Friday, January 23, 2015

4 comments Flaming Hot Takes on Deflated Balls and the New England Patriots

I have a history of hating the Patriots. They have been too good at football over the last decade and a half and they beat my favorite team in the Super Bowl, which did not please me. I almost got in a fight with three Patriots fans in Charleston, South Carolina in the early 2000's because I insisted Tom Brady wasn't as good as he's given credit for while arguing with them and waiting in line for a hot dog from a street vendor at 2:30am. I was very inebriated AND wrong, which are two states of being that go hand-in-hand well. I'm still not a huge fan of them, partly because of their famous fans (Hey, Bill Simmons!), but I get over it and I'm more impressed by their long-term excellence at this point. So it turns out they deflated footballs against the Colts (at least during the first half) in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts. They then used regular footballs in the second half and buried the Colts. It seems like they played better without the deflated footballs. Either way, this is not legal and they are being killed by the general public. By "the general public" I mean "sportswriters with hot takes." I'm not going to defend cheating and I do believe the Patriots will be and should be punished in some way, but it's never enough with the media for the Patriots to get punished, something VERY SEVERE must be done. Sportswriters say this is the ABSOLUTE TURNING POINT AND HERE'S SOMETHING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION THAT'S BEING WRITTEN BY ME RIGHT NOW SO PAY ATTENTION. That's how hot takes happen.

Again, I'm not going to defend cheating, and once they figure out who deflated the balls then the punishment needs to be handed down, but these draconian hot takes just make me laugh. I can still agree the Patriots were in the wrong while also laughing at those who react strongly to the Patriots being in the wrong. They'll be punished, it's just a matter of when and how badly. It's fun to discuss sportswriters freaking out over the integrity of the game being ruined. I love a good disaster.

I'll start with Gregg Doyel, who spent most of the week up to the AFC Championship Game getting in contrived and immature fights with the New England media as a way of getting the word out there that he now works for the "Indy Star" and furthering his burgeoning brand/app/whatever. There's no such thing as bad press and Doyel got some press for getting in pissing contests with the New England media. So of course he jumps on the story of the Patriots deflating footballs.

Here's the thing about DeflateGate, this silly idea that the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts:

It's not silly.

It's the Patriots.

Gregg seems to use this reasoning a lot. It's not whether Gil Hodges should be in the baseball Hall of Fame or not, it's that he is Gil Hodges and that's why he should be in the Hall of Fame. The state of existing is the only reasoning Gregg needs.

Lots of people will forever believe the Patriots cheated the Colts on Sunday. Why? Because it's the Patriots.

Insightful. It needed to be mentioned twice apparently that the Patriots are the Patriots. I feel prepared to move on now.

Either you are, or you are not, willing to cheat.

And Belichick is. The NFL found him guilty of – even responsible for – the Spygate scandal during the 2007 season.

And yet, Belichick managed to escape the death penalty. How could that be?

With very few exceptions, people can be divided into various either/or categories: Employed or unemployed. Smoker or nonsmoker.

Cheater or not a cheater.

Yes, with very few exceptions there are no shades of gray. It's one extreme or another. This is EXACTLY how life works. No areas for maneuvering between two extremes. Welcome to the Gregg Doyel reality, now have a seat on the couch or chair, but don't even think about putting your feet on the loveseat because it doesn't exist in his reality. There's a couch or a chair. Choose one.

Indiana knows about this. The Hoosiers hired Kelvin Sampson in 2007, shortly after he had been busted for NCAA recruiting violations involving impermissible phone calls at Oklahoma. The idea in Bloomington, surely, was this: No way he'd do it again.

Since coming to work for the "Indy Star" Gregg has also been doing a lot of this "I'm an Indian/Indianaite/Indianan like you and here is an example specific to Indiana" stuff.

He did it again.

Oops.

Cheaters cheat. It's what they do.

Now then, is that a definitive statement that Bill Belichick or the Patriots cheated the Colts on Sunday? Nope. It is not.

Yes, it is a definitive statement. Cheater or not a cheater. Belichick has been proven to be a cheater so that's what he is. Remember, "divided into either/or categories" that's how it all works?

But it's a definitive statement that his past history of cheating makes this allegation – which is ludicrous and absurd and really, really, hard to believe – not so ludicrous. Not so absurd.

Specifically if you are still a little butt hurt that you talked trash all the way up to the AFC Championship Game about how the Colts would win and then they got their ass kicked. It makes it easier to believe the allegations are not absurd in this instance.

Butt hurt or not butt hurt. That is the question. Choose one. 

This sort of thing has happened before. Deflating a football is a thing, thanks to Lane Kiffin's 2012 USC Trojans, who were fined and reprimanded by the Pac-12 for deflating footballs against Oregon. Kiffin denied it. A team equipment manager was fired. Was the equipment manager acting on his own? Well sure, that's possible.

Just like it's possible the Patriots are utterly and completely innocent of the allegation against them now, that they deflated one or more footballs on the sideline after NFL officials had examined them before kickoff.

Maybe Lane Kiffin did it. Bill Belichick is close to Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin is Nick Saban's offensive coordinator and Lane Kiffin has deflated balls before. Where was Lane Kiffin on Sunday evening?

First, any idea how easy it is to deflate a football?

No Gregg, I have no idea how to deflate a football. It sounds like a complicated procedure.

It requires one little needle. That's it. Hold the ball, jab the needle, listen for the hiss. Take the needle out.

Take the needle out or don't take the needle out. One or the other.

Second, any idea how awkward it feels to write this story from here, in Indianapolis, as if deflated balls might be the reason this city's team lost on Sunday? The footballs aren't the reason. That game wasn't about the Deflatriots. It was about the Patriots. They're better than the Colts, so much better than lots of us – the line starts right here – had given them credit for. The Patriots were tougher, more skilled, more poised and more innovative. In hindsight the Colts had no chance.

Nice way to bring the story of the Patriots deflating footballs back to you, while also linking your old hot takes. Really the deflating of footballs was about Gregg Doyel more than anything.

Third: What if?

Great point. It gives me a lot to think about.

What if the NFL finds that the Patriots were in fact using a football that was deflated below regulation levels? Maybe the NFL won't be able to determine when or how it happened.

What then?

Obviously Belichick will have to be stripped of his hoodie and forced to work slave labor in the mines of whatever country has the most dangerous mines to work in.

Maybe then Belichick will get the black lung after a day or two of working in the mines and he'll die. Because that's what Belichick deserves, to die.

I'm kidding of course. Doyel's suggestion isn't this extreme, but is equally as stupid.

I'll tell you what should happen: The Patriots should be removed from the Super Bowl. Which means the Colts should be going to Glendale.

An Indianapolis writer thinks the Colts deserve to go to the Super Bowl. Homer or not a homer? Choose one and there is no gray area.

Someone on the Patriots deflated those footballs, but I'm not sure that was the difference in the game nor does a satisfactory punishment seem to be to allow an unworthy team to be in the Super Bowl.

Will this happen? Of course not, which is why I'm mentioning it way down the story – it has to be said somewhere – but not starting this column with that idea. Because it's a preposterous idea, not worthy of the headline. The NFL would never, ever remove the Patriots from the Super Bowl, even if it does find they were using illegal footballs.

Nice troll job, Gregg. Here's how this troll job worked.

-Gregg says what SHOULD happen.

-Gregg says this won't happen.

-Gregg says his own idea of what should happen is so preposterous it doesn't deserve being mentioned in the headline.

-But again, the preposterous idea of what should happen wasn't so crazy or unworthy that Gregg doesn't think it shouldn't happen.

It's a nice way of coming up with a crazy punishment and then not standing by it.

Cheating can't be tolerated. Simple as that. A team can't use an under-inflated football, get caught, and then be allowed to play its next game – a game it reached by winning the one with the deflated football – as if nothing happened.

Cheating can't be tolerated. I can agree with that. But I thought sending the Colts to the Super Bowl was an unworthy idea that didn't merit a mention. Now all of a sudden it's the idea Gregg is building the end of this column around.

Contradictory or not contradictory. Choose one and there is no gray area.

Not a fine, not a docking of draft picks, not even a lifetime suspension of Belichick, though I would support all three, if the Patriots are found guilty of cheating. Sorry -- left out a word. If the Patriots are found guilty of cheating … again.

So the preposterous idea that won't happen and doesn't seem worthy of a headline is the best punishment for the Patriots in Gregg Doyel's opinion. I wonder if he understands how stupid this sounds.

Meantime, allow the system to run its course. The Patriots are innocent until proven guilty. They deserve that.

Even if lots of us have made up our minds already.

Because the Patriots deserve that, too.

(Bengoodfella burns himself closing the article because the hot take is still simmering)

Now Bob Kravitz chimes in with his own hot take about what should happen to the Patriots.

If the NFL deems that the Patriots doctored the footballs to the team's advantage in Sunday's game, one of two things must happen:

Indianapolis writers are all about there being two options. Obviously the two options here are:

1. Death penalty

2. Life imprisonment without parole

If Patriots owner Robert Kraft has an ounce of integrity, he will fire Bill Belichick immediately for toying with the integrity of the game for the second time in his otherwise magnificent career — the first issue being the SpyGate fiasco that earned Belichick and the team fines and a forfeited first-round draft choice.

Okay, that could happen. It sounds sort of dramatic though.

If Roger Goodell has an ounce of integrity,

We could stop here. The answer to this is known already. If it helps the NFL, Goodell does it. If it hurts the NFL, Goodell Jedi-waves it away.

and he's not spending all his time going to pre-game soirees at Kraft's mansion, he will not only fine Belichick and take away draft choices, but suspend the head coach for the upcoming Super Bowl.

Does this sound excessive?

The whole "ounce of integrity" thing sounds a bit dramatic.

It is very hard for me to believe — no, it's impossible for me to believe — that this was one large, cosmic accident. A deflated football, and we're talking about two pounds worth of deflation,

Yes, but not a real two pounds of deflation. A typical football weighs less than a pound. Otherwise quarterbacks would be slinging just short of the equivalent of two newborn babies around the field in the form of a football. So two pounds of air isn't two pounds like most people think of pounds. It's noticeable, but not to the extent Bob Kravitz paints it as being. The Colts-Patriots officials touched the football after every play and managed to not notice the ball was semi-deflated.

It's very hard for me to believe that some rogue ball boy, acting on his or her own, unilaterally decided to use a pressure gauge to independently take some of the air out of the ball.

There's only one way this could happen, and that's with Belichick's full knowledge and approval.


Nope, it could also happen with the approval of Josh McDaniels without Belichick knowing. Think Jon Gruden knew that Brad Johnson took air out of the football during the 2003 Super Bowl? Maybe, maybe not.

Go ahead and chalk it all up as sour grapes on the part of the Colts, who would have lost badly had they used a beach ball, a hockey puck or a badminton shuttlecock. But, the Colts noticed something odd about the football when D'Qwell Jackson intercepted Tom Brady. Jackson himself told me he didn't notice anything strange, but, then, the Colts want to distance themselves from this thing as much as they can.

So D'Qwell Jackson did or didn't notice something strange? Kravitz says Jackson noticed something strange, but Jackson claims he didn't notice something strange. Of course, Kravitz assumes Jackson is lying in order to show his ounce of integrity in protecting the very same cheaters that Kravitz claims lack integrity for covering up the use of deflated footballs. Jackson is either lying or he isn't.

General Manager Ryan Grigson walked over to the Colts public relations spot and took a phone call, and seemed quite perturbed. This was very unusual for a general manager who spends his time quietly watching the game from the press box.

Was this investigation inspired by the Colts? I have no doubt that it was.


So if Jackson is lying about noticing something strange, what does that say about his integrity? Or does he have integrity by staying out of his whole thing? What if Tom Brady is lying about noticing whether the football was deflated or not? Is he staying out of it or lacking an ounce of integrity?

This was cheating — pure and simple.

And either Kraft or Goodell have to do something very dramatic to make it clear that this kind of nonsense will not be tolerated.

If it was anybody but Belichick, if it was a coach who has no history of attempting to circumvent the rules, it would be worth a fine and maybe a draft choice.


See the penalty of deflating footballs isn't such a big deal, but because it's Bill Belichick it becomes a much bigger deal. Because as sportswriters love to point out, sports doesn't deal with innocent before guilty, but apparently sports does have an off-the-books "three strikes" or "repeat offender" rule that should be used for Belichick's latest transgression.

And here, too, is the shame of it: Belichick doesn't need to cheat. His team is that much better than anyone else, save the Seattle Seahawks. We'll find out more about that next Sunday.

Not if Gregg Doyel has his way.

Let's be honest about this: If the balls were properly inflated this past Sunday, the Patriots would have won…um…45-7. The footballs had little or nothing to do with the outcome. The Pats simply ran over the Colts. They out-coached them and out-played them. Badly.

Which is why it would be stupid to remove the Patriots from the Super Bowl.

Winning without honor, without integrity, is not winning. (Unless you're a myopic Patriots fan).

I can agree that winning without integrity isn't winning. To deflate a football against the rules is to lack integrity. I can't figure out how much integrity it really shows is lacking. The Patriots didn't win because they deflated the football. That much is agreed upon. Is deflating the football lack as much integrity as a baseball groundskeeper who landscapes the foul lines to favor the home team's hitters (such as helping the ball stay in play on bunts, etc)? Is deflating the football lack as much integrity as the Minnesota Twins starting fans behind home plate when the home team is at-bat? If Clayton Kershaw was found to have scuffed a baseball during a playoff game and the Dodgers went on to win the series, should Kershaw not be allowed to play in the next series when the Dodgers advance? Should the Dodgers even advance to the next series because they had a player cheat in the previous playoff series? I don't know the answers to these questions, so that's why it is hard for me to jump on the "LOOK AT THE LACK OF INTEGRITY!" train because I have no idea how deflating a football equates to other equal or non-equal minor changes that are legal or not legal in other sports. Does it lack integrity that Boise State's uniforms blend in with their playing surface, thereby giving the team a slight advantage at home?

It was instructive to spend early-morning Wednesday on a couple of Boston radio shows. They wanted to know if Aaron Rodgers should be penalized for admittedly over-inflating footballs. (Not if they're within the prescribed PSI). One wanted to know if Pete Carroll should be fired because so many Seahawks have been popped for using performance-enhancing drugs. One moron even rolled out the Nixonian “well everybody cheats'' argument, which inspired blind laughter on my part. All deflections from the issue at hand.

They are deflections, but also legitimate questions that need to be asked. If Seahawks players were busted for PED's, doesn't that lack integrity too? Why shouldn't Pete Carroll pay for this transgression? If a head coach knows the football his team is using was partially deflated, then wouldn't that same coach know his players are using PED's? Maybe.

Kraft needs to do the right thing. Goodell needs to do the right thing. Belichick should not be coaching in the Super Bowl, or worse.

Or worse. What's worse than not coaching in the Super Bowl? Should the Patriots be forced to trade Tom Brady? Perhaps the Patriots should be stripped of all draft picks until Bill Belichick is publicly drawn and quartered. Bob Kravitz knows deflating the footballs had no impact on the Colts-Patriots game and there is really no precedent in the NFL for deflating footballs, but one thing is for sure. The response must be severe, swift, and be "the right thing" even though few people even know what the fuck that is.

Chris Chase chimes in with his own hot take about how the Patriots should be disqualified from playing in the Super Bowl.

Cheat on a test in school? You fail, no questions asked.

Really? No questions asked? No questions like, "How did you cheat?," "Was anyone else cheating?," nothing like that?

Cheat on your taxes, the IRS will find you. It won’t be pretty.

They may not find you. I've seen plenty of people who cheat in minor ways on their taxes who have never been caught or audited.

The New England Patriots cheated in the AFC championship. As such, the team should be disqualified from the Super Bowl.

(The hot take sizzles on the ground)

Deflating 11 of 12 balls in Sunday’s game, as has been reported by ESPN, is a major violation and something that had a great affect on the game.

Apparently it has a 30+ point effect, even though the Patriots only used the deflated footballs during the first half.

Given the number of deflated balls, it’s almost impossible this was accident, meaning that someone in the New England organization willfully tampered with the rules to give his team an advantage.

Not exactly. Given that nearly all of the footballs were inflated to the wrong pressure it could show this was an accident. If the gauge measuring the pressure in the ball was in error or the person pumping up the balls had the wrong pressure (by accident) then it was a consistent error. If the footballs were all at different pressures with only half of the footballs at the wrong pressure then I could see how the rules have been tampered with. 11 of the 12 footballs being at the wrong level could speak to a consistent error in measuring the pressure. Of course I don't believe this happened, but a consistent error like this could show malfeasance or possibly just a basic error that caused the balls to be improperly inflated.

Of course, it’s not realistic to disqualify New England from the Super Bowl.

Why do the sportswriters who first suggest banning New England from the Super Bowl follow it up with "That's not realistic"? Stop suggesting this solution if the solution isn't realistic.

But, again, they should.

But, again, it's not realistic. But, again, they should. You know, if it weren't unrealistic. But, again, they still should. Though it is unrealistic. It's probably a good penalty. Even though it is unrealistic. Still, the NFL should ban the Patriots from the Super Bowl. It's just not realistic to do this. But, again, it should happen. If only it were realistic. Which it isn't. Though it should be.

The defenders of New England have been even more laughable than they were during the videotape controversy of 2007. “It doesn’t even help that much!” Sure it doesn’t. That’s why they were doing it. Of course it helps. Deflating gave Brady an easier grip on the ball (at least in the first half; there’s question about whether the balls were re-inflated at half time when it was 17-7).

I'm not a defender of New England. I simply know it was an advantage that didn't seem to show up too much on the scoreboard in the first half as compared to the Patriots performance in the second half without the deflated footballs. New England re-inflated the balls at halftime and began to destroy the Colts from that point on...with re-inflated footballs. I have no idea how much a deflated football affected this game and I don't know if anyone else has this answer either.

If it’s found out that Bill Belichick knew anything about this, even after the fact, Draconian sanctions are the only way to go...If Sean Payton gets suspended for an entire year because of Bountygate, Belichick deserves at least the same thing. He affected the sanctity of the game and fairness of one of the three biggest battles of the year.

I would disagree with this. I think intentionally injuring opposing players is worse than deflating footballs. I know deflating footballs involves the whole "integrity of the game" thing, but intentionally injuring opposing players is causing physical harm outside of the game being played. I think that's worse.

Draft picks should be taken away, not for one year, but for two or three, because the Pats are always picking toward the end of the first round anyway. Or take away some salary cap space, like the league unjustly did to the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

Yes, the NFL should choose to take away salary cap space in the same injust way they did it to the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

But I’ll happily blame the Patriots for being skeezy once again. I’ll blame Belichick because, as Goodell said about Payton during Bountygate, the head coach is supposed to know what’s going on with his team.

Oh, so you are going to use Roger Goodell's words as it pertains to knowing exactly what a supervisor's knowledge concerning his underlings actions should be? Okay then.

I’ll blame Tom Brady who clearly knew the balls were deflated but is getting off scot-free in this controversy because he’s the Golden Boy and is handsome and is married to a supermodel. (It’s amazing how no one criticizes Brady. He’s just as guilty as the others.) But there’s blame for others too.

How about the Patriots' center who handled the football on every play? How about the officials who handle the football after every play? The officials are there to enforce the rules and since deflating footballs by two or three pounds is just SO FUCKING NOTICEABLE one would wonder why the officials didn't notice.

But in the here and now, if the report is true, the New England Patriots should be hit hard. But they won’t and the Pats legacy will grow even more.

This will not deflate the Pats legacy.

With a Super Bowl win in two Sundays, people will be inclined to say Bill Belichick is the greatest coach of all time. But at what?

The greatest coach at football. I can't wait for Belichick to be up for Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. The NFL gets it's very own asterisked PED user when Belichick comes up for enshrinement.

Mark Kiszla is also prepared to blame Tom Brady and wonders why nothing ever sticks to him. Kiszla says Brady is like Barry Bonds. Yep, those words were written.

As I was writing this post, I found these words from Boomer Esiason. It doesn't excuse what the Patriots did or didn't do, but it shows there is more than the "It's just like the Patriots to stretch the rules" narrative that is being pushed. It seems other quarterbacks had an issue with the integrity of the game, including Saint Peyton Manning, who wanted to be allowed to scuff up the football. I'm sure he never scuffed it up without permission though.

Tom Brady is too good to be true. At age 37, the sexy quarterback of the New England Patriots looks cool, whether wearing a championship ring on his finger or Uggs on his feet. He married a supermodel straight from the pages of the Victoria's Secret catalogue. And his hair is perfect.

Not really. In his long hair phase, it was pretty disgusting. 

Too good to be true. Isn't that what we once believed about Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong?

Deflating footballs is now equivalent to using PED's, slandering others when they choose to call you out on using PED's, and cheating on your wife. Got it. At least Kiszla comes out swinging and throwing his hot takes around. I'd be disappointed otherwise. 

In a league ruled by quarterbacks, made filthy rich by quarterbacks and personified by quarterbacks, Brady is the undisputed king. Oh, Peyton Manning might sing about chicken parm in a television commercial. It's Brady, however, who owns three Super Bowl rings. He's the No. 1 quarterback of his NFL-crazy generation.

Every generation is QB-crazy. It's the most publicized position in the NFL, which explains why fans are QB-crazy. 

Before any knucklehead calls for disqualification of New England from the Super Bowl tournament because the Pats played with squeezably soft footballs inflated significantly below the league requirements, let's make it clear the Colts, the Broncos or anybody else weren't going to win in Gillette Stadium on a rainy evening in January.

Because that's unrealistic. Though it should happen. But, again, it is unrealistic. Still, it should happen. 

But as defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, the social media conscience of the Denver locker room, declared on Twitter: "If the footballs were deflated by that amount, it's definitely cheating. Harder to fumble, easier to catch, and helps you throw further."

Who would benefit the most from the deflated footballs?

Brady.

As well as Blount and the Patriots' receivers. They would all benefit the most. Though I would also add that if the football is easier to catch then the opposing team's secondary should find it easier to intercept a pass, right? Maybe D'Qwell Jackson made the interception because the ball was deflated so much. 

Long on the record with his affinity for throwing with an underinflated football, Brady tossed three touchdown passes against Indy in wet conditions where having a firm grip on a slippery pigskin definitely could have helped him.

Peyton Manning is on record as liking a scuffed ball. If the Broncos ended up using a scuffed ball, does that mean Manning did it? 

But let me humbly ask: If suspected cheaters in baseball are treated with such disdain in Hall of Fame balloting and Armstrong fell so hard from grace for the same transgressions committed by so many cyclists in a tainted sport, then why is there not more outrage about the Patriots?

Oh dear God. Because using a deflated football is the same thing as using performance enhancing drugs? The are equivalent misdeeds? That's really what Mark Kiszla is claiming? This seems like a pretty tenuous comparison to me. 

Because cheaters never win. Or so are we were taught in elementary school.

It's not the truth that hurts. It's the shrapnel from the shattered myth that makes us bleed.

I have known for years that cheaters do win. No shattered myth here. 

Not all forms of cheating are created equal. But, in his heart, maybe, just maybe, Brady isn't all that different from Barry Bonds.
 

Yes, maybe Tom Brady is exactly like Barry Bonds. Really there is no difference in these two athletes. It's like Kiszla has a hot takes handbook with key words in it and he found the name "Barry Bonds" in the book, so he felt like adding Bonds' name to this column for maximum hot sports take result.

Maybe Tom Brady is more like Bernie Madoff. Brady asks for his fans to buy into him as a clean-cut guy who plays the game "the right way" but he's really taking the fans investment in him and then selling that investment to Satan himself, while continuing to ask for more investment in him as a football player and person, all while putting on a public face of being an angel. This public face of an angel tricks his investors into thinking Brady is doing something with their investment of love and fandom that he really isn't doing. At the end of the day, the fans have nothing to show for their investment in Brady, while he rides off into the sunset with Super Bowl trophies, MVP trophies, and his name as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. Tom Brady is Bernie Madoff. 

Tom Brady you are a PED user who ran Ponzi Scheme so evil, which affected the outcome of the AFC Championship Game in such an obvious way, that even the officials who touched the football after every offensive play didn't know you were obviously taking the air out of the football. Go train for the upcoming baseball season with Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez and may the fates deal with you as they see fit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

7 comments Gregg Easterbrook States the Seahawks Are Rain-Acclimated Which He Says Explains Why They Started Playing Well When the Rain Stopped

Gregg Easterbrook followed up his prediction that either the Colts or the Broncos would win the Colts-Broncos game with the knowledge that NFL teams with stability at head coach and stability at quarterback are generally better teams. Gregg wondered why teams even fire their head coach, since obviously stability is what these teams crave. Don't fire your coach and stability will come! Winning may not happen, but hey, you will have stability. This week Gregg brags about his Seahawks-Patriots third time around pick being correct and jumps back on the Authentic Games Standings bandwagon once it reached a result that he likes. Ignore the results when they are wrong, laugh off the results when they are wrong and then brag about the results once they reach the conclusion that's correct. Gregg's big topic of discussion in this week's TMQ is that weather will play a part in the outcome of the Super Bowl. So that's a riveting topic which goes to show why Gregg tries not to stray from his usual four topic rotation (concussions, fast-paced offenses, why the read-option is dead, some crazy metric he created five minutes ago).

When it rains, baseball players trot to the clubhouse. Basketball is staged indoors. Volleyball, indoors or on sun-drenched beaches. Soccer, a summer sport, usually doesn't play in winter. Ice hockey is almost always in an enclosed arena. 

You may not believe this, but Gregg didn't do a great amount of research before jotting down these sentences. Seems to me this soccer league takes place right in the middle of winter. What do you know, this soccer league plays in the winter too. And God knows soccer never takes place in the rain. Ever.

Among the major team sports, football alone is performed in all conditions.

Except for the football games that have been canceled due to snow, like what happened this very NFL season to a game in Buffalo. But yeah, as long as Gregg ignores all of the examples that prove him wrong, football is performed in all conditions.

From sweltering humidity to freezing cold, in rain, snow and wind, football is a manly man pursuit that laughs at the elements -- unless the team has a domed stadium, of course. "Hot to cold" is a longstanding football goal, meaning the team begins training in August heat and is still playing in the wintry winds of January.

In general, football is played in all weather. Soccer is played in nearly all weather as well, outside of lightning or some other event that could very well also cancel a football game.

In rain and gusting wind at New England, the dome-based Colts were blown off the field. In rain and gusting wind at Seattle, the cold-acclimated Packers lost a close one to the rain-acclimated Seahawks, whose natural habitat is drizzle.

LO-fucking-L! The Colts won an outdoor road game the week before in Colorado. Meanwhile, Gregg is really writing that the Green Bay Packers, the Green Bay fucking Packers, aren't used to playing in the rain so that is why they lost that game to the Seahawks. Oh sure, the Packers are great at playing in frozen rain and snow, but once that rain isn't frozen it just messes their mind all up and they start making conservative play calls and bad decisions that don't initially appear to be caused by the rain, but are totally to be attributed to the rain. See, Mike McCarthy didn't call a conservative game, it's just the fact the rain wasn't frozen messed with his head so much he couldn't function as a play caller.

Gregg makes a lot of things up. It's just in his nature. 

Weather conditions dictated a strange first half at Seattle, where Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, entering the contest with six total career postseason interceptions, threw five interceptions in that half alone. Both teams dropped passes as receivers couldn't hold slick footballs. 

And of course the Packers are used to playing with snow and frozen rain on the football, so the fact the ball was slick from normal rain meant they couldn't catch the passes thrown to them. I would also like to hear Gregg explain how the Seahawks natural habitat is drizzle but they were also dropping passes because the ball was slick. Isn't he pushing the bullshit story that the Seahawks had an advantage because they are used to the rain? So how come they were dropping passes because it was raining? Where is this supposed advantage that Gregg claims the Seahawks have? As always, Gregg is simply making things up.

One Wilson interception looked like a deep completion when released, then was held up by a gust of wind.

But Gregg, you JUST claimed the Seahawks were performing in their natural habitat so they had the advantage. Detailing instances where the Seahawks struggled in the rain is contradicting the point you are trying to prove.

Rodgers threw a pick on a play that began just as the rain increased considerably.

Of course if it were snow or freezing rain then Rodgers would have thrown the ball perfectly fine.

Both quarterbacks had trouble releasing the ball cleanly and missed open receivers.

Gregg can't possibly be this stupid. If both teams struggled, there was no advantage one way or another and his point about the weather is proven to be incorrect.

When weather-based luck favored Green Bay in the first half -- helping the Packers to four Seattle turnovers and a 16-0 lead at intermission -- the visitors seemed to grow overconfident and not consider that weather-based luck might go Seattle's way later. The drop-off in rain and wind arrived just as the Hawks' furious comeback began.

Now I'm confused. So as soon as the drop-off in rain and wind occurred, the Seahawks began to come back? So the Seahawks had the advantage once there was no bad weather and the Packers had the disadvantage because they aren't used to playing in good weather? This is completely counter to what Gregg just wrote. He wrote:

the NFL teams left standing tend to be the ones that can deal with weather...In rain and gusting wind at Seattle, the cold-acclimated Packers lost a close one to the rain-acclimated Seahawks, whose natural habitat is drizzle.

Then Gregg says once the drizzle stopped the Seahawks started to score points. So his point is the Packers played better in the drizzle, the same drizzle that Gregg claims is the Seahawks' natural habitat and allowed them to win the game, while the Seahawks played better in weather without rain and win, yet Gregg claims they are used to playing in the rain and it's their natural habitat. Doesn't this mean Gregg believes the Packers struggle playing in good weather? Of course this is ridiculous. What's more ridiculous is Gregg just writes shit in TMQ and absolutely doesn't care how many times he contradicts himself or whether what he is writing makes sense.

At New England, rain was a factor in five first-half dropped passes, a muffed fair catch and a badly off-target field goal into wind. The Patriots won so decisively that the weather was irrelevant by the end.

Gregg's topic of discussion in this TMQ is how weather impacted the AFC and NFC Championship Games. Then while in the discussion Gregg is basically like, "Weather had no impact on the AFC and NFC Championship Games." Okay, then. So why even bring up the topic of weather if it didn't impact the games?

I can't wait for Gregg to talk about how the deflated balls had an impact on the Colts-Patriots game and then he'll come up with an imaginary curse that has befallen the Patriots due to this.

But in the first half, when the contest was close, Indianapolis seemed totally flummoxed to be playing in rain and wind rather than the ideal conditions the Colts are accustomed to. 

Again, they won a road game in Colorado the week before.

New England outrushed Indianapolis by 94 yards; Seattle outrushed Green Bay by 59 yards. When the weather is bad, you'd better be able to run the football.

The weather wasn't that bad and Gregg has already stated the weather had no impact on the outcome of the Colts-Patriots game.

Now Seattle and New England advance to a Super Bowl in Arizona -- ideal conditions.

Which apparently Gregg thinks are conditions the Packers would struggle in, just as they struggled once the conditions got better in Seattle on Sunday.

In TMQ news, six weeks ago this column foresaw a Super Bowl pairing of Seattle versus New England.

This was TMQ's third try at getting the Super Bowl pairing. At a certain point, it's just guessing and no credit should be given.

Sure, it was a hedged bet; during the season I made several Super Bowl forecasts -- one of them had to turn out right!

You joke, but it's annoying to hear you say you "foresaw" the Super Bowl pairing while admitting that you made several Super Bowl forecasts. I am simply afraid that some people take Gregg seriously.

In the time-honored tradition of analysts who made multiple forecasts only one of which proved correct, that's the only one I will point to.

Fine. Please explain how you say the Seahawks had the advantage because of the rainy weather and then claim the Seahawks started a comeback once the weather got less rainy. I need to know how the hell this makes sense.

I'm surprised Gregg didn't include as one of his Stats of the Week that the Green Bay Packers opened the season with a loss at Seattle and ended the season with a loss at Seattle.

On the third-and-1, left tackle Nate Solder also reported eligible -- the first time he'd done so. This should have been a bright flashing light to the Indianapolis defense. But Colts defenders didn't notice New England went unbalanced line on the play. That made Solder the tight end on the left, though to the defense he looked like the left tackle. The 15-yard touchdown pass to the 6-foot-8, 320-pound Solder was a thing of beauty, and it broke open the contest. 

Note that what happened was the guy who seemed to be lined up as the left tackle was actually a tight end -- same thing that happened on New England's big odd-formation completion versus Baltimore and on Baylor's touchdown pass to an offensive linemen in its bowl game. Because most offenses are right-handed, defenders pay more attention to the offensive right.

What? So Gregg believes because most offenses are right-handed, defenders know this and pay attention to the offensive right? I don't even know what to say to this. Wouldn't defenders pay more attention to the right side of the offense (thereby meaning the left side of the offense from the offense's point of view) since more defenses are right-handed? This is so nonsensical it almost doesn't even deserve a rebuttal. I really, really, really doubt defenses pay attention to the handedness of the offense and then turn their attention to whatever side of handedness the offense is. This is a ridiculous claim.

With Green Bay seemingly in command with the score 19-7 and three minutes remaining, Seattle threw a deep "wheel" pattern to Marshawn Lynch for a 26-yard gain --- his sole reception of the NFC title contest. The Bluish Men Group would get a touchdown three snaps later, and the fateful onside kick was set in motion. 

Middle linebacker Sam Barrington was covering Lynch deep, after first being run through a pick by Seattle tight end Luke Willson. Twice earlier, Seattle had tried this play and Willson failed to pick Barrington off; this time, he succeeded. Warned Seattle was trying to set a pick to get Lynch deep, Green Bay coaches didn't react -- and left the middle linebacker running deep with a Super Bowl invitation on the line.

Gregg is basing this criticism on hindsight. The Packers can't simply put an extra corner on the field every single time that Marshawn Lynch is on the field just in case the Seahawks run this wheel play. More times than not, Lynch will be running the football, which will require a linebacker and not an extra corner on the field. For some reason, Gregg thinks the Packers should always keep an extra corner on the field instead of a linebacker, just in case the Seahawks run this play. Either that or Gregg seems to believe Dom Capers is psychic and knew the Seahawks would run this play, yet decided to cover Lynch with a linebacker. Oh, and Sam Barrington is a lowly-drafted 7th round pick that got beaten on this play. Interesting how his draft status got left out of the discussion.

The Seahawks scored 15 points in 44 seconds to force overtime, then won the coin toss. The football gods were smiling on Seattle, possibly because with 52 degrees, rain and gusty winds at kickoff, the cheerleaders came out wearing miniskirts.

And to think Gregg got an attitude with someone on Twitter who accused him of being pervy, yet week-after-week he acts like a pervy old man who ogles the cheerleaders and encourages them to wear less clothing. Here is the Tweet:




That's classic that Gregg calls the guy "morally superior" to people he hasn't met, as if the guy is judging Gregg based on something other than almost a decade of evidence in TMQ that Gregg ogles cheerleaders. As if the words Gregg writes in TMQ aren't indicative of his opinion, feelings or emotions and he shouldn't be judged by them. To take any of the words Gregg writes and come to a judgment is being "morally superior." What a crock. If I write racist crap on this blog could I just say, "Don't judge me as a racist because you haven't met me. See a therapist because you consider yourself to be morally superior to me"? Most likely that excuse wouldn't go over well.

In "Skyfall," James Bond hangs by his fingertips from a high bridge, then from a skyscraper, as does a bad guy Bond is trying to kill. Four times in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, New Improved Kirk hangs by his fingertips from a great height (the first time viewers see Kirk, as a boy, he's hanging by his fingertips). In the second movie of the reboot, New Improved Spock hangs by his fingertips. In "Elysium," Matt Damon hangs by his fingertips from a great height. On TV's "Hawaii Five-0," all the leads at some point hang by their fingertips from a great height; some guest actors too. The 2001 chick flick "Kate & Leopold" had its leads dangle by their fingertips from the Brooklyn Bridge; the movie was a romance!

Really? It was a romance and it showed the leads dangling by their fingertips? It makes no sense to have the leads in any movie hanging by their fingertips, but in a romantic comedy it makes totally no sense! All movies should have certain rules about what scenes they can and can not show based on the genre of that movie. For example, in a romantic comedy there should be no dangling by fingertips, while in action movies there should be no kissing between two characters.

Academy Awards note: Why is there no Oscar for goofiest statement by a Hollywood grandee? TMQ's nominee: Sylvester Stallone apologized for not enough violence in "The Expendables 3" and called the decision to go PG-13 "a horrible miscalculation ... I'm quite certain it won't happen again."

It's not a terribly goofy statement. Those going to see that film were going to see the violence in the movie and going with a PG-13 rating didn't allow the viewer to see the violence that viewer was expecting. Maybe it sounds goofy to Gregg, but as far as Stallone trying to appease his target audience it makes sense.

Has any team ever looked more defeated than Seattle did when Morgan Burnett picked off Russell Wilson with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter? 

Yes.

Intercepting, Burnett deliberately went down. In retrospect, many are wondering why he didn't attempt a runback. Green Bay thought the game was over: Burnett's teammates made the "get on the ground" gesture. This wasn't a bad decision on his part -- no risk he'd fumble.

It was sort of a bad decision because he could have gained additional yardage and then run out of bounds so he didn't fumble or gained additional yardage and then fallen to the ground before he was tackled to avoid fumbling. There were other options available other than falling to the ground immediately. And no, only one teammate was motioning for Burnett to get down. That was Julius Peppers. It may not have been a bad decision to avoid fumbling, but it was a bad decision to not gain as much yardage as possible before falling to the ground.

Somehow, the Packers managed to take only 64 seconds off the clock and leave Seattle with one timeout before booming a punt. On all three snaps, Green Bay rushed directly into a nine-man box.

Gregg Easterbrook every other week in TMQ: "If Team X had run the ball three straight times and not thrown the ball then they likely would have been victorious."

Gregg Easterbrook this week in TMQ: "Why did Green Bay run the ball three straight times into a nine-man front instead of trying to pass the football?"

The only consistent thing about Gregg is his inconsistency. He has no beliefs, though he loves to espouse all sorts of rules and laws in TMQ, but his only belief is an NFL team should have done what worked. So hindsight is usually required for Gregg's criticism to be justified and he doesn't mind contradicting his previous opinions.

Seattle offered Aaron Rodgers a chance to ice the contest with a long pass -- and as in every other instance in the game, given the choice between conservative tactics and being bold, the Packers went conservative.

Nearly every week in TMQ Gregg tells NFL teams to run the ball to chew up clock and they will surely be victorious. Now all of a sudden, NFL teams shouldn't run the ball at the end of the game to chew up clock. Why? Because it didn't work in this specific situation. Undoubtedly Gregg will never address his previous statements about chewing up the clock at the end of a game by running the ball, because it would show how full of contradictory bullshit he can be.

After the touchdown that made the count 19-14, Seattle onside kicked, and the Green Bay hands team botched the play. Another quick Seattle touchdown made it 20-19 home team. On the deuce try, Russell Wilson was flushed from the pocket and retreated all the way to the Packers 18 before lofting a crazy, cross-the-field pass that was in the air for three seconds -- quite a long time for a pass to be airborne. Tight end Luke Willson, assigned to block, had scrambled left when he saw Wilson in trouble. He caught the deuce pass, which Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix inexplicably simply watched, rather than knock down.

Gregg is simply echoing the same criticism that Troy Aikman had for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. First off, the pass wasn't in the air for three seconds. I barely counted to two every time I watched the video. Second, Clinton-Dix didn't simply watch the ball while in the air. He seemed to approach Willson and then look like he misjudged the ball and jumped too short to make a play on the ball. I don't know what the hell Clinton-Dix was doing, but he appeared to try and make a play on the ball, only to fail to judge the flight of the ball correctly. Yes, he screwed up, but I think he would have knocked the ball down had he not misjudged the flight of the ball (which he seems to have done). 

Then Gregg goes on a looooooooooong discussion of politics, federal and state spending, and other non-interesting non-NFL topics that I really don't care to discuss while I'm discussing TMQ. 

Tuesday Morning Quarterback is reporting on an exclusive basis that two sources say multiple Seattle Seahawks were injected with grape Ovaltine before Sunday's NFC title contest. "Grape gives you so much more rush than chocolate," an unnamed player said. Long before 5 Hour Energy, Ovaltine promised to keep you going through the day.

What was the point of this paragraph? It's not funny at all. I don't get it.

Right now, most touts have Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota atop the draft. Don't be surprised if neither ends up there.

#analysis

First, both are Heisman-winning quarterbacks, and beware the Heisman Quarterback Curse. Of the Heisman quarterbacks currently in the NFL -- Johnny Manziel, Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer and Cam Newton -- none has a winning career record.

I wouldn't say this is a curse any more than it is a product of these quarterbacks being drafted by teams that aren't very good. Bradford, Newton, and Palmer went #1 overall to teams that weren't good at all. Palmer would have a career winning record if it weren't for his time in Oakland, Newton is one game under .500,and Manziel wasn't even the Browns starter for the majority of the season. So yes, these quarterbacks don't have a career winning record, but this could have as much to do with them being drafted by teams that aren't very good as much as some fake curse.

Gregg talks about the Heisman Quarterback Curse, how about the Heisman Curse overall? Mark Ingram hasn't lived up to expectations, Tim Tebow is out of the league, Troy Smith is a career backup, Reggie Bush doesn't exist anymore as a Heisman winner, Matt Leinart is out of the league, Jason White was barely in the NFL, the same goes for Eric Crouch, Chris Weinke is a career backup, and Ron Dayne didn't have a good NFL career. The last Heisman winner to not befall the "curse" (though I would argue Palmer and Newton haven't had the curse befall them) of being a non-productive player on a bad team would be Ricky Williams. He has a winning record for his career and he was a productive player.

In the past 20 years, 14 Heisman quarterbacks have departed college. Danny Wuerffel became a star for the Rhein Fire; Gino Torretta, Chris Weinke, Eric Crouch, Jason White and Troy Smith had no NFL achievements; Charlie Ward never put on pads; Matt Leinart and Tim Tebow were flashes in the pan; Palmer, Bradford and Newton became secure starters, but none has a career winning record;

Again, Palmer has a winning record if his time with the Raiders is ignored. All three of these quarterbacks were taken #1 overall by teams who aren't very good, so they started their career out with more losses than wins. I wouldn't call it a curse more than I would call it Gregg judging an individual player on his team's achievement.

This isn't much to write home about and suggests the kind of athletes who become Heisman quarterbacks aren't likely to shine in the NFL -- the major factor being that they played on stacked college teams that made everything look easy.

I would dare Gregg to name three other players on the Auburn roster during the year Cam Newton was there. I'm guessing he couldn't do it, nor could he do it for Carson Palmer or Sam Bradford.

On several downs in the Oregon-Florida State semifinal, Winston's passes sailed far from any receiver's hands. The Seminoles quarterback before Winston, EJ Manuel, has struggled in the pros with accuracy and reading defenses. There will be worries Winston will struggle in the same manner.

This is basically Gregg saying, "Hey two black quarterbacks came from the same university. I know EJ Manuel struggled with accuracy in the NFL and I saw a game where Jameis Winston struggled with his accuracy. I bet Winston has the same issue in the NFL that Manuel has."

As if Winston is the only college quarterback to ever throw a pass far from the receiver's hands or anything like that.

Winston and Mariota both play like a tall Robert Griffin III, which might be a strike against them on draft day.

Oh, a tall Robert Griffin III. Gregg does realize that Winston and Mariota are only two inches taller than Griffin, right? It's not like Griffin is much shorter than other these other two quarterbacks or anything.

With New England leading 7-0, Indianapolis reached first-and-10 at the Flying Elvii 33 and went incompletion, incompletion, incompletion. Chuck Pagano sent out the field goal unit, though a 51-yarder in rain into a stiff breeze was likely to fail. The kick missed badly, which gave New England great field position to take the ball the other way for a touchdown.

I wonder how Gregg comes up with the factual comment that a 51-yard field goal is "likely to fail"? He couldn't just be making this up could he? Surely Gregg knows that Adam Vinatieri was 3-for-3 on the year on field goals that were 50+ yards long. I kid of course. There's no way Gregg knows this. He knows the field goal missed and a long field goal seems like it would be hard to make, so he just says, "Hey, this is a tough field goal to hit, so it's likely to miss" and continues on writing without doing any type of research to see if Vinatieri had success with 50+ yard field goals on the season. Why would he do research when so many of his readers will just believe whatever he writes? 

The New England defense basically toyed with the Indianapolis offense. Bill Belichick likes to "take away" the opposition's best offensive player.

I don't know why "take away" is in parenthesis here.

The Patriots had corner Kyle Arrington shadow T.Y. Hilton pretty much everywhere he lined up -- it looked more like a basketball defense than football -- while shading a safety to Hilton's side.

Well, you know these defenders do "guard" the offensive players like it's basketball. At least that's what Gregg seems to believe.

Belichick knows Baltimore sells out to stop the run, so versus the Ravens, New England passed constantly. 

Gregg took zero steps to prove this as accurate. He's making shit up again.

Belichick knows Indianapolis sells out to stop the pass, so Patriots coaches called 40 rushing plays.

Again, what the hell does it mean and what kind of proof does Gregg have that the Colts sell out to stop the run? Gregg is just saying this is true because he wants it to be true. If the Colts always sold out to stop the pass then every NFL team would beat the Colts by running the football.

Six weeks ago, the Authentic Games metric forecast a Denver-Arizona Super Bowl. I said I didn't trust the metric this year -- though last season, in early December it forecast a Denver-Seattle Super Bowl -- and my gut said New England-Seattle.

So you, and your Authentic Games metric, are equally full of shit? Got it. Carry on.

The metric didn't start forecasting New England-Seattle until three weeks ago.

So what's the point of the metric then? If it's October and I want to use the metric to figure out who will be in the Super Bowl, then the Authentic Games metric would have been absolutely useless to me. It predicts nothing and only simply reacts to the information that it is arbitrarily given by Gregg. The metric didn't choose the right Super Bowl matchup until around the time the playoffs had started and 20 of the teams were eliminated from contention to play in the Super Bowl.

It ends by clearly endorsing the two Super Bowl entrants. If it didn't, I'd be back to the drawing board.

You should go back to the drawing board anyway, because hey, the Authentic Games metric is all for fun anyway and doesn't really predict anything. Right? Isn't that what you told your readers back when the metric was coming up with a result you didn't like? Now all of a sudden, the Authentic Games metric has authenticity again because after 8 tries it finally got the correct result.

Single Worst Game Of The Season -- So Far:

If the Packers were to win the NFC championship, they needed to be aggressive when close. Play-not-to-lose tactics wouldn't work.

Yet after reaching fourth-and-goal at the Seattle 1 in the first quarter, Mike McCarthy sent in the field goal unit, after a third-and-goal play on which the Packers just ran straight ahead, with no misdirection. (At the Indianapolis 1 yard line, Bill Belichick had a tight end shift to split wide, then another tight end shift, then a man-in-motion away from the playside, which resulted in an uncovered man for the touchdown.) After reaching fourth-and-goal at the Seattle 1, again McCarthy opted for a placement kick. Then, upon reaching fourth-and-1 on the Seattle 22, again McCarthy sent out the kicking unit.

I do agree the Packers should have been more aggressive in this situation. Though of course, I don't really give a crap about a team "doing a little dance" or anything like that. The Packers have Eddie Lacy, they shouldn't have to do much but get him to run forward with the football in his hand in order to get a touchdown.

Tuesday Morning Quarterback noted two weeks ago the Packers tend to lose the fourth quarter.

I noted this is because the Packers are often playing a softer defense due to occasionally having a large lead in the fourth quarter.

If there's one place the visitors will lose the fourth quarter, it's at Seattle. So Green Bay could not sit on its hands in the third quarter. On the day, Green Bay rushed for a 4.5-yard average. Go for the first down!

While I do agree the Packers were too conservative, Gregg consistently doesn't understand a 4.5-yard average per rush statistic doesn't necessarily mean much in a third/fourth-and-short situation. Situational down and distance tends to vex Gregg so he just lazily falls back on a team's per carry average for the game as proof that team could easily pick up the first down on third/fourth-and-short.

Next Week: Nominees for the coveted "longest award in sports," TMQ's Non-QB Non-RB NFL MVP.

After taking a year long break from this ridiculous award, Gregg has brought it back. For a guy who lauds undrafted, non-glory boy players, it sure is interesting that of the 13 winners of this award 6 of them were first or second round draft picks. I'm guessing Gregg has given up on the "unwanted/undrafted" team he used to put together every year because he finally realized how ridiculous it was to say a team didn't want a player because he was cut for salary cap reasons. 

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.
 
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

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).

Whee!

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.

OH!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU GOT US THERE, PETER! YOU OLD RASCAL WITH THE BAIT-AND-SWITCH OF A COMPLAINT INTO A COMPLIMENT!

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.