Tuesday, August 26, 2014

6 comments MMQB Review: Sam Bradford Is Injured...Again Edition

Peter King eulogized Robin Williams in last week's MMQB by talking about what a great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was, helped his readers understand that depression is serious, decided the 49ers are in serious trouble after their defense collapses this year and Colin Kaepernick gets injured trying to carry the team, and passed on more coachspeak that he thought was wisdom from Chip Kelly. This week Peter talks about why the Seahawks won't win the Super Bowl, mourns Sam Bradford (who would have thought an oft-injured quarterback would get injured?), and has 20 thoughts about the preseason which come right before the entire page of things that Peter thinks he thinks. MMQB in a few years will simply just be six pages of what Peter thinks.

One after one, they fell out of the sky, these perfect or near-perfect throws downfield from Russell Wilson, always landing close to, or in the hands of, a sub-4.4 sprinter like Percy Harvin or wispy rookie Paul Richardson. I mean, always on target. Such beautiful deep balls, and isn’t Wilson supposed to be a system quarterback or game manager, or whatever negative connotation you can think of when you don’t want to acknowledge he’s a top 10 quarterback in the league after two seasons and one Lombardi Trophy?

Every quarterback is a system quarterback in one way or another. I will not acknowledge that Russell Wilson is a top 10 quarterback in the NFL after two seasons. There are 10 quarterbacks who I would take before I took Russell Wilson if I had to choose 10 NFL quarterbacks who I think are the best at their position. Replace Wilson with Jay Cutler and does Wilson have the success that he has had without the Seahawks defense? I'm not sure he does. I think Wilson is a great quarterback and the Seahawks' defense isn't the only reason he has a Lombardi Trophy. He's very good at not making mistakes and running the Seahawks offense. Are there 10 quarterbacks I would rather have than Russell Wilson though? Yes. Do I think he would be more successful than Ryan Tannehill in Miami? Probably, but I'm not sure how much more successful. Basically, Peter needs to calm the fuck down with this "top 10 quarterback" stuff.

If the Seahawks stay relatively healthy, they should be favored to be the first team since the Patriots (2003, 2004) to repeat as champs. But I’m not picking them. History is the reason. Stuff happens. It always does. 

Careful with all of this expert analysis, Peter. You wouldn't want to talk over your readers' heads with all of these technical terms you are using. "Stuff happens" is Peter's reason for not choosing the Seahawks. It sort of sounds like he's trying to think of a reason for the Seahawks not to repeat.

Since New England’s second Super Bowl win a decade ago, and not including the ’13 Seahawks, this is the total playoff victories of the eight Super Bowl champions the following year: 

Zero.

This is a better reason not to choose the Seahawks, but it still doesn't explain how the Seahawks have much of the continuity many of those previous Super Bowl champs didn't have and had season-long success some of the prior Super champs didn't have. The Giants and Packers won three Super Bowls over that last decade, but they had not shown themselves through the season they won the Super Bowl as one of the best teams in the NFL. They peaked at the best possible time. There's nothing wrong with that. The Ravens tore their team apart after the Super Bowl victory and the Steelers lost key players from their team after their Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks. The Seahawks are a Super Bowl champ who has proven themselves to be a consistently great team and have continuity from the previous season. I just don't know if "history" is the right reason not to choose them to repeat. It seems lazy to me and ignores the difference in the Seahawks and the previous 8 teams that won the Super Bowl since the Patriots repeated.

Stubbornness is a good reason why one of the other 31 teams will be my call, but the reality of repeating is that it’s become the toughest thing to do in sports. Think of it: For eight straight years, the defending champ has either not made the playoffs or hasn’t gotten past its first playoff game.

Fine, use stubbornness as an excuse, but don't talk about how the Seahawks were the best team you saw in the preseason (as Peter does here) like you knew how good they were when/if they win the Super Bowl again. I can buy that it's hard to repeat as NFL champs, but it's also important to focus on where each of those previous Super Bowl champs were at when they won the Super Bowl. They were all in different places from each other or had a season-long performance that didn't lead an observer to believe they would be dominating the following season after winning the Super Bowl.

Hard for any team that won the Super Bowl by 35 points to look better the next year. But if Harvin plays every week—which is no lock, with his recent injury history—I could well be eating my prediction in five months.

The three biggest reasons that I see the Seahawks having a good chance to repeat, which Peter is ignoring in favor of "history," are the following:

1. They have consistently been one of the best teams in the NFL over the last two seasons. Their Super Bowl run wasn't them peaking at the right time.

2. They bring back most of their core players and even add better players (Percy Harvin) to the roster which can mitigate any free agent losses they had.

3. It's really hard to win in Seattle and even if the Seahawks are an average road team they will win 11-12 games, which leads to home playoff games.

The biggest reason I can see the Seahawks not winning the Super Bowl again, and again Peter doesn't even touch on this, is that the Seahawks have a great defense, but a run-based offense. If Lynch isn't in full Beast Mode, or Christine Michael isn't going to be good enough to be a #2 if/when Lynch's performance falls off a bit, then I don't know how the offense works with Wilson having more weight on this shoulders to throw the football and win games that way. I could be wrong, but the offense is built around Wilson and a running back who is in his mid-30's in running back years.

And now for some stories from the end of my camp trail. My trip ended Saturday night with the completely forgettable Dallas-Miami game.

Yeah, fuck you Dallas-Miami game. Peter wishes he were with the Rams so he could talk about Michael Sam and ignore Sam Bradford as the real key to the Rams season, then talk about what a great coach Jeff Fisher is when Bradford goes down with another ACL injury so he can prop up his agent's fellow client in his time of need.

And of course Peter will now do damage control (and never ask the question, "Should the Rams be better prepared for this situation?") for the Rams, Jeff Fisher, and Kevin/Marvin Demoff due to Sam Bradford tearing his ACL again. I know very little about Shaun Hill in 2014 and how he differs from Shaun Hill who was the Lions backup for a few years, but unless he is the next Kurt Warner what the Rams have done is a form of coaching/personnel malpractice. They have a quarterback who not only is injury-prone, but coming off an ACL tear and they don't find a more reliable backup for him in the offseason. Great backups aren't growing on trees, but if the Rams season depends on a quality quarterback then wouldn't it make sense to spend the money and time finding a great backup who can take over if Sam Bradford goes down again? It's inexcusable in my opinion they didn't do this. I hope for the Rams' sake I am wrong and Shaun Hill looks like the guy who can make up for Bradford's injury without much fall-off. This is where having friends in the media, friends like Peter King, really helps out. I haven't read anything that is critical of Fisher/Snead for putting their season in the hands of Shaun Hill if/when Bradford went down. I won't read anything like that. Too much effort is put into stating what a "team on the rise" the Rams are, while ignoring the malpractice of putting the season in the hands of Shaun Hill if/when Bradford gets injured again. I'm glad I'm not a Rams fan, because I can't fathom how I would feel today. The Rams are not only turning over the offense to a quarterback who has been in the system for less than a year, but he's also 34 years old, so he's not part of the future and the only thing certain at this point is the Rams will probably have a new starting quarterback next year.

What makes it more irritating to me is the amount of draft picks and time the Rams have put into putting offensive weapons around Bradford. I would think that they would think they would want a better backup plan than Shaun Hill to utilize the offensive weapons they have gathered around the quarterback. I understand teams can't draft quarterbacks they don't believe will be successful, but quarterback is such an important position, and the Rams could not have believed Bradford would play the whole season with a straight face. The Rams have done a lot to put a great offensive around Bradford and I wish they had another more certain quarterback, or young quarterback who the team can test drive for a year to see if he can be the guy, to use these offensive weapons. Tom Brady is envious of the draft picks the Rams have spent trying to make Sam Bradford successful. Maybe I'm drastically underrating Shaun Hill, but the Rams have done so much to have a great offense I can't imagine why they put most of their eggs in the Sam Bradford basket. 

MRI early Sunday morning. A couple hours later, a trainer called Jeff Fisher and said, “Come on down to the trainer’s room.’’ Fisher knew that was bad. If it was good news on Bradford, the trainer would have said, “He’s fine.” And when Fisher got in the room, there was the trainer and Bradford. “I could tell,” Fisher said Sunday night from St. Louis. “I could sense it, and feel it in the room.”

Then Fisher added, "Well, just be sure to add how I need more time as the Rams coach in your column. My contract is up in two years. I would like an extension soon. You can't just turn a team around in one year in the NFL. I would even accept only $7 million per year in my next contract extension. I'm worth it. 8-8 just doesn't happen by itself."

The only good news: The ACL is torn, but nothing else in the knee, apparently, is damaged. He should be able to return whole in 2015. To where? Who knows.

I feel bad for Bradford. Of course, he's made a lot of money (a lot more than Josh Freeman by the way...there is a difference in injury and ineffectiveness, I recognize) and not proven he can stay healthy, but I still feel bad for him.

“We’ve got to go on,” Fisher said, “and that’s basically what I told [backup] Shaun Hill. Shaun shifts gears, and we go. I told him, ‘This is why you’re here. Let’s go.’

Hill is 34. He’s started 26 games (13-13) with San Francisco and Detroit—but his last start was four seasons ago.

This is part of my issue too. Hill isn't the present or the future. The future at the quarterback position isn't on the Rams roster most likely. Jeff Fisher just bought himself three more years. He's a "name" coach who has suffered some bad luck and honestly hasn't done much to help his luck at the quarterback position, but that doesn't matter. The Rams are probably going to draft a quarterback in the upcoming draft, which they probably should have done this year, and Fisher will start over. I don't hate Jeff Fisher or the Rams, but Rams fans deserve better than this. Fisher is incredibly overrated as a coach. He's not a bad coach, but he and Snead have made crucial personnel mistakes at the most important spot on the roster. They've built a really good team around a quarterback who can't stay on the field. Logic would dictate the best backup plan isn't Shaun Hill. Hill is an okay backup and he very well may succeed this season. I feel like Fisher and Snead are getting a pass for completely counting on a injury-prone quarterback who may not even be very good when healthy. I'm not sure I could even tell you what kind of quarterback Bradford is because he can't stay on the field. That's the point. I would feel better about this situation if the Rams had a younger guy they wanted to see play (I don't think Austin Davis counts as that guy) if/when Bradford got hurt. It would give that younger guy a chance for some snaps to see if he can stick with the team.

The Rams are in the toughest division in the NFL. Don't they realize if they really want to compete they can't rely on Bradford so much? Why does this frustrate me so? It's just proof to me of how untouchable Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are. It's the third year of the Jeff Fisher era, where he is 14-17-1, is he really that cocky or unconcerned about his job security that he felt comfortable relying on Shaun Hill as the backup if/when Bradford gets injured? I guess he knows his buddies in the media will go to bat for him. Can't be on the hot seat if no one reports that he is on the hot seat. Sorry, I'm done boring everyone with my ranting about this.

The Rams will monitor cut quarterbacks and may sign one to back up Hill, or to compete with Hill or backup Austin Davis. But I didn’t get the sense talking to Rams people Sunday that this was a priority, because Hill’s been in the system for five months and a newbie wouldn’t be familiar.

This is true. Maybe Hill is the best the Rams could do in the offseason. I find that difficult to believe though.

Now the Rams have to confront reality.

The Rams should have confronted reality in the offseason. Bradford is going to be a free agent soon and he was coming off major ACL surgery. My biggest regret about what I wrote here about the latest NFL Draft is I edited out a rant (I know right, me ranting about the Rams...by the way I also edited out a rant about how Khalil Mack is another athlete/football player the Raiders have blindly drafted based on him having great athletic skill, so we'll see if I'm an idiot about that or not...also, you can see I tend to edit my rants at times and it's a good thing) in my NFL Draft non-grades about how I wish the Rams had taken a quarterback. It sounded silly and petty to me at the time because they got Aaron Donald in the first round and I think he was a good pick. I also didn't hate Lamarcus Joyner in the second round. But the Rams had questions at the most important spot on the roster and it's hard to feel good about that.

By the end of this season, Bradford would have started 49 NFL games and sat for 31 of them, and made $65 million in the process; his was the last silly rookie contract before the new CBA made rookie salaries rich but not kooky.

It's not a great parallel but know Bradford has made $65 million for 49 games, while Peter King busted Josh Freeman's ass for getting paid $2 million to be the Vikings third quarterback this past season.

There is a saying on the whiteboard in Rams general manager Les Snead’s office.

"If anything goes wrong, call Marvin Demoff, who will then call Peter King to try and do some PR on the issue you are having."

“Build to dominate using Redskin picks!” it reads. The Rams made the mega-trade with Washington in 2012 that allowed their NFC neighbor to draft Robert Griffin III. The Rams, meanwhile, thought they had their quarterback of the future, and didn’t draft one until the sixth round this year in SMU’s Garrett Gilbert.

How many years in a row can one team try to figure out if Sam Bradford is the future or not? It's fine to wonder this, but there must be a "quarterback of the future" backup plan in place. The Rams traded those picks three years ago. Three years and they probably know as much about Bradford now as they did then. But hey, they have Shaun Hill for this year and then they will draft a QB. I don't know how Rams fans feel, but I know how I would feel.

Fisher has won with lesser players before. The Titans signed Kerry Collins in 2006 as quarterback insurance, and he ended up winning nine starts in 2008.

Fisher has also not made the playoffs since 2008 and been very average with lesser players before. Simply because he signed Kerry Collins and two years later he won 9 starts as the Titans starter doesn't mean the Rams should try to win games with lesser players at the most important position on the roster. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Hill certainly will have some talent around him on offense, but in the NFC West, St. Louis’s road just got loaded with potholes.

Like I said, almost no NFL teams have spent the draft picks that the Rams have spent to upgrade their offensive side of the football. They are in the toughest division in the NFL. I really hope for them it works out.

The Cards had their eyes on three players as the first round neared its midpoint: Ryan Shazier, Zack Martin and Calvin Pryor. But Shazier went at 15, Martin at 16, Pryor at 18. Now the Cards had a grading gap in the next set of players they liked, and Keim had an idea. There was this one under-the-radar prospect the Cardinals loved: Brown, a wideout from Pittsburg State. The Cards had him rated their fifth wide receiver in the draft. Early second-round grade.

The Cards now had four picks in the top 100: 27, 52, 84 and 91. Keim figured the team had several priorities other than wideout, where they were fine (Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, Ted Ginn), 

I feel like I should laugh at the idea of the Cardinals being "fine" with Ted Ginn as their third wide receiver. I know I never felt good with him as the third wide receiver for the Panthers last year. He was third on the depth chart in Carolina because there weren't better options in front of him.

Keim paced. He called around to see which teams between 85 and 90 might take a receiver. He had a scout call Brown in a vague hope to tie up his phone line (as if he wouldn’t have call-waiting) as the picks went by.

First off, this is sort of a dick move to make sure John Brown isn't taken earlier than the Cardinals pick, and second, does Steve Keim think it's 1988? Seriously, "tie up the phone line" was his plan? Part of me likes it because it seems so random.

Arians is lining up Brown in the slot, tight to the formation as a faux tight end with blocking responsibilities, and wide on either side. I watched practice Friday, and Brown was in on six early snaps with the first unit, more than Ted Ginn or Juron Brown. 

Who could have ever envisioned a decent receiver would knock Ted Ginn down the depth chart? Certainly not Miami Dolphins or San Francisco 49ers fans.

So, the penalties are still high in Week 3 of the preseason, but they’re down from the hair-raising 20.8 per game last weekend. For the 16 games this weekend, the combined accepted penalties were 17.6 per game. Average accepted penalties per regular-season game in 2013: 12.2.

I try not to get in a panic about preseason, but the amount of penalties in NFL games is concerning to me. The flow of the game is being disrupted and parts of the preseason games I saw were a little unwatchable at times. I'm sure penalties will be decreased in the regular season. I keep telling myself that.

Joe Haden doesn't seem to mind the rule changes.

In Detroit [in the first preseason game], I got one official say something to me on one play. I went to go jam and my hand hit him in the face mask. He was like, “23, get your hands lower. Get your hands lower. Keep your hands lower.” Once he gave me that one warning, I was just playing my normal technique the way I normally play and I got no flags called. If they obviously see jersey pull, if they see things like that, that is a hold. But if it’s just messing around, bumping, touching, things like that I don’t think they’re going to be too strict on that, because I was playing it in that game in Detroit and it didn’t happen. If it’s pulling and grabbing when the ball is in the air, and all that contact, they’re throwing on that.

So basically just be sure you play the football and get in position to make a play on the football without every touching the receiver in any fashion. Grabbing the jersey has always been a hold, but I've seen defensive backs simply make contact with a receiver in an effort to play the football get called for a penalty. The problem is (and I've never played cornerback at any level, so maybe I'm a moron) once Haden has started grabbing and bumping without the ball in the air, he just has to pull away when the ball is in the air even if he is playing the ball? That has to be a little annoying for a cornerback. Maybe it's the way it has been in the past and I haven't noticed. I'm a little concerned about officials being too strict with cornerbacks who are simply trying to make a play and bump the receiver.

And I think: Cleveland GM Ray Farmer could have two of the top five picks in the draft next April. The Browns have Buffalo’s first-round pick from the Sammy Watkins trade. Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston (if he comes out) or Brett Hundley … plus either a bookend tackle from a reportedly rich tackle crop next year, or another defensive piece. It’s way too early to project things like this, but two picks in the top five of any draft is gold—gold, Jerry, it’s gold!—and Farmer might just have made a golden deal to help the Browns of 2015 and beyond, even as the team faces another apparently lean year now.

Not that Peter is projecting too far into the future or anything, but he has the Bills and Browns getting top-5 picks in the 2015 draft before the 2014 season has even begun. The best way to impress Peter King is to have a lot of draft picks in the next year's draft. It doesn't matter what you do with those picks, the mere fact you own them will cause Peter to call your team a major player in the upcoming draft and project what great things you as a GM will do with those picks. Peter is very impressed with a team that has a lot of draft picks in future drafts. He even sets up fake quarterback competitions.

Then I think: Manziel versus Mariota in training camp next July. I mean, the national press is going to rent the Courtyard in Berea for a month.

You mean exactly like they did this year to cover Manziel in Browns camp when he was competing against Brian Hoyer, eating lunch or simply breathing? I won't say the Browns won't use a top-5 pick on a quarterback next year, but that would be three first round picks on quarterbacks in four years. That seems excessive to me.

So it seems that Peter thinks Browns fans have next year to look forward to already.

1. We all knew the Niners weren’t the Broncos in terms of offensive explosiveness, but San Francisco still was a team that ran for 2,200 yards and scored 25 points per game last year. But there will be alarm bells going off today with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, particularly in protection, as the Niners get ready to go to Dallas in 13 days for the opener. Look at the Niners—what can you have faith in right now on offense?

It's preseason. That's pretty much the only faith 49ers fans need right now. Maybe the preseason is a sign of things to come, but some teams don't game plan in preseason and the 49ers still have time to work out their protection issues.

3. The Browns were led on the field Saturday night by a dog. A real dog.

Oh, not a fake dog? Wherever did the Browns find a REAL dog?

4. Matt Schaub’s not the answer, Oakland. Unless the question is: “Which player is going to finish the job to get this coaching staff, and maybe Reggie McKenzie, fired?” Schaub’s a fine person and had some very good moments in Houston. But he’s lost his confidence, and the Raiders, very soon, are going to have to admit they see the same thing as the rest of the world.

And of course we will get weekly updates on what a waste of money Matt Schaub has been for the Raiders, right? Not to bludgeon a dead horse or anything, but we got reminders every week of how much of a waste of human flesh Josh Freeman was, so I figure with Schaub getting paid more money the reminders will be even more harsh? Or is it just Josh Freeman who is a horrible person for taking an NFL team's money and not becoming the starting quarterback?

8. You may recall me reporting that, early in training camp, Bills GM Doug Whaley went up to E.J. Manuel at a practice and said to him: “Don’t be perfect. Be a football player.” One view on Manuel is he tries to be too fine, too safe. He was awful Saturday in the loss to Tampa, the Bucs storming out to a 24-0 halftime lead and the crowd at refurbished Ralph Wilson Stadium booing the Bills off the field at the half. After the game coach Doug Marrone said something that I thought was particularly troubling about Manuel. “He tries to pinpoint the ball … and that’s really just difficult to do,’’ Marrone said. “We have all done that when we were kids. You play baseball and you start aiming it. You’ve just got to look at the mitt and throw it.’’ Alarm bells on Manuel.

And of course Peter's suggestion that Manuel take more chances, does that seem like a good idea right now? I just wonder, because it seemed like odd advice at the time as well. I feel like young quarterbacks succeed when the game is simplified and they are less prone to taking chances. Peter's advice to E.J. Manuel was just fling the ball down the field if you think your guy is open.

13. Interesting take from a man inside the Washington building and inside the preseason TV booth watching Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins play football this month. Joe Theismann analyzing the two quarterbacks: “Let’s stop beating around the bush. Kirk Cousins has played much better at the quarterback position than Robert Griffin III has. Now Robert is, basically, learning to work out of a pocket. He doesn’t look as smooth and as comfortable throwing the football. I mean, your eyes will tell you everything you need to know. It’s going to be a decision that Jay Gruden is going to have to make … Right now, Robert Griffin III is his quarterback. Now, if there was a quarterback competition, it wouldn’t be a competition. Kirk Cousins would be the man I believe he would have to go to.” Wow.

And the Big Lead's Jason Fisk had an article that basically showed how Kirk Cousins really wasn't the better quarterback when compared to Robert Griffin, but Joe Theismann has his hot sports takes that get attention and Peter seems to like that.

16. Hairline rib fracture for Cam Newton. The Panthers have major protection issues on their totally rebuilt offensive line, and chemistry issues with a brand new receiving corps. Carolina opens at Tampa, which has been terrific on defense this summer. Trap game if there ever was one.

Can the first game of the season be a trap game? Hasn't the media (and not necessarily Peter) spent most of the offseason saying how the Panthers will regress? So, considering the game is in Tampa Bay and it's the first game of the season I'm not sure it can be a trap game. I'm also not sure the Buccaneers aren't the better team overall right now.

17. San Diego is better than we think on defense.

How do you know how good I think San Diego is on defense? What if I think the Chargers are the second-best defensive unit in football? So is Peter saying the Chargers are the best defensive team in the NFL, since that's the only way they could be better than I think?

19. This from Ron Jaworski on the first three weeks of the preseason:

This quote is about Mark Sanchez, but I'm not even going to finish it. Ron Jaworski says things to gain attention so his quotes are starting to mean less and less to me.

“I am most proud of having never missed an assigned game, be it exhibition, regular season or playoffs, throughout my entire career. It really has been a great run.”

—NBA referee Dick Bavetta, who retired last week at 74. He reffed the most games of any official in NBA history—2,635 in the regular season and 270 in the playoffs—and not just by a little bit. He worked 501 more regular-season games than any other ref in league history.

Bavetta can also take pride in that whenever the NBA needing a playoff series to go to seven games they would call on Bavetta and he would make that result happen. It's just another shining example of the negative work David Stern did as NBA commissioner and then magically was forgotten about by the general public. NBA officials fixed games. Who cares? Need a fix? Better call Dick.

“This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is. It’s all the political correct idiots in America, that’s all it is. It’s got nothing to do with anything else.’’

—ESPN analyst and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka, on the controversy over the Washington team name, to the Redskins Historian website.

It sounds like Mike Ditka would make for a very good baseball Hall of Fame voter. He misses the argument the opposing side is making AND has an overly-enthusiastic love for how it used to be and doesn't want it ever change.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Notes of the Week

How did I miss the fact that Frontier Airlines charges $35 to bring a small carry-on suitcase onto the airplane?

I don't know, Peter. Usually you are on top of things to bitch about that are travel-related.

Happened to me the other day, Denver to San Diego. Frontier did tell me I could check the same bag for $25. Let’s see: $35 to schlep the bag myself and put it in the overhead, $25 to check it and pick it up in San Diego. Because I was in a rush once I landed, I paid the $35.

Oh, so you CHOSE to pay $35 because you were in a rush? Oh, well then I can see why you are bitching then, since you chose to pay the extra $10.

I understand baggage fees, and I understand the concept of unbundling and paying for exactly what you use. 

Do you though? Do you? It doesn't seem like you do.

As the camp trip ends, I am pleased to report that my favorite hotel in the United States, the Arizona Biltmore, has trouble filling the place in August, when it’s regularly 105 degrees or so during the day. (This year it rained hard Thursday night and cooled off the Valley, and it was only about 85 on Friday morning.) The favorable rate allowed me to, in good conscience, stay at the Biltmore knowing I was being a good company traveler. Comparing rates in some of the other hotels on the trail with the groovy Biltmore:

This isn't the late 1960's nor an Austin Powers movie. The use of the word "groovy" without any sense of irony is unacceptable.

Ten Things I Think I Think

Question: If you’ve got a terrific spread scheme (Green Bay does) and one of the most accurate quarterbacks in football history (Green Bay does) and a quarterback with mobility (Green Bay does), why wouldn’t you go for two after every touchdown? (Other than when a single point is the obvious play late in games.)

So Peter's question is why NFL teams don't go for two after every touchdown, except for those cases where they want to ensure they get at least one point? So basically, the Packers could always want to ensure they get one point and never go for two?

Green Bay scored 46 touchdowns last year. Say they score 50 this year, assuming Aaron Rodgers plays a full season; he missed seven games last year. Isn’t it realistic to think if the Packers spent a few more practice plays each week on the two-pointer that they could go 30 of 50, meaning 10 more points over the course of the season?

Yes, that sounds realistic. Just a note, but this could go for other NFL teams too. Other NFL teams could practice two-point conversions and score more points. It's just a matter of doing it, even in situations when it's "obvious" that a team should kick the extra point. Percentages are fun to use.

2. I think every team with a quarterback the coach trusts should go for two after every touchdown—except, of course, in cases where one point is strategically smarter in the last 15 or 20 minutes of a game.

Right, but if the coach trusts the quarterback then what does it matter what is strategically smarter to do in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game? If a coach trusts the quarterback, trust him, and don't lose that trust when he has a chance to convert a two-point conversion that can give his team the lead. That is the issue with Peter's reasoning. If the coach trusts the quarterback, then in situations where a converted two-point try means more the coach should trust his quarterback and let him go for two, right?

It just makes sense to me that if a coach tells his quarterback, "I trust you to go for two and convert" then he can't stop trusting that quarterback in the last 15 or 20 minutes of the game and blame "strategy." I mean the coach CAN do this, but it's sort of a mixed message.

7. I think you’d be surprised by the laissez-faire attitude of corners I’ve spoken to in the past week about the points of emphasis intended to cut down on hand-fighting downfield between corners and receivers. “That’s the least of my worries, man,” Aqib Talib said in Denver. “There’s so many big-time receivers, big-time quarterbacks out here. We got educated about it, and now I can’t worry about the referees. I’ve got to just play. If I get a call, it’s on to the next play. I’m not gonna worry about it, not at all.”

I don't think the lack of concern from cornerbacks means they don't think the rule will have a huge impact on the season or reflects their personal feelings about the rule changes. I think these quotes from Talib and others, like Joe Haden, just reflect that these corners don't want to get in their head that they can't bump or play aggressive with a receiver because it will impact the way they play in a game. Corners by nature try to forget a bad play and focus on the next great play they will make, so rule changes that could negatively impact their performance isn't something a great corner will think about why playing.

9. I think it’s going to be hard to stash Michael Sam on the practice squad. Hard, but not impossible. With two sacks this month and more quickness than he showed late in his college season (he’s 13 pounds lighter, at 257, than his college playing weight), Sam is pushing hard for a spot on the Rams’ 53-man roster. If not that, certainly the 10-man practice squad. But the Rams know they risk losing him if they do the latter...I’m sure some teams wouldn’t want to deal with a perceived sideshow with Sam and wouldn’t put in a claim. But where exactly has the sideshow been? Sam’s been the anti-distraction since turning down the Oprah reality show in the spring.

Michael Sam is only going to be a "distraction" if the media makes him a distraction. It helps that Johnny Manziel has taken up a lot of the media's attention, but if the sports media treats him like another football player then the distraction miraculously disappears. The less media attention he receives, the less he becomes a distraction. Funny how that works.

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

b. The story of the week comes from ESPN’s Tommy Tomlinson, a terrific inside-the-guy’s-head piece on former University of Kentucky and NFL quarterback Jared Lorenzen’s weight problems.
c. One of the best leads I’ve read in a while comes from the story, and from a man, Tomlinson, who has battled his own weight issues: “Jared Lorenzen and I are in love with the same woman. Her name is Little Debbie, and she makes delicious snack cakes.”
d. It’s the carbs, Jared. Attack the carbs.
e. I’m no wise man about that stuff (you couldn’t tell?), but it’s the truth.

WHY FOUR SEPARATE POINTS FOR THE EXACT SAME TOPIC?

All four of these points are about the same topic. In what world do they deserve four separate bullet points?

g. Funnier world: The Red Sox gave a Cuban outfielder, Rusney Castillo, a contract worth $72 million over seven years Friday. They have never scouted him in a game. He has not played in a game since 2012. As one source told ESPNBoston’s Gordon Edes, the Red Sox saw him in maybe 30 live at-bats in a couple of workouts. Sports is risky, but this seems almost a desperate investment.

It was less than a month ago that Dan Shaughnessy called the Red Sox "Kansas City-on-the-Charles" which is obviously inaccurate because the Royals look like they will make the playoffs this year and the Red Sox won't, but also inaccurate because less than a month later the Red Sox are spending money again. Peter originally put this Tweet in MMQB as some sort of confirmation this is what he thinks too. Of course, only the most panicked fan thought the Red Sox had just stopped spending money.

The Adieu Haiku

I know Bradford some.
I’m quite sure he’d trade millions
to be whole right now.


Yeah, he might trade those millions to be whole right now. This would make him different from nearly zero other NFL quarterbacks who have suffered season-ending injuries and have made millions of dollars while starting only 65% of his team's games. Just gotta give Jeff Fisher more time. His team is perpetually on the rise.

Monday, August 25, 2014

2 comments Finally, Someone Tackles the Important Topic of Kevin Love's Ratedness

I have come to the conclusion that I just don't like Bill Simmons' writing style. I guess it was obvious to everyone but me. I don't like how he writes like his thoughts are the definitive thoughts on a subject and how he uses his own opinion as proof his own opinion is correct. Bill also tends to confuse his opinion with facts. He'll write something like, "Fact: No center has ever impacted a game the way Bill Russell did," when this is clearly an opinion and not a fact. So Bill has tried to determine Kevin Love's ratedness because he has nothing else to talk about and he needs to keep writing columns in a desperate attempt to trick his lemming-like Simmonsites that he still enjoys writing. Bill does everything I mentioned up above that annoys me in this column when determining whether Kevin Love is over, under, or properly rated. 

How did Kevin Love become part of LeBron’s “I’m Coming Home” package to Cleveland even before that signing went down? LeBron passes 40,000 career minutes during the seventh minute of opening night in October, that’s how. The King doesn’t have time to wait for two Canadian kids to evolve into trusted playoff commodities. Nothing personal, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. But you were omitted from that Sports Illustrated letter for a reason.

Oh yeah, another Bill Simmons writing hallmark is using too many words to say something when one sentence would work perfectly. How did Kevin Love become a part of LeBron's "I'm Coming Home" package? LeBron still wants to have proven NBA stars around him, so he was encouraged the trade for Kevin Love would help him make an NBA Finals sooner rather than later.

From what I’m hearing, the trade has been done — in principle, anyway — since before LeBron sent Ohio into a euphoric tizzy. I thought the Cavs should have waited a few months, if only to make sure that Wiggins wasn’t the Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan. But new Cavs GM LeBron James wants to win now.

It never doesn't sound douchey when Bill drops a "what I'm hearing" comment in a column. He's an NBA insider who breaks news after it's happened.

Of everyone involved, Love might have the most at stake. From May to August, he became the league’s most polarizing player without ever playing a game.

Yeah, Love has more at stake than LeBron returning home with the expectations he will win the city of Cleveland an NBA title. Sure.

Few watched him regularly in Minnesota; everyone had an opinion. Lousy defender, chased his own stats, couldn’t lead his team to the playoffs, needs help. That’s where many landed.

And if you landed there, you were wrong.

In this column, Bill will show Kevin Love is sort of a lousy defender, every player needs help to win games, and Love has never been to the playoffs. So, while the opinion on Love may be wrong, three of the four opinions Bill listed were not wrong, yet he describes these opinions as wrong for some reason.

But history says there are 26 different reasons why an NBA star becomes polarizing.

This is another annoying trait of Bill's writing. He writes lists with a specific number of items listed and then acts like this is the definitive list of items. History shows there are 26, not 25 or 27, different reasons why an NBA star becomes polarizing. Don't argue with Bill about pulling this number out of his ass, it's history that proves it. You know, history. The same history that Bill can't reference other than to use the word in a vague manner.

Let’s see …

We had no idea there were 26 different reasons. WE didn't know!

He gets paid way more than he’s worth (Spencer Haywood, Shawn Kemp, Joe Johnson) or he doesn’t come through when it matters (Elvin Hayes, Karl Malone).

Wait, so Joe Johnson is an NBA star? Isn't he overpaid because he's not a star?

He cares about too many things that aren’t basketball (Shaq), or he’s a little too outspoken (Barkley again).

When was Shaq polarizing because he made movies and rap albums? I don't recall him being polarizing because of this at all.

That’s a lot of reasons! Kevin Love hit a polarizing grand slam: He’s been criticized for chasing his own stats, putting up empty stats, being difficult and demanding, and earning “superstar” status without his Minnesota teams ever winning. Love spawns enough arguments and counterarguments to fill three BuzzFeed lists, as you’re about to see.

This is the part where Bill starts writing "Fact:" followed immediately by an opinion that he is stating as a fact. Fact: Bill Simmons is an incredibly frustrating writer. 

Fact: Love is one of the NBA’s 12 best players. It’s LeBron and Durant, then it’s Blake, Curry, CP3, Carmelo, Harden, Westbrook, Howard, Love, Aldridge and Anthony Davis in some order.

Regardless of whether I agree with this or not, this is an opinion, not a fact. Facts are based on information that proves something (like, Kevin Love is the only white guy on this list above), while an opinion is stating something like this exact sentence that is based solely on an opinion (like, Kevin Love is one of the NBA's 12 best players).

Rebuttal: Joakim Noah, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka weren’t on that list … but their teams would NOT trade them straight up for Love.

Rebuttal to the rebuttal: Trade value has very little to do with whether a player is among the best in his given sport. Also, if the sentence Bill has under "Fact" is actually a fact, then it can't be rebutted. How do you rebut a fact since a fact is based on information that proves something? I can't rebut that the Braves are located in Atlanta or play at Turner Field. I can't rebut that B.J. Upton is the current worst hitter in the lineup. The facts support this. I can rebut an opinion that B.J. Upton is the most disappointing player in the majors with facts that rebut this argument. See how it works? An opinion is stated and can be rebutted with facts. Bill doesn't understand. Saying Kevin Love is one of the NBA's 12 best players is an opinion that could be rebutted with statistics showing this isn't true.

Fact: Last season, Love averaged 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Only Kareem, Wilt, Elgin and Billy Cunningham ever averaged 26, 12.5 and 4 in the same season. Nobody has achieved that feat in 38 years. Bird, Barkley, Baylor, Lucas and Malone never did it.

Now this is a fact.

Rebuttal: Love has played six NBA seasons and missed the playoffs every time.

This isn't really a rebuttal of the fact above, but is more of a rebuttal to the idea Kevin Love is only playing for himself to achieve these statistics. A better writer might include this so he doesn't confuse the reader on what the hell is being rebutted.

Then Bill goes on and throws more Kevin Love facts out and rebuts them by re-repeating that the Timberwolves have never made the playoffs with Love on the team. As always, Bill is not afraid to say the same thing over and over, just with slightly different re-phrasing to trick his readers into believing he has written more content when he is really just killing space.

Oh, and he finished third in the whole league in rebounding. Offensive power forwards like Love are basically created in Dork Elvis’s basketball lab.

I feel like Daryl Morey should hire Jeff "8-8" Fisher as the Rockets head coach just to complete the circle of guys who inexplicably are considered at the top of their profession.

See, that's an opinion.

Fact: Love grabbed 12.5 rebounds per game in 2014, but he also became one of the 41 NBA players who hoisted 500 3s in one season. Of that group, no other player averaged more than 9 rebounds in that same season. Think about THAT for a second.

Rebuttal: Yeah, and his offensive rebounding dropped from 4.5 in 2011 to 2.9 in 2014. Do you really want the league’s best offensive rebounder standing 24 feet away from the basket?

No, you don't. But...do you want the lane cleared for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to drive to the basket? Possibly you do.

Of anyone averaging 30-plus minutes per game at power forward or center last season, the NBA’s five worst interior defenders were Thaddeus Young (60.2% FG), Tristan Thompson (59.1%), Kevin Love (57.4%), Nikola Vucevic (56.4%) and Nikola Pekovic (55.2%). By that same criterion, the NBA’s worst shot-blockers were Zach Randolph at 0.3 blocks per game, David Lee, Thompson and Pekovic at 0.4 blocks, then Love, Young and Glen Davis at 0.5 blocks. Yes, Love and Pekovic were Minnesota’s two highest-paid players last season.

Remember back when Bill wrote:

everyone had an opinion. Lousy defender, chased his own stats, couldn’t lead his team to the playoffs, needs help. That’s where many landed. 

And if you landed there, you were wrong.

Bill just showed that Love has not led the Timberwolves to the playoffs and he is statistically one of the worst shot-blockers and interior defenders in the NBA. So how in the holy hell was anyone "wrong" for landing on these conclusions? I recognize that Bill will create his own reality from time-to-time, but Love is a lousy defender, so if I landed on that conclusion I am not wrong just because Bill Simmons wants me to be wrong.

Fact: Even though Love’s 2013-14 PER (26.9) cracked the top-90 all time, he probably hasn’t reached his offensive prime. Duncan’s highest PER happened in Year 7 (27.1). Bird’s highest: Year 9 (27.8). Dirk’s highest: Year 8 (28.1). Barkley’s highest: Year 7 (28.9). Garnett’s highest: Year 9 (29.4). Karl Malone’s highest: Year 12 (28.9). Even Durant peaked last year in Year 7 (29.8).

I'm sure there are zero other examples that Bill didn't include here because they didn't fit what he was trying to prove. Also, when using PER and when each player peaked in terms of PER Bill should pay special attention to the player's age and not how many years that player was in the NBA. Kevin Garnett peaked in Year 9, but he was 27 years old. Tim Duncan peaked in Year 7, but he was 29 years old. Bird was in Year 9, but he was 31 years old. You get the point. I think age is more important than how many years Love has been in the NBA and what this means for his future production.

Rebuttal: Bird, Duncan and Malone never missed the playoffs — not once. 

Rebuttal to the rebuttal. Kevin Love has never played with a teammate of the caliber that any of these three players had on their team as the second and third-best players. But how could the supporting cast around Kevin Love be important?

Has Love become this generation’s Jerry Lucas, a gifted power forward who chases his own numbers without making anyone else better?

I don't know. I guess we will find out soon, won't we? As opposed to wasting time asking questions that will be answered in a year or so, why not just have patience and wait? I ask the question already knowing the answer. See, Bill has to find something to write about. The Celtics aren't interesting to him because they aren't winning, the same goes for the Red Sox, and it isn't NFL season quite yet. So because he is out of column ideas, he tries to determine the ratedness of Kevin Love using the scientific method of giving his opinion. He's got to write something, so this is what comes out. "The Sports Guy" doesn't really write about sports as much anymore and is more of an NBA guy now.

Could he become a better version of Bosh, someone who submitted big numbers on bad teams before recalibrating his game to fit in with a champion? Is he doing something wrong? Or has he been wronged? Or both?

Or neither? Or either/or? Or neither, but possibly one of those, but definitely two of those? (checks to see how much column space has been used) Or definitely two of those, but most likely another one, but doubtful for all three at the same time? Or possibly the first one, doubtful for the second one, and just maybe for the third one?

The big question for me: How can someone experience that much individual success without having it translate to team success?

(Checks the Timberwolves roster and finds the answer)

Ideally, everyone falls into different roles — most contenders feature an alpha-dog scorer/creator (LeBron, Durant, Griffin, whomever), along with a second scorer and/or distributor as his running mate, then an interior defender/rebounder, two or three shooters and some role players.

But Kevin Love isn't really an alpha dog scorer. He got his points with the fifth most field attempts in the NBA and he plays an entirely different type of game from LeBron and Durant. He's a scorer, but I wouldn't describe him as an alpha dog scorer.

The 2014 Timberwolves followed much of that model on paper.

Love = alpha dog. Ricky Rubio = distributor. Nik Pekovic = big man. Kevin Martin/Chase Budinger = shooters. Everybody else = role players.

Except on the Timberwolves roster there is no interior defender, no second scorer, and the distributor isn't a very good scorer. The second and fourth- best scorers on the T-Wolves roster required 25 shots per game to score 31 points. One of the shooters shot 35% from three-point range and the other shooter took 15 shots per game. Yeah, the T-Wolves followed some of this model, but they had the B or C-level player at each of these positions. Their big man can't protect the rim, their shooters and scorers have to shoot a lot to score, and their distributor is the guy passing the ball to these volume scorers without scoring too much himself because he's a bad shooter.

You can pick apart Thompson’s résumé on paper — he’s only good for 18, 3 and 2 every night and can’t create shots for anyone else. Still, he’s a beloved teammate who stretches the defense in a Korver-like way and defends three positions well.

I disagreed with the Warriors because, in my opinion, they severely overrated Thompson. But at least they put real thought into their decision … you know, as opposed to how last year’s Timberwolves team was slapped together.

I think I'm losing my mind here. So the Warriors put thought into their decision to not trade Klay Thompson, unlike the T-Wolves who did their best to follow the model Bill himself states a contender would want to follow. I'm confused how the T-Wolves, by Bill's own admission, followed the model of a contender but also slapped a team together in Bill's opinion. Didn't the T-Wolves put thought into the roster if they sort of follow the model Bill is advocating that a contender should follow? I feel like these two opinions of Bill's aren't entirely consistent with each other.

Pekovic might be a crafty pick-and-roll guy and a solid rebounder, but he’s a lousy interior defender (as described above); teaming him with Love was like building a human layup line. And Kevin Martin couldn’t defend anyone five years ago. 

Throw in Rick Adelman’s family issues and nobody should have been surprised when the T-Wolves capsized in a loaded Western Conference.

And no one was surprised, which is why a few paragraphs ago I gave the reason Love has never made the playoffs as being because he has played with shitty teammates. I feel like this is very well understood and there's no reason to kill space proving something that many people reading this column probably already know. I figured it was assumed Love has shitty teammates. Why else is he wanting to leave Minnesota? So I was hoping when having this discussion on Love's ratedness Bill could bring something other than "He didn't have good teammates" to the table as to why Love has never made the NBA playoffs.

They outscored opponents by 2.7 points, and Basketball-Reference.com had their “expected” record at 48-34, but they struggled in close games. During one three-month stretch from November 1 through January 31, they went 1-13 in games decided by five points or fewer. Then again, saying they had “bad luck in close games” is like saying “My buddy would get laid all the time if he knew how to close with girls.”

Great analogy, Bill. I feel like you understand the college age crowd and the struggle they experience trying to get laid. You are the cool dad!

Minnesota’s defining collapse happened in Phoenix in late March, a must-win game that I happened to watch. 

Minnesota's defining collapse just happened to be the game that Bill watched. Nothing exists until Bill has acknowledged it's existence, so of course the defining collapse is the game that Bill watched. If Bill didn't watch a Timberwolves' collapse then it couldn't be defining because Bill didn't witness it.

The good news: Love finished with a 36-14-9, and the Wolves scored a whopping 73 points in the first half. The bad news: They blew a 22-point lead and scored 17 points in the fourth, missing 16 of 21 shots and committing six turnovers. Adelman even broke out his classic “Uh-oh, we’re collapsing and I can’t stop it!” face; you would have thought C-Webb, Porter, Drexler and Peja were out there.

A bad defensive team couldn't score points and turned the ball over.

And here’s where numbers deviate from intangibles …

(And why Golden State ultimately avoided Love … and why people have been picking Love apart these past few months … and why so many basketball junkies and NBA lifers are down on Love … and why Coach K warned him before the 2012 Olympics to tweak his attitude if he wanted to play a meaningful minute … and why so many basketball people wonder if LeBron might ultimately regret pushing Cleveland to mortgage its trade assets for someone who hasn’t played a big game since he was in high school … )

Coach K warned Love to tweak his attitude if he wanted to play a minute, which turned into "Okay, you are tall and we have no height so go out there and play with whatever attitude you may have at the moment."

When the collective personality of an NBA team is off, you can see it.

Much like I can see when unnecessary italics are being used.

We come to know their every expression. It’s like going out to a marathon dinner with another couple — you just know them better after the check comes. And anyone who watched the 2014 Timberwolves regularly, or fairly regularly, knew something was amiss. Love has always been a lead-by-example star, not a galvanizing, get-on-my-back guy.

Remember when this column was about whether Kevin Love was underrated, overrated, or properly rated? It's halfway through this column and at no point has Love's ratedness been discussed. Bill is just doing his typical rambling form of writing.

When your best player, your coach AND your point guard aren’t on the same page? Uh-oh. Their off-court issues bubbled over when Love publicly (and probably stupidly) called out two bench players for sulking during games. But I knew something was wrong sooner than that.

Bill totally knew something was wrong before then. HE KNEW! Bill just didn't write about it at the time, because he forgot to, but otherwise he would have written about it if he had remembered to. Bill promises he isn't claiming now to have known something before anyone else knew something. He really did know and he's not lying. He just didn't mention it, that's all, but Bill knew. Oh yes, he did.

In December, when I caught them in Lob City, Minnesota choked away a winnable road game (surprise!) despite Love exploding for 48 points and doing everything short of drinking Blake Griffin’s milkshake.

Fact: Blake Griffin has one of the NBA's 12 best milkshakes.

But on the game’s biggest play — overtime, down one, final seconds — Rubio inexplicably ignored a scorching-hot Love (open near the 3-point line) and fed Pekovic for the game-losing shot, followed by a perplexed Love slowly backpedaling in disbelief. I wanted Love to tear into Rubio right there. What are you doing? I HAVE 48 POINTS, YOU DUMBASS!!!! Instead, he remained in WTF mode for two extra seconds before glumly walking back to the bench. 

This is when Bill KNEW something was wrong with the Timberwolves. Really, he did know then. He wrote it in his diary, which he would show you, but he forgot it at home. Bill knows everything before everyone else knows anything, he just consistently fails to mention what he knew until after the fact. He can tell you after a movie was over he knew how that movie was going to end.

We pay them like franchise players before they’re ready, and we expect them to magically evolve into leaders by watching a few dozen sports movies or getting advice from their buddies from home.

Quit with the "we" shit. I don't pay anybody in the NBA and I don't expect players to become better at their sport because they watch movies. Maybe Bill expects this out of franchise players and is just doing his typical "we" crap he does, but don't draw me into this.

You can pick apart Kevin Love’s first six seasons in a variety of ways … just as long as you admit that he was the league’s secret League Pass MVP last year, as well as someone who needs to be seen in person to be believed.

I'll admit this just as long as you can admit you pull most of your column ideas out of your ass and haven't really cared about what you are writing for two years now.

He’s a flat-out weapon and an underrated heat check guy. And whenever he grabs a rebound and flicks a 60-foot outlet in one motion, it’s genuinely breathtaking to watch.

I'm glad Bill is pointing this out. I am too stupid to understand how much fun to watch Kevin Love is without watching him in person or having Bill describe it to me.

I mention these things only so people will stop comparing 2014-Love-going-to-Cleveland with 2011-Bosh-going-to-Miami. Bosh was never, at any point in his life, THAT good. Bosh never could have eviscerated 10 or 11 teams in one season like Love just did.

Plus, Bosh's team did make the playoffs (twice) before he went to the Heat with Anthony Parker as his wingman and Jamario Moon and Juan Dixon getting plenty of minutes. So yeah, they are different in that way.

When Bosh played for Toronto, he never made me say, “Oh, cool, he’s coming to town tonight and I get to go!!!!”

Bills believes his personal feelings about a player has a role in how good of a player that athlete is. Why am I not shocked that Bill believes an athlete can only be seen as great if seen that way through the eyes of Bill Simmons? The world revolves around Bill, you know.

If you remember, a much doughier Love jumped from UCLA to a rebuilding lottery team in Minnesota, went through two coaches and two GMs, lost 58 games and watched Al Jefferson tear his ACL. And that was just his rookie season. During the 2009 draft, the immortal David Kahn passed on Curry twice — with the no. 5 and no. 6 overall picks — to take Rubio (knowing he might spend an extra two years in Europe — which he did) and Jonny Flynn (bustaroo). So much for some help.

Again, since Bill is the one who brought the comparison up. Look at the roster for the Raptors two playoff teams. 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. If Bill wants to make the comparison, I would argue Chris Bosh had as much help in Toronto as Love had in Minnesota.

Nobody can do worse than McHale, Kahn, Flip Saunders and beleaguered owner Glen Taylor did running the Timberwolves these past 10 years.

This is a true statement. Where this leaves me is to still ask the question of when the hell is Love's ratedness going to be discussed? Also, it was very well accepted that Kevin Love hasn't had great teammates so why is Bill wasting so much time proving something that has already been proven as if this is new information?

You can’t blame him for leaving skid marks. And if Minnesota’s overwhelming incompetence inadvertently affected his spirit these past two seasons, you can’t blame him for that, either.

No, you can't blame Love, but it does bring up the question of whether Love can adapt his game to playing with good teammates and not sacrificing those things that have made him great in Minnesota. Bill already stated in this article that Love was,

learning all the wrong lessons on the wrong team.

So the question becomes, and again Bill made the comparison himself, if Love is more talented than Bosh then can Love still end up being Chris Bosh on the Heat because he learned wrong lessons for six years in Minnesota? Is the comparison apt because what Love has in talent over Bosh, he lacks the chemistry part that Bill thinks is so crucial to a team's success? Is he going to sulk when LeBron gets the last shot or LeBron passes the ball to Kyrie for the last shot rather than hit Love in the corner? None of these questions Bill will answer in this column.

Here’s the entire list starting with the 1976-77 season, right after the merger, of forwards who made All-NBA first or second teams.

Karl Malone: 11 first teams + two second teams
Tim Duncan: 10 + 3
Larry Bird: 9 + 1
LeBron James: 8 + 2
Charles Barkley: 5 + 5
Julius Erving: 5 + 2
Kevin Durant: 5 + 0
Dirk Nowitzki: 4 + 5
Kevin Garnett: 4 + 3
Scottie Pippen: 3 + 2
Elvin Hayes: 2 + 0
Bernard King: 2 + 0
Grant Hill: 1 + 4
Dominique Wilkins: 1 + 4
Chris Webber: 1 + 3
Chris Mullin: 1 + 2
Marques Johnson: 1 + 2


Working off of that list, here’s everyone who made an All-NBA team at least twice but missed the playoffs in at least one of those seasons.

Spoiler alert: There are five players, including Kevin Love. 

Grant Hill, 1998 (second team): Did Grant Hill things (21-8-7) for a 37-win Pistons team … although this was such a shallow year for good forwards that (a) Vin Baker (?!?!?!?!??) made the second team, and (b) Scottie Pippen missed 38 games and somehow made third-team All-NBA anyway.

Baker did put up 19-8-2 that year with a 20.4 PER. It's not like he was terrible.

Love, 2012 and 2014 (second team): Our only post-merger player to be named a top-10 guy twice … and miss the playoffs both of those times.
 
Is that a historical fluke or a major red flag?

It could be the product of the team around Kevin Love not being very good. Hasn't this been the main assertion of this column so far?

Let’s return to Barkley for a second, because that’s the best parallel here. I was there for Barkley. The whole time.

Bill was there the whole time for Barkley, so he KNOWS about Charles Barkley. What a bizarre sentence Bill has written. It's like Bill is bragging that he was old enough to see Barkley's entire career and he's talking down to his readers who he believes lack the perspective Bill has as one of the few people still alive to see all of Barkley's NBA career.

He’s one of the best 25 players ever by any calculation —

I sort of feel like this is an opinion by any calculation, but carry on...

Barkley was definitely a superstar, whereas Love is an almost-but-not-quite superstar. Big difference.

Oh, and in 1992, Barkley was traded to Phoenix for Jeff Hornacek, Andrew Lang and Tim Perry … while Barkley was still in his prime.

What players Charles Barkley was traded for isn't really a good way to begin a comparison between him and Kevin Love. It's a silly way to start a comparison, but of course it makes perfect sense to begin this way in Bill's mind.

We didn’t really have the Internet in 1992,

We didn't have the Internet in 1992, but Bill knew the Internet was coming and the impact it would have on society. He knew before anyone else did, even before Al Gore, the man behind the creation of the Internet.

but if we did, Charles Barkley would have been picked apart the same way we pick Love apart right now.

Not an opinion. Fact.

And Barkley was un-freaking-believable in person. He wasn’t just on my “Oh, cool, he’s coming to town tonight and I get to go!!!!” list during his first 10-11 years; he’s on my permanent all-time list with people like MJ, Magic and Julius.

Well, then that definitely increases Barkley's legacy if Bill Simmons had a high opinion of him. If Bill liked to watch Charles Barkley play, then this obviously means Barkley is a better player than "we" thought.

I love watching Kevin Love, but I don’t think I would ever tell my grandkids about him. I’d tell my grandkids about seeing Chuck.

Bill wouldn't tell his grandchildren about seeing Love play, but Bill also thinks Love is on the list with LeBron, Durant, Westbrook, Griffin, Davis and Curry as players he can't wait to watch play. Love is one of the seven most fun NBA players to watch right now, but not notable enough for Bill to tell his grandchildren about. The NBA must have some fairly boring players to watch live if there are only six active players Bill would mention to his grandchildren that he saw play.

Other than that, it’s easier to compare Love and Barkley than I thought.

Bill is surprised at how much his opinion on how easy it is to compare Love and Barkley contradicts his previous opinion on how easy it is to compare Love and Barkley.

Like Love, Barkley battled weight issues early in his career that led to him dropping lower in the draft than he should have gone.

Well, that and Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan were selected before Charles Barkley. Sam Perkins was taken right before Barkley and he didn't turn out to be a terrible player either. Barkley had weight issues though, so that's true, but he fell partly because there were good players taken in front of him. The same goes for Kevin Love, who had Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook taken ahead of him.

Like Love, Barkley was a below-average defensive player who ideally needed to be flanked by a shot-blocker, although he protected the rim much better than Love does.

If this is an indication of how bad Kevin Love is at protecting the rim, Barkley is six inches shorter than Love and protected the rim better than Love does. But no, those who say Love is a bad defender, those people are just wrong in Bill's opinion.

And like Love, Barkley had evolved into a polarizing personality by the time that 1991-92 season ended. Here’s what Clifton Brown wrote for the New York Times in his story about the Barkley trade. My notes are in parentheses.

“The 76ers acknowledged they were trading a superstar, but they are gambling that acquiring three quality players from Phoenix will make them a better team.”

(The 76ers went 115-295 over the next five seasons. To extend that gambling analogy,

Bill, the author wasn't using a gambling analogy, he used the word "gambling." There is a huge difference. The mere use of the word "gambling" isn't the use of an analogy. Of course, Bill really wanted to make an analogy about gambling and that's why he's pretending the author's use of the word "gambling" is an analogy. Talking about Vegas is an old standby for him.

Philly was the guy on your Vegas trip who lost $500 an hour after everyone got there, disappeared in a huff, found the seediest club possible, woke up in his hotel room the next day with no wallet and no pants, then texted everyone later that day saying, “Heading home — it’s a long story.”)

The use of an analogy is intended to help a person understand better what is being said or what point is being proven. This analogy seems to have nothing at all to do with trading Charles Barkley.

“Barkley’s outspokenness and behavior were a constant concern to the 76ers. Only hours before the trade, Barkley was acquitted in a Milwaukee court of disorderly conduct and battery charges … Such controversy has followed Barkley throughout this career. On various occasions, he has criticized 76ers management, criticized his teammates and clashed with Philadelphia reporters. During a game against the Nets in New Jersey two seasons ago, Barkley mistakenly spat upon a girl who was sitting near a fan who was heckling him.”

(Read all of those things again. What did he REALLY do?

-Beat up a guy in Milwaukee
-Spit on a girl
-Criticized his teammates which is bad for the team chemistry that Bill cares about so much
-Criticized management, which as the best player on the team could help undermine management's authority

I recognize that Bill thinks he is a rebel and tends to throw hissy-fits when he does things wrong, but at pretty much any job in the United States criticizing management is a good way to no longer work at that job. Because Bill is the golden boy at ESPN he can say or do whatever he wants in the middle of a temper tantrum, but that's not how it works for 99% of people. Criticize management and you can get your way and find new management at a new job. Also, Barkley spit on a girl (accidentally) and beat up a guy. That's what he really did.

Those were the reasons that you traded one of the best 25 players ever for 35 cents on the dollar???

The Sixers didn't know they were trading Barkley for 35 cents on the dollar. They thought the trade would make them a better team. Bill knows now they traded Barkley for 35 cents on the dollar, but assumes because he has the ability to use hindsight then that means the Sixers knew at the time they weren't getting value back for Barkley...which is obviously insane for anyone who understands the inability of humans to predict the future.

Like Barkley in 1992, Love doesn’t have the greatest reputation right now. Everyone respects him, everyone thinks he’s talented … but too much scuttlebutt piled up these past two years, fair or unfair, that Love was a selfish, me-first teammate in Minnesota. He doesn’t have a stellar reputation in NBA circles.

Reputations are magically changed by winning. It's weird how that works.

Until I started researching this column, I believed that Love had to be overrated because of his 0-0 playoff record. And actually, he’s underrated. 

There is the final answer. With 10% of the column left to be read, Bill finally gets to mentioning the title of the column and the question this entire column was supposed to be answering using the scientific method of Bill using his opinion to come to the final answer.

Barkley’s 1989 and 1990 seasons were better than his first Phoenix season, but he stole the MVP from Jordan because WE thought Barkley was better that year.

Hey look! Bill was wrong about something so "WE" were wrong about it. Bill can't be wrong by himself. It would hurt his ego too much to find out that he actually isn't correct 100% of the time.

Why did we think that?

Why do you think "we" thought that? Why do you use "we" to describe an indescribably large group of people all with indescribably different opinions on Charles Barkley?

It’s not rocket science. Put a very good basketball player in a great situation and he’s going to thrive.

This is the moral of this column. This is why Bill wrote so many words, just to prove this. Kevin Love didn't have good teammates and good basketball players thrive in good situations. So basically the rest of this column was a circle jerk because the conclusion Bill came to is the conclusion that most people already knew before the beginning of the column.

But that's just Bill. He restates the obvious in a non-obvious way in order to make it seem like he is saying something interesting. He will restate the obvious using an overly long analogy, a comparison to pop culture or by throwing a bunch of statistics around with a "fact" that is actually an opinion. In the end, his conclusion is often the conclusion already reached by others without doing as much work to get there.

He acquired the world’s best player, a talented point guard, a heat-check scorer, a decent group of role players and an intriguing twist to the “Uncle Drew” franchise. He won’t have to settle for 24-footers because he’s tired of being double-teamed. He can do what he does best — rebound, play the inside-outside game, throw outlets and rebound some more.

Here's the difference that Bill is too lazy to acknowledge, doesn't care to acknowledge because it doesn't fit his Barkley comparison, or he hasn't thought of. Kevin Love is not the best player on the Cavaliers team. He is the second-best player and the third-scorer. Charles Barkley with the Suns was the best player on the team and the first scorer. So Bill's comparison to Barkley may seem apt until it's understood that Barkley was the best player on the Suns team and Love will not be the best player on the Cavs team. Therefore their careers can be comparable, but their roles on their new team after being traded are different, which means the way they adjust to those roles may be different.

I see Cleveland playing Love as a small-ball 5 much like Coach K did.

The problem still lies in who is guarding the rim? When the Cavs play a team who can get to the rim, who is protecting that rim? I'm not saying the Cavs can't succeed, but Coach K played small ball in the Olympics. His small ball strategy has not worked in college over the past few years when facing a good team that can get to the basket. There is a difference in college, the Olympics and the NBA of course, but I feel like this needs to be mentioned.

I see him becoming a legitimate threat to be a 22-15-5 guy and maybe even average 16 boards a game (which hasn’t happened since Rodman).

This is as opposed to him being an illegitimate threat to be a 22-15-5 guy.

I see my favorite Cavs lineup being their small-ball group with LeBron, Love, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and a spread-the-floor shooter … and not-so-coincidentally, looking very ’93 Suns-ish.

Bill is going down with the ship while using this analogy isn't he? The '93 Suns didn't have LeBron James by the way.

I see anyone who said this week that (a) Cleveland gave up too much, and/or (b) Love isn’t as good as people think, feeling stupid.

I think Kevin Love is as good as "people" think. I also think that playing with talented teammates and not being able to put up the fifth most shots in the NBA per game could be an adjustment for Kevin Love. Going from the best player on a team to the second/third-best player on a team where his role becomes different will be an adjustment. Granted, an adjustment he can make, but an adjustment either way. Regardless, if Love isn't a 22-15-5 guy then I am sure Bill will say "we" were wrong about Love.

I see this trade reinventing Love’s NBA career much like Phoenix reinvented Barkley. Love won’t win the MVP, but he’ll win our respect. And he won’t be polarizing anymore. He’s going to kill it in Cleveland.

He might, but he is going to playing with two other guys who are very used to being the best player on their team. Irving is used to it, LeBron is used to it (though I have no doubts he will adjust as he has done before), Love is used to it, Waiters will want his shots, and Varejao will be injured at some point during the season. I think the Cavs are going to be very good, but just like the Heat took a season to fully mesh together I could see it taking a season for the Cavs to mesh well.

But you know what’s really funny? I don’t know if Love would have killed it in Golden State. This goes back to the Carmelo-Dirk discussion from my Carmelo column — superstars can play with anyone, but almost-but-not-quite-superstars need the right supporting cast to thrive.

Another obvious statement painted as a new and original thought. You mean Kevin Love will thrive more playing with the best basketball player on the planet as opposed to not playing with the best basketball player on the planet? You don't fucking say!

Instead, he gets to play with LeBron James on the league’s newest signature team. That’s right … David Kahn was Kevin Love’s savior all along. I’m going to walk outside and wait for it to rain frogs.
 
Final verdict: underrated.

Final verdict: properly rated until more information is provided over the next season. And that's a fact because it's my opinion.

Fact: Bill Simmons really said nothing new in this column, yet he wrote 5300+ words.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

0 comments Mike Klis Is Still Not Taking the Broncos Super Bowl Loss Very Well

We first heard from Mike Klis when he stated the key to winning the Super Bowl is to lose games. Well, the Broncos dutifully did as he suggested and lost the Super Bowl, but that probably doesn't count as what Klis was talking about. Then we heard from Mike Klis when he started dropping excuses/reasons for the Broncos Super Bowl loss. He was acting like an angry fan-boy who couldn't handle that his favorite team lost the Super Bowl. Well, Mike is still acting like a baby and still not taking the Broncos Super Bowl loss very well. He's very excited for the Broncos to face the Seahawks twice (yes, he is including the abomination that is an NFL preseason game) so the Broncos can exact revenge. Because we all know a victory in Week 3 is directly equal to a Super Bowl victory. It's pretty much the same thing. My apologies to those who read Mike Klis in the Denver area. He sounds hideous. I'm sure all in the Denver area get tired of his schtick.

Can't anybody tell those mouthy Seahawks in Seattle to shut up?

I wasn't aware the Seahawks were still talking junk about the Broncos and their Super Bowl victory over the Broncos. It sounds like Mike Klis is reminiscing rather than the reality being that the Seahawks are still rubbing their Super Bowl victory in...at least to my knowledge. 

"We really felt like we could knock the crud out of these guys," Carroll said shortly after 43-8. 

That was seven months ago. It's a new season. Let it go. Carroll was cocky after the Super Bowl victory and now he's stopped talking about it. Perhaps Mike Klis should take the hint and do the same. 

Seattle linebacker K.J. Wright said his team would beat the Broncos "90 out of 100. They might've got lucky those other 10 times."

I'm pretty sure Mike Klis used this exact quote in his last bitter, fan-boy column about the Broncos losing to the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. If he's going to write a column which starts off insinuating the Seahawks are still being "mouthy" and not shutting up, then he may want to find new quotes that show this to be truth. Otherwise, this column is just message board material. Actually, it's worse than message board material because it's intended to be sports journalism. 

Act like you've won it before. Oh, wait. They hadn't. 

What a burn. Act like the Broncos have won it in the last 15 years or don't have a 2-5 record in Super Bowls. Nothing against the Broncos, but a team that has gone 2-5 in the Super Bowl doesn't exactly have room to taunt a team that has gone 1-1 in Super Bowls and just manhandled the 2-5 team in the Super Bowl. "Count the rings" usually feels like a loser's argument coming from the loser of the Super Bowl.

"That's where they get their edge from," Broncos defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said. "They have a quarterback (Russell Wilson) who came in underrated. People don't talk about their offensive line. Sherman was a fifth-round pick. Then they have receivers with chips on their shoulders.

"That's how they make themselves feel better, or build their image. But they have the right talk."

The Seahawks incessant talk could hide some inferiority complex, but they are the reigning Super Bowl champions. To shut them up, you have to beat them. The Seahawks will have the right talk until they can no longer back that talk up.

Chest-thumping became cheap shot, though, when another windbagged Seattle linebacker, Bobby Wagner, took the bait from ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, a loquacious man himself.

"They looked scared out there," Wagner said. "Nobody wanted to catch the ball. Nobody wanted to come up the middle. ... They were very timid."
 
Bobby Wagner said these things back immediately after the Super Bowl. Come on, write a new article and don't just take the same quotes from the old less-than-message board material article and claim the Seahawks are still talking shit. No one needs to close the Seahawks big mouths because they aren't running their mouths anymore. 

It's correct to say Seattle destroyed the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Beat them up. Bullied them.

But scared to come up the middle? Demaryius Thomas set a Super Bowl record with 13 catches — averaging 9 tough yards per reception.

It's correct to say Demaryius Thomas did have these 13 catches for 9 yards per reception, but that's a little misleading. Here is the funny part, Mike Klis knows it's misleading but doesn't really care. 

Granted, the record meant nothing. Many of those catches were in garbage time. But it does mean Wagner's claim is a lie.

Granted the record that Mike Klis just recited as if it meant something in response to Bobby Wagner's comments made 7 months ago means nothing to him, but wouldn't it be cool if this record did mean something? 

Let's look at Demaryius Thomas's catches to see if Wagner's claim is a lie. He's probably using hyperbole, but let's see the yardage of catches Thomas made, where he made them, and when he made them.

From the play-by-play: 

1- P.Manning pass short middle to D.Thomas to DEN 40 for 2 yards (1st quarter)
 

2- (Shotgun) P.Manning pass short right to D.Thomas to DEN 22 for 6 yards (2nd quarter)
 

3- P.Manning pass short left to D.Thomas to DEN 25 for 3 yards (2nd quarter)
 

4- P.Manning pass short left to D.Thomas to DEN 37 for 7 yards (2nd quarter)
 

5- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short right to D.Thomas to DEN 40 for 1 yard (2nd quarter)
 

6- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short right to D.Thomas to SEA 34 for 9 yards (2nd quarter)
 

7- (Shotgun) P.Manning pass deep left to D.Thomas to SEA 43 for 19 yards (2nd quarter)
 

8- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short left to D.Thomas to SEA 46 for 4 yards (3rd quarter)
 

9- (Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle to D.Thomas to SEA 43 for 3 yards (3rd quarter)
 

10- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle to D.Thomas to SEA 44 for 10 yards (3rd quarter)
 

11- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass deep left to D.Thomas to SEA 21 for 23 yards (3rd quarter)
 

12- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short left to D.Thomas for 14 yards (3rd quarter)
 

13- P.Manning pass short middle to D.Thomas to DEN 45 for 17 yards (4th quarter)

So Mike Klis is partially wrong. 7 of the 13 catches Thomas made were in the first half, not garbage time. Thomas did have more yardage in garbag
e time though.

Thomas caught four passes over the middle for gains of 2, 3, 10, 17 yards. 
Thomas caught three passes on the right for gains of 6, 1, and 9 yards. 
Thomas caught 6 passes on the left for gains of 3, 7, 19, 4, 23, and 14 yards. 

Thomas averaged 8 yards per catch in the middle, 5.3 yards per catch on the right, and 11.7 yards per catch on the left. It's not right to negate one of the catches but I think it's important to know his average in the middle would have been 5 yards per catch if the last catch in the fourth quarter when it was a 43-8 game wasn't counted. So Thomas does seem to have gotten more yardage in garbage time, but not more receptions. I don't believe the Broncos were scared to come over the middle, but Thomas did gain 71 of his 118 yards in the second half when the Seahawks were playing a softer defense. His average yards per catch was 6.7 in the first half. It's impossible to know if the Broncos were scared or not, but the numbers reflect while Thomas caught the ball for longer gains in the second half, in the fi
rst half when the game wasn't entirely decided the Seahawks had managed to keep his gains to a minimum.

It's nearly impossible to know if Wagner's claim is a lie anyway and it doesn't really matter. 

Wes Welker caught eight passes. He receives between the hash marks.

Welker's catches during the Super Bowl: 

1- (Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle to W.Welker to DEN 25 for 5 yards (1st quarter)

2- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle to W.Welker to SEA 43 for 16 yards (2nd quarter)

3- 1st and 10 at SEA 43 (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle to W.Welker to SEA 38 for 5 yards (2nd quarter)

4- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short left to W.Welker to DEN 37 for 14 yards (3rd quarter)

5- 1st and 20 at DEN 10 (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle to W.Welker to DEN 13 for 3 yards (3rd quarter)

6- 1st and 10 at DEN 41 (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short left to W.Welker to SEA 47 for 12 yards (3rd quarter)

7- 1st and 10 at SEA 36 (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short left to W.Welker pushed ob at SEA 14 for 22 yards (3rd quarter)

8- (No Huddle, Shotgun) P.Manning pass short middle to W.Welker to SEA 47 for 7 yards (4th quarter)

Five of Welker's eight catches were over the middle. So for the sake of fairness I'm not going to leave out an assertion Mike Klis makes that has merit. It doesn't seem the Broncos were scared to go over the middle. If that's his big victory coming from the Super Bowl, that Bobby Wagner exaggerated in making this statement, then I hope it's a great moral victory for Klis. 

It wasn't a case of intimidation," said Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, who caught four Super Bowl passes. "That's certain. When you win and you're the Super Bowl champion, you've earned the right to say whatever you want. That's something that can't be taken away from them.

Yeah, but Mike Klis wishes the Seahawks would stop mouthing off about their Super Bowl victory, even though they haven't really mouthed off about it publicly in several months. In Mike's fan-boy head, the Seahawks are still chirping about intimidating the Broncos. It's causing him to go insane. 

The Broncos and Seahawks meet again in their preseason opener, Aug. 7 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The starters won't play long. Just long enough to get some pushing and shoving in.

But if the Broncos win this game, then revenge is Mike Kli---I mean, revenge is the Broncos to savor!

The teams meet again for keeps in Week 3 of the regular season.

Yes, this regular season game is "for keeps." The season ends after this game is played. If the Broncos are able to defeat the Seahawks in Week 3 then the Super 48 title will be handed to Denver and the Seahawks will forever be shamed. This Week 3 game is "for keeps," just as long as the other 13 games each team plays, as well as the playoffs, aren't counted as being part of the 2014 NFL season, which apparently is how Mike Klis views it. 

That game will be played in Seattle. Home of the gloats.

I'm pretty sure the Seahawks stopped gloating a few months ago. The reality in Mike's head isn't adjusting well to this.

The visiting team's locker room figures to have a filled bulletin board.

Does the visiting team's locker room even get a bulletin board to hang comments the home team has made in the past on? I feel like a bulletin board isn't provided to the visiting team. Maybe the comments will be written on the whiteboard in the Broncos locker room. Even if the Broncos beat the Seahawks 43-8, it won't make up for the Super Bowl loss. It may be revenge, but it will be a bittersweet revenge. Well, except for a sportswriter like Mike Klis who seems to think a regular season game counts as playing "for keeps." 

"Me, personally, I'm tired of hearing about it: Seahawks, Seahawks, Seahawks," Knighton said. "We accomplished some things last year. Not everything we wanted, but we took a step forward from the year before. We're going to reload, and when the time comes, we'll be ready to play them. And it's a good thing we play them twice."

And when/if the Broncos beat the Seahawks we can be sure that Mike Klis will write a column about how the loud mouthed Seahawks have finally been shut up, despite the fact they quit talking smack about the Broncos a few months ago, and he will believe revenge was really sweet and the teams are now considered "even." Good for him. It won't be true, of course. If the Seahawks win that Week 3 game, which is apparently the most crucial regular season game ever, then I'm sure Mike Klis will complain further about the Seahawks big mouths...or just blame it all on injuries.