Tuesday, January 20, 2015

7 comments MMQB Review: Peter King Knew The Patriots Would Blow Out the Colts, Except When He Thought Colts-Patriots Would Be a Close Game

Peter King described how the Cowboys got screwed by the officials in last week's MMQB (they didn't get screwed by the officials IN MMQB, but had a call against them in a game against Green Bay and Peter discussed it in MMQB) and named some poor guy who shouldn't be starting in the NFL as his "Goat of the Week." This week Peter talks about the Seahawks "suddenly" being super like they weren't the #1 seed in the NFC, again fucks up his "Goat of the Week" award, and appreciates it when a coffee shop cradles his balls just a little bit.

In the Seahawks’ locker room, maybe 45 minutes after the NFC Championship Game ended, I stood and looked around.

Where the defensive backs dressed, there was Richard Sherman grimacing as his father, Kevin, helped him put his shirt on, gingerly maneuvering his hyperextended left elbow. “Dressing him just like when he was a little boy,” a bystander said.

Okay, you got him. That bystander was Peter and he followed this observation up by saying, "Isn't it so precocious seeing Sherman's father dress him?" to nearly everyone he could find in the locker room. No one agreed.

Tight end Luke Willson, the shaggy Canadian, regaled one wave of the media (there would be others) with the story of an amazing two-point conversion that will go down in Seahawks lore—as will so many things that happened on a windswept and rainy championship Sunday. Willson had a goofy look on his face, like he still couldn’t believe what happened.

It was a goofy, precocious look to be exact.

Then, in middle of the lockers in the corner of the room, Russell Wilson, his face still streaked with tears and eyeblack, the happiest guy in the room,

Because he wasn't very good for 55 minutes of the game and then pulled off a great comeback with the Packers' help.

Oh, many things. Thirty-one seasons I’ve covered the NFL, going back to a training camp in 1984 in Wilmington, Ohio, covering Paul Brown’s Bengals and watching many a hot summer practice alongside Brown. And I started to think of the great games I’ve covered and how they’d compare to this one. The only one that came to mind, standing there in the Seattle locker room, was the ridiculous Houston-Buffalo wild-card game 22 years ago, with Buffalo down 35-3 in the third quarter playing a backup quarterback and, of course, coming back to win.

This may have been the best comeback in NFL recorded history. Including, you guessed it, THE TRIASSIC PERIOD.

But this game … this was different from anything. It was the suddenness. It was Seattle being awful for 55 minutes, as bad as they’d been in any Pete Carroll Era game of consequence, Russell Wilson capping the worst game of his high school, college or pro football career with his fourth interception with 5:04 left. At that moment, Green Bay led 19-7, and it shouldn’t have been that close.

But it was that close because of constant dumbassery and stupidfuckery by the Packers, who apparently weren't concerned about scoring any more points on offense or on defense when they intercepted Russell Wilson for the fourth time. Who needs more points? Let's just pump the brakes, slow the game down and play not to lose. That'll work.

Wilson came to the sideline and made a beeline for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

“We’re gonna win it,” Wilson said. “I know we’re gonna win it.”

And he said he had a play he knew was going to work.

It is the quarterback's job to keep everyone on the sidelines motivated and with their mind still in the game. So naturally, Russell Wilson would say this. Also, how many times has a quarterback come to the sidelines and said, "I know we're going to win it" and the team ended up losing and nobody cared what the quarterback said because his team lost? Probably an innumerable amount of times. When that quarterback's team wins, he's calling his shot. It's not exactly like that. As always, sportswriters can't just let a great moment be a great moment. There always has to be a little something that makes it extra special.

Something historic is going to happen in 13 days in Arizona, now that we know that the two top seeds in the 2014 playoffs—14-4 New England and 14-4 Seattle—will be meeting in Super Bowl 49.

Any time the Super Bowl is played something historic happens because a team wins the Super Bowl, thereby making history.

Either the Seahawks will become the first team in a decade, and the ninth team all-time, to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Or the Patriots, in their sixth Super Bowl appearance, will finally win their fourth title of the Brady-Belichick Era after a decade of knocking at the door and not winning one.

Align your narratives and stories now! Will the Patriots win a fourth Super Bowl or will the Seahawks win back-to-back Super Bowls? Which is a more historic and momentous accomplishment? Skip and Stephen A. will debate this point and more after the break!

Super Bowls are more often duds than scintillating affairs, and this matchup promises nothing.

This is not entirely true. Maybe in the 80's and 90's this were more true, but since 1998 there have been only four Super Bowls that I wouldn't describe as interesting to watch where the teams played a non-competitive game. So I don't really know what Peter is talking about, other than he always has an recency bias where the last event to happen was THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT EVENT THAT WILL SET THE STANDARD FOR ALL OF THE EVENTS TO FOLLOW and because last year's Super Bowl was a blowout, the next one will be too.

On the surface you’d give the Patriots a ton of credit for eviscerating a team in the conference championship game, but the Colts were such paper tigers that it’s hard to know if New England is the 2007 Patriots or just a team that took advantage of a weak foe.

Oh, now Peter is saying the Colts were paper tigers. Is that why he wrote a column asking if the game would come down to a kick and predicted the score as 30-27 saying Rob Gronkowski would help the Patriots "eke one out"? Paper tigers and all, right? What a crock of shit. It's hilarious how Peter changes his tune about the Colts after they get blown out. Ignoring how close he claimed the game would be, Peter always knew the Colts were a weak opponent. He just didn't know that he knew. It must be one of those things he thinks that he thinks.

We’ll get to New England pounding the rock and routing the Colts … and to the other news of the week in the NFL—including the reunion of the first and 197th picks of the 1983 NFL Draft. (Bet you can’t figure that one out.)

Bet I don't care.

But come back to gusty Seattle, and see, chapter and verse, why Russell Wilson got so teary-eyed Sunday night.

Bet I know why without reading why Russell Wilson got so teary-eyed Sunday night and it's not because he learned his ex-wife won't be able to get a portion of the new contract he signs with the Seahawks.

Then Peter goes play-by-terrible-play by the Packers to show how the Seahawks won the NFC title when the Packers collapsed.

The Seahawks had gotten the ball back at their own 46 on a punt. On their first play, Wilson fired over the middle, and the ball deflected off of Kearse’s hands, right to Burnett. Oddly, with at least five yards of green in front of him, Burnett took just a couple of steps after the interception and then dived down and covered up. He didn’t want to fumble there or get the ball stripped. But the game wasn’t over. I looked for Burnett in the Packers’ locker room after the game to talk to him, but I never saw him. I’d love to know why he didn’t try to gain some yards, even if it was with both arms protecting the ball like an old-time fullback. What safety in the open field doesn’t want to try to score?

Two issues here:

1. I didn't know why Morgan Burnett didn't try to score either. At the time I thought he should have and I know he wishes he had. It makes sense when there is below two minutes left to slide, but not in that instance.

2. Burnett's slide could be irrelevant because he probably figured what I figured at the time. The Green Bay offense, the best offense in the NFL, could get a few first downs and milk the clock. But since Mike McCarthy decided it would be best to not trust the NFL MVP to throw the football, the Packers did not get a first down and everything became broken and terrible. Burnett's decision to slide to the ground then came into play. His decision was dumb, but it didn't lose the game any more than the Packers terrible offensive play-calling lost the game.

Seattle stacked the box, and Mike McCarthy, desperately trying to run out the clock, took the ball out of the efficient Aaron Rodgers’ hands. McCarthy played clockball. Lots of coaches would have done the same, to be sure. But the drive after Burnett’s interception was beyond fruitless. Seattle stopped Eddie Lacy for minus-four on first down. Timeout, Seattle. Lacy again, against a stacked box. Minus-two. Timeout, Seattle. Lacy again, against a stacked box, gain of two. No timeout. Punt. Seattle ball at its 31, 3:52 to play.

This is the second time in three years that a dumbass head coach took the ball out of an elite quarterback's hands. John Fox did it to Peyton Manning three years ago when he didn't let Manning drive down the field for a field goal against the Ravens with one timeout left, instead choosing to kneel the ball down. For God's sake, trust your elite quarterback. It doesn't have to be this hard.

“I’m not questioning [the play-calling],” said McCarthy. “I came in here to run the ball. One statistic I had as far as a target to hit … was 20 rushing attempts in the second half. I felt that would be a very important target to hit for our offense.”

Even Mike Shula and his playbook of 15 offensive plays wouldn't be dumb enough to say something like "I've targeted this amount of running plays" as a goal that somehow means more than winning the fucking game. This is madness. This is also why the Patriots are so good. Belichick has no target for running plays. He has one target, winning the game. How he wins? Who cares?

“You mean the Whirly Bird Two-Pointer?’’

That’s what Luke Willson, the tight end from Ontario (Canada, not California),

Even though I never would have gotten this confused, thanks for clearing up a misconception I never would have had. Thanks again, Peter King (the sportswriter, not the Congressman).

Wilson, from the far sideline at the 18, knowing he was going to get blasted, threw a high-arcing prayer. That’s what it was. A 1-in-50 Hail Mary.
“If you run that two-point 100 times,” Wilson was asked later, “how many times do you make it?”

Peter apparently believes the Seahawks would make it twice, hence the "1-in-50 Hail Mary" comment. Maybe Peter didn't share that stat with Wilson. As a graduate of Wisconsin (the university, not the state) I know Wilson could figure out the answer if Peter King had provided the statistic to him.

“I was shocked to see it coming,” Willson said. “I’m not involved in that play—at all.”
Willson boxed out the Green Bay coverage, caught the ball at the 1, and burst into the end zone.

The Seahawks' end zone, Willson didn't burst into the Packers' end zone. Peter wants to clear that up.

It shouldn’t have been this easy. But because Lynch was so productive in the second half (he had 120 of his 157 rushing yards after halftime), Green Bay decided to crowd the box and force Wilson to beat them. On a third-and-seven from the Seattle 30, Baldwin got behind Green Bay corner Casey Hayward, and Wilson lofted a perfect ball over his shoulder. Gain of 35.

Which as I said in my preview is the exact type of shit the Seahawks wanted the Packers to do so they could loft a pass into single coverage. Why must Dom Capers be so stupid?

Wilson’s choice here was clear, as he approached the line to get the snap. If even one of Green Bay’s safeties stayed deep, the call was a run to Lynch. If both were sneaking toward the line, he’d audible to a deep throw, to Kearse.

Then the Packers did it again. Just gave the Seahawks single coverage with no safeties over the top. It's maddening to me.

Wilson let go of the ball at the Packer 43. It came down at the one, leading Kearse perfectly. The coverage was tight—borderline interference, in fact, with Williams’ hands going around Kearse’s neck as the ball arrived. “I felt I was in good position,” Williams said. “But he made the throw, and I couldn’t get the ball out. The guy made a good catch, Russell made a good throw. Good read.”

Good read and also exactly what the Seahawks wanted. They don't mind running the football, but it's those chances to take a shot deep they love almost equally as much.

I found Wilson afterward, and asked him about the four picks, and going from the worst game of his life to the most exhilarating in the span of eight minutes of game time.

“That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special,” he said,

Since God is deeply involved with the plan on how the game will end up, then why did God give the Packers four interceptions and then take the game away from them? Clearly, God hates the Green Bay Packers. I just need to know why His plan was to screw them over. I'm sure it has something to do with Olivia Munn.

You get the feeling watching the Patriots, and listening to them after the 38-point rout of the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, that the pressure is on. Reaching a sixth Super Bowl in 14 years won’t be enough. They’ve got to win this one.

This is as opposed to the other two Super Bowls that the Patriots lost which sportswriters insisted the Patriots just HAD to win.

“This team,” said Tom Brady on Sunday night, “is going to have to win one more important game to kind of leave our legacy.”

And as Gregg Easterbrook so astutely points out, this is why Bill Belichick made it a specific purpose to try and win as many games as possible this past season.

I’ll have more an analysis of where the Patriots stand Tuesday. But I’m really looking forward to the Super Bowl. I could see the Patriots in a rout. I could see the Seahawks in a rout.

Most likely Peter will predict it to be a close game and then call one of the teams a "paper tiger" after that team gets blown out in the Super Bowl.

And, judging by what we’ve seen with the Patriots’ tackle-eligible play, and Seattle throwing touchdown passes to rookie tackles, coaching will be a very big part of Super Bowl 49.

You heard it hear first. Coaching will be a very big part of Super Bowl 49. This probably comes as a big shock to you like it did me.

One final thing: Bob Kravitz of WTHR reported this morning that the league would investigate the Patriots for deflating some footballs Sunday night in the championship game. We’ll see how that develops today. I didn’t hear about this until well after midnight, so I’m not sure about its significance. But if true, theoretically doing so could—could, not would—make a football easier to throw and catch. Again, we’ll see if this has any legs today.

It didn't affect the outcome of the game, but because it's the Patriots then I'm sure it will be a big deal of sorts.

Some coaching thoughts, including the most pressure-packed job by far.

I bring up Van Gorder because Jim Tomsula—to those outside the Bay Area, and to some inside it—is just such an unknown figure, a hire that screams, “What? Are you kidding? A defensive line coach, ascending to head coach one of the league’s flagship teams?”

It has nothing to do with Tomsula being a defensive line coach, but more to do with the fact he seems like a lackey for Trent Baalke and has made a terrible impression in terms of meeting with the media and public so far.

But now, add to that what we saw during and after the introductory press conference in Santa Clara, and in an interview with Comcast Bay Area that was, to put it kindly, an unmitigated disaster.

Which makes a person wonder if he is ready for the job as the 49ers head coach. Maybe he just sucks at talking and is a coaching savant. Part of being an NFL head coach is making decisions and from what I've seen from Tomsula so far I wouldn't let him order me a burrito at Chipotle.

I know the 49ers PR staff, and there’s little question in my mind they had Tomsula well-prepared for his opening act.

Except he clearly wasn't well-prepared, Peter. It was obvious in the interviews he did where he stammered and came off as standoff-ish that either was not prepared or is terrified of speaking to other humans.

If you’re Jed York, you want Tomsula to succeed or fail on his own merits, on the football bottom line, not on how he deals with the media.

Actually, if you are Jed York, you want Tomsula to succeed like Harbaugh did but just not be as big of a pain in the ass.

Last spring, Bears coach Marc Trestman and quarterback Jay Cutler flew to New York to meet with a consultant, Dov Seidman, whom the NFL had retained to teach teams about winning with good core values and a positive culture. Trestman didn’t say as much, but clearly he was looking for ways for Cutler to become a better leader, and for the team to embrace a no-hazing, positive-locker-room culture. “I wanted to find out what else we could do to keep growing,” Trestman told me then. This is no criticism of that; not at all. I like Trestman’s efforts. But I see John Fox teaching accountability and responsibility more the old-fashioned way, stressing hard work and handling misbehavior with an iron fist rather than a gloved one.

Well, sort of. It depends on whether it is a player that John Fox likes and needs in order to win games or not. He never really ruled Steve Smith with an iron fist because Smith was his best receiver. I could write a book on John Fox and my thoughts on him. He has to be one of the best/most frustrating NFL head coaches I've ever seen.

As for the style of football, I though former NFL defensive back Matt Bowen put it very well in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, saying playing against a Fox team involved a series of “downhill collisions in the hole that felt like a train wreck.” Wrote Bowen: “I’m talking about old school stuff when you lined up versus those squads … put on your big boy pads and got ready to hit. You were in for a fight. Tough, nasty football—with nowhere to hide. Those were the most physical games I can remember playing during my journeyman career in the league. Fox will bring that physical style to Chicago as the Bears coach. I can guarantee that. You want to see a shift, a change in the football culture from Marc Trestman’s Bears? This is it.”

That wasn’t what the Denver Broncos were at the end of Fox’s tenure. One of the reasons Elway didn’t mind shaking up the team is he didn’t see the passion he’d hoped to see, particularly with the offense struggling in the last few weeks of the 2014 season.

That's not my memory of Fox either. I remember a lot of playing off receivers and the opposing team's tight end constantly killing the Panthers. I also remember Fox's refusal to adjust tactics mid-game because, dammit, this is his plan and he's sticking to it. I also remember a lot of fourth down punting.

All five head-coaching openings before Sunday had been filled by defensive coaches.

I’m not prepared to say this is some major shift in the game. Even with the likelihood that six of the seven openings will be filled by men with a defensive background, it doesn’t mean the game is changing. I don’t believe it.

Well, of course not. It's not as if from now on teams will hire only defensive coaches to be that team's head coach. It's just a recent trend. Sometimes Peter struggles with a trend and how that trend may not mean a major shift in the game of football. Glad to see that may not happen here.

I’m leaning toward this being more of a coincidence than anything else, after speaking to some of the decision-makers. Tomsula has been a longtime favorite of COO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke. Ryan was the kind of leader and community beacon the Buffalo front office was seeking. Oakland owner Mark Davis loved Del Rio from their first interview. Bowles had all the right answers for the Jets—who, by the way, have hired six defense-based head coaches in a row.

It also so happens the best candidates for NFL head coaching jobs are currently defensive guys. It may be no more than that.

So it’s fairly close. Defense 17, Offense 14, with one job open. The two on Atlanta’s short list are defensive coordinators—Quinn and Teryl Austin of Detroit. It’s not a landslide for the defense, certainly. Just something to monitor. The next question is this: Is there any reason why the more charismatic leaders are on defense, assuming they are?

I think playing defense is more of an attitude which plays into defensive head coaches getting their guys ramped up, while offensive coordinators are seen as more of the type of coaches who are more strategic and aggressive in a different way.

Maybe I’m the only one who finds this stuff interesting.

Regarding the future of pro football on television, I asked NFL executive vice president/media Brian Rolapp, also the president and CEO of NFL Network, about it recently. We could be a decade away from real change in the way we watch football. A snippet of our conversation:

Not that Peter being the only one who finds something interesting would ever keep him from covering that topic in MMQB of course.

Rolapp: “We spend a lot of time talking to [Google and Facebook] about when will the Internet be ready to distribute live NFL games. That’s always a question I get: ‘Well, when is Google going to carry a game package?’ I think the answer is once an Internet player can sustain 30 million users at the level and the quality that they expect to get on television. Five years ago, we were like, We don’t see that. Now? That might be possible as we sit with the Google guys.”
Me: “When?”

Peter, that's the question he just answered for you. Here it is in case you were leering at someone taking a picture in front of the Apple logo while listening to the original answer:

I think the answer is once an Internet player can sustain 30 million users at the level and the quality that they expect to get on television.

So naturally after getting that answer Peter follows up with the question of, "When?"

Me: “With the Google experiment, how would that work? They would obviously want exclusive regular season games. So, is that realistic to think that you would put some of your games someday on a platform like that versus an over-the-air television network?”

Because Rolapp is going to commit to Google being able to do regular season games on a computer when he doesn't know when the technology will be available for this to even happen. Rolapp doesn't know when the technology will be available, but he knows for certain that it's realistic for Google to air regular season games. That makes sense.

Rolapp: “Look, our broadcast contracts go through 2022. We’ve made our bed. And in 2023? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that.

Then Peter started paying attention again and asked, "Do you know when you plan on having Google air regular season games?"

The Fine Fifteen

T-1. Seattle (14-4).I don’t know how Vegas makes a line for Supe 49.

I don't know why the "r" in "Super" and the word "Bowl" are missing from this sentence. Maybe Peter is trying out some new slang.

Peter doesn't know who will win Supe 49, but he knows the New Patrio and the Seat Seaks are going to both be very excited and ready to play in Supe 49 and Ari is going to make a fantastic host.

T-1. New England (14-4). You can look at it like Seattle escaped and New England dominated, but let’s be real: The Colts were not worthy of being in the NFL’s final four. They did earn a spot in the AFC title game, so good for them. But they are not the fourth-best team in football. They’re fortunate to be fifth.

Again, Peter had the Patriots winning by only 3 points and said they would "eke out" the victory. He's talking boldly about the Colts today when he wasn't so bold about how the Colts weren't worthy of being in the AFC Championship Game last week. I guess "we" learned something "we" didn't know this past weekend.

Peter didn't mention in last week's MMQB how unworthy the Colts were either, instead writing:

5. Indianapolis (12-6). Andrew Luck in the Final Four. It was a matter of time, and Year 3 seems just right.

Now all of a sudden the Colts were phonies.

And New England’s really, really good. I think it has the potential to be an all-timer of a Super Bowl in Arizona.

Then if the Patriots blow the Seahawks out Peter will point out what a paper tiger the Seahawks were and how they needed a miracle to even make the Super Bowl.

6. Indianapolis (13-6). That’s a more depressing and non-competitive playoff loss by the Colts than the 43-22 job last year. The worrisome thing for Indy is that the Patriots show the Colts what’s coming—the pounding ground game, and the mirror of the left-tackle-eligible play they ran three times successfully the previous week … and the Colts are too weak to stop it. This is a big off-season for GM Ryan Grigson. He’s got to find some answer for that defensive front seven, which gets embarrassed every time it plays the Pats.

It might help first if their first round pick from two years ago who is a defensive end isn't inactive for a playoff game.

9. Carolina (8-9-1). I wonder how the Panthers will value Cam Newton in contract talks.

I don't even know what this means. They will probably value him as their starting quarterback and offer him a deal similar to what Andy Dalton or other younger quarterbacks have received. If Peter had paid attention then he would know the Panthers GM has already stated repeatedly that he feels Newton is a franchise quarterback. So they go from there.

11. Cincinnati (10-6-1). Scout the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl, Bengals.
12. Houston (9-7). You too, Texans.

Peyton Manning to the Texans. Every NFL writer would orgasm when Manning throws a touchdown pass to J.J. Watt. But seriously, I think that's a good landing spot for Peyton. They have a good running game, young receivers and a really good defense.

The Award Section

Offensive Player of the Week

Russell Wilson, quarterback, Seattle. No Offensive Player of the Week in my column, I feel sure, has ever been as bad as Wilson was in the first 55 minutes of a game … and I doubt as exhilarating in the final few.

I guess Wilson is a good choice. Of course he wouldn't have had to be exhilarating over the last five minutes if he had not been so terrible for the first 55 minutes. It's funny, because if Wilson were great in the first five minutes of the game and then struggled for the other 55 minutes of the game then he wouldn't get Offensive Player of the Week. It's all about struggling at the right time in order to receive this award from Peter.

Coach of the Week
Bill Belichick, coach, New England. In meaningful games since Oct. 1 (I am not counting Week 17 against Buffalo), the Patriots are 12-1. That means Belichick, since the 41-14 beatdown at Kansas City in Week 4, knew precisely what he was doing when he traded Logan Mankins for Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick (which will be about the 101st overall pick this spring), and when he experimented with line combinations throughout September.

Which is why your and your fellow sportswriters' freaking out about the Patriot Way no longer working or whether this was the end of Belichick and Brady was so funny at the time and still is very funny in retrospect. It's not like Belichick has a history of knowing what he's doing or anything.

Goat of the Week
Brandon Bostick, tight end, Green Bay.

He should have just done his job and blocked for Jordy Nelson. Still, this is the third straight week that Peter screws up his "Goat of the Week." Bostick was no more of a goat than Morgan Burnett, Mike McCarthy or any of the other Packers players who had a hand in their fourth quarter collapse. Bostick wouldn't have had to be on the hands team for an onside kick if Burnett hadn't dove to the ground and Mike McCarthy had not called overly-conservative plays to run the play clock down when he has Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. And the Packers wouldn't have lost the game in overtime if Dom Capers had not called a defense that gave the Seahawks the man coverage with no safety in the middle of the field that Russell Wilson wanted.

With the Packers nursing a five-point lead with 2:09 to play and only one timeout left for Seattle, the Seahawks onside-kicked. Bostick’s job on the play was to block and allow the more sure-handed players behind him (most notably Jordy Nelson) to catch the ball. But Bostick jumped for it, the ball went though his hands, and the Seahawks recovered. If Bostick or Nelson had recovered, Green Bay could have run out the clock by getting just one more first down.

This was a bad play, but one bad play in a stretch of bad plays by the Packers. To say Bostick is a goat could be accurate if there weren't other reasons the Packers were even in this situation to have to recover an onside kick in the first place. Maybe the Packers' defense could have not allowed the Seahawks offense to just move the ball at will over the last five minutes of the game. Maybe Mike McCarthy shouldn't have played the entire game not to lose. Blame Bostick some, that's fine, but he's not the "Goat of the Week" just because his screw-up was easy to point out. The Packers wouldn't have been in this situation if it weren't for the other screw-ups. 

“I will be shocked if he retires.”
—ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, on the Colin Cowherd radio show last week, about Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.

Mind you, Dilfer has no inside information. He's just talking out of his ass like he is prone to doing.

By the way, when Manning pulled out of the Pro Bowl on Sunday, my first thought was: Good for him—because had he played, 300 writers would have swarmed him after the game to ask him if he was retiring. He’s not ready to talk about it, because his body’s not telling him anything yet.

Someday soon, hopefully before the Broncos have to pay him his bonus in March, Peyton Manning's body will come calling and he'll know what to do then.

“Whose staff is this? It’s our staff. I get tired of the same questions all the time relative to who’s got final say, whose pulling the trigger? We’re doing it. I can’t emphasize that enough. Not one person is going to make every decision in this building. There’s different people in different roles and at different times different people are going to be responsible for a final decision. The one thing I’m confident of is we’re going to do this together. We’re going to do it together from day one on.”
—San Francisco GM Trent Baalke, on the decision-making process atop the 49ers with the naming of Jim Tomsula as head coach.

It's decision-making that is done together, except for when Jim Harbaugh and Baalke made decisions together, which isn't what Baalke wanted anymore. Decisions are made together, but once the decision is made, the 49ers need a head coach who will go along with the decision. 

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

My January travel trail so far:

Fri., Jan. 2: New York to Pittsburgh, fly. Sun, Jan 4: Pittsburgh to New York, fly.
Tue, Jan 6: New York to Las Vegas, fly.

Wed, Jan 7: Las Vegas to New York, fly (redeye).
Thu, Jan 8: New York to Providence, train. Car to Foxboro.
Sat, Jan 10: Car from Foxboro to Providence. Providence to New York, train.

Tue, Jan 13: New York to New Orleans, fly.
Wed, Jan 14: New Orleans to New York, fly.
Fri, Jan 16: New York to Detroit; Detroit to Seattle, fly.

Today: Scheduled for Seattle to Detroit; Detroit to New York, fly (redeye).


Can I get your paycheck so far during the month of January? I'm sure that would make me feel better about all the travel.

A note about the Detroit airport: It might have become my favorite one.

This is big, if true.

It sounds strange, the airport in Detroit being the best in the country, but it just might be.

Why in the hell would it be strange for the Detroit airport to be the best in the country? How is this strange at all? It's in Detroit and airports in Detroit should suck?

A note about one of the hidden gems of Seattle: I joined a large party of writers and non-writers Friday night at Betty, a restaurant in the Queen Anne neighborhood. (The MMQB’s Robert Klemko and Emily Kaplan came.) It’s the third or fourth time I’ve been there, and it gets better. Good, homey food (I had the bouillabaisse special and it was fabulous)

This is even bigger, if true.

The Arizona safety, apparently live-Tweeting the Bill Belichick press conference Friday and drawing comparisons to Marshawn Lynch’s stupid press conferences.

Thanks for pointing out the Tweet was drawing comparisons to a Marshawn Lynch interviews while watching a Bill Belichick press conference. I couldn't have figured it out since the Tweet made a direction comparison between the two.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Championship Sunday:

a. Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis, San Francisco wideout Anquan Boldin and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the three finalists for NFL Man of the Year. Worthy choices. Great volunteerism.

More like lofty volunteerism. Apparently the only NFL players who were eligible for this award are those whose team lost to Seattle twice this NFL season.

g. In what turned out to be losing efforts, the play of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, free safety, and Morgan Burnett, strong safety, of Green Bay. Clinton-Dix, avenging a poor game in Seattle in the season-opener, had two first-half interceptions of Russell Wilson and had a third one go through his hands in the fourth quarter; Clinton-Dix also stopped a scrambling Wilson a yard short of the end zone in the final three minutes, forcing Seattle to waste important seconds down the stretch. Burnett had an interception too, but his impact was felt more in run support and inducing Kam Chancellor-caliber punishment.

Burnett also slid to the ground after his interception rather than get the Packers offense in good field goal range or score another touchdown. Not that this means he didn't play well, but if Peter is going to be naming Brandon Bostick as the "Goat of the Week" and lauding Burnett's play...

h. Most of the 45 separate pieces on the Seahawks making plays, right down to Chris (Not the MSNBC Guy) Matthews recovering an onside kick.

Again, thanks for clearing that up for me. I thought the guy from MSNBC played for the Seahawks because I'm the mouth-breathing moron that Peter expects most of his readers to be.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Championship Sunday:

e. Not sure what we saw in Seattle was a choke job by the Pack, but Seattle scoring no offensive touchdowns in the first 57 minutes, then the Packers allowing three touchdowns in the last six minutes plus the recovery of an onside kick … okay, I will call it a choke job by the Pack.

The Packers gave up three touchdowns in the last six minutes of the game, but blame the guy who didn't recover the onside kick for all of this. That seems completely fair.

l. Mike McCarthy not going for it at the half-yard line in the first quarter. I will never, ever think that’s smart with a back as ferocious and powerful as Eddie Lacy.

I'm no Gregg Easterbrook, but when playing a road playoff game I tend to think it's smart to come out and be aggressive while trying to win the game. The entire offensive game plan in the second half seemed tentative and afraid to lose. I think the Packers have to go for it on the half-yard line I think. I know McCarthy trusted his defense, but maybe he should trust his offense too. 

3. I think Ray Lewis is going to have to get used to something, working in the media. We record things. We keep them around.

While true, when the media doesn't want to record and keep things around then those things are better off forgotten. Remember the time Peter wrote a column about Ray Rice that turned out to be (a) fairly insensitive to the situation and (b) factually incorrect based on a source that lied? I do.

It would be a good idea for the ESPN PR people to remind him of that, in fact. Lewis, the other day, said this to Stephen A. Smith: “The first time we created something called a tuck rule, it’s the only reason we know—I’m just being honest!—the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule!”

He said something stupid. This will be forgotten and never held against him as his career progresses. Peter thinks that Ron Jaworski walks on water and he's said some pretty stupid things during his time at ESPN. One of those I recall is that Colin Kaepernick could be the best QB in NFL history. But anyway, I won't defend Ray Lewis, but Peter needs to stop lecturing and realize "things" are recorded but usually forgotten after time.

You get called out for saying dumb things, Ray Lewis, and, well, I don’t need to say any more.

Because it's well known that Peter hasn't ever written anything dumb.

4. I think new coach Todd Bowles has every intention of giving Geno Smith a thorough chance to win the starting quarterback with the Jets. That couldn’t have hurt him with Woody Johnson.

After trying to win games with Ryan Lindley as the Cardinals' quarterback it would probably be a relief to have Geno Smith.

7. I think, not to pick at a week-old scab, but the one thing lost in the justifiable criticism of the Dez Bryant catch reversal is this: Say the catch was ruled good. Say Dallas had first-and-goal from the Green Bay one, and say Dallas scored within a play or two to make it 27-26, Dallas. The Cowboys would have gone for two. And so with somewhere around four minutes left, Green Bay would have gotten the ball back, down either one or three, with one timeout left. Here were the Packers’ previous three possessions: six plays, 47 yards, field goal; seven plays, 95 yards, touchdown; eight plays, 80 yards, touchdown. So if you want to say the Bryant reversal jobbed the Cowboys out of a chance to win, that’s fine. But please do not say the Bryant reversal cost the Cowboys the win. That didn’t happen.

Yeah Cowboys fans, don't say that happened. Because hypothetically, Aaron Rodgers would have led a comeback where the Packers would have scored a touchdown to win the game and hypothetically there wouldn't be enough time left for Tony Romo to win the game with a drive of his own. If the Packers didn't score a hypothetical touchdown then they would have at least kicked a hypothetical field goal and hypothetically won the coin toss in overtime and then won the game anyway. So don't give Peter that crap about how the catch cost the Cowboys the game, because hypothetically this isn't true.

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

e. With all the good entertainment options at home, there’s still a place for a great movie in the theater.

Exactly. Why watch a movie at home with people you know and like when you can watch a movie on a sticky floor with strangers, overpay for food and drinks, worry that those people behind you won't shut up by the time the movie starts, and pay more than you would pay for a movie at home?

g. Nice piece by NBC Nightly News on J.J. Watt over the weekend.

For God's sake, it's the offseason. Make him go away, just for a few months. I'm officially tired of J.J. Watt love.

h. Coffeenerdness: Thanks to the ladies at the illy coffee shop inside Detroit’s airport for being prompt, cheerful and making one heck of a triple latte, the barista asking me after my first sip: “Is it okay?”

The barista cupped Peter's balls and wanted to make sure everything was okay. This is just how Peter likes it! If more people would just kiss Peter's ass so that he doesn't unfairly bash their establishment in MMQB based on his one experience at said establishment then the world would be a better place. Treat Peter King kindly, the world responds favorably.

No it’s not okay.

Oh no! What's wrong?

It’s fantastic.


And that’s rare in the hurry-up-and-take-what-we-give-you service industry in American airports.

People cupping your balls and taking a special interest in you because you happened to order a latte is rare. Yes, it is rare. It's rare because working in the service industry sucks because humans suck and are very, very mean and think they can say whatever they want to you or bitch about whatever they want. If you respond in non-kind fashion then you are the asshole who gets reported to the manager. I don't work in the service industry, but I have before and can testify that some people are assholes. So yeah, there can be a certain hurry-up-and-take-what-we-give-you attitude, but that's because there are other customers waiting and there isn't time to tickle the taint of every customer in line. Because as Peter King as bitched about far too many times, no one likes a long line.

Of course Peter King would say that the service industry in airports is too focused on the next person in line, while at the same time having bitched about long lines at Starbucks and other coffee shops for years. Of course he would. Peter wants his coffee NOW, but it's fine if someone else waits while Peter gets his taint tickled a little.

The Adieu Haiku

Russell Wilson’s tears.  
Those should be shed by all teams
that passed on him. Twice.

I guess these teams should be shedding tears. I guess the assumption is every single NFL team needed a quarterback or Wilson would be successful in every team's offensive system. It's fun to talk about how teams are stupid for passing up Wilson, but a lot of what makes a quarterback successful early in his career is matching him up with the best offensive system for his skill set. Think Wilson would be this successful in Oakland? Where would Wilson be now if New England had drafted him as Brady's backup? It all depends on where a player is selected and if the right team chose Wilson. I know this isn't as interesting as the image of NFL teams shedding tears for not drafting Wilson. 


Anonymous said...

Peter is such an idiot. Wilson as Offensive Player of the Week? Marshaun Lynch! He had a tremendous game, a number of big plays while his quarterback did nothing until the very end. I guess Wilson "came through" in the end, but he threw a pick that could have ended the game in the 4th quarter. Luckily his defense, special teams and opponent gave him the ball back twice.

And then Peter thinks that every team wishes they had Wilson? What about those teams that, you know, have better quarterbacks? Or like you said, he ends up as Brady's backup. Think Peter, think.

Murray said...

It didn't affect the outcome of the game, but because it's the Patriots then I'm sure it will be a big deal of sorts."

You weren't kidding people are flipping insane

Anonymous said...

What an asshole. He deserves his coming dirt nap and I hope Ray Ray comes and gives it to him.


Chris said...

I can't wait for Easterbrook to to pounce all over this like he did with Spygate and claim that if the Pats don't apologize they will be cursed to lose the Super Bowl and in the playoffs for all time. Or at least until Belichick leaves at which point the curse will be gone since it really only affected Belichick and not the Patriots as a whole

Anonymous said...

"“I’m not questioning [the play-calling],” said McCarthy. “I came in here to run the ball. One statistic I had as far as a target to hit … was 20 rushing attempts in the second half. I felt that would be a very important target to hit for our offense.”

This infuriates me so much I can't breathe, and I'm not even a Packers fan. Of all of the stupid statistics McCarthy could latch onto, this is just about the dumbest. Who gives a flying fuck about 20 second half carries? Why not 19? Or 21? Oh right because 20 is a nice round number, and McCarthy is a fucking moron. It's hilarious too because McCarthy's QB is probably going to win league MVP, but he had no intention of letting that player win the game in 2nd half. Nope, gotta reach that magical 20 carry mark.

Saying you need to hit 20 carries in the 2nd half to win is akin to saying you need to hit 3 kneeldowns in the 2nd half to win. The kneeldowns may be part of the victory, but they aren't the reason for the victory.

The Packers spent the entire 1st half in Seattle territory, and had 16 points to show for it. If McCarthy's not questioning his play calling, then he should be fired immediately.

I've also never understood this idea that you kick a field goal from the half-yard line because you "trust your defense." If you trust your defense, why can't you just go for it, and if you don't get it you pin the opposing team on the half-yard line? If you trust your defense, you should trust them to be able to get a quick stop and get your offense the ball back in good field position, and that's assuming you don't just score a TD by going for it.

I honestly couldn't care less what Bostick did on that onside kick, or what Morgan Burnett did on his INT return. Mike McCarthy almost single-handedly cost his team this game by kicking short field goals and taking the ball out of Aaron Rodgers' hands in the 4th quarter. And really, the best part of the day was when McCarthy called timeout with 19 seconds left in regulation after Green Bay completed a 5 yard pass to Jordy Nelson to set up 4th down. Was there a single reason why he didn't just let the clock run down and make the field goal attempt the final play of regulation? Why even risk something bad happening on the ensuing kickoff? Because McCarthy is clueless, that's why. I was fully prepared for Seattle to take the ensuing kickoff up to about the 30-or-40 yard line, get one big completion, call timeout and set up a winning field goal. It didn't happen, but why risk it?

That was one of the worst coaching jobs I've ever seen, and I do not speak in hyperbole like Peter King or Gregg Easterbrook. An absolute abomination.

Snarf said...

Or the Patriots, in their sixth Super Bowl appearance, will finally win their fourth title of the Brady-Belichick Era after a decade of knocking at the door and not winning one.

Is Peter saying this is the 6th SB appearance of the Brady/BB era or the Patriot's 6th SB appearance as a franchise? It reads like the latter. It will be their 8th as a team. Peter never has been one to write clearly, though. At least he's not paid a ton of money to write for a living...

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, I read a lot of what Josh Norris of Rotoworld says about the draft because I think it's accurate. He talks a lot about a player's fit for a system and how that can help determine early in the player's career whether that player is successful. In another offense, would Wilson be as successful? Maybe, but I know Peyton Manning couldn't run the offense that Drew Brees runs (or I don't think he could right now in his career), but it doesn't mean Manning stinks. So yeah, not every team wants Wilson. He's still great.

Murray, oh yeah. I don't condone cheating but this is going to become a huge deal and stay a huge deal.

Anon, Peter probably won't get on an elevator with Rice any time soon!

Chris, he really said nothing in TMQ this week. It's weird. I think he's biding his time.

Anon, I can't add much. I agree. 20 rushing attempts is the goal. That's how games are lost. I'm not a big "go for it on fourth down" guy, but in that situation on the road I have to think it's smart to get as many points on the board as possible. The advantage the Packers have is they can put up points and force the Seahawks to come out of their game plan, but that didn't happen entirely. If you trust your defense, trust them to stop the Seahawks on the 1-yard line if the 4th down try fails.

Snarf, Peter may believe the Patriots didn't exist as a franchise until Brady/Belichick came along.