Tuesday, August 21, 2012

7 comments MMQB Review: All About Luck Edition

While voicing his litany of complaints about life on the road last week, Peter King let us all in on the secret that he doesn't care much for a hotel's attempts to prevent credit card fraud. Peter also took it as a compliment that he was described as being "a source for leaks" in Jonathan Vilma's lawsuit against the NFL when it probably wasn't exactly a compliment. It doesn't matter because Jonathan Vilma didn't get to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game, nor has a minor league team had a Jonathan Vilma bobblehead night like Peter has. Peter is special in that way. This week as part of his whole "it's preseason so we can't read too much into anything" plan, Peter begins to read into what is happening during the preseason and reveals the shocking revelation that everyone already seems to know, which is that nobody likes Todd Haley.

The highlight of the week that was, looking at my 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd NFL teams prepping for the season? Easy. It was the 27-year-old coaching apprentice, talking into a walkie-talkie, communicating with his captain on the field, looking completely in charge.

Nothing tickles Peter's fancy like seeing a 20-something man looking authoritative and completely in charge. Let's give Peter a minute to compose himself.

(waits a full minute)

"Twenty-seven?'' Rams defensive end Chris Long said to me incredulously. "No way. No way he's 27.''

AND Chris Long is there along with this twenty-something authoritative man? The same Chris Long I used to accuse Peter of having an obsession with? It's like a One Direction concert on the Rams practice field for Peter. I hope he was able to keep himself together and didn't start following Chris Long around while he was trying to practice.

But he is ... and I'll keep you in suspense for a few paragraphs longer before I tell you who this coach and this good story is.

Does Peter King really think we give a shit who this coach is? This just doesn't strike me as information so incredibly important it requires a cliffhanger. I doubt Rams fans even care who this coach is. A man that looks younger than he really is AND he looks completely in charge? I can't wait to find out who this is and have to immediately scroll down to get spoiled.

It turns out this is Blake Williams, Gregg Williams son. Holy shit, what a great story and I immediately regret spoiling this for everyone. So Blake Williams had a walkie-talkie, is 27 years old and looked fully in charge? He may one day run a defense because he is so smart? Thanks for playing games and just not telling us this story outright. Guessing games are much more fun.

This whole "he is 27 years and looks completely in charge" irrelevant reveal reminds me of when my mother will tell me something "interesting" about a person I knew 15 years ago and turns it into a guessing game. The story is not even close to being relevant enough to deserve a guessing game.

(Mom) "Guess who I saw at the store?"

(Me) "I don't know who...Satan?"

(Mom) "He played coach-pitch with you and you'll never guess who he is married to."

(Me) "Demi Moore? You? Did you get married?"

(Mom) "No, he married Barbara Shelton. She was a year or two behind you in high school. Do you know who it is I am talking about?"

(Me) "I've never heard of Barbara Shelton in my life and my house is on fire. I have to go."

There needs to be an island where we can put people who play guessing games about topics no reasonable person should or would ever care about. They could stand around all day and play guessing games about irrelevant topics only they seem to care about. Yes, I suggested putting my mother on this island, but only because I love her and would be completely willing to go visit.

1. Too bad Andrew Luck will have only one national game this year.

Yes, I know. Because teams coming off a 2-14 year deserve at least 8-10 nationally televised games per year. Not to mention, there is no way to see an Indianapolis Colts game on television because satellite technology hasn't improved enough for this to happen.

Nationally televised games are overrated anyway. They aren't a sign a team is any good, they are a sign that team draws good ratings.

In Colts camp Friday, I asked Luck what had surprised him about his first NFL camp and preseason. He paused. "Not much, really. Can't really think of anything.''

Well it must be a fantastic feeling to be so fucking perfect.

Looks like Luck's going to be must-see TV all season, but it'll have to be DirecTV must-see with the Sunday Ticket package ... because the Colts are due for one national game, a Thursday nighter in November at the Jags.

Well, fortunately Peter works for NBC and has the money to afford DirectTV's Sunday Ticket Package. Otherwise, this would be a disaster of epic proportions if Peter couldn't watch Neckbeard play every single game this year.

2. Bad weekend for the Cardinals. Kevin Kolb had his manhood questioned by a marauding Raider, Tommy Kelly. That's the headline. More important -- actually much more: left tackle Levi Brown going down with a torn triceps muscle, possibly for the season. This was already a shaky line. Now the protection problem could become a crisis for Arizona.

Good thing they drafted Michael Floyd. He is a good offensive linemen, right? He can protect the quarterback? This is why you don't listen to your players when it comes draft time. The Cardinals wanted to keep Larry Fitzgerald happy and Fitzgerald wanted another wide receiver to complement him, so the Cardinals obliged. I'm done harping on this now, but I thought the Cardinals should have drafted an offensive tackle or guard in the first round.

Next man up could be Boise State rookie Nate Potter. Nothing against Nate, but how many contenders have opened the season with a seventh-round rookie left tackle?

Four. The answer is four teams have done this.

The officials have to drop their demand to keep a pension that's better than full-time NFL employees have, and the league has to jack up the money it has offered by $10 million or $12 million over the seven-year life of the contract. It's time. I can't say it better than Bears cornerback Charles Tillman did late Saturday night: "Can we get our refs back? ... Replacement refs aren't cutting it.''

To prove I am a human being who is capable of emotions other than snark. I feel sympathy for the replacement refs. They are inept and they seem to know they aren't cut out for NFL games at this point. Twice in the Miami-Carolina game Friday night the head official called out the wrong call and then visibly rolled his eyes so that you could see he was nervous as hell and frustrated with his own inability to get the call right. I'm at the point with the replacement refs I feel sympathy for them. Many of them aren't cut out for this level of football and the communication level between the officiating crews is just not very good. They get together and have long conversations, which doesn't necessarily speak to their incompetency, but the lack of communication and trust they have among each other. It's hard to watch them officiate without cringing.

8. What will Jeff Demps do with New England? Sounds like the Olympic silver medalist sprinter will have a chance to return kicks for a New England team that was horrible in the return game last year -- 29th in the league. Among all players with at least 10 kick returns, the Patriots' Danny Woodhead was 40th, at 21.9 yards per return, with no touchdowns. But Demps has an Achilles heel, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston: Demps fumbled 11 times in 424 career touches playing with Tim Tebow at Florida.

Demps played "with Tim Tebow" at Florida. Is it in the contract of every NFL writer they have to mention Tim Tebow whenever given the opportunity? Why can't Demps just play "at Florida" or perhaps he played at Florida with his current New England Patriots teammates Brandon Spikes and Aaron Hernandez? Wouldn't that even make more sense since Peter is talking about the Patriots signing Demps and Hernandez and Spikes also play for the Patriots? I don't get why "with Tim Tebow" has to be added unnecessarily into this sentence. It's almost like NFL writers have to mention Tim Tebow at least once in every column.

But there's little doubt these players are breathing easier with a coach they like and respect more than Todd Haley. "It had to happen,'' one player said of Haley leaving and Romeo Crennel replacing him. "Players were afraid of speaking up. The environment just wasn't healthy. I think it really wore on Matt.''

What? You mean Todd Haley rubbed the Chiefs team the wrong way? This certainly didn't happen in Arizona and Dallas. What a shocking turn of events that a coach who feuded with players at his two previous stops may not be absolutely loved by his team when he becomes a head coach. I didn't (did) see that coming.

The ex-coach's father, former Steeler personnel man Dick Haley, told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review that Cassel was "real average'' and "it didn't surprise me what happened in Kansas City.''

Fortunately, Todd Haley's dad was there to stick up for him. Todd Haley was probably too busy getting into a fight on the sidelines with one of his wide receivers to comment on Matt Cassel's comments.

Coby Fleener, the rookie tight end from Stanford (and MMQB columnist extraordinaire), is running with the ones, and he looks to have picked up the offense as quickly as Andrew Luck has.

That's probably because nothing has surprised Fleener and everything is just so easy for him when it comes to his transition to the NFL.

I've always thought if I were a marginal player I'd want to sign with a coach, or a team, with the reputation of meaning it when they say, "The best players will make the team."

Is this as opposed to signing with a team that has a coach who says, "The best players will not always make the team. I play favorites"? If so, I'd like to meet the NFL head coach that says this. I'm guessing there aren't any.

Four Andrew Luck notes from my brief time around the Colts:

Does he have his Hall of Fame speech prepared? That's all I need to know at this point.

1. Nothing looks uncomfortable for him.

Even when Peter cupped Luck's balls and started grabbing his ass. Luck just shook it off and went about his business.

But watching him practice, he looks at ease, like a kid who's spent 10 hours studying for a final exam and is sure he has the answers.

Other than speaking. When he speaks he sounds like Kermit the Frog, so he still can't answer my question of why he sounds like that.

I'm not trying to hate on Andrew Luck. He's just so perfect and my natural reaction when I see someone that perfect and well-built for the NFL is to be snarky and critical. It's because I have low self-esteem and my mom still won't let me out of the attic to see my friends.

2. What's troubled him, or been difficult for him? I asked. "I was more prepared to learn this offense than I was to learn the offense at Stanford coming out of high school,'' he told me. "At Stanford, I was pretty young, and we had the West Coast with some other things -- the Schembechler influence, and a little bit of the Bear Bryant influence. And as a freshman in college, it was pretty heavy.

"The tough thing here, I'd say, have been the protections. We ran one type of dropback protection at Stanford, but here there's man protection, slide protection, scat protection [no backs kept in, and man blocking by the line]. There's a protection where the TE's staying in, where the RB releases,

Blah, blah, blah. "I was born to be a good quarterback and I'm really good at it."

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Andrew Luck talks like an elite quarterback though, doesn't he? He's prepared for the NFL. He even stayed at Stanford long enough to get his degree, so I can't knock him for that. He's so perfect it naturally makes me cheer against him.

3. Think of it: How lucky is Indianapolis, the franchise and the football city? In 1997, Manning, the best NFL prospect in college football, passed on the chance to go No. 1 to the Jets to play one more year at Tennessee; the Colts benefited by earning the first pick in 1998 and drafting him. In 2011, Luck, the best NFL prospect in college football, passed on the chance to go No. 1 to Carolina so he could play one more season at Stanford; the Colts got the first pick in 2012 and Luck in their laps.

Gosh, I had never thought of it that way. Think how lucky the New York Giants are though. They drafted the Manning brother that knows how to win Super Bowls.

I'm kidding of course.

I'm getting way ahead of myself, but imagine Luck having a long career for the Colts and playing well. Two quarterbacks in 30 years, with no quarterback controversies, no jobs on the line because the GM failed at finding a quarterback. Amazing thing.

What an Easterbrookian statistic. The Colts wouldn't have two quarterbacks in 30 years because Curtis Painter, Kerry Collins, and Dan Orlvvodsksyskdsy started for them last year and there was a controversy over which of them should be the starter. That is unless Peter is selectively blocking out the whole "Kerry Collins v. Curtis Painter" discussion that Reggie Wayne chimed in on, which I wouldn't put past him. So that's five quarterbacks in the last 30 years. I know! It's sad how one bad year ruins such a good-looking statistic. Let's just ignore 2011 happened and gloss over the fact "Genius" Bill Polian wasn't enough of a genius to have a quality backup quarterback on the roster and hired an unqualified man to be the team's head coach. So when times got rough, times got really rough because the entire team was built around Peyton Manning knowing what the hell he was doing at the quarterback position.

Big fail on the whole "two quarterbacks in 30 years" comment. Not only is it presumptive since Luck hasn't taken a regular season snap yet, it's also factually incorrect.

"How about our opening schedule?'' Matthews said. "San Francisco, then Chicago on a short week, then we go to Seattle on a Monday night, then we've got New Orleans on a short week.''

Earlier in MMQB Peter was complaining Andrew Luck wasn't on national television but one time this year. What Peter didn't think about is there are drawbacks to playing on national television a lot. A team ends up having short weeks, short preparation time and long flights. Just something to remember when you wish your team had more nationally televised games. I'm perfectly happy with my team playing on Sunday at 1pm or 4:25pm.

On HBO's Real Sports this week, Bryan Gumbel interviews Jon Gruden, who was handed the Monday Night Football analyst job solo this offseason and has signed a long-term deal with ESPN. The network has insisted that Gruden is a football analyst retired from coaching. But in the interview with Gumbel, Gruden says: "I'm trying' to figure out where I'm going. If the right opportunity presents itself, I will come back.''

Let me tell you about this guy! This guy can coach an NFL team or work in the announcer's booth. Listen to this. Listen to how he uses words that come out of his mouth to say something positive about everything and everyone. He thinks the Colts losing 14 games last year was a great, great thing because it taught them how to lose. He doesn't mind what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans because it was the strongest hurricane he's ever seen and it gives people a chance to rebuild their lives. Let me tell you about this guy! He's too afraid to say anything negative about anyone for fear it will cost him his next NFL job. If Jon Gruden had to pick one guy to quarterback his team, other than the other quarterbacks he has said this exact same thing about, it would be this quarterback he is watching right now.

Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert. Twenty-four hours after venting to Yahoo!'s Mike Silver about the critics who (justifiably) ripped his 2011 play ("They can't do my job; there are 31 other guys that can do my job, and that's it''),

I think Gabbert is going to have a good year as well, but there are probably 50 guys who can do his job as well as he did last year. Just food for thought the next time he lumps himself in with the other NFL quarterbacks who performed even at an average level last year. I'm high on Gabbert this year, but I wish he would worry more about silencing his critics with his play rather than with words.

"The real problem was that no one seemed shocked.''

-- Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans special teamer now suffering from ALS, to HBO "Real Sports'' correspondent Jon Frankel in a story that will air Tuesday night, on his memory of the reaction by those in the room to Gregg Williams' pregame speech before a January playoff game in San Francisco.

The speech, of course, was recorded and released by filmmaker Sean Pamphilon and recorded Williams as graphically identifying potential injury points on the 49ers. In the HBO piece, Gleason, who has been quiet to this point about the events of that night in the hotel in San Francisco, said the speech was fairly run of the mill until Williams mentioned the places they could hurt 49er players. "That, to me, was over the line,'' Gleason said.

And of course Gleason is probably still angry that Pamphilon released the audio. Given the fact no one seemed shocked about what Williams said, doesn't that give the indication this is something the Saints defense was used to? Maybe they were so shocked they were unable to react at all and didn't seem shocked. I don't believe that though. I'm glad Gleason seems to see the Saints actually were in the wrong, because they were. I've always struggled a bit with him blaming his physical condition partly on playing in the NFL, while also knowing the Saints team he played for had a bounty program. Gleason has been a little too neutral on this issue for me.

"It's the single worst-officiated game I have ever been involved in. Talking to them during the game, no question some of them were star-struck.''

-- Anonymous player who played in the New Orleans-Arizona Hall of Fame Game, speaking of the replacement officials.

We all know this is Drew Brees. He's the one who loves to be critical of others publicly, is well-spoken enough to make this statement and he also seems to enjoy it when he has Peter King's ear. Not to mention, he states the officials were star-struck and there is no bigger player on the field (in the world?) than Drew Brees. So I'm sure he knows they were star-struck to get the privilege of officiating a game he was involved with.

"Sorry about that!''

-- Bruce Springsteen during his Fenway Park concert last Tuesday, interrupting the song "Wrecking Ball'' with an apology.

"Wrecking Ball'' contains these lyrics:

"Now my home's here in these Meadowlands where mosquitoes grow big as airplanes,

"Here where the blood is spilled, the arena's filled, and Giants played their games ... "

Get it? Springsteen was in the land of the Patriots.

I get it! I get it! How clever.

If you watched the Chiefs much last year -- and in the NBC viewing room, we got to see a lot of every team --

Except for the Colts apparently. Peter can never watch the Colts play, which is why Peter said he had to have DirectTV and their Sunday Ticket package to watch Andrew Luck play.

Janoris Jenkins, the second-round pick for St. Louis, will start at cornerback for the Rams. He was the 39th overall pick in the draft. The Rams have put a program in place to be sure he can concentrate on football while still taking care of his parental obligations.

In fairness to Jenkins, who doesn't have a consultant that helps him/her take care of their parental obligations?

The Rams had a consultant to the team manage the child-support payments for the five children. The complicating factor there: Each of the three mothers lives in a different Florida county -- with different child-support laws the consultant had to navigate to put a plan in place so Jenkins would be in compliance monthly. In addition, the consultant arranged for Jenkins' mother to live in a duplex home in her hometown in Florida -- and found a friendly neighbor to live in the other half of the duplex.

I don't know how a team could get a player to concentrate on football better by managing a difficult situation to the benefit of the player and his extended family the way the Rams have with Jenkins.

It's a tribute to the Rams they don't let irrelevant, outside obligations, like being a parent affect Jenkins' mental preparation to play in the NFL. The Rams are smart to cut out all of the ridiculous bullshit like this and let Jenkins just focus on playing football. I wonder who they hired to help Jenkins take a shit or a piss? I'm sure that's an everyday worry he would like alleviated as well.

"Review of press box meat: 'This steak still has marks from where the jockey was hitting it.' ''

-- @IzzyGould, the Dolphins' beat reporter for the Sun-Sentinel in south Florida, apparently not pleased with the quality of the evening meal Friday night in Charlotte prior to the Dolphins-Panthers game.

I'm sure the play of Ryan "Maybe if keep talking about him being the answer at quarterback, it will end up being true" Tannehill didn't help Gould feel much better.

"I have a good feeling about this year.''

-- @pick_six22, Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel.

I should hope so. That team's loaded.

Really? The Falcons? At a position outside of wide receiver? Maybe Peter means they are drunk. I'm sure that's what he means.

3. I think it's hard to blame Kevin Kolb for all of Arizona's offensive problems right now, because he's just not getting the protection a quarterback needs to have a chance. But he looks shaky. Very shaky. And deep down, I wouldn't be surprised if Ken Whisenhunt is thinking: What have I done in committing to Kolb?

(continues beating dead horse) It always helps if a quarterback gets good pass protection. Kolb isn't exactly getting that right now and it tends to snowball sometimes once the protection breaks down. Kolb still sucks of course. There's little denying that right now.

7. I think if Adrian Peterson plays Friday night against San Diego, eight months after reconstructive knee surgery, it'll be the biggest boost the Vikings have had since the approval of the new stadium by Minnesota voters. But we've come to expect the unexpected from Peterson. The Vikings, though, have to be careful that Peterson's not coming back too soon. They need him for 16 reals games, not one phony one.

Getting back healthy is the key to playing in reals games. Phonys games don't count. Peters is right. The reals games are the ones that counts.

8. I think if defensive end Chandler Jones isn't a bona fide star as a rookie in New England, you can shred my scouting card. (If you can find it, that is.) Maybe the most interesting thing out of New England, though, is that Ryan Mallett has had two training camps to beat out Brian Hoyer for the backup quarterback job, and when the Patriots start the season, Hoyer's very likely to be No. 2. If Mallett were a great player, I couldn't see this happening.

But I thought we were told Ryan Mallett was first round material and Bill Belichick is a genius for drafting him in the third round, only to later trade Mallett for 9 first round draft picks and the map of where the fountain of youth is located? My world is now shaken.

Here's what happens at the this time of year: I write the column in chunks during training camp, and when I write something Tuesday night, I often don't recall everything exactly how it's written, so the thing I might write two nights later could include references that will appear redundant when the whole thing is read together. Again, my fault.

Here's an idea...proofread your entire column before you submit it. Much like Janoris Jenkins and his employer helping him to focus on football, Peter probably has people who are paid to proofread his columns so Peter can focus his time on complaining about the staff at hotels around the United States.

j. Coffeenerdness: Never been so happy to see a Starbucks than I was at 5:40 a.m. Friday in Effingham, Ill., after 95 minutes on the early-morning road from St. Louis to Anderson, Ind. And I didn't catch their names, but the Effingham Starbucks has a friendly, welcoming and fast couple of baristas working at that hour. Nice oatmeal too, ladies.

Is "nice oatmeal" Midwestern slang with a sexual connotation? I feel like Peter is trying to slip one by us.

l. Derek Jeter with 250 home runs. Don't know why, but that strikes me as a terrific accomplishment for a guy never known for power. To have more homers than Roberto Clemente (240), Sal Bando (242), Hack Wilson (244) and Don Mattingly (222) -- that's saying something.

As Peter ignorantly said a few years ago, the Jeter is the best baseball player of Peter's lifetime ( which by this he really means the last 25 years). Also, having more home runs than Sal Bando and Don Mattingly isn't really saying anything because Jeter has been around a while.

o. Thinking of you, Paul Needell.

Not thinking of you enough to send this message in a non-public fashion of course. There was no annoying travel note from Peter this week. Maybe he's learned his lesson from last week that his readers don't appreciate it when he acts like a dick to those working in customer service. I doubt it. I'm sure he'll have two complaints next week.


HH said...

Gosh, I had never thought of it that way. Think how lucky the New York Giants are though. They drafted the Manning brother that knows how to win Super Bowls.

Did they? Did they really?

Bengoodfella said...

HH, that's true. The Giants didn't draft Manning. The Chargers drafted him.

I'm not sure there is really anything to "knowing how to win a Super Bowl." I was just kidding. I credit the Giants defense for the Super Bowl victories. Manning played well, but I just like the fact Eli has more Super Bowl victories than Peyton.

Steve Sprague said...

I don't know how a team could get a player to concentrate on football better by managing a difficult situation to the benefit of the player and his extended family the way the Rams have with Jenkins.

Two years ago Peter was lecturing anyone who dared laugh at the video of Antonio Cromartie trying to remember his kids names. Now he is praising a team for making the simplest duty of parenting even more painless. Shouldn't we praise the Rams more if they work with Jenkins to understand that there is more to being a father than depositing sperm and then sending a check? Maybe they are. At any rate, it is hypocritical of Peter King to praise the team for making Jenkins's kids less of an issue for him.

Bengoodfella said...

Steve, you would think wouldn't you. I do think it is good the Rams are making sure Jenkins' kids are being taken care of financially, but I don't like they are essentially taking over his responsibilities for him. I feel like they are setting him up to believe the kids are his responsibility, but he doesn't have to be involved.

I forgot PK was criticizing Cromartie for not knowing his kids names. I wouldn't praise the Rams for taking care of this for Jenkins. It seems more like a negative development to me, but I guess the Rams want Jenkins focused on football.

JimA said...

Actually, many times the company a person works for makes the payments for employees with court ordered child support. The court mails the order to HR with the payment amount all figured out for them, based on how often they get paid. Finding a deadbeat is the difficult part. It's not like it's hard to find out where Jenkins works.

Steve Sprague said...

JimA, I believe that is true. But the situation you described, when a court orders it, is a garnishment. I used to work for a company that processed payroll for other companies and employees would elect this method sometimes as well. In that case it was still the employee's responsibility to notify HR how much and where to send the payment.

Either way. The Rams taking care of the financial aspect of Jenkins's parenting duties isn't anything extraordinary or worthy of celebrating. In addition it is hypocritical of King to lecture about the lack of parents taking an active role in their children's lives and then to praise the Rams for making Jenkins's children less of a distraction from football.

Bengoodfella said...

JimA, I knew companies can take the money out of the person's check as well. It feels different to me in this situation because it seems like Jenkins has absolutely nothing to do with the process. Maybe it isn't different and the fact Jenkins is a football player is coloring this differently for me.

The insinuation in what Peter wrote (at least from what I got) is that Jenkins wasn't taking care of these obligations previous to joining the Rams. Otherwise he would already know the different child support laws in each Florida county (I thought states had different child support laws, not counties) and wouldn't need a consultant to help figure out the amount paid.

Maybe it isn't that different from an average person having his company pay for him/her and I think it is for some reason.