Tuesday, November 13, 2012

5 comments MMQB Review: A Tie, Yet Everyone Loses Edition

In last week's MMQB Peter King helped fuel the rumor that Sean Payton is going to be coaching the Dallas Cowboys next year. Payton is tired of being a commuter dad and wants to move closer to his family, which not-so-coincidentally would also involve taking a job that could offer him more money. Peter also solidified his membership in the cult of Andrew Luck and mentally prepared for the ultimate Peter King Weekend of Fun, when the Texans play the Colts in Indianapolis. It will be awkward when J.J. Watt and Andrew Luck meet face-to-face, as it is always awkward when Peter's crushes meet each other in person. This week Peter talks about ties, tells us more about Sean Payton's contract, and shares other nuggets of truth about the NFL.

A little before noon Pacific Time, as the San Francisco crowd began to settle in their seats, fans in the lower bowl at Candlestick Park were treated to an odd display. Two Rams starters in sweat clothes, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens, both rookies, began sprinting up and down the stairs in one section of the stands, supervised by assistant strength coach Adam Bailey. How odd, the fans with trays of Gordon Biersch craft beers and garlic fries reporting for the game must have thought.

A feel like this is the opening paragraph of a football-related fictional novel that will go on to sell three copies. 

What are these Rams doing running the stairs at this hour? Shouldn't they be stretching for the game, or doing something down on the field?

"Why on Earth are these athletes exercising prior to this game in the stands when they could be exercising on the field? We are very, very confused, yet mildly interested as to why the Rams players are running the stairs of the stadium...other than for the obvious reason to get exercise or as some sort of punishment."

"It was two-fold,'' said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who suspended Jenkins and Givens for an unspecified violation of team rules Saturday. "They weren't going to play, so they needed a workout. And I guess you can say it was part punitive. We still have to sort some things out about what happened, but hopefully this helps them get the message.''

"I didn't even know that happened,'' said St. Louis receiver Danny Amendola.

Well then, message received loud and clear. 

Referee Clete Blakeman got on his mic and said: "We are checking the game clock for accuracy.'' OK, now he'd just have the clock reset to 12:32. Nope. He came back on the mike shortly thereafter and said: "The game clock is correct." Who'd he check with? The drunk tailgaters who never came into the game?

See, this is funny because the tailgaters are drunk so they have no comprehension of time, plus they never even came into the game, so they would have no idea how much time was left on the clock. That's why this statement is funny. But no, the officials did not check with these tailgaters, they simply messed the call up.

We'd have skewered the replacement officials for this;

We also would have skewered the replacement officials for the other missed calls that occurred during games yesterday that didn't have an effect on the outcome of the game. I'm pretty sure no one said there would be zero mistakes from the regular officials once they returned to action. At least the regular officials are marking off the yardage on penalties incorrectly and giving off some sense of competence. Really, as much as officiating the game well is a necessity, giving the appearance of confidence and competence is as important too.

Then Smith left with a concussion. 

All because the officials screwed up the time of the game. Alex Smith was thinking too hard about the space-time continuum and how the game had lost time, but no time had really past, got a headache which quickly turned into a concussion. Good job, regular officials now you are causing long-term damage to the player's brains with your poor decisions.

Two fake punts, one from the Ram 10, one from the Rams 33. Now that's different. Who fakes a punt standing in his own end zone?

Jeff "8-8" Fisher is who fakes a punt in his own end zone.

Here came the Rams, Sam Bradford evading the rush long enough to find Amendola -- playing his first game since severely fracturing his collarbone five weeks ago, the injury so grotesque and graphic that it made Rams COO Kevin Demoff faint when it was described to him --

Or Kevin Demoff is overly squeamish. I'm just throwing this possibility out there.

Timeout, Rams. First-and-goal at the 2. Now, as Bradford dropped to pass, the Niners came with a middle blitz. And not just any middle blitzer -- Patrick Willis was steaming in through the "A" gap for the quarterback. But Steven Jackson, who was good all day in a 101-yard rushing effort against one of the league top three defenses, was magnificent here. He got his pads low and blasted into Willis, standing him up and knocking him out of the path of Bradford's pass. Which, stunningly, went to a wide-open Austin Pettis in the back of the end zone.

How precocious of Austin Pettis to make the catch. Very child-like. Infant-like really, if not slightly cherubish.

With 8:14 to go in overtime, David Akers missed a chippy field goal from 41 yards. Wide left. In fits and starts, the Rams got the ball down to the San Francisco 35 with 3:25 to play. Fourth down. Hekker was the holder, Greg Zuerlein the kicker. Both rookies.

"They're out of timeouts,'' Fisher told Zuerlein on the sidelines. "They can't ice you.''

Well, thank God. We all know the concept of "icing" the kicker truly exists so the fact the 49ers can't ice Zuerlein means there is almost no chance he misses this kick.

Well, actually Zuerlein did miss the kick, but the good news is he missed it because he did not kick the ball well, not because he got iced. Because "icing" the kicker is a real thing. 

Each team had another chance, but there was no more drama. When the clock got to :00, Amendola -- and he wasn't the only one -- didn't know the rule that the game was over. (Shades of Donovan McNabb, 2008, Cincinnati.) "I thought we were going to keep playing,'' he said.

And of course if these were replacement players we would skewer them for not knowing the rules of a football game.

And everyone in the game was left to feel ... odd.

Odd, like the time Peter accidentally kissed his sister during an innocent game of truth or dare. It felt good, but he knew it wasn't right.

"In the long run,'' said Fisher, "this will be a good step for our team. But it hurts a little right now."

Jeff Fisher thinks 8-8 is still within reach. He knows this as a coach with vast experience of going 8-8. It can still be done. Have heart. Keep faith. Stay precocious.

I hope you were careful not to put a stake in the Saints a month ago. They've got the 49ers, Falcons and Giants in a 15-day span starting in Week 12, but New Orleans is 4-5 with Oakland next Sunday, and the 31-27 win over Atlanta was no fluke. Drew Brees is hot, the defense is generous but not hopeless and New Orleans is dangerous. Can you imagine the story if they wiggle into the sixth seed and have a prayer to play in a home Super Bowl, after what this team has been through this year?

Can I imagine it? Yes, I can imagine just how terrible this would be. Let's not talk this bullshit about what the Saints have "been through." They put themselves through this, so the only adversity they are bouncing back from is the adversity they caused themselves. In fact, let's not call it "adversity" because it indicates there is some sense of heroic overcoming that was involved with the Saints' situation. After what this team has put themselves through by their own stupidity, it would be a story that many writers, mostly Peter King, would drill into the heads of their viewers/readers. It would be unbearable. I simply despise it when a person or people talk about "what I/we have been through" when the adversity is caused by his/her/their own stupidity. You are stupid, you don't get credit for being heroic or beating the odds when you are no longer being stupid.

(rant done and Bengoodfella yells at the neighborhood kids for trampling his flowers)

He thought he could laser the ball into White, and tried to. "All I was thinking was, 'I gotta make that play,' " Greer said from New Orleans afterward. "I gave up two big balls, very big.

Huge balls.

What a day for the tight end. When I interviewed Tony Gonzalez for an SI feature three weeks ago, the former Cal forward was eloquent talking about how being a basketball player helps him in his position.

Tony Gonzalez also talked about how when his team loses it isn't completely his fault because there are other players that have to play well too for the team to win. There is no T-E-A-M in Tony Gonzalez.

"So many of the catches as a tight end you use the same skills as you would in basketball, boxing out,'' he said. "I play basketball in the offseason against some really good players, but guys who probably aren't going to play in the NBA. And when I see a guy I think has a tight end body, I say, 'You ever play football? You should try it. You'd be perfect for it.' ''

It's funny because Gregg Easterbrook used to do that too. Every time he would go up to a high school girl and tell her she had a great cheerleading body, he would get arrested and then all of a sudden people would avoid speaking to him directly in public. Oh sure, it's fine when Tony Gonzalez goes up to people and comments on their body, but let's hold journalists to a higher standard.

Graham played at the University of Miami before turning to football. And did you see what they did when they scored Sunday? They dunked the ball over the 10-foot-high crossbar. 

Creative. Unforeseen. Revolutionary. Peter appears to be very excited to have seen Jimmy Graham and Tony Gonzalez dunk the ball over the crossbar.

Uhhh, you mean Adrian Peterson might be getting better?...Whatever ... Peterson's on pace for the best year of his life, and some day, some orthopedist is going to write a paper on how his body got so good so fast after such a major surgery.

Well, how else does one athlete recover from an injury faster than another athlete in that same sport would and come back to play his chosen sport at a higher level than when he left the sport? Hard work of course. What? Is there another way an athlete can recover from injury faster while maintaining a high or higher level of performance?

As Mike Florio pointed out on NBC last night, the Saints now have a 13-week edge on the competition to get a valid contract done with Payton -- because Payton cannot be reinstated for at least 13 weeks, until the day after the Super Bowl, and thus can't speak to any other team about a job until then. New Orleans is the lead dog in the pursuit of Payton, and Dallas is a clear No. 2, though there's no guarantee the Cowboys' job will open up yet. For the record, some of the onerous cap numbers in 2013 that will weigh on Payton's decision are on the right.

I see the "Where is Sean Payton going to coach next year" discussion is still in full swing and probably will be for the next 3 months. This isn't a story that I will grow tired of at all.

Kremer, the veteran TV reporter, has signed on with NFL Network for a newly created post of chief correspondent, health and safety. She's not leaving her gig at HBO's highly respected Real Sports show, just supplementing it with this new job.

Her first major contribution comes this week, when NFL Network opens health-and-safety coverage with an over-arching four-part series on, well, health and safety. Timely, especially considering the spate of concussions suffered Sunday; three starting quarterbacks left games with concussions (Michael Vick, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler). The series begins Tuesday night on NFL Network's Total Access, with the remaining three segments on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I have known the dogged Kremer for a long time, and I spoke with her Saturday, mostly about her plans for doing a job that could put the league in the difficult position of exposing the underbelly of the sport it has long kept in the dark. 

So basically the NFL is paying Andrea Kremer to do an investigation into concussions and player safety? Kremer could find out information that would help the 3000 plaintiffs suing the NFL and the NFL would essentially be paying for Kremer to bring this information that would be used against them to light? Excuse me if I am a little bit speculative on whether she is going to get free reign to report on this story as she sees fit.

MMQB: You've always been known as a pretty tough reporter. The NFL's now going to be signing your paychecks. Concerned you'll be able to report everything you want?

Kremer: "I have no indication whatever that we will be censored in any way. The mandate we have been given is: Just be fair. Be balanced. We're going to get calls from the league office. Just let us know what you're doing. But that doesn't bother me.

And what the NFL considers "fair" and "balanced" probably is not Kremer's idea of "fair" and "balanced." If something she reports isn't considered 100% accurate throughout the medical community, then that probably isn't "fair" in the eyes of the NFL. If a doctor reports findings over a three year period about concussions that could in some way hurt the NFL, then I am sure the NFL wouldn't consider it "balanced" to not give them 3-4 months before reporting the story to allow them a chance to review the findings from this study as well.

I simply find it hard to believe the NFL will pay one of their employees to do anything to hurt them in regard to concussion reporting and the impact football has on the human brain. The NFL wants to "know what she is doing," meaning get out in front of a story before it gets reported, which in itself is somewhat of a luxury that Andrea Kremer may not normally provide to those she is doing a story on.

Peter then pushes Gary Myers' new book and tells a story about how Mike Shanahan roped Steve Young into throwing a football at Al Davis to (a) get him off the 49ers side of the field during warmups and (b) pay Davis back for not giving Shanahan $250,000 he was owed as coach of the Raiders. Steve Young did it and then felt bad a few years later. Mike Shanhan thought this was hysterical of course.

Fine Fifteen

4. San Francisco (6-2-1). I really didn't think the story Sunday was the failure of the 49ers, or them coming out flat. I thought the story was the Rams joining the ranks of the serious in the NFC West.

I find the media thinks much more highly of Jeff Fisher than some fans do, so I can't help but wonder about this remark. So the same Rams team that Peter doesn't rank in this MMQB as one of the top 15 teams in the NFL is now a serious contender in the NFC West? The same team that was last seen getting beaten by 38 points to the Patriots and have lost recently to the Dolphins, this is the team that is joining the ranks of the serious in the NFC West? I think I'm going to need to see a bit more before I start warning the Seahawks and 49ers that the Rams are for real.

7. Denver (6-3). The Broncos officially have a good enough defense to be competitive in January.

I'm glad Peter is here to make this official. I thought it was official last year when the Broncos won a playoff game with a running back playing quarterback, but apparently I was wrong because the Broncos weren't officially good enough on defense at that point. Now they are officially good enough.

13. New York Giants (6-4). I have absolutely no idea who they are right now. Should the Jints be ninth? Nineteenth? You tell me.

Well, it is our "Fine Fifteen" and not yours, so let's split the difference and put the Giants at #13.

Dr. Z Unsung Man in the Trenches of the Week

The award for the offensive lineman who was the biggest factor for his team in the weekend's games, named for my friend Paul Zimmerman, the longtime SI football writer struggling in New Jersey to recover from three strokes in November 2008. Zim, a former collegiate offensive lineman himself, loved watching offensive line play.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis

Steven Jackson is neither an offensive lineman nor is he unsung, but otherwise what a great choice for this award.


-- Drew Brees, in the Saints' pregame huddle, captured by FOX, before the game between the Saints and the team they trailed in the NFC South, the previously unbeaten Atlanta Falcons.


I'm sure one day I will let this go, but there are so many things about Drew Brees that rub me the wrong way at times that I can't quite do it right now.

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 10:

j. How do you not love the way Brandon Marshall's playing?

If you are a fan of an NFL team playing against Brandon Marshall then it would be easy to not love the way he is playing.

l. Marshawn Lynch, 27 carries for 124 yards. And we hardly noticed. We take his greatness for granted too much.

Yes, "we" do don't "we." Ever notice how "we" actually means "I," but some writers think they speak for a group of people so it becomes a "we" instead of an "I"? We hate it when writers do this.

2. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 10:

a. Ten penalties for 115 yards, and the very un-Mularkey-like tantrum from coach Mike Mularkey, in the Jags' 27-10 loss to Indianapolis.

This tantrum actually was very Mularky-like since it was Mike Mularkey who threw the tantrum.

g. Me, for thinking the Dolphins were contenders.

In three weeks, Peter will be writing "Me, for thinking the Rams were contenders."

We all think they are a year away, Peter. We do.

i. Rex Ryan standing by Mark Sanchez. Not smart, plus it's boring.

And Rex Ryan has an obligation to make sure he isn't boring. You can't expect sportswriters to think of their own stories and write. What good are head coaches if they aren't doing half of the New York media's job for them? You can't expect Peter to simply write about Rex Ryan and his team. He needs some drama to go along with his reporting on the Jets team. I never know that being boring lost games for NFL teams. You learn so much reading MMQB.

k. Terrible goal-line effort by Michael Turner. I'd much rather see Jacquizz Rodgers try to slither through gaps in a wall than see Turner pound fruitlessly into it.

That's what she said.

6. I think when Carolina owner Jerry Richardson issues a statement saying he is devoted to the Carolinas without saying he categorically wouldn't move to Los Angeles, you know it's a leverage play to get public money to rehab his stadium.

Yes, this is possibly true. The stadium needs rehabbed after a few years of shitty football being played in it. At some point, that shit starts to stick to the walls and makes fans not want to visit the stadium.

Responding to Adam Schefter's report that L.A. leaders have been sniffing around the Panthers to make a move west, Richardson said: "It has always been my desire that the Carolinas would be the home of our Panthers. Nothing has changed. As someone who was born in North Carolina and lived much of my life in South Carolina, I hope that there would be no doubts about my personal devotion to the Carolinas." See? Nothing in there even approximating: "I will not move this team."

This is a typical situation where a national writer who doesn't know very much about a current situation speaks out of turn about said situation. I don't think Peter King means anything malicious about it, but he simply doesn't do his research and chooses to speculate rather than report.

Tom Sorenson of the Charlotte Observer disagrees with Peter's opinion of the wording in this statement and states the Panthers will be staying in the Carolinas. The reason I trust Sorenson, other than the fact he gets paid to follow the team and knows more about this situation than Peter King, is there is one person in the local media who Jerry Richardson will talk to. That person is Tom Sorenson. So if anyone has a great idea of Richardson's intentions, it is him. Manufactured controversy is fun though.

7. I think I have absolutely no problem with a player missing a football game for the birth of his child. Good for you, Charles Tillman. (Even though he said Thursday he would play Sunday, then attend the birth of his child on Monday.)

If Charles Tillman were Brett Favre he would have dragged this story out over the entire week, pretending to gnash his teeth over what to do while the media breathlessly waited to see what is decision would be. I thank God that Charles Tillman is not Brett Favre.

9. I think of all the thoughtless, careless plays I saw Sunday -- and Eli Manning's desperation tipped interception in the third quarter at Cincinnati is in the ballpark here, as is Philip Rivers' brainlock interception brought back for a score in Tampa -- Cam Newton's interception thrown into blanket coverage while falling, returned for a touchdown by the Broncos' Tony Carter, takes the cake.

I'm done defending Newton his for his overwhelming badness, but if you think Peter is going to miss a chance to bash Newton then you don't know Peter King. The game was already over when Newton threw this interception and the reason he was falling is because he was trying to avoid getting pummeled by a Broncos defender yet again. It was a terrible pass, but the Rivers interception had a much bigger impact on the game, plus Rivers wasn't nearly under the amount of pressure Newton was. Constant pressure can force a bad quarterback into bad decisions, which is a point Peter chooses to ignore. You can't defend a pass like that, but it doesn't shock me Peter takes any chance he has to criticize what Newton does wrong.

Those are the types of throws that must make Panthers coaches tear their hair out.

The lack of protection for him in the pocket is what makes Cam Newton tear his fucking hair out. Newton is not allowed to audible or change protections, so it is up to the coaches and offensive line to protect him. It's amazing how Peter calls out players, but won't call out coaches for failing to adjust when that player is getting destroyed in the pocket. All I ask is for Peter to give an accurate picture when pointing the finger. When talking about Jay Cutler's bad attitude, mention how he wasn't getting good protection. When discussing Eli Manning's tipped throw, factor in that the Bengals were all over Manning and not giving him time to throw. What really causes coaches to tear their hair out is when the offensive line doesn't give the quarterback time to throw the football.

10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:

i. Thank you, Chuck Klosterman, the New York Times' ethicist,

Peter King is writing haikus and thinks Chuck Klosterman is brilliant. He's slowly becoming more and more unbearable.

j. How on God's green earth was ESPN so wrong on the Bernie Fine story?

How? ESPN is an entertainment company. This was a sports story and ESPN doesn't care about accuracy, they only care about ratings. They saw a story and reported on it as quickly as possible. 

The Adieu Haiku

A Rams-Niners tie.
Thought it would be boring. Not!
Line up right, Gibson.

Less like Easterbrook.
Not at all like Klosterman.
Don't be you either.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of Chuck Klosterman, you should read his latest "discourse" on his role (and ONLY his role) in forcing General Petraeus from being the head of the CIA. Apparently Chuck Klosterman is not only the national conscience of fantasy football, he is also the voice of reason in our national security apparatus. Yay, Chuck:


Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I have it bookmarked, but haven't read it yet. I'm confused as to why an article that seems to be about politics is on Grantland, but I guess I will figure it out once I read it.

If there is a voice of reason in our national security apparatus, I'm just glad it is Chuck Klosterman.

Snarf said...

Well, actually Zuerlein did miss the kick, but the good news is he missed it because he did not kick the ball well, not because he got iced. Because "icing" the kicker is a real thing.

While Zuerlein did not kick the ball well, don't be so hard on him. He was just trying so hard, that's why he missed it. Peter may have hyped up this guy's leg, but it's still unfair of you to be so hard on Peter's precocious little Greggy-poo.

The Rams moved back five yards. Zuerlein tried too hard on the 58-yard attempt, pushing it wide right.

I also thought it was worth mentioning that there was another missed extra point in the Eagles-Cowboys game. I think the "Football Gods" were just trying to fuck with Peter (whilst chortling) after he claimed they were automatic and should be scrapped. Probably their way of warning him to stop taking on so many Easterbrookian tendencies.

Speaking of his Easterbrookian tendencies...

4. I think Chris Ivory's a better back than Mark Ingram. That just goes to show you what a quirky thing running back prospecting is. The Saints got Ivory as an undrafted free agent out of Division II Tiffin (Ohio) College. The Saints traded a 2012 first-round pick to draft Ingram late in the first round in 2011.

While this statement is nothing really odd in and of itself, Peter's recent tendencies make me believe that this exact discussion with surely appear in a TMQ somewhere down the line.

Pundit (Or Whatever You'd Call What He Does) of the Week
Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight Blog, New York Times. Derided by critics before the election for saying there was a 73 percent chance Barack Obama would be re-elected president, Silver ended up predicting that correctly, plus getting 50 of 50 states correct in his pre-election forecast, now that Florida has wound up in the Obama column. In addition, he called every senate race right, with the exception of one in North Dakota (those crafty North Dakotans). Silver's an economics grad from the University of Chicago, and there's a good chance he's the first one of those to ever grace MMQB's Awards Section.

So Peter doesn't seem to know what this guy does, but he knows that he was largely derided by critics leading up to election day. Interesting. And does Peter surely think this was the only person who was predicting an Obama victory? Doesn't he watch the man he 'wants to be when [he] grows up. (AKA Chris 'Thrill-up-my-leg' Mathews)? Or is Peter saying that the 73% number was impressive? I follow politics pretty closely and noone has announced that Obama won the election in the fashion of someone who had a 73% chance of winning. Furthermore, we cannot run the 2012 election 100+ times to see if Obama wins in 73/100 instances. Not sure what it matters, if someone picks the winner at 51% or 99%. Not sure what the point of this was. Granted, if Peter had just mentioned his correct picking of the states and senate races, i'd say whatever, but it seemed like gratuitous (and dumb) political commentary from Peter, whose editors even apparently tell him to stay away from politics.

Anonymous said...

Agree, Anonymous, about Klosterman...that article was just a long pat on his own back about his perceived importance in the national conscience. I just want to know who in God's name is asking this guy about ethics? It's like asking a (fill in the blank with something ironic and witty cause I can't think of anything) to do (...)! He blows.

Bengoodfella said...

I guess that's what happens when someone tries too hard. It's so very precocious of Zuerlein to miss this kick. I did enjoy how Peter wrote Zuerlein "tried too hard," which basically tells me he tried as hard as every other NFL kicker, but he simply shanked the kick.

I didn't like Mark Ingram coming out of Alabama, but that comment was very Easterbrookian. I have to say, I am not sure I am a fan of choosing running backs early in the draft, but if you look at the rushing leaders over the last five years, more high draft picks (Rounds 1-3) appear on the leader board for rushing yards than UDFA or RB's drafted in other rounds. If a team wants an elite RB, Rounds 1-3 is the time to do this.

I have to be honest, I didn't follow the Nate Silver thing very much. I understood what he was trying to do and how he went about doing it, but I figured Obama was going to win and the percentage didn't matter to me. Silver's percentage I guess was correct, though it is hard to say after the election, "boy he did have a 73% chance of winning" since it is impossible to replay the election 100 times.

I probably should have paid more attention and I am betting Peter's editor (if he exists) asks him politely to stay away from politics.

Anon, I read it and all I got out of it was Klosterman plugging the Ethicist. It basically was Klosterman saying, "This email could have been somebody, but it wasn't, though I know who it was, but I'm not telling. By the way, I am important."

It sounded like something Bill Simmons would write.