Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 comments MMQB Review: Fun with Power Rankings Edition

Peter King was very unhappy with the replacement officials in last week's MMQB and that was before the Seahawks-Packers "Monday Night Football" officiating disaster. Fortunately for Peter he doesn't have to talk about bad officiating this week since there were no blown calls nor bad officiating with the regular officials back. This week Peter celebrates the quarter-mark of the season (even though it really isn't the quarter-mark since there are playoff games for 12 teams) and is surprised by many things that have happened in the NFL so far. The NFL is unpredictable! Who knew? We do get two Starwood Preferred Member travel notes this week and Peter gives us another mangled "Fine Fifteen." For that, we should be thankful and wonder when Peter is going to finally know what he thinks he thinks. As Joe Morgan would say, "it's too early to tell."

Your NFL receiving leader after four weeks: Brian Hartline, with more yards (455) than Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Crabtree combined (443).

This is because of the Crabtree Curse. Peter is ending every MMQB with a haiku, which obviously means he idolizes Gregg Easterbrook, so this means Peter should mention the Crabtree Curse when discussing Michael Crabtree. It exists and Crabtree is the reason the 49ers weren't winning football games under Mike Singletary, not because the 49ers weren't a very good team at the time.  

Best offensive player: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan. After the embarrassment of the 24-2 playoff loss to the Giants last January, the Falcons imported offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, who had more of a downfield eye than predecessor Mike Mularkey. While lengthening his average throw, Ryan's become more accurate too. His 69.4-percent completion rate is 8.1 points better than last year, his quarterback rating (112.1) almost 20 points higher.

It also helps that Ryan has a ageless Tony Gonzalez, not to mention Jacquizz Rodgers and Julio Jones aren't rookies anymore. Otherwise, the offense was all Mike Mularky's fault last year.

On Sunday, he showed his confidence in Koetter's offense by waiting until he was in mid-sack before dumping the ball off on a key fourth-quarter drive to convert an impossible play into a first down that helped Atlanta beat pesky Carolina.

Ryan didn't want to dump this pass off before he got sacked, he wanted to wait until he was in mid-sack and then dump the pass off. That's how confident he is. Matt Ryan just needs a larger degree of difficulty in order to complete his passes.

Best rookie: St. Louis kicker Greg Zuerlein.

Not Robert Griffin? Not Mark Barron? No Alfred Morris or Doug Martin? How about Chandler Jones? Peter goes with Greg Zuerlein. He's been fantastic so far, but it is hard for me to say a kicker is the best rookie. Maybe I am biased against kickers.

Fassel worked out Zuerlein -- who transferred from Nebraska-Omaha to Missouri Western when the program went belly-up -- before the draft on campus, and the very low-maintenance Zuerlein didn't think he had exactly aced the test. "I didn't kick anything too far that day,'' Zuerlein recalls. "The furthest kick, I think, was about 60 yards.'' Greg, in the NFL, that's good enough.

How precocious! How cherubic! This is so cute and child-like Peter is going to go hang out at a elementary school playground for a while and stare at the children in order to better see how precocious Greg Zuerlein is when compared to an actual child.

Best team: Houston. But the Texans were September's Team, winning by 20, 20, 6 and 24 points.

These are wins over the Jaguars, Dolphins, Titans and Broncos. At least the Patriots have played the Ravens and the Falcons played the Chargers and Broncos, while the 49ers played the Packers. Heck, even the Cardinals have played the Patriots on the road. This is a stupid and unwinnable (new word alert!) argument really, so I don't know why I even bother. Using a Team A's margin of victory to say they are the best team is silly when not looked in the context of the record of the teams that Team A has played against.

Watt told me he thought the Texans were the best team in the league right now

That changes my mind completely. I didn't realize a Houston Texans player thought the Texans were the best team in the NFL right now. Someone with a completely neutral perspective like that has to be listened to when voicing an opinion. After all, why would a Texans player have confidence in his own team as the best team in the NFL?

Best coach: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay. The coach of the year shouldn't always be the winningest coach, or the coach who brings a team from poor to contender. McCarthy gained my everlasting respect when, in the face of the rage on his sideline and in his locker room, he managed the post-debacle situation in Seattle with aplomb, sending his extra-point team back on the field when the players were venomous in the postgame locker room, then making no excuses in his remarks to the press.

Really? Not the coach with no running game and a shaky offensive line who is winning games with Kevin Kolb at quarterback? Granted, the odds are good that Ken Whisenhunt is using black magic at this point since the Cardinals are middle of the pack in offense and defense, but I would still throw Whisenhunt's name in near the top as "Best Coach at the Quarter-Point of the 2012 Season."

Pleasant surprise: Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder. "Too many turnovers last year,'' Ponder told me. "I had to do something about that.''

I am shocked Peter didn't say that Christian "pondered" how he could reduce his turnovers. It's right there and Peter missed a chance to be cheesy. He was obviously distracted still thinking about J.J. Watt and how Greg Zuerlein is just exactly like a child with his naivety.

Unpleasant shock: The fall of the Saints. I've said this all along, but with the Super Bowl in New Orleans this year, Roger Goodell will be spending a lot of time in his suite. If I were him, I'd hire a food-tester for the week.

Because someone in New Orleans is going to try to poison Goodell? Peter must not have a lot of respect for Saints fans. Either that or he truly believes a Saints fan will try to murder Roger Goodell, which if it did happen, I am sure based on the large amount of "Free Payton" t-shirts in the New Orleans area would probably cause Saints fans to think this person who tries to murder Goodell doesn't deserve to be jailed.

There's a lot of lousy defense being played -- and lousy special teams too. Check out the teams surrendering more than four touchdowns a game, and check out their records: The Saints (32.5 points allowed per game) are 0-4. Detroit (28.5) is 1-3, as is Tennessee (37.8), Kansas City (34.0) and Oakland (31.2). Washington (30.8), Buffalo and its megabucks defensive line (32.8) are 2-2.

"Megabucks defensive line." Sweet Jesus, Peter King and Gregg Easterbrook are forming a Greter EasterKing hybrid. If they combine their powers of complaining about hotel coffee and making observations without any sort of supporting proof into one 20,000 word weekly column there will be no way to stop them.

4. Suddenly, time of game is down. Wonder why. Average time of game, first three weeks: 3:14. Average time of game, Week 4: 3:08.

I managed to save six minutes of my life. Thank God the regular officials are back.

Fine Fifteen

1. Houston (4-0).

2. Atlanta (4-0). I watch Matt Ryan now, and I see a calmness with tremendous confidence down the stretch.

We'll remember this in January when a team with a better pass rush than Carolina and a secondary that doesn't leak like a sieve is beating the Falcons 28-3 in the fourth quarter of a playoff game.

3. San Francisco (3-1).
4. Baltimore (3-1).

5. Arizona (4-0). I hate to drop the Cards down here. It's probably not fair. I just don't think they could beat the Niners or Ravens on a neutral field right now. Too generous to the Miami passing game. But it's admirable that the Cards had enough left to win game that was tougher than it should have been in overtime Sunday.

The Texans have beaten the #15 team in Peter's Fine Fifteen.
The Falcons have beaten the #10 and #15 teams in Peter's Fine Fifteen.
The 49ers have beaten the #7 team in Peter's Fine Fifteen.
The Ravens have beaten the #6 and #12 teams in Peter's Fine Fifteen.
The Cardinals have beaten the #6 and #9 teams in Peter's Fine Fifteen.

Don't give me this shit about how the Cardinals game against the Dolphins is what bumps them down this list. The Cardinals haven't won by much, but if Peter is going to play the "strength of schedule" argument against the Cardinals he certainly needs to pay attention to the strength of schedule on who the Cardinals have beaten from Peter's very own "Fine Fifteen." Maybe the Cardinals couldn't beat the Niners or Ravens on a neutral field, that is speculation, while we do know the Cardinals have beaten two good teams so far from Peter's Fine Fifteen, while Peter's #1 and #2 best teams in the NFL have the weakest victories among the top five teams in his Fine Fifteen. But yeah, let's play the strength of schedule game.

7. Green Bay (2-2). I have to think Roger Goodell was holding his breath down the stretch, just praying the Packers didn't get jobbed for the second time in seven days by an official's call late in the fourth quarter. Crisis averted -- for now.

Why wouldn't Goodell want the Saints to win this game? After all, doesn't he want the Saints to make the playoffs so some cook in New Orleans doesn't attempt to murder him before the Super Bowl?

8. New York Giants (2-2). I'm not buying the Eagles being better just yet. 
9. Philadelphia (3-1).

Yes, Peter is going to need more than knowing the Eagles having won more games than the Giants, while also knowing the Eagles beat the Giants in a head-to-head matchup in order to believe Philadelphia is the better team.

15. Denver (2-2). Saw Peyton Manning's postgame press conference. Looked like he was already thinking of the trip to New England. Manning-Brady XIII, late Sunday afternoon in Foxboro. I just hope it's not their last meeting. According to the 2013 schedule rubric, the Broncos face only one AFC East team next year, and that's the team that finishes in the same spot as the Broncos. So, if Denver and New England don't meet in the playoffs this year ... let's just say the Broncos are probably going to have to win the AFC West for Manning-Brady to have meeting No. 14 next year.

That would be horrifying news to learn we aren't going to have a 14th meeting between Brady and Manning. NFL schedule makers, you need to make this happen! If this is the only game you schedule all season, make sure this one happens.

Ryan Tannehill, QB, Miami. After the crushing 24-21 overtime loss to the Cards, Tannehill was obsessing about his overtime interception that led to the winning points for Arizona. Good for him.

"Good for him?" I think the advice Peter means to give is,

Get a hold of yourself, fella. A bomb didn't fall on Miami (Charlotte).

After all that was the advice Peter King gave Cam Newton last week. Tannehill shouldn't look like his dog died or obsess over the overtime interception. Get over it. That's the advice Peter gave last week. Not so much this week it seems.

But consecutive plays in overtime of throwing behind Hartline, and then throwing while being smashed by linebacker Paris Lenon, leading to the fluttering interception that cost Miami the game, were two mistakes he'll have to live with.

Plus, he could learn something from Bernie Kosar, who apparently is the patron saint on how to deal with losing.

Defensive Players of the Week

J.J. Watt, defensive end, Houston.

Peter just needs to ask J.J. Watt out right now and stop drawing pictures in his notebook of Watt, dreaming of the day he will end up getting to change his name to Peter Watt. Get a grip on yourself, Peter. We all are incredibly aware you love J.J. Watt. Can we please go one MMQB without Watt getting multiple mentions? He's playing fantastic, we get it.

He's spent the first quarter of the season building a resume as the best 3-4 defensive end in football, and he hasn't had a week off yet. In the rout of Tennessee, Watt had two more sacks (leading the league with 7.5 sacks at the quarter pole), another tackle for loss, five tackles and a fumble recovery.

Plus he's precocious and cherubic. He's like a child. Dammit, Peter loves little kids and there's never one around for him to look at.

Charles Johnson's day of 3.5 sacks, one pass defensed, and 8 tackles just isn't as impressive it seems. It's probably because Johnson plays the game of football like an adult would and in no way is precocious. 

Cameron Wake, defensive end, Miami. The Dolphins had eight sacks of quarterback Kevin Kolb, and Wake had a career-high 4.5 of them. Tough transition -- NOT 

Hey Peter, the early 90's called and they want their joke back.

As for the cornerbacks on those 24 pass plays, ProFootballFocus.com charted Antonio Cromartie to have had a very good game, targeted four times and giving up no completions. Revis' sub, Kyle Wilson, gave up four completions and was targeted eight times -- but Wilson was beaten on three of the four plays he didn't allow a completion; Alex Smith overthrew his intended receiver on those three attempts.

Well, that can't be true. Alex Smith doesn't overthrow receivers. Such heresay will not be tolerated.  

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week I

My five favorite NFL hotels:

I think what Peter meant to write was, "By unpopular demand and because I think you care what my opinion on hotels may be, my five favorite NFL hotels." It seems these hotels are mostly judged by how close to a Starbucks or another coffee shop and the nearest NFL stadium they are. I would expect nothing less in Peter's rankings. Peter's ideal hotel is basically a football stadium with a Starbucks kiosk in it.

5. Cincinnatian, Cincinnati. Got to know this place writing about Boomer Esiason ages ago, interviewing him in his room the night before a game. "It's so quiet here,'' he said. "I love it." That makes two of us.

Were there candles in the room? It sounds very romantic. Was Esiason child-like in giving his quotes?

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week II

I'm not a Hamptons guy...But friends tell me it's supposed to be a nightmare of traffic and party animals from the Fourth of July to Labor Day. How can it be worse than 43 minutes to crawl through six miles around Bridgehampton, which is what it took on Saturday in the early afternoon? It's Sept. 29, an overcast day, occasionally spitting a misty rain, humid and 62 degrees. No beach traffic. Imagine if it had been a nice day, and imagine if it had been a month earlier. I just wonder: How do the locals take it?

The locals take it because they live in the freaking Hamptons.

"After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful. #Returntherealrefs''
-- @GovWalker, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, last Tuesday.

In 2011, Walker advanced a bill in Wisconsin to deny unions in the state the ability to bargain collectively for pensions and to peg public employees' raises to the inflation rate. In 2012, the NFL officials' union bargained for lucrative pensions and for salaries above and beyond the inflation rate.

Hmmm. I am missing something here. Help me on this one.

This is an easy one. Walker never said he supported the officials cause. He just Tweeted he wants the real refs back on the field, but this doesn't mean he supports the officials' position or their right to collectively bargain. He wants the regular officials on the field, but this position isn't exclusively tied into supporting the officials' cause. Walker could very well have wanted the officials to cave on their demands and get back on the field.

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 4:

e. I know he won't want to hear about it after falling to 0-4, but Drew Brees tying Johnny U.

I think Brees might not mind hearing this. After all, achieving personal records was important enough to him in Week 16 and Week 17 last year when he stayed in the game to run up the score against two teams, all in an effort to achieve personal records. It's quite clear personal records are important to Drew Brees, no matter if he wants us to think otherwise.

j. Great play call, Jim Harbaugh, giving Colin Kaepernick the Wildcat carry around left end in the first quarter at the Jets, resulting in a 17-yard run. He was tackled 10 yards in front of the Jets bench. I bet they wondered, "Hmmmm. That's what Tebow should be doing."

Ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets is doing that. He is sitting on the bench where he should be.

k. Heck of a job, Tim Tebow, on the blocks on Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks out of the backfield. Fullback stuff. Reminds me of what Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff said in camp about Tebow: "The guy's a football player. I don't care what we ask him to do. He just goes out and tries to do the best at whatever job he's given." Degrade and demean Tebow all you want, but if you take away the mayhem of having Tebow and his publicity machine in your locker room, any team would be crazy to not want him to be on the 53-man roster.

If you take the publicity machine and the mayhem of having him in the locker room then ex-backup quarterback punt protector Jets is not a first round pick either and he is just another potentially versatile player who doesn't have a certain role on a football team. Without his publicity machine and the mayhem he is a college quarterback who doesn't have a certain position in the NFL, so you can't take the hype and publicity away and have him be the same player. Take away his history of being a Hall of Fame quarterback and the Broncos just gave an aging, 36 year old quarterback (Peyton Manning) coming off major surgery $20 million per year.

o. Cam Newton's touchdown dive. Newton was terrific Sunday in defeat.

Don't kiss his ass to make up to him. He was very good, but fumbled away the ball after getting a first down. That wasn't terrific.

2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 4:

f. Did I hear correctly? Did Dick Stockton say on the Atlanta-Carolina telecast, after an Armenti Edwards pass attempt for the Panthers, that Edwards had been a quarterback in high school? Uhhh, yeah. I suppose he was.

I've never heard of Armenti Edwards. I have heard of Armanti Edwards though. It's always awkward when criticizing someone for a mistake he or she made, you make a mistake in your criticism of that person.

There's a slim chance he might be better known as a quarterback for taking Appalachian State to Ann Arbor and quarterbacking the massive underdogs to a win over the mighty Wolverines. Slim.

He also won three Division-I AA championships, including one over a guy named Joe Flacco. I guess that's not impressive enough either.

From what Peter liked:

d. The luck of Billy Cundiff. He was one miss from landing on the waiver wire this morning, but his 41-yarder beat the Bucs.

From what Peter didn't like:

j. I'm sure I don't have to tell Billy Cundiff, but 25 percent isn't going to make it in the NFL.

k. Or Canada.

So is Cundiff getting waived or not? I need an answer immediately!

5. I think the "Hello Kitty'' Cam Newton cartoon in the Charlotte Observer was funny, not racist. What possibly is racist about a cartoon of Cam Newton ripping open his shirt to show a Hello Kitty logo rather than a Superman logo

You mean other than the cartoonist drew Cam Newton as a somewhat white person and his left eye looked like a vagina? I don't think it was racist, but it wasn't funny or original and was drawn five days after the Panthers lost to the Giants, which means it wasn't timely either. 

I'm pretty sure being funny, original and timely is the three things a political cartoonist tries to do and this cartoon fails on at least two of those levels.

7. I think the one thing the NFL absolutely must make a point of emphasis with its officials in the 2013 offseason is pass interference on Hail Marys. Jostling for position is fine. A two-handed push-down of a player cannot be allowed.

While I agree with Peter King on this issue, the officials have to first start calling pass interference on these plays. I can only think of a handful of times when pass interference was called in this situation, so there seems to be a precedent of officials letting players push each other within reason on a Hail Mary.

j. Coffeenerdness: Never needed a triple latte more than I did Saturday afternoon after the race. The Starbucks in Bridgehampton, N.Y., by the way, is quite possible the prettiest one I've seen.

This may be the first time I have ever heard a Starbucks referred to by any form of the word "pretty."  It's a corporate coffee house with overpriced coffee, how pretty can it be?

The Adieu Haiku

One month into '12:
The Saints have gone marching out.
The Bayou weepeth.

What is the deal with these haikus? Did Peter do a review of his MMQB's over the last year and decide they don't seem pretentious enough?


Anonymous said...

"After catching a few hours of sleep, the #Packers game is still just as painful. #Returntherealrefs''
-- @GovWalker, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, last Tuesday.

In 2011, Walker advanced a bill in Wisconsin to deny unions in the state the ability to bargain collectively for pensions and to peg public employees' raises to the inflation rate. In 2012, the NFL officials' union bargained for lucrative pensions and for salaries above and beyond the inflation rate.

Hmmm. I am missing something here. Help me on this one.

This is an easy one. Walker never said he supported the officials cause. He just Tweeted he wants the real refs back on the field, but this doesn't mean he supports the officials' position or their right to collectively bargain. He wants the regular officials on the field, but this position isn't exclusively tied into supporting the officials' cause. Walker could very well have wanted the officials to cave on their demands and get back on the field.

On top of that, there is a HUGE difference between unions that are organized in private industry and public employee unions where the people they are bargaining with actually have an incentive in some cases to give them unsustainable benefits for political purposes (vs. natural give-and-take of management vs. labor in a private setting). Peter has proven to be very stubborn in his interjection of his political beliefs into his columns even though he has never proven to be very knowledgable about the issues he cries about.

Then there's this little gem...

3. J.W. Marriott or Harrah's, New Orleans. Tossup. Both a brisk walk to the Superdome. Both have great rooms and are quiet, despite being in the din of the New Orleans craziness.

4. Four Seasons, Seattle. Not to go all tres-chic on you or anything, but I've managed to sneak in here on a couple of low-rate weekends. Views of Puget Sound and a 15-minute walk past 13 coffee shops on the way to the football stadium.

So, mentioning the Four Seasons risks Peter coming off as "all tres-chic" but the JW Marriott counts as a place with nice rooms and a quiet setting. Okay... And the Ritz-Carlton and W are cozy bed-and-breakfasts...

Ben, I've been leaving comments about the seeming hybridization of King-Easterbrook for a few weeks now, so I can't believe that I missed the "megabucks" comment. Seriously, this isn't even really a common saying. There's numerous other terms that could have been used, but he just happened to use "megabucks..." The Mayans seem to know what they were talking about Re:2012 the more I read, by the way.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, Peter does tend to bring his political views into MMQB on occasion. It is his column, so he can do that, but that is a really good point about the difference in public and private unions. I want to add to it, but you have made a good point. Unions in a private setting to be based upon more of a give-and-take than public unions (like Chicago school teacher unions).

I stayed at the W in Atlanta and it was really nice. Sadly, I only stayed there one night (and booked it through Hotwire nonetheless, which I thought was weird). The W is definitely "tres-chic" too.

I can't believe Peter dropped a "megabucks" comment in his column. Who uses that word? It's starting to get weird to me that PK is using "megabucks" and using haikus. If he starts making long analogies rather than just saying what he means or ending his mailbag with "Yup, those are my readers," I think my head could start spinning.

If the world does end in 2012, I just want the Easterbrook-King hybrid to be on record as further proof of this.