In the Denver locker room Sunday night after his 246th NFL regular-season game, Peyton Manning asked, “Where’s Demaryius?”
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, someone said, was on his way out to the field to do an interview with NBC.
“We gotta get him back,” Manning said. “Get him back in here for a second.”
Thomas is doing an interview? Only Peyton Manning is allowed to be in front of a camera at all times! Peyton swears to God, if Demaryius starts doing commercials then he's not going to be re-signed after this season. He can go play with Eric Decker in New York. Why is Demaryius so vain that he has to constantly be on television, in commercials and doing interviews?
Someone went to intercept Thomas, and while he was being summoned, Manning found a blank piece of white paper in a notebook, wrote “509” on it with a black Sharpie and ripped the page out. He had a plan to commemorate setting the all-time touchdown-pass record with the 509th of his career, thrown in the second quarter to Thomas; Manning usually does have a plan.
Now Thomas was back, and Manning posed with the ball, the piece of paper and the pass-catcher for the record-breaking touchdown pass. You know, like the old days. When Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in an NBA game in 1962, he wrote “100” on a piece of white paper and held it up for the cameras.
See, that's a common misconception. Wilt Chamberlain was actually holding up the number of women that he had slept with in the past week, not how many points he scored in the game where he scored 100 points.
We’ll have time for the rest of the news of Week 7—the Detroit Lions winning with defense, Seattle continuing its puzzling slide,
When you run into the buzz saw that is a Jeff Fisher-led team then an embarrassing loss should be expected.
but we open in the car with Peyton Manning, as he drove home after one of the great nights of his football life … and that is saying something.
That is saying something. It's bittersweet for Peter. He likes Peyton Manning a lot, like more than one human should like another human, but he loves Brett Favre a lot more. It's like watching one child beat another child in a tennis match. Peter now knows how Richard Williams feels watching his daughters battle it out in the finals of Wimbledon.
There is no logic for what we’re seeing now: Peyton Manning, 38, veteran of four neck surgeries just three years ago, breaking a hallowed NFL record for career touchdown passes, and doing it at the top of his game. How is that possible? I don’t know—it just is. We’re seeing it. Manning is playing better in Denver at 36, 37 and 38 than he did when he was supposed to be in his prime.
I know, it's crazy. Remember back in the late 90's and early 2000's when baseball players were doing absurd things and older baseball players seemed to only get better as they got older? Man, that was crazy! It's almost like those baseball players defied the odds and all sense of reason as to why they were getting better as they got older.
Peyton Manning obviously isn't using some sort of PED to become a better football player, but I like the dichotomy of a baseball player who gets better as he gets older probably being accused of using PED's, but it's just accepted that Manning is getting better as he gets older. I know Manning isn't using PED's, but the point is if you switch what Peter is saying about Manning and pretend he is saying it about a baseball player during the Steroid Era, it sounds familiar and omnious.
Then Peter compares Manning's numbers with the Colts and Broncos, which show that Manning is better with the Broncos in terms of the numbers he puts up per game.
It is obviously a much smaller sample, but the numbers are stark. He has a deeper roster of wideouts to work with (four first-rate ones in Denver versus two in Indianapolis) and, though he loved and trusted Dallas Clark, there’s no question a superstar tight end is growing in Denver in Julius Thomas. One thing Indy had over Denver, though—running back Edgerrin James. He was better than the cast Manning has had to work with on the Broncos.
Let's also admit the rule changes that have further protected the quarterback from injury and changes to the rules that have opened up the NFL to becoming more of a passing league. Defenders are barely allowed to fight for a pass or pass interference is called now and that wasn't true for the majority of the time Manning played with the Colts.
“I can’t … I don’t know, really,’’ he said. “But I will say, possibly, that when I started back after my neck surgeries, I started back with the basics. The absolute fundamentals. I worked with [Duke coach and former Manning college coach] David Cutcliffe, and we went back to ground zero with everything I did. So I think my fundamentals all got sharper, and that could be a reason why this is happening now. But I don’t know.”
Wow, you mean sort of like a baseball player who has a new swing and that's why he is hitting all of those home runs now? He broke down his swing in the offseason, made a few adjustments and now he is on pace to hit 40+ home runs when his previous career-high was 23.
It's a fun game! Manning isn't a cheater, he's a great quarterback, but there are so many fun parallels to what baseball players said during the Steroid Era when discussing Manning playing at a high level in his late 30's.
Did you see Colin Kaepernick, who was 10 when Manning was drafted, smile broadly when Manning passed Brett Favre for the record in the second quarter? And did you see Niners rookie pass-rusher Aaron Lynch, who was 5 when Manning was drafted, smile and tap Manning on the helmet with a way-to-go when he broke it?
No, I did not. I had seen enough blowouts for one day. There was no need to watch one team I don't care about blow out another team I don't care about.
Okay, I did see Manning break the record, but then turned the channel back to "The Walking Dead."
507: A three-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders, running a shallow cross just past the goal line, midway through the first quarter. Sanders used umpire Mark Pellis for a screen; the Niners cover guy, Dontae Johnson, ran into Pellis, fell down, and there was Sanders, wide open. “I didn’t know about that till I was looking at the pictures of the play back on the bench,” Manning said. “That’s not what the design was. We weren’t using the ref for a screen.”
Of course not, Peyton. You would never intentionally use the umpire as a screen. Ever. It just so happened a play was called where Sanders ran a shallow cross right across the area where the umpire was standing and the umpire was kind enough to help out Manning in a situation where he didn't need help.
Not to make another baseball parallel, but imagine the outrage if an umpire got in the way of a fielder during a rundown on the basepaths or prevented the catcher from making a tag because he was in the field of play and the catcher had to go around the umpire to get the baseball? The outrage would be insane. In football, it's just accepted the officials get in the way sometimes.
Thomas and the boys played keepaway with the ball, which looked so cute on TV—
Oh my God, I know! It was SO cute! It was precocious, cute, infantile but in a good way, and just showed how much fun these Broncos like to have! It was a super-dreamy and fun way to celebrate Manning's victory.
“Well, sort of,” said Manning. “We were playing around on Saturday, and they were doing it to me then, and of course I am the stiff and I can’t keep up, but I didn’t think in the game they would actually do it.”
But did they do it? DID THEY PETER?
They did it.
Then Peter was all like, "So CUTE!"
“You haven’t wanted to talk about the individual part of this,” I said. “But you’re at the top of the mountain now. You’re such a student of history, that’s got to mean something to you, to have more touchdown passes than anyone else who’s ever played pro football. Right?”
Great question, Peter. And by "great question" I mean "that's not even close to a question and more is like an example of a question asked by Chris Farley on 'The Chris Farley Show' which should probably ashame you a little bit."
"So Peyton, we have talked about your football record you just set, but we haven't talked about YOU (twirls his hair). So this has to mean something to you because you are one of the greatest quarterbacks ever and no one else can claim they have the record because you worked so hard for it and I know it meant just SO MUCH to you to break this record. I mean, you are better than anyone else in NFL history at throwing touchdowns and that means a lot and is an example of what a great quarterback you are and probably one of the best quarterbacks in the world (twirls hair again). I mean, right?"
“This is the kind of record I’m only going to have temporarily,” he said, but I got the feeling he was trying to be a bit self-deprecating here.
Not sure this is self-deprecating there, Peter. Peyton isn't undervaluing his abilities, just acknowledging the changes in the game of football that would lead to another quarterback soon breaking the record like he broke the record soon after Favre held it. Dictionary fail.
“I just hope whoever breaks it years from now has an appreciation for history, and for quarterbacks.”
He probably won't have an appreciation for history and quarterbacks. Most likely it will be some asshole who doesn't even like quarterbacks.
The Lions are not held hostage by Calvin Johnson anymore.
That’s not a slap at Johnson, obviously one of the best players in football. But over the years, quarterback Matthew Stafford has become so dependent on Johnson, and the rest of the team so sure that Johnson would bail the Lions out of trouble, that the crutch has hurt the development of the franchise.
It helps that the Lions have invested in wide receivers alongside Johnson, and I say negative things about Jim Caldwell, but he's pretty good at coordinating an offense.
This year Johnson has been out for two games, and he has barely played in two others, because of a sprained ankle. Detroit is 3-1 in those four games, for three reasons: Stafford has found other weapons to use, the defense is really good, and the new coach, Jim Caldwell, doesn’t stand for any excuses.
Well that, and again, the Lions have invested heavily in giving Stafford offensive weapons. But like the Cowboys are better because it's a new Tony Romo, I'm sure the offense of the Lions plays well without Johnson simply because Caldwell doesn't like excuses.
The Lions have had a good front seven for the last couple of years. But a leaky secondary has killed them—
I know that feeling.
The Lions finished last season on a 1-6 run that cost Jim Schwartz his coaching job. In all six of those losses Detroit gave up the tying or winning points after the start of the fourth quarter. That has turned around this year. Detroit has the stingiest defense in football through seven weeks, the only team allowing less than 300 yards per game. On Sunday, Quin told his defensive mates down the stretch: “We’re the No. 1 defense. Play like it.” And they did, limiting Drew Brees to a stunning 2-for-10 on the last two fruitless Saint drives.
I'm not trying to take anything away from the Lions, but the teams they have played so far are ranked 15th, 11th, 17th, 19th, 6th, 14th, and 22nd. It's not like they have played offensive juggernauts quite yet. They have played nearly every middle-of-the-pack offensive team, so I still question whether they are a good defense or not.
But there’s a lot of respect for Caldwell in the building, from the people executive offices to the guys who clean the floors. And last week he took the beat writers out for a three-hour dinner, and non-football topics were not only suggested but encouraged. A three-hour dinner, in the middle of a game week, with the media. Land sakes alive, coach! Stop being so human!
There you go. Jim Caldwell knows how to play the game. Get in good with the media and they won't write bad things about you. They'll remember that steak dinner you purchased them and maybe ease off you a little bit. Also, this whole "He took beat writers out for dinner" story takes on a whole new meaning if the Lions are 2-5 and not 5-2. When/If things go bad, people are going to say, "Why is Caldwell wasting time going to dinner when he should be fixing his team?" Winning fixes everything.
Three thoughts about the Percy Harvin deal.
Only three thoughts?
And I won't get started again (okay, I will) about these stories of Harvin misbehaving and acting like an ass in Seattle. Where are these stories that NFL sportswriters were fond of relaying Friday night earlier in the year? These sportswriters sit on so much information, then proudly puff their chest out when the story breaks by saying, "This is what I heard six months ago happened." Good for you. Report on it at the time or you don't get credit for knowing this information.
2. The coaches are happy. First: Harvin should have produced better than he did. And who knows? Maybe he would have over time. But Seattle won last year with a strong running game and a regular NFL passing game out of multiple sets and with a quarterback in the pocket and on the move. With Harvin in the game, the Seahawks were getting too cute, playing too horizontally—because they viewed him as a Jet Sweep, bubble screen, get-the-ball-in-space-and-make-something-happen player, not a regular wide receiver. If you’ve got a Lamborghini, you don’t keep it in the garage; you drive it.
Great analogy, Peter. If you have a Lamborghini like Percy Harvin, you make sure it's not broken before driving it.
If you’re offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, you don’t want to produce a game plan every week thinking, “Well, I’ve got to make sure I don’t tick off Harvin this week, so I have to account for that when I’m making decisions.”
Sure, I agree. But if you are Darrell Bevell then you also realize your team is in the lower third of the NFL in offense and it makes sense to get the football to your best, most explosive players when given the chance. Why wouldn't part of the game plan be to get the ball to Percy Harvin? This wouldn't be the first time an offensive coordinator has ensured part of his game plan is to get the ball to his best player early in the game. It's part of the deal. Just because a team has a receiver who wants the ball early and wants to be a part of the game plan doesn't mean that player should be traded. The issue becomes when that player's need for the football overrides his utility to the team.
3. The Jets did the right thing; this is a good experiment for them. For the last nine games of the season New York owes Harvin $6.47 million. That’s the last bit of money in this contract the Jets are obligated to pay him. I doubt this wakes Harvin up, and if it doesn’t, the Jets can say goodbye on Dec. 29, the day after the season, and figure, Well, we gave it a shot.
(Bengoodfella can't hold himself back) Josh Freeman. What about Josh Freeman, Peter? He got paid $2 million and then the Vikings could get rid of him after the last day of the season. Couldn't the Vikings have just gotten rid of Freeman like they did and figure "Well, we gave it a shot"? So why the weekly descriptions of what a waste of human flesh Josh Freeman was for Minnesota?
I will never get over this. In terms of a sportswriter completely overreacting to a player's performance, Peter takes the cake with his weekly rages against Josh Freeman. Yet, here he is perfectly fine with the Jets paying Harvin three times what Freeman made and being all chill about the Jets just giving up a draft pick and not keeping Harvin around next year. But when the Vikings sign Freeman and didn't give up a pick, Peter wanted everyone to know what a jerk Freeman was for not performing at a high level for Minnesota.
As for the Seahawks, I think they’ll work their way out of their rut (2-3 since opening night), but only if they protect Wilson better, make some holes for Lynch and get invaluable linebacker Bobby Wagner back from injury soon. They probably would have won Sunday in St. Louis had they played even a D-plus game on special teams instead of an F-minus.
The Jeff Fisher Era everyone!
“We have to have everyone take a breath.”
But inside the locker room, before it was opened to the press, anger spilled out for outsiders to hear. “Do your job!’’ was one of the milder ventings. The Bears continue to get flashes of brilliance but stretches of careless, turnover-plagued play from quarterback Jay Cutler, who reminds me of a more cavalier Brett Favre with the ball.
Well, Cutler has quite a few more interceptions to catch up with Favre, but he also has quite a few more touchdowns to get to the total Favre accumulated as well. The good news is that Skip Bayless probably likes Cutler again, because Cutler is being careless with the football.
It looks as though the NFL could take two paths to a new personal conduct policy: one for players, and one for all other NFL employees, including owners.
It will be a pretty easy to understand new personal conduct policy. The owners can do whatever the fuck they want to do without any repercussions, while the players can not. It's fair and doesn't punish owners like Jerry Jones who settled a sexual assault case in mediation for accusations that would get an NFL player suspended or put on the super-special commissioner's list for players who did bad things and nobody has a clue whether to punish the player or not so he will just stay on this exempt list.
I am told there is likely to be one onerous part of the policy for NFL personnel—from owners to administrative assistants—that hasn’t existed before. The NFL could well adopt a policy similar to some police departments and other public-service sectors. If an employee is charged with a serious crime, such as happened in the case of Colts owner Jimmy Irsay, the league could put the employee or owner on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the case.
But what if the employee or owner "has a problem" and that's why he committed the serious crime? How will this new personnel policy treat the owners like they have a problem that needs help, while in the same situation treating players like assholes who just need to stop driving drunk?
The Fine Fifteen
Assorted NFL teams placed in orderly fashion as chosen through a random process of Peter King's opinion!
1. Dallas (6-1). Tony Romo is completing 69 percent, DeMarco Murray is on pace to rush for 2,087 yards, and the Cowboys can play defense. Life is darn good in Dallas.
It's almost like there is a correlation between all three of these things.
6. Green Bay (5-2). Really, three through eight here can be put in any order. You pick.
Or since you are the one who writes the column and insists on including a Fine Fifteen, how about you pick?
10. Baltimore (5-2). Won five of six, and scored 29 (Sunday), 38 and 48 in three of those game. Which is good when you’re giving up an average of 14 points in the same span. It’s fairly incredible that all of this is happening to a team that was supposed to be ripped asunder by the Ray Rice scandal.
I'm not even sure who said the Ravens would be ripped asunder by the Ray Rice scandal. It sounds like Peter is making this up in order to create a narrative to place alongside the Ravens playing well at the current time.
12. Seattle (3-3). I don’t know what this team is right now. I do know the Seahawks are 2-3 in the last five games, and allowing 25 points per game, and playing like that is going to get the Seahawks homebound in January. Which would be a mild upset.
Peter probably shouldn't overreact to this. The Seahawks lost to the #1 team in his Fine Fifteen and then played on the road against the Rams during a week with a lot of team turmoil. I can't wait until the Seahawks go 11-5 and Peter will ask if we remember when "everyone was counting the Seahawks out" after the Percy Harvin trade.
So has Peter found the answer yet as to whether Russell Wilson sweats or not? I feel like Wilson does sweat, but I want a definitive answer from Peter.
15. Cincinnati (3-2-1). And fading very, very fast.
And Andy Dalton STILL hasn't won a playoff game. Be sure to mention this.
Goat of the Week
Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans. Brees had the Saints up 23-10 late at Detroit. The Lions scored once to make it 23-17, and Brees went incompletion-incompletion-interception.
I don't think I would defend Brees too much here, but it's a bit much to call him the "Goat of the Week." Brees wasn't at-fault for the defense allowing the Saints to march 90 yards on six plays the possession prior to this interception. He was obviously at-fault for the interception he threw, but if the Saints defense has stepped up and held the Lions to a field goal instead of a touchdown, then the Saints still win the game.
On the ensuing series, Brees’ first four passes were incomplete, then he completed two for seven yards, and then he threw an incompletion on fourth down. It’s not often, if ever, that Brees, in the clutch over two series, would go 2 of 10 with a passer rating of 0.0, but he did here, and it cost New Orleans dearly.
It's just a bit much to call Brees a "Goat" when he went 28-45 with 342 yards. He did throw the interception, but there wasn't another NFL player who had a worse performance this past week?
“You’re playing against a coordinator out there.”
—San Francisco safety Eric Reid, after Peyton Manning shredded the Niners for four touchdowns, including the NFL record-breaking 509th career TD pass.
Adam Gase is offended at the idea he isn't the true offensive coordinator for the Broncos. Look at what a hot coaching candidate he is!
“Hopefully we got windows on that son of a b—-.”
—Arizona coach Bruce Arians, on the team buses the club will use in Oakland. Arians was reminded on Friday that the fans in Oakland, the site of the Cardinals’ game on Sunday, threw eggs at the Chargers’ team buses last Sunday.
Arians loves to say that “SOB” phrase.
Fascinating, Peter. Just fascinating. There's nothing sportswriters like more than a coach who curses and seems like a real character. They like it almost as much as they like free snacks in the pressbox.
Stats of the Week
These from the Percy Harvin file:
Real quick change of the subject...would Gregg Easterbrook consider this to be a mega-trade for Percy Harvin? I'm guessing he would and he will bring the Vikings-Seahawks trade that brought Harvin to Seattle as a reason mega-trades don't work in TMQ. I'm trying to steel myself for this.
For those eight games, the Seahawks paid Harvin $19.03 million, and they paid the Vikings first-, third- and seventh-round picks.
But that $2 million the Vikings gave Josh Freeman just to sit the bench.....man, Peter wakes up in the middle of the night and rages against Freeman for stealing money like he did. How dare Freeman help to get Peter's buddy Greg Schiano fired like that!
Chip Kelly Wisdom of the Week
(Yawns) Peter is still doing this? He is still pretending that Chip Kelly is a coach who has tons of interesting things to say that readers of MMQB can't wait to have Peter relay to them? A lot of what Kelly says sounds like dressed-up coachspeak to me.
Kelly, captured by NFL Films on the sidelines of the Giants-Eagles game eight days ago:
“We got a good group of guys, don’t we? Culture wins football games. Culture beats scheme every time.”
Eighteen words that tell the story of Chip Kelly the football coach right there.
Yes, it does Peter. Chip Kelly, who is known for his innovative offensive schemes, thinks that culture beats scheme every time. I'm betting there is a discussion of DeSean Jackson in here somewhere, but Peter will expect some other sportswriter to lead that discussion. He prefers to stand in awe at the words out of Chip Kelly's mouth rather than analyze what these words might mean in regard to a well-covered story from this past summer. It's Peter's job to fawn, not connect dots.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Or, as I call it, the story of how Peter King dropped hints to a complete stranger and used his celebrity to get tickets to a Royals playoff game.
The fellow next to me at the bar was rooting for the Royals, and I looked over and saw his boarding pass with “MCI”, the Kansas City airport abbreviation, and so we struck up a conversation. Lance Baughman was his name; a lawyer from Kansas City with Royals season tickets held by his firm
So then Peter thought, "How can I drop a hint that I want to attend a Royals game?"
He wanted to know what I did, and I told him, and said I was going to Kansas City to do a story there with the Chiefs. So we settled in, watched the game and talked.
"I'm Peter King. I'm a well-known sportswriter who writes a weekly column about the NFL and can get your name mentioned in the column to give you and your law firm free publicity if you will just find a way to score me Royals tickets."
I'm kidding, Peter didn't say that. He just hoped the hints he dropped would lead to free tickets to a Royals game.
I told him if I got done with my meetings with the Chiefs in time for the late-afternoon game the next day that I would try to StubHub a ticket late and go. We exchanged numbers and boarded the plane, going our separate ways.
There's the hint drop that Peter wants a Royals ticket, and then he exchanged numbers with the guy, since apparently Peter needs this guy's phone number to purchase a ticket on StubHub? Of course not! Peter wants a free ticket.
When we landed, Lance Baughman sent me a text. Seems his partner couldn’t make the game the next day, and would I be interested in attending the game with his partner’s grown son?
(Lance calls his partner) "Hey, I just met Peter King from THE MMQB at a bar. He wants to go to a Royals game. Can you give him your ticket for tomorrow?"
(Lance's partner) "Well, you know my son wanted to go that game with me pretty badly. It's an important game in the history of the franchise and I would love to experience it with my son who I love very much."
(Lance) "Free publicity. He'll mention my name in the column if we do this I bet. Well, I don't bet, Peter literally said, 'I sure would like to go to the game and would mention someone's name in MMQB if they gave me a ticket.' I think he was hinting at it pretty hard."
(Lance's partner) "Fine, give him the ticket, but be sure he mentions your name AND my name."
(Lance) "Have you ever read anything written by Peter King? He'll name-drop us. He loves free shit and the NFL and NFL teams use him as a patsy when they feel like they can."
(Lance's partner) "Get it done then. Just say I have an important meeting to attend."
Well, what a swell offer.
Golly gee! Peter thinks he is being self-deprecating right now.
I just had to be sure I could make it the next day, and when we texted the next morning, I was sure I could. So I met Adam Wright, son of Baughman’s law partner Roger Wright, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon watching the Royals win their first pennant in 29 years. How incredibly nice of Lance Baughman and Roger Wright.
Yes, very nice of them. Of all the people who could have been given this ticket, it's so nice of them to give it to a complete stranger and not one of the countless other individuals that live in the Kansas City area, are big Kansas City Royals fans and are people who Adam Wright might personally know better and would enjoy attending the game with. Weird how that works, isn't it?
Postscript: Every time on Wednesday afternoon that I stood up to stretch or look around between innings, I scanned the stands at Kauffman Stadium, and I couldn’t find an empty seat. This was not a crowd there to be seen or to go get food and beer over and over; this was a celebration of baseball, and the 40,468 in the house would be damned if they were going to miss a pitch. So good to see.
It's almost like the Royals have had a shitty team for a while and the crowd was anxious to see a winning team play. I'm sure Peter described the crowd as very Fenway-esque and mention Lorenzo Cain plays centerfield like Jacoby Ellsbury, while Salvador Perez reminds him of a younger Jason Varitek.
Hot date for Father Daughter Dance!!! pic.twitter.com/tQU9q1OD5d
— Drew Bledsoe (@DrewBledsoe) October 19, 2014
The ex-QB on Saturday night, presumably before the big event. That, Drew Bledsoe, leads the league in cuteness.
It leads the league in cuteness, but is in second place for precociousness. I'm not sure there is a sportswriter alive that uses the word "cute" or "precocious" as much as Peter King does. He absolutely adores taking grown men and describing their behavior in child-like terms.
The sad news for Bledsoe is that immediately after taking this picture he sprained his ankle on a rock, but Tom Brady stepped in and took Bledsoe's daughter on a much hotter date for the Father Daughter Dance. Bledsoe then took his other daughter on a Father Daughter date, but it wasn't really the same ever again.
Ten Things I Think I Think
Peter thinks he sure would like a World Series ticket. He guesses he'll just go on StubHub here in a minute and see if he can find a ticket, though he's not confident...if only someone had an extra one.
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 7:
b. Drew Brees, with 19 straight first-half completions against a rising-star defense in Detroit.
GOAT OF THE WEEK!
e. I love the referees being able to talk—through wireless communications—with the field officials on things like pass interference.
Golly, the NFL is so smart with their innovations and constant forward-thinking. By the way, has anyone gotten to the bottom of whether Roger Goodell lied or not when he said he had not seen the Ray Rice video? It slowly fades away...
q. Tre Mason. Not a lot to like about how the Rams are playing as we approach midseason, but the rookie has a burst and some power to him, as shown against Seattle.
Team...on...the...rise. See, no one should accuse Jeff "8-8" Fisher of not knowing what he's doing. The Rams drafted Isaiah Pead in the second round, then drafted Zac Stacy in the fifth round and pretended to want to play him, but Fisher really was sandbagging and wanted to have Tre Mason be the starter. It's just like how Fisher made idiots like me think he had built his team around Sam Bradford when that wasn't AT ALL his plan. He was really getting ready to build the team around the Rams' third-string quarterback, Austin Davis, and wanted to mask his plan by starting Sam Bradford and signing Shaun Hill to be Bradford's backup.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 7:
d. Jets tight end Jace Amaro’s steel girders for hands.
I'm pretty sure NFL players aren't allowed to play with steel girders for hands. That seems illegal in some fashion and would result in a fine.
g. Come on, Jets: I know you’re the house organ, but you’re telling me you can’t ask Percy Harvin even one pertinent question?
This is a strong take coming from Peter, a guy well-known for his "You are the greatest ever, right? So how does that feel?" line of questioning or if he wants to be more hard-hitting, he may ask a question like "You were kicked out of the league for murdering 10 people, tell me one thing people don't know about you."
m. Carolina, down 21-0, third-and-one at its 33 to try to get something, anything, going … and then Jonathan Stewart is stoned at the line of scrimmage. Rapidly becoming a lost season for the Panthers.
Yes, it is. By the way the Panthers are 1.5 games ahead in first place of the NFC South right now. So it's a lost season, but they are the team in the NFC South outrunning the bear right now.
n. Oh, and Cam Newton’s first-quarter stats at Green Bay: 0-for-2. And Carolina’s yardage in the first quarter: five.
Here's another interesting statistic. Green Bay was up 21-0 after the first quarter and the Panthers offense had the ball for about five minutes. Not that the Panthers offense, led by Newton have an excuse, but it really would have helped an offense with four undrafted free agents on the offensive line to not have the Packers ahead by 20+ points after the first quarter. At least the Panthers defense should have pretended to do their jobs. But yeah, Cam was bad in the first quarter, lay the blame there. Seems fair.
3. I think the tremendous NFL Network interview with Brett Favre on Sunday took me back to so many of the conversations I had with Favre—
His gruff, yet tender voice. The way he plays with his beard while he talks in a cute little way. So precocious, like he's almost not aware he does it.
because the word “interview” with Favre is really misleading. You’d go into a talk with him thinking you’d want to ask him about X number of topics, and invariably you’d veer off into some tributary you never expected.
But then Peter would get the urge to veer off into another tributary no one expected them to veer into. But it wasn't right then and it wouldn't be right now. What would Deanna say? What would the kids do? Why would Uncle Pete do this to them?
He’d be tough to deal with today, in the atmosphere of tight schedules for superstars, where a 10-minute window with a big star is generous. So many times 15 minutes became 115 minutes, and he was fine with that. That’s what I saw between Favre and Steve Mariucci on Sunday. You can say, “Well, Mariucci coached him and they’re good friends.” True—but I’ve seen it with Favre and people he didn’t even know very well.
And we know Peter would NEVER just vouch for Favre because he likes him. Also, I would argue that Favre loves the spotlight, so any time he gets to talk to someone who can put him on television and remind everyone watching that he still exists, Favre will talk as long and much as he wants in an effort to keep that spotlight on him.
5. I think Percy Harvin needs to talk to Brandon Marshall about whatever it is that ails Harvin. And it is apparent something does. Marshall, until being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2011, was widely viewed as a very good football player who simply couldn’t control his emotions, and those emotions were ruining his football career and wreaking havoc with his ability to live a normal life.
Apparently Peter King thinks that Brandon Marshall is a psychologist now. Also, Harvin would have to admit that something ails him, or there would actually have to be something ailing him for Harvin, to speak with Marshall and it have any positive effect.
I don’t know what Harvin’s story is.
It seems Peter King does know what Harvin's story is since he seems to believe Harvin has a personality disorder and needs to speak with Brandon Marshall in order to find out the best way to treat this disorder. Peter doesn't know what Harvin's story is, but he knows enough to suggest it could be a personality disorder.
But if he blows this chance with the Jets because he can’t control his emotions, his football gravy train might be over.
Harvin is fast and talented. As long as he doesn't commit a crime and get suspended by the NFL there will usually be teams willing to take him on as a challenge.
6. I think it’s pretty easy to talk about the futility of the Bucs and focus on the inability of the defense to stop anything in its wake; Tampa has allowed 56, 24, 37 and 48 points in the past four games. But that is masking an equal problem on the other side of the ball. The Bucs have a startling number of negative plays on offense. I missed this display of offensive futility last week in the column, but with the Bucs on the bye Sunday, I wanted to bring it to your attention today.
Because in last week's MMQB, it was more important for Peter to write all the other filler that's non-NFL related than it was to discuss the Buccaneers' offensive problems. Priorities.
9. I think if you want to know why so many details about Percy Harvin’s sordid time with Seattle never surfaced until the weekend trade to the Jets, I believe it has much to do with the culture of the locker room—and specifically the culture of Pete Carroll’s locker room.
It also has to do with sportswriters who were aware of these issues never reported on them. I know this because less than hour after the trade, there were NFL sportswriters being all "Yeah, Harvin was a pain and didn't get along with teammates" regarding the trade on Twitter. So maybe the details weren't immediately mentioned, but it was obvious there was some knowledge among those paid to cover the NFL and the Seahawks about Harvin not being the best of teammate.
For proof, see the Harvin-Golden Tate fight before the Super Bowl. It even extended to Tate once he left for Detroit in free-agency and was no longer beholden to honor the code of locker-room silence in Seattle. He never broke the code as a Lion. After the story was reported by the Seattle Times on Friday, it was confirmed in many spaces over the next 36 hours,
Yeah, it was confirmed, but there were tales of a fight that just simply never went explored. I know this because the story of a possible Harvin-Tate fight was reported shortly after he was traded. Apparently these reporters, who seemed to be familiar with the story, didn't feel the need to confirm the story prior to Harvin's trade when they had originally heard tell of such a fight. I guess it's not fun to report on a Harvin-Tate fight when one of the players is still on the Seahawks team.
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
e. The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!
f. They’re going crazy! They’re going crazy! Whoaaaaaa-oh!
I'm really glad Peter took the time to include these thoughts in MMQB. Very insightful.
i. Giants in seven. But I don’t feel particularly confident about it.
Considering I am betting Peter couldn't have named three players on either team prior to the playoffs starting, I can understand his lack of confidence.
j. If I were building a baseball team this offseason, and if I could spend relatively the same per year, combined, for Andrew Miller, Pat Neshek and Yovani Gallardo (or a starting pitcher in the $10-million-a-year range) as I could for, say, Jon Lester, I’d opt for the first option.
This is a moot point because Gallardo probably won't be a free agent, but Jon Lester is going to want around $22 million or so per season in his next contract. Gallardo was paid a little under $8 million this year and the way the free agent market is set up for starting pitchers he will probably want $13 million per year (which is what the Brewers team has an option for, so he won't even be a free agent). Edward Mujica got $9.5 million over two years, so Neshek will probably want about $5 million per year. The market for a lefty like Andrew Miller is probably about $7-$10 million per year, so that puts the total spent on these three players at $25 million at a minimum. So I would agree with Peter these three players may be preferable to Lester, but it doesn't matter really because these three players couldn't be signed for what Lester wants over one season.
q. Enjoyed the story by Richard Sandomir of the New York Times on plummeting baseball ratings despite the thrilling postseason. Amazing to think that, in 1982, 49.9 million people watched a World Series game between small-market teams St. Louis and Milwaukee … and, 32 years later, a Game Two playoff cliffhanger between Los Angeles and St. Louis was seen by 1.77 million people on MLB Network.
And in 1982, the highest-rated television shows got much higher ratings than the highest-rated television shows in 2014 receive. There is more programming to distract a viewer in 2014 and baseball hasn't become appointment television. Statistics showing the decline in viewership of baseball games is an old story, but isn't necessarily indicative of baseball dying. There's many, many more options for viewers of television in 2014 than there was in 1982.
The Adieu Haiku
Could Luck pass Manning?
He’s four hundred forty-five
behind. (All heads shake.)
Why does it have to be Andrew Luck? Aaron Rodgers has 206 career touchdown passes and he's only 30 years old. Eh, Andrew Luck will probably break Manning's record because it would be a convenient narrative that the guy who followed Manning in Indianapolis would pass him for career touchdown passes. "We" all love convenient narratives.
behind. (All heads shake.)
Why does it have to be Andrew Luck? Aaron Rodgers has 206 career touchdown passes and he's only 30 years old. Eh, Andrew Luck will probably break Manning's record because it would be a convenient narrative that the guy who followed Manning in Indianapolis would pass him for career touchdown passes. "We" all love convenient narratives.