Tuesday, March 26, 2013

8 comments MMQB Review: Finally, the Ravens Get Revenge on the Broncos Edition

Last week in MMQB Peter King talked about how great the NFC West was going to be this year, but don't go reading too much into free agent acquisitions and trades teams in the NFC West made, because it is going to be a tough division, but Peter can't guarantee us it will be a tough division. Peter also listed his best free agent signings of the offseason, even if he isn't sure how much money they signed for. Clearly, signing Danny Woodhead is a Top 10 move no matter how much money he signed for. This past weekend on Twitter Peter said that his MMQB was going to be very Ravens-heavy, which isn't a shock since the Ravens won the Super Bowl and MMQB has been pretty Ravens-heavy over the last two months anyway. MMQB has been very Ravens-heavy over the last two months, but this week Peter talks about how Baltimore finally got revenge on John Elway (the Ravens signed Elvis Dumervil...didn't Peter make it seem like the Ravens could sign Flacco and no other players just a month or so ago?) and Peter does a tribute to two NFL players who haven't retired so there is no point in really doing a tribute to them yet. Hey, it's the offseason and Peter has some space to kill in MMQB rather than just make it a shorter column.

Revenge is best served cold, but this is ridiculous. It took 30 years for Baltimore to finally get revenge on John Elway.

Quick, let's find a narrative in regard to this Elvis Dumervil signing by the Ravens! It's not enough of an interesting story that the Broncos tried to re-sign Dumervil but could not due to late paperwork and so Dumervil became a free agent, let's create an entirely different narrative!

Thirty years next month, the Baltimore Colts drafted Elway with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Elway didn't want to play for taskmaster head coach Frank Kush, and so his agent, Marvin Demoff, went about the work of trying to create an alternate market for Elway, both in baseball and in the NFL. Elway was a great baseball prospect too, having played a minor-league season with the Yankees' Rookie League team in 1982. Owner George Steinbrenner loved Elway and projected him to be a starting outfielder for the Yankees by 1985.

And when was one of George Steinbrenner's projections for a Yankees player ever wrong? The answer is "never." Since George Steinbrenner thought Elway could be a starting outfielder for the Yankees, this was definitely happening. So we've heard the story many, many times over the last 30 years of John Elway using his leverage and threatening to become an eventual Hall of Fame baseball player rather than a Hall of Fame football player if the Colts didn't trade him. There was no revenge exacted by the Ravens in this situation because the Baltimore Colts are now the Indianapolis Colts and the Ravens signing Dumervil had nothing to do with Elway forcing a trade to Denver, because the Baltimore Ravens have no affiliation with the Baltimore Colts other than having "Baltimore" in the front of the team name.

It's tough to equate -- no, not tough; impossible -- Baltimore losing Elway to, 30 years later, Baltimore stealing one of Denver president Elway's 10 most important players.

Yet this is what -- no, this is exactly what -- Peter King is doing here. It's impossible to equate the Indianapolis Colts losing John Elway to the Broncos, but that is exactly what he is doing here. It is a slow offseason and he creates stories where he can.

In Baltimore, Elvis is about to enter the building.

This is just bad. Just not good.

In the seven weeks since Baltimore won the Super Bowl, that's the lesson we've learned about the defending champs. First the Ravens had the Ray Lewis retirement, then the Anquan Boldin debacle, then the loss of Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe in free agency, then the staredown with -- and loss of -- Ed Reed (which they really didn't mind), then the Thursday night opener mess ... and then late Sunday afternoon, pilfering pass rusher Elvis Dumervil from Denver.

It's really been a wacky time.

Has it really been a wacky time? The Ravens have made quite a few intriguing moves this offseason, but I clearly recall Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti stating they would be making tough decisions over the next few months. Peter took this to mean they weren't re-signing Joe Flacco, while the rest of the free world took it to mean free agents like Ed Reed may not be re-signed and Anquan Boldin could be let go. It's been interesting, but I think the Ravens gave a heads-up they would be making some bold moves.

I am also told Dumervil did not want to go back to Denver if he could find some team that would pay him more in 2013 ... even one dime more. Baltimore did it. With some of the cap savings from letting Kruger, Ellerbe and Reed walk, here's the breakdown of the deal the Ravens reached to sign Dumervil:

The deal: five years, $26 million, with a max value with incentives of $35 million.

Signing bonus: $7.5 million.

2013 salary: $1 million.

2013 total money: $8.5 million.

There you have it. Dumervil will make $500,000 more in Baltimore this year than he would have in Denver.

Coffee tastes a little better this morning, doesn't it, Raven Nation?

This free hotel coffee doesn't taste any better, that's for sure. 

But...but...but I thought the Ravens would have to make a choice to re-sign Joe Flacco or re-sign Darnell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger? This isn't what we have been told by Peter though. We weren't told the Ravens could re-sign Flacco and still have money to spend. My world is absolutely spinning right now. We all remember...Alex Smith would be the new Ravens quarterback and then they would have him compete with Tyrod Taylor for the starting quarterback position and use the draft picks they got for Flacco to rebuild the defense? At the time, I stated the Ravens were simply trying to get some leverage in contract negotiations with Flacco by suggesting they didn't know if they could re-sign him, but Peter really, really super-thought the Ravens would think about franchising Flacco and then trading him. He can be so naive at times.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no Super Bowl winner lost more than five starting players from its championship team the next season -- until this year. Reed leaving for Houston on Friday marked the eighth player defection, trade or retirement since the Ravens won the Lombardi Trophy. Reed didn't play like a $5 million player last season, which is what the Texans are paying him, and he'll be 35 in September. It was time to move on from Ray Lewis.

Well, plus Ray Lewis retired. This played a big hand in the Ravens moving on from him.

The expected return of Lardarius Webb from injury negates the loss of Cary Williams at corner. And paying $9 million a year for Kruger, a good but not great pass rusher, or $8 million for Ellerbe (lifetime starts: 14) would have created potentially untenable salary problems in the future. 

Peter says this now, but I vividly remember him writing in MMQB the Ravens can't or didn't want to lose Ellerbe/Kruger and they were even willing to let Flacco go in order to do this. I keep bringing this up because Peter is acting like not keeping Ellerbe/Kruger was a no-brainer decision from his point of view. It wasn't. It's like me pointing out why it was stupid to pick the University of New Mexico to make the Final Four this year. I am using information learned after the fact to make it seem like my opinion at the time was different.

And now the Ravens won't open the season at home, the first time in a decade the Super Bowl champ hasn't opened in its home stadium, because of a conflict with an Orioles-White Sox game at 7 p.m. that day in Oriole Park at Camden Yards,

You mean this tradition that isn't really a tradition is going to end because of a stupid baseball game? It's ridiculous the NFL can't just get its way whenever it wants to.

The city's not big enough to handle a baseball crowd exiting the area at, say, 7:15, with much of a football crowd already there, or trying to wedge in there. And a long game, rain delay or extra innings ... a nightmare.

So the Ravens...they are going to have to play ON THE ROAD the first week of the season? But what about the decade-long tradition of the Super Bowl winning team playing at home the first week of the season? Doesn't Bud Selig care about that? Doesn't Bud Selig care about football at all?

One final point that too few people don't understand when it comes to the scheduling of this game. Super Bowl champs like playing the Thursday game. It's a scheduling advantage -- a big one.

I can't believe the Baltimore Orioles have the audacity to dare to not allow the Baltimore Ravens a scheduling advantage. It's bad enough baseball even exists, but now baseball is getting in the way of the Ravens having a scheduling advantage? One more reason to fire Bud Selig.

And they're not the only ones. It was an open secret at the league meetings that New England would have favored being the Thursday night foe for Baltimore to open the season, giving the Patriots an edge headed into Week 2.

So now the Orioles are inconveniencing the Patriots as well? The NFL owners need to call an emergency meeting where Jerry Richardson can use a pie chart to explain how much revenue MLB is costing the NFL and the Ravens, Jerry Jones can use his time at this meeting to sell the naming rights to the urinals in his new stadium, and Robert Kraft will do an interview with Ian Rapport where he blames Wes Welker for the conflict with the Orioles.

it seems like this would be the toteboard for the Thursday night opener:

Most possible: Baltimore at Denver (rematch of the Rahim Moore Bowl, with the Dumervil drama an added twist).

I feel like this "Dumervil drama" is totally made up by Peter. I don't feel like there is any real drama. Dumervil's agent didn't get the contract in on-time, partially because the Broncos and he didn't work out a deal until the midnight hour, and then the Ravens signed Dumervil. End of story for me at least.

Less possible: Baltimore at Detroit (though a Flacco-Stafford matchup would be fun), Baltimore at Cincinnati (meh).

In Peter's opinion the Ravens playing another 2012 playoff team would be "meh," while the Ravens versus the mediocre Lions would be just a really fun matchup. Not that Peter judges games based on the hype around the game and not based on whether the matchup would be a competitive game or not.

I had this thought when trying to figure out a way to solve this problem:

This story is only getting more and more riveting. Let's hear Peter's idea to make sure the Ravens open the season at home, as opposed to waiting an entire week to play a home game.

Let the Ravens play away on the first Thursday on NBC, and let them play home on NFL Network in Week 2 on Thursday, to celebrate the Super Bowl in style at home.

It's almost like this crisis was easily corrected and not really that big of a deal.

Baltimore at Denver Week 1, Cleveland at Baltimore Week 2. Genius move! 

Because no one wants to see Baltimore and Cincinnati play, but everyone wants to tune in to see Baltimore and Cleveland go at each other...presumably this is a grudge match that has something to do with John Elway of course. Maybe the Browns are looking for revenge on John Elway for "The Drive," and this can be shoe-horned into the narrative for this game because Elvis Dumervil used to play for the Broncos. Maybe there will be an entirely different John Elway-related narrative. Who knows? That's why we watch the games.

Then I looked at the baseball schedule: Yankees at Orioles, Thursday, Sept. 12, 7 p.m. Curses. But I will say this: Is there any reason the fourth game of a four-game series, on getaway day for both teams, cannot be played at 1 p.m.? Other than local TV revenue lost from turning a midweek night game to day, it's a point worth considering, particularly if the NFL would reimburse the two teams for whatever loss of local TV revenue there'd be.

Other than the lost revenue and attendance from turning a game against an incredibly popular team into a day game? No, there is no other reason that game can't be played at 1pm. Is there any reason the NFL just can't play their game at 1pm...other than the lost revenue from turning a night game into a day game of course? Oh that's right, the NFL isn't going to do anything to lose revenue, but they expect every other league to bend to their will when necessary.

And the Ravens wouldn't lose the edge of the mini-bye; it'd just come between Weeks 2 and 3 instead of Weeks 1 and 2.

And again, it's important the Ravens don't lose the edge of this mini-bye.

And if you're a Ravens fan, look on the bright side.

There will be eight home games during the season regardless of when the first game is played?

Now for a tribute to two of the greats of our day.

Ed Reed left Baltimore for Houston. Brian Urlacher left Chicago, and would like to find a home so he could stick it to the Bears. But before we move on, let's remember a few things about both men.

Did Urlacher and Reed die and I missed it? I know, I know, it is the offseason. Any half-assed story is a good story for Peter to write about.

On Reed.

Now, at 35 he's not the player he was, but the Texans know that. In fact, he plummeted from the NFL's 12th-best safety in 2011 to 59th in 2012, according to safety rankings by ProFootballFocus.com.

According to those rankings, Ed Reed isn't the player nearly every other safety in the NFL is either. He's almost the worst safety in the NFL statistically. This is very important information to know considering Haruki Nakamura exists as a safety in the NFL. There needs to be a "Nakamura Line" used in the NFL much like the "Mendoza Line" that is used in MLB.

But Houston bought him to be Ed Reed, and to let Ed Reed rub off on good young players like J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus.

And Peter is obviously jealous that Ed Reed gets to rub off on J.J. Watt (nope, not going in that direction with this next comment...though by saying "I'm not going in that direction," I am sort of going in that direction). What Peter would give to rub up against Watt, feel his arms and just mentor him. Maybe sit down with Watt beside the fire with a cold wheat beer in his hand and show Watt what it means to be an NFL player who is covered by Peter King and what to expect when Peter calls him at 3:30am on a Thursday night just because Peter wants to talk. It would be one precocious time.

Where I'd worry if I were the Texans: They could have kept a rising young safety, Glover Quin, if they'd committed to him instead of spending on Reed. They obviously think the intangibles of Reed's presence will help a team that's close to getting over the top. I'm not sure Reed has much left, but defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the ultimate players' coach, will know how to get out of him what is left.

But are the Texans close to getting over the top? Are they like really, really close? I'm confused because last time I checked they didn't make the AFC Championship Game this year and the AFC South doesn't appear to be as much of a clusterfuck next year with the Colts on the rise and the Jaguars/Titans seemingly having a plan. I don't know. I see the Falcons, Patriots or maybe a team like the 49ers as really close to getting over the top. The Texans? I see them as a really good team that hasn't come very close to the top quite yet. I'd like to see them win a playoff game either on the road or not against the Bengals before I consider the Texans "close to getting over the top."

"I've been real mum on talking too much about RGIII. He wants his recovery to be fairly private,

Oh, well then I understand that. There's no need to---

but I can tell you he's way ahead of schedule. His recovery has been unbelievable so far. RGIII is one those superhumans. First patient I ever had like that was Bo Jackson.

But you just said Griffin wants his recovery to be fairly private...but then you go and say he is recovering at a superhuman pace. That's not really being mum nor keeping Griffin's recovery private.

And recently I, of course, had Adrian Peterson, who is also superhuman.''

-- Dr. James Andrews, the surgeon who reconstructed Robert Griffin III's knee Jan. 9, to Stephania Bell of ESPN. I can see the Washington head coach, offensive coordinator and front office shaking its collective head over the expectations that quote will create.

Hey, remember back when Lance Armstrong made a superhuman recovery from cancer and then it turns out he had some PED-related help in making that recovery? Remember back when baseball players were achieving superhuman feats back in the late 90's and early 2000's, but then it turns out they had help achieving these superhuman feats? Isn't it interesting how sometimes the public falls for superhuman recoveries that don't seem logically possible and then it turns out we are disappointed when the player used some sort of PED to aid his recovery? Think about how prevalent PED and steroid use must be in the NFL. Those guys are just huge, so color me suspicious when any player makes a miraculous recovery. My point is that I am always going to have suspicions of players who make superhuman recoveries from an injury and then achieve feats we didn't think were possible.

One reason women's college basketball still struggles for acceptance in the sporting society: It's just not nearly as competitive beyond the top few teams as it needs to be to get the average sports fan interested.

On Saturday and Sunday, 16 teams seeded either 1, 2, 3 or 4 in the NCAA women's tournament played. They went 16-0, by these margins: 68, 20, 17, 21, 26, 22, 14, 20, 34, 20, 16, five, 33, 16, 30 and 42.

This is kind of an unfair comparison. Parity hasn't exactly hit the women's game as of yet. If you notice, more and more there are upsets in the men's NCAA Tournament over the last decade because parity has hit the sport. The women's game isn't quite at that point yet. I get what Peter is saying, but there was a time when there were more blowouts on the men's side of the NCAA Tournament and #15 and #14 seeds had very little chance against #2 and #3 seeds. So Peter's point stands, but the problem with the women's game lies in other areas as well. Mostly for me it lies in the idea watching women's basketball is like watching two unathletic high school teams play each other.

In the first three days of the men's tournament, a 1 seed (Gonzaga), 2 seed (Georgetown), 3 seed (New Mexico) and 4 seed (Kansas State) all lost, as well as three of the four 5 seeds.

Again, this isn't an entirely fair comparison. There have been quite a few upsets and Cinderella teams this year in the men's NCAA Tournament, which has been unusual. If Peter is saying women's basketball lacks parity, that is true, but the men's tournament hasn't experienced #15 seeds beating #2 seeds for very long. No #15 seed had beaten a #2 seed until 1991 and four of the seven #15 over #2 upsets have happened in the last 13 years.

More of a "Life in New York'' note than a travel note: Walking down East 51st Street Thursday, on the way to the Sports Illustrated offices in midtown, I heard a distinct whinnying sound. A loud one. So I did what most people do when they hear what appears to be a person imitating a horse behind him -- cross to the other side of the street, quickly. Once on the other side, I looked over and saw a man, maybe 25, in a business suit, galloping down the street while slapping himself on the right hip with his right hand, whinnying like a palomino. Person after person just walked on by. No moral to the story. That's just what you see once in a while living in this great city.

I can't get enough of these stories about how crazy of a city New York is. I almost fell off my plow and spilled my whiskey all over the corn crops I was planting upon hearing about all these crazies Peter encounters in the big city.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think the one thing I took from sitting in a group for 50 minutes and talking with Sean Payton at the league meetings is that he'll be able to put the pain of the past year behind him, because he realizes it's not going to help him win -- and it's certainly not going to help the Saints. I didn't hear him say a bitter thing in nearly an hour of reporters trying to get him to admit anger or resentment.

I'm really happy Sean Payton isn't bitter and is not being a child about being punished for lack of accountability as the Saints head coach when the Saints defense was placing bounties on the head of opposing players. What a man of great moral standing Payton is.

Also, if anyone thinks Payton really isn't bitter about being suspended for a year and he isn't going to use his suspension as a rallying cry for the Saints during the 2013 season then you are a naive person. Payton may not be bitter or resentful, but he is going to play up the fact he is resentful or angry when trying to motivate his team. I have no doubt about that.

3. I think I still wouldn't trade Darrelle Revis if I were the Jets.

We know, Peter. You think Revis deserves a new, huge contract because cornerbacks are just so absolutely valuable it only makes sense to set aside 8-10% of your salary cap space for one cornerback. We very, very much understand this.

And I think New York GM John Idzik will try to find a way to not trade Revis. But in the end, I believe he'll go to Tampa Bay for two high draft choices sometime before draft day.

And what a mistake that will be! Whatever on Earth could the Jets do with two draft choices and some more salary cap room that trading Revis would allow? Certainly they couldn't improve the team, that's for sure.

4. I think Bruce Arians sure didn't sound like he wants to take a quarterback with the seventh pick in the first round. He's not in love with any of the quarterbacks, and it's looking more and more like Drew Stanton will have the best chance to be under center (or in the shotgun) to take the first snap for the Cards in Week 1. "I feel comfortable with Drew as our starter,'' Arians said at the league meetings.

Then Bruce Arians immediately excused himself, went into the bathroom, and burst out into laughter until he cried while muttering, "I think they actually bought it" repeatedly.

5. I think eloquent linebacker Scott Fujita outdid himself Sunday in the New York Times, writing about his support for marriage quality.

Marriage quality? There is a movement for legislation to improve the quality of marriage? Boy, the government certainly does enjoy invading people's bedroom doesn't it? Trying to pass a law supporting the quality of marriage...

I agree with him on the evolving acceptance of gay marriage among players I've been exposed to in recent years.

Now the players that Peter has exposed himself to in recent years, well, they aren't so sure about the "gay marriage" thing. 

8. I think the Lions will have some intriguing candidates at No. 5 in the first round. If they choose to let Dee Milliner pass, which would be an upset based on the Lions' crying need at cornerback, 

Plus we know from what Peter King has told us about Nnadmi Asomugha and Darrelle Revis that cornerbacks are the foundation of any winning NFL team. Just look at how many Super Bowl victories those two cornerbacks have between them.

I wouldn't be surprised to see them strongly consider one of the two tackles likely to be there then: Oklahoma's Lane Johnson or Central Michigan's Eric Fisher. Both could step in and play right tackle on day one -- if the hype is right -- and replace Gosder Cherilus, who left for Indianapolis in free agency.

Protecting the franchise quarterback. What a novel concept.

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

This is as opposed to his football-related thought that dealt with gay marriage. Of course Peter was linking a football player's column about gay marriage, so it was totally football-related.

b. Yanks-Red Sox opener a week from today likely to have Melky Mesa and Jackie Bradley Jr., in the starting lineups. No Jeter. No Ortiz. No A-Rod. No Granderson. No Teixeira.

And yet, we will all somehow manage to go on enjoying baseball when the Red Sox and Yankees don't have a roster full of well-known players.

g. My rotisserie baseball draft is Wednesday night. I have not looked at one season preview of any sort. I am concerned. I just hope I don't reflexively pick Pedro Martinez in the fourth round.

I would say that Peter is going to pick mostly Red Sox players anyway, but I'm not entirely sure Peter knows the names of any of the players currently on the Red Sox roster. Of course if Peter knew the names of the players he would probably just complain how overpaid and underproductive they were anyway.

i. Memo from a concerned citizen to our legislators in Washington: Do not forget Aurora and Newtown. Do not let the passage of time and the ardor of some gun zealots prevent you from taking action to limit the kind of weaponry and equipment that make it possible for mass killings to happen -- and from taking action to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable. We're watching.

Because we all know how easy it is to determine if a person is mentally unstable or not, so it should just be easy as pie to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable. Limiting the kind of weaponry and equipment may be a good idea, but glossing over the whole "keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable" part isn't going to help solve the problem. Limiting guns is one thing, figuring out who doesn't need access to a gun is another...and nearly impossible to do.

j. Thanks for all the kind words and wishes on the new website I'm working to develop for Sports Illustrated. It's an exciting time.

Peter King is getting his very own Grantland. If this site means we are going to get more Peter King entertainment reviews or anything like political commentary, count me in as not excited.

l. Coffeenerdness: So I go into the SI office more than I used to, and the coffee there is the Green Mountain Keurig cups, and I've taken a liking to the Dark Magic blend. One request: make it darker.

Green Mountain needs to change their Dark Magic blend specifically for Peter King. Why wouldn't they change around their coffee's flavor to meet the needs of one person?

m. Beernerdness: Fitting, on Saturday, when I met the Varisco family of New Orleans at a West Village bar in Manhattan, that I had an Abita Turbo Dog. On a raw Saturday in New York, nothing like Louisiana's best black beer.

"I have been drinking more Bud Light of late and taken a liking to it. One request: Make it not taste like piss." 

The Adieu Haiku

If Revis must go,
get a one and two next year.
Free advice, Idzik.

Nothing's free except a little bit of bad advice. If the Jets traded Revis then they may (potentially) have a better overall team, but they wouldn't have the NFL's best (second best?) corner. What good is a better team without a Revis Island?


waffleboy said...

Sweet Mother of Pearl! So the Ravens, who were the Browns are taking revenge on the Broncos and John Elway for what they did to the Baltimore Colts, who are now the Indianapolis Colts 30 years ago? This is quite possibly the most tortured and contrived opening to a column I've read this year, and remember we live in a world where Skip Bayless and Mitch Ablom have Word on their computers. So of course this is the guy who is getting his own website.

Bengoodfella said...

Waffle, no kidding huh? It's all very confusing. The Ravens are getting revenge on the Broncos for what the Broncos did to the Colts 30 years ago. It seems like a somewhat contrived storyline to me.

The way I figure it, maybe Peter will do MMQB three days a week now. More material for me!

Murray said...

Abita is a Brown Ale

Bengoodfella said...

Murray, I was just using white ale as an example because Peter talks about the Allagash white ale. I wasn't even thinking about how he just referred to Abita. My attention to detail was lacking on that one.

Murray said...

He refereed to it as a black beer. I was correcting Pete not you

Murray said...

There are "Black beers" out there but Pete didn't drink one

Bengoodfella said...

Murray, oh my bad. I was triply not paying attention it seems. I am not a fan of black beers for some reason. I can drink them, but I think I prefer a lighter colored beer.

Ericb said...

Of course knocking the #1 seed Broncos out of the playoffs last season doesn't count as "revenge" at all. Actually that one makes more sense since you could look at it as the heir of the old Browns paying Denver back for "The Drive."