Tuesday, January 28, 2014

3 comments MMQB Review: New Jersey Super Bowl Edition

Last week Peter King fought off strong feelings about Peyton Manning while admiring Manning's bare upper torso, he only got slightly less excited about the world getting the Super Bowl that obviously everyone wanted to see. Peter also marveled at how underrated the traffic in Denver is, because that's a real thing and all. This week Peter talks about how things are getting real for Richard Sherman, thinks the fact Peyton Manning hasn't faced any of the Seahawks defensive backs is a very significant storyline mostly because he has to fill five pages and has to create significant storylines that aren't really significant, wastes space with an interview of Lil Wayne, and tells us the New York Super Bowl should be the New Jersey Super Bowl. 

Well now, a Jersey City dateline, six days before the Super Bowl. There’s something I never thought I’d see. Or type. A Super Bowl in New Jersey.

It's only 2-3 years in the making so I can see how the suddenness of the Super Bowl being in New Jersey would still come as a shock to Peter.

But the hype machine for Super Bowl XLVIII alighted in the Garden State Sunday night, so let’s go there, to the tamest interview station of them all.

Richard Sherman’s. Of course.

This goes against the narrative that the media wants to write about Richard Sherman being just a loud-mouthed black guy. How terrible that reality doesn't match the narrative the media pursues.

I bring you these gems from Sherman’s riser Sunday night at the Jersey City Westin, a week before Seattle-Denver just up the street in East Rutherford:

“We have a team full of competitors who want to go against the best team, the best offense. We have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”
 “It’s all going to come down to who plays the best football.”
“It really comes down to the execution.”
“It’s going to be a battle of wills.”

All right! Who went and stole Richard Sherman?!

It's almost like Richard Sherman doesn't shout taunts into the camera towards specific opponents on a weekly basis and isn't quite the out of control player that the media has enjoyed painting him as over the last few weeks.

Someone asked him about being referred to as a thug last night, and instead of rolling his eyes and flashing anger, he said: “I think it did have some effect on opening up the channels of communication and conversation and dialogue. I think I had some impact on it, and I want to have a positive impact. I want people to understand that everybody should be judged by their character and who they are as a person and not by the color of their skin. That’s something we’ve worked to get past as a nation, as a country and we’re continuing to work on it. It’s healthy.

I’ve heard him talk like that several times, when the cameras aren’t around. I think as a person, that’s who he is.

I think a lot of people are different at work as compared to how they act in a regular, everyday setting. I'm much more patient when it comes to everyday activities, while I'm not as patient when it comes to being in a work setting. So I think it's silly to judge Sherman on his actions after the NFC Championship game and am not surprised he doesn't act like that in all of his interviews.

But this week, I expect him to be the filtered Richard Sherman. Maybe with a message Tuesday, Media Day, in Newark, for the national TV audience, but nothing too incendiary.

I thought it was very interesting that Richard Sherman wasn't specifically known for having an incendiary message until 10 minutes after the NFC Championship game, at which point the media was awaiting Sherman's next incendiary message as if he yells into television cameras all the time.

The Broncos and Seahawks are staying 1.3 miles apart, just up from the Hudson River. Outside the Denver hotel is the better view: the icy Hudson, with the new World Trade Center glistening to the east. A beautiful sight.

Really, much like the Denver traffic this sight is underrated.

But Denver has the more arduous practice road. They’ll have a 31-mile escorted trek to the Jets’ practice facility in the rolling hills of Florham Park, and will make the trip for the first time today for a light 2:55 p.m. practice.

Are the Broncos having to walk to the practice facility or something? Peter describes their practice road as arduous, but they are taking a bus or other modern transportation to get there, so the Broncos just have to sit in a bus a little longer than the Seahawks. I'm sure they will find a way to recover and make the Super Bowl competitive.

Seattle is about eight miles away from the Meadowlands. 

Better get the sled dogs fed, make sure they have their winter coats well fluffed and prepare for the arduous journey across the New Jersey landscape.

Denver coach John Fox did the smart thing, figuring he’ll have his team on buses for 70 to 90 minutes a day today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: He’s going to encourage his players to do homework on the trips.

Do homework, but no cheating off each other's papers. The Broncos team will never learn how to do Algebra if they start sharing answers or allow Demaryius Thomas to give them all of the answers. Plus, this bus ride will be the perfect time to prepare for Mrs. Sides' big spelling test on Monday.

In addition, Fox and FOX will get together Wednesday afternoon on the bus. He’ll do his weekly TV production meeting with the TV team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and the network’s production staff while driving back from the Jets’ facility after practice. Smart and efficient.

As someone who has experience with John Fox quotes, here's what he'll say.

"This isn't my first rodeo."

"The Seahawks practice too."

"A punt isn't a bad play."

"It is what it is."

That about sums it up for the Foxisms.

Pete Carroll will coach the Super Bowl in a stadium in the same Jersey parking lot as the one where he got his first head-coaching shot. In fact, this month is the 20-year anniversary of Pete Carroll getting his first NFL head-coaching job.
This month is also the 19-year anniversary of Carroll getting fired from his first NFL head-coaching job.
That’s right. Carroll Chudzinskied the Jets’ job.

I remember nothing past last week and have no access to Wikipedia, so that is brand new information that I just learned.

That was a strange mix of a Jets team. (That is not the first time, nor the last, for that.) Boomer Esiason and Art Monk teamed that day for five aerial connections for 108 yards. Esiason to Monk! Bet you didn’t know they ever played on the same team.

No, I completely knew they played on the same team. I know this may shock Peter, but some of us actually have a memory and are able to remember something that occurred prior to the year 2000.

With the clock running and the ball at the Jets’ 8 with 32 seconds left, Marino hustled to the line. The man who called the plays into Marino’s helmet that season was backup Bernie Kosar,


Plus, Bernie Kosar was a quarterback. I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT!

That’s right: The Jets finished on a five-game losing streak. In the last week of the season, Carroll called Esiason into his office and told him, “Boomer, we’re gonna make some major changes around here, and you’re gonna love them.”

"I'm getting fired. I bet that just thrills you. And oh yeah, the Jets are going to hire Rich Kotite. It might be best to just retire or demand a trade."

But after the last loss, owner Leon Hess, 

Leon Hess is a real person. I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW THAT!

“To this day I have no idea why Mr. Hess fired Pete after one season,” Esiason said. “He was brilliant. He was the Chip Kelly of his time. I wish he’d have stayed our coach.”

Chip Kelly wasn't always the head coach of the Eagles. Few people probably remember he was the head coach at Oregon.
This is a very significant storyline this week.
I just don’t know exactly how to quantify it.

Mostly because it's a fairly contrived storyline.

Peyton Manning has never faced any of the eight Seattle defensive backs in the regular season or playoffs. He has faced the Seahawks twice in the preseason, but not when it’s counted since Oct. 4, 2009, a span of 68 games, including postseason. And, obviously, they have never faced him in a real game either.

This is incredible. How will Peyton Manning know how to throw the football and how will the Seahawks secondary understand how to play defense since they have never played each other? There is going to be mass confusion.

I think it's impossible to quantify the fact Manning and the Seahawks secondary haven't played each other before and probably pretty needless to do so as well.

Now the question: Who gets the edge—Manning or the Seattle secondary—because of the lack of exposure these two sides have had to each other?

Who knows? Maybe we will have to watch the Super Bowl to find out which team has the advantage. What a shocking conclusion! It's almost like the actual game being played on Sunday has meaning and any attempts to really quantify what could happen during the game is useless.

At first blush I’d say Manning, because, well, as Richard Sherman said a few days ago, “You can’t get in Peyton Manning’s head. If you get in his head, you’ll get lost.” Manning, and his new coordinator-in-crime, Adam Gase, are very good are figuring out things to show a defense that they’ve never seen before.

This week Manning will go to the line of scrimmage and start yelling "Boise, Boise" and all of the Seahawks defenders will be confused because he isn't yelling "Omaha."

But do you know you’ll be seeing what you’ve seen regularly this year? Andre Caldwell was thrown 19 balls in a late-season three-game stretch; Jacob Tamme got 13 Manning targets in an earlier three-game run. Manning, when he needs to, involves the rest of the roster, not just his big four.

Much of the reason Caldwell got those balls thrown to him is because Wes Welker was injured. Welker is healthy now, so I think the fact Caldwell got thrown 19 passes over three weeks is a bit misleading. Though I'm sure it will certainly confuse the Seahawks to know they have to cover every wide receiver or tight end for the Broncos rather than just the big four.

But Seattle has an edge here in that Manning hasn’t been able to replicate the Seahawks’ talent, size and physicality in practice. Other than Sherman staying at left corner—that’s an absolute given—we won’t know for sure until the game starts how Seattle plans to defend the wideouts.

This is as opposed to if Manning had faced the Seahawks secondary before he would know exactly how Seattle plans to defend the wideouts for the Broncos?

For once, the beaten-up story angle of the week (just watch)—Peyton Manning against the best secondary in football—could turn out to be the overwhelming story of the Super Bowl.

And they have never faced each other, so the game is actually going to have to be played before conclusions can be drawn. How is Peter supposed to start creating narratives in this situation? It's not fair.

The Browns coaching hire. It’s a tangled web in Cleveland—and I say that with much respect for Mike Pettine, hired as the eighth head coach in the reconstituted Browns’ 15-year history. Pettine did a fabulous job with the Bills in his one year as coordinator (Buffalo sacks in 2012: 36; in 2013: 57) and should breathe life into a team that underperformed on defense this season.

Pettine has done a great job with his defenses over the years. Let's me just say if his name were Mike Gruden or Mike Ryan then he would probably already have a head coaching job. But it does suck that Pettine was the 15th (or so) choice of the Browns.

I have heard McDaniels was the apple of owner Jimmy Haslam’s eye from the time a four-man team of Browns officials met with McDaniels in New England for seven-and-a-half hours on Wild Card Saturday, and that GM Mike Lombardi had at least two conversations with McDaniels about re-entering the coaching derby in the days after New England’s loss to Denver in the AFC title game.

Speaking of Mike Lombardi, notice how Bill Simmons has stayed the hell away from commenting about the Browns long and fruitless coaching search? I firmly believe if Mike Lombardi wasn't one of Bill's good friends then he would have made some jokes about the Browns front office and how inept they are in one of his (rare and getting rarer) Friday NFL columns. It pays to have friends in the media it seems, as Bill has stayed the hell away from jokes about Lombardi.

I have also heard, after Bill Belichick pushed hard for his friend Greg Schiano to get in the Cleveland race, that some in the Browns’ hierarchy were revved up by Schiano’s interview with the club early last week.

The Browns have barked up the "Head coaching candidate affiliated with Bill Belichick" twice before and neither candidate worked after being hired as the head coach. But hey, Mike Lombardi is be a genius, right? Why not keep going for recycled head coaching candidates?

They don’t have a long-term quarterback of the future (unless Brian Hoyer, 28, is far better than he’s shown in his four-team, four-start NFL career), and they don’t have anyone to coach one. That’s the biggest problem with the Browns now. There’s no consensus as to who will be the offensive coordinator, and certainly no consensus as to whom the team will draft in May for the new coordinator to coach.

And this much we know, Rob Chudzinksi was the problem. I mean, obviously.

On Adam Gase. The Denver offensive coordinator did the smart thing, as did his former boss in Denver, McDaniels. The coaches of Peyton Manning (Gase) and Tom Brady (McDaniels) both withdrew from the search in Cleveland and will be back piloting their explosive offenses with legendary quarterbacks in 2014 rather than coaching the Browns. Gase is 35 and has a bright future.

He's very good at choosing two plays that his quarterback can run and then allowing his quarterback to choose the play or audible out of it if necessary. If Adam Gase were the offensive coordinator on a video game, he wouldn't even be using "Coach Mode" since the team has to run the play you call in that mode. Gase runs the Broncos offense in "Coach, unless you have a better idea than go ahead and call that play, Mode" if he were the offensive coordinator on a video game.

Nothing against Adam Gase and I wouldn't have wanted the Cleveland Browns job either if I could write Peyton Manning's coattails a little longer and get a better job offer. I don't think I would want to work for the Browns either.

Speaking of McDaniels … Which no one in Denver likes to do. People in Denver figure McDaniels “ran off” Jay Cutler, which he didn’t do, and then drafted Tim Tebow and got fired in the midst of a crash-and-burn 4-12 season. So the venom spews. But let’s be fair here. Look around the Broncos roster, which McDaniels had control of in 2009 and 2010. From the 2009 draft: Knowshon Moreno (1,586 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns this year), defensive end Robert Ayers (sack of Tom Brady in the AFC title game) and special-teams captain David Bruton are here. From the 2010 draft: the two leading receivers—Demaryius Thomas (92 catches, 14 touchdowns) and Eric Decker (87 catches, 11 TDs)—are here, plus starting guard Zane Beadles.

To be ever more fair, I think this goes to show the talent of Brian Xanders as a GM and John Fox as a head coach more than it shows the coaching ability of Josh McDaniels. I recognize most of these guys were really young when they played under McDaniels, but they have flourished under Fox, and Xanders is the guy most responsible for choosing them. So I know Peter is trying to rehab Josh McDaniels' image in a way, but I think Brian Xanders deserves a shout-out too.

He has said time and again that when he compared teams, he liked the young receivers that Denver had. Who would have been in their place, and would they have passed Manning’s muster? Or would be have looked at Larry Fitzgerald and the Manning-friendly offense of Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona a little more fondly? Point is, McDaniels shouldn’t be a Denver pariah in this Super Bowl week. He should be thanked.

Not Brian Xanders? He doesn't merit a mention here? Check out what's done in terms of personnel acquisition. I think he should be thanked more than Josh McDaniels should be thanked.

Well, I never thought I’d be interviewing a rapper for The MMQB. But one of our writers, Robert Klemko, knew how passionate a football fan Lil Wayne is, and Klemko met his publicist, and one thing led to another, and Tuesday night the publicist said to me: “I’m patching you through to Wayne.” 

I would love to have heard this conversation recorded. I'm surprised Peter didn't ask Lil Wayne which U2 album he thought was the best and whether he watched "The Office" or not. On a more realistic note, this is the type of addendum to MMQB that causes it to feel bloated. I think the full interview Lil Wayne should be posted as a separate article on THE MMQB rather than spend space in MMQB, but I'm not Peter's editor, so perhaps he thought it fit in well with MMQB. To me, it just adds to the bloat.

“A lot of the writers think I’m boring. So I’m going to go all Richard Sherman on you.”

—Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, to Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe.

Riveting. I'm glad this quote was included in MMQB. I mean, I really think this quote is super-important to my understanding of the NFL and MLB.

Peter left out his "Fine Fifteen" this week, which was probably a smart move. I did say the following last week though,

1. Seattle (15-3)
2. Denver (15-3)
I'm guessing Peter will have these teams arranged in this order this week and then flip-flop them once he picks the Broncos to win the Super Bowl despite the fact no games have been played which would give him no logical reason to flip-flop their spots, though it wouldn't shock me if Peter put Seattle #1 in his Fine Fifteen and then picked the Broncos to win the Super Bowl.

Take a wild guess which team Peter has picked to win the Super Bowl? I'll give you a hint, it's not Seattle. Peter did something similar earlier in the year when he put the Kansas City Chiefs at #1 in his "Fine Fifteen" until the week where the Broncos and Chiefs played. At that point, he moved the Broncos head of the Chiefs despite the fact the Chiefs had not lost and had a bye week the week before. What changed on the bye week that could have moved the Chiefs out of the #1 spot on the "Fine Fifteen"? Other than they played the Broncos of course? So Peter's "Fine Fifteen" isn't the most accurate measurement of which team Peter believes is the strongest in the NFL. He ranks Seattle above the Broncos in the previous week's "Fine Fifteen," no games are played the following weekend, and then picks the Broncos to beat the Seahawks. 

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I have never covered a Super Bowl in the town where I lived, so even though I think it’s a bad idea to have the Super Bowl in an outdoor freezer, I am pleased to be home this week. To get my credential for the week’s media responsibilities, I left my apartment on the east side of Manhattan Sunday about 2:30 p.m., and walked nine blocks to the Sheraton Times Square, which is the media hotel for the Super Bowl. I picked up my press credential, then boarded a bus at 3:30 for the Broncos’ team hotel in Jersey City, across the Hudson River.

Now these Broncos and Seahawks players can see firsthand all of the big city annoyances that Peter has to deal with on a weekly basis. There are people on the train minding their own business doing weird things while Peter stares intently at them, the Starbucks baristas don't always make every cup of Peter's coffee perfectly and tourists take pictures of the Apple logo. How insane.

What will be odd about this Super Bowl: The media events with the teams, and the team hotels, and the practice sites, and the Super Bowl, will be in New Jersey. Everything else—the parties, the major-domo press conferences, the media center—will be in Manhattan.

But where will Bruce Springsteen be? Isn't he the shining example of New Jersey?

I'm sure Jon Bon Jovi, who is a Jersey guy and apparently a diehard Patriots fan because he is friends with Robert Kraft/a front runner, will be at the game too. They will be in New Jersey, doesn't that count for something, Peter?

I lived in New Jersey with my family for 24 years. I love the state. Not every inch of it,


So I’m a little sensitive about the New York-ification of everything major league that goes on in New Jersey. Like this Super Bowl. The teams are in Jersey. The practices are in Jersey. The players and coaches meet the press in Jersey. The game’s in Jersey.

But it’s the New York Super Bowl.

Well, it's the media that writes this story so they could be directionally correct if they wanted to, but they choose not to. I think part of the reason this is considered the New York Super Bowl is because the Giants and Jets play at the stadium the Super Bowl will be played in and they are both New York teams.

Peter thinks that's bad, he should try living in North Carolina with South Carolina always lurking and looking to confuse everyone that North Carolina wants anything to do with South Carolina. It didn't help that Jerry Richardson named the Panthers the "Carolina Panthers," but South Carolina also insists on talking to North Carolina at parties and just generally being that cousin who doesn't get invited to family reunions but shows up anyway somehow.

I’ll be drinking in Hoboken Tuesday night, thank you.

I bet Peter will be drinking an Allagash White. 

“Richard Sherman seems to be on his best behavior during his first Super Bowl media exposure. Unfortunately.”

—@MichaelJLev, of the Orange County Register, tweeting from the Richard Sherman news conference Sunday night.

It's so sad Sherman isn't acting up so sportswriters can call him a thug and generally turn his behavior into a narrative about the entire Seahawks team.

Ten Things I Think I Think

3. I think new Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht (pronounced “Light”) had an interesting take the other day when asked who would have the final say on the draft—him or coach Lovie Smith. (It’s widely thought around the league that the buck will stop with Smith on all football decisions.) Said Licht: “There will be no arguments on draft day

So the buck will stop with Lovie Smith then?

We’ll have arguments on players. I’m going to plead my case. I told Lovie, during the interview process, that if he doesn’t like a player, I’m going to be in his office 20 times trying to prove why my player, that I like, is the guy that we need, and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing. If we don’t come to an agreement, the answer is easy, it lies in itself—we won’t take that player.”

This sounds like one of the worst ideas I have heard as it pertains to a head coach and a GM deciding which player to take. So if neither party can agree on a player then they just won't take the player? What if the Buccaneers are choosing between Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles and Smith likes Bortles while Licht likes Manziel? Will no decision be made and the Buccaneers just won't take a quarterback? This seems counterproductive to me, especially if the Buccaneers need a quarterback.

I’ll be interested to follow that down the line.

Yeah, me too. This method of conflict resolution as it pertains to which player to take seems like a bad way to go about player evaluation and selection. At some point, there has to be a player that neither Licht or Smith can agree upon and they will just not make a decision at all as opposed to making a decision both are unhappy with. This does sound like how Congress goes about their business, but I'm thinking it will cause more gridlock and bad will than just letting Smith or Licht have their way. What do I know though? When there is a conflict over a decision on which player to choose, choosing neither player seems like a bad idea to me.

7. I think San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman, unfortunately, may turn out to be the offensive version of Mike Zimmer, who had to wait far too long for his chance to be a head coach. Cleveland not interviewing Roman … absolutely amazing.

Earlier this year, Peter was wanting more minority candidates to receive interviews for NFL head coaching jobs. Yet I can't help but notice every time he discusses an NFL head coaching candidate who deserves an interview or has waited too long for an interview he always mentions a white guy and not a minority.

9.  I think I will make this promise to you, as Super Bowl Week dawns: I promise I will not hit you over the head with weather reporting/complaining. It’ll get a mention now and again, but not a daily pounding.

Peter hit us with weather report and was complaining about the weather in a previous MMQB. So Peter go his weather complaining in earlier in the season.

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

d. Bieber. Lohan. How do you tell them apart?

One is a girl but looks like a 40-year old woman and the other is a boy but is slowly looking more and more like a girl.

i. How do the Asbury Jukes wear all Rangers stuff?

They put the clothes over their head and then put their arms through the holes of the Rangers gear they wear. Probably the same way Jon Bon Jovi is a big Patriots fan despite the fact he is from New Jersey and owned a Philadelphia arena league team.

k. Beernerdness: Had the good fortune to meet Jim Koch, the Sam Adams brewer, on the SI Now show the other day in New York. We talked craft beer, and he handed me one of his new ones. “Cold Snap.” A wheat beer, he said

Yep, and "Cold Snap" isn't all that great. It's like a wheat beer for people who like the taste of Bud Light.

with spices like coriander and orange peel. And I’m thinking, “Hmmm. Allagash White.”

And I'm thinking there aren't too many beers I consider real beers if you have to put an orange peel in it.

So I popped it open Friday night. A tad darker than Allagash, but the same nose and similar taste. Loved it.

It tastes mediocre, so of course Peter loved it. I gave it a 2.5 on the Untapped app (which is an awesome beer app where you get to rank the beers you drink and share beers you drink with friends) and I was probably being generous.

l. Matt Garza to the Brew Crew. I like it. Good signing. If healthy, he should win 15.

Congrats Brewers! Your signing of Matt Garza has Peter King's approval! Given Peter's knowledge of baseball and individual baseball players, how can this not thrill you?

The Adieu Haiku

Sad thing re Pro Bowl:
End of Tony Gonzalez.
At least in football.

Oh, so Tony Gonzalez will continue living and not die. Thanks for clearing up it's the end of Tony Gonzalez, but only in football. I BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW TONY GONZALEZ PLAYED BASKETBALL IN COLLEGE! 


JBsptfn said...

I think that Brian Xanders suggested to McDaniels to draft Clay Matthews in 2009, but he wanted Robert Ayers instead.

Ayers is good, but he isn't a 3-4 OLB, even though McD tried to turn him into one.

Anonymous said...

"defensive end Robert Ayers (sack of Tom Brady in the AFC title game)"

Wow, a whole SACK of Tom Brady in the AFC title game. Put him in the Hall of Fame! As the previous commenter said, Ayers is fine but sheesh what a lousy way to prove it.

How good do you suppose Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno would be if they weren't playing with Peyton Manning? You can't just say "McDaniels drafted their top two receivers and top runner" and drop the mic. Peyton Manning has a lot to do with their success.

I love the fact that Cleveland's top two choices for head coach were McDaniels and Schiano, two guys who weren't just bad in their previous stops but were atrocious. You can justify Whistenhunt and Caldwell by saying they've coached in a Super Bowl. McDaniels and Schiano? Well, they inherited talented young QBs and ran them out of town, that counts for something, right? I wish we could just send Cleveland back to extinction. Nothing against the town, but that franchise is an embarrassment. 8th head coach in 15 years?! How is that even possible? I actually feel like they may have fallen ass-backwards into a decent coach in Pettine. He at least has a track record of doing good work without having an all-time great QB like McDaniels.

Bengoodfella said...

JB, I don't think Ayers was a 3-4 OLB at UT either if I'm not wrong. He was one of those 4-3 DE that teams wanted to turn into 3-4 DE's. Brian Xanders did a great job as a GM in terms of drafting. He needs another gig sometime.

Anon, I think Manning has a lot to do with their success too. I do think Xanders did a good job overall, but John Fox is also a really good coach and he's good at putting players in a position to succeed.

I'm with you on that about Pettine. I'm not sure he can succeed in Cleveland, but he's actually got potential in my opinion. His defenses have consistently been ranked high and if Rob Ryan can get interest then I think Pettine should also.