Tuesday, September 11, 2012

0 comments MMQB Review: Manning Time! Edition

In last week's MMQB, Peter told us about the Ravens no-huddle offense which will be captained by Joe Flacco. Peter also didn't want to reveal who Dominique Davis played for in the preseason (no clues Falcon fans!) as a way of showing us how useless preseason games are. It all doesn't matter now because Week 1 has been played and Peter is ready to ignore all other stories because Peyton Manning is back. Everything else doesn't matter and so what if it did?

I'll take you through the stories of an eventful Week 1 of the NFL season, but shouldn't that be singular? As in, "story?" Peyton Manning turned the clock back Sunday night, and he got the Super Bowl express rolling in Denver.

Absolutely. The only thing that matters in the NFL right now is how well Peyton Manning is playing. Why does Peter even call this Monday Morning Quarterback? He should call it Monday Morning Peyton Manning Update. It could even be sponsored by a company who makes tapenade.

He had help -- his weaponry on offense, and Tracy Porter's first interception return for touchdown since the Super Bowl-clincher off one Peyton Manning -- but it was a night to revel in the return of one of the greatest quarterbacks ever.

(pees own pants in his excitement over this)

I reveled over all of it. I even had some revel that spilled out of my home onto the deck, staining my deck, but causing even more reveling from me. If I had to describe this past Sunday night in one word, and that word couldn't be "revel," I would have to stay silent until a new word was created which showed just how much reveling I truly did.

The headlines of a compelling weekend:

Headlines? Don't you mean "Headline?"

Manning Returneth. At 36 and still working to regain his in-the-prime fastball, Manning survived a strange bout of in-game inaction -- he ran two non-kneel-down plays in about an hour of real time, and in 21 minutes of game-clock sandwiching halftime. He used the no-huddle in vintage Manning brilliance, had three consecutive 80-yard touchdown drives, the second ending in his 400th career touchdown pass, and made every fan in Indianapolis who'd been fine with the Manning-for-Andrew Luck tradeoff think, "My Lord, can we have this guy back?''

And the Lord would sayeth, "You are stuck with Neckbeard Luck. Enjoyeth it."

RGIII wins the rookie quarterback derby.

The rookie quarterback derby is over after one week. Go home, nothing left to see or prove. Robert Griffin III wins and every other rookie loses. One week proves it.

The other four rookies lost.

Which was completely their own fault. Football isn't a team game.

Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden were advertisements for rookies who played too soon, combined for zero touchdowns and six interceptions in losing to Houston and Philadelphia.

Both are also examples of quarterbacks who were drafted in the first round when they shouldn't have been...but I digress because that is a matter of opinion.

San Francisco and New England, Super Bowl bound. I kid. Or do I?

It does sound like a lock to happen after one week of play. Or does it? I'm going with Peter isn't kidding. Or is he?

Alex Smith outplayed Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field; tell me -- did you ever think you'd read that sentence?

No, I didn't. Mind. Blown. Reveling. Done. Astonishment. Begun.

Not saying the NFL's on the verge of whacking Ed Hochuli and 119 of his officiating peers. Just saying that after 14 of the 16 games of Week 1, the replacement officials have done an adequate job. "We've seen nothing that stood out as a glaring mistake,'' NFL VP Ray Anderson told me at halftime of the late afternoon games.

And of course the NFL VP, who has a stake in the NFL v. the Officials holdout, would NEVER lie about this in order to improve the NFL's bargaining position. Why would Anderson toe the party line in order to give the perception the NFL doesn't need these officials who are holding out for more money. Just tell Peter something and he reports it without question. He thinks the officials have done an adequate job partly because Ray Anderson told him so.

I haven't seen anything standing out as a glaring mistake, other than the fact the officials gave the Seahawks an extra timeout at the end of a close game. I wonder what Ray thought after seeing that happen. Nothing like using a quote from an NFL VP as proof the officials did a great job before two games where major screwup that could have affected the game occured. It's not like either side in the NFL v. the Officials disagreement would ever lie in order to improve their own bargaining position.

With the suspensions of Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma vacated by an NFL appeals panel, Smith started at defensive end and Vilma provided an emotional boost inside the Superdome for the opener. But the boost didn't last long, and the Saints missed the order of Sean Payton,

But I thought the Saints weren't going to miss a beat with up-and-coming head coach Aaron Cromer at the helm? That's the narrative sold to me by Peter, so why is he taking it back so quickly? I want that narrative back.

I saw a few bad calls Sunday.

BUT RAY ANDERSON SAID HE SAW NOTHING THAT STOOD OUT AS A GLARING MISTAKE! What happened to all that "adequate job" talk?

The officials in Green Bay-San Francisco missed an illegal block in the back on Randall Cobb's 75-yard punt return.

At least it wasn't an important play that could have affected the outcome of a game, sort of what would happen if one NFL team was given an extra timeout to use when driving down the field with less than two minutes to play.

Like I've said repeatedly, these officials are doomed to fail. Every mistake they make is going to be magnified and discussed. Peter doesn't usually talk about too many missed calls in NFL games on Sunday during MMQB, but now he is going through and listing the calls he saw that were missed. Even if the replacement officials do perform as well as the regular officials the perception could be seen differently by the public.

In Arizona, ref Bruce Hermansen gave Seattle a fourth timeout in the second half (video above), erring on the rule that when there's an injury inside the two-minute warning or a half, the team with the injured player gets charged with a timeout.

This isn't the first time a team mistakenly got four timeouts in a half; it happened in a Browns-Ravens game in 2009.

It's happened before, but it happened this time during the first week replacement officials were used by the NFL. That's not a good sign. The public expects the replacement officials to screw up and will be sure to notice when they do. Not to mention, the fact this mistake was made before doesn't mean it is acceptable.

I viewed the proceedings with former league official Jim Daopoulos; NBC has hired him as an officiating consultant. He said the solidarity of the officials will be tested now that they're missing their average $5,500-per-week paychecks. "The wives are going to start saying, 'I miss that paycheck,' '' Daopoulos said.

Leave it to the women to start bitching about not having enough cash flow coming in. Whenever a man starts to stick to his principles, women always have to go and screw it all up with their want for more money to go shopping. Women are so evil.

This could be an interesting week in negotiations -- if indeed there are any. Negotiator and current ref Scott Green told me Wednesday he's never seen the officials more unified. That'll be tested, because I think with no game-turning crises in the first 14 games, the NFL will be motivated to hold a hard line against them.

It makes me feel good to know the NFL and the officials won't negotiate again until the replacement officials blow a call which turns the outcome of a game around. That's reassuring. That's like the FAA and the air traffic controllers' union not negotiating until two planes crash into each other.

3. Houston (1-0). Does J.J. Watt have a big impact every game he plays, or is that just my imagination? Another 1.5 sacks and three passes deflected against Miami. Incredible for a 290-pound, 3-4 defensive end.

Why is Peter so infatuated with the size of the players on the Texans defense? Brett Keisel is 285 pounds as a 3-4 defensive end in the Steelers defense. C.J. Wilson is 290 pounds and plays end for the Packers. Quinton Coples, Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike DeVito defense in a 3-4 at 285, 315, and 305 pounds respectively. What is so special to Peter about J.J. Watt and his size? Maybe I am too stupid to get it.

4. Green Bay (0-1). Not jumping off the Packers bandwagon just yet, but tempted. They have lost the last two games by a combined 25 points.

It's almost like one of those games was last year in the playoffs where the Packers lost to the eventual Super Bowl champ and the Packers just lost to the team that is #1 in Peter's "Fine Fifteen." Time to panic because the Packers are losing to good teams!

5. Denver (1-0). It's not a dream. Peyton Manning really was that good, 129.2-rating good, in his first real game in 20 months. Really agree with Tony Dungy: The Broncos waited too long to use the no-huddle.

In John Fox's defense, he loves to punt. So they had to get a couple punts out of the way before they went about their business of winning the game.

10. Washington (1-0). This seems low. Tenth? If the 'Skins didn't let the Saints have a prayer late, they'd be a few slots higher.

I think this is a bit high for the Redskins. Of course I also find it interesting Peter is docking them spots in his arbitrary power poll because they gave up a lot of points to the New Orleans Saints, a team which is well-known for being able to put up a lot of points. You can't really dock a team for giving up scores to the Saints.

15. Pittsburgh (0-1). Even if Ben Roethlisberger didn't gift-wrap that pick-6 to Tracy Porter, I didn't like the Steelers' chances to go the length of the field in the last couple of minutes to win. But that's not a disastrous opener for the Steelers. Roethlisberger played well, and the Steelers got good contributions from the wideouts and from an unknown back named Jonathan Dwyer.

He's unknown if you don't watch college football. If you watch college football then you know he was very good at Georgia Tech.

Defensive Players of the Week

Tracy Porter, cornerback, Denver. Eight tackles, five deflections and a 43-yard game-sealing interception return for touchdown in the Broncos' 31-19 win Sunday night over Pittsburgh. The Broncos paid Porter $4 million for one year of his services, and I daresay he earned most of that before midnight Sunday.

Not to pick on Tracy Porter, but the reason he had eight tackles and five deflections is because the Steelers clearly saw him as the weak link on the defense. He played well, but it is tough to deflect passes at the cornerback position if teams aren't throwing your direction.

This was the first football weekend in 27 years that Hines Ward has not been either playing a football game, practicing to play a football game, or rehabbing from an injury suffered in a football game.

And despite being retired, Peter King is still writing about Hines Ward. It's almost like we can't get rid of him.

His last such autumn weekend came in 1985, when young Hines, in fourth grade in Forest Park, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, didn't play football. Since then, it was three years with the Forest Park Dolphins youth team, one season at Babb Middle School, four seasons at Forest Park High, four seasons at Georgia, and 14 seasons in Pittsburgh.

Nearly every NFL player has played the game since he was young. So while Ward had a great career, if any NFL player retires after 14 seasons it would be true the first Fall after he retires is the first time he hasn't been playing or practicing for a football game in 20-something years. It's probably odd for most of these players. I just don't like Hines Ward. He annoys me.

"Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year. 'Overreaction Monday.' ''

-- @RossTuckerNFL, the NFL analyst and former NFL offensive lineman, at 5:23 p.m. ET Sunday.

Peter King from this very MMQB:

RGIII wins the rookie quarterback derby.

San Francisco and New England, Super Bowl bound. I kid. Or do I?

Not terrible overreactions, but they are both somewhat presumptive statements.

"I miss newspapers. It's weird hitting a dog on the nose with an iPad. @4thandpain"

-- @AdamCarriker94, the Washington defensive end.

You're a good man, Carriker.

He's a good man for abusing animals? Abusing animals isn't funny. Adam Carriker is just another Mike Vick!

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 1:

a. The plane over MetLife Stadium Wednesday night before Cowboys-Giants carrying this banner: FREE SEAN PAYTON.

You can't convince me Peter isn't a little insecure that Saints fans seem to dislike him for reporting the bounty story the way he did (which was fairly neutral). So that's why I think he "likes" this banner, as a way to sort of get back on the good side of Saints fans.

I also don't understand this "Free Sean Payton" stuff. He should be "freed" because he is being falsely imprisoned for crimes he didn't commit? No, he needs to be "freed" because he was suspended for one year from coaching in the NFL. If there is anyone who needs "freeing" it is not Sean Payton, who is a millionaire relegated to a life of having to spend extra time with his children as he serves out a one year suspension, after which he will continue to serve as the Saints head coach and become an even wealthier millionaire. This is not a guy who needs someone to stand up for him.

b. Chris Berman re-signing, apparently for life, with ESPN, where he belongs. I must be thick. I don't get all the hatred for the guy.

Seeing as how Peter is on the road for the entire NFL year he is probably not subjected to Chris Berman as much as the general public is, I can see how Peter misses the dislike for Berman. Berman is an absolutely blow-hard who just tends to grate on people's nerves with his annoying catchphrases and nicknames for players. The worst part is that he thinks he is creative and those who don't like him are in the minority. I'm not sure that's true.

I know his Two-Minute Drills are usually closer to Twenty-Two-Minute Drills, but the way he keeps history -- football and otherwise -- in his essays ... I can't get enough of that.

I've never read these "essays" where Berman is keeping history. I have heard his cheesy nicknames, excessively loud and repetitive catchphrases, and seen him in quite a few Applebee's commercials. You would think ESPN would care whether the public enjoys one of their analysts or not, but since people continue watching the network I guess it doesn't matter. There is no viable alternative to ESPN at this point.

d. The confidence of Drew Brees in Jimmy Graham, to throw him a jump-ball between two Washington defenders in the end zone.

Why would Brees not have confidence Graham could win a jump ball? Graham is very tall and has shown in the past he can win these jump balls.

2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 1:

c. My forecast of the Jets: awful. I mean, I thought they'd get wiped by the Bills, and it was the Jets who did the wiping.

It was one game. Any forecast for a team's record at the end of the year isn't necessarily affected by how that team played during Week 1 of the season. My favorite team won their first game in 2001 and then proceeded to lose 15 straight games. There is no need to be knee-jerk about predictions after one week of games.

d. The headache Mike Holmgren, Tom Heckert and Pat Shurmur are all waking up with this morning after watching Brandon Weeden's 5.1-rating, four-pick performance against the Eagles.

They are the ones who drafted him so I lack sympathy (as usual). Weeden played in a QB-friendly system in a conference with weak defenses and he is six years older than your average quarterback coming out of college. Any "expert" on quarterbacks like Mike Holmgren has been called should know a quarterback won't come out of college and be more prepared for the NFL simply because he is older.

3. I think I shouldn't find this amazing but do: Tom Brady is 25 yards from passing John Unitas on the all-time passing yardage list.

Yes I agree, Peter shouldn't find this amazing at all. Unitas played during a time when NFL teams didn't pass nearly as often or effectively as they do now. Brady is getting older too, so combining the fact he is throwing for more yardage in a given season than Unitas did with Brady's age, and I'm fairly surprised Brady hasn't passed Unitas already.

e. This is what the Red Sox have gotten for the final four years of the six-year Daisuke Matsuzaka contract: 17 wins, a 5.52 ERA, a 1.52 WHIP. For $37 million. Matsuzaka, Lackey, Beckett. Boy, the Red Sox really know pitching.

It's funny when the Yankees sign pitchers who underachieve, but it's tragic when the Red Sox do the same thing.

g. The freebie Red Sox calendar I got last spring extends to January 2013, with a different man each month. Just checked it out the other day. October: Josh Beckett. November: Carl Crawford. December: Clay Buchholz. January: Bobby Valentine. Three out of four ain't bad.

If only the free calendar could tell the future. Three of the months have players who aren't on the team by the end of the year. I wonder what the Miami Marlins calendar would look like? The Houston Astros calendar would feature players out of baseball in two or three years.

o. Beernerdness: I hate to be teetotaling this early in the season, but other than the Allagash White I had before dinner the other night, I don't have a good beernerdness story for you. Promise to do more research this week and come back with a good new beer next week.

Please do. Without your beer advice, we are all lost as to what alcoholic beverages to drink.

Baltimore 30, Cincinnati 23. Football first: Expect to see a predominantly no-huddle Ravens offense tonight, which thrills Joe Flacco because it'll give him more control over his fate;

This is as opposed to when the Ravens didn't run the no-huddle and Flacco had zero control over how well he played.

in the no-huddle, quarterbacks have to call more of their own plays because most often there's less time between plays.

Well that makes sense I guess. Am I to believe the Ravens have forced Flacco to run plays he doesn't like or can't run as well? Am I to believe if he is given a chance to think less and run the plays he wants to run the Ravens offense will flourish? It looked that way last night, but don't forget that the Ravens offense looked great last year in their opening game against the Steelers.

One last thing. I noticed the following article on Pro Football Talk. Apparently Pat Shurmur isn't considering benching Brandon Weeden for Colt McCoy. That's good to know considering the Browns have given Weeden exactly one start and they drafted him fully hoping he wouldn't require a year or two on the bench before being ready to start. I would hope they don't pull him after one start. I sort of want the Browns to bench McCoy so Weeden can learn on the bench and the Browns "quarterback-of-the-future" will actually be older than their present quarterback. On second thought, haven't we heard from Weeden that his time with the Yankees helped him handle adversity? So maybe Weeden should be benched since he probably will come back a stronger person and better quarterback fully knowing how to handle adversity.

I'm not trying to pick on Brandon Weeden, it is just funny how some NFL teams justify reaching to take a quarterback in the first round. As if being older and knowing how to handle adversity will better help the supporting cast around Weeden be more talented or help that quarterback read NFL defenses better. The things NFL teams will do to convince themselves a quarterback prospect is the future of the franchise.