Tuesday, June 4, 2013

1 comments MMQB Review: Getting Notably Booed Edition

Peter King celebrated Memorial Day last week by reminding us that the day is more than just the first day beaches open. It is also the release of commencement address transcripts in MMQB. Peter bemoaned that Jesus Montero hasn't become an All-Star yet, seemed shocked that San Francisco Giants fans love their team, and also seemed to confuse asking himself questions with stating facts. This week Peter talks about Colin Kaepernick as a Raider, drinks wine with Carmen Policy, gets excited about Eric Mangini working for the 49ers and says too many people care about unimportant things during the football offseason. Did I mention Peter's top story is about a trade that never happened and he describes his visit to a vineyard in this week's MMQB?

Colin Kaepernick a Raider. Imagine the change in history.

Football would have never been the same. The impact Colin Kaepernick has made in his half season of being an NFL starter, well imagine that exact impact on the NFL with Kaepernick as the quarterback for the Raiders. And obviously Kaepernick playing in a less stable coaching situation and with a completely different set of players would have had zero impact on his ability to be the franchise-changing quarterback he has shown himself to be in the 10 career starts he has accumulated.

"I think about it all the time, believe me,'' Hue Jackson, the rookie Raiders coach on Draft Day 2011, said Sunday night. "No question in my mind we wanted it to happen, and no question I thought it could happen. We wanted the kid in the worst way.''

But hey, trading 1st and 2nd round draft picks for Carson Palmer was a good move too.

"Coach Jackson told me before the draft they were going to do everything they could to try to get me,'' said Kaepernick. "I thought there was a good chance they'd pick me. I never heard anything from the 49ers before the draft after I worked out for them [at Nevada]. I just figured they weren't interested."

Brilliant disguise.

Sort of like the brilliant disguise Jim Harbaugh wore in Durham, NC while watching Peyton Manning work out at Duke University in 2012. See, Harbaugh wasn't really interested in Manning, he just wanted the Broncos to think the 49ers were so the Broncos would offer Manning a contract. That way the 49ers could...um...show again that they had no interest in Kaepernick as their future starting quarterback. The rest of the NFL got fooled again by the 49ers pretending they were serious about signing Peyton Manning. They had no interest in him, but drove cross-country and tried to hide the fact they were at Manning's workout FULLY KNOWING they would be seen and writers would report they have interest in Manning. It's all reverse psychology. The joke's on all of us.

A quick recent history lesson: The Raiders had Kaepernick the top-rated quarterback on their draft board -- ahead of the five quarterbacks who were taken ahead of him that year (Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton). And both teams knew they could wait until the second round to get him. The Niners picked seventh overall (Aldon Smith) and 45th, Oakland 48th, having given up its first-round pick in the Richard Seymour deal with New England.

Wait, the Raiders traded their first round draft pick in 2011? That was so unlike them.

Baalke called the Patriots, who owned the first pick of the second round, and offered two third-round picks (one in '11, one in '12) to move up 12 spots. New England wanted one of the thirds to be a second. No dice, Baalke said. Oakland called New England too, and failed to get the pick. "When we talked internally,'' Jackson said, "we knew we needed to fortify the offensive line, and we really liked Stefan Wisniewski. I think [Al Davis] felt we'd get a lineman who we figured could play for us for 10 years, then we had two third-round picks, and we'd try to move up late in the second round or higher in the third and try to get Colin."

Remember this story later in this very MMQB when Peter complains that too many people attention to unimportant things when it comes to the NFL offseason. A trade that never occurred from two years ago is apparently not only very important, but also is worthy of leading off Peter's weekly column (supposedly) about the NFL. It's a good story, but it is also not exactly important right now. It's the offseason. There has to be some news created, so these unimportant stories are what we get. Why can't Peter understand that he is feeding us unimportant NFL information just like the rest of the NFL writers are?

Rick Kaepernick, Colin's dad, told me he'd heard Al Davis threw a glass across the room when it was announced San Francisco had taken him.

That was just Al Davis' way of telling his assistant that he needed a refill on his glass of water. It had nothing to do with Colin Kaepernick being picked by the 49ers. You should see what he used to do when he wanted someone to pull his car around to the front of a restaurant.

Would Jackson still be coaching Oakland had Kaepernick fallen to them? 

I'm guessing probably not. This is where this whole "what if the Raiders had Kaepernick?" hypothetical falls apart for me. There's no guarantee Kaepernick would have been as successful in Oakland as he has been in San Francisco. He has a great offensive line, a great defensive and really good coaching in San Francisco. He wouldn't have had such a great situation in Oakland, plus he probably would have been forced to start almost immediately in Oakland. Let's not forget Kaepernick has 10 total NFL games under his belt and hasn't spent an entire offseason as an NFL starter yet. It's still early in his NFL career. He played well last year, but he was in a very good situation in San Francisco. Oakland isn't (and wasn't) as great of a situation.

Certainly, Carson Palmer wouldn't have been traded to the quarterback-needy Raiders six months later. Certainly, the Raiders wouldn't have used (wasted?) a third-round Supplemental Draft pick two months later on Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

I'm betting the Raiders still would have spent that supplemental pick on Pryor. They spent 1st and 2nd round draft choices on Carson Palmer and they still used a 3rd round pick on Pryor in the Supplemental Draft. What would stop them from spending a third round pick on Pryor when they have only used a 2nd round pick on Kaepernick? Nothing. Let's use our heads here.

Not to be a wise guy, but figure the Patriots had the same pricetag for the Raiders that they did for San Francisco: second- and third-round picks in 2011 and a third-rounder in 2012. Let's see what the Raiders could have traded to move up to get Kaepernick:

Don't worry, I will never confuse you with a wise guy.

• Center Stefen Wisniewski (second round, 2011). Had a so-so rookie year at left guard, then a slightly better year when switched to center in 2012. Center of the future for the Raiders, but not likely a Pro Bowl player.

• Cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke (third round, 2011). Played about 30 percent of the snaps as a backup corner in 2011. Released in the last cut last year.

• Quarterback Terrelle Pryor (third round, 2012, with pick assigned to Supplemental Draft in 2011). He has thrown 30 passes in mop-up duty in two years. Doesn't appear to have much chance to be the Raiders quarterback of the future.

I know it is pure speculation, but all the evidence points to the Raiders still spending a 3rd round supplemental choice on Pryor. Why would they not spend a 3rd round pick on Pryor with Kaepernick on the roster when they spent that pick while having Carson Palmer on the roster and having just given up a 1st and 2nd round draft choice to obtain Palmer?

Of course, San Francisco's pretty pleased with the results. It's not exactly the value of getting Joe Montana 82nd in the 1979 draft, but getting Kaepernick at 36 could turn out to be a franchise-altering deal if he can stay upright.

Or gets a full 16 game season of being a starting quarterback under his belt.

"Ever wonder what would have happened if the other team in the Bay Area had picked you?'' I asked Colin at Pitman High Thursday night.

"I don't think too much about things like that,'' Kaepernick said. Then he smiled. "But I am pretty happy how things turned out."

He's in a much better situation with the 49ers in nearly every aspect. That's why I find it hard to believe Kaepernick would have had the same immediate impact in Oakland that he has had in San Francisco.

I think you'll like the site, and you'll like a few different sides of Kaepernick that I saw.

One thing I won't be writing about: his 15-year-old, 115-pound tortoise, Sammy. I met Sammy at Kaepernick's parents' home in Modesto. I shouldn't say "met." "Saw'' would be correct. Sammy was sawing logs Thursday night and, evidently, nothing wakes a monstrous, sleeping tortoise.

Focus on the important things in the offseason everyone! If it isn't related to an important NFL offseason story, don't report it...unless you are Peter King. He can report whatever the hell he wants to report and is too lofty to take his own advice.
There is something historic about Vince Lombardi coming.

Considering Lombardi has been dead for over 40 years there is something very historic about him coming or going anywhere.

ESPN is commemorating Lombardi's legacy with a show Thursday night called Lombardi's Legacy. (Who thinks of these clever titles up in Bristol?)

Probably the same person who thought of a Monday morning column about the NFL called "Monday Morning Quarterback." Peter gets all snarky now that he has a new contract with "SI" and doesn't have to worry about marketing himself to other sports sites and networks.

One of the panelists on the show will be Mike Ditka, who is in the position of having played against Lombardi, having played for main Lombardi rival George Halas, having listened to him speak, and having known him briefly outside of football.

So ESPN is doing a show about Vince Lombardi and then using one of their own NFL analysts as a panelist on the show? That's so unlike them.

Let's, for a second, gloss over the fact that the Raiders' weekend firing of director of media relations Zak Gilbert is the kind of knee-jerk Steinbrennerian move that Mark Davis' father, Al, might have made. Might, I say -- after a perceived unflattering story (which, ironically, was unflattering only to Al Davis, and to no one else in the Raiders organization) appeared in Sports Illustrated. And let's divine what the firing means.

It means all of this talk we have heard about Mark Davis being different from his father was just talk. It's also dumb to call the move Steinbrennerian because the Yankees have actually been successful recently while the Raiders have not been. A knee-jerk move is what George Steinbrenner was famous for, but he ended up putting a winning team on the field for a good portion, even as of late when the Yankees have disappointed fans by not winning the World Series every year. The Yankees have been competitive and made the playoffs. Oakland hasn't done that in almost a decade. I'm probably splitting hairs here, I realize that. Steinbrenner could be impulsive, but he ended up having success. Davis seems impulsive as well, but hasn't had success as of yet.

To fix the Raiders, even if all the decisions are right (and they never are in the NFL), would take three years minimum. Now, before the second season even begins, a key McKenzie hire is whacked. McKenzie's hand-picked mouthpiece fired at a time when the public image of the Raiders was beginning to turn around.

The reason the public image was turning around is that Gilbert has provided sports magazines with positive stories about how Oakland is becoming a different kind of team when this probably wasn't the case. Mark Davis' true colors showed through potentially and no amount of public relations can stop him from doing what he wants because he's the owner.

I've said this before: You simply cannot judge McKenzie until he has the chance to oversee at least three seasons in Oakland, because of the morass the Raiders were in at the time of his hire. But if Mark Davis gets this skittish over a magazine story, you're crazy to think McKenzie is certainly safe with another four-win season, or worse, in 2013.

Peter has told us quite a few times that Reggie McKenzie will be given more than just a couple of seasons to turn it around. Obviously he was making an assumption or he received some bad information because it doesn't look like Mark Davis is going to give McKenzie the time Peter believes McKenzie needs. Of course, Gilbert did contribute to "SI" writing a story that unflattering to Davis' father, which is probably enough to piss him off to look for cause to fire Gilbert. Still, all we have heard from Peter is how McKenzie will have time and then that turns out to not exactly be true.

One last point about the job Gilbert did. A buddy of mine who writes about the league mentioned to me last season how strange it was to go cover the Raiders now "and actually not dread it.'' Much of that was due to Gilbert reopening many avenues of access to a team that had been shuttered to the outside in the Al Davis days. Example: A couple of weeks ago, on Twitter, I said I couldn't figure out why Charles Woodson signed with Oakland instead of Denver. Gilbert saw the tweet and forwarded me Woodson's transcript after signing, and asked if I'd like to talk to Woodson. Sure, I said. Gilbert tried, and it seemed Woodson said he was done with media until Raiders minicamp. Gilbert said he thought Woodson should do this one interview if possible, and Woodson said OK.

So basically Gilbert gave writers like Peter more access to the Raiders team. This is a good thing obviously, but when Peter lost Gilbert as the Raiders PR guy he also potentially lost a chance to get stories from the Raiders organization. This means he is going to have to work harder to do stories on the Raiders and that's not something he wants.

So, yes, I hate to see an undeserved firing, particularly after a guy uproots his family and moves. But this firing is a bad sign for the immediate future of the Raiders, and for a good general manager who I now believe will be in trouble unless 2013 is significantly brighter than 2012.

It's probably not very good for the future of the Raiders unless Mark Davis just took exception to the fact the Jim Trotter "SI" column wasn't very complimentary towards his father. Mark Davis may allow McKenzie to run the organization as he sees fit, as long as members of the previous regime aren't thrown under the bus or talked about in a negative fashion.

The Niners pluck Eric Mangini from the TV set.

Super Bowl. Won.

But the guy knows football. You don't stay on Belichick's staff for six years if you don't know what you're doing. And if I'm Pete Carroll, Jeff Fisher or Bruce Arians in Seattle, St. Louis and Arizona, respectively, this is what I'm thinking this morning: We play pretty good defense here. Now we have Jim Harbaugh, Greg Roman and Eric Mangini sitting in a tape room in California, studying how to beat us. I doubt any other team has the offensive brainpower the 49ers have in that three-man tandem right now.

And of course there is zero possibility these three personalities could clash. Looks like Jeff "8-8" Fisher is going to have to wait until 2014 to make his great move up to the top of the NFC West. It will happen though. Just give him 8-10 years.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

Gale Sayers turned 70 Thursday.

Joe Namath turned 70 Friday.

I guess I should just be happy this week there is actually a factoid and not merely Peter's opinion. Very uninteresting things do seem to interest Peter. Good thing he isn't one of those writers who focuses on unimportant stuff during the offseason.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

This is a very important football-related travel note, so pay full attention right now and never divert your attention until Peter is done with this riveting vineyard-related story.

Spent a very pleasant Wednesday afternoon with Carmen Policy, football-exec-turned-winemaker, in Yountville, Calif., in the heart of the Napa Valley. Policy, who was the president of the Niners in their glory years, ran the Browns in their late-90s rebirth, and now owns and operates with his wife a vineyard called Casa Piena. And he's in his glory.

Peter saw Blue and he looked gloooooorious.

Policy was happier when he was winning Super Bowls,

BREAKING NEWS: Winning Super Bowls makes members of the Super Bowl winning organization happy.

As I always say, you learn so much reading Peter's MMQB. You may think up is down and down is up, but that's not true. Up is actually up and being a part of a Super Bowl winning organization makes people happy. 

I did too -- though, as you know if you read anything I've had to say about wine, I'm not exactly the Dr. Z of the wine-writing set. I'm a boob. 

Per usual, after telling us he knows nothing about wine, Peter will immediately give his opinion on wine and want us to take this opinion seriously.

But his 2009 Cab tasted great to these stupid wine tastebuds. And I liked his olive oil even better.

"...his 2009 Cab tasted great..." Not that Peter is pretentious at all for calling Cabernet Sauvignon "Cab."

At one point, walking on his 14 acres of grapes and fruit trees and olive trees, I asked him about the football life versus the wine life. He looked perfectly happy here. But how did it compare to his former life?

These hard-hitting questions are why Peter included this passage in MMQB.

"Carmen, you have won Super Bowls and you make wine. Do both of those things make you equally happy or does winning Super Bowls make you happier? If so, please give SPECIFIC EXAMPLES of how much happier winning Super Bowls makes you."

"The legacy of Al Davis wasn't tainted by Zak Gilbert or Jim Trotter. It was tainted by the last 10 years Al Davis ran the Raiders."

-- @jerrymcd, longtime Raiders beat writer Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune, after the team fired PR man Zak Gilbert.

 "You know who would've warned #Raiders owner Mark Davis that canning his PR guy would do more damage than @SI_JimTrotter's story? His PR guy."

-- @jasonjwilde, Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee. 

Boy, the media gets mad when PR guys get fired, don't they?

"Nava: .298./400/.488 8 HRs, 33 RBIs, 0.5 million. Carl Crawford .301/.358./470 5 HRs, 13 RBIs $20.8 million."

-- @PeteAbe, comparing the batting average/on-base percentage/on-base-plus-slugging between the starting Red Sox left fielder, Daniel Nava, and the left fielder the Sox traded to the Dodgers in the massive salary dump last year, Carl Crawford. Nava's four-hit performance on Saturday led Boston to a win at Yankee Stadium.

Keep talking about how you were so horribly mistreated in Boston, Crawford. Here's the way sports works: You get paid the very big money, and you struggle for weeks, and then months, and you're going to get booed. Not viciously, but notably.

I hate it when I get booed notably. Not really in a vicious way, but in a way that I can note it in my nightly diary entries.

"Dear diary, I was booed again today. When the fans told me to remove my head from ass and said I wasn't worth a shit, I wasn't hurt though. They were booing me in a more notable way and weren't vicious at all."

The manager would have moved you around in the order, trying to find the right spot for you, trying to make your life more comfortable. With you, nothing ever worked. Then you got hurt. You were not mistreated. You were treated fairly. The man's way to deal with it is to say, "I didn't perform up to my capabilities, and it's my fault." But since your trade, you've found 63 excuses for not playing well, none of them credible.

I think the lesson to be learned from the B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford signings is to never sign an expensive Rays outfielder. Just don't do it.

Ten Things I Think I Think

2. I think the one-game suspension for St. Louis running back Isaiah Pead is just another example of the Rams living on the edge with young players under Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. The Rams take calculated risks with draft picks, as COO Kevin Demoff told me in April, and they draft players with pockmarks on their college resumes figuring they can keep the players in line well enough to keep them active.

But as Peter has said previously, drafting a risky guy like Pead is such an NFC West move. My question is whether the Rams make "calculated risks" with draft picks or they are just simply taking risks with their draft choices? They have two 2nd round picks from last year that have already been suspended for at least one game in their one year in the NFL. Then they drafted Alec Ogletree, a guy who is very talented but has had his own legal and personal issues, this year in the first round. Is that a calculated risk or a risky pick?

I would love to know the difference in a "calculated risk" and just "a risk." I'm guessing the difference is that a "calculated risk" is how Peter describes a pick made by the Rams because that makes Marvin Demoff happy and he thinks teams like the Lions make "risky" picks when they draft guys like Titus Young because he has no business relationship with anyone in the Lions organization. How did the Lions not calculate the risk before they signed Young, but the Rams calculated their risk when they draft guys with red flags like Janoris Jenkins and Alec Ogletree?

It hasn't blown up in the team's face fully yet, but as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com reported over the weekend, Pead is the fifth man in the 10-man 2012 draft class to have gotten in some trouble resulting in a suspension or arrest in the last 13 months.

But Peter wants to know why focus on the negative? Everyone is so negative these days. Don't forget the Rams got the two players they wanted most in this year's draft. Let's talk about that! Or we could talk about all those problems those Detroit Lions scouts have when evaluating players? Do they even evaluate a player or just hope a guy they drafts can stay out of trouble? The Rams take "calculated risks" while Peter isn't sure how the Lions evaluate a player's risk, if they even do at all. Let's just not talk about the Rams draft board and how they have players who got in trouble over the last year. The Rams got Tavon Austin! That's great news!

When, though, will enough of the miscreants' bad behavior cause them to change how they stack their draft boards?

I don't know Peter. Maybe that would have been a good question to ask when you were sitting in the Rams' draft room just over a month ago? Instead you were too busy reporting how the Rams did such a good job in the 2013 NFL Draft and got exactly the players they want. How about you use those same connections that got you in the Rams draft room, where you could have easily asked this very question you just asked in MMQB, to get an answer to this question? That's not part of the deal though is it? You get access, but you don't get access to ask Jeff Fisher and Kevin Demoff the tougher questions.

4.I think I'm hearing the Jags have some very interesting offensive wrinkles set to try with fourth-round pick Ace Sanders and fifth-rounder Denard Robinson. Sanders could be a lesser Tavon Austin, and Robinson could be a Kordell Stewart-slash kind of player. The Jags might not win much this year, but they could be very fun to watch.

That is an improvement over last year. Though I can't see how watching Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars offense could be more fun to watch if you are a fan of the team opposing Jacksonville.

6. I think I don't care if DeSean Jackson picks the agency of Jay-Z, or Jay Leno, or Jay North (Google him), to represent him. Too many people care about too many unimportant things in an offseason that is never an offseason in the NFL.

Should we review the "what if" scenario if the Raiders had drafted Colin Kaepernick in 2011? Or should we talk more about Carmen Policy's vineyard? Maybe if it is better we review, once again, how old Gale Sayers turned last Friday.

7. I think congrats are in order for Ronde Barber, who has scored a job with FOX Sports as an NFL analyst. He'll be good if he works at it. Really good. Knowing Ronde, he'll work at it

We all know those Barber brothers have shown themselves to be naturals in front of the camera.

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

b. Lord, Roy Hibbert. Get a hold of yourself.

He said something wrong at a press conference and then apologized for it in a statement the next day. It seems he just said something wrong and has full control of himself. It's a dumb remark he made and it is over now.

c. Through six games, the composite score of the Eastern Conference final is Miami 569, Indiana 564. I don't know about you, but it's very hard to not root for Indiana tonight. Everyone in the place knows LeBron James is the only weapon Miami has right now, and the Pacers D is holding him to 28.5 a game. It's good, but not intergalactic. Really fun series when I've checked in on it.

The series is so interesting that Peter has checked in on it twice. Just riveting.

Also, 28.5 points per game is very good and I don't know what the fuck "intergalactic" means. Maybe it is somewhat related to being booed notably.

l. Never thought I'd see the day when Matt Cain

I'm surprised Peter didn't tell us that Matt Cain played for the Giants. He loves to add little tidbits of obviousness to his baseball observations despite the fact a person who doesn't watch baseball wouldn't care about the tidbit and a person who watches baseball knows who Matt Cain is.

m. Mets 2, Yankees 1 ... Mets 2, Yankees 1 ... Mets 9, Yankees 4 ... Mets 3, Yankees 1.

n. Marlins 5, Mets 1 ... Marlins 8, Mets 1 ... Marlins 11, Mets 6.

o. As Cindy Adams would say: Only in New York, kiddies. Only in New York.

Yes, only in New York would an inferior team sweep a (supposedly) superior team on the road and then get swept themselves by an inferior team at home. This hasn't happened before, except in New York, and only when playing a team from Miami. Everything that happens to the Yankees and Mets is so original.

The Adieu Haiku

Ah, spring reportage.
All teams look 16-and-0.
Best time for Brownies.

Right, because we all know Peter's training camp reports in August aren't going to be full of sunshine and roses. Peter will talk all big now until he gives a sunny report from every team he visits in training camp. Not to mention, Peter has every NFC West team outside of Arizona going 12-4 this year. Yeah, he's Mr. Realistic when it comes to reporting on NFL teams.


Frank said...

"You just wrote my speech for tonight, Bob."

This made me laugh. He's even unoriginal when it comes to accepting an award for outstanding writing. Wow.