Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5 comments MMQB Review: Bill Polian Has a "What If" Scenario That Would Have Saved His Job Edition

In last week's MMQB, Peter King took on the city of London, the game of cricket and officially approved England as a place to get coffee and beer. He walked across Abbey Road, managing to evade the locals who are probably tired of people walking across the crosswalk there and claimed we just don't appreciate the opposing team in the United States like they do in England. This week Peter takes on the NFL's trade deadline and wants the sports media to stop all of this non-stop QB Jets coverage. Peter naturally then mentions QB Jets multiple times in MMQB. Apparently everyone should stop covering QB Jets, except Peter has also been guilty of mentioning him multiple times in the present and past as well. Fortunately, QB Jets will be out of the NFL and on to doing something else with his life in a few more years (much to the chagrin of Skip Bayless). So we should all hang in there until that time comes.

Happy Memorial Day. I know for many of you, Memorial Day has become an extra day off, or the start of the summer. But it's a day on which we should spend a few moments remembering the million men and women who have died fighting for our country.

Thanks for putting us all on the right track Peter. If anyone is in a position to give us perspective on the world it is the guy who gripes about major national issues such as rental car companies charging him too much for gas, coffee at a hotel not being ready and available at 6am, and being charged for the use wireless internet in public. Without Peter King around I'm not sure anyone else could seem to teach us a lesson about Memorial Day in such a lofty fashion.

Before we get to football, I have one modern, tragic Memorial Day story for you.

Boy, Peter is just full non-uplifting stories today isn't he?

"Oh, and here is one more thing that will depress you for today. Kittens get run over by cars, we all know that. But what if a kitten riding on a puppy's back gets hit by a car going 60 miles per hour, fly across the road and both of their bodies end up on your front porch. Let's say neither of them are dead once they hit your porch, so you have to put them both out of their misery and all you have to do the deed is a plastic spork. Isn't that sad?!"

On the picnic table for your reading pleasure today (and just think -- you can read this while you're off, instead of stealing company time on a Monday morning to read):

I'm not sure Peter wants to refer to the people who read his column as "stealing company time," whether this is true or not. After all, he relies on these people to give him pageviews so he can continue to give his opinion on issues nobody would ever really care about if he didn't write for CNNSI.com. Don't insult the hand that feeds you by accusing MMQB readers of stealing company time when reading the column.

• The trade deadline was moved from Week 6 to Week 8 the other day. Had that been done in 2011, the course of current football history likely would have changed radically. And I mean "radically."

You mean we get to hear some "what if" scenarios? Nothing makes me less excited than to hear "what if" scenarios in regard to situations that end up not occurring. They are the journalistic form of self-pleasuring one's self. You create a situation that didn't happen and then change the variables around to suit whatever point you are currently trying to prove, and we as an audience are supposed to be super-entertained by these fictional situations.

But no, I'm pumped to hear what would happen if the NFL trade deadline was moved back two weeks.

• It shows my age, I suppose, but there was a shift in the media world order on Thursday, and no one paid it much mind. A major American city won't have a daily newspaper starting this fall.

I love how Peter says "no one paid it much mind." Peter is talking about the cutting back of The Times-Picayune to being published three times per week. Apparently Peter doesn't think enough attention was paid to this and so "no one" paid it much mind. I disagree. I think attention was paid, but it didn't deserve absolute outrage since this is the direction newspapers are headed. Most people know the newspaper business is dying, so while people were sad about this it didn't create the shockwaves I think Peter felt was necessary because it seemed inevitable. It's a big deal and is not a happy turn of events, but it is representative of where the newspaper business is headed.

I know nobody my age who gets the newspaper everyday. Apparently Peter wants mass protests in the street from New Orleans residents. Maybe if "The Times-Picayune" editor had attempted to intentionally injure another newspaper editor by putting a bounty on him, the New Orleans citizens would take up the paper's cause a bit more passionately, since being punished for breaking rules seems to get the New Orleans area to rise up as one and take action.

• I'm no lawyer, though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night

Did they provide free coffee? Was the free coffee any good? If not, Holiday Inn Express should be ashamed of itself that the free coffee wasn't the best coffee-flavored water that had ever touched Peter's over-caffeinated lips.

We'll start with the rules change from last Tuesday that I assumed was meaningless. But you know what happens when you assume things.

You start formulating "what if" scenarios?

I feel strongly the deadline should be around Dec. 1, to stimulate real action to help teams trying to win a division and to buttress with draft choices those teams out of the pennant race with four or five weeks to go.

But last year, there's a real chance that moving the deadline by two weeks -- from Oct. 18, the deadline, to Nov. 1, the day after the end of Week 8 -- would have netted the Indianapolis Colts Kyle Orton.

Which very well could have caused the Colts to win 3-4 games on the season and they would have missed out on the chance to get Andrew Luck. How could this be a good thing for the Colts? Because they get to keep Peyton Manning for a few more years and delay the inevitable rebuilding process without Manning? I know it sounds dumb to say releasing of a Hall of Fame quarterback is a good thing, but the Colts have a chance to build a good team around Andrew Luck and a new coaching staff. I'm not sure if the Colts have this chance if they try to squeeze a few more years out of Manning by going into "win now" mode. At best it works out and they delay the rebuilding by a few years while giving the Colts a chance to compete with Manning. At worst, the Colts are in the same position in 2012 that they were in during 2011. I'm probably over-thinking this, but a trade for Kyle Orton didn't seem like a good idea at the time or in retrospect.

I would argue a Kyle Orton trade wouldn't be a good thing for the Colts. It was a good thing for Bill Polian because he possibly could have saved his job by setting up a way for the Colts to win a few more games. After all, that's what being a General Manager is all about, saving your own job.

And if that had happened, and the Colts had won just one or two more games than they did, it would have resulted in Peyton Manning staying a Colt ... and Andrew Luck being drafted by somebody else.

I know Peyton Manning is a Hall of Famer, but the Colts had the perfect time after this season to move on, blow the Colts up and start over when they let Manning go. It really isn't necessarily a bad thing for a franchise to start over every once in a while, as long as that franchise knows what direction it wants to go.

"I think the deadline being moved last year would have made a difference for us,'' said Bill Polian, the Colts president until owner Jim Irsay fired him in January. "We would have rekindled our interest in Orton. In Week 6, we knew our quarterback situation wasn't great, but after a couple more weeks, we realized the situation was bad. We probably would have called Denver, who'd gone to [Tim] Tebow by then, and said, 'Hey, we'll give you a three [a third-round draft choice] for Orton.' ''

Maybe I'm the only one that thinks this is crazy. The Colts were 0-6 at this point. They would have had to end the season on a 9-1 streak just to tie the Bengals for the Wild Card spot. They weren't making the playoffs at that point. Why give up a 3rd round pick to get a one year stop gap quarterback in order to win a few more games? I'm all about winning games, but it was clear by Week 6 this was a flawed Colts team without Peyton Manning. Is it really smart to give up a third round choice for a stop-gap solution at quarterback when that pick can be (and was) used to draft a player who can make a long-term impact on the Colts roster?

The Colts had two 3rd round picks and chose T.Y. Hilton and Dwayne Allen with these picks. Both of these players have a chance to make an impact with the 2012 Indianapolis Colts team. If anything, the Colts should want the trade deadline extended so they could trade players in order to RECEIVE draft picks.

Now, how much difference would Orton have made in the last eight games of the season, had he been dealt? Indianapolis went 2-6 with Painter and Orlovsky. In four of those eight games, the Colts threw for fewer than 130 net passing yards.

We all know I like Kyle Orton. He wouldn't have helped the Colts go 9-1 over the last 10 games. Giving up a 3rd round pick for him when he is only going to take the Colts from a really bad team to a pretty bad team didn't make long-term sense for the franchise. Who am I to criticize Bill Polian though? He's a genius! He ran the expansion Panthers into the ground with win-now moves and then made a lateral move to the Colts before he had to clean up all of his mistakes. He also managed to put the Colts together so that if they lost their starting quarterback they went from a division-winning team to a 2-14 team. I probably shouldn't criticize this genius who makes zero mistakes.

Polian is convinced Orton would have been responsible for at least another win or two ... perhaps in an offensively hapless 17-3 home loss to Jacksonville, or a 19-13 loss at Jacksonville, or an eight-point home loss to Carolina.

Losing is never a good thing, but if the Colts had won two or three more games it only would have taken them out of the running for Andrew Luck and would have given a somewhat false picture of the franchise's health. Of course it would have saved Bill Polian's job, which naturally is all he really cares about.

I agree with Polian: With Orton, the Colts would have been better than 2-6 in their last eight games. Two wins better, and they'd have held OTA practices for the last two weeks with Peyton Manning as their quarterback.

At which point they would have had a 36 year old quarterback with major injury issues running the team and he would have had to sign a good backup quarterback (ok...maybe Orton) in case Manning gets injured. The Colts were going to have to start over in the next 2-3 years at the quarterback position and Luck is probably the best QB prospect to come out of college in a decade. Granted, it would have been nice to compete with Manning as the starting quarterback for a few more years. I struggle to see why trading draft picks to win a few more games was a good move. This wasn't a terrible year to start over.

In that case, the first two picks in the draft would have gone to St. Louis (2-14) and Minnesota (3-13). Who would have traded up for Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III in that case, Washington and which other team? Or would Minnesota have fallen head over heels for Luck or Griffin and picked one of the QBs, even though the Vikes drafted Christian Ponder a year earlier?

It doesn't matter because it didn't happen.

But this one situation -- and maybe it's only one -- shows moving the deadline has the potential to have a profound impact on the future of the game.

I'm with Peter on moving the trade deadline back. A trade of Orton to the Colts wouldn't have had a significant impact on anything other than to save Bill Polian's job (unless Jim Irsay smartly wanted to start over even if the Colts didn't get the #1 overall pick) and have the Colts get the #3 overall pick instead of the #1 overall pick. If I'm the Colts, I'm happy it worked out the way it did. Peyton Manning was a fantastic quarterback for so long, but the 2011 season was a perfect example of how a great quarterback can mask a team's weaknesses. Starting over, as long as there is a definite plan and direction, isn't a bad thing. Trading for Orton would only have delayed the inevitable divorce from Peyton Manning. Possibly Manning could have gotten 2-3 more years out of playing for the Colts, but there's always the chance he wouldn't. Andrew Luck is (supposedly) a franchise quarterback and the Colts can build around him for the next decade AND they get to keep the third-round pick they would have traded for Orton.

Emery's philosophy, he said, is to find players with growth potential, who make plays, who play like they love football. "I want the players with the high ceilings, with the largest capacity for growth,'' he said. "And I believe every aspect of that player is on tape. You can see him, you can read him.''

Which is a shocking statement to me considering Phil Emery then drafted Alshon Jeffrey. Jeffrey wasn't always at his optimal weight in college and whenever I saw him play seemed to struggle a bit in getting separation from the corner.

But Emery believed in Jeffery, in part because of his 23 career touchdowns, in part because of his hungry play around the goal line, and in part because of the consistent effort he showed.

Nebraska cornerback Alonzo Dennard, a 7th round pick (though he was projected to go higher), shut down Jeffrey for periods of time in a bowl game and Jeffrey's hype has rarely matched his production. He is a big receiver though. We all know big receivers tend to blind NFL General Managers to any faults that receiver may have. Height tends to blind General Managers to a receiver's faults.

Then Peter starts complaining about the QB Jets coverage...by discussing the QB Jets coverage. It is a self-perpetuating cycle.

The Giants, the defending Super Bowl champions, were beginning to adjust to life without their third receiver, Mario Manningham, who left for San Francisco in free agency. In the morning workout, top wide receiver Hakeem Nicks went down with a broken bone in his foot. The Giants announced he would be out for as long as 12 weeks, which is dangerously close to the Sept. 5 season opener.

The Jets, coming off a season in which they didn't make the playoffs, had Tim Tebow in practice for the first time he could be viewed in action by the media. Tebow is the backup quarterback to Mark Sanchez, but with the charisma Tebow has and the way Sanchez struggled last year, it could be a matter of time before Tebow challenges the incumbent.

This is the monster the media has helped to create.

Words devoted by the five major dailies to the Super Bowl champions losing their number one receiver, possibly for all of the offseason training and training camp, and perhaps threatening the start of his season: 2,104.

Words devoted by the five major dailies to Tebow's first practice visible to the media: 6,971.

Words in this MMQB about QB Jets and how much press he gets: 258.

Words in this MMQB about Hakeem Nicks and his injury: 147.

So 23 percent of the football writing in Friday's papers in greater New York was devoted to a serious injury to a top player on the defending Super Bowl champions.

It's Tebowland, baby.

If it weren't for the fact Peter was comparing the coverage of Nicks' injury to the coverage of QB Jets in Jets' camp it's possible Peter would not have mentioned the Nicks injury at all. So Peter devoted 75% more space to the coverage of QB Jets than he devoted to covering Nicks' injury and may have never discussed Nicks' injury if he wasn't using it as a comparison to the New York media's discussion about QB Jets. So who is responsible for this QB Jets-land coverage again?

So many of us in the journalism business have had to get used to new things. New age of versatility that has us do print, Internet, radio and TV. Twitter. The 24-hour news cycle. The whole business has changed, and we all probably knew this day was coming. But it'll be an eerie day this fall: The storied New Orleans Times-Picayune, born in 1837, will stop publishing seven days a week. It'll publish three days a week -- Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

So New Orleans Saints fans won't read about their team in the city newspaper until Wednesday after the game and will only get stories about the Saints three days a week. Now Saints fans know how Carolina Panthers fans feel. The Charlotte Observer publishes seven days a week, but they don't really cover the Panthers but three days a week anyway, and use the other four days of the week to link stories written about the Panthers by the Associated Press.

(Maybe three people get what I'm talking about and my joke falls flat as usual)

Jokes aside, it is not a good sign "The Times-Picayune" is only going to three days of publishing. It also isn't a hugely shocking development.

The union filed the claim in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, with NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler (his nickname should be The Groundhog; seeing it always makes me think we're about to see six more weeks of legal wrangling)

No, that should not be his nickname.


-- Tim Tebow, asked when the last time he'd made a special teams tackle. Tebow could be used as the personal protector -- the up back -- on the Jets' punt team.

QB Jetsland baby!

You can clearly see Peter King is not at fault for the overhyping of QB Jets in using a quote from QB Jets as "Quote of the Week II." It's every other media member's fault, but not Peter's fault.

Wished I had Aladdin's Lamp on my return flight from London last Monday, so I could have wished that the fellow sitting across the aisle who took his shoes and socks off before we took off had actually washed his feet some time in the previous three days. Nothing like the look of dark-gray crossed feet every few minutes for seven hours.

I'm sure the fellow across the aisle appreciated the creepy guy who was staring at this feet over the entire flight as well. Where does Peter run into these people? I feel like Peter wills these strange things to happen just so he can write about them in MMQB.

1. It's entirely possible that I slept so well at my brother's home for a variety of reasons, but I think it has a lot to do with noise. I live in Manhattan, on the 16th floor of a high-rise. You can turn the noise down, but you can never shut it off. My brother Ken lives in a village in Northamptonshire, 80 minutes north of London. At night -- or, really, after the school next door lets out for the day -- there is ... nothing. No noise. The birds in the morning sound like a rooster, relatively speaking. And one night there, I slept nine hours. Don't remember a thing. That never happens to me. Maybe silence is more important in our lives than we think -- or than I've thought.

Yes, maybe silence may be important to maintain a good sleep. Revolutionary thoughts are Peter King's forte.

The NFL (and other American pro sports) could learn something from a game like cricket. No music. No exploding scoreboards. There's the game, and discussion in the stands.

When was the last time Peter went to a football game and actually sat in the stands? Most NFL games I have been to there is a discussion in the stands about the game, there are no exploding scoreboards, and yes, the music is loud but can be tuned out if you are paying attention to the game. I'm not a huge fan of loud noises, but I don't know if turning NFL stadiums into a cricket stadium is the right direction to go either.

I realize we're beyond that. And I may not be in the majority here, and I may be Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino.

No, Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino is awesome. Wanting NFL games to be more like cricket games is not awesome.

3. I do not envy you, NBC peers, on your Olympic travels to London. It's a great, great city, but the traffic is insane. Take the Tube a bunch. Clean, fast, well-marked, everywhere.

Peter King, travel guide.

2. I think here's a postscript to the Alex Smith comments about the garbage-time yards by the Panthers last season. First, Smith's quote, the one that rankled the Panthers, came when he was asked about his lack of big-yardage passing games. "I think that's a totally overblown stat,'' Smith said. "Because if you're losing games in the second half, guess what? You're like the Carolina Panthers and you're going no-huddle the entire second half and, yeah, Cam Newton threw for a lot of 300-yard games, that's great. You're not winning, though."

The fact it has been disproven that Newton threw for more yardage in the second half than the first half, so Smith really has no point, aside...is Alex Smith really giving us the whole "it's all about winning games" after his first NFL season out of six seasons where he led the 49ers to a winning record? It's odd to me. In the past, if the 49ers had Alex Smith as their quarterback, they weren't winning games partially due to his presence as their quarterback, but he has one good season and turns into the "passing yards are for losers" guy.

8. I think this is my one post-script on the move of the trading deadline: I asked Miami GM Jeff Ireland if being 0-7 would have been very different in terms of making moves than being 0-5. In other words, would he have been more motivated to make trades two weeks later last year. He said no.

"I wasn't thinking about playing for the future at 0-7,'' he said. "I was thinking about what could we do to win now.''

"I was thinking about saving my job and knew if I started trading away players I was going to see to it my team lost more games and I would get fired."

That's why, despite the Kyle Orton story I told earlier in the column, I don't think a two-week extension to the deadline will be earth-shaking.

Plus it would have saved Bill Polian's job and helped the Colts miss out on getting a franchise quarterback in the draft, while relying on a veteran who only had 2-3 more years left. Polian needed a quarterback to help mask the somewhat deficient roster he had helped to build over the years.

a. Rondo rocks. What a ballplayer.

If only he could score more points or miraculously give the Celtics better players to compete with the Heat.

f. Josh Reddick has 13 home runs. Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez and Jayson Werth have 14 home runs, combined.

Josh Reddick is a better hitter than Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Jayson Werth combined! That's what this statistic means!

k. In the Meaningless Factoids of My Life Dept: My other two songs of the week can stay in my head forever as far as I'm concerned: Mean, by Taylor Swift. Great message, great voice.

Of course Peter King would like Taylor Swift. She really doesn't have a great voice either, but I'm not sure if I can expect a better comment from a diehard U2 fan.

p. Coffeenerdness: If I could just listen to the Forks Over Knives people, I'd go to a soy latte. As the young would say, OMG.

Peter is using "OMG" in his columns and talking about how he likes Taylor Swift. Is this a half-assed mid-life crisis coming on? Next thing we know, Peter will buy a semi-sporty new car and begin to sort of ogle younger women while at the beach, but still recognize the beauty of his own wife.


HH said...

Wished I had Aladdin's Lamp on my return flight from London last Monday, so I could have wished that the fellow sitting across the aisle who took his shoes and socks off before we took off had actually washed his feet some time in the previous three days.

You just know he'd have actually used his wishes on that, coffee, and free gas at Avis, leaving famine, disease, and warfare untouched.

Ericb said...

I know it would take extra keystrokes but shouldn't QB Jets be called Backup QB Jets at this point?

ZidaneValor said...

The Kyle Orton thing makes no sense. If Polian was willing to give up a 3rd round pick for Kyle Orton, why didn't he claim him off of waivers for free?

The entire argument for the moving back of the trade deadline was that Cutler went down the next week, so the Bears couldn't trade for Orton. Instead, Orton went on waivers, and the Colts had the #1 waiver priority, but opted not to use it.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, don't forget Peter would also use his wish on people who go through a stop sign at a rolling stop rather than at a full stop. He went on a minor rant about that a few years ago. I'm guessing Peter would also wish for Brett Favre to have 5 more years in the NFL...though that one probably is so obvious it should go without mentioning.

Eric, I had thought about that, but I honestly think QB Jets is going to be the starter for the Jets at some point this year. Though I will refer to him as "Backup QB Jets" until that time comes. I'm fine with more keystrokes.

Zidane, a good point to make. The Colts had a claim before the Chiefs did. The reason Polian didn't do it at that point (and I'm 100% guessing) is because he knew the season was over and he couldn't save his job at that point. I think Polian wanted to go 6-10 or something with Orton and then keep Orton as Manning's backup. By the time the Broncos released Orton it was too late to win games, so they didn't make a claim on him. Either way, the Colts weren't making the playoffs so a trade for Orton in exchange for a 3rd round pick seems ill-advised to me.

I have no issue with the trade deadline being moved back. I don't think teams will dump players for draft picks. It would have been nice for the Bears if Orton was available at that point for the Bears. QB's are going to go down late in the season (like Leinart/Schaub did this year) and there isn't anything a team can do about it, but I see no reason why moving the trade deadline back 2 weeks is a bad idea.

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