Tuesday, September 15, 2015

7 comments MMQB Review: Peter King May Have Just Confessed He Wants to Sleep with Marcus Mariota Edition

Peter King talked about how perfect Aaron Rodgers was in last week's MMQB, as well as made his Super Bowl pick. Peter also had a travel note complimentary of Acela, which we all know will probably turn into a complaint about Acela in the coming weeks. This week Peter talks about the blessed-relief first week of NFL games, Marcus Mariotia's outstanding start to his NFL career, creeps me out by inadvertently confessing he's sexually attracted to Mariota (the creepy part being that Peter is significantly older than Mariota), and it turns out the PAT Revolution didn't work out how Peter thought it might. If you recall, Peter was a big proponent of moving the extra point back in order to give NFL teams more incentive to go for the two point conversion (that's the partial reason). After only one week, it didn't work that way.

Peter has also stopped doing the Fine Fifteen in MMQB, which is good news. It is pointless to rank NFL teams early in the season anyway. I'm lying, he's just not doing the Fine Fifteen until all of this week's games are played, which makes ranking all the NFL teams after one week seem to make so much more sense.

Now that was quite a way to end the first Sunday of a blessed-relief NFL Week 1.

No more talking about the Patriots deflating footballs! Ever! It's ov---

(Blessed relief because we’re not talking much about inflation of footballs … just 359 words here on the Brady vs. Goodell mess this morning.)

Oh. So Peter King thinks not talking about Brady v. Goodell is relief, but then he goes ahead and writes 359 words on the topic anyway. Hey, Peter can't control what he writes in this column (which is why he doesn't use the word "Redskins," because he can't control his own words), so don't blame him!

Can I start the 19th season of MMQB by telling you an observation I had Sunday evening about the incredible closeness of this game? Of these games? 

It's a game of precociousness?

The games are so close, and they’re sometimes decided by the craziest of breaks, and human foibles, and mind-boggling decisions.

That’s a big reason, collectively, why America keeps coming back for more, no matter how fist-shaking angry it gets at the commissioner or the owners or players who mess up.

Thanks for telling America why we come back. Little did we know that we enjoyed watching the games. I thought I watched the NFL just so I would know what Peter was talking about when I read MMQB every week.

We start this morning with the first-ever opening-week duel of rookie quarterbacks drafted with the first two overall picks. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay) versus Marcus Mariota (Tennessee) kind of snuck up on us, as it was eclipsed by the never-ending drama on Ted Wells’ field of play.

“I thought it deserved a little more attention,” Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt said from Tampa on Sunday night. “When we first saw the schedule—Week 1, 4:25 game—it seemed like they planned this because of the spectacle of it. And because we had the late game, I’m watching some of the pre-game shows this morning. They didn’t talk about it very much. I didn’t get that. This was a pretty big deal.”

The same head coach who wanted his rookie quarterback to throw an interception in order to get it over with and slow down the hype train wanted there to be more hype surrounding this rookie quarterback's first NFL start? Got it.

You could hear it in Whisenhunt’s voice, and see it on his face. It’s the kind of thing you’ve heard from Bill Parcells a few dozen times if you’ve been paying attention.

Bill Parcells. The greatest coach in the history of the NFL.*

*Only when he had one of the greatest head coaches in the NFL running his defense or on his staff as an assistant head coach. Without Bill Belichick as his defensive coordinator or assistant head coach, Parcells has a career record of 77-76. Probably means nothing...

Let’s not put this guy in Canton yet. Or, So, you’re fitting him for his gold jacket already? That was Whisenhunt.

It's very Parcells-like to not canonize a quarterback after one start. Other NFL head coaches would be raving about how Mariota will never throw an interception and will probably have a perfect passer rating over his entire career. Not Bill Parcells and Ken Whisenhunt though. They refuse to get ahead of themselves after Mariota makes one career start.

“You may not hear it in my voice,” he said, “but I’m really, really excited to have this kid.”

Finding a franchise quarterback = Keeping a head coaching job. It's basic math. 

Next play: Harry Douglas burst from the slot past a good corner, ex-Titan Alterraun Verner, and caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Mariota. Easy stuff. At least it looked easy. Three minutes later, near the end of the half, after Winston's second interception of the half, Mariota flipped a quick curl to Walker for the final touchdown from a yard out.

I will say this about Jameis Winston. He's known for throwing interceptions (that's the perception at least) and giving him a shitty offensive line isn't going to help him get comfortable and throw fewer interceptions. Winston is a pocket passer and wasn't able to feel comfortable throwing the ball in the pocket. Until the Buccaneers do that for him, he can't succeed.

It’s totally unfair to draw conclusions based on four quarters

Everyone repeat after me...now Peter will proceed to draw some conclusions.

but you can say this about the two players. Mariota moved between shotgun and under-center snaps freely. He was comfortable throwing fast and throwing with time. He was extremely accurate. He looked so comfortable, as though this was the first game of his sixth season, not his first.

I'm not going to be a Winston apologist, but look at the offensive line the Titans have put around Mariota. They have worked hard to put a quality offensive line out there, even to the point they had the luxury of trading away a disappointing Andy Levitre rather than keep him on the bench for depth.

Winston was pressured more than Mariota, and he didn’t always respond to it well, going 16 of 33 with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

A rookie quarterback making his first-ever career NFL start didn't respond well to pressure? I can't believe this. Find me quarterbacks who respond well to pressure and these are among the best quarterbacks in the game, not quarterbacks making their first-ever NFL start. Again, Peter doesn't want to draw conclusions...

Rex Ryan coached six years in New Jersey, and so he heard the cacophonous noise around the Meadowlands on occasion. But a couple of things he hadn’t seen. One: Fans standing for most of three hours, which they did Sunday, so as not to miss anything in a 27-14 Bills’ victory over the favored Colts. Two: The RV parking lot adjacent to Ralph Wilson Stadium full late Saturday morning.

It's almost like Bills fans crave a winning team or something. I'll be impressed when that RV parking lot is full late Saturday morning when it's late November and December when it is cold as hell outside.

This was a revelation game for Buffalo. In a game between Tyrod Taylor and Andrew Luck, who do you think would have the 63.6 passer rating and who the 123.8 rating?

I don't know, is Tyrod Taylor on the Patriots team now? If so, I would expect the 63.6 rating to be what Luck has put up. 

“I think we made a statement today,” Taylor said.

This one: We’re pretty good now, and we might get better, and we just might petition the league to play all 16 games at home.

“We’re gonna be tough to beat at home, I’m telling you,” Ryan said.

A Rex Ryan-coached team with an actual quarterback is a little bit terrifying. Really, the only thing that could bring the Bills down is if Rex hired his brother to be his defensive coordinator.

Judging by the first week of the season, they’d better be good at home—and on the road. Standings of the AFC East this morning:

Buffalo: 1-0
Miami: 1-0
New England: 1-0
New York Jets: 1-0

Great! Standings! They mean so much this time of year. Nobody in the AFC East has been defeated at this point in the season. Could this be the first time in league history an entire division manages to 16-0? Possibly. Peter doesn't want to jump to any conclusions, but he thinks at least two of these teams will go undefeated.

The defense is the real thing. If the offense can hold up its end—and really, you can say the same thing about any of the three AFC East challengers to New England—Buffalo will be in it till the end. That’s a big if, of course. It will depend on the maturation of Taylor.

So whether the Bills quarterback plays well or not will determine how well the team does this year? Very interesting point of view, if not controversial.

Some old friends are coming to town: Bill Belichick. Tom Brady. The schedule-maker came up with an unlikely AFC Game of the Week in Week 2.

AFC Game of the Week? No. AFC Game of the Century. Peter doesn't want to jump to conclusions, but this is probably the biggest Week 2 game in the history of the NFL. It's amazing the NFL schedule-makers came up with having the Jets and Bills play each other so early in the season. It's almost like they KNEW Rex Ryan was the head coach of the Bills or something and this game would be interesting to watch. Plus, the schedule-makers somehow remembered they had to schedule two Patriots-Bills games since the teams both play in the AFC East. Peter doesn't want to jump to conclusions, but this game could, and COULD being the key word, mess up the perfect record the AFC East teams have currently. 

“Wait till next week,” Ryan said, chuckling over the phone. “Holy s---. I cannot wait.”

He said "shit." What a rebel.

You might have gone to bed by the time the Giants and Cowboys reached the final two minutes Sunday night in Texas, so let’s recap: Giants up 23-20, third-and-goal from the Dallas 1-yard line, 1:43 left. No timeouts left for Dallas.

The play here is to hand the ball off, hope the back scores, but if not, make sure the back doesn’t run out of bounds to stop the clock. If the back doesn’t score, let the clock run down to, say, one minute, and on fourth down do the same thing again. If he’s stopped, the Cowboys would get the ball at their one-yard line with about 55 seconds left.

The Cowboys would then be able to tie the game with a field goal, but also have to go 60 yards to even get close to field goal range. The Giants could also go the aggressive route with the quarterback they just handed a lot of guaranteed money to and hope he can seal the win for them with a touchdown. It's aggressive to not choose to run the ball, that's for sure.

The one thing that seems totally illogical is what the Giants did. Eli Manning rolled out and threw to the back of the end zone, to no one. The Giants kicked a field goal to go up 26-20. And the Cowboys got the ball after the kickoff at their 28-yard line with 1:29 left.

It wasn't a smart decision, that's for sure. It was an aggressive, "go for the throat" decision that trusted the same defense the Giants hoped wouldn't let the Cowboys go 60+ yards to tie the game with 55 seconds left would prevent the Cowboys from going 72 yards to win the game with 1:29 left.

With Manning manning up, and Coughlin doing the same, we at least know the Giants have standup guys. What we don’t know is why they would do something like this. Were they so confident in a specific play they had called? Did they think they’d catch the Cowboys loading up for the run and sneak in a quick touchdown pass?

Yes, they were confident in the play they had called, and yes, they thought they could catch the Cowboys loading up on the run. It wasn't the safest play and it wasn't the "smart" play. The Giants look like geniuses if it ends up working out though.

Hand it to Tony Romo (11 of 12 for 147 yards and two touchdown passes in the last eight minutes of the game) for driving 76 and 72 yards in the last two series for the win. But this one’s on the Giants. If Coughlin and Manning each want half the blame, it’s theirs.

While admitting the Giants are definitely to blame, if Romo and the Cowboys can go 72 yards with 1:29 left to win the game, couldn't they conceivably have gone 60+ yards with 55 seconds to go (if the Giants went for it on fourth down and then forced the Cowboys to be pinned on their own 1-yard line) or go 72 yards with 55 seconds left to win the game outright (if the Giants kick the field goal and then kickoff)? Again, the smart play isn't what the Giants chose to do, but Romo went 72 yards with no timeouts to win the game, so the idea of going 60+ yards to tie the game isn't incredibly far-fetched. Blame the Giants, but they were being aggressive and it didn't work out.

The MMQB’s Robert Klemko was in St. Louis Sunday and filed this about the backup for holdout strong safety Kam Chancellor…

Nothing noteworthy here, except the unnecessary use of italics.

Dejected, Bailey sat upright in his locker, located between Richard Sherman’s and Earl Thomas’s, in the visitor’s dressing room at the Edwards Jones Dome. He draped several towels over his head and closed his eyes. He felt as though he’d not only lost the game, but tarnished his family name.

I read this aloud with emphasis on the part in italics. It sounds silly to me when read aloud. Am I the only one who is bothered by this unnecessary use of italics to show emphasis when read aloud? I probably am, but it sounds ridiculous when sounded out and not written.

The PAT revolution? Not quite, but wait.

Moving the PAT didn't immediately change the NFL for the better and coaches who have always been risk-averse continued to be risk-averse even when given a slightly greater incentive to go for a two-point conversion? Certainly you must be kidding!

Imagine this scenario, painted for me by Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano:

The Colts score a touchdown to go up nine points with 45 seconds left in the game. Now Pagano has to decide whether to go for the point-after touchdown, basically a 33-yard field goal, or to go for two, from the 2-yard line.

Or, as Pagano suggested, neither.

“Because the defense can score on the PAT or two-point conversion now, why would I go for either one?” Pagano told me. “Why wouldn’t I just take a knee and not go for anything?”

Why would a coach do this, besides the fact they are abnormally risk-averse people so manipulating them into going against their instincts isn't going to work unless it is taken to the extreme? Why would a coach take a knee and not go for anything? Because it guarantees a win, which is why most NFL head coaches will always go for the longer extra point over the two-point conversion.

So imagine a team, late in a game, up by four or nine, lining up to go for two and then the quarterback simply takes a knee to kill the play. I’m not saying it positively will happen. But I am saying it makes zero sense for a team up four or nine in the last minute or so to attempt either the one or two-point conversion.

You miss that extra point try now, don't you Peter? I was not against the extra point moving back, but I've never thought it would cause head coaches to go for two more often and do much more than make the extra point more difficult. That's fine. The extra point can be made more difficult, but there is always a change in strategy that isn't thought of when rules change and the fact a team may not even try an extra point or two-point conversion seems to be that change in strategy.

There’s nothing to gain. That’s Pagano’s opinion. Chip Kelly’s too. “We felt that way at Oregon, because the defense could score points,” the Eagles’ coach said.

As the NFL tries to force NFL head coaches to be more aggressive, they find a way to not be more aggressive. It's almost like the nature of being an NFL head coach will find it's way to being conservative no matter how many rules are adjusted to change this behavior. 

“I think you’ll see a change in the mentality, with more thought being put into the fact that the defense can return it now, and what impact that has,” Mike Pettine of the Browns said. “We already have a chart made.”

A chart! The Browns have a chart ready to go for when they are up four or nine points and need to make a decision on whether to kick the extra point, go for two or kneel the ball down. I have a feeling this chart may stay in near-mint condition for another season at least.

On our training camp trip, The MMQB asked head coaches if they planned to treat the PAT any differently this year with the line of scrimmage moved from the 2 to the 15-yard line—and with defenses now being able to score either one or two points on a failed conversion try returned to the far end zone. We got no sense that there would be a mass change from the one to two-point tries,

Roger Goodell should consider suspending head coaches who don't go for the two-point conversion enough, or perhaps, he should start docking draft picks from teams who don't go for the two-point conversion at a certain percentage after a touchdown. I may have just given Goodell an idea.

But most coaches were like Kelly. “The percentage in kicking from the 2 versus kicking from the 15, I think, goes from about 99.6 percent to 95.5 percent,” said Kelly, referring to the percentage of extra-point success in 2014, versus the percentage of field goals made from the low 30-yard-yard area. “The league wanted to encourage coaches to think about going for two, and I said you needed to change where you went from two from. [Kelly proposed moving the two-point line of scrimmage from the 2 to the 1-yard line.] I said, ‘It’s been on the 2-yard line and people haven’t gone for two, so why moving it back and changing four percentage points do you think that’s going to make a coach go for two?’

The NFL tried to incentivize teams to go for a two-point conversion by moving the extra point back to an area where kickers can still make a very high percentage of kicks. Maybe if they want teams to go for a two-point conversion more often they should incentivize teams in a positive manner to go for the two-point conversion. Moving up the two-point conversion to the 1-yard line would do that. A head coach will see that a kicker will maybe miss 3-4 extra points in a season, thereby leaving four points off the scoreboard, while only two missed two-point conversions (which are converted at a much lower rate than an extra point) will leave four points off the scoreboard on the season. If you just assume NFL head coaches will be conservative and take the points, you see why moving the extra point back won't necessarily result in an increased amount of two-point conversion tries. It's not shocking to me the NFL failed to see this when the extra point rule was changed.

But there will be more two-point tries, particularly if the defense jumps offside on the one-point tries.

Which, as I showed a few months ago, happened about six times or so last season. Defenses jump offside about at the same percentage that kickers will miss an extra point. And yet, Peter keeps relying on this "jump offside" scenario as something that will happen quite often when in reality this is not true.

That means teams will have a choice whether to take a five-yard penalty and put the PAT line of scrimmage at the 10-yard line, or go half the distance, from the 2 to the 1, and try a one-yard two-point play.

I'm betting when this happens 6-7 times this season (maybe less for offensive false starts on extra points), the majority of head coaches are going to choose to kick the extra point. 

The opposite of that scenario actually played out in Week 1. The Chargers scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to go up five points on the Lions, 26-21. San Diego lined up to go for two but committed a false start and had to move back five yards. Coach Mike McCoy opted to try the 38-yard PAT (rather than a 7-yard two-point try) and Josh Lambo's kick was no good. It's a good example of the little strategic decisions that the longer PAT now forces coaches to make.

It's also a great example of how this doesn't happen often and there is no strategic decision involved here. A two-point conversion from the 7-yard line or a 38-yard PAT? The PAT will win 9 times out of 10. I do like how Peter bashes the Giants for being aggressive, but he expects a two-point conversion try from the 7-yard line to be "a strategic decision." Bash teams for being aggressive and not just taking points, but then expect them to be aggressive and not take the points when it supports his point of view.


Tavon Austin, wide receiver/returner/running back, St. Louis. This was the kind of game the Rams expected when they drafted him in 2013. His 16-yard touchdown run as a lone back in the second quarter flummoxed the Seahawks, and his 75-yard punt return in the third quarter gave the Rams the biggest lead (11 points) that either team had all day.

It was a great punt return, but don't forget the Rams passed over Eric Reid, Kyle Long, Tyler Eifert, D.J. Fluker, Sheldon Richardson, Star Lotulelei, Travis Frederick, and Le'Veon Bell (among others) to draft Austin at #8 overall. A punt return touchdown isn't going to justify his draft position any time soon.

Could this be the year Austin breaks out, at long last?

Sure, let's look at Austin's other numbers from the game where Peter wonders if he will break out...two receptions on five targets and -2 receiving yards, plus four rushes for 17 yards (and a long of 16) and a touchdown. As long as Austin is used correctly (i.e. not as a receiver it seems) then he should have a good year. A breakout year? Probably not considering he was the #8 overall selection. But hey, the Los Angeles Rams are a team on the rise, so who knows what could happen?

Tyler Lockett, wide receiver/returner, Seattle. He is becoming everything the Seahawks hoped Percy Harvin would be—a dangerous returner and effective change-of-pace receiver. On his first career punt return Sunday at St. Louis, he weaved 57 yards through the Rams’ coverage team—untouched, it appeared. He had 119 returns yards and 34 receiving yards in his first NFL game.

Lockett had a punt return touchdown and receiving yards that amount to 5% of Austin's career total in the same game. One is a rookie 3rd round pick, while the other plays for a team Peter has close ties to and is a 3rd year #8 overall pick. I probably shouldn't compare them too much, but it's natural considering Peter named them both Special Teams Players of the Week.

Two positions, linebacker and wide receiver, have had their salary standings rewritten in the past two months.

In terms of average salary, five of the top six linebackers have signed mega-deals since mid-July. The final man came in Thursday, with Carolina’s Luke Kuechly ($12.4 million per year) becoming the highest-paid inside/middle backer of all time. (Justin Houston and Clay Matthews, outside guys, are the only linebackers higher than Kuechly on the list).

These are the types of things that happen when there are great, young linebackers in the NFL and their teams want to pay to keep them on the team. 

And it’s the same number at wide receiver, five of the top six, that have signed since mid-July. A.J. Green of the Bengals averages out as the second-highest wideout deal in history (to Calvin Johnson), at $15 million per year.

The fear of injury, and fear of the franchise tag, are such great motivators. In baseball, with no franchise tag and significantly less fear of injury, stars go to market all the time. Stars rarely play the free market in the NFL.

It also helps that there is no salary cap in baseball, so the free market is truly free. The Bengals can offer A.J. Green a contract comparable to the other great players at his position and it's easy for him to accept since he knows he's not getting a 10 year $250 million contract on the free agent market. Non-guaranteed deals and the salary cap also play a big role in NFL teams being able to keep the players they draft. It's almost like there is a plan in there somewhere. 

Entering tonight’s Philadelphia-Atlanta season opener, the two most efficient running teams in the NFL since 2013 are Seattle and Philadelphia.

Seattle wouldn’t be a surprise, with the pounding Marshawn Lynch and dual-threat quarterback Russell Wilson. But pass-happy Philly? Maybe the Eagles aren’t as pass-happy as we all think.

Stop writing "we" don't think the Eagles are a run-happy team. This has been shown and described many times. It's thought that Chip Kelly is pass-happy, but he loves running the football and the Eagles try to run the football. There is only so many times I can read "The Eagles love to run the ball, bet you didn't know that!" before it becomes annoying. Yes, Chip Kelly likes to run the football. It was kind of obvious given how he's invested in the offensive line and running backs, no? 

Since opening day 2013, Philadelphia is fourth in total rushes, second in rushing yards, and second in yards per carry. And the Eagles, even if Sam Bradford stays healthy all season, won’t be much different this year, I don’t think. You don’t sign the NFL rushing champ (DeMarco Murray) in free agency, backstop him with a former first-round pick (Ryan Mathews), and employ one of the best change-of-pace backs (Darren Sproles) on the planet if you’re planning to be a passing team.

Right, which is why "we" knew the Eagles are a run-happy team whose high-paced offense leads one to believe they prefer to throw the football when it's been shown many times this assumption isn't true. "We" aren't all making the assumption still, despite Peter's need to teach his readers a lesson many already know. 

So Winston is playing Mariota one-on-one now and football isn't a team game? Aaron Rodgers can't beat Russell Wilson either, so are there conclusions to be drawn from this based on "Wilson v. Rodgers"?

Ten Things I Think I Think

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

d. Great play design by St. Louis offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, putting Tavon Austin as a lone back behind the quarterback and simply handing it to him.

Yes, great play design to get an extremely talented and fast running back/wide receiver the football with space to where he can run. I would ask why it took two seasons for the Rams to figure out they should do this, but I've learned not to question the genius of Jeff "8-8" Fisher. He knows more about misusing Austin's talent than I ever will.

h. The hustle by Andrew Luck, tackling Ronald Darby of the Bills after a Darby pick.

Great job throwing an interception and then tackling the guy who intercepted your pass! Kudos to you, Andrew Luck. Sure, it may have been better if you didn't throw the interception, but who cares about a silly interception? 

s. DeAngelo Williams, who sure didn’t look like an insurance policy against the New England front, with his 127-yard opening night.

It's amazing what happens when you get motivated and in shape to play football. Remarkable how Williams went from slow in his cuts last year to fast in his cuts and able to bounce it outside again. I'm sure it had nothing to do with him getting lazy with his conditioning and the Steelers forcing him to lose weight. Good for him. It would be nice if it didn't require a change of scenery to get in shape though. 

y. Jenny Vrentas’ story for The MMQB on J.J. Watt, which contained this nugget from Lawrence Taylor, the last defensive player to win the NFL MVP award: “I thought he should have been MVP. If he stays healthy, he could be all-timer.”

Peter is contractually obligated in every MMQB to mention how other football players think J.J. Watt is going to be a great player. As if watching him isn't enough to know this. I can't wait to watch Watt break Cam Newton in person this week. I'm sure after he has 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and 5 interceptions then Peter will find a quote where some ex-football player will say how great Watt is, as if we can't see already. 

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 1:

c. Peyton Manning is 39, and he looked weak-armed on throws to the sideline against Baltimore, and he spent the second half dink-and-dunking an awful lot of throws. Too early to draw any definitive conclusions, but something certainly to watch in the next couple of weeks.

Manning is probably dehydrated again. You know, that whole "dehydration" thing that caused him to lose his arm strength last year towards the end of the season. That probably is popping up again. I still can't believe Manning said his problem last year was dehydration. Perhaps he was dehydrated, but that's a hilarious excuse for his struggles (relatively of course) over the last few weeks of the 2014 season. Me thinks he deludes himself. 

g. Jameis Winston.

h. Jameis Winston’s protection.

It's almost like those two go hand-in-hand or something. This couldn't be true though, could it? 

l. Cam Newton, for not seeing Paul Posluszny on a first-half pick.

I predicted on Twitter that Peter King would point this throw out. He's so predictable.

I do also notice how Blake "He's totally a different quarterback, now he's making throws like Aaron Rodgers" Bortles threw an awful pick-six which went unmentioned by Peter. It's okay though. I just think it's interesting there are two awful interceptions and one resulted in a total swing of the game, but the one that didn't result in this total swing is the one Peter (predictably) mentions. Also, there is literally nothing else noted about this game that Carolina won 20-9 (without having Kuechly for the entire second half), so the only takeaway from Peter is that Cam Newton still sucks. Seems reasonable. It was an ugly game, that much I can admit.

m. The much-maligned run defense of the Colts, beaten by Bills rookie Karlos Williams for a 26-yard touchdown gallop late in the first half.


s. Don’t want to make too much of the Browns stinking it up at the Meadowlands. But the NFL set up Cleveland to get off to a good start—at the Jets, Titans at home, Raiders at home. And watching the Browns turn it over five times and lose by 21 Sunday, with another day of crisis at quarterback, you just wonder when the black cloud over this franchise is going to go away.

I think the answer to the last part of this sentence is contained in the middle part of the sentence. Find a quarterback, find success. It's not that hard to see the correlation there.

v. Dez Bryant, dehydrated after one quarter of the first game of the season. Come on now.

7. I think it’s a story, the problems between Chuck Pagano and the Colts that Jason LaCanfora and then Jay Glazer discussed on the pre-game shows Sunday. My feeling is the basis of the problems between coach and organization is not a problem Pagano has with GM Ryan Grigson, but rather an issue at the door of owner Jim Irsay. Irsay likes Pagano. But I don’t think he knows if he wants Pagano to be his coach for the next five years. Here’s why: Pagano came from Baltimore as a defensive coach, and the Colts are still a team that has to win despite its defense too often.

I don't blame Pagano for having a bad defense. The Colts haven't invested in defense like they have invested in offense. Of Grigson's four drafts, he has chosen 18 offensive players and 12 defensive players. In the first three rounds of the draft Grigson has chosen 8 offensive players and 3 defensive players. He simply hasn't chosen to invest in the defense through the draft, instead choosing to do so in free agency. Pagano needs guys to work with if he's going to put together a championship defense. 

Buffalo, on Sunday, gashed Indy for 147 rushing yards in 36 carries, proving the run defense is still a major issue.

That’s why, in my opinion, the Colts’ offer to Pagano was probably a lukewarm one. If the defense lets down Indy again, I doubt Pagano will face much of a roadblock from his owner about leaving.

Maybe Chuck Pagano should have built a better defense with the Colts, but the Colts haven't given him the options through the draft to improve the defense. That's how teams improve on either side of the ball, building through the draft, and the Colts simply haven't done that on defense. Pagano hasn't forgotten how to coach defense, that much I know. 

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

b. Pet peeve: The phrase “calendar year Grand Slam,” referring to what Serena Williams was trying to do. That comes from “the department of redundancy department.” A Grand Slam in tennis refers to winning all four big tennis tournaments (Australian, French, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) in the same year. So there’s no need to add “calendar year” to it.

Yes Peter, there is. There is a difference in a tennis player winning the Grand Slam, which is winning all four major tournaments in a row, and a tennis player winning the calendar year Grand Slam, which is winning all four major tournaments in one calendar year. Serena Williams can win all four tournaments and have won the Grand Slam, but not in the same calendar year. That's the difference. 

e. Serena Williams is a great champion, and though I don’t know tennis at all, 

Peter says he knows nothing about tennis. That means immediately look for a definitive statement from Peter as if he does know tennis very well.

"I'm not an expert on this topic, but here is a statement I will make as if I didn't just claim I have no idea what I'm talking about and I want you to take my opinion very seriously." 

it seems to me she’s got a great chance to go down when she retires as the best woman to ever play the game.

But again, Peter doesn't know tennis at all, but treasure Peter's opinion as if it were gold. 

g. Jim Harbaugh’s still got the passion, from the looks of that clipboard-flinging in the first half of his first game coaching in Ann Arbor.

Is that passion or is that acting like a spoiled child when he's coaching? 

p. Speaking of dudes who are not declining: What has gotten into Yoenis Cespedes? Sixteen jacks and 41 RBI in his first 39 Mets games. I’m beginning to think the Mets are not going to blow it.

I can't imagine (contract year) what has gotten into Yoenis Cepedes (contract year) over the past couple of months (contract year). It's like he's flipped a switch (contract year) and turned into move than a power hitter who doesn't get on-base (contract year) very much. I wonder if this will continue to last (contract year) after the season when Cespedes gets a big free agent contract (nope, it won't)?

q. Incredulousness of the Week: The Nationals are two games over .500 with three weeks left in the season. And this: The Tampa Bay pitching staff has allowed fewer runs than the one with Scherzer, Strasburg, Gonzalez and Zimmerman.

Peter, just know who you are fucking with when you mess with the three-time Paper World Series Champions. They are the best team in the majors with the best pitching staff in the history of MLB. Just ask them, they will tell you how great they are. When they make the playoffs again, or maybe even catch fire and win a playoff series, we will all be sorry that no one admitted how great the Nationals are. 

u. Some may wonder (some may cheer) about the lack of my rankings of the teams—the Fine Fifteen—in the column today. Many of you over the years have suggested I should wait till every game of the weekend is played before I rank the teams, and I’m stealing your collective idea this year. This season, the Fine Fifteen will be a standalone column on Tuesdays at The MMQB.

(Bengoodfella shakes fist at the sky out of anger that Peter didn't drop this needless exercise, but understands he does it because it's an easy way to attract questions and venom he can put in his mailbag...anything to find a way to create more content, even if you have to make the story yourself)

The Adieu Haiku

With due credit given to The Knack...

Got a song for you.
Ooh you make my motor run.
My Mariota!

It would actually be "M-m-m-my Mariota." Also, the song is about Sharona giving the singer sexual feelings hence she "makes his motor run," so does this mean Peter King has strong sexual feelings for Marcus Mariota. It's the precociousness isn't it? 

So Peter clearly is one of those people who just recites song lyrics and has no idea what he's reciting. The lyrics in the chorus go:

"Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind
I always get it up for the touch of the younger kind
My, my, my, aye-aye, whoa!
M-m-m-my Sharona
M-m-m-my Sharona"

So Peter has a dirty mind and doesn't mind getting touched by the younger kind, or perhaps getting touched by a younger kind of quarterback. Due credit given to The Knack, zero credit given to Peter for not knowing the rest of the song's lyrics.


Slag-King said...

The one thing that seems totally illogical is what the Giants did.

I don't understand this mentality. Armchair quarterbacks (I'm looking at you, Peter) seem to know what the play would succeed every time in HINDSIGHT. Sheesh, what if Jennings fumbled the ball? We can play the what if games all we want, but McAdoo and Manning both chose this play and it did not work out, simple as that. The Dallas defense had a heads up on that play and just prevented it. It is not that Dallas did their job, but that the Giants were too stupid to know that they should have ran the ball.

He felt as though he’d not only lost the game, but tarnished his family name.

Did Bailey say this? If not, then, geez, Peter, did he kill your daughter, dog, or something?

Ben, I agree with you about the italics. I ended up laughing when saying it out loud. For fun, I used Vincent Price's voice and maniacal cackle when saying the italics.

Very smart play by Taylor in the fourth quarter, batting down a pass that was floating in the air with three Colts having a shot of intercepting it. Good presence there.

Who? Does Peter mean that Tyrod Taylor threw his pass and then ran down the field to bat it down? Huh? I cannot find anything in the Bills-Colts game. Anyone care to elaborate?

Bengoodfella said...

Slag, the Giants should have run the ball. I believe that, but they decided to be aggressive. The smart move would have been to run, but if the Cowboys had scored and won the game even if the Giants bleed the clock 55 seconds. The Giants were aggressive, it didn't work out.

It was Robert Klemko that wrote that for MMQB. I don't know, it just seems a bit overdramatic. I use a dramatic Cartman voice when I read that sometimes, just for the effect.

I didn't understand what happened either. I'm guessing he has a pass batted down and then he knocked the pass down before the defense could intercept it. It wasn't entirely clear given that Peter just assumes we all saw all 16 games this past weekend.

j-dub said...

Yeah Ben that's pretty much what happened in the Bills game with Taylor. Pass got deflected at the line of scrimmage and came back in his direction and he smartly batted it down.

Or, you know, exactly what Peter made it sound like.

Slag-King said...

Thanks! Peter did not say that the ball was deflected at the line of scrimmage. Also there was this weird first play of the game where Cassel was under center and faked the hand off to Tayhor and lost yards, so there was some precedent to thinking that Taylor might have been a receiver. Ben was spot on in commenting that Peter assumes that we all have seen every minute of 16 games this past weekend.

Bengoodfella said...

J-dub, I assumed that happened. It wasn't the most thorough of descriptions but I assumed.

Slag, it's interesting that Peter just assumes we see the games and he can make a vague description about the Taylor play, but then feels the need to over-explain things like which team a baseball player plays for or something like that.

Eric said...

There is a distinct possibility that Peter starts calling Marcus Mariota "Marky Ice". Third time's a charm, right?

Bengoodfella said...

Oh no, I don't want that to happen. Not "Marky Ice." In that case, third time would not be the charm.