Friday, March 22, 2013

4 comments MMQB Review: NFC West is the Best Edition

Last week in MMQB Peter King again seemed somewhat confused about exactly what constitutes a haiku. In much more disappointing news, he is still doing haikus at the end of his columns. I think that's the big story here. Peter also warned Eddie Lacy that he could suffer the fate of Arian Foster and be undrafted if NFL teams don't see him run soon. How horrifying for Lacy would it be to end up being able to choose the team he signs with and eventually get a lucrative long-term deal? What a nightmare. Peter also kept going on and on and on and on about Darrelle Revis and how the Jets shouldn't trade him no matter the circumstances. It's getting a bit old at this point. This week Peter talks up the Rams (again...except this time he has a reason) and the rest of the NFC West, because we all know whatever teams win free agency will obviously win the Super Bowl. Peter also lists his best free agent signings so far and it won't take a genius to figure out which one Peter will place first. There is no travel note for Peter this week, so he cedes his travel note to his partner-in-synergy, Mike Florio. Well, he doesn't let Mike write the travel note, but writes the travel note about Mike. I'm a little confused too.

Lord, the NFC West is going to be a bear of a division in 2013.

On paper. It could very well be true in action as well, but right now it looks like a strong division on paper. For some reason Peter doesn't seem to remember that parity is king in the NFL and one or two injuries can set an entire team's season back or a certain team may just not play well during the season. But yes, on paper it looks like a strong division.

It's a signing fraught with uncertainty. We -- most of us in the media, and fans, and teams -- overrate free agency as a tool to improve teams. How many times (including recently, in 2009) has Washington won free agency, then stunk the joint up when real football began? We yell at the Giants, Steelers and Packers for doing nothing in the free market except bleed players -- more about that in my Tuesday column, with some startlingly honest admissions from Packers GM Ted Thompson -- but tell me: How can you be critical of Thompson or Jerry Reese of the Giants or Kevin Colbert of the Steelers right now?

This is a clusterfuck of thoughts. Peter starts off saying the NFC West is going to be a tough division in 2013 because of all the trades and free agent signings that have brought good players into the division. Then Peter says the media overrates free agency and uses the Giants/Packers/Steelers as an example of teams who don't do much in free agency and still thrive. This despite the fact he just (potentially) overrated the NFC West for the free agent signings and trades that were made to bring new players into the division. So Peter is guilty of what he is saying the media tends to be guilty of. Then Peter asks,

"How can you be critical of Thompson or Jerry Reese of the Giants or Kevin Colbert of the Steelers right now," 

when I'm not sure who is being critical of them. Is Peter being critical of these GM's? I know Peter is rating the NFC West highly for the 2013 season because of the offseason moves they have made, so he seems to be guilty of doing exactly what he says the media is guilty of doing.

Back to the (sometimes false) hope of free agency. For a franchise that had been trying to compete with one competent tackle, Rodger Saffold, and a Ringling Brothers arrangement on the other side, the Rams getting Long is a big add. Very big.

I mock Peter for pumping up the Rams and Jeff Fisher because he shares an agent with Fisher, but I think at this point in the offseason the addition of Jake Long has been the biggest acquisition for an NFL team (that includes Harvin and everyone the Dolphins have signed). The Rams have what they see as a franchise quarterback and they just signed a guy who has shown himself to be one of the best tackles in the NFL. It's the biggest addition in my mind.

Miami was in on Long aggressively, and one Dolphins official Sunday seemed confident Long would return for a sixth year. But no. And the Rams Sunday night were giving the credit for the migration to coach Jeff Fisher. "One of our players texted Jake and told him he'd retire if he had to play for any other coach besides Jeff,'' Rams GM Les Snead texted me late Sunday night. "Jeff gets veterans to Sunday ready to play ... Gets them to December ready to play ... So yes, he knows how to keep vets fresh physically, mentally and spiritually as good as anyone in the NFL."

I do wonder if Peter's agent knocks his typical fee by 0.5% if Peter pushes enough of his clients in MMQB. We all know players tend to like Jeff Fisher, but I look at Peter's endorsement of Fisher always through the prism that Peter and Fisher share an agent. It ruins a lot of the positive stuff Peter says about Fisher for me.

Arizona: Hired a new coach, Bruce Arians, who will implement a deep passing game,

A deep passing game with no quarterback and a shaky offensive line. Think that could end up being an issue? I know, I know, these are just minor details. Who is to say Brian Hoyer or Drew Stanton isn't the answer?

(Me. I'm to say. They aren't the answer unless the question is, "Who are two NFL quarterbacks that played at Michigan State?")

St. Louis: Lost three valuable offensive pieces (Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson) who won't be easily replaced. They'll ask Saffold to move to the right side, which he hasn't played.

St. Louis lost their most productive receiver, their best deep threat, and their starting running back. But it's okay because Peter says the Rams are on the rise. Everything is fine.

The Rams are the only team with three picks in the top 50 of the draft (16, 22, 46), and they'll need a receiver upgrade after losing two in the first five days of free agency. Tight end signee Jared Cook is an expensive question mark, though Fisher had him in Tennessee and loves him.

Stop it Peter! Is Jared Cook's agent paying you to say nice things about him? If not, focus more on Jeff Fisher.

Whatever, San Francisco has to be markedly better in the back of the defense to have a chance to win the Super Bowl in 2014. Clutch physical receiver Anquan Boldin will help Colin Kaepernick make plays downfield.

Boldin better be clutch to make those catches downfield because he certainly isn't going to speed by anyone in an effort to make those catches. I realize I sound like Pete Prisco.

I've mentioned this before, but don't go handing the division to the Niners or Seahawks yet.

No one is handing any team in the NFC West the division quite yet other than you, Peter. You are the one writing MMQB.

St. Louis was 4-1-1 in the division last year. What if the Rams can keep Sam Bradford (sacked 71 times in his last 26 games) significantly cleaner?

Pump up the Rams more Peter! Just don't bring up the fact they could have had Robert Griffin last year, that would ruin the point you are wanting to prove.

And what if Arians can invent a quarterback? That's a huge what-if, and it's doubtful, but this is March. We major in what-ifs in March.

If Bruce Arians can invent a quarterback and all of the teams in the NFC West are good then it won't potentially mean much. These NFC West teams all play each other six times, so if every team is good then there is a chance there won't be one outstanding team in the division because they will end up beating each other.

The death of the tuck rule. This playing rule, expected to pass, will change the tuck rule -- 12 years late for Raiders fans -- so that a fumble will be ruled if the passer loses possession as he attempts to bring the ball back to his body. The officials will rule a fumble on such a play, and it will be eligible for replay review. "We are going to change this to clean this up and eliminate the tuck rule, so to speak,'' said Competition Committee co-chair Jeff Fisher.

Jeff Fisher then added, "No, really, we are happy having Sam Bradford rather than drafting Robert Griffin and seeing Griffin play half of his games every year on a faster artificial surface. It's no big deal we didn't draft Griffin. We got more draft picks! Those are great!"

More steps to take helmet hits out of the game. In his Super Bowl press conference, Roger Goodell said the top safety issue in the NFL was to "take the head out of the game."

DeAngelo Hall was very happy to learn about this new rule change because, "Honestly, my head has never ever really been in the game at any point."

Emmitt Smith told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas if he didn't lower his head when a linebacker came his way, the linebacker could bust him in the head and he -- the runner -- would be defenseless. "It [the rule] sounds like it's been made up by people who have never played the game of football,'' Smith said. Well, the Competition Committee doesn't have active players, but it does have a Hall of Fame tight end, Ozzie Newsome, and two former NFL defensive backs, Mark Murphy and Fisher.

Then Emmitt added, "Plus, I would have appreciated some more strategification on the dismissal of this new rule from the brains of those alike," and followed it up with, "I'm just benevolently upset right now and can't speak of clearness in the words my mouth just made up. It's probably best to turn your head away from me."

Said Anderson: "If a player is caught not wearing the thigh and knee pads or is not wearing appropriate thigh and knee pads, he will be given an opportunity to comply. He will not be permitted in the game until he does comply. If there is a continual refusal to comply, he simply will not be allowed in the game.''

James Harrison thinks it sounds like the NFL wants it's players to wear a different kind of pad during the game...if you get what he is saying.

The best signings in the first six days of NFL free agency:

Come on, you know what #1 is. It's the wonderful combination of a white slot receiver that Peter King loves with a quarterback Peter loves.

1. Denver: WR Wes Welker, two years, $12 million.

(Bengoodfella is so surprised he stops breathing for 10 full minutes)

And he'll be used by a quarterback, Peyton Manning, who absolutely loves the slot receiver. If Welker breaks down, which he's shown no sign of doing, the grade will have to be revised here. But if Welker plays 16 games and doesn't catch 100 balls, my name's Joe Don Looney.

It is a pretty good signing for the Broncos. That's for sure. And don't worry, Peter updates us all on how Brandon Stokley is handling this news. If Stokley were Michael Young then he would immediately demand a trade, but we get Stokley's reaction to Welker's signing and he took it much better. In fact, Peter calls him the class guy of the week. Don't worry, I will be getting to Stokley's reaction when the Broncos signed Welker very soon. I know you are all on the edge of your seat right now. 

3. New England: CB Aqib Talib, one year, $5 million. Patriots fans would want it to be a longer deal, because Talib could play himself into a bigger money deal elsewhere if he plays the way he can this year. But the Patriots weren't going to overpay for a player who could blow up in their faces. The best overall cornerback on the market was a must-keep for New England.

I like this signing, but the 3rd best signing in free agency so far? Not so sure about that one.

4. New Orleans: CB Keenan Lewis, five years, $26 million. The worst defense in history (by yardage, anyway) was desperate for a cover corner, and I'd say any corner who allows 52.7 percent completions with a league-high 16 passes defensed (according to Pro Football Focus) is a marked upgrade for the Saints.

I can handle the completion percentage against him, but the fact Keenan Lewis led the league in passes defensed could also mean he was targeted a lot by the opposing team.

I hated the Saints losing their left tackle, but if you ask me if I'd have lost an adequate left tackle (and Jermon Bushrod is that, or just a little better) for the Steelers' best corner in 2012, I'd say sure.

Peter and I are not compatible in terms of how we would put together an NFL team. I don't know if the Saints losing their left tackle is a wash in terms of adding a good cornerback. I'm a huge fan of a strong offensive line and I think corners can look good or bad based on how strong of a pass rush the front seven gets. It seems to me losing a decent left tackle is a big loss, but the Saints did need help in the secondary. I mostly feel like Peter consistently overrates corners.

8. San Diego: RB/returner Danny Woodhead: two years, undisclosed.

Really? How is this one of the best signings of the offseason (so far) when Peter has no clue how much money the Chargers gave Woodhead? What if they gave Woodhead $4 million per year? I realize I will never understand the intangibles Woodhead provides to a team, but I do realize Woodhead has 2828 all-purpose yards for his entire four year NFL career. To put that in perspective, Jacoby Jones didn't get signed by the Ravens until last May and he had 5051 all-purpose yards for his five year NFL career at that point.

Without knowing how much Woodhead signed for, I think it is impossible to say he was a good signing. I know Woodhead is beloved in certain corners, but his production doesn't seem like it has quite matched up with his belovedness (is that a word?).

OK, I don't know the dough, so I can't pass judgment on the wisdom. But I'm sure it's not a huge deal,

Peter is sure it was a good deal. The point is that a team signed Danny Woodhead and that is only a good thing.

Woodhead, in the running, receiving and return game, didn't lose a fumble over the past two seasons in 233 New England touches. Great insurance for the disappointing Ryan Mathews.

The fact Woodhead doesn't fumble doesn't mean he was great insurance for Mathews. If Mathews got injured could Woodhead really carry the load or would Philip Rivers be stuck with very little running game again? I don't hate the signing, but the 8th best signing of the offseason so far? Not really.

Class Guy of the Week.

Brandon Stokley, slot receiver, Denver.

Think of those last three words -- "slot receiver, Denver'' -- and what do you think of?

(Drawing a blank)

Wes Welker, obviously.

Considering Welker wasn't signed until a week ago and hasn't played a snap for the Broncos, he isn't at all what I think about when I hear "slot receiver, Denver."

But think of Stokley for a moment. A year ago tomorrow, Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos. During his brief free-agent fling, Manning used the home of one of his best friends, Stokley, as a refuge. Stokley lives in the Denver suburb of Castle Pines. A year ago, he was unsigned. Maybe he'd be signed by the Broncos, maybe he wouldn't. But he helped his buddy, Manning, hide out -- and decide what to do.

So when it came time to sign Welker to a two-year, $12 million deal last week, a decision that took the Broncos about 10 seconds to make because Welker's the most productive slot man in football, coach John Fox picked up the phone to inform Stokley. "Heartbreaking,'' Fox said here Sunday, "because Stokley'd been such a great guy and important player for us.''

That's why Brandon Stokley, who may have had his career ended by the acquisition of Welker, is the Class Guy of the Week.

I just hope Stokley is able to find a job after his career ends with the Broncos. It is heartbreaking when an NFL player who is near to retirement is replaced by a better NFL player. You just hope Stokley can find some work out there to support his family. Devastating. Heartbreaking. Shocking. Welcome to the real world Brandon Stokley. Just try to keep 6 months of savings on hand to get past these hard times.

So Mr. Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio of Bridgeport, W. Va., had gone 15 1/2 years without flying until Sunday.

Well, he is from West Virginia so he also probably isn't aware there is a civilization outside of the state, because otherwise he would have fled the state years ago.

(I'm kidding West Virginians, my mom's side of the family is from West Virginia and they are fine people. They are all dead, but they were great people when they were alive)

For him, it wasn't a fear of flying so much as a loss of control. When he drove, or was being driven, he could see the road and the other drivers if he wasn't the one driving, and he felt secure knowing that whatever the statistics about the relative safety of flying versus driving said, to him, driving just felt safer.

Plus, he did have one of those extra-large trucks with mud on the side that I am constantly seeing whenever I drive in West Virginia. Even if those things are murder for everyone else, they are safe for him to drive shoudl an accident occur.

Florio wanted to go to this week's league meetings, and Phoenix was going to be too far to drive. So he finally decided to get back on a plane, flying here nonstop Sunday afternoon from Pittsburgh with his wife, Jill.

"It was uneventful,'' he said once in the Valley of the Sun. "I wish I could tell you some great story about getting all claustrophobic once they closed the door, or something like that. But I can't. I was hoping for a better story. The only thing I can tell you is when we were turning the corner to get out on the runway, my wife said to me, 'Does someone know where our wills are?' And I said, 'I really don't want to think about that right now.' ''

It's always interesting to here a second-hand account of a person's traveling experience. It's like being there, except for wishing the person who was telling you the story would just stop telling you the story.

What has changed since he last flew: the fact that visitors can't go to the gate with flyers. "The whole security thing is so different,'' he said. "First, you practically disrobe going through security -- your shoes, your belt, your jacket, and then all your electronics in different bins. Then you get through security, and it's like a ghost town in there.''

It's important for everyone to be aware that air travel security has changed over the last decade. Otherwise, without Mike Florio's account of how air travel security has changed we would have no idea.

Ten Things I Think I Think

3.I think, speaking of free agency, the tackle market sure has some good leftovers: Super Bowl left tackle Bryant McKinnie, Sebastian Vollmer, Eric Winston, Andre Smith (likely to stay in Cincinnati), and, if some team wants to trade for him, Kansas City's Branden Albert. The Chiefs will listen to offers for him.

Yes, but it is more important that players at skill positions get signed first. After all, what does it matter if a team has a good set of tackles or not? It's not like the offensive line does anything. The sexy positions go first, then the positions that aren't as sexy but very crucial will get paid sometime down the road.

5.I think the cutest thing I saw on the weekend before the NFL Meetings began here at the Arizona Biltmore hotel is the Harbaugh brothers, and families, playing with kids in the hotel pool. Number two: The Harbaugh brothers, out for a 6 a.m. walk together on the jogging path outside the hotel.

These are grown men who are brothers. Please don't call it "cute" when they spend time together. They aren't children, but grown men. I don't know what Peter's fascination with calling adults "cute" or "precocious" but it has gone from weird to a little creepy.

8.I think when I see headlines about the Jets keeping an open mind on whether or not to trade Darrell Revis, I am heartened that they have not lost their minds.

I continuously find it interesting that Peter spends time (like he did in this one) talking about how the 49ers are in good shape to build their team because they have a lot of draft picks, but Peter doesn't think the Jets should trade Revis in order to rebuild their team through the draft. So draft picks are great, but only if you aren't a rebuilding team like the 49ers. Got it. I've repeated myself 100 times on this issue, but if there is ever a market for Revis then the Jets need to explore the market and see what Revis can bring back in a trade.

There's far too much smoke out there, and far too little whispering to sources off the record that Revis is going nowhere, for me to believe they aren't desperate to move him. Mistakenly, of course.

I don't know if the Jets should be desperate to move Revis, but they have a lot of holes on that roster and he is such an asset. What sense does it make to have a team with holes and then choosing to give a cornerback a new contract (which is what Revis wants)? It doesn't make much sense to me.

9.I think it was nice to speak to you again Sunday night, Sean Payton.

Please tell him in person and not through MMQB. I don't need a reminder Sean Payton is going to be coaching in the NFL next year and every writer is going to cuddle up to him and preach about his brilliance all year.

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

b. Ohio at Denver in the NIT Tuesday night. Bobcat fever, baby.

It's going to be very cute to watch these teams play. These coaches are going to be so precocious during this game.

e. And, though I have absolutely no idea who is any good in college basketball,

There are no good college basketball teams and parity is all around us. That's why two nights ago many experts on ESPN and CBS were putting all of the #1 and #2 seeds in the Final Four...because there are no good teams and the field is wide open. That's what I've been hearing all year.

f. My bracket philosophy? Simple -- since the days when I followed the game. I pick the favorite in every game, put my $20 in the mail to my good buddy Ron Fisch in Montclair, N.J., and hope for the best. I never have won a dime in Ron's pool, so he loves to see my $20 arrive in the mail.

Peter would be the kind of guy I wouldn't want in my pool. At least try to pick upsets and don't just write down the favored team and call it a day.

h. Hey Pope Francis: The more you talk, the more I love hearing you talk about the poor. Keep it up.

Also Pope Francis: Pray for this week's class guy, Brandon Stokley, and see if you can do something about the coffee at hotels. But do keep talking about the poor. Peter loves it when you remind him he isn't poor. Maybe you could set up a tournament where poor people fight to the death for cash prizes. Peter would heartily love to see that while he sipped on a wheat beer.

j. Coffeenerdness: Yes, the Arizona Biltmore is fabulously overpriced. But it has the best hotel coffee I've had in forever.

And really, what is paying $30 more for a room if the cup of coffee you get is delicious? I wish Pope Francis would talk more about the poor. Peter loves it when he does that. Someone needs to talk about the poor more often. Anyway, let's get back to Peter talking about how he pays for an overpriced hotel room because that hotel has good coffee.

The Adieu Haiku

Belichick. Smart coach.
That doesn't mean he can't err.
Wes Welker: E-Bill.

I'm pretty sure the fact each line has the correct amount of syllables doesn't make this a haiku.


waffleboy said...

j. Coffeenerdness: Yes, the Arizona Biltmore is fabulously overpriced. But it has the best hotel coffee I've had in forever.

I'm sorry, but it drives me nuts that Peter King, who I know has an expense account to pay for travel, overpriced hotels, and meals, and is able to write off every other nickel he spends out on the road on his taxes at the end of the year insists on yapping about how much things cost.
Still, he didn't talk about any dirty foreigners who didn't know the right route to the airport this week, so it could have been worse.
Oh and did Jeff Fisher feel as uncomfortable reading this column as everyone else did?

rich said...

Jeff gets veterans to Sunday ready to play ... Gets them to December ready to play

His first season as a non-interim head coach was 1995 and has coached for 17 years.

He's made the playoffs 6 times.

Of those 6 times, his teams have lost their first game in three of those years.

Two other times, they lost their second.

Only the year his team made the Super Bowl did any of his teams win multiple playoff games.

That's right, Rex Ryan has more multi-playoff win seasons than Jeff Fisher.

Jeff Fisher is a good coach, but like many other good coaches, shits himself in the playoffs.

St. Louis was 4-1-1 in the division last year. What if the Rams can keep Sam Bradford (sacked 71 times in his last 26 games) significantly cleaner?

I love how Peter points to their division record as if it meant that much. They won 4 of their divisional games, but then went 3-7 in their remaining 10 games.

To be honest, the fact they won 4 games last year is actually somewhat of a troubling sign. Obviously, no one knows how the season will play out, but I'd be shocked if the Rams did that well inside the division again.

How is this one of the best signings of the offseason (so far) when Peter has no clue how much money the Chargers gave Woodhead?

The answer is that even if they gave him some bubble gum and a box of kleenex signing Woodhead should never be on a "best signings of free agency" list.

didn't lose a fumble over the past two seasons in 233 New England touches.

Holy shit, he only had 233 touches in two years? What a great signing.

During his brief free-agent fling, Manning used the home of one of his best friends, Stokley, as a refuge. Stokley lives in the Denver suburb of Castle Pines. A year ago, he was unsigned.

One of my buddies from Philly is coming through Kansas City on his way to Oregon. I'm letting him crash at my place, so where's my Classy Guy of the week award PK?

Stockley is a millionaire and let one of his buddies stay over for a few days. I'm not entirely sure if I'm supposed to care about that or not... oh wait, no I don't care.

a loss of control. When he drove, or was being driven, he could see the road and the other drivers if he wasn't the one driving, and he felt secure knowing that whatever the statistics about the relative safety of flying versus driving said, to him, driving just felt safer.

If I ever needed a perfect snippet to sum up how stupid I think Mike Florio is... this is it.

Eschewing the "flying is safer than driving" aspect, I want to focus on the control aspect. I get that when you're driving, you're in control of your car, but how does simply being in the car make you feel more in control than being in a plane?

God I hate Mike Florio.

I never have won a dime in Ron's pool, so he loves to see my $20 arrive in the mail.

Going off what waffleboy said... he'll bitch about how expensive a hotel is (for which he is getting a service in return), but has absolutely no problem pissing 20 bucks down the drain every year.

Go fuck yourself with a pineapple PK.

Anonymous said...

I laughed at your Emmitt Smith joke but have spent day reading fantasy baseball articles getting ready to own draft tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I was dying to see what you'd do with the "cutest" thing that PK saw over the weekend. This guy with his precocious boy comments week after week is disturbing. Is this clown for real? I could care less about his sexual orientation or bedroom proclivities, but does it have to be thrown in my face week after week through these cheap, see-through insinuations? Even DISNESPN doesn't do that. Give me the most flaming tack in the bunch if he can get stories and report on them coherently. My issue is we're subjected to this clown blatantly in the closet and he also doesn't know what he's doing. I can't even go into the fake running, coffee, and beer trash. . . Good God make it stop!