Wednesday, September 5, 2012

0 comments MMQB Review: No-Huddle Means No Problem for Joe Flacco Edition

Last week I was proud because I got to use the "Tony Romo looks retarded" hashtag again in MMQB Review. He reminds me of a mix between Billy Bob Thornton in "Sling Blade" and Paul Ryan. That's pretty much all the introduction I will provide because Peter King is back again in MMQB and ready to attack those people who he believes give their children cell phones, as well as updates us all on the labor situation of the officials. Much like how I felt about the NFL lockout, I don't care about the specifics of the officials labor situation, just tell me when the real officials will be working again.

Some 639 active and eligible NFL players did not play in the 16 games on the final preseason week. That includes 17 of 32 starting quarterbacks. In fact, 10 teams thought so little of the final dress rehearsal for the season that they didn't play their first- or second-string quarterback a single snap.

Let's make this easy. NFL owners enjoy packaging that second preseason game in with the cost of season tickets. The NFL will only take away the second home preseason game if the fans can pry that revenue from the cold, dead fingers of the NFL owners.

If you bought a seat for Tampa Bay-Washington Wednesday night, 60 players sat it out, including Robert Griffin III. In Philadelphia, 66 players on the Jets and Eagles didn't play. And 62 Bears and Browns didn't get their hands, or uniforms, dirty in Cleveland Thursday night, despite the fans paying regular season prices for the schlock that is preseason football. Sean Canfield started at quarterback for the Saints at Tennessee Thursday. Cut the next day.

As an NFL fan, I don't want the starters playing in the fourth meaningless game. I would have been pissed if Cam Newton had skipped his happy ass out onto the field for the fourth preseason game. It's bad enough Jonathan Stewart got hurt in the third preseason game "tuning up" for the regular season. Newton needs to be on the bench for games that don't matter or count. So while I did enjoy the fourth preseason game, I consider it to be fairly pointless.

Quarterback Dominique Davis played 60 minutes for someone Thursday. Guess who? (And no sharing the answer, Falcons fans.)


But I can see sometime this fall, once the officiating conundrum is settled, the NFL working on a way to not rip off the customers it says it cares so much about.

I'll believe it when I see it. The only way the NFL owners will get rid of the second home preseason game is if they are able to make up the revenue in another way. In the meantime, Peter has a solution to the problem.

My proposal: Charge eight games at full price.

What NFL teams will really do: Charge eight games at a higher price or raise prices elsewhere in the stadium to make up for the lost revenue from the missing home preseason game.

Charge a ninth game, one of the two currently scheduled home preseason games, at half price.

What NFL teams will really do: Charge eight games at a higher price or raise prices elsewhere in the stadium to make up for the lost revenue from this half-priced game. Sense a trend as to what I believe will happen?

And the other home preseason game won't exist anymore; it'd be a scrimmage, on one of the first two weekends of the preseason, at a regional venue, for $10 per ticket. Each team brings 50 of the 90 players fighting for roster spots.

So it is like the fourth preseason game, just cheaper and at a regional venue rather than the team's home stadium. Does this mean Peter wants there to be three preseason games? One road, one home and one regional game?

I'm not sure I can get behind a regional preseason game idea or not. It just seems like the worst of both worlds. The starters won't be playing, so fans won't be eager to buy tickets to see the backups play, and the game will be played in an area that doesn't have a built-in fan base for each team. Part of the reason there is any attendance for the 3rd or 4th preseason games is because fans have already paid for those tickets. Would a Redskins or Browns fan travel to Kentucky to see the Redskins play the Browns in a preseason game? Probably not. So this seems like an idea that could work, but I don't know if attendance for these games would be an improvement over the current preseason attendance or not. If the starters were playing then perhaps this game in Kentucky would sell tickets well, but without a built-in fan base in the area I don't see how this game between backups sells tickets.

For some games, have fun. Baltimore-Atlanta (with all the Alabama players Ozzie Newsome drafts, and Julio Jones on the Falcons) on the Alabama campus at Tuscaloosa

What if the regional campuses don't want to host a game so close to the first game of the college football season? When would this game be set up? This game would have to be set up once the NFL knew which players from which colleges were on each NFL team. This seems sort of hard to prepare. The NFL would have to know the exact makeup of a couple of teams in order to pair them for the regional "fun" game. It's just a lot of work for an exhibition game that may not have great attendance anyway.

How about Tennessee versus Seattle at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., with Russell Wilson fighting for playing time for the Seahawks?

Why wouldn't it be in Washington with Jake Locker fighting for playing time or in West Virginia so fans of Bruce Irvin can see him play? Where would the incentive for Tennessee Titans fans to attend a game in Wisconsin? Why would Wisconsin natives care to see the Titans play? So there would be an entire preseason game set up so the fans can see one specific player play? If Wilson was named the starter by the second preseason game he may not even play in this regional game.

Why not have the game in Raleigh, North Carolina where Wilson played three of his four collegiate seasons? Why is the entire NFL world revolve around some sort of dedication or tribute to Russell Wilson right now?

The possibilities, and potential NFL goodwill, would be endless.

Or! Or, and I am just throwing this out there, we could just get rid of the 3rd and 4th preseason games completely. This will never happen because the owners don't want to lose the revenue they gain from extorting full revenue for preseason games out of season ticket holders.

Another story showcasing these fine, upstanding men in the striped pajamas, aka the replacement officials: I cannot say which game this story happened in,

You can tell me, I'm a doctor.

Final preseason game for two teams. Official calls defensive pass-interference in front of the penalized team's bench. Head coach lambastes the official. Official picks up the flag, tells the coach he's not going to make the call. Coach is stunned.

If the head coach was lambasting the official, then why he is stunned? It's what he wanted, right? These replacement officials are going to work out great! Rather than huddle together and play some sort of game like they are "discussing it" only to reverse the call the official who made the call was going to reverse anyway, these replacement officials cut to the chase and will just pick up the flag. I love the expediency and honesty in doing this.

Then Peter goes on and provides important and interesting (to some, I am sure) information that doesn't meet my requirement of, "Tell me when the officiating lockout is over." This requirement will be met after each side stops posturing and agrees to the deal they refused to agree to a few weeks ago. It's how I feel about most lockouts. Both sides know what it will take to end the lockout, but both sides posture long enough to make it seem like they are driving a hard bargain. The appearance of fighting is more important than reaching an agreement. It's how Congress works also, except Congress can't seem to actually gets to the whole "agreement" part and then bitches about what the other side did to prevent an agreement.

Could this be the year Baltimore's offense actually is better than the D?

Who is the quarterback for the Ravens? Joe Flacco? Then no, this will be the year the offense is better than the defense unless the Ravens defense becomes very bad this year.

I can see it. The Ravens don't have a strong pass rush without Terrell Suggs. I'm through writing off Ray {Freak of Nature] Lewis, but he's 37, and Ed Reed turns 34 next week.

This a bit misleading. Yes, the Ravens offense could be better than the defense, but only because the defense would be declining, not because the Ravens offense got exponentially better.

Flacco ran the no-huddle most often in college at Delaware, but hasn't done that much of it as a pro. He told me last week he's "looking at our offense as total no-huddle ... as 100 percent no-huddle.''

Look at the advantages this could bring Baltimore. Count them:

1. Jim Caldwell, the new Ravens quarterback coach, has come from the laboratory of the no-huddle with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.

Yes, Jim Caldwell helped Manning learn the no-huddle in Indianapolis. It's easy to be an expert in the no-huddle offense when you have Peyton Manning running it. Caldwell's success without Manning as his quarterback isn't very good. He is 26-63 in college and 2-14 in the NFL without Manning as his quarterback. The list of quarterbacks Caldwell has tutored on the no-huddle offense seems to begin and end with Peyton Manning. Caldwell is still riding those Manning coattails I see.

For seven years, from 2002 to 2008, he was Manning's quarterback coach; for the following three, he was head coach of the Colts. That's nine prime seasons (not counting 2011, obviously) that Caldwell was heavily involved the best no-huddle offense the NFL has ever seen.

This is true. How did that no-huddle work when one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history wasn't running it? Oh.....that's right, we don't count 2011 because that year doesn't count apparently seems Peter continuously dismisses it as if it meant nothing. Why should Jim Caldwell have 2011 count against him if he didn't have a Hall of Fame quarterback to run his no-huddle offense? It's the Mike Shanahan Theory of Coaching, that a head coach can only become brilliant if he has a Hall of Fame running the offense, otherwise his brilliance can't shine through like it should.

4. Baltimore's arch rival, the Steelers, has some age on defense.

The Ravens play the Steelers two times this year. What about the other 14 games against teams with younger defenses? Maybe those 14 games don't count just like the 2011 Colts season doesn't count against Jim Caldwell.

Why? Seven of them are past 30. It's an obvious edge to the no-huddle: Tire foes out.

That's very true. One side effect. The no-huddle will also cause the Ravens to score faster and would give the Ravens defense, which Peter has also described as older and lacking a pass rush, to be on the field for longer periods of time. That's the side effect to the no-huddle, the Ravens defense may have to be on the field longer.

Of course, the Ravens do have the best quarterback in the NFL running the no-huddle. That's always an advantage they have.

Another reason quarterbacks like the no-huddle is it puts so much in the quarterback's hands. "I never dreamed I'd be giving the quarterback so much independence,'' said Green Bay quarterback Mike McCarthy, which I wrote about in the SI NFL preview issue. But that's just what McCarthy's done. And I think he'll give Aaron Rodgers more of the no-huddle this year. "We just might,'' Rodgers said with a sly smile at training camp.

Aaron Rodgers and Joe Flacco. They have the same skill level, right?

"It puts a lot on the quarterback,'' said Flacco, "but that's something I really like.''

Being the best quarterback in the NFL, I am sure Flacco welcomes all this pressure on him.

His contract expires after this year, and there's been some gnashing of teeth in Baltimore that he's entering his final year without a deal being done. "I'm not obsessing about it,'' he said. "If I was obsessing about it, I'd have held out. I'm optimistic I'll get paid one way or the other, and I anticipate I'll be here a long time. Once I sign, I'm pretty sure I'll be here for the long haul.''

Flacco is good without a contract extension. He's not thinking about an extension. He knows it is out there, but he's not thinking about it. It hasn't crossed his mind. He's good. It'll get done, right? I mean, why wouldn't it? He's not worried about it though.

Two: This is where you come in. I am going to allow readers of this column -- via email or on Twitter @SI_PeterKing -- to suggest a segment of the column you'd like to see. Maybe it's Good Guy of the Week, Overrated Bum of the Week, Invisible Offensive Lineman of the Week, Coaching Decision You'd Never Have Made, etc. You suggest it to me, and next week, in the first regular season week of the column, I'll pick one and implement it, and we'll see how it goes.

Dear Readers,

I need help writing my weekly column. I am too busy to think of new ideas on my own and there is no reason anyone at should think of new column ideas for me. So I am soliciting your help as to fresh ideas for MMQB because I don't have to pay you for good ideas. It's not like I work for a large organization or anything or I should have to think of my own column ideas.


Peter King

P.S. If you could also pick up my dry cleaning and edit my columns as well, that would be very helpful. After all, what are you here for other than to help me write my columns?

"I was hoping it would have been just an all-out college party. It would have been worth it. I would have been there all night. I would have gotten hammered. I'm not kidding."

-- Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski, in the illuminating story by Chris Ballard in the Sports Illustrated NFL preview issue (shameless plug here).

Now, that's going to make Gronkowski sound like a stupid party animal, but read the story. On the day The Gronk went out to a paid appearance at a 21-year-old woman's birthday party, he was limoed home to his condo near Gillette Stadium, and, on a prime Saturday night in the offseason, went to work out for two hours and then, apparently, straight to bed.

Gronkowski went straight to bed after having spending the afternoon shotgunning beers and playing beer pong. Peter left that whole part out of course when talking about Gronkowski going straight to bed. It wasn't like Gronk spent time at the birthday party making balloon animals. He partied, albeit at a child's birthday party, and then went home.

The Patriots may have read the story and rolled their eyes at Gronkowski chugging beers and playing beer pong with total strangers for money, but I wouldn't worry about it too much if I were Bill Belichick. Gronkowski's 23. He's living the dream. He realizes where his bread's buttered. And I doubt he's going to mess that up.

I have no idea how Peter can have enough knowledge about Gronkowski to "doubt" he would mess it all up. There's nothing wrong with partying like Gronkowski has done, but I don't get where Peter's confidence in Gronkowski not messing up comes from.

"The first pass I threw in Denver was to Helton. I did not want people seeing me. It becomes a private, sensitive deal. It was not good. He actually thought I was joking when I threw it to him. The ball nose-dived. He was like, 'That's funny.' I was like, 'You don't understand.' ''

-- Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, in
New York Times NFL writer Judy Battista's strong Sunday story about the return of Manning.

Now, of course, Manning is throwing the ball nearly as well as he did before he got hurt. (I didn't say nearly as well as he did in 2000, but nearly as well as he did three years ago.)

I've read where Peter King consistently says that Manning's arm strength isn't as good as it used to be anymore, but Peter keeps talking about how Manning will still be effective despite this and find a way to play well. What if he doesn't though? We all know the one enemy every athlete can't defeat (without help of drugs, etc) is time. To just blindly say Manning's arm strength isn't what it used to be and then say he will still manage to get it done is a bit blindly optimistic. Manning may still be a great quarterback, but all of these comments about his arm strength makes me wonder if Manning can still perform at a Top-10 (Top-15?) quarterback level. He's getting paid like a Top-5 quarterback by the way. I'm just doing my typical Devil's Advocate act. Assuming Manning will perform at a high level with decreased arm strength doesn't work for me.

I was walking in Manhattan on Friday afternoon, approaching the corner of Park Avenue and East 54th. A young family, apparently, with a 35ish couple and a boy and a girl (I'm guessing the girl was 9 and the boy 5 or 6, and it was their mom and dad with them) climbed into their Range Rover after loading a few bags in the trunk...Before the left rear passenger door was closed, and just as I passed within a few feet of the vehicle, the boy climbed into his backless car booster seat and said to his mom: "Can I have my phone?''

Two things:

1. This is Park Avenue. These are Park Avenue people. Some of these people aren't typical humans. They should not be treated as such.

2. Five or six year old boys will call a parent's phone "my phone" because the parent will often let the child play Angry Birds or another game on the phone. Kids are selfish and will treat items (like a phone) they use as their own, even if it truly isn't their phone. There is a good chance this is the parent's phone the child uses to play games on and the child then calls the phone "my phone" because of this.

Peter has two kids, right? He should remember how it is.

I did a near-double-take. A phone for a 5- or 6-year-old? And the mom pulled out what appeared to be an iPhone or an Android phone, with a rectangular screen, and handed it to the boy.

Not to show that I'm in the prime of my hey-kid-get-off-my-lawn life, but do 6-year-old kids have iPhones in America? It can't be.

It's probably the parent's phone. I would doubt a six year old has a phone, but if he does, then he does. Most likely if the family is taking a trip, the boy wants to play on his mom's phone to pass the time.

"Thanks for relighting the shortman torch @DangeRussWilson congrats & best of luck this season''

-- @DougFlutie, and you've got to believe Russell Wilson loved that. In fact, Wilson re-tweeted it.

I find Doug Flutie to be annoying. Yes, we know you were a short quarterback. I shouldn't find Flutie annoying, but I do.

b. I know, I know. Peyton Manning has his arm attached by a single tendon and he's one hit from never throwing anything but a crust of bread to a robin again. But go back and see how he threw it against San Francisco eight days ago and tell me his arm stinks.

You see what I am talking about with Manning? If you heard an older quarterback had lost arm strength and was one good hit away from being out for the year, is this a quarterback you would feel confident could start all 16 games in a season? The fact he is Peyton Manning considered, he can't fight time. I have tickets to the Carolina-Denver game in November and I'm not entirely confident I will see Peyton Manning play in that game.

In the last 15 seasons, 10 teams have leaped from .500 or below one year to the Super Bowl the next. If you're going to pick the teams that seem most logical in August, you'll not get many Super Bowl matchups right. You're not getting many Super Bowl matchups right no matter what method you use, but I'm not much for picking two chalk teams.

So Peter chose Denver, a team who made the playoffs last year and just signed a Hall of Fame quarterback, and Green Bay, a team who went 15-1 last year. Way to go against the grain.

h. How could I pick the Pack to lose five games if I like them so much? Tough slate. Open with two games as physical as they come (Niners then Bears on a short week), Drew Brees in Week 4, at Houston on a Sunday night in Week 6, at Detroit and the Giants back to back in November, Detroit and Chicago back to back in December.

I like how Peter doesn't have the Packers playing the Saints in Week 4, but they are actually playing Drew Brees. Apparently Brees is now his own entire NFL team.

k. I overlooked Chandler Jones and Quinton Coples and Whitney Mercilus and Morris Claiborne and Andre Branch to pick Bruce Irvin of Seattle as my Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Watch out for Luke Kuechly. If there is anything the voters overrate more than sacks, it is tackles and with the below average Carolina defensive line not scaring anyone, Kuechly is going to get a chance to make a lot of tackles. Of course he doesn't merit a mention from Peter now, but I am sure Peter will be sniffing his ass come mid-October.

4. I think here's one good reason to never, ever, ever take any kind of surgery lightly: the case of Trent Richardson.

Dammit, thanks for the heads-up. I've been taking surgery lightly for over a decade now.

9. I think it's a big game and all, but there are 15 more, and if I were Dallas, I'd err on the side of caution and keep Jason Witten on the sidelines for another 11 days.

Yes, it is a big game, but it is also the first game of the season. I know Peter has to pretend Dallas-New York Giants is a playoff game, but it is the first game of the season. There's no reason to bring a player back early if he isn't healthy enough to play.

a. I don't know Bill O'Brien, but I have very high regard for him. I feel for him. However, he's going to end up with an ulcer, or worse, if he takes what will be a long string of losses as hard as he took his first.

Penn State lost to Ohio at home in the first game after Joe Paterno was no longer the head coach. Excuse Bill O'Brien for being a little upset he lost this game since all eyes were on Penn State to see how they would play.

c. First six games of West Coast Trip For What Used To Be The Red Sox: Opponents six wins, Sox none. Opponents 54 runs, Sox 15.


The good news is that Bill Simmons is interested in the Red Sox again. We can all rest easy knowing Bill is back on the bandwagon.

m. Coffeenerdness: Great coffee order at Starbucks in midtown Manhattan the other day. "Six shots of espresso in a grande cup, with a couple of pumps of hazelnut.'' That's one tired sugar-monger.

The only thing less interesting than hearing about someone else's coffee order is hearing about someone else's fantasy football team.

o. Good luck at Penn State this year, Emily Kaplan ... and at Marquette, Tess Quinlan. And please, don't be in too much of a hurry to graduate. I still like my job.

Maybe Peter should have had the six year old with the phone text this message to these two women instead of doing his whole "here is a public announcement of something instead of doing it privately like a normal person would do" schtick.