Tuesday, August 26, 2014

15 comments MMQB Review: Sam Bradford Is Injured...Again Edition

Peter King eulogized Robin Williams in last week's MMQB by talking about what a great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was, helped his readers understand that depression is serious, decided the 49ers are in serious trouble after their defense collapses this year and Colin Kaepernick gets injured trying to carry the team, and passed on more coachspeak that he thought was wisdom from Chip Kelly. This week Peter talks about why the Seahawks won't win the Super Bowl, mourns Sam Bradford (who would have thought an oft-injured quarterback would get injured?), and has 20 thoughts about the preseason which come right before the entire page of things that Peter thinks he thinks. MMQB in a few years will simply just be six pages of what Peter thinks.

One after one, they fell out of the sky, these perfect or near-perfect throws downfield from Russell Wilson, always landing close to, or in the hands of, a sub-4.4 sprinter like Percy Harvin or wispy rookie Paul Richardson. I mean, always on target. Such beautiful deep balls, and isn’t Wilson supposed to be a system quarterback or game manager, or whatever negative connotation you can think of when you don’t want to acknowledge he’s a top 10 quarterback in the league after two seasons and one Lombardi Trophy?

Every quarterback is a system quarterback in one way or another. I will not acknowledge that Russell Wilson is a top 10 quarterback in the NFL after two seasons. There are 10 quarterbacks who I would take before I took Russell Wilson if I had to choose 10 NFL quarterbacks who I think are the best at their position. Replace Wilson with Jay Cutler and does Wilson have the success that he has had without the Seahawks defense? I'm not sure he does. I think Wilson is a great quarterback and the Seahawks' defense isn't the only reason he has a Lombardi Trophy. He's very good at not making mistakes and running the Seahawks offense. Are there 10 quarterbacks I would rather have than Russell Wilson though? Yes. Do I think he would be more successful than Ryan Tannehill in Miami? Probably, but I'm not sure how much more successful. Basically, Peter needs to calm the fuck down with this "top 10 quarterback" stuff.

If the Seahawks stay relatively healthy, they should be favored to be the first team since the Patriots (2003, 2004) to repeat as champs. But I’m not picking them. History is the reason. Stuff happens. It always does. 

Careful with all of this expert analysis, Peter. You wouldn't want to talk over your readers' heads with all of these technical terms you are using. "Stuff happens" is Peter's reason for not choosing the Seahawks. It sort of sounds like he's trying to think of a reason for the Seahawks not to repeat.

Since New England’s second Super Bowl win a decade ago, and not including the ’13 Seahawks, this is the total playoff victories of the eight Super Bowl champions the following year: 


This is a better reason not to choose the Seahawks, but it still doesn't explain how the Seahawks have much of the continuity many of those previous Super Bowl champs didn't have and had season-long success some of the prior Super champs didn't have. The Giants and Packers won three Super Bowls over that last decade, but they had not shown themselves through the season they won the Super Bowl as one of the best teams in the NFL. They peaked at the best possible time. There's nothing wrong with that. The Ravens tore their team apart after the Super Bowl victory and the Steelers lost key players from their team after their Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks. The Seahawks are a Super Bowl champ who has proven themselves to be a consistently great team and have continuity from the previous season. I just don't know if "history" is the right reason not to choose them to repeat. It seems lazy to me and ignores the difference in the Seahawks and the previous 8 teams that won the Super Bowl since the Patriots repeated.

Stubbornness is a good reason why one of the other 31 teams will be my call, but the reality of repeating is that it’s become the toughest thing to do in sports. Think of it: For eight straight years, the defending champ has either not made the playoffs or hasn’t gotten past its first playoff game.

Fine, use stubbornness as an excuse, but don't talk about how the Seahawks were the best team you saw in the preseason (as Peter does here) like you knew how good they were when/if they win the Super Bowl again. I can buy that it's hard to repeat as NFL champs, but it's also important to focus on where each of those previous Super Bowl champs were at when they won the Super Bowl. They were all in different places from each other or had a season-long performance that didn't lead an observer to believe they would be dominating the following season after winning the Super Bowl.

Hard for any team that won the Super Bowl by 35 points to look better the next year. But if Harvin plays every week—which is no lock, with his recent injury history—I could well be eating my prediction in five months.

The three biggest reasons that I see the Seahawks having a good chance to repeat, which Peter is ignoring in favor of "history," are the following:

1. They have consistently been one of the best teams in the NFL over the last two seasons. Their Super Bowl run wasn't them peaking at the right time.

2. They bring back most of their core players and even add better players (Percy Harvin) to the roster which can mitigate any free agent losses they had.

3. It's really hard to win in Seattle and even if the Seahawks are an average road team they will win 11-12 games, which leads to home playoff games.

The biggest reason I can see the Seahawks not winning the Super Bowl again, and again Peter doesn't even touch on this, is that the Seahawks have a great defense, but a run-based offense. If Lynch isn't in full Beast Mode, or Christine Michael isn't going to be good enough to be a #2 if/when Lynch's performance falls off a bit, then I don't know how the offense works with Wilson having more weight on this shoulders to throw the football and win games that way. I could be wrong, but the offense is built around Wilson and a running back who is in his mid-30's in running back years.

And now for some stories from the end of my camp trail. My trip ended Saturday night with the completely forgettable Dallas-Miami game.

Yeah, fuck you Dallas-Miami game. Peter wishes he were with the Rams so he could talk about Michael Sam and ignore Sam Bradford as the real key to the Rams season, then talk about what a great coach Jeff Fisher is when Bradford goes down with another ACL injury so he can prop up his agent's fellow client in his time of need.

And of course Peter will now do damage control (and never ask the question, "Should the Rams be better prepared for this situation?") for the Rams, Jeff Fisher, and Kevin/Marvin Demoff due to Sam Bradford tearing his ACL again. I know very little about Shaun Hill in 2014 and how he differs from Shaun Hill who was the Lions backup for a few years, but unless he is the next Kurt Warner what the Rams have done is a form of coaching/personnel malpractice. They have a quarterback who not only is injury-prone, but coming off an ACL tear and they don't find a more reliable backup for him in the offseason. Great backups aren't growing on trees, but if the Rams season depends on a quality quarterback then wouldn't it make sense to spend the money and time finding a great backup who can take over if Sam Bradford goes down again? It's inexcusable in my opinion they didn't do this. I hope for the Rams' sake I am wrong and Shaun Hill looks like the guy who can make up for Bradford's injury without much fall-off. This is where having friends in the media, friends like Peter King, really helps out. I haven't read anything that is critical of Fisher/Snead for putting their season in the hands of Shaun Hill if/when Bradford went down. I won't read anything like that. Too much effort is put into stating what a "team on the rise" the Rams are, while ignoring the malpractice of putting the season in the hands of Shaun Hill if/when Bradford gets injured again. I'm glad I'm not a Rams fan, because I can't fathom how I would feel today. The Rams are not only turning over the offense to a quarterback who has been in the system for less than a year, but he's also 34 years old, so he's not part of the future and the only thing certain at this point is the Rams will probably have a new starting quarterback next year.

What makes it more irritating to me is the amount of draft picks and time the Rams have put into putting offensive weapons around Bradford. I would think that they would think they would want a better backup plan than Shaun Hill to utilize the offensive weapons they have gathered around the quarterback. I understand teams can't draft quarterbacks they don't believe will be successful, but quarterback is such an important position, and the Rams could not have believed Bradford would play the whole season with a straight face. The Rams have done a lot to put a great offensive around Bradford and I wish they had another more certain quarterback, or young quarterback who the team can test drive for a year to see if he can be the guy, to use these offensive weapons. Tom Brady is envious of the draft picks the Rams have spent trying to make Sam Bradford successful. Maybe I'm drastically underrating Shaun Hill, but the Rams have done so much to have a great offense I can't imagine why they put most of their eggs in the Sam Bradford basket. 

MRI early Sunday morning. A couple hours later, a trainer called Jeff Fisher and said, “Come on down to the trainer’s room.’’ Fisher knew that was bad. If it was good news on Bradford, the trainer would have said, “He’s fine.” And when Fisher got in the room, there was the trainer and Bradford. “I could tell,” Fisher said Sunday night from St. Louis. “I could sense it, and feel it in the room.”

Then Fisher added, "Well, just be sure to add how I need more time as the Rams coach in your column. My contract is up in two years. I would like an extension soon. You can't just turn a team around in one year in the NFL. I would even accept only $7 million per year in my next contract extension. I'm worth it. 8-8 just doesn't happen by itself."

The only good news: The ACL is torn, but nothing else in the knee, apparently, is damaged. He should be able to return whole in 2015. To where? Who knows.

I feel bad for Bradford. Of course, he's made a lot of money (a lot more than Josh Freeman by the way...there is a difference in injury and ineffectiveness, I recognize) and not proven he can stay healthy, but I still feel bad for him.

“We’ve got to go on,” Fisher said, “and that’s basically what I told [backup] Shaun Hill. Shaun shifts gears, and we go. I told him, ‘This is why you’re here. Let’s go.’

Hill is 34. He’s started 26 games (13-13) with San Francisco and Detroit—but his last start was four seasons ago.

This is part of my issue too. Hill isn't the present or the future. The future at the quarterback position isn't on the Rams roster most likely. Jeff Fisher just bought himself three more years. He's a "name" coach who has suffered some bad luck and honestly hasn't done much to help his luck at the quarterback position, but that doesn't matter. The Rams are probably going to draft a quarterback in the upcoming draft, which they probably should have done this year, and Fisher will start over. I don't hate Jeff Fisher or the Rams, but Rams fans deserve better than this. Fisher is incredibly overrated as a coach. He's not a bad coach, but he and Snead have made crucial personnel mistakes at the most important spot on the roster. They've built a really good team around a quarterback who can't stay on the field. Logic would dictate the best backup plan isn't Shaun Hill. Hill is an okay backup and he very well may succeed this season. I feel like Fisher and Snead are getting a pass for completely counting on a injury-prone quarterback who may not even be very good when healthy. I'm not sure I could even tell you what kind of quarterback Bradford is because he can't stay on the field. That's the point. I would feel better about this situation if the Rams had a younger guy they wanted to see play (I don't think Austin Davis counts as that guy) if/when Bradford got hurt. It would give that younger guy a chance for some snaps to see if he can stick with the team.

The Rams are in the toughest division in the NFL. Don't they realize if they really want to compete they can't rely on Bradford so much? Why does this frustrate me so? It's just proof to me of how untouchable Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are. It's the third year of the Jeff Fisher era, where he is 14-17-1, is he really that cocky or unconcerned about his job security that he felt comfortable relying on Shaun Hill as the backup if/when Bradford gets injured? I guess he knows his buddies in the media will go to bat for him. Can't be on the hot seat if no one reports that he is on the hot seat. Sorry, I'm done boring everyone with my ranting about this.

The Rams will monitor cut quarterbacks and may sign one to back up Hill, or to compete with Hill or backup Austin Davis. But I didn’t get the sense talking to Rams people Sunday that this was a priority, because Hill’s been in the system for five months and a newbie wouldn’t be familiar.

This is true. Maybe Hill is the best the Rams could do in the offseason. I find that difficult to believe though.

Now the Rams have to confront reality.

The Rams should have confronted reality in the offseason. Bradford is going to be a free agent soon and he was coming off major ACL surgery. My biggest regret about what I wrote here about the latest NFL Draft is I edited out a rant (I know right, me ranting about the Rams...by the way I also edited out a rant about how Khalil Mack is another athlete/football player the Raiders have blindly drafted based on him having great athletic skill, so we'll see if I'm an idiot about that or not...also, you can see I tend to edit my rants at times and it's a good thing) in my NFL Draft non-grades about how I wish the Rams had taken a quarterback. It sounded silly and petty to me at the time because they got Aaron Donald in the first round and I think he was a good pick. I also didn't hate Lamarcus Joyner in the second round. But the Rams had questions at the most important spot on the roster and it's hard to feel good about that.

By the end of this season, Bradford would have started 49 NFL games and sat for 31 of them, and made $65 million in the process; his was the last silly rookie contract before the new CBA made rookie salaries rich but not kooky.

It's not a great parallel but know Bradford has made $65 million for 49 games, while Peter King busted Josh Freeman's ass for getting paid $2 million to be the Vikings third quarterback this past season.

There is a saying on the whiteboard in Rams general manager Les Snead’s office.

"If anything goes wrong, call Marvin Demoff, who will then call Peter King to try and do some PR on the issue you are having."

“Build to dominate using Redskin picks!” it reads. The Rams made the mega-trade with Washington in 2012 that allowed their NFC neighbor to draft Robert Griffin III. The Rams, meanwhile, thought they had their quarterback of the future, and didn’t draft one until the sixth round this year in SMU’s Garrett Gilbert.

How many years in a row can one team try to figure out if Sam Bradford is the future or not? It's fine to wonder this, but there must be a "quarterback of the future" backup plan in place. The Rams traded those picks three years ago. Three years and they probably know as much about Bradford now as they did then. But hey, they have Shaun Hill for this year and then they will draft a QB. I don't know how Rams fans feel, but I know how I would feel.

Fisher has won with lesser players before. The Titans signed Kerry Collins in 2006 as quarterback insurance, and he ended up winning nine starts in 2008.

Fisher has also not made the playoffs since 2008 and been very average with lesser players before. Simply because he signed Kerry Collins and two years later he won 9 starts as the Titans starter doesn't mean the Rams should try to win games with lesser players at the most important position on the roster. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Hill certainly will have some talent around him on offense, but in the NFC West, St. Louis’s road just got loaded with potholes.

Like I said, almost no NFL teams have spent the draft picks that the Rams have spent to upgrade their offensive side of the football. They are in the toughest division in the NFL. I really hope for them it works out.

The Cards had their eyes on three players as the first round neared its midpoint: Ryan Shazier, Zack Martin and Calvin Pryor. But Shazier went at 15, Martin at 16, Pryor at 18. Now the Cards had a grading gap in the next set of players they liked, and Keim had an idea. There was this one under-the-radar prospect the Cardinals loved: Brown, a wideout from Pittsburg State. The Cards had him rated their fifth wide receiver in the draft. Early second-round grade.

The Cards now had four picks in the top 100: 27, 52, 84 and 91. Keim figured the team had several priorities other than wideout, where they were fine (Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn), 

I feel like I should laugh at the idea of the Cardinals being "fine" with Ted Ginn as their third wide receiver. I know I never felt good with him as the third wide receiver for the Panthers last year. He was third on the depth chart in Carolina because there weren't better options in front of him.

Keim paced. He called around to see which teams between 85 and 90 might take a receiver. He had a scout call Brown in a vague hope to tie up his phone line (as if he wouldn’t have call-waiting) as the picks went by.

First off, this is sort of a dick move to make sure John Brown isn't taken earlier than the Cardinals pick, and second, does Steve Keim think it's 1988? Seriously, "tie up the phone line" was his plan? Part of me likes it because it seems so random.

Arians is lining up Brown in the slot, tight to the formation as a faux tight end with blocking responsibilities, and wide on either side. I watched practice Friday, and Brown was in on six early snaps with the first unit, more than Ted Ginn or Juron Brown. 

Who could have ever envisioned a decent receiver would knock Ted Ginn down the depth chart? Certainly not Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers fans.

So, the penalties are still high in Week 3 of the preseason, but they’re down from the hair-raising 20.8 per game last weekend. For the 16 games this weekend, the combined accepted penalties were 17.6 per game. Average accepted penalties per regular-season game in 2013: 12.2.

I try not to get in a panic about preseason, but the amount of penalties in NFL games is concerning to me. The flow of the game is being disrupted and parts of the preseason games I saw were a little unwatchable at times. I'm sure penalties will be decreased in the regular season. I keep telling myself that.

Joe Haden doesn't seem to mind the rule changes.

In Detroit [in the first preseason game], I got one official say something to me on one play. I went to go jam and my hand hit him in the face mask. He was like, “23, get your hands lower. Get your hands lower. Keep your hands lower.” Once he gave me that one warning, I was just playing my normal technique the way I normally play and I got no flags called. If they obviously see jersey pull, if they see things like that, that is a hold. But if it’s just messing around, bumping, touching, things like that I don’t think they’re going to be too strict on that, because I was playing it in that game in Detroit and it didn’t happen. If it’s pulling and grabbing when the ball is in the air, and all that contact, they’re throwing on that.

So basically just be sure you play the football and get in position to make a play on the football without every touching the receiver in any fashion. Grabbing the jersey has always been a hold, but I've seen defensive backs simply make contact with a receiver in an effort to play the football get called for a penalty. The problem is (and I've never played cornerback at any level, so maybe I'm a moron) once Haden has started grabbing and bumping without the ball in the air, he just has to pull away when the ball is in the air even if he is playing the ball? That has to be a little annoying for a cornerback. Maybe it's the way it has been in the past and I haven't noticed. I'm a little concerned about officials being too strict with cornerbacks who are simply trying to make a play and bump the receiver.

And I think: Cleveland GM Ray Farmer could have two of the top five picks in the draft next April. The Browns have Buffalo’s first-round pick from the Sammy Watkins trade. Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston (if he comes out) or Brett Hundley … plus either a bookend tackle from a reportedly rich tackle crop next year, or another defensive piece. It’s way too early to project things like this, but two picks in the top five of any draft is gold—gold, Jerry, it’s gold!—and Farmer might just have made a golden deal to help the Browns of 2015 and beyond, even as the team faces another apparently lean year now.

Not that Peter is projecting too far into the future or anything, but he has the Bills and Browns getting top-5 picks in the 2015 draft before the 2014 season has even begun. The best way to impress Peter King is to have a lot of draft picks in the next year's draft. It doesn't matter what you do with those picks, the mere fact you own them will cause Peter to call your team a major player in the upcoming draft and project what great things you as a GM will do with those picks. Peter is very impressed with a team that has a lot of draft picks in future drafts. He even sets up fake quarterback competitions.

Then I think: Manziel versus Mariota in training camp next July. I mean, the national press is going to rent the Courtyard in Berea for a month.

You mean exactly like they did this year to cover Manziel in Browns camp when he was competing against Brian Hoyer, eating lunch or simply breathing? I won't say the Browns won't use a top-5 pick on a quarterback next year, but that would be three first round picks on quarterbacks in four years. That seems excessive to me.

So it seems that Peter thinks Browns fans have next year to look forward to already.

1. We all knew the Niners weren’t the Broncos in terms of offensive explosiveness, but San Francisco still was a team that ran for 2,200 yards and scored 25 points per game last year. But there will be alarm bells going off today with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, particularly in protection, as the Niners get ready to go to Dallas in 13 days for the opener. Look at the Niners—what can you have faith in right now on offense?

It's preseason. That's pretty much the only faith 49ers fans need right now. Maybe the preseason is a sign of things to come, but some teams don't game plan in preseason and the 49ers still have time to work out their protection issues.

3. The Browns were led on the field Saturday night by a dog. A real dog.

Oh, not a fake dog? Wherever did the Browns find a REAL dog?

4. Matt Schaub’s not the answer, Oakland. Unless the question is: “Which player is going to finish the job to get this coaching staff, and maybe Reggie McKenzie, fired?” Schaub’s a fine person and had some very good moments in Houston. But he’s lost his confidence, and the Raiders, very soon, are going to have to admit they see the same thing as the rest of the world.

And of course we will get weekly updates on what a waste of money Matt Schaub has been for the Raiders, right? Not to bludgeon a dead horse or anything, but we got reminders every week of how much of a waste of human flesh Josh Freeman was, so I figure with Schaub getting paid more money the reminders will be even more harsh? Or is it just Josh Freeman who is a horrible person for taking an NFL team's money and not becoming the starting quarterback?

8. You may recall me reporting that, early in training camp, Bills GM Doug Whaley went up to E.J. Manuel at a practice and said to him: “Don’t be perfect. Be a football player.” One view on Manuel is he tries to be too fine, too safe. He was awful Saturday in the loss to Tampa, the Bucs storming out to a 24-0 halftime lead and the crowd at refurbished Ralph Wilson Stadium booing the Bills off the field at the half. After the game coach Doug Marrone said something that I thought was particularly troubling about Manuel. “He tries to pinpoint the ball … and that’s really just difficult to do,’’ Marrone said. “We have all done that when we were kids. You play baseball and you start aiming it. You’ve just got to look at the mitt and throw it.’’ Alarm bells on Manuel.

And of course Peter's suggestion that Manuel take more chances, does that seem like a good idea right now? I just wonder, because it seemed like odd advice at the time as well. I feel like young quarterbacks succeed when the game is simplified and they are less prone to taking chances. Peter's advice to E.J. Manuel was just fling the ball down the field if you think your guy is open.

13. Interesting take from a man inside the Washington building and inside the preseason TV booth watching Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins play football this month. Joe Theismann analyzing the two quarterbacks: “Let’s stop beating around the bush. Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now Robert is, basically, learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth and as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know. It’s going to be a decision that Jay Gruden is going to have to make … Right now, Robert Griffin III is his quarterback. Now, if there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition. Kirk Cousins would be the man I believe he would have to go to.” Wow.

And the Big Lead's Jason Fisk had an article that basically showed how Kirk Cousins really wasn't the better quarterback when compared to Robert Griffin, but Joe Theismann has his hot sports takes that get attention and Peter seems to like that.

16. Hairline rib fracture for Cam Newton. The Panthers have major protection issues on their totally rebuilt offensive line, and chemistry issues with a brand new receiving corps. Carolina opens at Tampa, which has been terrific on defense this summer. Trap game if there ever was one.

Can the first game of the season be a trap game? Hasn't the media (and not necessarily Peter) spent most of the offseason saying how the Panthers will regress? So, considering the game is in Tampa Bay and it's the first game of the season I'm not sure it can be a trap game. I'm also not sure the Buccaneers aren't the better team overall right now.

17. San Diego is better than we think on defense.

How do you know how good I think San Diego is on defense? What if I think the Chargers are the second-best defensive unit in football? So is Peter saying the Chargers are the best defensive team in the NFL, since that's the only way they could be better than I think?

19. This from Ron Jaworski on the first three weeks of the preseason:

This quote is about Mark Sanchez, but I'm not even going to finish it. Ron Jaworski says things to gain attention so his quotes are starting to mean less and less to me.

“I am most proud of having never missed an assigned game, be it exhibition, regular season or playoffs, throughout my entire career. It really has been a great run.”

—NBA referee Dick Bavetta, who retired last week at 74. He reffed the most games of any official in NBA history—2,635 in the regular season and 270 in the playoffs—and not just by a little bit. He worked 501 more regular-season games than any other ref in league history.

Bavetta can also take pride in that whenever the NBA needing a playoff series to go to seven games they would call on Bavetta and he would make that result happen. It's just another shining example of the negative work David Stern did as NBA commissioner and then magically was forgotten about by the general public. NBA officials fixed games. Who cares? Need a fix? Better call Dick.

“This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is. It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is. It’s got nothing to do with anything else.’’

—ESPN analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, on the controversy over the Washington team name, to the Redskins Historian website.

It sounds like Mike Ditka would make for a very good baseball Hall of Fame voter. He misses the argument the opposing side is making AND has an overly-enthusiastic love for how it used to be and doesn't want it ever change.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Notes of the Week

How did I miss the fact that Frontier Airlines charges $35 to bring a small carry-on suitcase onto the airplane?

I don't know, Peter. Usually you are on top of things to bitch about that are travel-related.

Happened to me the other day, Denver to San Diego. Frontier did tell me I could check the same bag for $25. Let’s see: $35 to schlep the bag myself and put it in the overhead, $25 to check it and pick it up in San Diego. Because I was in a rush once I landed, I paid the $35.

Oh, so you CHOSE to pay $35 because you were in a rush? Oh, well then I can see why you are bitching then, since you chose to pay the extra $10.

I understand baggage fees, and I understand the concept of unbundling and paying for exactly what you use. 

Do you though? Do you? It doesn't seem like you do.

As the camp trip ends, I am pleased to report that my favorite hotel in the United States, the Arizona Biltmore, has trouble filling the place in August, when it’s regularly 105 degrees or so during the day. (This year it rained hard Thursday night and cooled off the Valley, and it was only about 85 on Friday morning.) The favorable rate allowed me to, in good conscience, stay at the Biltmore knowing I was being a good company traveler. Comparing rates in some of the other hotels on the trail with the groovy Biltmore:

This isn't the late 1960's nor an Austin Powers movie. The use of the word "groovy" without any sense of irony is unacceptable.

Ten Things I Think I Think

Question: If you’ve got a terrific spread scheme (Green Bay does) and one of the most accurate quarterbacks in football history (Green Bay does) and a quarterback with mobility (Green Bay does), why wouldn’t you go for two after every touchdown? (Other than when a single point is the obvious play late in games.)

So Peter's question is why NFL teams don't go for two after every touchdown, except for those cases where they want to ensure they get at least one point? So basically, the Packers could always want to ensure they get one point and never go for two?

Green Bay scored 46 touchdowns last year. Say they score 50 this year, assuming Aaron Rodgers plays a full season; he missed seven games last year. Isn’t it realistic to think if the Packers spent a few more practice plays each week on the two-pointer that they could go 30 of 50, meaning 10 more points over the course of the season?

Yes, that sounds realistic. Just a note, but this could go for other NFL teams too. Other NFL teams could practice two-point conversions and score more points. It's just a matter of doing it, even in situations when it's "obvious" that a team should kick the extra point. Percentages are fun to use.

2. I think every team with a quarterback the coach trusts should go for two after every touchdown—except, of course, in cases where one point is strategically smarter in the last 15 or 20 minutes of a game.

Right, but if the coach trusts the quarterback then what does it matter what is strategically smarter to do in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game? If a coach trusts the quarterback, trust him, and don't lose that trust when he has a chance to convert a two-point conversion that can give his team the lead. That is the issue with Peter's reasoning. If the coach trusts the quarterback, then in situations where a converted two-point try means more the coach should trust his quarterback and let him go for two, right?

It just makes sense to me that if a coach tells his quarterback, "I trust you to go for two and convert" then he can't stop trusting that quarterback in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game and blame "strategy." I mean the coach CAN do this, but it's sort of a mixed message.

7. I think you’d be surprised by the laissez-faire attitude of corners I’ve spoken to in the past week about the points of emphasis intended to cut down on hand-fighting downfield between corners and receivers. “That’s the least of my worries, man,” Aqib Talib said in Denver. “There’s so many big-time receivers, big-time quarterbacks out here. We got educated about it, and now I can’t worry about the referees. I’ve got to just play. If I get a call, it’s on to the next play. I’m not gonna worry about it, not at all.”

I don't think the lack of concern from cornerbacks means they don't think the rule will have a huge impact on the season or reflects their personal feelings about the rule changes. I think these quotes from Talib and others, like Joe Haden, just reflect that these corners don't want to get in their head that they can't bump or play aggressive with a receiver because it will impact the way they play in a game. Corners by nature try to forget a bad play and focus on the next great play they will make, so rule changes that could negatively impact their performance isn't something a great corner will think about why playing.

9. I think it’s going to be hard to stash Michael Sam on the practice squad. Hard, but not impossible. With two sacks this month and more quickness than he showed late in his college season (he’s 13 pounds lighter, at 257, than his college playing weight), Sam is pushing hard for a spot on the Rams’ 53-man roster. If not that, certainly the 10-man practice squad. But the Rams know they risk losing him if they do the latter...I’m sure some teams wouldn’t want to deal with a perceived sideshow with Sam and wouldn’t put in a claim. But where exactly has the sideshow been? Sam’s been the anti-distraction since turning down the Oprah reality show in the spring.

Michael Sam is only going to be a "distraction" if the media makes him a distraction. It helps that Johnny Manziel has taken up a lot of the media's attention, but if the sports media treats him like another football player then the distraction miraculously disappears. The less media attention he receives, the less he becomes a distraction. Funny how that works.

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

b. The story of the week comes from ESPN’s Tommy Tomlinson, a terrific inside-the-guy’s-head piece on former University of Kentucky and NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen’s weight problems.
c. One of the best leads I’ve read in a while comes from the story, and from a man, Tomlinson, who has battled his own weight issues: “Jared Lorenzen and I are in love with the same woman. Her name is Little Debbie, and she makes delicious snack cakes.”
d. It’s the carbs, Jared. Attack the carbs.
e. I’m no wise man about that stuff (you couldn’t tell?), but it’s the truth.


All four of these points are about the same topic. In what world do they deserve four separate bullet points?

g. Funnier world: The Red Sox gave a Cuban outfielder, Rusney Castillo, a contract worth $72 million over seven years Friday. They have never scouted him in a game. He has not played in a game since 2012. As one source told ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes, the Red Sox saw him in maybe 30 live at-bats in a couple of workouts. Sports is risky, but this seems almost a desperate investment.

It was less than a month ago that Dan Shaughnessy called the Red Sox "Kansas City-on-the-Charles" which is obviously inaccurate because the Royals look like they will make the playoffs this year and the Red Sox won't, but also inaccurate because less than a month later the Red Sox are spending money again. Peter originally put this Tweet in MMQB as some sort of confirmation this is what he thinks too. Of course, only the most panicked fan thought the Red Sox had just stopped spending money.

The Adieu Haiku

I know Bradford some.
I’m quite sure he’d trade millions
to be whole right now.

Yeah, he might trade those millions to be whole right now. This would make him different from nearly zero other NFL quarterbacks who have suffered season-ending injuries and have made millions of dollars while starting only 65% of his team's games. Just gotta give Jeff Fisher more time. His team is perpetually on the rise.


Steve said...

You're spot on with your comments about Bradford and Fisher.

What I dont understand is how the St. Louis media just turns a blinds eye to this. Bernie Miklasz churns out articles on a daily basis nitpicking Mike Mathenys every move and then writes an article titled "Bradford and Rams are cursed" the day after his injury. With all of those picks in the RGIII trade you would think that the Rams would have drafted a backup at some point.

I was really excited when the Rams hired Fisher two years ago. I didn't know much about the guy, but figured he had to be an upgrade over Linehan/Haslett/Spagnuolo. I'm really starting to have some doubts that he is going to build a winner here.

The Rams could go 3-13 this season and Fisher still wouldn't be on the hot seat. I'm already looking forward to the 2015 draft anticipating who the Rams will draft as their next QB. Hopefully Shaun Hill will come out and play well, but I doubt it. I can't recall ever being this frustrated as a Rams fan, and they have been terrible the past seven years.

Anonymous said...

The funny thing is, the Rams could have released or traded Sam Bradford this offseason, and been well justified in doing so. Sam Bradford has never, ever been good enough to justify his contract. Forget about the injuries, even when he's on the field he's not that good. The blind faith that organization has had in Bradford is outrageous. They've never once challenged him to earn his starting spot, despite him never playing any better than mediocre football.

The Rams drafted an injury prone QB (remember, Bradford missed his final season of college with an injury), and the past two seasons have backed him up with Kellen Clemens and Shaun Hill. You're right Ben, this is personnel malpractice. The Patriots used a 3rd round pick on Ryan Mallet and a 2nd round pick on Jimmy Garrapolo, and they have a QB who has never missed time outside of 2008.

Bengoodfella said...

Steve, I feel like I am right, but even I get tired of talking about this stuff. What's funny is if the Panthers never came along I would probably have been a Titans fan. I was obsessed with Warren Moon and the run-and-shoot offense under Glanville & always liked Fisher as a coach.

I don't think Fisher is a bad coach, but he gets paid like one of the top coaches in the NFL and I just don't believe he is one. I feel like there isn't anyone questioning his status based on what he is getting paid and his reputation.

The Rams have done so much to put talent on the offense and on the offensive line. I don't get why they relied on Shaun Hill as the backup. It's not like he even knows the Schottenheimer system, he's only been in it for five months.

I do think the Rams can have success. It's true they are stuck in a tough division, but I can't fathom the reason Fisher is as highly regarded as he is. Hopefully Shaun Hill makes me look like an asshole, and it's true he won't get rattled like a younger QB might get rattled, but he's also not part of the future. For a team (mostly media) talking about the Rams future it seems odd to have a QB backing up Bradford who isn't part of that future.

I may look stupid, because the defensive and OL may be improved for the Rams to go 9-7, but it's all about starting over again next year. Teams have backups for a reason and it frustrates me for Rams fans that I feel they are being strung along a little bit.

Anon, I really no idea if Bradford is good enough to justify his contract or the faith in him. Gun to my head, I say "no." When he was healthy he didn't have a ton to work with, so it's impossible to know. He certainly isn't a bust, but a bit of a disappointment, even with the injuries.

Teams a lot of times are screwed when the starter goes down, but when your QB has missed 31 games since he's been in the NFL then it's time to get a backup who can be a part of the future. Bradford hasn't been durable enough to count on him.

It's not that Hill isn't a bad option as a backup, it's just I would assume given three years to find a good backup the Rams could do better. They should do better.

What's more annoying for Rams fans is the organization still isn't even sure if Bradford is the guy after this year if he was healthy. So what was the plan there? If Bradford sucks, just draft a new QB? That's some nice job security to have as a head coach to know you can count on a QB, and if he fails, you will be around to draft his replacement.

It's supposed to be a deep QB draft next year, but the Rams put their eggs in Bradford's basket, even when it came to his performance while healthy, which I'm not sure was justified.

HH said...

San Diego is better than we think on defense.

How do you know how good I think San Diego is on defense? What if I think the Chargers are the second-best defensive unit in football? So is Peter saying the Chargers are the best defensive team in the NFL, since that's the only way they could be better than I think?

To nitpick, no, that's not the only way they could be better. That's the only way they could be better ranked, but that doesn't mean they're better. They could play much better and still be the second-best defense because the best defense is even better. It's like saying "Palmer will throw for more yards than we think." He could throw for 5000 yards after 4000 last year, and still finish second because Drew Brees throws for 5500. (All numbers made up.)

Gregg Easterbrook makes the same mistake in this week's TMQ:

New Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is likely to be praised this season for doing a great job. Why? Last season the Cowboys had the league's worst defense, so the numbers can only improve.

Nope, they can be much, much worse, even though their ranking can't.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, I am writing TMQ right now. Easterbrook also praises Rob Ryan in the very same TMQ for turning the Saints defense around. He's the worst.

I love nitpicking, so what you say makes sense to me. The team could be worse on defense, but their ranking could not be worse.

Chris said...

This Bradford situation bares some similarities to the John Beck/Rex Grossman debacle when Shanahan was still in DC. I remember the Skins getting questioned in the local sports media repeatedly as to why exactly the team seemed so comfortable going into the season with John Beck as the starting qb. Knowing Shanahan's style I thought there was a fair bit of arrogance on his part. He thought he had won John Elway two Super Bowls so he could just take any quarterback off the street and turn him into a quality starter.

Granted this is different since Washington never really surrounded Beck with good players but the case is similar yet Jeff Fisher and the Rams are let off the hook for it.

Anonymous said...

Sam Bradford - 58% completion percentage, 59 TDs 38 INTs, 6.3 yards per attempt, 79 rating.

Shaun Hill - 61% completion percentage, 41 TDs 23 INTs, 6.7 yards per attempt, 85 rating.

My point isn't to say anything about Shaun Hill, but rather to say that no one would give two shits about Sam Bradford if he hadn't been the #1 pick. He throws for fewer yards per attempt than Shaun Hill, who doesn't exactly have a dynamic arm. If Sam Bradford had been a 5th round pick and played this way, he'd have been kicked to the curb years ago and no one would have noticed.

Say what you will about supporting casts, but no one thought anything of Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham or Lance Moore until Drew Brees started throwing to them. Sometimes the QB needs to bring something to the table for a supporting cast to flourish.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, I'm not in St. Louis so I'm not sure if Fisher is being questioned or not, but I have to imagine he is. I don't know if it is arrogance on the Rams' part, I think they just feel comfortable they won't get fired and know if Bradford didn't work out then they can draft another QB.

That situation in Washington was funny, just because everyone was like, "You are REALLY fine with a Beck/Grossman competition." It got to the point I thought Shanahan might know something I don't.

Anon, I don't hate Shaun Hill and I think he can be successful this year to get the Rams to 8-8 or so. So I think he's a decent backup QB, but you bring up a good point about Bradford. He's gotten a lot of rope and I just think the Rams are stringing their fans along a bit. They should have hedged this offseason to have a future plan outside of Bradford and they didn't. It really is a form of personnel malpractice in my opinion.

Personally, I find nothing more demoralizing than knowing your team has to start over at the QB position. The Rams didn't have to be in this spot and I don't know why they counted on Bradford to be healthy.

Bengoodfella said...

And you are right, it's not like Bradford is a superstar. That's what made the decision to backup Bradford with Shaun Hill more confusing to me. The Rams have two reasons (1) injuries and (2) production to find another QB to compete with Bradford for this year and after. Yet, they didn't do that. It's not like Bradford had shown them he is the QB of the future.

HH said...

What I'd like to know is this: if you know you have a QB who gets injured and misses lots of games, why not have a backup - like Mallett or Garropolo - who can start a few games in a row to keep you in the race AND give you a chance to see if he's the QB of the future? I mean, we know Hill isn't. Mallett could be - lots of guys emerge after apprenticeships (Pennington, Rodgers, etc).

Bengoodfella said...

HH, that is a good point and something that I am wondering. That's pretty much the core of my issue with the Rams current QB situation. It's a two birds, one stone thing. You have a backup if your QB gets injured again and you have a guy on the roster who can replace the starter if he isn't the long term answer.

Snarf said...

So Ben, in the print version of SI (PK's NFL preview), head coaches are grouped into four categories: (1) On the Hot Seat, (2) On the Hot Seat with One Poor Season, (3) Not Going Anywhere and (4) Too New to be Going Anywhere.

Both Harbaugh brothers are in group 2, while Fisher is in group 3 with the likes of Belichick.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, I noticed that too. I thought that was Andy Benoit who wrote that. It's hilariously misinformed. He has Ron Rivera on the hot seat, but Rivera just signed a three year extension. Three years and he is on the hot seat? If he was, why give him the contract extension?

The idea of Fisher being in with Belichick and the other "totally safe" coaches pretty much reinforces to me how the media covers for him.

Snarf said...

I could be mistaken, it probably is Benoit. Still, it speaks to the overall media attitude toward Fisher.

Bengoodfella said...

Snarf, oh no it does speak to it. In fact, because it wasn't Peter then I think it speaks to the attitude more.