right" team that could help him win a Super Bowl more quickly. Sometimes the players can't win.

Manning is the opposite of LeBron James.

And yet, Manning gets criticized the exact same way as LeBron James got criticized. If they are opposite, then why is Mark Kriegel's reaction to each player's destination once they reach free agency the same?

At 35, coming off his fourth neck surgery, he believes in himself more than he believes in his personnel. He cares less about the roster than controlling the offense, his offense.

So it is egotistical to believe in yourself?

OK, I don’t presume to know what he’s thinking.

Other than stating you know exactly what Peyton is thinking of course when you say he cares less about the roster than controlling the offense. Other than knowing Peyton's state of mind to the point you know hubris controlled his decision to join the Broncos. Other than those two things, Mark Kriegel won't presume to know anything Manning is thinking.

But I’d kind of like to comprehend what has already become the single most significant personnel move of this or any other NFL season.

He joined a playoff team whose biggest weakness was at the quarterback position. Again, the Broncos made the playoffs, despite inexperience/ineffectiveness at the quarterback position. Manning's presence fixes the biggest issue with the Broncos roster.

The Broncos are run by a Hall of Fame quarterback who knows what it takes for an older quarterback to win a Super Bowl. The head coach for the Broncos has taken his four teams to the playoffs, including two NFC Championship Games, with Jake Delhomme as the best quarterback he has ever coached. The Broncos have a fairly young defense that improved as the season went along and have two tight ends in Dante Rosario and Virgil Green that are athletic pass catching tight ends.

The Tennessee Titans I could understand. Manning is the most Southern guy in sports. He went to school in Knoxville. His wife is from Memphis. He’s got 11-month old twins.

What does having 11-month old twins have to do with being "Southern?" Is there something in the water in Tennessee that causes a higher incidence of twins being born?

A contract for life in Tennessee? That’s basically a piece of the team. Makes sense, no?

It makes sense if you want a contract for life with the Tennessee Titans. If you don't want a contract for life with the Tennessee Titans and want to keep your options open for the future it doesn't make a lot of sense to accept this offer.

By not choosing the Titans, then, it stands to reason that he made a football decision.

Or he chose not to play for the Titans. Simply because we don't understand it doesn't mean it was a bad decision.

Who cares if Manning’s agent, Tom Condon, advised his other big client here, Alex Smith, to turn down a $24 million offer from the 49ers last week?

Not Manning. What Tom Condon advises his other clients really shouldn't be much of Peyton's concern.

What’s more, given his time served, winning is not to be confused with a division title. Winning means winning a Super Bowl. But again, that’s the strange part here.

So it's strange that Mark Kriegel's personal opinion of which teams are close to winning a Super Bowl isn't the same as Peyton Manning's opinion? If Mark Kriegel wants to talk about hubris, how about the hubris of believing your personal opinion should be so widely held to the point you criticize an athlete for making a "wrong" decision because it doesn't agree with your opinion?

Only one team among the finalists for Manning’s services seems Super Bowl ready. That would be San Francisco.

In your opinion. By stating this opinion, Mark Kriegel is ignoring other factors like a team's head coaching situation, the contract he would be offered and how much control he would have over the team's offense. Manning probably liked that he would have full control over the Broncos offense, the Broncos had a defensive-minded coach, and they have a General Manager who understands what an aging quarterback wants to be successful.

Even if the 49ers are more Super Bowl ready, they aren't necessarily a perfect fit for Manning. They have a head coach who is offensive-minded and therefore would meddle in Manning's offense to an extent. Manning probably wouldn't have the control he craves over the 49ers offense. The 49ers also play in the same division as Peyton's brother. This could have had an impact on Manning's decision. Also, the addition of Randy Moss may have been a negative in the 49ers column as opposed to a positive. Manning may not want to play with Randy Moss. We don't know. This is even assuming Manning sees the 49ers as more Super Bowl ready, which is nearly impossible to even know prior in March, when the season doesn't start for nearly six months.

More apparent is Manning’s simpatico with head coach John Fox and team president John Elway. Makes sense.

So there is your answer.

The Broncos have two promising young receivers, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. They have Willis McGahee, coming off a wonderful, if surprising season. He’ll turn 31 in October, ancient for a running back. They have Ryan Clady at left tackle, first-team All Pro — in 2009.

I think the Broncos have an underrated offensive line. Four of the five starting linemen are 25 years old or younger. So the 49ers may have a great offensive line, but the Broncos don't have a bunch of stiffs. As far as McGahee goes, the NFL Draft is coming up, so there is a chance the Broncos will look to upgrade the running back position.

Joe Staley, the Niners’ left tackle, only made the second team, but just last year. At running back, Frank Gore is coming off his fifth 1,000 yard season, but is still only 28.

Nice attempt to deceive your readers. Kriegel mentions McGahee will be 31 in October, but puts Frank Gore's age as 28 years old...despite the fact Gore turns 29 in May 2012. Kriegel projects the age of the Broncos running back who doesn't turn 31 until AFTER the season starts, but doesn't project the age of the 49ers running back who turns 29 BEFORE the season starts. He does this to make it seem like there is a three year gap in their ages as opposed to a 17 month gap. Whatever you have to do in order to prove your point I guess.

Then there’s the receiver position. San Francisco — one score from Super Bowl XLVI — is stocked with talent: Michael Crabtree, tight end Vernon Davis and Randy Moss working on an incentive-based contract.

Randy Moss is a complete question mark. It's very possible Manning doesn't want to work with Moss. I'll give him Crabtree, Davis and even Manningham. Still, Denver has Decker and Thomas, both of whom will probably thrive with Manning throwing them the ball. I still give the edge to the 49ers, but I don't see ability as being a problem for Decker and Thomas. Yes, the 49ers look to have an advantage in the passing game, but in Denver Manning will have full control of the passing game. I'm not sure he would have had that in San Francisco.

(As I mentioned in my Reilly post a few weeks ago, I still like the Cardinals receivers with Manning throwing them the ball as compared to every other team in the running for Manning's services...except the Titans. I like their receiving corp the most with Manning as the quarterback.)

The disparity in talent is more obvious on defense. Denver’s includes Von Miller; Elvis Dumervil, who’s still coming off surgery, and Champ Bailey, who’ll be a 34-year-old cornerback when the season starts.

Dumervil was coming off surgery last year too and he had 9.5 sacks. Von Miller has All-Pro potential and was only a rookie last year. I won't suggest the Broncos defense is on par with the 49ers defense, but I think the Broncos defense improved as the season progressed.

Anyway, in what world does Manning have to justify which team he chooses to play for next year? What's wrong with not choosing to play for the "best" team? I fail to see a situation where Manning has done a disservice to the NFL and to himself by making what he perceives to be the best decision for him and his career.

There are three first team All-Pros — Patrick Willis, Navorro Bowman and Justin Smith — and two more mere Pro-Bowlers, Carlos Rogers and Dashon Goldson.

It’s defense that wins championships, right?

Right, that is how the saying goes. The two teams that met in the Super Bowl last year were ranked 27th and 31st in total yards given up during the 2011 season. Maybe Manning thinks the Broncos defense can win him a Super Bowl.

Unless, perhaps, you’re Peyton Manning. Then you try to win them yourself.

So unlike LeBron James, Peyton Manning should have chosen to team up with the best possible team in order to chase another Super Bowl ring? I'm not a LeBron James defender by any stretch of the imagination. Why should Mark Kriegel criticize Manning for not choosing the team that has the "best" chance to win a Super Bowl when he criticized LeBron for choosing the NBA team that had the "best" chance to win an NBA Title? It's that a bit contradictory.

Peyton Manning went to Denver. We have no idea at this point if it was a bad decision or not. It's where he chose to play and he shouldn't be criticized for not going to the team Mark Kriegel sees as "best" for him to go to.


rich said...


His gift for anticipation, while imperfect, remains superior to any computer program.

Followed by

He cares less about the roster than controlling the offense, his offense.

Makes no sense. If he's better than a computer... wouldn't you want him to be running the offense?

Manning is the most Southern guy in sports.

Um... the fuck? Chase Daniel grew up in Texas, went to school in Missouri and plays in Louisiana.

Gregg McElroy grew up in Texas and went to school in Alabama.

Matt Stafford grew up in Texas, went to school in Georgia.

Kevin Kolb grew up in Texas, went to school in Texas and plays in Arizona.

Drew Brees grew up in Texas, went to school in Indiana and plays in Louisiana.

So... um...

Is there something in the water in Tennessee that causes a higher incidence of twins being born?

There's an incest joke laying around here somewhere.

Only one team among the finalists for Manning’s services seems Super Bowl ready.

Even if the 49ers are more Super Bowl ready, they aren't necessarily a perfect fit for Manning.

And I'll add to that this: does Manning really make that Niners team that much better? The Niners offense worked best when Smith scrambled around a lot. Manning can't scramble.

Manning would definitely be an improvement over Smith, but I'm not sure if Manning's skill set would really boost that team.

At running back, Frank Gore is coming off his fifth 1,000 yard season, but is still only 28.

Here's the thing - Since being in the pros, McGahee has been relatively healthy.

Gore missed significant time in 2010 with an injury.

Also, McGahee is older, but only has about 140 more carries in his career than Gore, so it's not like he's on pace for a Larry Johnson type drop off in his production.

Finally, McGahee's backup is Moreno, who is a capable runner himself. Gore's backup is Kendall Hunter.

Basically, Denver's offense is less talented, but more able to withstand injuries at the skill positions than the Niners.

The two teams that met in the Super Bowl last year were ranked 27th and 31st in total yards given up during the 2011 season.

Manning actually had some decent defenses in Indy. The year they lost to SD I think they actually had a top 5 or 6 defense. Didn't matter. When you talk about single elimination games, there's no "rule" in place.

NO won a SB with a pretty meh defense, same with the Packers and Giants (this year).

What also matters is that Denver's defense was on the field a lot. Manning instantly keeps the defense off the field longer than Mr. three and out.

Justin Zeth said...

Manning was never going to go San Francisco for exactly the reason you pointed out: there was no chance Jim Harbaugh was going to back off and let Peyton Manning run the offense. Neither is Mike Munchak or Ken Whisenhunt, for that matter. It was always obvious that Manning would sign with a team that has a defensive-minded head coach and a good offensive line.

I think the theme of Peyton Manning's career has been comfort. I think he has an extreme need to feel comfortable. When the pass rush is mostly not bothering him, he is unstoppable. When pass rushers are disrupting his timing he is human. I know this is true of all quarterbacks except Ben Roethlisberger, but I think it is really, *really* true of Peyton Manning.

So when he hit free agency my instinct about it was, he's going to look for the most comfortable situation for him. That means a team that can reasonably be expected to be a Super Bowl contender if Manning joins it; a defensive-minded coach that will let him run the offense; a good o-line; and some reasonably talented receivers. That meant the Jets, Chefs and Broncos. That was pretty much the entire list from Day One. And even the Jets I doubted because I don't think Manning would be comfortable playing in New York (because (1) it's New fucking York, and (2) his brother plays there.)

So once he ruled out the Chefs it was already pretty clear in my mind he was going to Denver, and nothing that's happened since January regarding Manning has surprised me, except I thought he would give KC a longer look than he did.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I can't make incest jokes about Tennessee. I don't have family from there, but I try to stick to road-kill jokes. Other than that, I have no idea what "the most Southern guy in sports" means.

I haven't really thought too much about Manning on the 49ers. I feel like Alex Smith was a good fit for what they did last year and when I look at Harbaugh's QBs: Josh Johnson, Luck, do have a point. There is some mobility required in the Harbaugh offense.

I personally like Manning in Denver. I don't know if he will win a Super Bowl there, but I think the defense is on the rise and I know they are going to upgrade the running game in the draft. Also, McGahee is an injury risk, but so is Gore. The Broncos offensive line is just a step below the 49ers line...I don't see Denver as the bad choice.

Justin, Manning wanted that offense. When I wrote something a few months ago a/b where he could go, I factored that in, but not nearly enough. I gave too much weight to the supporting cast around Manning and not enough weight to the fact he wants to run the team HIS way. He can do that in Denver.

One of my criticisms of Manning is how comfortable he has to be in order to play well. He is a person who loves repetition and knowing what is going to happen. That's the key to his success, preparation. I also didn't think a/b him not playing in NY b/c that's where Eli plays. Denver was the best spot he thought and it goes long with him wanting control of the offense.