Last week in MMQB we learned from Kirk Cousins that sometimes a quarterback needs to be an athlete and sometimes a quarterback needs to be a robot. Peter also stood up for the rights of every annoying person in the world by insisting on answering his cell phone in the Quiet Car of the train...twice. Peter went through his awards for this season and seemed to ignore Tom Brady. Perhaps if Brady would have a major injury last year he could get more attention for his great performance this season. Also, Kirk Cousins talked about robots and athletes (did I mention that?) and Peter thought this was the deepest of deep thoughts that has ever occurred in a quarterback's mind when that quarterback isn't in a rocking chair of a front porch down in Mississippi just plowing the land. This week Peter talks Sandy Hook, loves himself some Colin Kaepernick and discusses the wild and wacky playoff races.
In my job, athletes are not very good interviews after 34-0 losses. They
don't want to talk after 34-0 losses. They will find every excuse not
to pick up the phone after 34-0 losses. But Sunday was different. Victor
Cruz is different. This weekend was different, around the country and
certainly within a short drive from Newtown, Conn., where 20 elementary
school children and six women charged with teaching and protecting them
The Giants and their ace wide receiver, Cruz, went to Atlanta to play a
football game. In the hotel Saturday night, Cruz kept noticing messages
on his Twitter feed. All were about someone named Jack Pinto. "Fifty,
100 tweets, right in a row, people wanting me to get in touch with the
Pinto family,'' Cruz said. He found out young Jack Pinto, 6, was one of
those murdered in Newtown, and Jack was a huge Victor Cruz fan, and so
he asked his girlfriend and publicist, Elaina Watley, to try to find the
Pintos' phone number in Newtown, and she did. At 10 p.m. Saturday, here
he was, on the phone with the father, Dean Pinto, and then Jack's
brother Benjamin, and then Dean again.
No snark here. I just can't believe Cruz's girlfriend is also his publicist. So her job is to remind everyone how great Victor Cruz is? That must set up some really great arguments.
(Cruz) "Just for once I wish you would respect my opinion and my time. I am a busy person and don't have time to clean the living room."
(Watley) "You want me to respect your time? You had two hours last Friday to clean the living room and you chose not to do it. In fact, after your practice on Friday you didn't have anything else on your calendar, so you had time. I intentionally had left open time for you to clean the living room."
(Cruz) "I work hard and the fact people always want to talk to me makes me want to relax at home. I wish you could understand I don't want to go work after leaving work."
(Watley) "I understand people want to talk to you. My job---literally, my job---is to make you as important as possible in the eyes of the public and help the 'Cruz brand' take off. I know you work hard, but I spend my days making everyone realize how important you are, I wish you would for once let me know how important I am by cleaning the damn living room."
On Sunday morning, Cruz wrote on Twitter: "Today's game is for you Jack.''
On one shoe, Cruz wrote in black Sharpie: "Jack Pinto My Hero." On the other, "RIP Jack Pinto."
Before muddling the playoff picture, here's the game of the day. No, the year.
No, the decade. No, the century.
Peter King does realize he can edit MMQB, right? He doesn't have to correct himself mid-sentence or write sentences that don't correct the previous sentence. He can simply say "Before muddling the playoff picture, here's the game of the year." For some reason, he chooses not to do this.
It's the first Patriots' home loss in December in 10 years, and that is not a misprint.
But is that a misprint? That can't be true. It must be a misprint.
"Tom Brady-ish,'' Harbaugh said afterward, describing the offensive display that nearly cost San Francisco the game.
The Great Communicator with his wordsmithmanship on full display here. I'm guessing after last week's "Robot v. Athlete" comparison that caused Peter King to wonder why Kirk Cousins doesn't have a full-time writer job, he is going to be even more impressed with Jim Harbaugh's ability to turn a phrase. Nobel Laureate for Harbaugh perhaps?
Kaepernick is growing into the job well. He's 4-1 as a starter now, and
anyone (me included) who thought it was a mistake to bench Alex Smith
has to look at Kaepernick's fastball and his 202 rushing yards in five
starts and his surprising early accuracy (65.6 percent) and know
Harbaugh knew what he was doing. Harbaugh had to figure: We're a very
good team, maybe even a Super Bowl team, with Smith; but we could be a
great team with Kaepernick.
And in the process of benching Smith after he suffered a concussion and making the move to Kaepernick, all originally under the guise of keeping Smith off the field for concussion-related reasons, Harbaugh possibly caused the next quarterback that suffers a concussion to not be so open about his symptoms because he is afraid he will lose his job. It's not Harbaugh's job to coddle players and not hurt their feelings, but this is a potential side effect of benching Smith after he sustained a concussion. I'm just throwing this out there. The next quarterback who sustains a concussion will remember Mike Vick and Alex Smith never got their jobs back after following concussion protocol. For God's sake, Smith led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game the year before and still lost his job after suffering a concussion.
He shouldn't feel good after winning in Foxboro. He should feel great.
I really dislike it when Peter writes like this. When he writes things like,
"The 49ers didn't play well against the Patriots. They played great."
It's like some sort of half-assed fake out. I'm not a fan and think it is sort of weak writing.
T-minus 13 days and counting ...
With 33 games left in the regular season, let's go over what we know of the playoff races, and the most compelling teams:
Yeah, fuck you boring playoff teams. Peter King doesn't care about you if you aren't interesting...at least until you make the Super Bowl in which case Peter will begin writing "no one" saw your Super Bowl run coming, when in reality he just thought your team was too boring to pay attention to it.
Three-way tie in the East between Washington, Dallas and New York, all 8-6.
Atlanta has a five-game lead in the South, where the Bucs were eliminated Sunday ...
Ah yes, the NFC South is the new AFC West where there is one team that dominates the conference, followed by a layer of one team that is generally crappy, on top of a layer of another team that is pretty shitty, followed by the last team in the division which is the cream of the crop in terms of being shitty. It's a pretty impressive group of teams.
New England has clinched the East,
The AFC East is two steps above the NFC South in terms of shittiness.
Houston won the South by beating Indy Sunday, and Denver has officially lapped the West
Is it just me or there is a huge gap between playoff teams and really shitty teams in some of the divisions this year. I feel like there aren't many "good teams" in at least half of the six divisions, but there are teams that are either playoff teams and then there is a bunch of muck below them. Perhaps it is like this every year and I am just noticing now.
Playoff matchups to behold: If Washington wins the
East, it likely would be the fourth seed. If Seattle wins one more game,
it's likely the fifth seed. That would set up Russell Wilson at Robert
Griffin, rookie quarterbacks facing off in Washington in what would be
the game of wild-card weekend
Fine. I would be somewhat excited for this game. I'm not happy about it though. I can't wait until next year when the media starts ripping apart one of these rookie quarterbacks for not meeting the unrealistic expectations the media has set and then by the end of the year it will turn out the quarterback actually had a better second year than a rookie season.
Imagine Chicago or Minnesota as six seeds -- with a wild-card game at likely third seed Green Bay ...
Imagine Green Bay beating up on an inferior Minnesota team or playing Chicago for the third time this year? Count me as not that excited...of course I say that now.
The attractions aren't as marquee in the AFC, though wherever Andrew
Luck goes attention will follow. It'd be Indy at Baltimore if the
playoffs were today, and Luck could certainly win that game.
It's not the Colts that could win that game. It is Andrew Luck all by himself who could win that game. Let's be clear about one thing. No other Colts player is worth a shit and Andrew Luck wins games all by himself.
Seattle's a sight to behold. Last nine quarters:
Seattle 114, Foes 17. The Seahawks have won five of six, and in five of
the last six, Wilson has a passer rating over 100. He's running the
offense the way he ran the Wisconsin offense -- with freedom and
instinctiveness, running to make plays and not just to get out of
Bad point. Wouldn't every NFL quarterback like to run the offense to make plays and not get out of trouble? So I think Peter should more directly compliment the Seahawks offensive line as opposed to making it seem like Wilson is running to make plays by his own choice and not because the Seahawks offensive line is making this happen.
Embarrassing night in Foxboro Monday, with New England's 42-28 win. I asked J.J. Watt how long it took him to get over it.
I have a feeling Peter asked this question with tears in his eyes while asking the question.
He's putting together one of the best seasons ever by a 3-4 end ... in
fact, name one who's had 19.5 sacks and 16 passes deflected in one year.
You can't. There isn't one. "You know me,'' he said. "I don't care
who's in there to block.''
As long as it isn't a New England Patriots offensive lineman that is in there to block Watt. It seems Watt doesn't enjoy it when a Patriots lineman is on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
And it helps for him to have the most underrated (but not for long) wide
receiver in football, James Jones. The hands and speed and
route-running of Jones make it possible for Rodgers to feel confident
about throwing a pass to a spot, knowing if it's supposed to be a
13-yard curl, Jones isn't going to cut it off at 11 or lengthen it to
15. When I watch Jones, I think of a guy who shuts out all the outside
distractions and focuses on one thing -- catching the ball.
Great analysis Peter. It's not like Jones had the second highest drop rate over the last three seasons (prior to this season) or anything like that. Maybe Jones focuses so much on catching the ball this season because historically he hasn't shut out all distractions and focused on catching the ball.
Yes, the evidence on Jonathan Vilma offering $10,000 to knock Brett
Favre out of the NFC Championship Game three years ago had some holes
shot in it in the testimony before Tagliabue ... even though Tagliabue
writes, "There is more than enough evidence to support Commissioner
Goodell's findings that Mr. Vilma offered such a bounty." And union boss
De Smith is clear: He thinks it never happened -- though Tagliabue says
it's "unequivocal'' that two former coaches testified that Vilma
offered the bounty. But I can't help but think that Favre's forgiving
boys-will-be-boys reaction to the entire story -- after getting battered
so much in the NFC Championship that three Saints were fined for
vicious hits on him -- and his desire that the story simply go away
helped the union say it never happened.
Favre has been retired for nearly two years now, but he is still getting mentions in MMQB about every other week. This week Peter thinks Favre was the union's savior when it comes to the bounty scandal. Because, after all, if Brett Favre isn't going to make a big deal out of an injury then it probably isn't a big deal. There was no busted toenail or painful bruise Favre wasn't willing to publicly discuss in terms of how he wasn't going to use that injury affect his play...which is why he would bring up knowledge of the injury and all, so no one would focus on it.
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, and this week it's an
analysis of Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, days after the Ravens
fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with Jim
"The truth is that Flacco is inaccurate and inconsistent. In
ProFootballFocus.com's adjusted accuracy ratings (which counts drops as
completions and discounts throw-aways, batted passes, spikes and when
the QB was hit as he threw) he ranks 32nd of 37 qualifying players with a
68.1 completion percentage;
But, but...this isn't how Flacco feels about himself. Doesn't that count for something. Joe Flacco believes himself to be elite. That has to count for something because confidence is good, right?
1. San Francisco (10-3-1). This is the best example of
what a strange year this is: The team that can't beat the Rams is, this
morning, the best team in football.
Peter is obsessed with the Rams of late. What about Peter's third best team, New England, not being able to beat the Arizona Cardinals? Doesn't that give a good example of what a weird year it has been too?
3. New England (10-4). Not too fired up over Andy
Dalton's chances to beat an angry New England team in a wild-card game.
Now, if it were Andrew Luck, I wouldn't like his chances much either,
but I would like the drama of him trying to atone for his Week 11
I love the drama too! It's so dramatic to see Andrew Luck go back into New England to try and get a playoff win. Super-duper drama! Then there should be a reunion show after the playoff game where each quarterback and coach comes back on television to talk to Andy Cohen about what was REALLY going on before/during/after the playoff game.
10. Indianapolis (9-5). TheColts
clinch a playoff spot with one win in their last two (at Kansas City,
Houston at home), and Andrew Luck is 22 passing yards from 4,000 with
two games to play. Those are two things I didn't think I'd be writing
early in the morning of Dec. 17, 2012.
What did Peter King expect to be writing early in the morning of December 17, 2012?
1. A Brett Favre post-retirement story. Is he coming back to the NFL? What is it like to plow the land and live at home with Deanna and the kids?
2. Why do people on the Acela insist on staring at you? Peter was on the Acela watching this man type on his iPhone for probably an hour, watching the man rarely look up, then the guy looked up and shot a death-look at Peter. For what? Can't one man stare at another man in a public place while mentally preparing to criticize him in a national column for enjoying his iPhone, without getting a rude stare?
Defensive Players of the Week
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston.
I mean, was there any doubt? Watt gets completely shut out against a good Patriots offensive line and then six days later takes advantage of a patchwork Colts offensive line and he's Peter favorite little guy again.
Another in a string of amazing games for Watt.
Except that string was broken just one week ago. Peter is glossing over the fact an excellent Patriots offensive line completely shut out J.J. Watt isn't he? Peter just wants to pretend that Patriots game never happened at all. To say Watt has had a "string" of amazing games would indicate there is no broken points in that string, when this isn't true. So Watt had another amazing game, but it isn't a string of amazing games anymore. He's obviously playing fantastic, but can't Peter give the suckling of Watt's teat a week off?
Justin Smith was that "Smith is 20 times better'' than Watt. That
would lead me to wonder: Does this expert actually watch football?
criticism of Bedard here; he's just quoting someone he relies on as a
source. But this expert has an interesting view. It's like a rock
promoter saying Springsteen's 20 times better than Bono.
No matter what you think of Springsteen, I think we can all find this statement to be true. Bono sucks.
Quote of the Week II
"That's tough for me to answer right now. The second half we didn't do much of it, and that's disappointing.''
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, on the lack of a no-huddle
offense called by offensive coordinator Todd Haley in the second half of
the overtime loss at Dallas.
I know I am not supposed to be siding with the player over the coach, but Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings while Todd Haley has left bad feelings in his wake at nearly every stop along his NFL odyssey. So I don't consider this Roethlisberger calling Haley out. I consider Roethisberger stating how he feels the Steelers offense should have run to be successful and win the game.
How heartbroken must every parent of a child in that school be to know
Hochsprung was assassinated and won't be there for their kids for one
more day, one more hour?
I'm going to tread lightly here. Hochsprung wasn't assassinated. This is Peter playing games with the English language. An assassination is "the murder of a prominent person or political figure by a surprise attack, usually for payment or political reasons."
It seems Hochsprung was obviously a model principal, but Peter has a habit of using bizarre language in MMQB and he does it again in saying Hochsprung was "assassinated." It's just not the correct use of the word.
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 15:
a. The amazing first-quarter pass rush by Houston's J.J. Watt, who
swatted away the Colts' right guard, stormed past a whiffing running
back trying to protect Andrew Luck, then slammed Luck down for a
It's never going to end. I guess since Watt is having a historically great year it is deserved, but it doesn't mean it doesn't feel monotonous or beaten into the ground.
n. The Panthers, for showing up.
No mention of Peter's enemy going his sixth straight game without an interception or the fact Newton will pass Peyton Manning in the coming week(s) for most passing yards over the first two seasons of his career. It's fine. I think if you as a sportswriter bash a player for not playing well and talk about how he isn't a good leader due to how he holds himself at press conferences, then once that player starts playing well it deserves some mention...especially considering we are one month off from Peter absolutely giving a slurp job to Josh Freeman when Newton is on par or better than Freeman in nearly every single important quarterback category.
2. This is what I didn't like about Week 15:
d. Some would look at the Texans' first drive against Indianapolis and
say, "Good job. Getting three on the first drive and taking an early
lead." I'd say: A bad Matt Schaub throw to Andre Johnson cost the Texans
four points on the play. Schaub threw far too short for Johnson, who
had to wait for the ball and got caught by Vontae Davis. What should
have been a 7-0 lead morphed into 3-0 when Houston couldn't finish the
Schaub must have thought he was playing on national television and that's why he was playing poorly on the first drive.
k. Kaepernick's dumb interception in the third quarter, into double
coverage when he tried to force a throw into Randy Moss. Not a whole lot
else dumb done by the young quarterback.
I didn't think it was a great pass, but it was more of a punt than anything else. It was a stupid throw, but it is a bit of a nitpick based on Kaepernick's overall performance.
4. I think the design of the Seahawks regarding their
Adderall-suspended starting cornerbacks is as smart as it can possibly
be: Brandon Browner takes the last four games of the regular season as
his suspension and would return for any playoff games. Richard Sherman
tries to push his appeal off so he can finish the regular season.
But the Seahawks record, Peter! Aren't they supposed to be working on going 2-3 right now? Or was that only if both cornerbacks had been suspended at the same time?
8. I think my biggest question of the day came at
halftime of Panthers-Chargers, Carolina up 24-0: Will San Diego come out
for the second half?
That was Peter's biggest question of the day? Peter watched quite a few important games with playoff implications and his biggest question resulted from a suck-fest between two teams that don't have a chance at making the playoffs?
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Three straight Sundays with moments of silence, homage to tragedies
in Kansas City, Dallas and Newtown. Please don't let us get used to
I'm waiting for the "ban cars and alcohol" movement after Josh Brent's alcohol-related accident that killed his teammate. Wait, we won't be having a movement like that? Nevermind.
f. I bet a lot of parents, sitting around the dinner table Friday night,
said to one another: "We've got to home-school our kids."
That's just what needs to happen. Certain idiot parents teaching their idiot kids. I'm not against home-schooling, but let's not go overboard too much. I can see how the inclination to home-school would be there though.
h. The Angels are going to lose a lot of 14-9 games next year.
Ok, sure Peter. Right now the Angels pitching staff looks like this:
It's not a great staff, but it goes two deep and if Hanson gets his shit together they are going to have a pretty good 1-2-3 punch in their starting rotation. What were the other options for the Angels if there were no other good pitching free agents available and they didn't want to meet Greinke's price? I feel like it is constantly forgotten that good pitching just doesn't hang out on the free agent market for cheap, if there are good free pitchers available at all.
i. Josh Hamilton with a five-year contract worth $25 million a year,
with no language protecting the team in the event of a relapse by
Hamilton, who freely admits he has sometimes struggled with his
sobriety. Was Thursday "Free Reefer Day" in the Angels front office?
Great joke, Peter. Subtly making fun of a player's addiction by asking if it was "Free Reefer Day" in the Angels front office. Yes, it was Peter, it was Free Reefer Day.
j. Rick Reilly, you hit a grand slam the other day with your ESPN
feature on J.J. Watt being a big brother to the orphaned handicapped
kids in Houston. Wow. What a story.
Shut. The. Fuck. Up. About. J.J. Watt.
Peter talks about Watt four separate times in this MMQB.
l. Beernerdness: Congrats to my old Jersey hangout, the Cloverleaf
Tavern, for importing Allagash White and seasonal brew Allagash Black.
Why'd I move again?
Because you wanted to bring your cursed observations and stories about interacting with the public to the city of New York?
You can change coaches all you want, but the issue for Jake Locker has
been, and may always be, his accuracy. In his four seasons at
Washington, Locker completed 47, 54, 58 and 55 percent of his throws,
yet the Titans chose him eighth overall in 2011. Near the end of his
second season in the NFL, Locker's accuracy rate is 56.2 percent.\
Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and toot my own horn (but not as bad as Peter toots his horn at the thought of seeing J.J. Watt play in two very short weeks in Indianapolis). I'm wrong about a lot of things, but I seem to have been right about Jake Locker, the Titans, and Locker's accuracy issues. In the linked MMQB Peter was doing a piece on how the Titans were going to work on Locker's accuracy and used Eli Manning as an example of a quarterback who was inaccurate until he worked with Chris Palmer...except this wasn't entirely true and Peter was reaching in making this comparison. My thoughts in italics and Peter's thoughts in bold italics:
I'm thinking back to the three years
Chris Palmer -- Tennessee's new offensive coordinator under coach Mike
Munchak -- coached Eli Manning with the Giants, 2007 through 2009. When
Palmer arrived, Manning had completed three seasons in the NFL. Three
inaccurate seasons, with a completion percentage of just 54.0.
final season without Palmer he had a completion percentage of 57.7%. It
dipped the year after Palmer came to New York to 56.1%. I don't know if
this means anything, but I thought I would mention it.
Palmer set up flags at different
distances and had Manning throw quickly to try to hit the flags. Maybe
it was play-calling, maybe it was simple NFL maturations, and maybe a
little bit was the flags, but in Palmer's three years with Manning, his
completion rate rose from 56.1 in 2007 to 60.3 and 62.3 the following
I have a problem with any type of Locker-Eli Manning comparison from
college to the NFL. Peter ignores Manning's completion percentage in
college (60.8%;) as a reference point as to where Manning started
off, accuracy wise, in the NFL.
What a lazy comparison. Locker is
a fairly inaccurate quarterback and has been pretty much his entire
time at Washington. We can all argue about WHY Locker was fairly
inaccurate, it doesn't matter too much. So Peter compares Locker to Eli
Manning as a guy who can have his accuracy improved in the NFL using
flags to throw the ball to, just like Eli's accuracy improved doing
this. What Peter fails to think about is what kind of passer Manning was
coming out of college. The three full seasons Eli played quarterback at
Ol' Miss his completion percentage was 63.5%, 58.0%, and 62.0%. So he
was already an accurate passer coming out of college, so the flags
helped him get back to where he was in college potentially. Locker's top
completion percentage in college for a full season was 58.2%. So this
isn't a great comparison because the quarterbacks were starting at
different points in regard to completion percentage upon entering the
NFL. Manning re-learned to be accurate while Locker has to learn to be
Then Peter allows Palmer to make another comparison which makes it seem like inaccuracy is easy to solve.
"I think there are things you can do to
improve,'' he said. "That's one of the things we studied. Jay Cutler
went from 57 in college to 61 [percent completion]. Brett Favre went
from 53 to 63; Mark Brunell from 52 to 59.
can be improved. I'm not arguing Locker can't improve this or he won't
improve his accuracy. I will say Mark Brunell had a completion
percentage of 46.6% his sophomore year at Washington, which seemed to
hold his average overall completion percentage down in college and Jay
Cutler was a 59.1% and 61.0% passer over his last two years at
Clearly, as Cutler got older in college he got more accurate. The same thing goes for Mark Brunell. Locker never got more accurate during his time in college. He ended his senior year with a lower completion percentage than his junior year. Accuracy can be improved, but Chris Palmer was selling Peter on something a little research could tell us wasn't exactly true.
The Adieu Haku
Why I'm not a coach:
Kaepernick over Alex.
Harbaugh knows his craft.
Harbaugh chose Peyton:
Started Smith for most of year.
Good move but third choice.