Tuesday, February 19, 2013

6 comments MMQB Review: Airline Rankings Edition

Peter requested that he be stranded on a desert island last week in MMQB. Unlike his request for a large bus to tour the country during his training camp tours over the summer, Sports Illustrated nor NBC granted this request. Peter was also not impressed by the bad storms that killed people in the northeast. Neither living on a desert island or talking about storms is the purpose of MMQB. Mostly Peter wanted to spend some NFL offseason time discussing the Ravens clear want to not re-sign Joe Flacco this offseason. Peter was under the impression the Ravens had an entire plan together to not re-sign Flacco, which I think is ridiculous. This week Peter talks about the NFL Draft, what players have the most to lose at the Combine, and (most importantly of all) ranks his favorite airlines. In a stroke of irony, Peter also details Ron Rivera telling fellow minority head coaching candidates how to interview for and get a head coaching job. It's ironic because Rivera is on the hottest of hot seats and he interviewed approximately 132 times for an NFL head coaching job that he could very well lose in the next 10 months after only three years on the job.

So we're at the official beginning of draft season, with the annual Scouting Combine starting later this week in Indianapolis. Here's what we know as the 333 college prospects pack for the Heartland:

Here is what we know: Foreign cab drivers suck and hotels don't make very good free coffee. Everything else is up in the air.

It's not going to be a household-name draft. There's a good chance there will be more defensive tackles taken in the first round than quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers combined.

I would say this year the defensive tackles and offensive tackles are the household names.

Color this draft blue ... as in blue-collar. Best position groups in the draft: offensive line and defensive tackle. Safety is good too, with a smattering of linebackers and defensive ends -- though there are no Von Miller-type pass rushers in the draft.

"Color this draft blue...as in blue-collar." This is why Peter gets paid the big bucks people. Don't try to imitate him, just step back and watch him work.

Also, Damontre Moore and Jarvis Jones argue against the idea there are no Von Miller-type pass rushers in the draft.

Good luck in trading those high picks. "If you're a playoff team this year, you have to be laughing,'' NFL Network draft czar Mike Mayock said between tape sessions Sunday evening. "First, I don't see much difference between the fifth and 25th picks this year. And I don't really see the immediate difference-makers in the top 10.''

I feel like this is often said about drafts where the scouts don't see marquee names at skill positions. Another way to look at a lack of difference in the 5th and 25th picks in the draft is that this draft is deep. This is good for playoff teams, but also good for any non-playoff teams who may want to trade up into the late first round. There's a good chance they are going to find a quality player with a late first round pick.

You'd probably have to go back to 1997 to find a draft like this one. That's the year Peyton Manning eschewed the prospect of going to the Jets first overall to play for Bill Parcells and returned for his senior year at Tennessee. One quarterback (shaky Jim Druckenmiller, 26th) picked in round one. Two backs (Warrick Dunn 12th and Antowain Smith 23rd) in round one,

To be fair, Warrick Dunn was a really good running back in the NFL. He was probably worth the pick used to take him. Antowain Smith wasn't great, but also wasn't terrible.

and four receivers in the first: Ike Hilliard seventh, Yatil Green 15th, Reidel Anthony 16th and Rae Carruth 27th. Yikes! What a horrible draft for point-producers. One star, Dunn, out of seven first-rounders.

I don't know why Peter is cherry-picking these names like he is. Peter's favorite little guy, Tony Gonzalez was drafted in the first round as well in 1997. I guess he didn't put many points on the board. Also, the fact this year's draft is supposedly like the 1997 draft doesn't mean there aren't talented skill position players, it just means NFL teams need to do a better job of finding those skill position players. In 1997, Tiki Barber, Derrick Mason, Corey Dillon, and Jake Plummer were drafted in the first four rounds. That's just on offense. Ronde Barber was drafted in the third round along with Jason Taylor. So the 1997 NFL draft seems more like an example of NFL teams poorly scouting skill position (or point-producer) players more than a draft that lacks talent at skill positions. Plus, Tony Gonzalez was drafted in the first round. I don't see how Peter just skips over this.

It's likely Alabama's Eddie Lacy will be the only running back taken in round one.

It does seem like this draft lacks skill position players, but teams can find quality running backs in rounds other than Round One. Elite running backs are often taken in Round One, but there are quality running backs that can be found in other rounds. So it isn't like Eddie Lacy is the only quality running back in the 2013 NFL Draft.

Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson leads the muddled pack at wide receiver, but how sure can you really be of junior-college transfers who play one year of major-college football, which is Patterson's profile?

Can you really be sure of a junior-college transfer quarterback who only started one year of major-college football? That's Cam Newton's profile. Can you really be sure of a quarterback who couldn't even completely nail down the starting quarterback job in college? That's Tom Brady. Can you really be sure of a small college wide receiver who doesn't have great speed? That's Jerry Rice.

One GM interested in acquiring a quarterback this offseason told me over the weekend, "I expect more attention on the quarterbacks throwing this year than on any other single thing at the Combine.''

How does this change from any other year? If the best quarterbacks in the draft chose to throw at the Combine then this would be true every single year. There will always be a larger focus on quarterbacks and how they throw at the Combine.

There's no way that Andy Reid and John Dorsey, the coach and GM for Kansas City, know what they're doing

What? Peter King calling Andy Reid and John Dorsey out!


Oh, nevermind. I thought perhaps Peter was calling Reid and Dorsey out as payback for taking the job of his friend and guy that Peter really likes but Peter was being completely neutral when saying he got too much criticism, Scott Pioli.

Now for a couple of notes about players at the Combine.

It's a very sad year for Peter King. There are seemingly no dreamy quarterbacks for Peter to fall in love with. There was hope with Matt Barkley, but their love withered away and now Barkley isn't worthy of Peter falling for him.

Alec Ogletree. The underclass inside linebacker from Georgia would be a clear top-10 pick with a clean resume. But he was suspended the first four games of last season for failing an offseason drug test, and then came the news Saturday night, via ProFootballTalk.com, that Ogletree recently was pinched for driving while intoxicated.

BREAKING NEWS: College students drink, use drugs and then make bad decisions.

Some GM is going to stake his reputation on Ogletree in the first round, most likely. Which GM? It would have to be a secure one. Green Bay's Ted Thompson or de facto GM Bill Belichick of the Patriots or Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome,

Well of course Alec Ogletree is going to the Patriots and Bill Belichick. If there is ever a question about where a troubled player or a player who has questions about him may end up, Peter always finds the correct answer to be "the Patriots." Of course the Patriots rarely end up drafting or signing these players, but that never fazes Peter. I'm not sure Ogletree is even going to last until the spot where the Patriots or Ravens could take him, but who cares? The Patriots are going to draft Manti Te'o, Alec Ogletree and any other player with a question mark about him in this year's draft.

Finally, three players I'll be watching at the Combine, three with question marks and debatable upsides:

1.Quarterback Sean Renfree, Duke. No one's talking about him, but he completed 70 percent of his throws in six of 12 games for David Cutcliffe last fall, was a comeback specialist, and has the pedigree in a good pro-style offense to play early. Could he be more than a late-round flyer, this year's Ryan Lindley?

Could Ryan Lindley be this year's quarterback who gets drafted in the late rounds and then is forced into action way too early than he should be potentially ruining him before he even gets a chance to develop? Renfree can only hope.

3. Running back Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina. After his devastating dislocated knee and torn knee ligaments in October, Lattimore, considered a certain first-rounder before the injury, is still in recovery mode. His surgeon, James Andrews, told Lattimore recently that he's going to shock the world. "I hear he's working out great,'' said Mayock. Lattimore believes he'll be healthy enough to start the 2013 NFL season. Is he's a fourth-round minefield pick? Or might some team desperate for a back go for him a round earlier -- or even late in the second round?

In my opinion, it would be ridiculous for Marcus Lattimore to not go in the first four rounds of the draft. He has to, right? He was a workhouse back for South Carolina prior to his injury. He is this year's Frank Gore or Willis McGahee me thinks.

The NFL opened a three-day coaching symposium, the third-annual NFL-NCAA Coaches Academy for 60 coaches and coaching prospects, with a keynote speech by Carolina head coach Ron Rivera. The roster of participants includes 28 former NFL players and nine current players. And though the symposium is open to all coaches with fewer than eight years of professional experience, the league certainly hopes to be able to use programs like this one to improve a recently poor record of adding minority coaches to the coordinator and head coaching ranks.

Of course they have a minority coach who was this close to being fired in his second season as a head coach for the keynote speech. That's probably not a great sign.

"This was a younger group, with a lot of guys just getting into coaching,'' said Rivera after his speech to the coaches. Rivera is Hispanic. "My message to them was pretty simple: Keep preparing yourself. I interviewed nine times before I got an offer. You see others get jobs, and you wish it was you. But you have to stick with it, and I did, and I got an opportunity.''

"Then I tried to blow my opportunity by hiring an offensive coordinator who refused to adapt his methods to the talent on the roster and by making incredibly conservative decisions that have consistently cost my team in close games during my tenure as an NFL head coach."

Rivera believes symposiums such as this one are important to develop long-term plans for young coaches. He also thinks -- as do many minority coaches, such as Cincinnati assistant Hue Jackson, the former Raiders head coach -- that interacting with owners in social settings is important, and something the league should do.

How about some more irony? When given the chance to hire a minority assistant coach this offseason (Hue Jackson), Ron Rivera hired Mike Shula. I think that's sort of interesting.

And [Detroit president] Tom Lewand walked by, and Roger asked him to come over and he said to Tom, 'Tell Ron what he needs to do to improve.' And Tom told me a few things that I needed to hear. So I felt one of the things that was important to me advancing in the process was being able to debrief a team after I didn't get the job. I told that to the guys tonight -- find out what you can do better the next time.''

Obviously Tom Lewand didn't tell Ron Rivera to "work on your coaching in tight ball games" because Rivera desperately needs either (a) a reminder or (b) to learn how to do this in the first place.

"He's going to play it outdoors in New York."

-- NBA commissioner David Stern, answering a question intended for future commissioner Adam Silver at the NBA All-Star Game Saturday night. The question: "Where do you plan to play future All-Star Games?"

Don't you get the feeling that, whenever possible, David Stern likes to put the needle into the NFL?

It's classic David Stern. He believes if he says how great he and the NBA are repeatedly then that will make it true. David Stern is the type of commissioner who thinks it was him, not the players, that made the NBA so successful during his tenure.

Could the San Francisco 49ers be turning into the New England Patriots West?

Will the Patriots try to sign the 49ers when free agency starts? Peter thinks so.

The Niners will have eight picks in the first five rounds and six in the final two -- including a compensatory in either the third or fourth round, and two in the seventh. The Patriots have three picks in the first five rounds. They lost their fourth-rounder to Tampa Bay in the Aqib Talib deal, their fifth to Washington in the Albert Haynesworth deal and their sixth to Cincinnati in the Chad Johnson deal. Ouch: Neither Haynesworth nor Johnson played in the NFL last year.

It sounds like the 49ers don't want to turn into the Patriots if these are the examples Peter King will be using of the Patriots "owning" the draft. Every year I have to laugh when Peter talks about teams that have a lot of picks and how they "own" the draft. It doesn't matter how many picks a team has. It matters which players a team drafts with those picks. This is obvious, but every year Peter does a rundown of what team "owns" the draft by having the most picks when it is an exercise in futility. Yes, these teams have the draft picks to move up or down, but they still have to move up or down to choose good players.

Two potential advantages to the Niners, who didn't have much use for either of their first two picks last year because of a roster clogged with talent: They may be able to do what they did last year in the draft and deal current picks for better future ones; the Niners acquired extra third-, fifth- and sixth-round picks in draft deals last year. And they may have the ability to deal multiple picks for a player (Darrelle Revis?) or pick (way up in the first round, for a Dee Milliner). The Niners are going to be a very interesting team to watch come April -- the way the Patriots have been for years, or at least until this year.

The Jets just need to make sure they get more than a first and second round pick for Revis since that's what they traded to acquire Revis. They wouldn't want to commit the folly of getting back in a trade for Revis what they gave up for him.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, a man who acted as the greeter at the city's Heart Attack Grill -- which serves such gastronomical delights as the Quadruple Bypass Burger -- and who ate several times a week at the Heart Attack Grill, was waiting outside the restaurant for a bus when he was felled by a heart attack. His family took him off life support nearly a week later. John Alleman was 52.

So what's Peter's point? This guy deserved to die of a heart attack for how he ate? A heart attack seems like a possible outcome depending on how much he exercised, but what's the point of including this little fact in MMQB? He didn't eat healthy, so he died, but does Peter take some delicious irony in the fact John Alleman died of a heart attack while working at the Heart Attack Grill?

Here's my rating of some of our air carriers, apropos of nothing. My criteria are selfish ones; if an airline treats me great and I hear horror stories about it, I love it. If an airline lost my luggage, I hate it. I used to hate Delta; now I love Delta. So, basically, these ratings are utterly worthless. To anyone but me. So here goes.

"Here are my completely worthless ratings of airlines. In fact, these ratings are so worthless I may change my opinion of each airline in the next week. So this list is pointless, but it does kill time in MMQB during the offseason, which is the most important reason to even make the list."

I get that MMQB is a weekly column and everyone wants it that way, but why kill space in MMQB rather than just make it shorter during the offseason? Make the column as long as the information gathered during the week dictates the column should be.

You will find there are three ways you can make Peter King like your airline and none of them have anything to do with how quickly and effectively the airline gets him from Point A to Point B.

1. Give him free/cheap upgrades to first class.
2. Have good coffee.
3. Have good wireless internet.

2. Delta. I fly a lot, and am on a Delta kick because I live in New York now, and LaGuardia is a big Delta airport. Because I fly Delta a lot, I get lots of free upgrades to business class, and the business class on Delta is far, far better than steerage.
3. AirTran. Relatively cheap upgrades to first class, the way it should be. And wireless.

5. Alaska. Good coffee. 

The best way to get Peter to not like your airline is to not give him enough room to move in his seat or enough room to leer at the other passengers.

8. JetBlue. I like the TVs in the seatbacks. If I were a TV-aholic, JetBlue would be much higher. But of all the airlines I've flown over the past few years, JetBlue has the highest percentage of full flights. And the compressed seats in coach on JetBlue are made only slightly more tolerable by being able to see SportsCenter three straight times.

10. American/USAirways. I think the highlight of my USAirways misery was flying in a middle seat in coach from an eastern airport (Philadelphia, I think) to Seattle three or four years ago. Felt like Chevy Chase in the Christmas Vacation movie, praying the chairman of USAirways would have to leave his cushy lair and come face all the angry passengers who would soon be laid up with bad backs because the airline made us all rats in a cage, unable to move in the cells they called airplane seats.

Remember Peter, despite all our rage we are still just a rat in a cage. It's emo Peter King who thinks the world is a vampire when he has to fly American/US Airways.

1. I think Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff's claim on NBC's Pro Football Talk show the other day that Tony Gonzalez was 50-50 to return to the NFL is a significant step toward the tight end returning for one more season. A few reasons. Before the season, as you recall, Gonzalez said he was 95 percent sure the 2012 season would be his last. I saw Gonzalez in January and he hadn't budged one percentage point.

I don't care if Tony Gonzalez retires or not. I just want him to make a decision. Fortunately, he doesn't carry the weight in the media of a Brett Favre, so ESPN won't be outside his house waiting for Gonzalez to make a decision.

Why is it an issue now? Because I'm sure Dimitroff has told Gonzalez he'd like a decision before the draft (and probably before free agency begins on March 12) because the tight end is so important in the Atlanta offense that the Falcons can't afford to just go bargain-basement shopping on July 15 if Gonzalez waited that long to give them a decision.

Plus this draft has very few point-producers in the first round. Just like that first round when Tony Gonzalez was drafted.

2. I think I expect lots of activity on the franchise tag front, starting today. Twenty-one teams used the tag last year; it could easily be that many this year. With reasonable numbers at some big positions (quarterback: $14.64 million for a one-year guaranteed deal), you gain peace of mind by tagging a player, and you save some money.

It's Day #1 in the Ravens attempt to get rid of Joe Flacco. Peter thinks the Ravens would never tag Flacco and then try to sign him to a long-term deal if Flacco doesn't sign the tender. Peter is very clear from what he said last week that the Ravens will be trying to trade Flacco and get a stud like Alex Smith or Matt Flynn to compete with Tyrod Taylor for the starting quarterback spot.

5. I think the Lions have to draft better, and that was driven home with the recent release of the 2011 second-round receiver Young, who, in case you missed it, is God's gift to football. You can't go wasting second-round picks in a division with the Packers, Bears and Vikings.

I guess there are other divisions where a team can waste second round picks? I wonder which divisions those are?

7. I think the Dwight Freeney release had the league buzzing over the weekend. One GM who was very interested already in former Giant pass rusher Osi Umenyiora told me Freeney would leapfrog Umenyiora on his free-agent board. Assuming he wants to play for a Super Bowl contender, Freeney, who turns 33 tomorrow, would be smartest to take a contract that has minimal guarantees and maximum performance incentives. 

(Dwight Freeney calling his agent) "Get me a contract with low guaranteed money and some good incentives."

(Freeney's agent) "What if I can get you a good amount of guaranteed money and fewer incentives? You would be changing teams, defenses and your numbers are a bit down from your usual higher standard. I feel like we need to get you more guaranteed money."

(Dwight Freeney) "I don't want guaranteed money. Make sure I have to work for it and the incentives are worth a lot, but very hard to reach."

(Agent fires Freeney)

He's missed but two games due to injury in the last three years, but teams will be skeptical of how much he has left, considering his last two seasons produced a pedestrian 13.5 sacks.

I wouldn't say 13.5 sacks is pedestrian overall, but it isn't up to Freeney's normal standard. I am sure Peter King is very, very sure the Patriots are going to sign Freeney.

9. I think the Ravens would be the luckiest team in round one if the mayhem of the college football postseason somehow, some way, pushed either linebacker Alec Ogletree or Manti Te'o down to No. 32 in the first round. GM Ozzie Newsome would make sure the Ravens' draft rep at Radio City had his sneakers on, so he could sprint to the podium with the card of either name.

That's only if the Patriots don't draft both players with one draft pick first, of course.

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

This is as opposed to the football-related airline rankings we just had the pleasure of viewing.

c. Somehow I've caught a virus that I can't shake, and so the two weeks since the Super Bowl -- even including three days away doing nothing but reading -- I've been fairly out of it. Sorry for the shorter columns the last couple of weeks.

Trust me, it's perfectly fine. I'd rather have a MMQB with less filler and more material that is football-relevant in the NFL offseason.

h. Coffeenerdness: Took my recyclable Starbucks cup in for a latte the other day, and the guy at the register wrote down my order on a regular paper cup. "No,'' I said. "I've got the recyclable cup." The guy said he understood, put the paper cup inside the recyclable one, and the barista made the drink -- inside the recyclable cup -- and then threw the paper cup away. "That's ... not ... exactly ... what I had in mind when I bought this recyclable cup,'' I said,

Peter tries so hard to be a good world citizen, but the world just keeps getting in his way. Of course if the barista had gotten Peter's order wrong because he had not written the order down then Peter would be pissed off the order got wrong, and then complain about it in MMQB. So either way this barista loses. He writes the order down in a fashion Peter doesn't like, Peter complains, while if he forgets the order and gives Peter the wrong coffee, Peter complains.

but the barista had nine more drinks to make, and so I just walked out. Learned my lesson a couple days later -- had the barista write in permanent marker my usual order on the side of the recyclable cup.

Or Peter could have just taken the time to write his usual order on the side of his coffee cup himself. I guess doing a little bit of work and writing down his own order was out of the question.

The Adieu Haiku

The Scouting Combine,
in Indianapolis:
Rev up, hype machine.

And of course Peter will be there to help rev up the hype machine he so desperately passively-aggressively criticizes. 


Ziv said...

I guess I never heard about Mitch Albom ghostwriting for MMQB. That barista complaint is a dead giveaway.

Felix Millan said...

I'm impressed with your drive as you keep pumping out the hits, congratulations.

Snarf said...

c. Somehow I've caught a virus that I can't shake, and so the two weeks since the Super Bowl -- even including three days away doing nothing but reading -- I've been fairly out of it. Sorry for the shorter columns the last couple of weeks.

Interesting that these virus symptoms coincide with a trip Peter took through Southern Mississippi lately.

Bengoodfella said...

Ziv, that's what I thought too. The world would be a better place if these baristas could just get a coffee-flavored drink correct.

Thanks Felix, and I notice a trend to the names you use to comment.

Snarf, that's a great point. It sounds like Peter has a fever, and the only prescription is more Favre.

Also, if he is really that sick he may want to lay off the beer and coffee. Caffeine and alcohol are not well-known for helping you feel better when you are sick.

waffleboy said...

It's classic David Stern. He believes if he says how great he and the NBA are repeatedly then that will make it true. David Stern is the type of commissioner who thinks it was him, not the players, that made the NBA so successful during his tenure.

Amen to that. While I'm sure David Stern did a better job as commissioner than I could have done, the fact of the matter is for about about his first 15 years on the job he had Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and then Jordan to sell the game. That's not exactly a product you need Steve Jobs to get people to buy.
Besides, Roger Goodell could kick David Stern's ass in a sit up contest. Now that's greatness!

Bengoodfella said...

Waffle, don't get me started on David Stern. I don't think he has done a bad job, but I don't think he has done quite the job he seems to think he has. Amazingly, he had an officiating scandal that wasn't sufficiently investigated (at least in my opinion) and we were given the standard "lone wolf" theory to deal with. It's amazing to me that got dropped so quickly when there were so many fishy games in the past due to officiating.

Stern was handed the keys to the NBA and had Jordan, Bird, Magic, etc in the 80's. He did a good job growing the game, but mostly he just didn't fuck it up. Since then he has started blocking trades, alienated most of the fans in late 90's, and now he puts a product on the court that I enjoy, but I keep thinking it could be better.

Plus, he keeps blaming the one-and-done rule on college basketball. Fuck him for that.