Last week Peter King told us about the "play of the year" when Vick Ballard went spinning to score a touchdown in overtime and help the Colts beat the Titans. Fearing in discussing the Colts, we may forget that Andrew Luck plays for the Colts and realizing he hasn't written something about luck in nearly two weeks, Peter has essentially made this week's MMQB a Luck-fest in honor of Luck's 433 yard performance against the Dolphins. Peter also fills us in on Chuck Pagano's trip to watch the game. Obviously Luck deserves some sort of recognition, but Peter King buddy Don Banks is asking whether Pagano should generate coach of the year support. That's a bit much, considering he hasn't coached the entire season. Let's just support his road back from leukemia and hope he is able to return to coach next year. Perhaps Bruce Arians deserves support for coach of the year, but I'm not sure about Chuck Pagano.
We start with the story in Indianapolis that seems too surreal -- and
good, for now -- to be true. Six weeks ago, after the Colts lost to
Jacksonville to fall to 1-2, coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with
leukemia. On Sunday, before the Colts faced Miami in what had suddenly
become a game with playoff implications, Pagano showed up in front of
the team for the first time since his diagnosis. He spoke to the team
before the game, and then after the 23-20 win, and if you haven't seen the video of his postgame speech, I'd advise getting a couple of tissues before you do.
In today's game of "wrong time to make a joke like that" I am going to be a winner and say Peter King better grab a couple of tissues before he starts talking about Andrew Luck. He's definitely going to need them. He hasn't felt this way about a player since Brett Favre in his grizzled beard, yet playing the game of football like only a kid would play football prime. It's a special feeling Peter gets when thinking about Favre in this way.
"Chuck on three!'' Arians shouted. "One-two-three CHUCK!!!!!"
Somebody has to make a T-shirt of that. It's the coolest saying in sports right now.
Even better than "Free Payton?" Because I doubt anything could be cooler than that saying by the Colts, though the idea of Peter King proclaiming this saying is the coolest thing in sports right now almost guarantees this saying is not in fact the coolest saying in sports right now.
The Colts often this year have looked like colts, just learning how to
Oh yeah, Peter just wrote that sentence. This is sports journalism at its very best, people. Stand back and let the pros do their work.
Chicago pasted them. The Jets, who don't rout anyone,
embarrassed them. But since Pagano got sick, the Colts, somehow, are
This 4-1 streak obviously has nothing to do with a young Colts team learning and adjusting to the NFL nor does it have to do with Andrew Luck personally adjusting and learning. It is about Chuck Pagano being stricken with leukemia. I'm not down on Chuck Pagano, nor do I enjoy being snarky in any way about leukemia, but the idea the Colts are inspired and are winning games because of this just doesn't seem real to me. I think it has more to do with the Colts having a young team and playing the schedule of a team that went 2-14 the year before. The Colts aren't a bad team and have played the Packers, Jets, Browns, Dolphins, and Titans over the last five games. Next week they have the Jaguars. The Colts aren't a bad team and they have young players learning and adjusting. That's how I explain a 4-1 record since Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia.
I'll write more about Luck's record-setting day -- with an
NFL-rookie-record 433 passing yards -- and how the Colts are winning
Please do get to that. You would be remiss if you didn't discuss this.
"The whole story's for Spielberg,'' Arians, sounding a little misty himself, told me Sunday night.
Steven Spielberg has no interest in a story like this. If it isn't about history/war, fictional creatures, nor will you potentially fall asleep while watching a movie, then Spielberg has no interest in directing that film. Spielberg has standards you know.
"The goal is to get Chuck on the field December 30th,'' Arians said. "I don't know if it can happen, but that's the goal.''
home game of the year. Houston at Indianapolis. The new power of the
AFC South coming to town -- maybe with a playoff spot on the line for
the little-engine-that-could Colts.
Memo to my bosses at SI and NBC: Whatever I'm doing Dec. 30, make sure I can do it from Lucas Oil Stadium.
(checks calendar) That actually works out perfectly. Peter King was due to be up J.J. Watt's ass that week anyway. Watt is going to be in Indianapolis playing the Colts. This all works out perfectly.
I wonder if the December 31st MMQB is going to have any content that doesn't deal with the Colts or J.J. Watt? I have nothing against the Pagano story, Andrew Luck or J.J. Watt, but three stories that Peter has been harping on all season converge on the last game of the season with potential playoff implications. It's the perfect storm.
On Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the contract extension
Sean Payton purportedly agreed to in 2011 never was approved by the
league office, and Payton will become a free agent at the end of this
season, when his year-long league suspension for involvement in the
Saints bounty scandal expires. On FOX, Jay Glazer, who is close to
Payton, quoted Payton as saying he "absolutely plans'' to stay with the
Saints, and the Saints, angry that the story leaked in the first place,
insisted Payton was going nowhere other than on their coaching payroll
in 2013 and beyond.
As long as Payton gets paid of course, then he will be glad to stay in New Orleans. I bet the Saints fans wearing "Free Payton" shirts now wish Payton actually were free so they wouldn't have to worry about signing him coaching the team in 2013. If I were Payton, I would have negotiate my contract to run out at the exact same time Drew Brees' contract runs out.
Many of the possible coaching openings would be good fits for Payton. I
doubt sincerely the Chargers could compete financially in Payton's
$8-million-a-year league. I doubt sincerely Payton and the conservative
Clark Hunt, Kansas City's owner, would be a good match. Ditto Payton and
Carolina's owner Jerry Richardson.
No!!!!!!!! I can't have Sean Payton as the head coach of my favorite team. Good thing it will never happen.
He has no connection with new Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam, though
Haslam could be very aggressive if he decides to go all-in to try to get
That leaves New Orleans, Dallas and Philadelphia.
Right, this is true in Peter's incredibly speculative example that leaves three teams who will want the services of Sean Payton. Let's allow Peter to now cut the crap and simply say Payton may go to the Cowboys as their head coach. That's the story Peter is wanting to write about, you can tell. Just say it, don't hide it behind speculative deductive reasoning as if you are organically coming to this conclusion.
Would Payton really consider abandoning Drew Brees with four years left
on the great Brees' new contract when the coach returns in 2013? Could
the Saints' current situation -- a troubled defense with a bloated
future salary cap -- have a major impact on what Payton does?
I want Sean Payton to abandon the Saints just so I have further proof he is the douchebag that I truly believe him to be. I don't like Sean Payton and him dumping the Saints after they stood by him with the bounty issues and all of that, well he would need a really excuse. How about he goes the Urban Meyer excuse and claims family is the reason? That would work.
Does Payton feel it's time for him to be near his children every day, instead of being a commuter dad?
"A commuter dad." Sean Payton makes millions of dollars every year, but to Peter King, he's just a commuter dad who takes a job an hour away from home to support his family. Hey normal Americans, Peter King called and wants you to go fuck yourself. You may drive an hour to work every morning, but that means you are just like Sean Payton. You are both commuter dads to him who have to take jobs away from their family to make ends meet. Just wait until Peter calls Brett Favre just a stay-at-home dad. Peter has no respect for you and lumps in a millionaire with everyday Americans who have to travel a long way in order to provide for their families.
Now for the Cowboys. If you saw Jerry Jones' interview with Bob Costas
Sunday night on NBC, you saw the Dallas owner give what I'd call a tepid
endorsement of his current coach, Jason Garrett. I know Jones really
likes Garrett, but the owner also has to be frustrated with the fact
that Garrett's just 16-16 in his short career as coach,
There are two reasons Peter thinks Sean Payton could go to Dallas:
1. Payton coached there under Bill Parcells from 2003 to 2005.
2. Because Sean Payton, being the cocky little shit that he is, drank Jerry Jones' wine at a restaurant in 2010. This apparently makes Payton more attractive to Jerry Jones.
But drinking Jones' wine wasn't enough. Payton gave the waiter
some instructions, took out his pen ... and, well, the Cowboys party
found at the middle of their table the next evening an empty magnum of
Caymus Special Selection cabernet sauvignon, with these words
hand-written on the fancy label:
World Champions XLIV
That's the kind of thing Jones will get a big laugh out of. And remember.
Much like Drew Brees as a free agent in 2006, if the Saints end up paying Payton the most money to stay in New Orleans, I am sure we will hear stories about how Sean Payton wanted to stay in New Orleans because of how much he loves the people and that is where the wanted to be...while not acknowledging the Saints also just so happened to offer him the most money to be their head coach.
Payton could turn the biggest nightmare of his life into the biggest payday. Stay tuned.
I'm not sure we will have much of a choice to tune in. If the Saints don't re-sign Payton this story will be everywhere.
It's always easy to dump on Alex Smith. Is there a young quarterback in
NFL history who, in the first 16 games he played as a pro, lost by 39,
35, 38, 41 and 31 points; a quarterback who'd been given up for dead
time after time in his star-crossed career; a player who -- after
leading his team to the conference title game -- watched his team flirt
with another quarterback to take his place, and, in response, took a
forlorn free agent trip to the last place he ever wanted to be?
There is no quarterback in NFL history that has had that exact hyperspecific group of events happen to him. This is a Bill Simmons-type sentence where the writer lists 2-3 specific things that happen to a player as if this makes him special, while forgetting you can find 2-3 original items about ever NFL quarterback.
"What has Ryan Tannehill gone through in Miami? Is there a young quarterback in the NFL who didn't play quarterback all through his college career, gets drafted by a team that plays in Florida, and then that team trades his best receiver in training camp? What other quarterback has dealt with these circumstances?"
Plus, Jim Harbaugh never had interest in Peyton Manning. He simply secretly watched him work out and then offered him a contract. Outside of that, there was no intentions on the part of the 49ers or Jim Harbaugh to recruit Peyton Manning to the 49ers. No intentions. None at all. They simply wanted him to be their quarterback this year and reportedly were willing to dump Alex Smith to make this happen. Other than this, they had no interest in Peyton Manning.
here was something else notable about his game: Not one of his 19 throws
(20, actually, if you count one that was negated by penalty) was
off-target. His accuracy, in a word, was stunning. I watched the game
again on NFL Game Rewind, focusing on each of the 20 throws, and
watching each one several times, running it back and forth. Though he
threw short much of the night, he did have completions that traveled 10,
11, 15, 20 and 22 yards past the line of scrimmage. Here's how I graded
the 20 throws:
Alex Smith was very accurate last Monday night, but Peter King is grading out Smith's throws on Peter King's own grading scale using Peter King's judgment of where those throws fall on that grading scale. All things considered, this isn't exactly the most impartial way of looking at Smith's performance. Peter is trying to prove a point and is using his own grading system to help prove his point.
A (perfectly accurate, hitting his receiver in stride): 15 throws
B (accurate, but receiver reached slightly away from body): 3
C (passable, catchable throw; if missed, would have been a drop): 2
D (poor throw that would have been a great catch): 0
F (significantly off target): 0
What do you know, Smith graded out almost perfect.
Smith's two Cs came on his eighth and ninth passes of the game, early in
the second quarter. The first was a sliding-on-his-knees catch by
wideout Kyle Williams on a low throw that led him well.
So the low throw that Williams turned into a catch wasn't a poor throw because Smith led Williams well. How in the hell could this throw have been a drop if Williams misses it? He had to slide on his knees to catch a low pass that led him. Isn't this a passable throw that was a great catch? So is it a "C" or a "D?" While the throw was catchable, I remember it being a great catch and I'm not sure Williams would have been counted as dropping the pass had he dropped it. Yeah, Smith was great, but Peter's own grading scale is somewhat biased in that he is writing about how good Smith threw the ball, so his natural inclination is to grade up on throws that are borderline between two categories. I don't think this throw was bad, but it also wouldn't have counted as a drop if Williams had dropped it, and Williams had to make a good catch. So where does it fit on this scale?
Rating the best quarterbacks in football in yards per attempt and
accuracy through nine weeks (not including Eagles-Saints tonight) shows
Smith, at the NFL's midpoint, is second in completion percentage and
fifth in yards per attempt, two key indicators for quarterback play.
Guess who's first in each category? Peyton Manning.
Alex Smith is just like Peyton Manning, the same guy who almost replaced Smith this past offseason! So these are two indicators of quarterback performance, huh? Based on this statement, I want to play a game. Guess which NFL quarterback isn't in the Top 15 in yards per attempt (he is 19th) nor in the Top 25 in completion percentage (he is 29th), while being 2nd in the NFL in passing attempts? I'll give you a hint. He is going into the Hall of Fame very soon and he plays for the Colts. That's right Andrew Luck. I guess completion percentage and yards per attempt are good indicators for quarterback play when Peter King wants to prove one thing, but not as useful when telling stories of Andrew Luck saving the Colts and their season with his incredibly impressive quarterback play.
Hard to pass judgment on this just from watching every play in the
passing game one week, but I didn't see receivers show any sign of ego
or anger for not getting the ball when open. You know how you see, on
iso-camera replays, receivers sometimes waving for the ball, or jumping
up and down when they don't get it, or showing some emotion when they
think the ball should have come to them? None of that here.
It seems Peter has come to a judgment on this then. The 49ers receiving corps is ego-free.
Again, don't draw any conclusions based on one rout of the Cardinals.
Don't draw any conclusions on Peter saying the 49ers receivers are ego-free. It's true in his opinion and from watching one game it is the conclusion that Peter has come to, but it isn't a sure conclusion at this point, even though Peter has come to this conclusion and thinks it is notable enough to write about in MMQB, it isn't a sure thing...but just assume the 49ers receivers have no ego and if Peter is wrong don't tell him he was wrong. He already knows he could be wrong, but this is the conclusion he has come to which he will assume to be a 100% correct conclusion...even if it is a wrong conclusion, which it very well could. So listen to Peter when he says the 49ers' receivers are ego-free, but don't really listen to him.
I asked Smith how often Moss has come back to the huddle saying he had
an edge on a corner, or how often in an offensive meeting he talked
about how some route would be perfect for him against a certain
Come on Peter. What do you expect Smith to say? He's going to say "never." I fail to see why Peter even asks questions like this since he knows the answer is getting. Smith is going to say Moss has never done something like this.
"Not a single time,'' said Smith. "Never once.
What a shocking answer. Hit Smith back with another tough question now like, "Alex, do you enjoy playing on the same team as Randy Moss?" That'll learn his readers information that can be conveyed by the great Peter.
Each week, thanks to play-by-play game dissection by
ProFootballFocus.com, I'll look at one important matchup or individual
performance metric from one of the Sunday games.
This week it's
Andrew Luck, who completed 30 of 48 passes for 433 yards (151 yards
after the catch), two touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a 105.6
Want to talk about Luck's yards per attempt or completion percentage? No? I guess those aren't great indicators as to a quarterback's ability when it is inconvenient to mention them.
Playing under pressure. What the numbers do miss is the fact that
Luck ended the day with a new center and right tackle, missing his most
experienced linemen, Samson Satele and Winston Justice, forced out with
Which of course, me being bitter, Peter failed to make this same excuse for Cam Newton last week when he was "giving the game to the Bears" while playing behind an offensive line in its fifth alignment in seven games. These excuses are only used when it is convenient to show how great a quarterback has been.
Playing without much of a running game. Although the stats show
26 rushing attempts for 97 yards, the first-half numbers of 11 attempts
for 22 yards are much more indicative.
Yes, the Colts don't have much of a running game. How can we ignore 15 attempts for 75 yards in the second half though? Does Peter believe we need to ignore these numbers because they don't help to prove his point? Remember, we aren't talking about over the entire season, but how the running backs performed in this specific game. So 11 attempts for 22 yards in the first half is just as relevant as the 15 attempts for 75 yards in the second half.
I don't get how some sportswriters fail to miserably with numbers. Peter is focusing on this specific game when discussing Luck's performance, so the 15 attempts for 75 yards is just as relevant as the 11 attempts for 22 yards. Peter can't take the focus off this one game and say 2 yards per carry is indicative of what Luck has faced this season because he is only discussing this specific game. If the purpose is to show how well Luck played in this specific game, then how the Colts ran the ball in this specific game, not how well they have run the ball over the season, is incredibly relevant...even if it messes with Peter's point, he can't just dismiss it like he tries to do. What's indicative in the running game over the entire season is not relevant when discussing this specific game as it relates to Andrew Luck's performance in the game.
Yards in the air. One of the trends recently has been for
quarterbacks (particularly novices) to throw short passes and let the
receiver do the work. That hasn't been the case with Luck.
For the season, this hasn't been the case with Luck. Luck is 19th in the NFL in yards per attempt on the season. I'm confused as to whether Peter is now discussing whether this has been the case with Luck on the season or in this specific game. Now it seems Peter is discussing Luck's yards per attempt on the season, in which case Luck is 19th in the NFL, so Peter is wrong in saying short passes and letting the receiver do the work hasn't been the case with Luck. I have a headache now.
In summary. To put this performance in the category of "rookie"
record only would be wrong. It was so much more than that because
without much semblance of a running game Luck took a good defense apart,
particularly on third down. In short, there are not many quarterbacks
in the NFL who could have won this game for the Colts.
Luck had an excellent game. It's a good thing Peter kept those tissues handy, huh?
1. Houston (7-1).
2. Atlanta (8-0)
Both teams beat the Broncos. In this situation think I would have to go with the team that hasn't lost a game this year over the team that has lost once, but that's probably just me.
14. Tampa Bay (4-4). Doug Martin is making a horse race out of
the Offensive Rookie of the Year competition. He has 386 rushing yards
in the last two games, at 7.1 yards per rush. He's an incredible inside-
and outside-the-tackles back.
Peter wants to know who is this "Doug Martin" fellow? Does he play with Andrew Luck or J.J. Watt? Oh he knows him, isn't that Robert Griffin's agent? No? Peter has never heard of him then.
Offensive Players of the Week
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay.
The greatest day a Buccaneers running back has ever had -- 25 carries,
251 yards, four touchdowns -- carried the red-hot Bucs over the Raiders
in Oakland. Martin, who is from northern California, scored all four
touchdownS in the second half.
Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis.
Not just the numbers (30 of 48, 433 yards, two touchdowns, no
interceptions), but time after time, play after play in the 23-20 win
over Miami, you had to wonder how a rookie quarterback could be so
composed, so nonplussed in the face of a heavy rush.
He's precocious, that's how. He's like a child on the playground just playing for the love of the game.
"This isn't tennis or golf or even basketball, where three great
players, together, can win a championship. This is the ultimate,
ultimate team sport, with 22 guys on the field at once, where you need
all three phases of the game working for you to win big. For people to
say my career's been diminished because I haven't won a playoff game, I
say bulls**t! I'm a frickin' tight end, not the quarterback. My career
will mean nothing less if I'm never on a team that wins a playoff game."
-- Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez, in my Sports Illustrated
story on Gonzalez this week, on his frustration with the perception
that his career won't mean as much if he doesn't win a playoff game.
Gonzalez, 36, has never won one, and he says he will very likely retire
at the end of the year, regardless what happens with Atlanta in the
I like to play the "Imagine if Person X had said that" game and I'm going to play it very quickly right now. Imagine if Jay Cutler had said this. Imagine if Cam Newton had said this. Imagine if Brandon Marshall had said this. What if Mark Sanchez made this statement? I am sure you guys can think of other players, but what if any of these people basically stated, "It isn't completely my fault my teams haven't won a playoff game," then said he isn't a quarterback, but is a tight end.
Granted, Sanchez/Newton/Cutler are quarterbacks, but what if they said their career isn't diminished because they aren't receivers, they aren't offensive linemen, nor do they play defense and can't win playoff games on their own. How do you think the media would react to this? Peter presents this quote without comment, but I would bet if another less-respected player tried to pass the blame (which is sort of what Gonzalez does here), then that player's point would fall on the deaf ears of a media who would accuse the player of not being a team player and making excuses for his performance. Yes, Gonzalez is a tight end, but even for a quarterback all three phases have to be working to win a playoff game. Perhaps they don't have to work as well, but no quarterback can win a playoff game if special teams and defense aren't doing their job well.
Andrew Luck Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I
Well, of course. I don't see why this isn't a weekly feature.
Andrew Luck Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II
Rookie Quarterback Note of the Week: In Indianapolis Sunday, Luck and
Ryan Tannehill dropped back to pass 89 times and threw no interceptions.
Stop writing "precocious." These are grown men, not children. Why do sportswriters insist on referring to grown athletes as children as if this were some sort of compliment ("he plays the game like a kid"), as well as calling these athletes "precocious." There is a huge infatuation with the excitement of children and how it relates to the joy of playing sports in the sportswriting world.
Then Peter has one of his "Quotes of the Week" as a quote about Andrew Luck. Yep Peter, we get it. You like him.
8. I think I understand the emotion Mario Williams must have
after the Texans let him go without a fight in free agency. Logically,
he'd want to have a great game for the first time against the Texans.
But for him to sack Matt Schaub and then point a wagging finger at the
Houston bench, as if to say, "You never should have gotten rid of me,''
well ... that was a great play, Mr. Williams. But if you think the
Texans should be regretting NOT paying you $16 million a year, you're
living in a different reality from mine.
Well, the Texans fans did boo Williams. I do agree with Peter, but maybe he would have liked it better if Mario Williams retired, then unretired, then stated he would come out of retirement to play for the Texans if they trade him to the team of his choice or hand him a starting job.
I know, that Favre story is almost five years old now, but I still can't believe the balls on him. He retired, unretired, then demanded the Packers give him his starting job back or he wanted to be traded to the team of his choice...which just so happened to be a Packers division rival. The story seems less believable the more the years go by. Sadly, the media hung on his every word rather than just ignoring him and calling him the self-righteous, spoiled prick that he was being all three times he did some variation of this dance.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
b. I wouldn't take a chance on Josh Hamilton for more than three years,
$33 million. That would mean I wouldn't get him, which would be OK with
me. I'd be able to sleep at night.
Considering Peter thinks Derek Jeter is the greatest player he has ever seen play (over the player's entire career) and Peter didn't know who Josh Reddick was when he was a pretty big prospect for the Red Sox, this opinion tells me for sure Josh Hamilton deserves a longer contract than three years and worth more than $11 million per year.
c. Not a fan of Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri saying after his kicker,
Kevin Harper, missed a 33-yard field goal in overtime, "We missed a
field goal. That's why we lost the game." What a teammate Sunseri is.
Pitt blew a 20-6 lead in the fourth quarter, and Harper made four of
five field goals in the 29-26 loss. But he missed the one field goal
that would have won it in the second overtime. Everyone who watched the
game, and everyone in the Pitt locker room, understands a makeable field
goal would have won the game. But to put the spotlight on one guy --
that's not what the quarterback on a team should do.
Plus there are three phases to the game. Tino isn't a kicker, so don't judge him based on losing that game and it doesn't reflect poorly on him or his performance in any way.
e. LSU leads Alabama in the 59th minute and gives the Tide the best
game, by far, it's had to survive in over a year. And the coaches poll
in USA Today drops LSU from fifth to ninth in the top 25.
Totally, ridiculously preposterous. And the coaches rip us for our
I completely agree. This always drives me crazy. If one team loses to the #1 team in the country, why knock them down? LSU is now the 9th best team in the country rather than the 5th best team because they lost to the best team in the country (Alabama). How does this make sense other than to ensure teams with two losses aren't ranked over teams with one loss? This is a stupid way to rank teams as it is. If a lower ranked team loses a close game to the #1 team in the country why should that lower ranked team be dropped in the polls for losing to a team they should have lost to, especially when it was a close game?
The Adieu Haiku
Morning, Jersey Shore.
Staten Island and Queens too.
We won't forget you.
Oh man, these haikus. Peter just started dropping these on us without any warning. I can't imagine some of his readers are writing in saying how much they love his ability to create haikus.