Tuesday, December 9, 2014

8 comments MMQB Review: J.J. Watt For MVP, Except Peter Doesn't Have the Guts To Vote For Him Edition

Peter King discussed the Super Bowl preview game played at Lambeau Field between the Patriots and Packers in last week's MMQB. He also revealed the source, who gave Peter most of the information that he based his Ray Rice reporting around, did indeed mislead him and was simply furthering their own agenda in giving Peter false information. There was a very liberal use of "we" in MMQB, as usual, concerning how "we" counted out the Chargers after their blowout loss to the Dolphins a few weeks ago. This week Peter wonders if J.J. Watt can be MVP (he upped his workout schedule and that's why he's playing so well...I'll classify that under "reasons explaining a player's superior performance that would be called into question if it were about a baseball player"), begins his eventual assault on Jadeveon Clowney's performance, and has no traveling note this week.

This year a defensive player is gaining some traction for the MVP, and for good reason: J.J. Watt, most of us would agree, is the best player by the widest margin at his position in the NFL.

Okay, this is true. It does make me wonder about how one small thing though. I'm not denying Watt's fantastic year and super-humble nature that gets constantly rammed down the throats of readers, but is the fact Watt the best player by the widest margin a reflection on how well he is playing or a reflection on how there aren't other defensive ends quite on his level this season? What I mean is this...Aaron Rodgers is probably the best quarterback right now, but would he be a better MVP candidate if there were no other quarterbacks performing at close to a high level like he is? I'm not taking anything away from Watt, but if Justin Houston had defensed a few more passes, had an interception, and caught the fancy of sportswriters by catching a few touchdown passes would Watt be an MVP candidate like he is? I'm asking, I really am. Would Watt have less of a case because he's not the best player at his position by such a wide margin?

Does that make Watt the MVP? I’ll investigate.

Peter will really investigate, not "Did Ray Rice hit his fiance and I'll talk to one source then write my entire column on the subject matter based on this one source's reporting" investigate.

But first, let’s sum up where we are as we head into the last 49 games of the regular season:

It all adds up to the craziest season in NFL history since the 2013 NFL season. 

If the Patriots win home-field in the AFC (three remaining foes’ combined record: 16-23), their quarterback and revived defense will make them very hard to beat in Foxboro. Or anywhere, for that matter.

Remember when the Patriot Way wasn't working anymore?  

The best team in the NFC South is 4-8-1. Carolina could actually win the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs.

They had one quality game against an opponent they were extremely motivated to play. Jerricho Cotchery still starts at wide receiver and the offensive line still sucks. Don't overreact to one game.

Can you imagine Seattle at Carolina on wild-card weekend?

Yeah, I have attended two of those games over the past couple of years. It set NFL offenses back forty years.

Frustrating first 56 minutes for Indianapolis on Sunday. Exhilarating final four minutes. “If anything’s frustrating,” said Andrew Luck, “it’s my bonehead mistakes.” Luck handed Cleveland 17 points, but had the stuff to drive 90 yards for the winning touchdown in the final minutes. What else is new? The Colts are winning the AFC South again.

I'm going to resist the urge to hate on the AFC South here.

“Whoever you pick I’m sure will be deserving,” Watt told me from Houston. “The way I look at it is, I’ll worry about what happens on the field. And I’ll let all of you worry about the MVP.”

I can imagine Peter hopping over to Watt like a school girl and teasing Watt about possibly getting Peter's vote for MVP. I'm sure Peter thought he was being quite precocious.

“If all positions were created equal, J.J. Watt’s the best player in football by a mile, and it isn’t close,” said Neil Hornsby, the founder of Pro Football Focus, which judges every player on every snap.

Aaron Schatz, the president of the long-running football analytics group Football Outsiders, agreed: “Watt is by far the best player as his position compared to the average of his position.”

As I was stating earlier, it is relative to his position. I don't think it goes to diminish Watt's performance that he is outpacing every other player at his position, but I don't necessarily see this as the key link to his MVP candidacy. If another player at Watt's position were closer to his performance, does that mean that Watt has less of an MVP candidacy? If so, then his candidacy is based on the performance of others at his position and not his individual performance. Imagine if other MVP's were judged this way. Imagine if Peyton Manning weren't considered a legitimate MVP candidate because he set multiple passing records, but Aaron Rodgers came close to setting passing records himself.

There’s also the dedication that, even in this era of players dedicated to greatness, seems put on. Except the scars would show after a while, and they haven’t shown on Watt yet. In training camp I asked him about how he continued to strive to be better. Watt said: “I heard a quote that says, ‘Success isn’t owned. It’s leased. And rent is due every day.’ Every single day, someone’s coming for your job. Someone’s coming for your greatness. If you’re the greatest, someone wants to be the greatest, and so if you’re not constantly improving your game, somebody else is.

You want the guy to be a legit MVP candidate, don’t you?

Not really, Bill Simmons. I still don't truly care about awards like MVP until some sportswriter writes something stupid about them.

Then in the caption under a picture of Watt to the right it states that he upped his workout regiment in the offseason and it is paying off on the field. I love to imagine these things written about a baseball player and see how that goes over.

So then the question becomes whether we can logically judge whether a defensive lineman can be as valuable to his team as a quarterback can be. In an ideal world, football would have a stat similar to “WAR” in baseball—Wins Above Replacement.

Oh sure, NOW everyone wants WAR to help solve a problem in comparing two different players. If football had a WAR-type of statistic then it would only be used by some sportswriters, while other writers would spend 25% of their time pointing out how stupid the statistic is and making fun of those who use it.

So then it comes down to the judgment of 50 people: Can a defensive end possibly mean as much to his team as, say, an Aaron Rodgers, who can put a touchdown on the board every time he possesses the ball? Probably not.

If that's decided then a defensive end can never be the MVP. It just can't happen if a defensive end can never mean as much to his team as a quarterback. That doesn't feel right though, does it?

Then there’s the matter of Houston being a middle-of-the-pack team. The Texans are 7-6. They are seventh in the league in scoring defense, 27th in the league in yards allowed (a wide disparity). This doesn’t help Watt. MVPs most often come from the offensive side of the field, and from playoff teams.

It's the "MVP" award, not the "MVP for a player whose team will make the playoffs" award. Besides, it doesn't matter if a defensive end can't mean as much to his team (meaning, he can't be as valuable) as a quarterback.

Then there’s the matter of Houston being a middle-of-the-pack team. The Texans are 7-6. They are seventh in the league in scoring defense, 27th in the league in yards allowed (a wide disparity). This doesn’t help Watt. MVPs most often come from the offensive side of the field, and from playoff teams.

Yeah, but J.J. Watt works hard and everyday is a grind (insert continual J.J. Watt-like cliches that sportswriters eat up like it's a free buffet)...and that's why I try to stay humble and prove myself everyday.

“Doesn’t the MVP always have to be a quarterback simply by virtue of how the game is played [today]?” asked Schatz. Possibly, but Adrian Peterson, in his 2,096-yard season two years ago, lifted the Vikings into the playoffs with mediocrity all over the roster, and he edged Peyton Manning that year.

I don't think the MVP always has to be a quarterback. Maybe I'm being too open-minded, but while I understand that quarterbacks usually have the greatest effect on a team's record, Adrian Peterson had a fantastic year when Christian Ponder was his quarterback. If he didn't get the MVP, then he deserved a medal of some kind.

The APasks for one winner. (I’m on record as wishing we voted as in baseball, 1 through 10, so we could see how close the vote really is. If you have to pick one, even in a very close vote, it often doesn’t mirror the closeness of the contest.) Three weeks from the end of the season, here is my standing of the top five:

1. Aaron Rodgers
2. J.J. Watt
3. Tom Brady
4. DeMarco Murray
5. Peyton Manning

Here's my confusion about Peter's vote. In the case of J.J. Watt an MVP voter has to consider two separate issue. Whether a defensive player either can't or can win the MVP award and whether player for a losing team either can or can't be considered for the MVP award. If Peter's answer to these two statements is that a defensive player on a losing team CAN win the MVP then what would Watt have to do in order to get Peter's vote? That's what I wonder. It seems like throwing Watt #2 is a cop-out to say, "Yeah, he had a great year and I think he should be considered for the MVP, but I'm not giving him the MVP award because I secretly won't give it to a defensive player on a losing team. I want to make it seem like I will though."

Who knows who wins the craziest show on turf, redux? Atlanta would have it wrapped up but for terrible clock management at the end of a one-point loss to Detroit and a two-point loss to Cleveland. If those two games had been coached properly down the stretch, the Falcons would be on a five-game winning streak headed in Lambeau Field tonight, and would have the division clinched by now.

And if a frog had wings then it wouldn't bump it's ass on the ground.

Let’s assume Atlanta loses in Green Bay tonight. The three NFC South teams would be separated by a half game … and, amazingly, any of the three teams could win the division by winning the final three games on its schedule. Each team, too, could think it’s the best team, based on one recent result: Atlanta over Arizona 29-16 last week; New Orleans over Pittsburgh 35-32 last week; and Carolina over New Orleans 41-10 this week. My pick to win the division? Carolina, with the impressive 1-6 record since week six.

The Panthers haven't won a game since Week 6 and have been blown out a couple of times during that stretch, and yet Peter still thinks they are the best team in the NFC South based on their one good performance against the Saints. Not that Peter makes knee-jerk reactions or anything like that of course.

“For a lot of the season,” Cam Newton said from New Orleans Sunday afternoon, “a lot of our guys, because we’re so young, have had kind of a deer-in-the-headlights look.

Newton is talking about his offensive line, who have spent most of the season only pretending they care to block the guy in front of them in a desperate attempt to have their starting quarterback murdered.

But for so many of these guys it’s just time and experience. That’s what they need. Time. We’ve had time together. We’ve grown together.’’

It's amazing how everything is great and they've "grown together" after a win against a divisional opponent that the Panthers have no difficulty getting pumped up to face. Next week I have a feeling the growth will stop and the patchwork offensive line will go back to it's regularly scheduled sucktitude.

Dan Quinn is setting himself up to be a strong head-coaching candidate...I said to Quinn that a lot of times a team’s postseason success can work against an aspiring head coach, because some (most) owners get impatient and won’t wait until after the Super Bowl to hire their coach. I told him for his sake I hope the length of the season didn’t roadblock him from a head-coaching shot. “I hope it does,” he blurted. That’s the kind of attitude, I’d think, that a prospective owner would like.

Dan Quinn is the J.J. Watt of NFL defensive coordinators. Dan Quinn is the real MVP.

T-minus three weeks, and Tampa Bay now leads the Marcus Mariota derby. Oakland’s win over San Francisco takes the Raiders out of the first slot in the 2015 draft. That leaves five teams at 2-11, vying for the top pick and the right to take Mariota (presumably—considering all the off-field problems swirling around Jameis Winston).

It's amazing to me that Peter already knows who the #1 overall pick in the draft will be.

1. Tampa Bay. The Bucs would sit and take Mariota, or raffle it for a ransom to a quarterback-needy team.

So if the Buccaneers raffle the #1 overall pick to a quarterback-needy team, does that mean they will ransom the pick to themselves?

2. Tennessee. The Titans would be in line for Mariota too.

But what about Jake Locker's accuracy? It can be improved!

5. Oakland. Euphoria over beating San Francisco—except in the guts of the scouts, who will say the right thing, but really: The first pick in the draft is worth far, far more than a morale-boosting win in December.

Yeah well, don't tell any NBA sportswriters that because they are too busy having a shit-fit at the idea of teams tanking in order to get a better draft pick. That's even in the NBA, where the worst team doesn't necessarily even get the #1 overall pick, as opposed to the NFL where there is no lottery system used to auction off the #1 overall pick.

Last point here: For Tennessee, it’s New Jersey, New Jersey, with the Jets following the Giants to Nashville this week. (Not New York, New York, because the two teams play and practice and do business in New Jersey.) Why on earth would Ken Whisenhunt, who, presumably, is going to be the coach in 2015, pull out all the stops to try to win this game? Take your medicine, lose, and get the highest pick you can so you can be in the best position possible to take the best quarterback or best player—or trade the pick for a few good ones.

So NFL writers want to use a statistic like WAR and encourage NFL teams to tank? It's a different world from the outrage seen from sportswriters in the NBA and MLB on these two sets of issues.

Washington has finished in last place in the NFC East in five of the last six years, and is on track to do it a seventh time in eight years. The team has had eight coaches this decade; that’s exactly how many coaches the other three teams in the division have had, combined, in this century. Yet the Washington Post reported over the weekend that Jay Gruden, handed a five-year guaranteed contract 11 months ago, would be “one and done,” or fired after one season,

Thanks for explaining exactly what that means, Peter. I was confused as to what that term meant because I am one of your readers who aren't nearly as smart as you are. I'm glad you are here to help educate the ignorant like you do.

And a new frontier for MMQB this morning. I have video takes on three things—Sean Payton running out of answers in New Orleans, the Jim Harbaugh era teetering to an end in San Francisco, and the dubious helmet-to-helmet call on Brandon Browner in San Diego last night—up on Page 1 of this column today. I’d love to hear, and read, your reactions to the video piece, either with an email (talkback@themmqb.com) or Twitter (@SI_PeterKing).

It's good that Peter is trying different things, but I don't like videos nor do I like podcasts. It's a personal preference. I prefer to read my information as opposed to having to sit through a 10 minute conversation or 45 minute podcast. Hearing people talk is never preferable to me just reading information.

We’ll try it for the last four regular-season weeks. If you like it and consume it, we’ll keep doing it. If not, we won’t. Your call.

If it's our call then can the "Adieu Haiku" go away? Also, the "Chip Kelly Wisdom of the Week," "Tweets of the Week," "Quotes of the Week," and any updates on coffee can also go away...assuming it really is up to me and Peter's other readers.

Looking at the history of the six coaches who have been traded in the past 20 years, it seems foolish for the 49ers to think of getting only a third-round pick for Jim Harbaugh, if they trade him after the season. That’s the compensation Pro Football Talk reported the Browns and Niners were discussing after last season.

That is a ridiculously small bit of compensation for a coach who has turned around a once-proud but moribund franchise and helped turn it into one of the winningest teams in football.

Look at Bill Belichick’s résumé before Patriots owner Bob Kraft traded a first-round pick for him in 2000. He was 37-45 in five seasons as Browns coach, with a distinguished career as a coordinator. And he got Bob Kraft of the Patriots to give up a 2000 first-round pick for him.

Perhaps this is a reason that the trade of Harbaugh to the Browns was never actually completed? The 49ers realized they were undervaluing Harbaugh.

If I were Niners owner Jed York, I’d read Parcells: A Football Life, by Bill Parcells and writer Nunyo Demasio.

Oh, quit pimping out the book about your boy Parcells.

In it, Demasio describes Parcells playing hardball with Patriots owner Robert Kraft over the Belichick compensation. Kraft first offered third- and fourth-round picks for Belichick. In the next phone conversation, it rose to second- and third-round picks. In one last conversation, Kraft agreed to surrender the Patriots’ first-round pick, with some low-round picks being exchanged as a sweetener.

I don’t see why Jim Harbaugh in 2015 isn’t worth to some team at least what Bill Belichick was worth to the Patriots in 2000. At least.

While I do agree, there are a couple of factors I don't believe Peter is considering when discussing the compensation received for Harbaugh versus that received for Belichick. There is a perception about Harbaugh that he is (a) difficult to deal with or (b) might get a bug up his ass and head back to coach a college football team. This perception wasn't there for Belichick. He didn't rub the front office the wrong way or have his name appear every time Michigan or another college program was looking for a new head coach. I think this affects the compensation the 49ers could receive for Harbaugh.

What owner and GM would want to take on a head coach who has shown he conflicts with his GM over personnel issues and seems to still have interest in coaching college football? Sure, Harbaugh is a great NFL coach, but he had conflicts with a really good GM in San Francisco, so what happens if he works for a team with a lesser GM? Is Harbaugh going to want equal power over personnel issues with that GM? If Harbaugh gets angry over the direction of the franchise will he just go coach college football again? I think these are legitimate questions an owner and GM has to ask. Harbaugh is a great coach, but is worth a first round pick, the new contract, and power that he will want within the organization?

Very few. Because his rookie season never really got off the ground. This is what you need to know about Clowney’s freshman year in the NFL, after being picked first overall and having his season wrecked by hernia, concussion and knee issues:

Compensation in bonuses and salary: $14,938,000. Games played: 4.

Plays: 143.
Tackles: 7.
Sacks: 0.
Quarterback hits (via Pro Football Focus): 0.

I feel like Jadeveon Clowney is about to get Josh Freeman'd if he gets injured again next season. Meanwhile, Matt Schaub is being paid $8 million to sit the Raiders' bench and Peter doesn't seem to give a shit. Josh Freeman got $2 million and Clowney was injured all year, but Peter chooses to focus on those two players as wastes of money for some reason. I'm not trying to create a strawman, but Clowney isn't the first rookie to be injured during his first season in the NFL. Luke Joeckel was drafted #2 overall in 2013 and he played in five games last season.

Clowney’s next payday will be in late July, when the Texans will pay him a roster bonus of $922,409.

I'm not sure where Peter is getting the compensation of $14,938 for Clowney. Spotrac has him at $4,049,636 for the 2014 season. I'm showing the entire bonus for Clowney over the four years of his contract is closer to the compensation in bonuses and salary that Peter shows for Clowney during just the 2014 season. It sounds like I either have bad information or Peter needs to get his information correct. Either way, Clowney is now on Peter's radar as a useless piece of trash who needs to earn his contract.

The Fine Fifteen

3. Seattle (9-4). Troy Aikman on FOX, as the 24-14 dismantling of the Eagles in Philadelphia wound down: “The Seattle defense, they’re completely overwhelming. They’ve given up one play—that touchdown to [Zach] Ertz.” In the past three wins over Arizona, San Francisco and Philadelphia—by a combined 62-20—the Seahawks have allowed 204, 164 and 139 yards. 139 yards against a Chip Kelly offense! In Kelly’s house!

I think the 2014 NFL season will be the year where sportswriters count out certain teams early in the season (Seattle, New England) only to feel silly once those teams become competitive again. 

4. Denver (10-3). That was a tough win, 24-17 over Buffalo. When Peyton Manning goes touchdownless, with two interceptions, you know you’ve played a tough defense. But you also know the offense isn’t clicking the way it should. The Broncos really need Julius Thomas (ankle) back.

(Insert here snarky comment about Peyton Manning not being able to function as well without Pro Bowlers at every receiver position)

8. Arizona (10-3). It wasn’t always pretty, but Drew Stanton (15 of 30, 239 yards, one TD, no picks) did the most important thing of all: He didn’t cough the ball up. No turnovers. And now the Cards can take a giant step toward the most incredible division title by any team this year Thursday night at St. Louis.

No. The most important thing of all is that the Cardinals' defense held the Chiefs to 14 points in this game. Stanton not turning the ball over is obviously important too, but the most important thing is the Cardinals' defense played well. That's how they can win playoff games, because I will stick to this view, relying on Drew Stanton or the running game won't win games in the playoffs.

12. Pittsburgh (8-5). After a great day in Cincinnati, and another huge play by Martavis Bryant, I am left with this: You figure out the Steelers. They confuse me.

Peter historically seems very confused about teams that are inconsistent. He can deal with a team that is precocious, but a team that doesn't play at the same level every week really vexes Peter. The Steelers can be an inconsistent team. There's not much else that needs explaining.

13. Cincinnati (8-4-1). Speaking of that, you figure out the Bengals. They confound me.

See above and insert the word "Bengals" in for "Steelers."

15. St. Louis (6-7). The Rams are 3-1 in their last four, including three dominant defensive games: 22-7 over Denver, 52-0 over Oakland and 24-0 over Washington. First back-to-back shutouts by the Rams since 1945. That is pretty good.

Yep, it's almost like there is talent on defensive side of the ball. The Rams are two wins and a loss closer to Jeff "8-8" Fisher fulfilling his destiny for one more season. 

Defensive Players of the Week
J.J. Watt, defensive end, Houston.

Don’t you think I get tired of this Watt-as-Player-of-the-Week rigmarole every week? 

No, I think you quite enjoy the Watt-as-Player-of-the-Week rigmarole every single week. You have control over who you name as Defensive Player of the Week, and even if you didn't, then you still talk about Watt enough to where it's obvious you don't dislike discussing his greatness.

Comic relief happened after Sunday’s 27-13 win over the Jags in Jacksonville, with three more sacks for Watt. A reporter asked him a question and included the fact that Watt had two sacks, and … “How many?” Watt said. “Those suckers are hard to get. Don’t short me, brother.”

I should have peed before reading that moment of comic relief, because I just pissed my pants based on the hilarity of J.J. Watt's comeback to the reporter. Not that Watt is focused on personal statistics or anything of course. What a comedian.

(I had to add that last part for a little additional snark)

Coach of the Week

Gregg Williams, defensive coordinator, St. Louis. The Rams are the first team this season to shut out two straight foes (and the first Rams team to do it since World War II), and they’ve now held the Raiders and Washington to a combined 450 yards. Those are not two good offensive teams, but it’s the way St. Louis is winning right now—the rush is stifling, and the secondary has been playing clinging coverage. You wondered how long it would take the Rams to assume the personality of the go-for-broke Williams, and it looks like they’re there now.

Oh, I did wonder how long it would take for the Rams' defense to assume the personality of Gregg Williams? I wasn't sure if I wondered this or not, but it appears I did.

Special Teams Players of the Week

Tavon Austin, wide receiver/returner/Jet Sweeper, St. Louis. The Rams won’t say they’re disappointed with Austin since making him their first pick of the 2013 draft, but entering Sunday’s game the electric player from West Virginia had but six touchdowns in 24 career games. Not good enough for a guy who cost St. Louis four picks to move up in the draft. But he showed in Washington how valuable he can be. His 78-yard punt return capped the scoring in a 24-0 shutout, and he added seven touches for 60 yards.

One of those picks the Rams gave up to the Bills is a second round pick they used to get Kiko Alonso. Otherwise, the Bills didn't do much with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 7th round picks they received in return for giving up a 1st and 3rd round pick.

“If I have to motivate pro football players to play a pro football game, then we need to get new pro football players.”

—Washington coach Jay Gruden, after the 24-0 loss to St. Louis.

I'm still afraid that Daniel Snyder thought he was hiring Jon Gruden when he hired Jay Gruden to be the Redskins' head coach.

“You know who votes for that. They don’t seem to see eye-to-eye with me, which is cool. And if I’m not, I’ll still live.”

—Marshawn Lynch, in an interview with former Seattle teammate Michael Robinson for NFL Network, on his chances to someday make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Ah, the old media-has-a-problem-with-me-and-it’ll-be-a-factor-in-barring-me-from-Canton line of thinking, from the 39th-leading rusher of all time. Interesting.

Ah, the old sarcasm-from-a-Pro-Football-Hall-of-Fame-voter line of thinking where he mentions that Marshawn Lynch is the 39th-leading rusher of all time as if Lynch's career is done today. It's interesting because Peter is already hinting that Lynch doesn't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame when Lynch is only 28 years old. But I'm sure the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters won't pay attention to which players they enjoyed speaking with when it comes time for voting. Of course not.

“The shame of it is, I’m not sure they care about Michael Brown or anything else. This was a reason to protest and to go out and loot. Is this the way to celebrate the memory of Michael Brown? Is this an excuse to be lawless? Somebody has to tell me that. I don’t understand it. I understand what the Rams’ take on this was. I’m embarrassed for the players more than anything. They want to take a political stand on this? Well, there are a lot of other things that have happened in our society that people have not stood up and disagreed about. I wasn’t in Ferguson. I don’t know exactly what happened. But I know one thing: If we dismantle and limit the power of our policemen any more than we have already, then we’re going to have a lot of problems in this country. What do you do if someone pulls a gun on you or is robbing a store and you stop them? I don’t want to hear about this hands-up crap. That’s not what happened. I don’t know exactly what did happen, but I know that’s not what happened. This policeman’s life is ruined. Why? Because we have to break somebody down. Because we have to even out the game. I don’t know. I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.”

—Mike Ditka, to the Chicago Sun-Times, on the five Rams players who showed their support for the Ferguson protesters by coming out for the game eight days ago with their hands raised.

This is a great quote. Mostly because I can't wait until I get to the age where no matter what I have said before or how little/much sense it made, I will just end my statement with "Maybe I'm old fashioned" and then close the book on the discussion. This quote doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense to me, but I just want to be at the point where I say random things that lack clarity and end it with "Maybe I'm old fashioned." This is my God-given right as an American citizen.

At Washington on Sunday, St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher sent out as captains for the game Janoris Jenkins, Michael Brockers, Zac Stacy, Alex Ogletree, Stedman Bailey and Greg Robinson.

Coincidence that all six players came as draft picks in the trade for Robert Griffin III, who was standing on the opposite sideline? I think not.

And yes, that is an awesome move by Jeff Fisher. I'll even leave the "8-8" off his name for this great attempt at trolling. 

If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers beat Atlanta tonight at Lambeau Field, Rodgers and Brett Favre would have identical records (68-32) in their first 100 NFL regular-season starts.

And Rodgers has about 50 less interceptions in that time span as well. Favre had 116 interceptions in his first 109 games started in the NFL, while Rodgers had 55 prior to starting his 100th game.

Chip Kelly Wisdom of the Week
The Eagles’ coach, on the rumors that go with a formerly successful college coach being successful in the NFL but always linked to college jobs at this time of year—but to a lesser degree about being happy wherever you are, in whatever job you have:      

“Our whole mantra around here is, ‘Be where your feet are,’ and my feet are right here and that’s all we ever talk about. I can’t control what other people think or other people write. I’ve never been concerned with it; never will be concerned with it. I’ve been happy—I’ve been very, very fortunate in my career. Everywhere I’ve been in my career has been a great situation. I had an unbelievable opportunity when I was at New Hampshire and I loved it there and could have stayed there for the rest of my life. And then same thing at Oregon. I loved Oregon; I loved those players … I loved that group; I loved that coaching staff. I loved being in Oregon; I loved everything about it, but I had an opportunity to come here. I’ve been very happy everywhere I’ve been and I’m happy with being here now.”

This is more rambling than it is wisdom. If Peter really read/listened to what Chip Kelly was saying he would know that Kelly is essentially stating that he is always happy where he is until he gets a better coaching opportunity. So basically, Kelly loved New Hampshire and loved Oregon, but he got better opportunities. So he's always going to be happy where he is until he finds a better opportunity. So this quote essentially means nothing and applies to nearly every head coach. Nick Saban is always happy where he is until he finds a better job. The same goes for every other head coach.

Winston has the field presence and body type of Andrew Luck. 

Don't do Andrew Luck like that. Jameis Winston is not Andrew Luck. Winston can be a great NFL quarterback, but he isn't Andrew Luck at Stanford. 

What’s going to be very interesting in the next few months is to see how NFL teams process the numbers. They favor Mariota, particularly the stark interception number. In three full seasons, Mariota has thrown 12 interceptions.

I'm not a scout, but it seems running ability, decision-making, and intangibles favor Mariota. While the measurables and throwing arm favor Winston, though Mariota does have 101 touchdown passes in his career. I know what my pick would be if I HAD to make one.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 14:

a. Eli Manning starting his 175th consecutive game (including playoffs). Only nine full seasons to go until he passes Brett Favre (321). Should be easy. Manning would be 42. In his prime.

Manning is only 152 interceptions behind Favre as well. He would have to average 17 interceptions per season until he is 42 years old to pass Favre. That seems more reasonable, though I like that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning COMBINED only have 35 more career interceptions (371) than Favre had (332).

b. Cam Newton’s well-placed touchdown throw to Kelvin Benjamin to put the Saints behind the 8-ball early in New Orleans. Newton has taken too much of the blame for the bare-cupboard offense he was given.

Get out of here with your logic and reason. It's a coincidence that the one game where his offensive line protected him the Panthers offense scored 41 points.

d. Manti Te’o, with a near-interception and then a real interception in the last six minutes of the first half Sunday night.

It was a real interception by Te'o! Peter isn't making this up or anything like that. It was real.

i. Ryan Tannehill, knowing when to run.

But he does know when to hold them, know when to fold them or know when to walk away? Does Tannehill count his touchdowns while he's still on the field? He should know there's time for celebrating after the play is over.

j. Joique Bell, knowing how to run at the goal line.

Pro Tip: Use your legs to run towards the end zone and push as hard as you can if you happen to encounter a defender.

v. Reggie Bush, for having the courage of his convictions to wear the “I CAN’T BREATHE” T-shirt at Ford Field Sunday.
Interesting choice coming from a guy who admits to severely punishing his one year old child for misbehaving. Apparently there wasn't a "I'm standing up for a good social issue, but also lack a bit of self-awareness" T-shirt.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 14:

d. Vikes corner Captain Munnerlyn’s mugging of Jets wideout Jeremy Kerley, the easiest interference call.

Yeah, but he'll make a great play or interception and totally make you forget about this mistake. Captain giveth, Captain taketh away.

e. Man, Brian Hoyer doesn’t get much help from his receivers.
f. Man, Brian Hoyer overthrew a wide-open Taylor Gabriel by seven yards. That negated an easy touchdown.

While "e" is true, it probably doesn't help to prove Peter's point that he placed "f" directly below it. Hoyer doesn't get help from his receivers, but it sounds the lack of help could go both ways here.

j. Anyone still anointing Jimmy Graham?

Charmin may be anointing him their new spokesman. The difference in physicality in Graham and Rob Gronkowski is very interesting. I don't know if Graham was having a bad day, but he heard footsteps at least twice on Sunday and it resulted in a dropped pass both times.

p. My Lord, this is not something from this week, but how about this Thursday night game 10 days from now: Tennessee at Jacksonville.

At least it may be a competitive football game, which is more than other Thursday night matchups could say.

3. I think almost every year there’s a stunner in January—a coach we never thought would be parting ways with his team for whatever reason. That coach this season could be Sean Payton. Things just don’t seem right in New Orleans right now.

The Saints would be stupid to fire Sean Payton. Every team is allowed a bad year...or at least should be allowed a bad year. I can't live in a world where Sean Payton is fired while having two losing seasons out of 8 years as a head coach.

6. I think the headline of the week belongs to stlouisrams.com: “Punters Get Paid Like People Too,” after they rewarded versatile punter Johnny Hekker with a six-year, $18 million contract extension. I love this contract for St. Louis. Hekker is certainly worth 2 percent of the Rams’ cap space, especially because of how valuable he’s been in the fakery aspect of the punt team since arriving in St. Louis.

Hekker is 17th in punting average, 5th in net punting average, 2nd in punts inside the 20-yard line, and 5th in return average. So he's a pretty good punter, but of course a lot of those punting statistics are dependent on his punt coverage team. For example, Carolina's punt coverage team is horrendous and it shows in the statistics for Brad Nortman.

Then Peter transcribes Fran Tarkenton's comments about Robert Griffin. Never has there been a retired quarterback who may be more right, but also should probably shut up more than Tarkenton. He's probably right in some ways about Griffin, but I don't know why the media keeps going to him for juicy quotes. I think I just answered my own question.

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

a. So, a quick baseball story here: Russell Wilson’s attorney, Mark Rodgers, is also the agent for relief pitcher Andrew Miller. In early October, when chatter about the off-season free-agent market was taking shape, Rodgers mentioned to me, knowing I liked baseball, that he thought Miller could get four years for more than $8 million per. “I think we can get him $9 [million] a year,” Rodgers said two months ago. On Friday, the Yankees signed Miller to a four-year, $36-million deal. Talk about knowing your market. That’s amazing.

I don't know if this is amazing. Rodgers said he thought he could get Miller $9 million per year and so that was obviously the price he was asking teams who wanted to sign Miller to meet. A team met that price, so Miller is now a member of said team (Yankees). It's Rodgers' job to know the market and the fact he nailed exactly what he thought for Miller goes to show that knows the market. Amazing? No. Doing his job? Yes.

c. As for shortstop Didi Gregorius, who batted .226 with a .290 on-base for Arizona in 299 plate appearances and was benched and later farmed out at age 24 last season: I don’t know many great players, or even borderline all-star ones, who were on their third team by age 24 (Cincinnati, Arizona, Yanks). I don’t see any annual all-stars playing at short for Cincinnati, or looming at short for Arizona.

Well, Peter is a renowned baseball expert so I can't help but think he's 100% right about this. Especially since they don't play defense in the American League, so there is no sense in factoring defense in as part of the evaluation of Gregorious. Why would defense count as part of Gregorius' skill set? That's crazy talk.

j. There are about 10 movies I want to see, but Unbroken, The Imitation Game and Foxcatcher—those are the three I vow to see by the end of the holidays.

Okay, thanks for the information on what movies you plan on seeing. I will be sure to not hold you to this.

o. Not saying Saturday night’s Heisman award ceremony is anticlimactic or anything, but anyone who has his team in the race for the national title, with a 38-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, would seem to a pretty hands-down pick.

I can barely tell you who won the Heisman Trophy a few years ago. From what I remember, there haven't been too many exciting races for the Heisman Trophy where there couldn't be a reasonable guess made Saturday morning about who would win the award that evening.

r. My college football final four: 1, Alabama; 2, Oregon; 3, Florida State; 4, Ohio State.

So......pretty much the same final four teams as the committee picked? Thanks for your contribution and be sure to update us on all the movies you see over the holidays.

t. Five big conferences, four playoff spots. That’s where the problems in the four-team playoff begin. And as my peer Pete Thamel wrote for SI.com Saturday night: “In the giddy excitement that came with getting rid of the two-team BCS in favor of the four-team playoff, many overlooked a potential fatal flaw. The vague criteria essentially allows the selection committee to make up the rules as it goes along.” Which is why Baylor and TCU were screaming Sunday afternoon after the naming of the field. But whatever the criteria, let’s face it: A four-team playoff was always going to make three or four teams that didn’t make it go crazy.

There will always be controversy. The NCAA Tournament has 68 teams that make it into the field and there is STILL whining that some teams get left out. There could be a 64 team playoff and the 65th and 66th team would still feel upset they weren't included.

As I said higher in the column, if the Packers beat the woebegone playoff contenders tonight, Aaron Rodgers will have an identical record after 100 starts (68-32) as Brett Favre. What’s notable in the comparison between the two quarterbacks is the edge Rodgers has statistically. These numbers include only games each quarterback started, not the mop-up stuff each did before beginning their starting careers:

Player Starts W-L Comp. Att. Pct. Yards TD-Int TD-Int diff. Rating
Rodgers 99 67-32 2,176 3,276 .660 27,193 219-54 +165 107.1
Favre 100 68-32 2,094 3,400 .616 24,079 194-104 +90 89.2

The rules that favor the quarterback had an impact on Rodgers' statistics being more impressive than Favre's, but Rodgers is still the better quarterback 100 starts into his career. Can't tell Peter that though.

However, in Most Valuable Player awards won by the time of their 100th starts:

Favre: 3 
Rodgers: 1

I'm not going to comment on this because my head might explode.

Favre was a great player early, and Rodgers has been a great player early, one generation apart. There’s good reason if you’re a Favre fan to say Favre was better,

Other than the "It's a different time now than it was when Favre made his first 100 starts" reasoning, I don't see how a person could claim Favre was the better quarterback 100 starts into his career. Rodgers has a better completion percentage, more yards, better TD:INT ratio and a better rating.

and a good reason today to say Rodgers is better.

The good reason being because he is better 100 starts into his career. It's not a knock against Favre, but just a reality shown in the statistics. There is always the "Different time" argument of course.

The Adieu Haiku
Watt for MVP? Can’t see it. Today, I take …
12. Mister Cheesehead.

Again, can there be a vote on whether the "Adieu Haiku" stays or not? Why is there a vote on whether the video of Peter discussing NFL-related issues on the THE MMQB site stays or not, but we can't vote on the use of haikus in a football column? 


Eric C said...

So by his logic a dominant fullback would be the MVP? Since we are grading against the others at the position a full-time fullback could dwarf the competition.

Chris said...

I realize that I really shouldn't read too much into the Chip Kelly jerk off session of the week since Chip isn't really saying anything all that interesting or insightful but who is he talking about when he says "our motto is be where your feet are?" That really just sounds like Chip's motto that he is assuming every other coach thinks as well. Like you were saying about Harbaugh he doesn't seem to mind sniffing around other jobs. I'm pretty sure if Michigan dumped a boatload of cash in front of his house he would want his feet to be in Ann Arbor.

Snarf said...

Clowney’s next payday will be in late July, when the Texans will pay him a roster bonus of $922,409.

I'm not sure where Peter is getting the compensation of $14,938 for Clowney. Spotrac has him at $4,049,636 for the 2014 season. I'm showing the entire bonus for Clowney over the four years of his contract is closer to the compensation in bonuses and salary that Peter shows for Clowney during just the 2014 season. It sounds like I either have bad information or Peter needs to get his information correct. Either way, Clowney is now on Peter's radar as a useless piece of trash who needs to earn his contract.

Peter was talking about cash, you're looking at cap hit, which prorates the signing bonus evenly over the years of the contract. Your link shows a SB of $14.52M and a year one base of 420K, which gets you to $14.94M.

Slag-King said...

So what happens if there is an offensive player that is lights out in total production, but the team defense really stinks up the joint--in other words, the team is 2-14 because the defense is so hide-your-eyes bad. Suppose the quarterback is having an Aaron Rodgers type year--4,300 yards, 40 TDs, 5 INTs, 500 yards rushing, 5 rushing TDs, high 3rd down conversion success rate, and high red zone success rate. According to Peter King, this QB is not worthy of the MVP consideration because he is not on a winning team (because of bad defense). Last I checked, all NFL QBs today do not play defense.

This is how I feel about Watt. He is truly the most dominant defensive player right now among all defenders, so he should be considered MVP.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, I am 100% sure Peter would not think that counts. It's interesting that case that Peter makes for Watt. It's like he doesn't have the guts to vote for him as the MVP. He wants to give him credit, but puts him 2nd in the voting. Kind of a cop-out if you ask me. I don't think Peter really thinks a defensive player should win the MVP...it's a gut feeling I have.

Chris, they may dump a boatload of cash in front of him here soon. Chip Kelly is a smart guy. He found a smart way to say, "I will go where the best opportunity is."

Snarf, thanks fore explaining that to me. For someone who deals with numbers a lot, I don't always understand these contracts. To be clear, I was referring to what the Texans were paying him this year in terms of a cap hit. I don't consider the Texans to have paid him $14.94 million this year because that's not their cap hit. I understand what Peter is saying now because he did get $14.94 million, but next year when he makes less than that and puts up great numbers will Peter talk about what a great deal he is for the Texans? I feel like Clowney is about to get Freeman'd.

Slag, I generally don't factor in a team's record when talking about these awards either. I think of the player most valuable to his team. I would come very close to voting for Watt at this point, though I love Aaron Rodgers and want him to win the award so he can eventually retire with more MVP's than Brett Favre. Gun to my head, I vote Rodgers, but only by a small margin. Watt has been absolutely outstanding this year and I would have no issue with him winning at this point.

It's sort of the Trout-Cabrera argument all over again. Both deserve it and I only have difficulty with bad reasoning given for voting one over the other, but not an issue with whoever wins it.

Chris said...

Chip does seem like a smart guy and no doubt has managed to succeed(at least so far), in going from college to NFL. My thing is that Chip hasn't really been saying anything everyone else didn't already know or hadn't been said before yet Peter writes this down breathlessly as though he has never heard any of these things before. Who has Peter been talking to all these years where Peter is amazed when Chip essentially says I'll go where the best opportunity is?

Snarf said...


You're 100% correct. Peter is being pretty misleading because, as you point out, I doubt he will commend him for being a "steal" at < $500K if he plays up to expectations. Just trying to add some clarity to the numbers.

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, that's part of what I don't get too. Kelly is smart, but he's just saying the same shit but in a different way. I don't feel as fascinated with Kelly's words as Peter seems to be.

Snarf, I'm wrong a lot and I didn't really know how Peter got that number. I don't consider that to be the cost of Clowney for the year, though that is how much the Texans gave him.