The football season always flies. (Easy for someone writing on a laptop, not tackling someone, to say.) But we’re already through 24 percent of the regular season, and this column will focus on some truths—bitter, euphoric, surprising, real—and some consequences after four intriguing weekends.
I'm going to write the same shit I always do. We are still only 25% of the way through the season. There are still no truths. Last year at this time, Tom Brady's eulogy was still being written. Two years ago the Chiefs and the Broncos were going to meet at the midpoint of the season with both teams undefeated. Even four weeks into the season the truths still aren't truths yet.
New England is the best team in the league. Tom Brady has come back with a vengeance, and I’d be surprised if they finish worse than 14-2. Toughest games left: Jets in October, Broncos in November, Jets in December.
In November, Peter will probably write something like "Nobody knew it in early October, but the Patriots game against Team X has suddenly become an important game" as if nothing can change over the next month.
In the NFC, Green Bay is the best. Four wins by at least eight points, a quarterback who will never throw an interception the rest of his life, and a sneaky good defense averaging 4.3 sacks a game.
There could very well be a correlation there. Green Bay is beating teams by a large margin, which means teams are passing the ball against the Packers, which means the Packers defense doesn't have to necessarily defend against the run and can pin their ears back and rush the passer. Hence, the Packers defense could average 4.3 sacks a game because they are beating teams by a lot and don't have to defend the run.
While we’re at it, here’s the First Quarter MVP ballot.
1. Tom Brady, QB, New England. No franchise wideout, and running backs Bill Belichick picked out of a hat.
2. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay. Value increased by playing so well without Jordy Nelson.
3. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Denver. Reborn under Wade Phillips. Watt-like impact, with so much help from his mates.
4. Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati. Stop laughing. Average yards per pass play: Dalton 10.2, Rodgers 8.1.
5. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta. Classic case of “makes everyone around him better.”
I think another NFC South quarterback is missing from this list (which I don't care about individual awards, just pointing out my belief), especially if a player's value increases by not having his best receiver healthy. I'd say this other NFC South quarterback makes the people around him better too.
PATs missed in 256 games last year: eight. PATs missed in 62 games this year, with the scrimmage line moved back 13 yards: 17. This was a particularly brutal weekend, with 10 kicks missed from 40 yards and in (six field goals, four extra points). Missing two on Thursday night cost Josh Scobee his job in Pittsburgh, and don’t be surprised to see rookie Kyle Brindza, who missed five in the past two Bucs games, walk the plank in Tampa.
That's terrible. "Walk the plank in Tampa." Also, never stop reminding your readers every week as often as possible the new PAT rule is totally working.
I think the trend has to do with the youth at the position—12 of 32 teams are using kickers in their first years with their teams—and the mental game the longer PAT has forced kickers to deal with.
Maybe there is a mental game with the longer PAT, but a 33-yard attempt isn't exactly tough for an NFL kicker to hit.
Joe Philbin’s got to go. One of the nicest coaches I’ve ever met, with a team that’s killing him. Count the ways: Outscored 37-3 in first quarters this year, a defensive front making a jillion dollars with one measly sack in four games, a quarterback playing tentatively, and losses by a combined 40 the past eight days to the two division teams—the Bills and Jets—their owner was counting on Miami to have vaulted past.
It's almost like giving franchise QB money to a defensive tackle wasn't the best idea or something. Maybe Tannehill needs another upgrade on the offensive line, because the Dolphins have done what they could go surround him with offensive weapons at tight end and wide receiver.
The Eagles have (crash-) landed. Chip Kelly overestimated a few things and/or people: Sam Bradford’s ability to resume his career at a high level after two bad knee injuries,
(Bengoodfella sadly looks at himself in the mirror for choosing the Eagles in the Super Bowl).
Yet another brilliant personnel move by Jeff Fisher. The Rams know what they are doing. Watch out Los Angeles, you are getting a team on the rise!
the ability of ex-Seahawk Byron Maxwell to be a shutdown cornerback for $10.5 million a year.
Spending a lot of money in free agency is just dumb in general. It's how guys get overpaid. I get the urge to spend, but spending a lot of money in free agency just doesn't seem like a smart way to build a winning team.
Pretty weird to see Peyton Manning rated 25th in the league, with six touchdowns and five interceptions. His arm’s not what it was even last October. But the Broncos are 4-0, and Manning finds a way to throw enough completions. He’ll be favored, incredibly, to enter November 6-0 with the Raiders, Browns and the bye coming the rest of this month.
That defense is pretty good though, which helps. How funny would it be if the Broncos won the Super Bowl in a year where Manning isn't close to being his dominant self?
Adrian Peterson, at 30, looks like Adrian Peterson, at 23. See him burst through the stout Denver front and sprint for an uncontested TD Sunday? His 372 rushing yards lead the league. This is a bit of a surprise: He’s won only two rushing titles, in 2008 and 2012, in seven full seasons. My guess is Peterson is pretty well aware of that, and wants to make it about seven before he retires.
Wasn't it just a couple of weeks ago that Peterson "admitted" he didn't feel like he felt when he was younger? Things change quickly.
Deflategate is out of sight, out of mind, sort of … except the league will continue to press its case to suspend Tom Brady for four games, only this time the case will be heard in 2016. The logical sentiment is to say, “Drop it.” Goodell and the league won’t do it, because so many teams around the league think Brady did something. But the league hasn’t proven its case. And stretching the battle into 2016 is not going to find the league more answers.
Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait...Peter writes "stretching the battle into 2016 is not going to find the league more answers"? This is something he truly believes? At the beginning of this NFL season, Peter's suggestion to Roger Goodell and the NFL was to let Brady play this entire 2015 season, measure the inflation of each ball during games to get the average deflation in cold weather and then rule on Brady's playing status for the 2016 season based on these results.
Peter King believed the resolution to the Patriots deflating footballs was to stretch the battle into 2016. That WAS his solution. Now, he believes the NFL hasn't proven it's case and should just end the fight now. How can Peter write the NFL shouldn't stretch the battle into 2016 when he thought the NFL SHOULD stretch the battle into 2016 in order to properly resolve whether Tom Brady should be suspended for four games or not?
Four most surprising teams (good):
1. Atlanta (4-0). A year and a half ago, no one in Atlanta had heard of Devonta Freeman and Dan Quinn. Times change.
False. People knew who Dan Quinn was because he was the defensive coordinator for one of the greatest defenses in NFL history that just won a Super Bowl. But yeah, go ahead and re-write history in order to further your own short terms narratives. Whatever works for you.
4. New England (3-0). Not because they’re here and they’re good … but because they’re hammering teams as they did in 2007, and Tom Brady is quarterbacking like he did in 2007.
But again, Peter is not comparing the 2015 Patriots to the 2007 Patriots because it's way too early to do something silly like that. Peter doesn't want to compare the two teams, but he's going to go ahead and do it.
• Four most disappointing teams:
2. Kansas City (1-3). In the last three games, the Chiefs are surrendering 35 points a game.
4. Miami (1-3). Here because of apparent utter hopelessness.
I guess this depends on your definition of "disappointing." Alex Smith is great managing a game (I know, that's mean to say and I shouldn't say it), while I didn't expect the Dolphins to do too much this year.
Now we know why Gurley went 10th
I'm not smart at all, but I knew why already. He's a stud. You know what I'm going to say about the Rams. Team on the rise! Give Jeff Fisher that contract extension and it's all downhill from there. I mean, uphill, it's all uphill. Wait, if it is "downhill" then that means things are bad, right? But going "uphill" means things are more difficult. Now I'm confused. Just give Jeff Fisher a contract extension.
“I got one game ball!” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said in the Rams’ locker room. “Where’s 30? Thirty! Come up!”
Fisher handed Gurley, No. 30, the football.
“This is just the beginning,” Fisher said.
JUST THE BEGINNING, RAMS FANS! JUST THE BEGINNING!
(The Rams pack up their bags and leave for Los Angeles)
Afterward, what everyone was marveling about was the eight yards Gurley didn’t gain...
Gurley took a handoff from Nick Foles and darted left, through some traffic around left end and down the field. He didn’t need an escort. He broke into the clear past some exhausted but pursuing Cardinals, and as he galloped down the left sideline—looking so much like the man he was compared to a hundred times pre-draft, Peterson—teammate Tavon Austin started waving him downfield toward his first NFL touchdown. A Cardinal safety, Tony Jefferson, was all that stood between him and the touchdown.
Then Gurley slowed a bit. He didn’t appear hurt, but maybe he tweaked something as he slowed some more and lowered himself to the ground inside the 10, falling at the 8-yard line.
Did he die? Did he have a heart attack? Had I never watched a game of football in my life, these might be questions I would ponder. Alas, the answer is more obvious than Peter thinks.
He wasn’t hurt.
Before the play, Gurley knew Arizona had no timeouts left, and he knew if he could get the first down and kill some clock, the Rams would be able to run the clock out without Arizona touching the ball again. If he scored with 65 seconds to play, what would happen if the Rams missed the extra point? They’d have an eight-point lead, and would be kicking to one of the most explosive offenses in football. Lying down inside the 10? A no-brainer.
Apparently it wasn't a no-brainer, because Peter just got done writing some dramatics surrounding exactly why Gurley hit the ground inside the 10-yard line. It's a no-brainer, but Peter wants to be a drama queen and act like Gurley was hurt when he hit the ground.
Gurley shouldn’t get a medal for that. He should get some appreciation for making the smart play in that situation.
Plus, Peter would like to drum up a little drama about Gurley allowing the Rams to run the clock out rather than scoring. It's a no-brainer and he shouldn't get a medal, but Peter extends this story out further than it should be extended and said people were marveling at Gurley for having the presence of mind to hit the ground. But really, IT'S NO BIG DEAL!
After his debut—six carries, nine yards last week—Gurley was hearing from those around the team that he’ll be fine, don’t worry, better days are ahead. He knew it. The lack of impact wasn’t a big deal to him. “Listen,” he said to one team employee, “nobody’s gonna remember my first four games. What’d Adrian Peterson do his first four games?”
Peterson, in his first four games in 2007: 76 carries, 383 yards.
Gurley’s right: No one remembers. But for the record, Gurley’s got 228 yards to get in the next two games if he wants to catch up. I doubt he's too concerned with chasing yards like that—he gave up eight, and a touchdown, that he could have had pretty easily in his coming-out party.
It's his second NFL game. Let's just take a step back. He's probably going to be great, but let's simmer down a bit based on one week's production.
The last hurrah for Hasselbeck—unless, of course, there’s another
This is the last time this thing occurs, unless it occurs again.
Top notch writing here.
Until Sunday in Indianapolis, Colts backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck hadn’t started an NFL game since Nov. 4, 2012, when he quarterbacked Tennessee to a bit of an ignominious loss—51-20 at home to Chicago. Sunday’s start, against Jacksonville, was a little different. He was keeping the seat warm for Andrew Luck while the young phenom sat out the game with a shoulder injury that made it painful for him to throw.
Plus, the Colts were playing Jacksonville at home. So you know, that shoulder thing was pretty painful for Luck. But, I mean, if there is a game for him to miss...
That’s a span of 1,064 days between starts, if my math is correct. A local reporter actually asked Hasselbeck about whether he’d be ready to play Thursday night at Houston if needed, and told him it’d been 1,062 days between starts. When I asked him the same question Sunday night, Hasselbeck gave me the same answer: “It might be another 1,062, 1,064, whatever days, till I’m ready again. This isn’t easy.”
Yeah, Hasselbeck will be very much retired before he gets a chance to start again after a 1,064 day break between starts.
Hasselbeck had his 40th birthday 10 days ago, and he knows he’ll have only three days to be ready if Luck’s not ready to go. “Everyone in our locker room, and everyone in the state of Indiana, hopes he’s ready to go,” Hasselbeck said. “Everyone expects him to be ready, including me. I’ll probably be playing scout team quarterback again this week.”
Hopefully he can do an impression of Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett to get the Colts defense prepared. I mean, maybe Hasselbeck can pretend to be limited in his ability to throw the football well and make a few bad passes in practice to get the Colts defense prepared.
Both are pocket guys, but Luck, certainly, can move around the backfield more at this stage of his career than Hasselbeck can.
And the comparisons between Matt Hasselbeck and Andrew Luck begin and end with "They are both white and are pocket guys." Other than those two things, they are totally separate players. So yes, considering Hasselbeck is old and Andrew Luck is young, it's not surprising Luck moves around in the pocket better.
“It was really fun running out of the tunnel,” Matt Hasselbeck said. “I was so jacked up. I felt like William Wallace in Braveheart. I sort of lost my composure, and the first two passes I threw were waaaaay off-target.
Hopefully Matt Hasselbeck ran out of the locker room with pants on, which isn't something the real William Wallace would have done. He would have had nothing on under his kilt/whatever the fuck it is you want to call it.
And suuuuuuuuuuuure, that's why your first two passes were way off-target. Blake Bortles thought they were accurate and even wrote down in his diary that he needs to learn to throw the ball like you threw your first two passes.
The only other problem: In Seattle and Tennessee, the quarterback always entered the huddle next to the left tackle. In Indianapolis, the quarterback enters the huddle always so that he is on the side of the Colts’ sideline. “Get in the right place!” Hasselbeck was told a few times.
What? Hasselbeck was forced to play football that counts, wear pants AND he had to remember to enter the huddle from the right side of the huddle? Man, life as a backup quarterback is tougher than it sounds. You have to remember the playbook and remember which way to enter the huddle. I mean, at the same time you have to remember these things?
Questions about the league’s international zeal
… with Mark Waller, the NFL’s executive vice president/international, after the Jets-Dolphins game at Wembley Stadium Sunday.
Peter writes about games overseas, all I read is "One of 8 home games per year taken away (preseason doesn't count and if you say it does then shame on you) from football fans in a certain city so the NFL can try to expand on the backs of American football fans."
I don't mind overseas games, but NFL fans only get 8 home games a year. It annoys me one is lost in a desperate attempt to gain more exposure for the NFL overseas. Apparently it's okay to take American football fans for granted.
The MMQB: The owners meet this week in New York. Will you announce your schedule of games for next year—and will that include a game somewhere other than London?
Waller: We aren’t ready to announce the schedule quite yet. Our current agreement with the owners expires in 2016 for international games, so we’re going to ask them this week for an extension of the current agreement through 2025. On top of that, we’ll be asking for a resolution to allow the International Committee the ability to schedule games in other countries without going back to owners for approval.
At some point with the obvious goal being that the Jacksonville Jaguars will play in London, but fans in Jacksonville will be paying for season tickets to see the Jags play, except they never actually get to see them play. The NFL isn't a monster, they won't force Jags fans to pay for preseason games of course. Otherwise, the goal is for fans in the United States to pay for season tickets in order to see an NFL team play that plays their home games in a different country.
The MMQB: Germany, Mexico and Brazil, among other countries, have been mentioned. Any decisions?
Waller: Those are all good candidates. We have visited those places. Germany is helped by the infrastructure from the World Cup [Germany hosted in 2006], and Brazil is helped by the too. Brazil also has excellent facilities with the Olympics being there [in 2016]. Both of those places have world-class stadiums. There is probably a little more work to be done at Azteca Stadium [in Mexico City], which needs some work done on locker rooms and other facilities. The level of interest [outside of England] is exceptionally high.
The interest is high for a couple of games a year. Is the interest outside of England exceptionally high to see ten games that one team plays? Is the interest high enough for fans in other countries to pay for merchandise for that team and support that team when it's a shitty team?
The MMQB: People around the league I speak to seem really hesitant about putting a franchise in London for a lot of the logistical reasons you’d expect. What’s your gut feeling about the future in Europe—a team or teams there, or a series of games every year?
Waller: I think the nervousness about putting a team there is that you can’t really test it out first—you’ve just got to do it, and then you make it work. Our appeal as a league is that all 32 teams can win. All 32 teams, every year, have a chance.
(Cleveland Browns fans stare down and kick at the dirt for a few seconds and then look up sadly, saying, "Do we have a chance every year? Has this been proven for us?")
When we first put regular-season games here, there was a lot of skepticism about whether this was sustainable. But now [including this year, 13 of 14 Wembley games have been sellouts], whether we put a team in the U.K. is now a legitimate conversation and not the pipe dream it was in 2007.
Yeah, it's your pipe dream. I don't care if there is an NFL team in another city in the United States ever again, much less would I care if the NFL had an international team. This is the NFL's dream, I'm betting not the dream of fans.
Intriguing Team of the Week
Smart teams survey their situation every week and understand that their roster is a living being. Take the Ravens over the weekend. Baltimore was given life by the Steelers (and Josh Scobee) Thursday night, and the Ravens, even with the lowly mark of 1-3 at the one-quarter mark of the season, know they’re very much alive in a flawed AFC.
This is unlike NFL, which is totally flawless. Naturally. Of course. Sometimes I think Peter just writes words and doesn't think about what he's writing.
One problem: Baltimore’s group of receivers is decimated, even after the trade of a seventh-round pick in 2018 Saturday for St. Louis wideout Chris Givens.
What? Chris Givens wasn't the cure-all for the Ravens receiving woes? He probably isn't going to thrive now that he's not with the Rams anymore. That Jeff Fisher sure knows how to get the best out of his players. Look at what type of player Tood Gurley has become.
the Ravens might have to use some of their draft capital—or maybe even a relatively superfluous good player—to get another receiver before the Nov. 3 trading deadline. In fact, much sooner than that, probably. It’s not that GM Ozzie Newsome would be in panic mode. It’s more like realism mode.
And the difference in "panic mode" and "realism mode" is your perspective. Trading draft picks for players in the middle of the season is realistic, but it's also a bit of a panic move knowing that Joe Flacco has to have some receivers to throw to. Panic and realism can go hand-in-hand, depending on how the person doing the writing wants to portray it.
Four reasons why I would not be remotely surprised if the Ravens’ weekend trade is not their last deal for a receiver this month:
1. Because they don't have very many good receivers healthy.
2. They don't have healthy wide receivers.
3. Joe Flacco has to throw the ball to someone.
4. The Ravens lack healthy wide receivers with NFL experience.
1. Baltimore’s not afraid. The Ravens have made nine player trades in the past 29 months, including the deal for starting tackle Eugene Monroe two years ago this weekend. If they’ve got a hole, the way they still do at wide receiver, they usually try to fill it, even during the season.
Baltimore is afraid. They are afraid they don't have experienced NFL wide receivers on the roster. It's not about being afraid or not being afraid. The Ravens need to find experienced wide receivers right now. It's either find some veterans that aren't currently employed (and probably for good reason) or make a trade.
4. Look at Baltimore’s draft depth they can deal from in 2016. The Ravens, if compensatory pick projections are correct, have four fourth-round picks in the 2016 draft.
And when have compensatory pick projections ever been wrong?
Four of those should be Compensatory Picks for lost unrestricted free agents—in the fourth, fourth and fifth rounds, and one other undisclosed round depending on the performance of quarterback Tyrod Taylor in Buffalo. (The other fourth-rounder came in a package from Denver in exchange for center Gino Gradkowski in the off-season.)
Of those four picks, only two of them can be traded. And really, the problem isn't having draft picks to go trade for a receiver, but to find a quality receiver whose team is willing to trade him. It doesn't happen too often, even if the Ravens are dangling a fourth round pick in return.
So what does Baltimore do? Look for a forward-thinking GM with receiver depth, or in selling mode. Chicago GM Ryan Pace, with wideout Eddie Royal. Seattle GM John Schneider, with Ricardo Lockette. Washington GM Scot McCloughan, with Andre Roberts (a surprise inactive Sunday because of two recent drops).
Here is another issue I'm not sure that Peter has thought of. Would the Ravens really trade a fourth round pick for any of these three receivers? I would think not, but I could be wrong. Maybe they could finagle a trade that involves a fourth round pick, but I wouldn't give a fourth round pick for any of these receivers, even if I expected to get other compensatory picks in the fourth round.
“No. Not at all. I’m worried about getting this team straightened out, fixed.”
—Miami coach Joe Philbin, asked if he was concerned about getting fired in the bye week after his team started 1-3.
Joe Philbin wasn't worried because he knew he was being fired and he's still getting paid for not coaching the Dolphins. It's not like he can't find a coordinator position somewhere.
“We give you scholarships, we give you stipends and meals and a place to live! We give you nice uniforms! I can’t give you guts, and I can’t give you heart! Tonight, it was BYOG! Bring your own guts, and they brought some guts and some heart!”
—Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney, in a barely audible-above-the-din ESPN on-field interview after Clemson 24, Notre Dame 22.
I pretty much hate how Dabo says "we give you scholarships, we give you stipends and meals and a place to live." Actually these players EARNED the scholarships and the value of the stipends, meals and place to live pales in comparison to the amount of income the school makes on the back of these players. So go fuck yourself, Dabo Sweeney. Don't act like the players are all charity cases and the school is doing them the favor.
OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Todd Gurley, running back, St. Louis. After Gurley’s inauspicious debut last week, coach Jeff Fisher said that trained eyes could see he was close to breaking some of his runs. Fisher evidently knew what he was talking about.
Yes, Fisher clearly knew what he was talking about when he said the #10 pick in the draft at a position that doesn't have a big learning curve was a good football player. Just another brilliant move by Fisher. Yes, "trained eyes" could see Gurley was close to breaking some runs. Those trained eyes that saw him play in college, knew Gurley was coming off major knee surgery and had only appeared in one NFL game so far.
He ran 19 times for 146 yards, and did the smart thing on the final insurance drive, going to the ground instead of running into the end zone. Gurley knew the Cardinals wouldn’t get to touch the ball again if he played it that way.
But again, this was a no-brainer play that doesn't deserve a medal. Naturally, Peter brings it up again and awards Gurley "Offensive Player of the Week" partly because of this play.
For one day at least, it looks like a brilliant pick.
Which could be said about any number of NFL players. Todd Gurley was the best player in this draft for my money, so his success will be no shock to me. Of course, anything good a Rams draft pick does is going to be excessively drooled over by Peter. Gurley is a stud, no doubt, but Peter is also going to remind us of Gurley's skills as often as possible. He does this due to his connections to the Rams organization.
DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
T.J. Ward, strong safety, Denver. A great pass rush needs not just a speedy front seven but also the ability of players in the secondary to make the occasional impactful blitz. That’s one of the reasons GM John Elway imported Ward from Cleveland a year and a half ago, and it really showed at the key moment of Sunday’s 23-20 survival test at home against Minnesota.
Regarding my comments about free agency earlier in this post, it's not true for every single defender. There can be quality found. Still, Ward didn't sign a huge contract with the Broncos (4 years $23 million), so I wouldn't really count him as a big free agent signing. He's just a really good free agent signing.
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Cairo Santos, kicker, Kansas City.
Justin Tucker, kicker, Baltimore. Tucker scored the last nine points of a game the Ravens needed desperately, and he did it in a stadium that is notoriously rough for kickers.
Peter talks about how NFL kickers are struggling this year and then names two kickers as his "Special Teams Players of the Week."
Peter even put a fine point on it in this MMQB about how bad the field goal kicking has been in the NFL this year. Except, as Bill Barnwell shows, this isn't exactly true. When faced with this evidence, Peter just ignored it and continued thinking what he wanted to think.
Ten kicks of 40 yards and less missed in 14 games this weekend. That is not normal. https://t.co/Y6Is11t2it— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) October 6, 2015
I guess that's settled then.
It was supposed to take Jim Harbaugh a while—or, at least longer than five games—to turn around the Michigan football fortunes.
• Michigan, 2014: 5-7. Average score: Opponents 22.4, Michigan 20.9
• Michigan, 2015: 4-1. Average score: Michigan 27.8, Opponents 7.6.
Was it supposed to take a long time for Jim Harbaugh to turn Michigan around? There was never a question of whether Jim Harbaugh could coach or not. The question is whether he can stick around in one place long enough to not irritate his players and management.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Atlanta has the most advantageous remaining schedule of any team in the NFL. The Falcons do not play a team with a current winning record for the next nine weeks, and only one of their remaining foes (Carolina, twice) has a winning record this morning. The Atlanta slate:
Week 5: Washington (2-2)
Week 6: at New Orleans (1-3)
Week 7: at Tennessee (1-2)
Week 8: Tampa Bay (1-3)
Week 9: at San Francisco (1-3)
Week 10: Bye
Week 11: Indianapolis (2-2)
Week 12: Minnesota (2-2)
Week 13: at Tampa Bay (1-3)
Week 14: at Carolina (4-0)
Week 15: at Jacksonville (1-3)
Week 16: Carolina (4-0).
Week 17: New Orleans (1-3)
Two things that annoy me about this, while admitting this statistic is certainly currently true.
1. These records can change drastically over the next few weeks. That Carolina 4-0 record could be 5-7 when the teams meet in Week 14. The Colts could be 7-2 when the Falcons meet them in Week 11 or the Saints could be 12-3 when the teams meet in Week 17. Records change over the year. So the schedule could be this easy or it could be more difficult than this. Maybe the Falcons from Week 11-Week 17 have to play a 7-2 Colts team, a 7-3 Vikings team, a 8-3 Panthers team and a 12-3 Saints team. Who knows?
2. Even if the Falcons have the most advantageous schedule now, even if the schedule stays this easy, this doesn't mean another NFL team doesn't end up with the most advantageous schedule over the last 13 weeks of the season.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
This will be Ross Tucker’s travel note of the week, seeing as I did not travel anywhere in the past seven days.
Of course, because the only thing more interesting than hearing about someone else's travel experience is hearing someone else talk about another person's travel experience.
"LET ME SHOW YOU PICTURES OF THIS VACATION MY FRIEND WENT ON!"
Tucker is the second-most famous person from Wyomissing, Pa.
Chad Henne is pissed he's not as famous as Ross Tucker.
The first is Taylor Swift. And the night before the football game, lo and behold, Swift was playing Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Tucker knows Taylor Swift’s father, and texted him, and they met up. Scott Swift gave Tucker and his wife tickets and backstage passes, and they met Taylor Swift before the show.
Because after the show Taylor Swift had to drink the blood of pigs, as her deal with the Devil requires her to do nightly at exactly 11:15pm.
1. Twitter followers for the two Wyomissing natives, as of 6 p.m. Saturday:
• Taylor Swift: 64,289,150.
• Ross Tucker: 141,058.
Still plenty of time to catch up, Ross. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.
And apparently Taylor Swift, who is like 14 years old or something, is going to die soon? Or is Peter threatening Taylor Swift's life in an effort to make Ross Tucker the most famous person from Wyomissing, Pa? Peter will murder Taylor Swift, grind her body up in an oversized blender and then use the resulting liquid to make an absolutely delicious Belgian White Ale.
Getting Akiem Hicks for Michael Hoomanawanui is the most lopsided straight player-for-player I've ever seen. Advantage #Patriots.— Andy Benoit (@Andy_Benoit) October 1, 2015
There is nothing explicable about Andy Benoit. Everything, including his success, has been inexplicable. I don't understand why anyone would listen to his opinions or why I should even consider his opinions. He watches a lot of tape, but I'm confused as to what makes him more qualified for his job compared to any other football writer who watches a lot of tape. I don't get it and may never get it.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 4:
a. Devonta Freeman. What burst and power.
And to think, he's not at all supposed to be a full-time running back for the Falcons. The Falcons were all like, "We will draft him in the fourth round, but don't expect him to do much for us."
b. The fight of the Rams.
Peter King is doing all he can to give Jeff Fisher credit without making it obvious he is trying very hard to give Jeff Fisher credit. Very covert of him. I'm not falling for it. The Rams can be a good team. Jeff Fisher isn't a very good coach, especially for how much he is paid compared to what he has delivered.
l. The vanquished Carson Palmer with this line on the Rams’ defense, which was formidable: “Very good front, very good defense. They do just enough to keep you on your toes every snap.”
I would present this without comment, but that's not my style. I mean, keep doing your thing Peter. No one is noticing, I'm sure. Doing "just enough" is pretty much the mantra for the entire Jeff Fisher era in St. Louis and Tennessee. Doing "just enough" to not get fired. Doing "just enough" to keep the team somewhat competitive. Doing "just enough" to make no one notice your career coaching record isn't that impressive.
m. The Baltimore personnel department, with undrafted free agent James Hurst doing a good job—including a crushing block on Cameron Heyward on a first-half third-and-1 conversion in Pittsburgh—and 2013 fifth-rounder Ricky Wagner, the right tackle, saving a touchdown on a Steeler interception return.
Maybe the Ravens should trade one of these guys for a wide receiver...
o. Justin Forsett looking like the 2014 Justin Forsett: 27 carries, 150 yards.
But Forsett didn't make the brilliant play that was a no-brainer of lying down in the field of play so the clock keeps running and the opposing team can't get the ball back on offense, so he doesn't merit much of a mention except a sentence. Gurley falling to the ground inbounds wasn't that great of a play in the opinion of Peter King, but he'll keep talking about it anyway.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 4:
It's not as bad as you are making it out to be, Peter. Even if you don't want to pay attention to the reality, at least try to acknowledge reality says something you don't personally believe to be true.
d. Ndamukong Suh. Check out when Jets running back Chris Ivory muscled through Suh at the line of scrimmage in the second quarter and ran for a gain of 17 … and watch Suh jogging after him, not sprinting.
It's almost like paying franchise quarterback money for a defensive tackle, especially when you already have a quarterback you consider to be a franchise quarterback and you have to pay him too, isn't the best of ideas.
i. There’s a reason Caleb Sturgis was unemployed. In his first game as an Eagle, Sturgis hooked a 33-yard field goal wide left as the clock ran out in the first half, Philly trailing 13-0. Thirty-three yards. That’s the distance of an extra point now.
IS IT, PETER? WHY HAVEN'T YOU MENTIONED AT SOME POINT BEFORE NOW THAT THE EXTRA POINT HAS BEEN MOVED BACK?
o. I guess “Tyrod Taylor: A Football Life” is on hold by NFL Network.
Yes Peter, let's mock people for getting all excited about a player after he had a few good games. That would be a perfect thing to do if you had absolutely zero self-awareness isn't it?
p. Trying to read Bill O’Brien’s mind. My best guess would be: “Perhaps I made a mistake, yanking Hoyer five games too soon.”
q. I mean, Brian Hoyer’s warming up and it’s 35-0 Atlanta, and O’Brien keeps Ryan Mallett in for the next series.
It's like being around Tom Brady made it seem like Bill O'Brien was more ready to be a head coach than he really was. That could never happen though, could it Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Josh McDaniels, and Eric Mangini?
4. I think I love the three 9:30 a.m. ET starts this year. The next two London games are at that time—Buffalo-Jacksonville Oct. 25 (live-streamed around the world in all but the home markets), and Detroit-Kansas City Nov. 1. It’s like a free game to watch. But you know what I loved? That 11:35 p.m. ET San Diego-Oakland game a couple of years ago, giving the West Coast a real prime time game—and giving the nocturnal fans on the East Coast one last bite of the apple before Monday morning. It’s not likely to ever return, though, because the national ratings for the game aren’t as good late at night as they would be at other times of the day.
That's a great idea, Peter. Those late games that NFL fans weren't able/didn't choose to watch, the NFL should do more of those games for a specific subset of people. Sure, the East Coast can normally watch these 11:35pm games if they wanted to at an earlier time of the day, but what's the fun in that?
5. I think, for $114 million, Ndamukong Suh could make more of an effort to help the Dolphins get out of the rut, both on an off the field. On the field: According to Pro Football Focus, he’s been on the field for 129 passing downs, and gotten zero sacks and one quarterback hit in four games.
Pretty soon I'm going to start researching to see if Ndamukong Suh ever did anything to hurt Greg Schiano's career advancement. I mean, Peter has reason to criticize Suh, but it's getting ridiculous. Is Suh the new Josh Freeman?
7. I think this is what I hear from a longtime NFL scout who has been to Columbus, Ohio, in the first month of the college football season: “Depending on who comes out, they could have eight first-round draft picks. I honestly believe that could be the most talented college team I have ever scouted.” Maybe not if the guy watched Ohio State 34, Indiana 27 on Saturday.
Because this Ohio State team would be the first college team to underachieve with a massive amount of NFL talent on the roster. For example, how did the 2012 Clemson Tigers lose two games when they had a roster of:
That doesn't include the 2011 Tigers team that also had Dwayne Allen on it and lost four games. Sometimes talent doesn't mean a team goes perfect or looks great every week. They are college students.
8. I think Mike Mayock made a great point to Rich Eisen the other day about the reaction of the NFL if, say, LSU back Leonard Fournette skipped a year of college football so as not to get hurt before his NFL career began. That’s a thought making the media rounds—that Fournette, not eligible for the draft until 2017, is so good he shouldn’t risk injury in 2016, and simply spend the year training to be an NFL player in ’17. Said Mayock: “I feel very, very, very strongly that for every Leonard Fournette who may be ready, there’s 100 kids who think they’re ready and they’re not. Most [19-year-olds] … are not men yet—physically, emotionally, psychologically.”
It's a great point in theory, but these same kids don't have to wait for Leonard Fournette to take a year off in order to choose to take a year off themselves. Regardless of what Fournette does, these kids who think they are ready and aren't could still take a year off and get ready for the NFL. It's not like they have to wait for Fournette to do it. I think Myles Jack proves this point perfectly. No one had a clue he would declare for the NFL Draft before he did.
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
Then Peter has four thoughts about gun violence, all under different letters in the alphabet in his outline. I really think these thoughts should all be under one letter in his outline, since they are all a part of one line of thought.
f. When I tweeted about this the other night, I got hit with a swarm of, “Give us a plan, genius. What’s your suggestion to stop all the shootings?” I don’t have a plan. It’s not my bailiwick. It’s like this: There’s global warming, and it’s not my field, but I sure want the leaders of the world to do something about it.
And congrats again to the Pope for giving his opinion on things that matter which Peter agrees with and Peter will ignore the Pope's opinion on things that Peter doesn't agree with.
With the gun violence, it seems like we should make it harder for sick people to get guns; the man who killed in Oregon, Christopher Harper-Mercer, had six guns with him when he laid siege to Umpqua Community College, and seven more were found in his home. Are we as a society fine with that? I know I’m not.
I'm fine with him having 13 guns in his house. I am not fine with him being a crazy person who used those guns to kill people. Therein lies the problem. Who is crazy and who is not crazy? I think the test to determine who can own guns and who can't should be based on who owns music by Maroon 5 and Florida-Georgia Line. That's just me.
k. Max Scherzer. Wow is about all you can say. Nine innings, no hits, no walks, 17 strikeouts. Two no-nos in one year. And look at his totals in those two games: 18 innings, no hits, no walks, 27 strikeouts. No walks. Two perfect games spoiled by a very, very shaky hit-by-pitch against Pittsburgh and a throwing error on a routine grounder by third baseman Yunel Escobar.
If you are keeping count, which I am, that's three straight Paper World Series titles for the Nationals and two Paper Perfect Games for Max Scherzer this year. The Paper hardware this Nationals team has is ridiculous.
m. I’m really old. But what can I say? Baseball and football are the two games I grew up with, and when each is finished for the year, I know how much I’ll miss them.
You don't have to be old to miss these things, Peter. Everything doesn't revolve around you and your age. You can be young and miss baseball. Also, baseball isn't done. If you were such a big fan of the sport then perhaps you would enjoy the postseason baseball has. I mean, that is where history tends to be made.
o. Said it last week, so I’ll use just one sentence for emphasis: The fact that the teams with the second-best and third-best records in baseball—the Pirates (98-64) and the Chicago Cubs (97-65)—are meeting in a sudden-death wild-card playoff game this week instead of a real series is just stupid, and blatantly unfair to two of the three best teams in baseball.
I'll say it again, at no other point in the history of MLB would these two teams even have a chance to meet for even a one game Wild Card playoff. So it can be unfair, but prior to the second Wild Card coming along, the Cubs would have been out of the playoffs entirely. So baseball has always been unfair in this way and I have no idea what Peter is bitching about. In 1993, a 103 win San Francisco team missed the playoffs entirely. A big fan of baseball like Peter might remember this.
u. Coffeenerdness: You know you’ve lived in your Manhattan neighborhood for a long time (four years this month for us)
Peter mentions how long he has lived in Manhattan almost as often as he mentions that he runs in Central Park. If I wasn't reminded weekly, then I might have a chance to forget.
and frequented the same Starbucks for a long time when you walk in on a Saturday morning, as I did two days ago, and there’s a long line, and you just wait to get to the head of the line and there, the barista/register person says, “Here you go, Peter—your drink,” and scans my phone for payment. Never even had to order it! Thanks for the great service, people.
Peter loves it when people cater to him. That's great service, you know. When you make Peter King feel as special as Peter believes he should feel, you have done something right. Kudos, Starbucks. You know Peter is special and finally someone acknowledges it through actions.
v. Beernerdness: For a beer note this week, instead of picking a beer to highlight, I’ll pick a Boston Globe story to illustrate how difficult it is becoming to actually pick a beer to drink. I mean, it’s amazing that craft beer is only 8 percent of the United States beer market. Seems like it's 28 percent.
It is shocking that those things which Peter enjoys aren't also enjoyed by the rest of the population. Peter King thought his interests were representative of the United States population as a whole, but he was shockingly wrong. Who knew that just because Peter likes craft beer, everyone else doesn't like craft beer too?
It's amazing that people with less expendable income than Peter would choose to drink beer that costs 40-50% less than craft beer costs. This is your weekly reminder that Peter is not in touch with what the rest of the United States thinks. I like craft beer too, but I recognize it's fucking expensive and just because I choose to spend $15.99 on a 12 pack of beer doesn't mean I am representative of 28% of the United States population.
x. I guess the moral of the story in Athens, Ga., on Saturday was this: It’s probably never a good idea to make Alabama the underdog.
(Insert joke about Georgia football as it relates to the Crimson Tide being underdogs and the Georgia mascot being a bulldog in here)
The Adieu Haiku
Kickers. Tough life. But
Steeler fans say to Scobee:
“Dude, YOU HAD ONE JOB!”
Yeah dude, you had one job. Much like the one job Peter has in MMQB about reporting on NFL news accurately using the sources he has built up through his 25 year career. Yet somehow, on two of the two biggest non-directly football-related stories over the past year, Peter's sources have lied to him twice. Dude, you had one job. Make sure your sources tell you the truth so you can disseminate accurate information.